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Old 05-25-2006, 08:56 PM   #1
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Diesel Powered Trailer

I would like to complete my trailer using diesel instead of propane, which I donít like.

Iím thinking of a Wallas Ceramic Diesel Cook top.

Some type of small hydronic heater kit (Red Dot, Heater Craft) and a water heater ( there are a couple of interesting coolant heaters at West Marine) would provide space heating and hot water.

They would both be powered by one of those ingenious, small Webasto or Espar Hydronic Coolant heaters, producing about 15,000 btu.

The space in the Argosy is less than 1000 cubic feet.

Has anyone done anything or seen anything like this?

Does anyone have an opinion on the relative merits of Webasto and Espar?


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Old 05-25-2006, 09:22 PM   #2
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I know Webasto has a picture of an Airstream on their website. That counts for something.
http://www.webasto.us/am/en/am_rv_heaters.html

I've been thinking about going to ethanol (another marine-RV cross over). Has anyone tried to convert a Dometic or Norcold refrigerator to run on alcohol?
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Old 05-25-2006, 09:33 PM   #3
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Sergei,

Check out the above company. They make the Aqua-Hot and Hydro-Hot diesel fired hot water and hydronic heating systems that are found on many of the hi-line MoHo's today. I recently spent 2 days at their factory outside Denver training in their systems. They are based on the Wabasto diesel burner. The systems work very well, and would take care of of your 2 major problems. You could add an electric cook top run from a big inverter or diesel generator, and you would almost be there.
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Old 05-26-2006, 12:30 PM   #4
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I decided to find out what the BTU difference was between propane and diesel. I was surprised by what I found.

Diesel #2 - 1.7lbs/gal - 140,000 BTU/gal
Biodiesel - 130,000 BTU/gal
Propane - 4.24lbs/gal - per liquid pound 21,591 BTU/gal in liquid form, ~92,000 BTU/gal in vapor form

Ignoring tank weight, 14 gallons of propane (two 30# tanks worth) will weigh 59.36 lbs and only have a 1,288,000 BTUs of energy. Diesel in the same quantity will only weigh 23.8 lbs and have 1,960,000 BTUs.

WOW, that is a BIG difference. The weight savings alone is worth switching, and you still come out ahead with lower consumption. If you manufacture and use your own biodiesel for the trailer (and possibly tow vehicle when biodiesel distribution becomes widespread in the future), you can do so for only around $1.50/gal!!!

Problems I can see are:

- You will need to construct or retrofit a DOT approved diesel tank under the trailer

- I'm not finding any diesel refrigerators out there on the net. You would need to go with a 12V solution. How are you going to charge the batteries??? Any weight savings from the lighter diesel will be negated by adding a bank of batteries to run the fridge.
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Old 05-26-2006, 01:30 PM   #5
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Westfalia,
I have not seen a diesel powered refrigerator per se, however they do make kerosene powered ones, so I suspect it would be not be too difficult to reverse engineer one....Ya shouldn't have gone and done that...now you got me thinking and that is very, very dangerous Also the tank issue is very minor. Diesel is not nearly as explosive as LP or gasoline. DOT tanks for diesel are readily availble in multiple formats. I suspect it would be a no brainer to install on the front tongue in lieu of the current LP tanks. Only item I can see you needing would be a 12volt fuel pump to move the diesel from the tank to the appliance.

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Old 05-26-2006, 01:40 PM   #6
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But then, instead of being SmokelessJoe would you be known as SmokingJoe?

Seriously I MAYBE only use about one 30 pounder a year, on the A/S, so it would not be worth it for me. I usually fill my propane tanks at Flying J, so I always get it for under $2 a gallon. Some of the local distributors want up to $3.90 a gallon So, I don't do business with them, I wait until I have 3-4 tanks, and my truck tank to fill and motor on up to Georgia or St. Augustine to a Flying J. Besides, it's always nice to have an excuse to go to St. Augustine
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Old 05-26-2006, 02:23 PM   #7
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Using Diesel

Hi guys

In reference to using diesel instead of propane. For you guys in the colder weather, wouldn't the diesel "jellup"? and what about cloging in the lines?
R/
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:03 PM   #8
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Rick, you should be able to any number of diesel anti-gelling additives. If you are in the colder norther climates, you can also get a 'winter diesel blend' that is usually a blend of #1 and #2 diesel.
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
Westfalia,
I have not seen a diesel powered refrigerator per se, however they do make kerosene powered ones, so I suspect it would be not be too difficult to reverse engineer one....Ya shouldn't have gone and done that...now you got me thinking and that is very, very dangerous Also the tank issue is very minor. Diesel is not nearly as explosive as LP or gasoline. DOT tanks for diesel are readily availble in multiple formats. I suspect it would be a no brainer to install on the front tongue in lieu of the current LP tanks. Only item I can see you needing would be a 12volt fuel pump to move the diesel from the tank to the appliance.

Aaron
I think kerosene is essentially diesel #1. It has fewer parafins in it, so it has a lower BTU output than diesel #2. It would probably run too hot (or too cool ) with #2, but with some engineering, that could probably be overcome.

