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Author Topic: Suggestions for Cold Weather Camping?  (Read 3919 times)
oldmansax
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« on: September 07, 2008, 08:27:45 PM »

I looks like we have bought a new house to rehab, assuming the seller takes our offer.

We will be camping on the property through the winter while we do the rehab. I know some of you have camped though the winter. How about some tips?

We used the bus through the winter last year with no problems but did not live in it full time; therefore, we didn't have to deal with water and sewer hookups. I have about 10' of water and sewer line to worry about. The weather here usually is 40s in the day 20s at night, although there will be some stretches of teens in January and February.

Suggestions? tips? Go to Florida and wait for spring?   Grin Grin

Thanks, TOM
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2008, 05:38:58 AM »

It may be easier to use your onboard tanks for fresh water and sewer because you can keep those from freezing with a small heater in the bay.  Just leave your sewer line hooked and dump when needed and refill fresh water when needed.  I bought an old waterbed heater to put under my fresh water tank.  I know it's nicer to not worry about the water supply, but it's a lot better than having a 10ft line full of #2! Wink
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Glenn Williams
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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2008, 06:21:40 AM »

If the bus will not be moved for a period of time, I think I would try to improvise a way to seal off the air flow under the body.  Perhaps some sort of tarp skirt or other barrier could be used to fill the gap between the bottom edge of the body and the ground.  I'm thinking that this would reduce the heat loss by cutting off the constant cold air flow underneath. 
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skipn
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« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2008, 07:30:36 AM »


 Tom,

    Since it is only a 10' run here are some things our family has done.

 1. Make up a water hose that is the right length. tape heat tape to it then cover it with pipe wrap insulation.
 2. Make sure the sewer has a straight run with no bad dips. Cover it with straw
 3. Though I realize it is a red neck thing but place straw bales all aroung the base of the bus.
 4. The bay that has the water and sewer needs to be closed up; then a 100 watt light bulb may work
     but things like small ceramic heaters water bed heater etc should work fine.
 5. Leave one of the faucets running at a trickle.
 6. Hunker down and enjoy Smiley

  FWIW
 Skip
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belfert
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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2008, 08:19:05 AM »

One issue with straw bales is it can attract rodents.  If hay is used instead of straw it can attract larger animals like deer.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2008, 12:47:23 PM »

Please don't use straw bales as you will be creating a huge fire hazard.
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JackConrad
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2008, 12:51:10 PM »

If the coach is not going to move until spring, you might want to consider purchasing a few sheets of 3/4" foam insulation (such as TherMax) and cut to fit under coach.  Jack
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 01:50:48 PM by JackConrad » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2008, 01:45:55 PM »

Hi Oldmansax,
We had to stay in the bus ( MC9 ) for 2 different winters in PA.
The most helpfull suggestion I can give you is to get a dehumidifier.
Just breathing , cooking and showers add so much water in the air , you'll have a full time job getting rid of it.
Single pane, dual pane side windows are one thing the front windshield is big.
That's the advice I wish I got.
Frank
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2008, 03:44:53 PM »

Everything metal that has an outside connection will sweat condensation like a faucet.  Install 1/4 or 3/8 X 1/4 inch weather strip around each window on the inside.  Run a strip of the double sided stickey tape around the window on the wood paneling or at least wide of the window.  Stretch that Frost King clear shrink film across the window and press it to the tape.  Use a common hair dryer to shrink the shrink.  It comes out tight as a drum and clear as glass.  The front windshield is more difficult but cover all the metal framing with the film.  Cover the door window, also.  I put fibreglass in my ceiling fans/shylight.  Make sure your door seals really well.  This makes you coach perform like it ahs thermo pane throughout.

My S&S was snuggly with one cube heater down to 40 and after that i needed the second to come on every once in a while.  I sleep with a feather comfort and I prefer the BR be COLD so I didn't care if the inside got down to 40 degrees but it didn't.  I kept my stove ex vent just cracked and that took care of the condensate.

Good luck
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2008, 04:38:43 PM »

Hello oldmansax.

The big thing in my mind is the cost of keeping the coach and its systems from freezing, and in a reliable way.

Lets remember that there is no free electricity in this scenario, and the electric company is not reliable.

Managing condensation can get expensive. Changing air means having to heat the cold air that replaces the wet hot air that you expel. A dehumidifier takes electricity to run, and will freeze up if the coach is allowed to cool down for heat savings while you are away from the coach. Timing is everything.

Definitely lower the heat when you are away, either manually or by way of programmable thermostats to save some cash. In combination with some air change, a great defence against the humidity. Letting a hot, wet coach cool without air exchange will soak the place.

Heating the coach for comfort versus minimum heat required to prevent freeze up.

One of those marine stoves fueled by diesel would be a neat way to defend against the power going off, humidity and heating.

Dickinson has some great gravity feed stoves. no power required.

