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Author Topic: Roof top AC  (Read 3083 times)
Gerry H
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« on: July 02, 2012, 03:29:40 PM »

It's getting near time to add some roof top AC's to my conversion. Been thinking I would go with 2 Dometic Penquin 15K btu (low profile) units to start and possibly add a portable 12K inside to supplement. Thoughts and experience tips welcome. I've only found one place so far that sells them, so I could use some tips on where to buy also. Thanks Gerry H
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Bill B /bus
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 07:24:33 PM »

Searched the internet and bought from an outfit in Tennessee. No, I can't remember the name. Friendly people to deal with and the price was about the lowest. Came down to shipping cost. Which something to watch. Get a delivered price.

We're running two 13.5 Penguins in  a 40' without a problem at 95-100F and high humidity with comfortable temperatures inside the coach.

Bill
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 07:48:55 PM »

I do not know your setup.  Are you using the rooftops to cool you as you travel?  If so, you want the biggest unit you can get as far forward as it can go.  The bedroom, on the other hand can probably do quite well with a smaller unit.
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 08:18:27 PM »

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If so, you want the biggest unit you can get as far forward as it can go.

I second that. The biggest mistake I see in conversions, is placing the front AC to far back to do the driver any good. Build a platform five feet out over the front of your bus, mount the AC way out there, and pipe it back so it hits you in the face. This cools you in two ways, you would have the biggest sun blocking visor ever, and you get to enjoy the cold air before it gets sucked out of the bus. "One of these days" I am going to move mine as far forward as practical. It looks good where it is aesthetically, it just is not as effective as it could be.
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Gerry H
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 05:45:31 AM »

I still have the OEM AC for while underway. Roof tops for parked. Roof not raised, so will mount one between living room area and kitchen and the other between bedroom and bath with a portable (to add) in the bedroom. Only seem to find the 13K size for sale and not the 15K Why is that??? Would like to pickup units rather than pay freight. Gerry H
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2012, 06:05:15 AM »

Only seem to find the 13K size for sale and not the 15K Why is that??? Would like to pickup units rather than pay freight. Gerry H




Both of mine are low profile Gerry and they are out there.  15K with heat pumps.  Check around some more.  One word of caution, if you have not pre-wired as of yet.  Put each unit on a separate feed and fuse (circuit) you will be glad you did this in the end.  This will ensure you can run BOTH units at the same time (when they cycle, they demand a lot of juice).  If you do not do this, then you are going to be in a "zone mode" the majority of the time.

Hope this helps.

BCO
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 02:25:46 PM by boxcarOkie » Logged

John316
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 06:08:51 AM »

I don't know what things are like for you, but here is what we have.

When it was 105, the other day, rolling down the road, three airs was really struggling to cool our bus (we have a total of five). Stopped two does just fine (even up to 110, and over). The problem comes in driving. We have the 15K low profiles, like you are looking at. So far they have worked well, and we like them.

I just read that you have the OEM AC for OTR. That is really good, and just about the only AC system to really cool running down the road. In some ways I wish we would have kept ours, but that is why they sold our bus in the first place. AC was not working (it was an old Peter Pan bus out of the NE). We spent several thousand working on it, and couldn't get it going. We figured that if they could get it fixed at Peter Pan, we should pull it out. It had a bunch of leaks and they had mixed charges, etc...but enough about that. I am glad you have the OTR air.

When stopped, we usually have on air running in the front and one in the back. Usually does just great. I think you will like the two 15K's.

I agree with BCO (our posts just crossed). We have a separate 20 amp circuit to each of ours and haven't regretted it.

FWIW

John
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 01:24:54 PM »

Coleman low profile 13.5k btu for me.  I have 3.  I ducted mine and put a Danhard 3 speed blower to suck the air from the plenum and dump it in the cockpit.  It works very well for me going down the road, and it also doubles as a window defroster Wink  My units are 11 years old, replaced one fan capacitor and one Coleman t-stat in that time span.

David
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« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2012, 07:27:57 AM »

Absolutely, run a separate and dedicated circuit to each and every roof air.

