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Old 11-02-2004, 01:56 PM   #1
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1st Boondock Experience with 19' CCD

Greetings.

I thought I'd share some observations of our first boondock camp-out about two weeks ago.

Where: Sand Ridge S.F. in Havana, Illinois. 6 days 7 nights.

We had a great time, but there was lots of rain. The inside of the CCD trailer builds up condensation big time. Especially since we had our furnace running and were preparing 6 coarse meals. I went around with a towel to try and keep up with the moisture.

There was one day that it rained CONSTANTLY, so I did what any normal AS nut would do....I washed the AS using my extendo-handle brush and rain water. No petrolium product or amonia to harm my finish either! Gortex raincoats are sure nice. Did I mention I had accidently drank 29 bottles of beer (thinking it was Club Soda), so the 'ol crazylev was pretty well "winterized".

We had our Honda 2000 with us that I thought I would be using only every other day or so, but ended up using it everyday for about two hours.

I don't know if this was a coincidense or not, but my wife and I wanted to watch a movie on our laptop, so I plugged a Pro-Watt 300 inverter into the 12v. socket in the AS to keep power to the laptop for few hours while watching the movie. Just using the Pro-Watt 300 inverter seemed to drain the coach batteries much quicker. Strange, since the only thing it was powering was a small draw laptop computer.

On the same evening, I noticed that the CO detector was flashing Green/Orange, indicating there might be a "fault" somewhere. Eventually, it started chirping it's terrible song. At the same time, for the first time since we have owned our CCD, our propane tank number one finally ran out and was drawing from tank number two. We got a refill at an Ace Hardware in town for $18.00 for a 30pnd tank.

After reading the owners manual, I found information about the CO detector that states if the main battery(s) are running down, you could get unpredictable indicators and behavior. This proved to be the case, because once I charged up the batteries with the Honda for a few hours, everything was normal again.

While all this was going on, I noticed that the furnace was putting out a smell reminiscent of burning plastic. This was around the time the propane tank change-overtook place. That to went away.

The water hydrants at the campground were missing the brass 3/4" hose connectors. This made the $2.00 Water-Theif adapter worth more than Saddam's gold. It took the two of us to fill our water tank: one to hold the water theif in place (me), and the other to yell at the spouse to stop admiring the Water-theif so we could get to our site, unhook, get dry.

Did I mention that I love my Water-theif so much, I take it to bed with me? I plan on getting the one I own a little sister, so he won't be all alone.

The dump station (and you all know my love for them) was vandelized. Someone had cut off the 3/4" male end of the rinse hose, rendering it useless.

Someone in that area does not seem to like anything that is 3/4". I'm sort of a 3/8" to 1/2" kinda a guy myself, but this is probably best left for the Viagra message boards.

Back at my friendly Ace Hardware in Havana, I picked up what should also be mandatory for your fix-it kit in the AS: http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...entPage=family

They ARE sold as single units for a couple of bucks. I got two differant sizes, and I'm glad I did because when I was doing a temporary repair at the dump station, I need the connector from one size, and the clamp part from the other size.

Bottom line, throw a couple of these babies in your repair bucket. If you want to get real fance, you can get the brass ones.

BTW: When I was done doing the do, I did not leave this set-up at the dump station. I mentioned the problem to the camp host, who appeared to have been more winterized than I was.

And finally, a question: If you run on battery power only with the AS, what would/could happen if the furnace is switched on, but there is not enough juice to run the exhaust fan at full throttle from the furnace? When I smelled the plastic-y smell, my first thought was that the fan was not putting out enough hot air causing something within the furnace to start melting or cooking.

My guess is that there has to be some sort of safety shut-off that addresses this. But curious nonetheless.

Toodles for now.

Jonathan
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Old 11-02-2004, 02:18 PM   #2
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I know it sounds insane but could you run your AC from your generator to remove the moisture from the inside. You could balance out the cold by running the furnace but than, I can't run both units at the same time in our AS. Anyway just drink that club soda and you won't care about the moisture in your CCD as long as you can dump 'your' moisture.
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Old 11-02-2004, 02:26 PM   #3
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Hi TL.

I only have one Honda 2000 and would need a second one to run the 11k AC. I did give that some thought though. Opening windows, and a few vents helped a little.

