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Old 10-09-2015, 05:24 PM   #43
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My company does energy models of houses and multifamily apartments, we have all the software. One day I am going to do an energy model of my Airstream and compare it to an identical trailer but with a wood frame and spray foam insulation. I can probably also do an infiltration test.

It will be interesting, but I think it will confirm you have to be out of your mind to winter in it.
I personally don't want to winter in one, but it would be nice to not freak out if it's going to be freezing. Right now for example, I'm at 8850ft on a mountainside in Colorado. Daytime has been 65-70. But it's been dropping down into the mid 40's at night.

And I think I could be comfortable here longer with lower 55-65 temps, but the night temps would drop well into the 30's. And that starts to pose a problem.

I think some improvement could be made for fluctuations. So my suggestions are mainly based around that. Not wintering in it, but improving it.

I think SCOTTinNJ might be onto something with the rubber insulator. There is after all a reason why aluminum beer and soda cans chill the fastest.
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Old 10-09-2015, 05:37 PM   #44
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No one has addressed physical size of the unit yet.

I have a 22 and like its narrow width.

I think that a boondocking 22 that had a layout taken from the CCD 16 would be a great unit. Bed at one end and keep the nice big 22 bed with windows on 3 sides for ventilation.

Instead of rear bath like the 22 has now, have table there (maybe with Eddie Bauer type hatch). Then side to side adjacent compartments the size of the 16s wet bath, but on the other side of the aisle. One with a toilet. The the second with a shower. Both gray and black tanks. Then a small galley kitchen mid-trailer. One sink is plenty.

Lots and lots of windows that open.
Narrow width for snaking down tight roads
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Old 10-09-2015, 06:29 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Ted S. View Post
My company does energy models of houses and multifamily apartments, we have all the software. One day I am going to do an energy model of my Airstream and compare it to an identical trailer but with a wood frame and spray foam insulation. I can probably also do an infiltration test.

It will be interesting, but I think it will confirm you have to be out of your mind to winter in it.
That would be great. What models do you use?
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:08 PM   #46
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That would be great. What models do you use?
We use a program called RemRate:

REM/Rate | Welcome... - REM/Rateā„¢
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Old 10-10-2015, 03:15 PM   #47
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If you really want to insulate an airstream use Aerogel Spaceloft and the aerogel thermal break tape between the ribs etc and the interior skin. Price is a little high if you're trying to buy the small pieces that are for sale on the Internet. But if you want to buy it in commercial quantities is not nearly that expensive. This would more than double any insulation value that you can put in including things like Reflectx etc which depend on radiation and do nothing for conduction.
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Old 10-10-2015, 03:19 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Ted S. View Post
My company does energy models of houses and multifamily apartments, we have all the software. One day I am going to do an energy model of my Airstream and compare it to an identical trailer but with a wood frame and spray foam insulation.
Would be very curious to see your results. And for grins, how about a run simulating a 1/2" high density foam insulation between frame ribs and interior skin. I'm thinking of the type of insulation used to insulate concrete slabs from the ground--have this under my garage floor, although it was more like 2" thick.

Unfortunately I've had to rewire my 2009 FC above the beltline and here's a photo of the shell construction:



The rib shown is the connection of the rear shell to the main body. A black mastic with fiber or fabric reinforcement plus a two sided tape lies between the outer shell and the rib. A gray caulk was then applied in massive quantity to the joint and rivits--visible at rear where I couldn't reach very well. The bolt thru the rib next to the hole is a ground post. The hole was where the wire loom passed thru into the rear shell.

The dark material on the inside of the skin is a spray-on adhesive used to glue the fiberglass insulation to the exterior skin. I have sprayed a sealer on this giving it a glossy look it did not have previously.

Point of this is there is no effective break in thermal conductivity. All Airstreamers would love a more thermally efficient shell, not just boondockers!


For freezing conditions, having all the water systems clustered in the center of the trailer would make freeze protection simpler. So I like Piggy Bank's comment on relocating plumbing.

I'm really enjoying this thread!! Thanks, all.
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Old 10-14-2015, 05:15 PM   #49
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I see more evidence a better job could be done on the insulation. I think it's an area they cut corners on because they assume (correctly) most owners are summer park goers who take their units out a few times a year and won't notice. Plus you can't see it, so boom.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:26 PM   #50
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Better insulation would also help with cooling. On a 100 plus day the trailer is an oven even, with full blast AC. I understand a side benefit of those with ducted AC is a thicker roof allowing for more insulation up there.

But having also poked around in the walls of my trailer I'm also dissapointed at the reletive thinness of what insulation they do install. It doesn't even utilize the 2 inches or so of space that's there.

For me a larger fresh water tank and more emphasis on insulation would be my biggest requests.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:45 PM   #51
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A lot of good sub-threads here. Truly, most people will want a canned experience for RV camping at a prepared site, and Airstream is focused on that. What could they build that would address the various boondocking requirements? Maybe a build-to-order program with modular choices, or add-on kits. But I too won't be buying a new one, better to ask those who would (or would be spending $110K on a new Bowlus (!))