If the power is available, you can CHOOSE to run 'em all!

Largest load in most conversions, by far, is the air conditioning.

Last place you want any warm wires or voltage loss, go up a wire size to 12 gauge at least.

I'll start a new thread about a dash air conversion kit.

happy coaching!
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« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 04:38:33 PM »

You won't need more than two, one might even do it since you have the original for driving, that is the hardest time to cool when the sun is beating down on the driver. Most rooftop AC problems are because of this so you have it made.

Don't put one close to the bedroom or bath, you won't need it once stopped and you won't like the noise.

I would put one midway to partly forward and see how that works before installing two. Of course it is nice to have one up front in case the original fails.

I can't emphasize too much how one is not desirable in the bedroom or too close to it. This is a really common mistake made by most converters, that and not placing  one as far forward as possible.
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2012, 07:12:44 AM »

i put ac by bed in my first bus 25 or so yrs ago, and in all the other 4.
but even with central heat/ air in the house, i have a window ac next to bed and have it on all night...winter or summer..
unless its like 30f or below that.
did discover in ak that if you leave window open all nite in bedroom at 15 or so below, the pipes in your master bedroom will start to freeze... Grin
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2012, 07:36:16 AM »

I am going to disagree with Gus here (sorry Grin). We wouldn't have a bedroom without air in there. There are times when you really like the noise. Depending on where you are staying, it can be a little noisy outside. Turn that air on, and it is just enough fan noise to not hear the outside. Personally, I like to be able to feel cool air as I sleep. If you don't like it, you can turn it off. My theory is I would rather be over cooled then under cooled.
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2012, 08:24:02 AM »

 I am going to disagree with Gus here (sorry Grin). We wouldn't have a bedroom without air in there. There are times when you really like the noise. Depending on where you are staying, it can be a little noisy outside. Turn that air on, and it is just enough fan noise to not hear the outside. Personally, I like to be able to feel cool air as I sleep. If you don't like it, you can turn it off. My theory is I would rather be over cooled then under cooled.

     Yeah, that "white noise" from a fan can be a big help (depends on the situation, though).  And I agree with your theory.  (But I have to tell you that I'm in favor of automatic/ thermo systems that keep the temp where you want it -- I HATE being woken up at night for anything ... door bell, dog wanting to go outside to pee, *me* wanting to go outside to pee, alarm system, getting another blanket/taking a blanket off the bed, etc.)
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2012, 12:18:43 PM »

We have two 13500 units.  One in the living room and one in the bedroom.  As mentioned before, the way I would do it different now is to have a bigger living room unit and put it as far front as I could.  I would still have one in the bedroom, but make it a small unit.  There is just not that much need for high capacity in that small room.  I do not like the fan noise at all, so most of the time when sleeping, we leave the bedroom door open and only put the front unit on.  However, there are times when you may want to close the door.  Having a separate unit makes that possible.  Also, after a days driving, there can be heat migrating up from the engine.  The bedroom unit helps deal with that.

I have added a deflector to the bottom of the front unit that blows all the air to the front.  This seems to work for us on the road since we are generally fine at around 80 degrees.  Therefore I think that another 1000 BTU's up front would be enough if we wanted to upgrade a bit.  We could put another rooftop unit in, but sometimes I consider getting one of those portable units and having it sit upfront with us. 
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2012, 12:36:48 PM »

  (snip)  sometimes I consider getting one of those portable units and having it sit upfront with us. 

    Lin, would you please post what you find if you look into the "portable" A/C units?  I considered one but all the ones I could find were low output (~7K BTU - i.e. about half the output of your roof airs), they were pretty bulky, besides dealing with the exhaust tube there was no way that they didn't pull in air that you'd already paid to cool to cool the condenser and then pump it overboard, they weren't cheap, didn't seem to look as if they'd like being permanently installed, and other issues that just made me think that they wouldn't work very well in a converted bus.  If you find different, please keep us informed.

