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Author Topic: Getting Ready for Winter - keeping the bus warm in the shop  (Read 3379 times)
rv_safetyman
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Jim Shepherd


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« on: October 27, 2011, 06:11:46 PM »

As noted in another thread, we just returned home from a good trip (41 days, 3100 miles) only to face a big snow storm (18 inches according to the weather service) and 14* last night.  Sure brings winter preparation to the top of the list.  It looks like we will not use the bus till next spring.

Our bus is almost impossible to winterize.  There are lots of water items that make it impractical to drain and/or antifreeze.  These include the dual element drinking filter, water systems in the fridge, and washing machine.  Thus I keep the bus temperature above freezing (interior and bays).  The bays are pretty easy, as the boiler keeps them pretty warm.

A couple of years ago we were gone quite a bit during the really cold months, so I just relied on the Aqua-Hot to do its job.  Last winter I got the bright idea to heat the bus with the small electric heater that we use in campgrounds or when we are on a pole. Seemed like a good idea since diesel fuel was so expensive -- until we got the first couple of bills.  WOW.  I did some calculations and I think we paid close to $60 per month in the worst months (1500 watts times an estimated 12 hours per day times $.11 per KWH times 30 days).  I am not sure about the hours, but every time I went out, the darn heater was running.  

The big issue is that the electric heater control lower temperature limit is 60 degrees.  Thus the heater tried to keep the bus at 60*.  In talking to someone they mentioned a thermostatically controlled outlet.  I did some looking and settled on the unit shown here:

http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/controls.shtml  (35*-45* heating outlet)

I plan to use a combination of the electric heater and the Aqua-Hot.  I am trying to find a lower temperature thermostat that is compatible with the Aqua-Hot (current one is 50* minimum).  Anyone have a suggestion for an Aqua-hot thermostat?

The bus is in the shop, but the shop is not heated.  On our trip it dawned on me that I need to put the window coverings on, including the foil type covering for the windshield.  How could I not have thought of that last year?

Those are my thoughts.  Any other suggestions?

Jim
« Last Edit: October 27, 2011, 06:27:18 PM by rv_safetyman » Logged

Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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robertglines1
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2011, 06:20:30 PM »

skirt;like a house trailer.  plastic /taped or just wedged in bay doors. block all vents where heat could escape.  heat rises- save it.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2011, 06:25:03 PM by robertglines1 » Logged

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luvrbus
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2011, 06:34:29 PM »

Yep winter is on the way I had to pack my shorts, and sandals and dig out the winter clothes jeans ,socks and tennis shoes ah Arizona love it lol thinking about Jim in the Carhartts 

good luck
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bs4104
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2011, 07:28:12 PM »

Jim just come out my way, Bruce@Pismo Beach!
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Rick59-4104
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2011, 07:31:51 PM »

 Would cost for materials but if insulating the shop is not practical you could always build an insulated framed "box" around the bus. Since the walls would not be load bearing you could stretch out spacing of vertical framing to probably 4' centers and put up rigid insulation, 10 or 12 foot ceiling joists on 4' centers over the bus with insulation. Over a period of a few years you would recoup some of the initial costs. Just a thought.

 Of course if you live in an area where the "building permit inspectors" have to inspect every nail that is driven would probably not be practical,  Also you might not want a bus sized box in the middle of the shop Smiley Hey it was just a thought.....

Rick
« Last Edit: October 27, 2011, 07:41:58 PM by Rick59-4104 » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2011, 09:31:20 PM »

Hello Jim.

Is there somewhere in the aquahot circuits that adding or reducing resistance would fool it into running cooler?

Long ago and far away, I was involved in the install of some new gas boilers in a church, replacing an old oil fired monster.

No doubt, there are off the shelf solutions today, but this is what we did.

In order to turn down the temp in the building for those days of the week it was unused...

The controls of the new gas boilers were set up with a rheostat in one of the temp sensing circuits to fool the controls into thinking it was warmer than it really was, thus inhibiting the boilers from running as hot as they thought they should.

This set-up measured inside/outside temps, as well as boiler water output and return, and mixed the firing of two boilers in sequence, so a traditional thermostat solution wasn't feasible to keep the rest of the control design's efficiency intact.

happy coaching!
buswarrior



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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2011, 10:52:02 PM »

  I would rather take the time and put proper drains wherever needed, dump some RV antifreeze where I cant, and sleep at night without worrying about power and excess bills. There was an ice storm down here in 09. We wernt here yet, but weve seen the pics and heard the stories. Our Fire Chief was 23 days without power and hes about a mile from me.

