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Old 08-13-2018, 03:38 PM   #1
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Churubusco , Indiana
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 427
Classic Motorhome Extreme Weather Mods

I'm putting this here instead of the cold weather sub-forum mostly because our floors are significantly different than the trailers.
(also there is more traffic here, and I feel the classic motorhomes draw a very skilled DIY type crowd with just a touch of insanity...)

My current life plans, always subject to change at a moments notice, have me residing in Northern Indiana until at least the end of the calendar year. Last year, there were some -20F nights... so I believe there are some modifications in order.

After that, who knows where we will go, it could be very hot, and we have a dog. Hot weather mods are in order as well.

Take a gander, and please weigh in with any ideas or experience you may have

COLD
In order of most to least extreme, this is the list of cold mods I am considering making, each detailed below. Odds are I don't need ALL of them... doing 1, 2, 4, and 6 would get a bit redundant

1. Hydronic heating (hot water to heat floors)
2. Wood burning stove
3. Composting Toilet
4. Electric heated floors
5. Electric heaters on all susceptible pipes
6. New Furnace (or repair old)
7. Insulate Floors

------------------------------------------------------------------


1. Hydronic Heat
Using hot water piped through PEX under the floor is becoming common, as on-demand water heaters come down in price and PEX is acknowledged as the best plumbing system ever.
There are DIY options for homes, but for an RV, space is at a premium.
This is the system that has piqued my interest. The advantage of it is that it has a separated system for the floors that circulates antifreeze instead of water, no freezing, plus it's a water heater upgrade.
http://www.aquahot.com/products/RV/250P.aspx
http://www.aquahot.com/files/product...Sell_Sheet.pdf
http://www.aquahot.com/files/owners_...TE-300-000.pdf
http://www.aquahot.com/files/install...nual-REV-C.pdf

My concern would be, how much propane is this thing going to chug through to heat a floor?

Of course, energy conservation says it should be at least as efficient as the furnace, hopefully quite a bit more.

Advantages:
Could theoretically replace furnace entirely, freeing that space for other things.
No cold feet.
Even Heat (all parts of the airstream)

Disadvantages:
Have not yet seen the pricetag, but probably not cheap.

2. Wood stove
I have had my eye on the cubic mini for awhile, a good install for small spaces, others have heated their RVs with them.
https://www.amazon.com/Cubic-Cub-Min...01AVPCYAM?th=1

Advantages:
Eliminates humidity problem
Cozy AF
I really want one

Disadvantages:
Where to put it?
- Current best thought is delete the drivers side closet and put it there. Keep everything and reverse when (if) it's ever time to sell, leaving only a barely noticeable patch panel on the roof
- This requires eliminating a significant portion of my closet... How many shirts does someone really need though.
Requires cutting a big hole in the roof. Meh.

3. Composting Toilet
https://natureshead.net/
If you don't actually know what this is, do your research before assuming and posting a rant, everyone I've talked to who has done this considered it a serious upgrade, and way more civilized than a black tank.
I think this upgrade is coming anyway, cold weather or not. My black valve already leaks, might as well eliminate the black tank entirely. Solids get dumped every 100 uses or so, you do the math, can go many months. This eliminates the need to find a dump station every week, where the black tank was can be a smaller aux grey tank, increasing grey tank storage (since I assume the black tank rises up above the floor under the toilet)

Advantages:
No more sewage!!
- Grey can be dumped anywhere in a rural area if you are careful what goes down it. Think back country tent camping. Digging a gravel pit for grey would also be very easy.
I need a new toilet anyway.

Disadvantages:
I assume I have to do a fair bit of construction to install, removing the old black tank.

4. Electric heated floors
I have my eye on this brand, because it is 12/24V (Can be used boondocking in conjunction with Solar)

http://www.warmfloor.com/floor-heati...tions/step-rv/

Also, 120V wires under the floor worry me

Advantages:
Solar compatible without an inverter

Disadvantages:
This company is requiring me to get a quote instead of just telling me how much the stuff costs

I am also considering traditional 120V heated floor, haven't decided yet.

5. Electric Heaters
This one is obvious, keep the grey dump valve, shower trap, etc. from freezing.

6. Replace or repair Furnace
Another obvious one. The current one has an issue with carbon buildup.

If not made unnecessary by other mods

7. Insulate floors
An obvious necessity.
With something fireproof, preferably. Enclose things as good as possible as well.