Thanks,  Bruce H   NC   USA
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2012, 12:40:36 PM »

One thing I did want to mention, after reading Bruce's post....We have thermostats on all of our roof airs. At night we usually set the fan on high and 65. Nice sleeping. Also, Liin is right, helps knock the engine heat down (and for us, there is a BUNCH of heat that radiates up).

FWIW

John
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2012, 01:12:14 PM »

I do pretty much the same as Lin, it is just too cold and noisy to use the rear unit at night.

There is no problem with lack of  white noise from the front either, buses are pretty small compared to a house. I like white noise, especially when parked in WM or truck stops, but those rooftop ACs are really noisy, a lot more than white noise, and I hate to have cold air blowing directly on me in bed.
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2012, 02:29:03 PM »

Bruce, I was not saying that I am planning on trying it, but merely that I think about it sometimes.  I have seen units that claim to be 10,000 BTU or a bit more.  I am suspicious of the claims though.  If I were to do it, it would not be a permanent install but rather something removable for the winter.  You would, as you mention, have to duct the condenser air or you would be heating rather than cooling.  I think different people on the board have tried these units with varying results that range from totally useless and up.  I think it was Bob Glines that did something creative with one that came out good.

The trouble with rooftop units is the air velocity.  That is what makes them so loud.  The system itself, which is blowing a lot of air into a little plenum with louvers back and front is not efficient to begin with.  Add to that the desire to throw that air a large distance in order to cool a larger area, and you get a relatively high noise level.  Ducted rooftops are quieter.  I suppose, since the compressor in the rooftop unit is just on or off, if one could figure out a way to get finer control of the fan speed and lower it to a peaceful level without the evaporator coils freezing over, you'd have a pretty nice improvement.
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2012, 06:12:08 PM »

American RV sell the 641916 Penquin it only comes ducted with a wall mounted t stat I checked on 1 last week they are not really 15,000 btu but a 13,500 with some kinda of upgrade I passed on it as I need a cover type with the T stat 

Finally I bought a Coleman  lo/pro sure do miss the Carrier that would have been my 1st choice
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Gerry H
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« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2012, 05:05:46 AM »

Thanks all for your input, keep it coming please. I appreciate the interesting advice about where to put them, not put them, noise and air flow, but still have some questions. Several have mentioned putting them as far forward as possible, but isn't that for the driver's benefit while driving and not when parked?
   I'm intrigued by Gus's statement about putting one in the middle to forward area. I have considered just that since my roof isn't raised (I'm 6'1") and it would "bother" me to have something hanging down from the center of the ceiling just above the last step up to the living room, so everytime you enter/leave the bus, you have to "duck". I thought about putting the main one between the kitchen and living room while keeping the entry and living area ceiling as open and uncluttered as possible. I could then use a Haier (USA made) 10K portable in the bedroom. Yes, dedicated 10 ga wiring (main AC) and separate breakers. 12 ga/20A for all my socket circuits - (I have a wife)
  What about the Dometic heat pump option? Is it a worthwhile upgrade or expensive limited use option? I have yet to work out a heating plan for when parked, but leaning towards electric rather than propane for safety. Not planning on any ski trips-too old and fragile. And yes, Carrier would have been my first choice also. Seems everything "good" goes away.
  Thanks again for the advice Gerry H
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« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2012, 06:53:11 AM »

I used a 20 inch ceiling fan from lowes above drivers seat. ceiling hugger. reversible.  felt good and broke up air layering in coach. 89 xl.  had light below it. never hit it.  $45  Bob
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« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2012, 06:59:08 AM »

Hey Gerry,

Lately I had a conversation with my friend Pete Papas who informed me that he owns a small Honda 2000w generator which he uses for emergency power to his house.  When the power goes away (in Florida) he runs a window AC unit in the bedroom, the refrigerator and whatever lighting is necessary.

Here's my rough plan, as soon as I find some spare time.

Buy the Honda 2000w.  New price locally is $915.  The specs on the Honda says it operates under 60 dba.  That's almost as quiet as a mouse pissing on cotton.  Runs for 4 hours under full load on 1.1 gallon of gasoline which, by the way, is the unit's fuel capacity. 

