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Old 10-24-2008, 01:30 PM   #1
Alisons Alley
1976 31' Excella 500
Pleasantville , New York
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2
Question I need some heat! Best options advice needed!

I just got my first Airstream (1976 Excella ctr bath) and plan to renovate/update through the winter--but its getting cold! The furnace is shot and the original heat pump in the AC doesn't seem to really heat (?). Has anyone ever tried installing radiant heat in the floor? (mine is down to the wood at the moment getting ready for Pergo) ...Has anyone ever installed a small gas 0 clearance fireplace?
What is best for snow country?
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Old 10-24-2008, 01:51 PM   #2
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,254
If you aren't going to have any water in it, you can go with a catalytic heater. We have one in our Sovereign, and it warms the trailer nicely down to about 25 degrees. It may do better, but that's all the colder it's ever gotten while we were in it.
One thing to know about the orignal heating system, it was ducted into the holding tanks, to keep them from freezing during cold weather. If you plan to use the water and holding tanks when it's cold, you'll have to take that into consideration.
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Old 10-24-2008, 02:04 PM   #3
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 7,064
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If you want heat while working in the trailer during the winter a catalytic heater is the way to go. Since they are a radiant type heater they heat you long before they heat the box.

You can get units that mount on a small propane bottle or install an Olympic on a frame while working and have it to install permanently during your finish work.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 10-24-2008, 03:24 PM   #4
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1994 34' Excella
Mount Vernon , Kentucky
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 261
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I would stay with the propane furnace system. A new replacement would give you many years of comfy, toasty heat.
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Old 10-25-2008, 06:03 AM   #5
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2001 34' Limited
The State of , Ohio
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,605
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If you have not already done so, you need to drain the fresh water, grey water, and black water tanks, as well as the water heater and all the plumbing before the temperature starts dropping below freezing.

The furnace in an Airstream heats the tanks and plumbing between the floor and belly pan below them. There is no substitute if you want to have functional, undamaged plumbing in the winter.
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Old 10-25-2008, 09:35 AM   #6
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1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 915
It sounds as if you're looking for a permanent heat source rather than for construction phase. As noted, the forced air furnace solution has a lot to offer, and esp. tank heating. But here are some other solutions I've run across here on the Forums:

Gallery :: Patti's Pearl 1954 Flying Cloud :: IMG_0105

DickinsonMarine.com - Marine Heaters, Stoves and Barbeques

Traditional Cast Iron Marine Stoves by Navigator Stove Works,Inc.

Good luck! Let us know what you decide to do and how it works out. Inquiring minds want to know.

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Old 10-25-2008, 10:54 AM   #7
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1973 31' Excella 500
Morristown , Tennessee
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 193
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Hello, Pleasantville

I have the 1973 Excella model. It was standard with the catalytic heater near the entry dor as well as forced air powered by the Suburban heater. I plan to keep both for several reasons. Versatility is important and if away from a KOA, keeping the fresh water and holding tanks from freezing. The catalytic heater will operate, like the gas light in my box, without 12 volt It's a small cost for a real restoration of the ultimate aluminum package. It's my theory that you won't regret it.

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Old 11-18-2008, 09:52 AM   #8
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1975 31' Sovereign
Pelzer , South Carolina
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 225
Images: 5
I had the same problem, installed the catalytic heater, and ran the furnace blower to circulate the heat...worked ok, but decided now to replace the furnace
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:18 AM   #9
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1984 28' Funeral Coach
Belleview , Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,635
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I put electric heat mat down before we tiled the kitchen floor. It works very nice at home but I'm not sure about putting it below Pergo. Best check with the manufacturer of the flooring material.

I'm a big fan of the electric radiant heat in the floor. It's very efficient in the use of power as well as production of heat.

In the motorhome I'd be tempted to put a reflective barrier down first if the flooring material will handle the heat mat below.

I used Thermosoft. Warm Tile, Electric Floor Heating - ThermoSoft

There are other resources if you google "Electric Floor Heat Mat". Nuheat has product for engineered floors.
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1984 28' Funeral Coach
Former Rolling Showroom & PuttLab (now party bus)
"I'm not an expert. But I did sleep in an Airstream last night."
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