For years with our 25' Tradewind we brought a 40 gallon tank in the TV with an electric pump so could go get water, bring it back and fill the trailer tank to wash dishes. This could be a kit. Now we use the same tank in the back of the little Tracker toad with the Airstream MH. That's a lot easier than planning for an extra 300-400 pounds of water that people will track into the boondock site.

More solar, less a/c for sure (as an option.) Expensive high efficiency solar panels are worth it.

More batteries, large AGM data center batteries under our couch now. That could be a kit that would fit in a given storage compartment.

The idea of a thermal break between the ribs and the inside skin would be expensive but maybe worthwhile. It might not need to be a half inch thick -- while aluminum is a good heat conductor, I'm not sure that there is that much lost through each rib compared with the overall thickness. It would be interesting to see that modeled. There are a lot of cheap thermal cameras these days, has anyone mapped where the heat and cold really are getting through to the inside?
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:36 PM   #52
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I too wouldn't buy a new one. Just because. Doesn't make sense to me. Even with cash, I'd still buy one that took the depreciation hit.

But there could be a unique niche market here. We've got companies like Timeless & Hoffarc that do resto-trailers. Maybe someone could get into the boon-docking upgrade business.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:46 PM   #53
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Holy Moly. Google Airstream Europe and check out their layouts. Kinda/sorta some of the things we have been discussing as to layout!

The Easter Bunny already exists.
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Old 10-14-2015, 08:25 PM   #54
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So I guess given the interest I should model my Airstream. Maybe this winter, I have a IR camera as well, I'll take some photos.

I have been meaning to do this on my house for atleast 5 years, so be patient. ..
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Old 10-14-2015, 11:07 PM   #55
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Some upgrades...

I have been doing some advanced planning on a future AS renovation/restoration. This thread has a few of the planned upgrades.

One I have not seen mentioned is to recover gray water.
This system would use a "sheet" filter in the gray water tank to keep the solid waste on the entrance side near the discharge... Then pull water from the "clean" side through a UV sanitizer and into a Reverse Osmosis filtration unit. Rejected "brine" goes back into the gray water tank, RO filtered water goes back to "house" water tank. Add an additional Sanitizer and RO unit off of the "house" tank to feed a separate 6 gal drinking water tank. This in turn feeds a drinking water tap. Shower, sinks, etc run off of house water tank. In theory you should be able to to reuse about 40-50% of your used water.
When the black is full it is time to dump black/gray and refill house. A teaspoon of bleach in the house tank when it is filled provides an additional sanitary measure against tainted water from any source.

We typically generate about 2x gray water to black. Dumping the gray water system would normally flush the sheet filter wall. A little bleach in the gray water system would help to keep it clean and a bit more sanitary.

Not everyone will be comfortable with this idea but it definitely will work...
It exists in various systems used in closed living habitats.

Thought about the air bag quite a while ago. The Dexter torsion axle should allow about 3-4" of lift with a "helper" airbag. Not cheap, but doable. 2 small airbags per axle aiding the torsion system. Another option is to mount the axles such that they can be rotated on their axis and use hydraulic piston(s) and pump to do this. This would change the angle of the torsion arm and thereby lift or lower the trailer appropriately with clearance to match. Similarly expensive...
Cheap fix...larger diameter rims and tires. Limit is the wheel housing clearance. 1" additional clearance is probably ok if you have new axles... more would be sketchy. Also skid plate on axle in the event you do bottom out... lots of horses in your off road truck to pull it on the skid pan ;-)

Solar up the wazoo... More is better especially to run the water recovery system.

I did the spray in foam thing... pain in the a**, won't do it again.
Aluminum outside skin...aluminum frame... aluminum inner skin... tons of aluminum rivets. I used IR surface 10R closed cell foam board and it does help but there is both a lot of conduction through the aluminum and the trailer is far from airtight. I don't think I would want it to be either given the number of systems that can generate Carbon Monoxide inside the trailer.

Cheapest cooling are efficient fans and vents... Heating is pretty efficient as long as you are not trying to live in it in freezing weather. Too much condensation from breathing, cooking, etc. If I had to try to live in it in the winter, I would want to wrap the exterior with about 20R of flexible closed cell foam...(cocoon) or park it in a clear plastic greenhouse to limit losses.
Each action has its drawbacks... skin damage, Carbon Monoxide, etc.

More later... time to hit the sack.

Chuck
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Old 10-14-2015, 11:36 PM   #56
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Once again the object of this thread and post was to list the reasonable and practical ideas that Airstream might consider incorporating in a Boondock version of it's trailers, things that are reasonably practical and could be done with low to moderate cost and might sell. It was not intended to be a place to post blue sky ideas of anything which might possibly be done, cost be damned, market be damned. Airstream is not, and will not, be a custom manufacturer of limited speciality trailers. There are one off custom shops that fill that nitch for those with the money, time, and inclination to have special work done.

Like all threads, this one can and has gone away from it's original intention, but I hope to bring it back, or have it killed as not very useful.

Maybe we have already exhausted the reasonable possibilities at this point.
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