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Old 09-03-2008, 08:40 PM   #15
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1986 31' Sovereign
Kent , Ohio
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I would consider heat tape for the water lines. I kinda like the grizzly adams life style. I hunted with 2 batteried for 7 days during deer season it got real cold that year 20s at night didnt use the furnace much. Kept trl at 50. Batteries dead by thursday. We stayed till saturday anyways. My kids still talk about it. I wished I had a wood burner then. Crack a window for Air but those thing are air tight anyways.

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Old 09-04-2008, 12:35 AM   #16
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As a resident of the great white North, a former Vermonter, I must second (third) the advice concerning the provision of outside combustion air... it is not only a good idea, it is mandatory to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Word to the wise.

See if you can't find a glass carboy (5 gallon bottle) to store sufficient drinking water in back of the wood stove to outlast a week of bad weather. Understand that you'll want to get some straw bales at the farm down the road (note - that is straw, not hay) to totally surround the perimeter of the trailer at ground level for banking -- the floor is a heck of a heat loss area due to wide metal surface. Most folks use polyethylene film over the bales of straw to reduce the air infiltration to a minimum. Give some very serious consideration to building an "airlock" entry of a size sufficient to hold about a week's worth of fuel wood and spare LP bottles. Winter in Vermont is bloody cold. Subzero temps are a daily expectation in Jan., Feb. and much of March. The Airstream doors usually leak air like sieves -- hence the airlock recommendation. Plus, it'll give you someplace to knock the snow off your boots and clothing, a safe place to store your snowshoes where the porcupines and dogs can't get to them to gnaw on (the woods pigs are notorious gnawers upon tires, too). If you want to preserve the tires for your trailer, use them as the anchors to hold the tarp over the A/C and support the trailer with concrete blocks. To make sure your tires are protected from UV exposure enclose them with heavy contractor trash bags - they should last the winter.

Seriously, Aladdin-style kerosene or LP gas mantle lamps will be needed to maintain sanity if you are trying to read without benefit of the full 12VDC system. Realize that there may be periods as long as five days at a stretch with insufficient sunlight to recharge any solar setups. While you'll have access to warmth and light at the college, as well as showers and other sanitary facilities, many nights resulted in all-night cram sessions just to keep up with everything required. Much easier to do when snuggled in a big, puffy, polyfill sleeping bag (less hassle with moisture soaking fibers than down) and adequate light than squinting at that book illuminated weakly by flashlight while huddled under a tattered wool blanket...

Speaking of sannitary facilities, a covered 5 gallon pail will handle the waste generated by two students during the school week and over a weekend, assuming maximum utilization of the school's facilities. Another good reason for that woodshed /airlock.

While I envy you your youth and stamina, there's no way I want to spend a winter in New England in an Airstream. I've paid my dues in frostbite and bad backs from hauling wood, water and shoveling snow, pushing vehicles out of snowbanks and chopping holes in the lake for water. Better you than me. Still, if this economy goes to hell much more, I may have to do just that. Here's hoping I make it back down South before the snow flies with any seriousness.

Good luck!



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Old 09-04-2008, 06:22 AM   #17
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speaking of snow......

don't forget that if it gets deeper than the bottom of the door, you won't be able to get out.
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Old 09-04-2008, 07:02 AM   #18
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Alot of folks have a lot to say about living in an AS in winter - it can be done and done comfortably. Doing it off the grid without a generator is pretty severe though. Don't worry about level of snow - it works well to insulate your AS. If you do decide to skirt or use hay bales to insulate beneath your trailer - you may also consider a simple duct from your heat source to underneath the trailer which will provide some form of ventilation inside and re-use some decent heat that would otherwise be wasted. Also, give some consideration to leaving your trailer cold during the day - the stove will not heat it very fast and will make coming home a less than appetizing idea - and no matter where you live that feeling sucks. You can do this, but you have to plan well and prepare.
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Old 09-04-2008, 07:34 AM   #19
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What do mobile home owners do??
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Old 09-04-2008, 08:11 AM   #20
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Mobile homes are designed for 4 season use. They only have to worry about tornados.
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:55 AM   #21
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1993 25' Excella
Craftsbury Common , Vermont
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Wow, thanks for your interest and thoughtful responses!
We're used to lots of snow and cold, and we have a snow shovel for when that pesky stuff gets in the way. We're also used to 4:30 PM sunsets and weeks of cloudy weather, both of which have been taken into account in the sizing of the PV array and battery bank. We are mostly using the batteries for lights and music and the occasional laptop movie... and the propane furnace's blower fan if desperately needed.
Electricity conservation is the key... we know how much we're making every day because I'll have a tri-metric battery monitor and this sweet Outback MX60 charge controller that logs its output for 2 months at a time, so we can use no more electricity than we're making. I've been living in the trailer all spring and summer with no electricity or running water. The electricity, however much we have, will feel like a luxury. At least till it gets really cold.

There is a ground-fed spring 30 feet away that is accessible all year round.