My DOT comments were purely pointing out the possible legal ramifications. Is it even legal to have a permanently mount a diesel tank on a trailer? In any case, I would think you would want to keep the tank as low as possible in the trailer to disperse any fumes, but also to keep any fuel leaks from being self feeding. If you did mount the tank higher than any of the appliances, I would look at getting a fuel cut off switch, like is used in boats with tank mounted above the engines. Like all diesel, you will also want to have some kind of fuel filter and water separator inline between the tanks and the appliances.
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari-Rick
Hi guys

In reference to using diesel instead of propane. For you guys in the colder weather, wouldn't the diesel "jellup"? and what about cloging in the lines?
R/
Safari-Rick
12 volt tank heaters I suppose you could route the furnace ducts near the diesel lines...

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Old 05-26-2006, 03:35 PM   #11
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having spent my youth on fishing boats up and down the oregon coast i don't see a mention of one of the biggest draw backs in my opinion of diesel fuel... the smell. marine systems have been around forever... and so have early camp / backpacking / mountaineering stoves. they all have the same draw back over time. everything in the cabin will eventually stink of that lovely fuel, regardless of how carefull you are.

i'll stick with propane ) but hey, what do i know...
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:56 PM   #12
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I would think most of the 'smell' factor could be mitigated if you can keep the fuel from spilling and permeating into the trailer structure and to keep appliances and fuel lines vented to the outside or keep the material surrounding them from absorbing the fuel. Boats are a problem, since all fumes essentially sit in a bowl until properly vented. By then, the fuel has worked its way in the the building material of the boat. Backpacking equipment is usually not completely cleaned after a spill, or a spill happens while in transit. After all, that equipment is being constantly jostled and fitting being loosed over time.

Still, diesel is a -1 due to smell, no doubt about it. My least favorite part about having owned a diesel was the refueling process and the nasty pump handles dripping with diesel.

Does anyone know if biodiesel is as stinky as dino diesel?
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:59 PM   #13
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Nevermind, yes it does smell different, kinda like french fries. Maybe that will attract bears!

Here is a interesting site about biodiesel.
http://www.biodiesel.org/markets/mar/
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Old 05-27-2006, 01:04 PM   #14
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Thank you for your in put.

My interest in going diesel comes from a combination of a lot of things.

- I donít feel completely comfortable around propane.

- The propane furnaces give a type of heating that is uncomfortably hot. I find one is continually shutting the furnace off, then turning it back on.

- The open cooking flame can easily start an accidental fire.

- Burning propane seems to produce water as a by- product, which forms on the inside of the trailer.

- We are doing the air conditioning in a non-traditional manner, using the LG ďArt coolĒ split system.

The outdoor compressor unit will be mounted on the A frame, under the front window. It will be easier if we donít have to share the space with LP tanks.

Lew, thanks for the lead on Vehicle Systems Inc.

I checked their site. The product seems very much like that of a Canadian competitor, International Thermal Research, whom Iíd already spoken with.

Both companyís units seem more suited to a 30 to 40í motorhome.

I probably need about half the btuís they produce

I donít know if the ITR system is also based on a truck heater but a knowledgeable person there recommended the Webasto TSL 17, producing 17,200 btu and confirmed my idea that a coolant heater would support both a space heater and water heater, the total cost being less than half of their $4600.00 Canadian price.

A psychological stumbling block for me is the $1500.00 cost of the Wallas diesel cook top, more than any other part of the proposed diesel system.

These are sleek, beautifully designed things. So far as I can tell, the Finnish made units are totally unique. Without competition, they can probably charge what ever they choose.

I could start with an electric cook top as Lew suggests, switching to Wallas if the diesel proves out and if I find more money someday.

Westfalia, Iíd read that diesel produces more btuís per pound compared too propane, but I didnít know how dramatically different the weight and power figures were. Thanks for the digging.

Approved, suitable tanks should be available because there are millions of sleeper cab heaters, stoves etc. out there. Most likely we would mount ours between the frame, at the front.

On diesel refrigerators, weíd already decided on the LG 9 cubic foot GR302. This is an inexpensive, light, contemporary featured 110 v domestic fridge.

I didnít want an ammonia LP fridge and the Dometic unit is for sale

Using the Sprinter tow vehicleís Power Take Off and High Idle functions, under the hood power (3500W continuous; 4500W peak) will be available from a Power Mite BLUE MAX belt driven generator.

The Sprinter also has a beefy 200-amp alternator. We are also considering a battery bank and inverter system, probably truck mounted.

There will also be shore power when available, of course.

About smells: all the reviews Iíve read about these sophisticated German engineered heaters (9Ē long, 3.5Ē wide, 6Ē high, 6.5 pounds!!) say the opposite. No smoke. No fumes.

Same thing for the Wallas Ceramic 85 D.

Advanced equipment like this uses sealed burners, outside air for combustion and vents to the outside. They are not like the more traditional marine pot heaters or diesel stoves Kevbo10 might be referring to. They are a world away from open flame camping stoves as well.

About cold weather, thousands of truck sleeper cabs operate with these boilers in much more extreme weather (Western Canada, Alaska Highway) than I can ever imagine being in.

These small heaters are very sophisticated. They use only .16 gallons of fuel at HIGH (usually 3 or 4 settings) per hour, draw .8 amps to 4.2 amps (12v) depending on cycle, and have overheat shut offs, pumps, meters, filters, self diagnostics, etc. all built in.

Iím not sure that a cost effectiveness argument can be made when you consider that I will have to sell off or throw away a perfectly good propane set-up.

But my interest isnít that. Itís about taking the wonderful iconic shape and idea of the Airstream and seeing what different and maybe better ways of doing things might be found.

Sergei
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