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Old 02-26-2007, 08:56 PM   #1
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2005 22' International CCD
Woodland Park , Colorado
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new airstream owner - questions on boondocking

greetings from colorado,

the wife and i recently traded our pop-up of several years on a 2005 22' international ccd. we have been looking at and wanting an airstream for some time now and the 22' ccd seemed to perfectly fit our needs (style and balance of comfort, living space and versatility - ie ability to fit in short national park campsites) we are both avid outdoorsmen (people?) and enjoy mountain biking, hiking, trail running and endurance sports. TV is a 2007 silverado 3500 classic with D-Max/ally, which tows the 22' like it is not even there. we both love the AS and are looking forward to many miles and destinations in it.

have read hundreds of posts on this forum and am amazed at the wealth of knowledge and cameraderie found here. i do have some questions though.

planning to set up the trailer for long term boondocking. we may even live in it someday; for now work and kids keep that from happening. in the short term though, i am looking at a 10 month work trip to TX this fall where i will be living in the AS in a campground with no hookups.

while i am definitely no expert on 12 volt electrical systems and requirements, from what i have read so far i think i have a pretty good idea what i need to do. just looking for some advice from the boondocking experts on this site.

first, while i do not have an electrical needs survey, i will say (i believe) the wife and i are both pretty frugal power users. from years in the pop-up, often not anywhere near a campground we have learned to conserve battery power (and heat). the furnace does not run when we are asleep (unless needed to keep the pipes from freezing), we use headlamps at night and morning coffee is cowboy coffee on the stove.

while i would like to set up a good solar system in the future, right now one that would meet my short term needs is not cost effective, so i will be going the generator route. am looking at a propane converted yamaha 2400 and may even mount and run it right out of the truck bed. i know it will likely not run the a/c but that is not an issue. neither the wife or i are big on a/c (don't need it here in CO) and i will only have 3-4 weeks of warm (hot) wx to deal with in TX this fall.

think the single battery setup on the 22' ccd is probably the weakest link in my current setup. ideally i would like a 4 battery setup but there doesn't appear to be a cost effectivel way to do that on our trailer. what i plan to do is have a custom, 2 battery tray built on top of the trailer tongue, just above the current single battery tray to mount two 6 volt golf cart batteries. by my measurements, it should fit without interfering with the tongue jack or WD hitch bar mounts and the additional 60# tongue weight should not be an issue. i think this will meet our electrical needs but welcome advice from anyone who has added batteries to this trailer (how did you do it?) or from other boondockers as to whether 2 batteries is sufficient power. i would like to get away with running the generator no more that 2-3 hours a night to top off batteries and run the computer (i will be up and out too early in the morning to run the gen), maybe more if needed on the weekends to fully charge up the batteries.

which brings me to the converter/charger. planning to upgrade my parallax 7355 power center with the 55 amp 3 stage conversion kit sold by bestconverter.com, problably adding a trimetric monitor to give me better ability to monitor and control my usage/charging. any input on this system is appreciated, as well as how it compares to, for example, the intelli-power 60 amp converter with charge wizard.

this is my planned setup for now. future upgrades likely will include changing the halogen lights to LEDs, adding a catalytic heater (i am aware of the potential hazards and required precautions) and, as stated above, eventually solar to supplement or even replace the gen as primary power.

any input advise from the experts is much appreciated. is this a sound setup or am i missing something? should this provide enough power for my needs(assuming conservative electricity usage)? due to funding restraints, i will likely not have the complete setup done until shortly before i travel to TX. would like to have fairly good idea it will work and not get down there only to find i grossly underestimated my requirements (though not major tragedy as i will have a few months before it colder WX begins to set in).

i realize this is a long first post. thanks in advance for any input; any additional tips on long term boondocking are also much appreciated. happy trails, jk
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Old 02-26-2007, 09:41 PM   #2
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Welcome JK3500,
It looks like you have thought about some of the same things I did after purchasing my '77 31' Excella and then my '86 25' Sovereign. I outfitted the '77 with dual Delco Voyager 12 v. batteries, kept a 5 watt Pulse Tech Solargizer solar panel on it 24/7 and then always had a BatteryMinder 3 stage charger hooked up to the trailer when it was in the back yard not going anywhere. I never connected the Magnetek charger when at the house for fear that it would overcharge the batteries. A weekend at a park did not pose a problem because I was using the lights quite frequently.

When boondocking, I am also quite miserly, never operating more than one light fixture most of the time. Fully charged batteries and the 5 watt solar panel kept the batteries up when boondocking for a 3 day period while at the deer camp. The batteries then had 4 days to charge back up. This worked fine for the 4 years I had the Excella and never had problems with the Delco batteries. That trailer is in Germany now.

