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Old 12-28-2009, 05:11 PM   #1
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r-value of insulation in new ASs?

I am considering either a Flying Cloud or an International (25-27 ft range) in the next couple of years. In my searches on this forum and others I have not been able to determine exactly how much insulation - specifically the r-value - is placed in the walls, floors, and ceilings of these coaches. I know that the stuff AS uses is standard, construction grades batts and is not foam. I was just visiting a large dealer in central CA and he "guessed" that it was r-11. Can someone fill in the missing info?
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Old 12-28-2009, 05:34 PM   #2
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I am considering either a Flying Cloud or an International (25-27 ft range) in the next couple of years. In my searches on this forum and others I have not been able to determine exactly how much insulation - specifically the r-value - is placed in the walls, floors, and ceilings of these coaches. I know that the stuff AS uses is standard, construction grades batts and is not foam. I was just visiting a large dealer in central CA and he "guessed" that it was r-11. Can someone fill in the missing info?
Sorry, but the dealer did not do their homework.

There is 2 inches of fiberglass through out the trailer.

The R value is 6.3, as per insulation manuals.

Also, the fiberglass insulation that Airstream installs, "DOES NOT" have a backing of any type or kind.

Andy
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Old 12-28-2009, 05:37 PM   #3
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I'm betting an effective value about a third of R-11. A 3.5" fiberglass batt has an R value of 13. You're dealing with at most half of that thickness. Every metal rib is a big heat conductor. Here's my Safari in the low 20s at dawn; note the lack of frost anywhere near the ribs/rivet lines.
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IMO, that significantly pulls down the average R value. Any claim of R value implies "better for the cold." There are many factors on how to manage cold weather situations.
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Old 12-28-2009, 05:44 PM   #4
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hi dillon

welcome to the board.

shells are spun glass and NOW floors are bubble foil.

its ALL single digit R value, there is only so much that can be done in such a small gap.

newer units also have a 'thermal break' butyl tape used in the walls (between sink/ribs)

which reduces conduction THROUGH the walls, but as bob's pic shows, NOT MUCH.

with windows/vents/skylights and holes for fridge/furnace stove vent and VERY POORLY sealed doors...

a/s are NOT known for being well insulated for the EXTREMES of temperature ranges.

LOTs of discussion about this in old threads (mostly 04/05)

when there were RUMORS of different insulation in different models...

of course the rumors were wrong, but made for posting interest.

all u need is in these threads.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f249...ries-8925.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...ion-13619.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...sts-40442.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...ess-46441.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f458...load-9024.html

cheers
2air'
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Old 12-28-2009, 05:56 PM   #5
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how does AS insulation compare to other makes of trailers over all ?
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Old 12-28-2009, 06:50 PM   #6
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The vast majority of trailer manufacturers will not indicate the type of insulation or the r-value (at least in an easily accessible manner). My guess is that they don't want to draw attention to an issue that will cause concern among prospective buyers. The only companies that provide details appear to be the ones that are above average. So Heartland says its insulation is r-7. Keystone reports that it has r-11 in the floor and the ceiling in the Passport. The only company that I have found to have r-11 in walls, floors, and ceilings has suspended production because of the bad economy (a little outfit called Oliver trailers). Since I have gotten into researching this in the last few weeks I am sure that others know more, but I have been surprised that this doesn't attract more attention.
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Old 12-28-2009, 07:02 PM   #7
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How does A/S insulation compare to other makes of trailers over all ?

Among other all-aluminum trailers Silver Streak, Avion, and Streamline were all significantly better insulated, due mainly to the double shell completely encasing the interior (underside). On my S/S it was 6" under the floor to the outer skin; partial insulation and partial air space.

Avion and Streamline both utilized spray-foam insulation by the late 1960's.

Any of these is a better candidate for winter camping, but, I wouldn't really call any of them four-season trailers.

Not long after I got mine I met a pipeline inspector who lived in his S/S in Wyoming in the winter. He was on his second after more than a half-dozen years. I have numerous posts filed from owners in the Pacific Northwest who use theirs year round.


You must keep in mind that these trailers utilized deeper and much stronger frames which raises the trailer, overall. The tanks are fully enclosed. A/S opted for semi-monococque construction to reduce height and weight, where the walls are part of the "frame", unlike the others.

A/S used to be the lightweight trailer, (Streamline beat them after awhile), and one had the best road/wind performance by design and cross-section. Sadly, those days are long past.

It would be instructive to compare weights to say, a 1968 A/S, and check the cross-section, then to a modern version. One may see where that performance went after deducting interior finish, critter comforts, tank capacities, etc.