Pete says he uses a 7 gallon marine outboard motor tank plumbed to the little genny.  Now we're up to 30 hours or so at 16.5 amps.

So, my thinking is to mount the Honda 2000w, along with the 7 gal tank, securely but removeable in the Eagle.  The bus is equipped with OTR air along with three thermostatically controlled zoned rooftops (front, middle and bedroom) which makes for comfortable temperatures when driving, plugged into pole or, running main 15,000w generator.

However, for those nights when AC is needed and no pole is available, the 2000w Honda can accept a 115 power cord from the bedroom AC and blow cold air - quietly and cheap!  Figuring gasoline at $3.25 per gallon, that's 8 hours of sleeping under the AC for $6.50.  WOW, parking at Wally World, or the like, will be akin to stealing when compared to KOA.

The coach's battery bank will be responsible for the lights, tv, microwave, etc. and, will surely be replinished within a couple hours driving the following day.  If you plan to stay put but be away from the coach during the next day, leaving the Honda running for the pet or, just to keep the inside tolerable until you return, the economics are good.

Basically, I'm suggesting to optimize the current produced by a generator.  I know, the $1,000 or so for the Honda 2000w and the tank will buy a lot of fuel for the big generator but, I get to use the little suitcase genny for other things, too.  What y'all think?

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« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2012, 10:09:21 AM »

I had thought of getting a similar generator instead of using my 7.5 Kohler when boondocking, but decided that it was not worth it at this time.  Costco has a generator the claims to have similar specs for about $450.  If it's a dog, Costco is great on returns.
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« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2012, 12:01:38 PM »

Hi Lin,

Agreed the Honda is a might(y) on the high side but, I've owned and dealt in Honda motors for more than 50 years.  Although a bad apple shows up occasionally in any bushel, Honda engines are very hard to top. 

Their warranty is acceptable, dealers are plentiful, parts are readily available, it is super on fuel consumption and, 59dba at full load is far below any claim I've seen from their competition.

My brother-in-law has a popup trailer with a single AC.  He swears they sleep like babies with the Honda 2000w running the entire night.

I have no financial interest in Honda - or any other interest for that matter, other than as a user.  It's just that I'm convinced that it is the best buy.  I'll certainly listen to any other opinion if it beats their reputation.
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« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2012, 01:02:21 PM »

Somehow my thread on roof top AC turned into a Honda generator discussion?Huh
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« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2012, 02:55:31 PM »

Heat pump ac ?  If you are pole to pole then elect heat option(heat pump) would be great. Most camp grounds short stay do not charge more for elect.  Where we rent by month we pay elect heat and find it to be less than or friends using propane in the end. Just our experience. If you boondock allot, all bets are off.   Bob
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« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2012, 03:43:59 PM »

Yes, it is only necessary to install one as far forward as possible if there is no bus system, which includes most of us. You are, indeed, fortunate to have a working one.

I am also 6'1" but don't find the ACs any problem, I'm so used to ducking from shipboard life it just comes naturally. And I do have one right at the top step!! Anyway, they don't intrude much anymore, newer ones are pretty thin. You can always install it a bit to the side instead on centered. But, it really isn't a problem.

You don't need or want an AC in the bedroom, portable or not. I can't emphasize this enough!

One AC will cool just about any bus at night. I'm sure there are desert exceptions but I've never used more than one even though I've always had two installed.

Ideal heating is by propane furnace. It uses minimum 12V DC power for the blower and LP for heat, all exhaust is out the side  of the bus. Most SS RVs use these and with windows closed there is minimum danger. Electric heat requires a lot of amps so you either have to be hooked up or run the genset. I'm much more afraid of the genset exhaust than LP. I suppose you can have a large enough battery pack to run them but it would have to be pretty big and there is a lot of loss via inverters.