  Im sure you could pour RV antifreeze in your washer and cycle it through without it harming anything. As for the fridge and other items, couldnt you blow them out, disconnect lines, etc.? I bet in less than an hour you could have it secured.
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Jeremy
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2011, 03:56:10 AM »

When I want to dry a boat out with a dehumidifier I buy some rolls of builder's polythene and build a sealed bubble around the boat, with the dehumidifier's water hose led outside. If you built such a bubble, and then built a second bubble around the first (with an air gap between the two) I think the inner bubble would become quite well heat-insulated. The outdoor 'Carcoon' models use exactly this principle to keep cars warm and dry.

You'd need a lot of polythene to build a 'buscoon' but it's cheap enough to buy in the thin gauges.

Jeremy




 
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2011, 04:53:20 AM »

How about a stack of straw bales around the barn?

-jbn
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rv_safetyman
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2011, 05:34:44 AM »

Wow, some interesting thoughts.

I had discussed the shop and options for working in it in the winter here:

http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=20909

After that thread, I made the decision to buy used hot water solar panels and use them to put some heat into the shop hydronic floor heating.  Found several used sets for sale.  However, as usual, I ran out of time and money.

In this thread, I would like to concentrate on the bus itself.  I don't mind funding a reasonable amount to heat the bus - my goal is to do it as efficiently as possible (read lowest cost).  I think the temperature controlled outlet is a start.  I also think that finding a lower set-point thermostat for the Aqua-Hot would help a ton.

I am paranoid about trying to freeze proof the water system and then find that I did not get the job done - via a failed component in the fridge or the washing machine.  Propylene Glycol still expands a bit and I don't have any confidence that house type components have a tolerance for any expansion.

Bob, I can't tell from your post if you were suggesting fooling the boiler to control the cut off temperature, or fooling the thermostat.  I have one of my sensors mounted in the unit next to the boiler and it must be pretty well insulated.  The water is still very warm after a night of some pretty low temperature with no heat source.  I think if I could find a way to have the heat from the Aqua-Hot come on at 40* rather than 50* I would be well ahead of the game.  That would also make the electrical heater work in concert with the Aqua-Hot system (better matched set points).

Thanks everyone for all the ideas.

Jim

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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2011, 05:38:43 AM »

Jim, if you have natural gas I have a new 124,000 btu Modine forced air heater I bought for the shop 5 years I'll make you a deal on still in the box it doesn't get cold enough here to warrant installing it 

PS your credit is good with me lol

good luck
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 06:16:35 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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robertglines1
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2011, 06:04:34 AM »

straw bales=mice
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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2011, 06:09:35 AM »

eBay 380379170919 goes down to 20 degrees, might work for you.
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2011, 09:16:14 AM »

straw bales=mice

wrap the bails in window screen or other tight mesh and make sure they are well up off the ground.. maybe with plenty of traps around the floor
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2011, 09:40:39 AM »



I am paranoid about trying to freeze proof the water system and then find that I did not get the job done - via a failed component in the fridge or the washing machine.  Propylene Glycol still expands a bit and I don't have any confidence that house type components have a tolerance for any expansion.


  I been paranoid about freezing since I grew up in Duluth where -50F isnt completely unheard of, my Dad recalled -54F up at the Air Base one cold morning. Ive pesonally observed 50/50 ethylene glycol freeze on several occasions, once up on Lake Mil Lacs,.... it only protects to -34F. Below that it gels, or turns into a kind of slush. My understanding is if a 50/50 solution goes colder than -34F, it wont break anything. Even so, the last 30 some years I always protected my vehicles with 60/40 to 70/30 antifreeze just so I knew they wouldnt bust, because I was paranoid.

  I cannot tell you how many inboard boats ive come across up in Minnesota with cracked blocks, noobs dont think to drain them and drunks forget. Same with RV's, lots of broken lines and expanded/ruptured water heaters each spring.

  Ive never broke anything (yet) and ive never kept anything heated or in a heated area, it just wasnt ever practical unless your making money in a shop, the fuel bills up there are amazing. I pull all the drains, then blow it out besides, keep blowing until there is no more vapor or mist, just air. Worked on the irrigation system in the lawn too, and you know theres going to be some low spots there. Just let it blow and blow. Never broke anything in the lawn in over 10 years we lived in that house, and we had almost two acres of lawn irrigation and dozens of heads.

 The Bounder I was real anal about the first couple winters, but everyone told me it was self draining. Pull the plugs, open all the faucets, pour some orange down the traps, and walk away. Been 5 years I been doin that and its been working fine. I did repace the plug in the water heater with a Teethough , no tools needed now, just flip it and let her go.

  On your fridge, which you obviously have good reason to worry about, I would read the manuals, call the manufacture and ask them their ideas, call a couple appliance guys, as well as get your nose into some kind of scematic, open it up and have a looksee, etc.. Either there is a simple way to drain it, or it could be modified/adapted to accomplish that goal. I just always like to think worst case scenario, whats the worst that could happen that could harm me or my stuff. And I dont want to be stuck with junk when the power grid fails.
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