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Old 05-16-2012, 12:26 AM   #1
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1966 24' Tradewind
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5000 BTU/hr AC and 1,000 Watt Genny

I have a 66 TW with an Armstrong original AC unit. It cools fine but it is rather noisy and I know that I will need at least a 3,000 watt genny to operate this unit. In addition to being noisy the unit has an anoying vibration and sweats a lot dripping water on the floor. So we don't use the AC unless it is absolutely necessary.

Up until recently I was planning on boondocking without AC and keeping cool by using fans and minimizing extra heat in the trailer by switching to LED lighting. However my interest in AC was revived last week when I saw a thread where a guy installed an AC in the back window that only took him 10 minutes. He would install it after setting up camp and then remove it before he traveled with the Airstream. The only thing I did not like was that it was an 8,500 btu/hr AC unit and it took up the whole rear window thus he no longer got any natural light through that window. One of the nice features of my TW is the large front and rear windows. They are 39" by 20". I have a 5,000 btu/hr AC, leftover from our last daughter going to college, that is 18.5" by 12". If I install this in the lower right side of the bathroom window, over the toilet, I am only blocking 30 % of the window. So I still let in lots of natural light.

My plan is to install it in the bathroom over the toilet. This space is right in front of the door to the central sleeping area. I will keep the door closed that separates the rear of the trailer from the front of the trailer. This way the AC only has to cool half the trailer, about 75 sq ft. I believe the small AC will cool this area just fine (at least in theory until I install the AC and test it).

I have not worked out details of the installation, but I believe it will be quite simple. I will just raise the rear window, remove the screen and secure the AC to the lower window channel and the right side. A support off the rear bumper can be installed if needed. The space around the AC will be filled in by tinted plexiglass. Once I get it all designed and built, I don't think that it will take more than 10 minutes to install.

Earlier today, I was excited about the thought of cooling with only a 5k unit because I was hoping that I could use my 1,000 watt Honda genny. The last 6 times I have gone camping I have not had to crank up the genny because I have two deep cycle golf cart batteries and LED lights. Now I could at least use the genny IF it would operate the 5k AC. The specs on the AC are promising: only 4.8 amps and 520 watts on high.
So I started up the genny today and tried to operate the AC on high. Just as I thought, the starting current was too high, and it would not start. So I restarted the genny and turned the AC on low cool. It started and after running for a few minutes on a cool 70 degree day, it was cranking out 40 degree air. I was amazed at how quiet the unit was. After running about 10 minutes I turned the unit on high and it stayed running and the outlet temperature increased slightly to 44 degrees, but at a much higher and slightly noisier airflow. The test was a success! I will plan to actually run the unit on low after cooling it down initially on the high setting.

My AC unit is 5 years old, but I saw one similar today at Lowes for only $99.

I will probably store the AC unit in the bottom of a closet and strap it down securely when traveling.

I would welcome feedback from the forum both positive and negative.

I will post pictures once I get it all designed and installed.

Dan
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Old 05-16-2012, 12:41 AM   #2
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I too have made a test with a 5000 btuh window unit AC and my 1000 watt Honda. The one test I made was on a 75 degree day and I did find that it would start and run on the Honda in the non eco mode. It would even run after started on the eco mode!

However, I did not try to start it, or re start it (like normal cycling) on a hotter day such as 90 or 100 F. The test was run at 1500 ft elevation, and the little Honda might not do the same thing at 4 or 5 thousand feet.

Still, it was interesting to me that it would start and run it under the limited situation I mention. I hope yours does as well in the trailer. By the way, the high cool and low cool are only the fan speeds, not the compressor capacity or current draw. The low speed you used would take less current to start the fan and the compressor together. It would be even less if you could put a delay start on the fan, so the compressor started first, then the fan a few seconds later.
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Old 05-16-2012, 06:07 AM   #3
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you should try to let the ac run for a while and cycle at a warm temp as mentioned.

i had done the window thing in an emergency situation and it can be done fairly easily. i used a 1"x3" board across the top to simulate a window frame. trim the corners of the board and drop it in at an angle so it is tight on both sides. make sure you put foam insulation on all side or the skeeters will get in.

lastly make sure that it tilts down on the outside edge or it will drip water/condensation inside.

there is a thread somewhere here showing a window unit mounted in a storage compartment.
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Old 05-16-2012, 06:30 AM   #4
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Dan,

Here's how I do the same thing you're talking about on a 1966 Safari. I used a 6K BTU unit on the platform built in the pictures. The covering hides the setup and look like a window awning/cover. You could change over the genset to propane and on one 30# tank run your AC all weekend, 24 hrs a day for 3 days. I used this setup in Perry, GA back at the International Rally in 100 degree heat and did fine, at night it would get down to the low 61 in the trailer and the outside of the trailer would be sweating the next morning. Have had a couple of bud's use the same setup in hot temps too. In fact, one of them is a 1966 TW, though he decided to use the back window like you talk about.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...t-41052-2.html


Enjoy,
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Old 05-16-2012, 07:42 AM   #5
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Idroba

Thanks for the info about how the AC operates when on low and the thought about putting the fan on time delay. I will do this if needed.

Rideair

Great minds think alike. Nice use of the Walmart table. Looks like it works well for you. Thanks for the idea of running the genny on propane. I had no idea that it would run so long. I could just keep a container of propane in the truck bed with the genny.

I thought about mounting the AC in the front window, but this is where our dog (small beagle) likes to hang out. The bathroom window is really out of the way and not used for looking out. The mechanical aspects of mounting it should be quite simple.

Like others have commented if you aren't using the AC that much anyways why carry this ugly appendage on top that ruins the lines of a vintage Airstream. I could have 4 fantastic vents!