Jonathan
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Old 11-02-2004, 02:58 PM   #4
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Just a couple of thoughts, while its nice to have water to rinse the hose at the dump station, I normally make sure the grey water tank is full. That way after the black is dumped, I follow with a dump of the grey. At that point the hose should be as clean as it will get and you don't need any secondary washing of the dump hose. Obviously if you are boondocking you may not have additional fresh water available so in those cases I understand why you would want external water to rinse the hose.

In most cases the burn of gas from a tank that is almost empty generates some strange smells from the exterior of the trailer. Most people equate it to a propane leak, but for all intents that could have been the source of your smell. That chemical that is added to propane seems to have a higher concentration in the last pound or so of fuel in the tank.

Regarding the battery and the furnace. The furnace fan has a sail switch. If your battery gets low and the fan speed drops below a specific speed, the gas shuts down.

One other observation that I found out from my last trip out was on the heat pump side. During a cold evening with rain and temps around 43 degrees, my coils on the outside of the airconditioner froze up. Remember that heat pumps work in reverse of air conditioning. The inside evaporator coil which in the summer is the cold coil now is hot and the exterior normally hot is cold. In very high humidity conditions and with extended run times, ice can form on those exterior coils. Once that happens, the heat pump can no longer extract heat from the outside air, and the inside trailer temps begin to drop.

The Penguin units used by Airstream have a defrost cycle built into them. Unfortunately that cycle only starts operating when the temps get down into the 30's. In my case, the extreme outdoor humidity load condensed on those cold coils and the longer running cycles didn't allow enough time for the ice to change back to liquid.


Jack
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:35 PM   #5
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Hello Jack.

The reason for me to go to the trouble of the connector was not so much to rinse sewer hose. I wanted to use my black tank flush, which needs the 3/4" male adapter at the end of the hose.

Regarding the heat pump, this is another thing that using only one Honda 2000 has trouble starting. I think you need two or a 3000.

Interesting about the propane. And thank you for the sail switch info.

Best wishes.

Jonathan
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:46 PM   #6
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Jonathan,

The bottom line is that excessive moisture and cold weather camping is not just an Airstream issue. It happens in almost all RV's. The best fix in many cases is to ventilate the trailer when moisture is being created. That means exhaust fans running during bathroom shower use and when cooking.

Some folks also use plastic like you see in the stores for windows at home. By placing a layer of plastic film and securing it on the window frame, you cut down on the condensation. There are also insulation baffles that are made to fit in the openings of your roof vents or fantastic fan.

But that's about it. Not much more that you can do. One of the things I've wondered about, with the new aluminum interiors of some of the Airstream models, what is the condensaton level on the metal walls in cold weather? We know the window frames sweat. Would the walls run water?

Jack
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:55 PM   #7
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Jonathan,
In addition to the sail switch there is a temperature limit switch that shuts the burner off if the internal temps become to high for any reason. Suppose it's possable that a slow running fan would alow temps in the burner housing to rise higher than normal causing an odor. If this is the case it should shut off before any damage would occur.
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:06 PM   #8
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Jack.

For the most part, the interior of the CCD stays pretty dry in all places except where there is an air leak of some sort with the outside. For us, that place is between the back wall and where the exterior of the bath wall meet. Just a little spot though. The window areas are real bad though. Maybe there is less condensation build-up if it is just cold outside, instead of cold and rainy.

I did find that condensation builds up curbside next to the bed where I sleep. This due to me breathing/snoring next to the aluminum. My wife thinks it is interesting to watch me sleep, everytime I inhale or exhale, an interesting pattern appears on the metal from my breath.

Mike I: I'm feelin' better already. Thank you.

Joanthan
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
Some folks also use plastic like you see in the stores for windows at home. By placing a layer of plastic film and securing it on the window frame, you cut down on the condensation.
My last trip with a family of four produced a lot of condensation on the windows when then temperature dropped outside. Personally, I was happy to have it collect on the windows instead of hanging around to be absorbed by all the soft goods. Seems like it would be a mildew issue.

I was actually thinking about cracking the windows next time to let the condensate drip on the ground.

I'm still new at this (my rivets were acquired during the refurb). What's the best way to deal with too much moisture in the air? A dehumidifier?

Tom
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Old 11-02-2004, 04:40 PM   #10
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I have found that most dump stations are missing the end of the water hose, and/or have a very short hose. I think this is to prevent people from using the rinse water to refill their water tank. It does make it impossible to use the black-tank-rinse system. I bring a cheap green hose, only used for this purpose, in case there is somewhere to connect it for the black-tank-flush.