HOT

This is my plan for getting to a point where I'm comfortable leaving the dog on a hot day
1. 2AC units on separate breakers (Done )
2. Remote temperature monitoring and an automatic alert blasted out to both mine and wifes phone and email if either the power is lost or the temperature gets above 75
3. If both breakers lose power, a reliable backup generator wired to automatically kick in
4. If all those fail, there is an open window and 2 fantastic fans to keep it from getting out of hand

I also plan to install solar (can act as shade for the top of the airstream, and if taken to the extreme, run the AC as well)

This leads to the following list of mods
1. Install remote temp sensing system
2. Replace generator (does a dual Gas/LP one exist, for extra redundancy?)
3. Install generator auto start backup system
4. Install second fantastic fan
5. Install zip-dee awnings on remaining windows
6. Paint roof white

These all seem pretty straightforward and easy to me, not so worried about this section.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:17 PM   #2
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You think to much.....like me, Regards, Bob
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:04 AM   #3
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Churubusco , Indiana
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That's why I gotta write it down like this, keeps the head from exploding, lol
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:23 AM   #4
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One of my plans when I have the engine/front end out this winter is to insulate the floor underneath the drivers and passengers seats. The 2Ē square tubing gives a perfect spot for the 2Ē foam insulation. Not only will it help keep more engine heat down but also virtually eliminate all engine noise as well. The plan is to cover the foam insulation with heavy aluminum. I would use the .040 but with rocks flying off the front tires it would probably get dinged up fast. Regards, Bob
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:50 AM   #5
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Alliance , Ohio
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Forget about the low voltage floor heat unless you have a 10,000 AH battery bank. The 120V option when on shore power is nice for comfort but won't really heat the coach in cold weather. You would still need a furnace or other source of heat. Insulation is really important for both hot and cold weather.
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Old 08-14-2018, 06:05 AM   #6
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Minus 20 degrees, yikes! You will need all of that and some more.

The windows are a big issue in cold weather, think breezy. I've used inexpensive window seal kits with good effect. Thin film plastic sheets and double sided tape for each window.

Nice fuzzy wool lined house slippers.

Skirting for around the underside of the rig. I just skirted the rear section where the tanks and exposed plumbing are critical. I used rigid foam insulation, aluminum tape, and tent pegs in the ground to secure the bottoms.

This combo along with a couple of electric space kept it comfy down into the teens, but that's as cold as it got. -20 Yikes.

I know these solutions are not as sexy as your list, but very doable at reasonable cost and effort.


Cheers Richard
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Old 08-14-2018, 06:27 AM   #7
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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It was possible to slide a piece of the foam thru the back of the wheel wells to close the space around the tanks and drain pipes and valves, which tend to freeze first. Id keep a drop light in there for the coldest times.

Having heat inside makes the snow on the windows melt making great icecicles below them.
Northern Az winters are pretty whimpy next to those you are planning for, but for a guy from Hawaii they were plenty wintery.

Cheers Richard
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Old 08-14-2018, 06:28 AM   #8
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2014 27' Flying Cloud
Wenatchee , Washington
Join Date: May 2014
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Classic Motorhome Extreme Weather Mods

Iíve spent the winter in a couple of different SOBís (both Holiday Ramblers) with full hookups in campgrounds. During the Winter you really go through the propane. There are propane suppliers that will rent large tanks that stand next to your trailer and they refill them regularly (no hassle at all dealing with them). I wrapped my fresh water hose with heat tape and it helps if you put some kind of skirting along the bottom of the trailer (with a light bulb or two underneath). Small space heaters help, with the lower cupboard doors open at night (if the campground will allow you to use them). You really have to stay on top of things though.

Things might have changed some but thatís what it was like for me 20-30 years ago.
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:00 AM   #9
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Churubusco , Indiana
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Ok, I did some math to see if staying warm on a -20F night (my absolute worst case) is even possible, and find out what amount of power we are talking about.
Turns out, without insulating the floor, very difficult. Insulated floor, totally doable.

I assumed R2 for the walls and windows (after sealing up for drafts, reflectex, etc.) And R1 for the factory plywood floor.

Skirting is a good thing to do, but a relatively small impact compared to insulating the floor up to R6 (on paper anyway in reality it probably really helps catch wasted heat and keep the tanks warm)

See the attached spreadsheet I whipped up, boxes that have bold borders are numbers you can play with.