The Sovereign is another story. I'm running one single Walmart Everlast 115 amp hr. battery which was several months old when I bought the trailer almost 3 years ago. I made a mistake last year and left a compartment light on when boondocking and I could tell the battery was a little lower than usual after it was on for 3 hours. Knowing that solar was in my future plans, I purchased a Yamaha EF3000iSEB generator 4/06 and have put over 95 hours on it so far. Matter of fact, I hooked it up after realizing I had left the compartment light on and ran it on economy for the next 8 hours while I ate dinner and slept before my morning hunt. It didn't even bother my fellow hunters in 6 other trailers. That morning I hooked up a 25 watt solar panel I had purchased and left before daylight. The generator and panel seemed to do the job because the gauge on the inside was reading GOOD for the battery.

In 4/07 I plan on ordering a 100 watt panel system from Welcome to AM Solar - Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 and replacing the single 12 volt 115 amp hr battery with two 6 volt 225 amp hr batteries. I plan on adding slightly larger battery cables and then having a maching shop fabricate a metal cage to support a polycarbonate battery box between the tongue rails for the new batteries. This should help with an 800 watt inverter I plan on integrating into the system. In 4/08 I plan on adding an additional 100 watt panel and that should get me where I want to go. With solar and generator, I have the best of both worlds when off the grid.
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Old 02-26-2007, 09:56 PM   #3
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2002 22' International CCD
San Luis Obispo , California
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JK,
We have a 2002 22' CCD which we love.... just perfect for my wife and me now that we are "empty nesters".... Since we also prefer to boondock, battery power was a big concern. We added a 120 watt solar panel and charge controller (purchased from RV Solar Electric) and added a 2nd 12 volt battery by having a battery bracket fabricated at a local muffler/welding shop and installing it on the tongue between the propane bottles and jack. This setup works great and the solar panel easily keeps up with our electrical demands in all but the cloudiest weather. We too are frugal with our electrical use, although it looks like you can "out-frugal" us there! By being reasonably careful, not running the furnace fan and being careful with lights (which are the biggest draw of power for us), we can keep our daily use of DC down to 12-20 amps. On sunny days, our solar panel recharges the batteries by noon.
With a generator and two 6 volt batteries you will have no problems.... although I'm a bit nervous about adding the weight of two golf cart batteries to the A-frame/tongue. Be sure that the tongue can take that much weight. I know that some on the forums have gone that route, so you can do a search and get their thinking on that.
Good luck and enjoy your CCD.... we sure love ours!
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Old 02-27-2007, 07:33 AM   #4
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2005 22' International CCD
Woodland Park , Colorado
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thanks for the input

thanks for the input. from your replies it looks like i am heading in the right direction.

craig,
hoping to do the same as you with the solar setup in a few years. one question, on the 25 watt small solar panel, how much of a charge does that provide? one area i know i am lacking is that generators are very good at charging batteries to 85%, after that they are very inefficient as the battery will only accept a slow charge (at least that is how i understand it). solar seems to be the best way to add the last 15% of charge to 100%, but i am not sure what size of panel would be sufficient to provide that charge. if a 25 watt panel would do the trick, that may be an option (a larger solar setup is not affordable for me right now).

wayne,
your battery bracket sounds exactly like what i am looking at doing. do you have any pics of the setup? also, did you clamp or weld the bracket to the top of the tongue? as far as the weight, i have also considered that but i think i will be ok as two golf cart batteries only weight about 20# more than two 12 volt group 24s (and the same as two group 27s). figure swapping the single 12 v to two 6v should add a total of about 70# to my trailer tongue. appreciate the concern though, and i will definitely look into it more before taking the plunge.

thanks again! jk
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Old 02-27-2007, 08:01 PM   #5
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2005 22' International CCD
Huntington , Vermont
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Another 22' anticipating solar

There must be something about the 22' CCDs and boondocking.

We purchased our new 2005 in October and do not yet have a lot of camping experience with it, but already it seems that the single group 24 stock battery is not well suited to boondocking. I love the halogen lights and other amenities, but they do deplete the battery quickly.

We have a 75W Siemens panel and will be installing it in the Airstream. We've been following the battery discussions closely since last fall, and are considering both AGM and wet cell types. Our current favorite would be to change the A frame setup ... exchange two 10 gallon propane tanks for 1 20 gallon that would be mounted directly behind the jack, and replace the battery with two 6 Volt golf car batteries that would be mounted at the base of the A, next to the trailer. We would have to fabricate a new shroud to cover the 'utilities,' but currently the battery sits out front in a plastic box and is not very attractive anyway.

We have also considered mounting AGM (6V or 12V) batteries beneath the bed, but have not figured out the particulars, i.e. where the outside access door and ventilation would be located. Putting the excess weight back a bit, but still near the tongue could be an advantage.