I think the small inverters are very inefficient - if you plan on using your laptop often you should get a 12V car adapter for it instead.

The battery will not last long running the furnace - one night if it starts out nearly fully charged. I have experienced the same symptoms... the battery gets low, the furnace fan slows, and it smells. Eventually the sail switch or overtemp limit should flip - but until then it is mildly overheating due to insufficient airflow. A good battery, charged for a couple hours each day with the Honda EU2000i, should work okay.

My original battery did not last very long. It may be that between the time the trailer is manufactured and when it is sold the trailer sits around too long, and the battery dies. The dealer charges it up before selling the trailer, but it does not last long. Also, the Interstate battery that came with my trailer was a combo RV/Marine Starting/Deep Cycle battery. After just over 1 year I had to replace it... with a deep cycle battery.

I have no cure to the high humidity/condensation problem either. Clean up with a towel and ventilate with a slightly opened window and/or roof vent - that's about all you can do.
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Old 11-02-2004, 05:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I have found that most dump stations are missing the end of the water hose, and/or have a very short hose. I think this is to prevent people from using the rinse water to refill their water tank.
And just to take the thought the final step, the reasoning they don't want to to fill your water tank is that in most cases the water supplied to this hose is not potable.....or in simple words, not safe to drink.

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Old 11-02-2004, 05:16 PM   #12
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I had a battery that would not hold a charge because it sat to long and had sulfated plates because it sat to long. My neighbor brought over his industrial charger and just boiled the hell out of it for hours and then put a smaller charger on it. Battery works like new and holds a charge. Go figure. About the only thing to keep the moisture down is to pump cold air in to evacuate out the moisture. I think this subject has been addressed on this forum.
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Old 11-02-2004, 06:49 PM   #13
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They remove the end of the water hose so that you will not be tempted to fill the potable water tank. I hold my washwater for a day before I drain my blackwater tank. The washwater is used for flushing the hose. Mom use to wash our hair using a slip over the faucet hose with a shower head on it. I have seen a homemade one that had the slip on and a male at the other end. It was useful in some campgrounds out west where they had potable water at the bathhouse but no easy way to connect to it.
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Old 11-03-2004, 12:15 AM   #14
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CL,
Here are some of my thoughts on your 1st experiences boondocking........take them with a grain of salt!

Quote:
I don't know if this was a coincidence or not, but my wife and I wanted to watch a movie on our laptop, so I plugged a Pro-Watt 300 inverter into the 12v. socket in the AS to keep power to the laptop for few hours while watching the movie
While boondocking, we have watched movies on our laptop (fully charged before starting) on laptop battery power. The key is to have your laptop fully charged before starting. Then, when generator is on, make sure to recharge your laptop for the next movie.

Quote:
After reading the owners manual, I found information about the CO detector that states if the main battery(s) are running down, you could get unpredictable indicators and behavior. This proved to be the case, because once I charged up the batteries with the Honda for a few hours, everything was normal again
We've also been there and done that.......learned from our first AS rally boondocking during cold nights to turn heater off at night and "snuggle up with the one you're with" to avoid LP detector going off at 4:30 AM! We also learned to have the LP tank direction to "both" (rather than left or right tank) to avoid running out of LP

We too are fond of flushing our blackwater tank! We haven't run into the "hose end thieves" yet.....but when we do have a chance to put on "our" hose, I simplified the technique by installing a "quick disconnect (QD)" to our freshwater and black water hoses and to the blackwater and freshwater flush receivers on the AS, expediting both procedures. Well, when you have a QD on your blackwater flush and fresh water supply, it's easy to improperly connect the freshwater to the blackwater......and before you know it you have blackwater bubbling over in your toilet (YUK). So to remedy this, I had to remove our QD from the blackwater connection to prevent a duplication of error!! At the present time, our BW tank flush does not work (water doesn't enter the tank for unknown reason). Hope to get some ideas at the AS forums rally at Beverly Beach, OR in a couple of weeks.

Another error we made.....when checking into private CG's, they say you will need a water pressure reduction fitting to put onto your freshwater hose ($29.50 sold by the CG) to prevent damage to your plumbing. So we bought one and used it.....then when we get back, I called our dealer, and he said it's already built into your AS ! Don't fall for that one!

In summary.....Glad you had fun.....consider relabeling your Club Sodas.....keep on learning.....enjoy your unique purchase......keep your BW tank clean!!!!

Jim
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