With the 50A 220V upgrade, it's theoretically possible to do it all on electric, but i don't want to push the wiring that hard. It looks like the aqua-hot is capable of being a primary heat source, as is the Kimberly wood stove. The grizzly is a good aux heat source, and primary only down to 0F. The cub is just cute.

Propane furnaces work too, but they are terribly inefficient, and the heat is uncomfortable and uneven

Electric heated floor is a welcome comfort, but not a primary heat source

In reality, it will be best to probably make at least 2 heat upgrades, and fix my furnace (obviously)


Given that wood is basically free here, a wood stove looks like a good investment to overwinter in the Midwest. Plus chopping wood in the snow = infinite manliness.
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:16 AM   #10
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Churubusco , Indiana
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 427
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmiller1 View Post
One of my plans when I have the engine/front end out this winter is to insulate the floor underneath the drivers and passengers seats. The 2Ē square tubing gives a perfect spot for the 2Ē foam insulation. Not only will it help keep more engine heat down but also virtually eliminate all engine noise as well. The plan is to cover the foam insulation with heavy aluminum. I would use the .040 but with rocks flying off the front tires it would probably get dinged up fast. Regards, Bob
Hope it's fire proof!
Sounds like a good application for diamond plate
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:17 AM   #11
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Churubusco , Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mehes View Post
Forget about the low voltage floor heat unless you have a 10,000 AH battery bank. The 120V option when on shore power is nice for comfort but won't really heat the coach in cold weather. You would still need a furnace or other source of heat. Insulation is really important for both hot and cold weather.
Spot on, thanks!
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:19 AM   #12
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Churubusco , Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tevake View Post
It was possible to slide a piece of the foam thru the back of the wheel wells to close the space around the tanks and drain pipes and valves, which tend to freeze first. Id keep a drop light in there for the coldest times.

Having heat inside makes the snow on the windows melt making great icecicles below them.
Northern Az winters are pretty whimpy next to those you are planning for, but for a guy from Hawaii they were plenty wintery.

Cheers Richard
Good looking skirting set up!
I love pictures of these things in the snow

Yes, I plan to insulate the bottom, and aluminum over the insulation to make a sort of belly pan to help keep the heat in, complete with races and boxes for any plumbing.

I think someone else on here has plumbing races and a box around the tanks... Vycan maybe?
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:23 AM   #13
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Churubusco , Indiana
Join Date: Nov 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 21Airstream View Post
Iíve spent the winter in a couple of different SOBís (both Holiday Ramblers) with full hookups in campgrounds. During the Winter you really go through the propane. There are propane suppliers that will rent large tanks that stand next to your trailer and they refill them regularly (no hassle at all dealing with them). I wrapped my fresh water hose with heat tape and it helps if you put some kind of skirting along the bottom of the trailer (with a light bulb or two underneath). Small space heaters help, with the lower cupboard doors open at night (if the campground will allow you to use them). You really have to stay on top of things though.

Things might have changed some but thatís what it was like for me 20-30 years ago.
How large were those tanks?
I have a 125lb (i think), but when it runs dry I figured I'd end up ferrying 60lb tanks back and forth to keep it running.

We're (probably) going to be on private land, which means cheap electric and no rules, but propane delivery is unlikely
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:28 AM   #14
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 148
Dreamer or too much money

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnet18 View Post
I'm putting this here instead of the cold weather sub-forum mostly because our floors are significantly different than the trailers.
(also there is more traffic here, and I feel the classic motorhomes draw a very skilled DIY type crowd with just a touch of insanity...)

My current life plans, always subject to change at a moments notice, have me residing in Northern Indiana until at least the end of the calendar year. Last year, there were some -20F nights... so I believe there are some modifications in order.

After that, who knows where we will go, it could be very hot, and we have a dog. Hot weather mods are in order as well.