Dan
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:06 AM   #6
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Dan,

Had "Three" Fantastic Fans in a 1966 Safari. With the all the fans blowing out of the trailer, windows shut, if you place the door opening about 6 inchs or so, it would suck the door shut!

I will be putting three of them in a 1956 Safari Front Kitchen later this year. I like wind tunnels.

Enjoy,
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:12 AM   #7
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5000 BTU is not enough...period. It won't cool a Bambi. I have 2 Fantastic Fans and love 'em....however, all they provide id a hot breeze. I am speakinf from a hot and humid location....if you live in Colorado your probably OK without a 13,500 and fans.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:57 AM   #8
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If you run the Honda on propane you may find it has a slightly lower output. Since this idea is pushing the Honda 1000 capacity pretty hard, it may or may not work out.

I assume you do know there are external tanks you can use on the Honda's with gas to make their run time extended amazingly long. I think they are 6 gal tanks. Since the original one on the 1000 watt Honda is half gal, a 6 gal tank would run it 12 times as long. Mine will run about 4 to 5 hours on the half gal tank as it is.
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:28 PM   #9
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Melody

This is not Texas. We usually camp in the mountains and in a shaded area and have heavy tinted windows. Also we will only be cooling half of the TW so only about 75 sq ft. I will be surprised if 5k does not cool it adequately, especially at night when we are sleeping.

idroba

I will only use the stock tank to run the genny until it seems appropriate to take the next step- the six gallon tank or propane- thanks for the comment though.

All

Well, I got to thinking about my 5year old 5k AC unit last night and spent about two hours surfing to see if I could find something more efficient and slightly smaller. I found just what I was looking for. It is a Frigidaire Model FRA054XT7 5k unit. It is smaller than my old one, 16w x 12h, more efficient with an EER of 10.7 vs 9.7, uses less power 465 watts vs. 520 watts, less amps 4.5 amps vs. 4.9 amps, and has electronic controls plus a remote control. Now it was priced at $189 most places on the internet plus shipping, but I stumbled across it at Best Buy on sale for $139. I just brought it home. I can't test it to compare it to my old one right now since I am 200 miles from home, but I will test it asap to see how it does with my Honda Genny. Hopefully it will start on the high fan speed without having to start it up on the low fan speed. Oh, I found sound data for this AC of 53 dB on low and 57 dB on high, so real quiet compared to my overhead Armstrong unit. Stay tuned.

Dan
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:07 PM   #10
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Dan,

There's only one thing you can do at this point, get one for both the front and rear window, up the genset to a 2000 watt Honda and start a business on the side storing meat when you're not camping in the trailer!

Remember, the AC in the trailer is not working unless you have to wear a down jacket.

Enjoy,
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:22 PM   #11
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Your Armstrong can be repaired, in fact there is a thread that is a sticky where the owner bumped up its power with a new compressor, and even went to the extreme of installing the parts to make it into a heat pump.

Not that you need to go that far, but personally, I think the hassle of dragging out a big heavy window AC unit then storing it when you leave would be such a drag I would prefer to swelter in the heat. And in the meanwhile it eats a major window interferes with use of the toilet.

The leaks must mean that your drain tube is blocked. That is easily fixed. Who knows, the rattling might be fixable too.

All I am saying is why go to an odd-looking, annoying solution when all you need is a repair, and will wind up with a 13,500 BTU unit that can stay where it is?
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post

~~
Not that you need to go that far, but personally, I think the hassle of dragging out a big heavy window AC unit then storing it when you leave would be such a drag I would prefer to swelter in the heat.

~~
Spoken like someone who lives in a temperate climate.

It has been made clear to me that if we have no AC, we do no summer camping. Our old Armstrong definitely provides sufficient white noise to make us oblivious to anything short of armed insurrection taking place outside the trailer, but it makes it comfy inside. It held low 80s inside with the Argosy in direct sun at a very humid 105F in Arkansas last summer. I just recently bought it a 3kw Yamaha to allow us to camp more places in the 2/3s of the year in which it's too bloody hot around here.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:54 PM   #13
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rideair

Believe me, I have already thought of that- not the meat locker, but putting two 5k units in with a 2k genny. We will see how one works first.

Aage

Sure I could repair the Armstrong and improve its performance, but now I have to buy at least a 3k genny to power it and feed it with lots of fuel. I am trying to cool just half the trailer, use my Honda ik genny to power it and keep the noise level reasonable. And now my AC is quite reliable cuz I just bought a new one for $140 and it weighs less than 40 lbs. I just need to try this out and see for myself how I like it. I may not like the hassle of installing and removing the AC everytime I go camping in hot weather without hookups. We will see. At least I will have the option of boondocking and having cheap and quiet AC if I want it. Also, since I bought the new smaller unit it will only take up 25% of the window (the lower right quarter).

DKB

Believe me I know what you mean- My son lives in FW. He says hey why don't you and mom move to FW? I say no thanks, Virginia is hot enough for me.

Seriously, I am always up for a good technical challenge. One of my favorite sayings is that new solutions have new problems. I am just going to find out what those are and how they stack up against the old problems with the overhead Armstrong unit.
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Old 05-18-2012, 04:04 PM   #14
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Dan,

Just noticed you are from Lynchburg. We were down that way over the weekend staying at a cabin we own that sits on the Tye River in Massie's Mill out Rt. 56 in Nelson County.

If your looking for a place to camp were right up the road in Front Royal right off the Shenandoah River. Also, the WDCU will have their summer rally this year at the OBX from Aug 5th-12th.

Enjoy,
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