You may find posts by Brett [?] of Timeless Travel on insulation instructive.
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:03 PM   #8
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Thanks, everyone! This answers my question.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:33 AM   #9
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how does AS insulation compare to other makes of trailers over all ?
IMHO on the low side if you compare to units in the same price range as an AS. Teton and Bighorn from Heartland RV are some of the best insulated SOB's. There are plenty of others that offer "Arctic" packages, that included heated and enclosed tanks, double pane windows etc.

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Old 12-29-2009, 01:12 PM   #10
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Since I have gotten into researching this in the last few weeks I am sure that others know more, but I have been surprised that this doesn't attract more attention.
It doesn't attract much attention because it doesn't directly hit the wallets of campers: for most people, campgrounds charge a flat fee for the site regardless of how much you use in utilities. (Usually, if you stay at monthly rates, you have metered electric, but by and large weekend campers don't have to worry about that.)

There is some "direct impact" from the propane, but even that's not that expensive, and it only affects the people that camp in the cold weather frequently. For me, I try to conserve propane as much as possible because it's such a headache to get more in the B-van; if I run out in the middle of the trip, I pretty much have to rip up my campsite and secure everything in the camper to go get more, which is the last thing I want to do.

However, I've always heard that Airstream furnaces are usually installed such that they will help heat water lines and holding tanks. The holding tanks part is most definitely not true in my B-van (they're in the back, underneath), but the furnace does have a second vent in the bathroom, which is where most of the water lines in the camper are...
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Old 12-29-2009, 01:30 PM   #11
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The reason I thought that it would attract more attention reflects my anticipated use of the trailer. I want to spend time in many locations (parks and national forests) where hook-ups may be unavailable. In those circumstances the power to run the AC or the furnace blower is limited, even with a generator, and more insulation could make the difference between staying one or two days and a week. I realize that if most trailer owners don't camp in this manner very often then you are right they wouldn't care. But if that is the case wouldn't a niche market open up to address those who do go where hookups aren't available?
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:11 PM   #12
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Windows and ceiling penetrations are a big source of heat or cooling loss. I suspect they matter more than the walls. We have used a product called Reflectix to reduce that. It looks like bubble wrap covered with aluminum foil on each side. You can attach it to windows, fan openings and the skylight with Velcro. It's available at RV stores and Lowe's.

Since Airstreams leak a lot, the fiberglass gets wet, probably clumps, grows mold and becomes even less efficient as an insulator.

There are, as already noted, brands that are sold as four season trailers. Arctic Fox is one.

We have stayed up to 3 nights boondocking and have survived heat and cold reasonably well. We could have stayed longer, but there were places to go down the road. Water is also a limiting factor, mainly the grey water tank fills pretty quickly unless you are very, very careful. The trailer does get quite hot when it's hot outside, even with fans running and windows open and depending how much it cools down outside, the trailer may cool down at night. A solar panel helps to recharge the batteries to run fans and furnace, but a generator may be necessary too. It also helps to avoid climate extremes—don't boondock in Death Valley in summer, or winter in Yukon Terr., for example.

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Old 12-29-2009, 04:13 PM   #13
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We did camp in both 105F heat and 20F cold. Silver Streak offered, but our trailer did not come with, interior storm windows which would have been a help in both. We had custom curtains made that helped, and I considered having those storm windows made. We DID make custom "plugs" for skylights, etc. That was highly significant, as was chasing down gaps near doors, etc. In short, one must examine EVERY penetration.

While a generator would "extend the envelope" one is limited by it's power and durability, not to mention fuel consumption. Between oil changes and other necessary service, most generators are rather light duty. Not what one would expect to run constantly for weeks. Choose carefully.

Using the stove and oven to cook dinner was great in cold weather. I wish there were a summer equivalent.
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:37 PM   #14
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Windows and ceiling penetrations are a big source of heat or cooling loss. I suspect they matter more than the walls. We have used a product called Reflectix to reduce that. It looks like bubble wrap covered with aluminum foil on each side. You can attach it to windows, fan openings and the skylight with Velcro. It's available at RV stores and Lowe's.

Since Airstreams leak a lot, the fiberglass gets wet, probably clumps, grows mold and becomes even less efficient as an insulator.

There are, as already noted, brands that are sold as four season trailers. Arctic Fox is one.

We have stayed up to 3 nights boondocking and have survived heat and cold reasonably well. We could have stayed longer, but there were places to go down the road. Water is also a limiting factor, mainly the grey water tank fills pretty quickly unless you are very, very careful. The trailer does get quite hot when it's hot outside, even with fans running and windows open and depending how much it cools down outside, the trailer may cool down at night. A solar panel helps to recharge the batteries to run fans and furnace, but a generator may be necessary too. It also helps to avoid climate extremesódon't boondock in Death Valley in summer, or winter in Yukon Terr., for example.

Gene
Gene, You say Airstreams leak a lot. Are you refering to the newer ones? Knock on wood, but I have never experienced that problem with my '87'.
Is it a common problem?
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