Take a gander, and please weigh in with any ideas or experience you may have

COLD
In order of most to least extreme, this is the list of cold mods I am considering making, each detailed below. Odds are I don't need ALL of them... doing 1, 2, 4, and 6 would get a bit redundant

1. Hydronic heating (hot water to heat floors)
2. Wood burning stove
3. Composting Toilet
4. Electric heated floors
5. Electric heaters on all susceptible pipes
6. New Furnace (or repair old)
7. Insulate Floors

------------------------------------------------------------------


1. Hydronic Heat
Using hot water piped through PEX under the floor is becoming common, as on-demand water heaters come down in price and PEX is acknowledged as the best plumbing system ever.
There are DIY options for homes, but for an RV, space is at a premium.
This is the system that has piqued my interest. The advantage of it is that it has a separated system for the floors that circulates antifreeze instead of water, no freezing, plus it's a water heater upgrade.
http://www.aquahot.com/products/RV/250P.aspx
http://www.aquahot.com/files/product...Sell_Sheet.pdf
http://www.aquahot.com/files/owners_...TE-300-000.pdf
http://www.aquahot.com/files/install...nual-REV-C.pdf

My concern would be, how much propane is this thing going to chug through to heat a floor?

Of course, energy conservation says it should be at least as efficient as the furnace, hopefully quite a bit more.

Advantages:
Could theoretically replace furnace entirely, freeing that space for other things.
No cold feet.
Even Heat (all parts of the airstream)

Disadvantages:
Have not yet seen the pricetag, but probably not cheap.

2. Wood stove
I have had my eye on the cubic mini for awhile, a good install for small spaces, others have heated their RVs with them.
https://www.amazon.com/Cubic-Cub-Min...01AVPCYAM?th=1

Advantages:
Eliminates humidity problem
Cozy AF
I really want one

Disadvantages:
Where to put it?
- Current best thought is delete the drivers side closet and put it there. Keep everything and reverse when (if) it's ever time to sell, leaving only a barely noticeable patch panel on the roof
- This requires eliminating a significant portion of my closet... How many shirts does someone really need though.
Requires cutting a big hole in the roof. Meh.

3. Composting Toilet
https://natureshead.net/
If you don't actually know what this is, do your research before assuming and posting a rant, everyone I've talked to who has done this considered it a serious upgrade, and way more civilized than a black tank.
I think this upgrade is coming anyway, cold weather or not. My black valve already leaks, might as well eliminate the black tank entirely. Solids get dumped every 100 uses or so, you do the math, can go many months. This eliminates the need to find a dump station every week, where the black tank was can be a smaller aux grey tank, increasing grey tank storage (since I assume the black tank rises up above the floor under the toilet)

Advantages:
No more sewage!!
- Grey can be dumped anywhere in a rural area if you are careful what goes down it. Think back country tent camping. Digging a gravel pit for grey would also be very easy.
I need a new toilet anyway.

Disadvantages:
I assume I have to do a fair bit of construction to install, removing the old black tank.

4. Electric heated floors
I have my eye on this brand, because it is 12/24V (Can be used boondocking in conjunction with Solar)

http://www.warmfloor.com/floor-heati...tions/step-rv/

Also, 120V wires under the floor worry me

Advantages:
Solar compatible without an inverter

Disadvantages:
This company is requiring me to get a quote instead of just telling me how much the stuff costs

I am also considering traditional 120V heated floor, haven't decided yet.

5. Electric Heaters
This one is obvious, keep the grey dump valve, shower trap, etc. from freezing.

6. Replace or repair Furnace
Another obvious one. The current one has an issue with carbon buildup.

If not made unnecessary by other mods

7. Insulate floors
An obvious necessity.
With something fireproof, preferably. Enclose things as good as possible as well.



HOT

This is my plan for getting to a point where I'm comfortable leaving the dog on a hot day
1. 2AC units on separate breakers (Done )
2. Remote temperature monitoring and an automatic alert blasted out to both mine and wifes phone and email if either the power is lost or the temperature gets above 75
3. If both breakers lose power, a reliable backup generator wired to automatically kick in
4. If all those fail, there is an open window and 2 fantastic fans to keep it from getting out of hand

I also plan to install solar (can act as shade for the top of the airstream, and if taken to the extreme, run the AC as well)

This leads to the following list of mods
1. Install remote temp sensing system
2. Replace generator (does a dual Gas/LP one exist, for extra redundancy?)
3. Install generator auto start backup system
4. Install second fantastic fan
5. Install zip-dee awnings on remaining windows
6. Paint roof white

These all seem pretty straightforward and easy to me, not so worried about this section.
To spend that kinda money on a 1983 Airstream only shows that you are a dreamer OR you have way too much money and are simply looking to blow it away
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