Please keep us informed of your plans and modifications, as we will also.
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:18 AM   #6
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2005 22' International CCD
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size and style

Quote:
Originally Posted by BDandTTs
There must be something about the 22' CCDs and boondocking.
i think so. for us it was the size. we wanted something with enough living area to be comfortable but yet small enough we could get it to places a larger trailer cannot. we like to be "off the grid" when possible and twisty dirt or gravel roads did not seem fun with a 25'. ccd is the only line we considered due to the interior styling, much more to our tastes.

doesn't look like the extra weight of a dual battery tray on the tongue is an issue as i talked to an AS dealer here who said they can do one no problem (though a local machine shop would likely be cheaper). will let you know how it goes (probably not doing it for a month or two).

i looked at moving the propane tanks and mounting the batteries behind (like on the 25' ccd models). better for weight distribution but far more extensive and $ as you would have to build a new propate tank rack as well as battery tray. a single propane tank is a nice idea. would it fit in the current battery tray? one downside of that is you don't have a backup when that tank runs dry.

i also considered agms under the bed. there is plenty of room there and you could probably fit a 4 battery bank. would be a little more extensive as you would still want them in a sealed compartment and vented to the outside (i have read about people mounting agms in the living space without a sealed, vented compartment but don't think that is a safe way to go. if you find a good way to do that let me know. jk
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Old 03-01-2007, 09:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JK3500
thanks for the input. from your replies it looks like i am heading in the right direction.

craig,
hoping to do the same as you with the solar setup in a few years. one question, on the 25 watt small solar panel, how much of a charge does that provide? one area i know i am lacking is that generators are very good at charging batteries to 85%, after that they are very inefficient as the battery will only accept a slow charge (at least that is how i understand it). solar seems to be the best way to add the last 15% of charge to 100%, but i am not sure what size of panel would be sufficient to provide that charge. if a 25 watt panel would do the trick, that may be an option (a larger solar setup is not affordable for me right now). jk
jk,
I picked up the 25 watt panel off ebay and I have not measured the output in amps. It came with a charge controller. I would be inclined to install a good 50-65 watt panel which can put out up to 3.7 amps per hour for the larger panel. 50 watt panels can be found on ebay as well as websites. One of my hunting buddies has four of the 15 watt panels sold by ICP Global daisy chained on top of his SOB and has been pleased with them. He had one crack at a corner due to horsing them on and off the flat roof of his trailer but it hasn't lost it's charging capability. He is currently in the process of mounting them permanently on aluminum racks. To me, it seems to be more work than I would want to deal with. A single mono or polycrystalline panel putting out 17-17.6 volts would be much easier to deal with especially if you mounted it permanently on the roof with specially made 3M tape (yes it holds like a rock).

You are right about the generator charging up to the 85% range. I've seen this on several solar sites and they say the solar panels really shine for the final charging.
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Old 03-01-2007, 10:47 PM   #8
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1963 19' Globetrotter
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Boondocking battery use

Hi Guys,

This is my first post ever on anything. So bear with me. I have had four Airstreams and a motorhome. Right now we have a 63 Globetrotter. We owned the same trailer over 20 years ago and sold it. It was kind of spooky when we looked at it and began to recognize floors, plumbing repairs, etc. What was it Yogi Berra said? Deja vu something or other

I read the post on battery use in boonies. I have no idea what most of the tech talk means. But here is my experience.

In the mid 1970's 'she who must be obeyed' and I pulled a 31' 69 Airstream to Alaska. Quite a trip to say the least, a whole other story.

We lived in the Airstream in Soldotna, Alaska for over two years without power or running water. We bought several acres and utilities were not available even if we could have afforded them. All we had was 12v, propane and three or four 5 gallon jugs to haul water. We had three batteries, the trailer used one, the other two were either being charged or ready to be used. We just watched the battery meter on the control panel, when it got to a certain level, we just swaped batteries.

We kept the charger and the extra batteries at the place my wife worked.
There was only one major electrical problem. We had to replace the furnace motor every October for three Octobers in a row.

How cold was it? you ask. Our first winter we saw 56 degrees below zero ambient temperature - no wind chill factors here. This flatlander from South Texas never felt farther from home. We could write three books about living in an Airstream in sub Arctic weather. We had an ice garden on the shelf behind the front couch. Those stories are for another post, if ever.

I know that today's trailers have a lot more demand than my old '69 and things are never the way they used to be; but battery swapping worked for me at the time. At that place, at that time things had to work and things had to be simple, or we were without a home. It is not easy to learn -but if it ain't broke don't fix and keep it simple silly.

I will be on here more and more as we begin to redo and refit 'Ed' the '63 Globetrotter.

To those of you who read all the way through a ole fella's ramblings, you must not have anything better to do, but thanks all the same.
Chick
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Old 03-01-2007, 11:16 PM   #9
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Chick, I wish I had nothing else to do, but I did read it and enjoyed it. The stories yoyu alude to would be very interesting for many of us. Thanks for chiming in, and a big Texas welcome to the forums. My wife is a TX native.
Dave
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Old 03-02-2007, 02:17 AM   #10
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Chick,

Welcome and thanks for the great story. look forward to hearing more about boondocking in AK. that is serious living. enjoy refitting the '63. jk
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