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« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2012, 04:10:58 PM »

Actually Gus and I agree! depends on how you use your bus.  I now use inverter type air/heat system but am 95% pole to pole.   So differant strokes for differant bus nuts.  Bob
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« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2012, 04:17:15 PM »

Finally I bought a Coleman  lo/pro sure do miss the Carrier that would have been my 1st choice

I'm curious why you like Carrier?  I have two 15K BTU, but my front one never really worked quite right.  I eventually replaced the front one with another brand.  I do like that the interior cover is much sturdier on the Carrier than the other brand I bought.

I am seeing a lot of complaints about Carrier RV air conditioners on another RV forum I frequent.  Some of the complaints are about blower wheels that break often, but someone is selling an upgraded replacement.  I've read that Carrier is out of stock on a lot of parts already.
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« Reply #29 on: July 06, 2012, 04:25:37 PM »

I never knew anyone having problems with the Carrier Lo/pro units I like the way all Carries use the condensation water myself YMMD  

The Advent unit is making a move here you are seeing more and more of those units every day

 I never could find a lo/pro in the Advent or Gree I would have tried one  you don't have to buy Coleman or Dometic for roof tops
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 05:39:13 PM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #30 on: July 06, 2012, 05:09:08 PM »

Bruce:

There is an entire line of air-conditioners used to cool... Dog houses! ThermAssure® is one brand and Climate Right® is another. They come in different capacities. They are very small in size. I found out about them when I was studying up on building a teardrop trailer. Many teardroppers are effectively using them to cool their trailers.

http://www.thermassure3.com/

http://www.cedarwoodfurniture.com/petcool.html

Just one more option to consider for a small area.
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« Reply #31 on: July 06, 2012, 05:38:28 PM »

I know a lot of folks here never really liked the Carrier lo-pro units due to the fan on top that can hook trees.

Advent doesn't make a lo-pro unit, at least not yet.
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« Reply #32 on: July 06, 2012, 05:46:31 PM »

The Coleman Lo/Pro has the fan on top also  Nick is about the only one here I ever heard  that didn't like the Carrier he sells Dometic lol
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« Reply #33 on: July 07, 2012, 03:42:49 AM »

 (snip)  http://www.thermassure3.com/
http://www.cedarwoodfurniture.com/petcool.html
Just one more option to consider for a small area.    


         Now, that's an interesting option that I'd never known about!  Thanks for those links, Dr. Steve.  I can see a few challenges with ducting condenser air (remember, I have no "bays" and precious little underfloor area) but the units are pretty small and the power requirements are tiny.  With a "power sharing" inverter (which would really only be needed to smooth out startup power loads), you could run a couple of these off a 15amp socket and a 12/3 power extension cord if a bigger power supply weren't available.  On the other hand, even two of them would be only about 5k BTU at a cost of over $1000 but for small areas (bedroom???) with "packaging area" available, these might be very advantageous.  
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 07:56:06 AM by Oonrahnjay » Logged

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garhawk
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« Reply #34 on: July 07, 2012, 05:23:37 AM »

Hi Gerry,

  Your Quote: "Somehow my thread on roof top AC turned into a Honda generator discussion?"

My apologies for appearing to hijack your thread.  I guess my thoughts were too far removed from the subject of placement and use of air conditioners. 

If I knew how to remove the posts, I would.  Perhaps you or someone else can do that.
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gary t'berry
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GMC RTS 102"  40er (in progress)
Gerry H
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1992 Prevost LeMirage XL-40 8V92 740 Allison




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« Reply #35 on: July 07, 2012, 06:30:20 PM »

Garhawk: Not a problem. I wondered if somehow 2 threads got crossed by the digital powers that be. I would love to "talk" about Honda generators also, but in a different thread please. My threads usually get about 2 answers and this one is over 34 so I'm extremely pleased people are giving of themselves. Thanks to all.

Latest AC update: Went to an RV dealer parts dept. today and asked about Dometic 15K heat pump AC's. Seems there is still one listed, but it has to be ducted, and of course I need a non-ducted one which only seems to exist in the 13.5K size. They were unable to answer any questions, just order a part number for xxxx$. So it maybe cooling only 15K and no heat pump for me. Gerry H
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Forest Lake, Minnesota
Land of 10,000 mosquitoes and a few cool buses
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