We probably aren't going to do the straw insulation under the trailer, though it would probably help. There is not much local straw as very few farmers grow grain here... plus it just seems like it would make a mess. We are going to skirt the trailer with plywood. We're also planning on insulating the north- and west-facing windows, and duct-taping plastic to all the window wells on the inside. It'll be dark most of the time we're in the trailer anyway. I'm sure we will change some things in the winterizing process next year... maybe we will decide that some extra insulation would be a good idea.
I'll send a picture soon.

We are building a mudroom/airlock/storage area which will be up against the door. The battery bank will be housed in a box in there. I've taken into account the low temperature of the batteries in sizing the system.

We're already peeing in a bucket and pooing in our neighbors' composting toilet. And sneaking in the dorms late at night for showers....hehe.

I'm hoping that the Sardine will do wonders for drawing moisture out of the trailer and avoiding condensation buildup? any thoughts on this?
It's definitely not an airtight structure, so we are assuming the stove will suck air in from the outside constantly. And the stove is designed especially for this kind of application, so I guess we're trusting the stovemaker's experience on that question.
We're going to send the chimney right through the roof, we already have the insulated pipe and other parts for that.

We're getting a battery-operated CO monitor and we already have one that plugs into our small inverter, we could use that at night..
We will obviously be extremely careful when we start using the stove to see if it works the way we think it will.

Do we really need to fill the water lines with antifreeze, or can we just blow the water out and leave them empty all winter?

Thanks for your help, I'll send a picture soon.

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Old 09-04-2008, 12:34 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by cmell View Post
...Do we really need to fill the water lines with antifreeze, or can we just blow the water out and leave them empty all winter?
hi chester

no it's not essential, many folks just blow the lines and leave it at that.

others feel that the lines and JOINTS expand/contract more when empty,

and that the dryness makes leaking more likely when water is eventually in the lines.

also the small amount of water left in the tanks can mess up the drain seals with lots of freeze/thaw cycles.

all the lines, drains and tanks can be pinked for 5$, which is cheap insurance.

covering windows/frames from the inside is an issue.

moisture collects and freezes ON the glass and metal frames INSIDE whenever this approach is used..

and the ice inside causes many problems.

IF you really wanna insulate the windows do it from outside primarily.

along with the co detecter you need a LOW O2 detector there will be a risk of depleting available oxygen...

the fan blower can render useless 1 typical rv deep cycle battery EVERY night it's active, so plan accordingly.

heat loss (and cold gain) through the bottom is minor

compared to heat loss from windows, doors, the ceiling vents and so on...

but a barrier skirting the unit is a good thing.

the wood stove is unlikely to solve the condensation issues,

but IF the cold winter air is dry enough, condensation may not be much of a problem

best o' luck

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Old 09-04-2008, 12:48 PM   #23
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Forum member Carlos Ferguson has installed a wood-burning stove in his rig, and spent some winter time in it.

Here's a link to his full restoration thread:

The posts about installing the stove start around page 4.

Good luck!
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Old 09-04-2008, 06:44 PM   #24
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Condensation was a party killer for several forum members who posted on their full-time wintering in the time I've been reading posts here - think candle wax drips of ice coming off the aluminum window frames, ice trapped inside the plastic sheeting when any inside air finds its way between the air gap, etc. and even ice forming on the door frame-seals...

Two people over twelve hours exude quarts of moisture that inexorably finds its way to cold metal - mopping up the liquid and chipping the ice will most likely be a daily chore for a bunch of weeks, you are just too near the Ocean to count on super-dry artic air (like Minnesota). One suggestion I can make is air the bedding out outside when you get up in the morning, nice snugly bed linens soak up a lot of water vapor overnight and in the worse case you'll notice damp bedding the next use, as well as having the clothes hamper in the battery room air-lock area...

What I'd like to recommend (haven't tried it yet) is using horse-mexican type blankets as wall hangings - even some indoor/outdoor carpet runner on the ceilings to keep the cold-soak of aluminum from getting painful. But alas I note that they can suffer from condensation also, it would be an experiment.

I would also invest in some thin 4x8 sheets of foam to put on the floor and cover with carpets - TheCatsandI (I think) had extra insulation added at Jackson Center after living with a too-cold floor...

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Old 09-04-2008, 07:15 PM   #25
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Condensation is a big issue -

We camp every winter over Christmas in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and such. That being said, we commonly encounter temperatures near zero at night and many times not rising above freezing during the day. In the beginning we would wake up to find that we could not see out the windows as they were covered in ice on the inside and the interior walls of the CCD had many areas of accumulated ice. The solution was simple - crack one of the fantastic vents about two inches. Once we did that, the ice was not a problem and we didn't notice any significant change in the interior temperatures.
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:13 PM   #26
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1993 25' Excella
Craftsbury Common , Vermont
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Hi again,
just wondering if anyone with a woodstove installed in their airstream has been able to find a company willing to insure it.
because we keep getting rejected.

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Old 09-09-2008, 12:39 PM   #27
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Riverhead , New York
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How on earth would they know?

No one asked me if I had a wood stove when I got insurance, did you volunteer the info
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Old 09-09-2008, 02:56 PM   #28
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You might consider these heaters. They look to be compact and have options of solid fuels. - Marine Heaters, Stoves and Barbeques


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