Or for this winter, you can go "red neck" and put in a woodstove in some temporary manner, and remove in the spring. Remove a window, and use a plywood filler with the stovepipe through it?

You do have a plan for the power going off during a winter storm? When you are away from the coach?

Auto start on the generator for low voltage is another defence, find a way to create low voltage when the power goes off....

I am a supporter of the above poster, to only use the water and waste pipes on your schedule, not "live" all the time, then you don't have to feed the pipes cash all the time to keep warm. Pipe heat trace and insulate them, but only plug them in and charge them when the onboard tanks demand their use.

Figure out how to isolate the front of the coach from the rest. The air leaks in the defroster, the door and the large window surfaces suck heat like mad. It can be as simple as a carefully hung blanket that touches the floor. Tuck it in all around the sides and bottom. A little gap at the top won't be a problem, as long as you don't allow a return path down lower for the cold to come in while the hot goes out.

sounds like fun, says I!!!

happy coaching!
buswarrior

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« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2008, 04:42:11 PM »

a webasto airtop heater...sucks moisture out of the air like nobody's business, can make it so dry you will get nose bleeds.

Happen to have one if your interested
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skihor
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2008, 04:58:53 PM »

As for keeping the water bay warm, I ran a duct from my furnace into the bay. I have 67K,
(45K + 22K), btu so I can afford it. All of my tanks & supply lines feeding the sinks, shower, etc... are in my rear bay. I lose water at around -O F. Last year I put a second duct in and kept water at -10 F. My bays aren't insulated in any way. The drawback is... during those cold spells
It takes around 20 gallons a week to keep comfortable. $$$$

Don & Sheila
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buswarrior
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2008, 05:15:09 PM »

tekebird

the airtop dumps air overboard during the burn?

That would play hell in my freightliner, it is tighter than a drum, hard to get make-up air.

happy coaching!
buswarrior

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« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2008, 07:39:26 PM »

Sounds like it would be more cost effective to park the coach in a climate controlled building/shop and forget all the work. Might be the same cost in the long run, and keep your coach toasty warm and dry.

Warm in Texas

Paul
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JohnEd
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« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2008, 07:58:00 PM »

At first this might seem screwy.  It isn't!  Cut into your hot water line under your sink.  Install a "T" fitting.  Run the T to a valve.  Run the valve to your fresh water tank fill line.  When your water is hot, purge the hot water tank into the fresh water tank.  The fresh water will warm a few degrees as a result.  Repeat that a few times and you have freeze proofed your fresh tank.  If the bay is sealed and insulated the grey and black will benifit from the warmed fresh tank....and they all lived hapily ever.....  Electric hot water heater rod, right?  If the tanks are not insulated and in a sealed bay.....I dunno.

John
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« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2008, 07:59:29 PM »

We have lived in our last bus both outside and in a building.  The building takes it hands down. but that is not always an option.  How far down does the ground freeze?  Maybe you could bury most of your hoses.  
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2008, 08:45:43 PM »

Is the property you are watching suppling the power?  That would make a big difference in the way I would attack the problem.  If they supply it then some heaters in the bays and living area with plenty of heat tape and insulation.  Be ready to use the genset if needed.  If conditions allow I would put some Styrofoam around for skirting including the wheel wells.  Don't know much about moisture control since we live in a dry area.

Good luck, enjoy the winter!

Don 4107


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« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2008, 10:00:24 PM »

We are coming up on our second winter in the bus ,last winter was a cold one with weeks of below freezing temps.
We used a light bulb in the spigot enclosure,heat tape on the hose from the spigot to the bus with pipe insulation taped around it,an electric heater in the rear bay where the tanks are,then 2 more electric heaters in the bus itself,We only hook up the black and grey tanks to dump when they are full,then remove the dump hose and stow once emptied.
  We are staying at a year round campsite that has the electricity built into the campsite fee(no meter),The campsite is at 6600ft elevation up in the Colorado rockies.


Tim  Grin
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« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2008, 09:58:43 PM »


Point the bus toward the south and put something black in the windows spaced a couple of inches away from the glass to allow airflow from the bottom and top.    Natural Circulating solar heater.

May want to block the air flow when the sun goes down.
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2008, 01:02:43 PM »

Having used heat tape in our barn I would suggest heat tape for both pipes. They have a built in thermostat that kicks in around 38 deg so its not using electricity all the time. Its realatively cheap and easy to do. As for water tanks I would use a small ceramic heater. Just turn it on when the temp gets at or below freezing.

They also warn you NOT to cover the tape. Don't know if it produces too much heat or not.

Good luck
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oldmansax
Tom & Phyllis
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« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2008, 06:26:34 PM »

Thanks to all for the suggestions!

Just to clarify:

Assuming we do this, the property in question will be purchased by us; so the utilities would be paid by us.We are (maybe) buying this to rehab the existing, currently uninhabitable house. Hence, we will live in the bus.

We used the bus all last winter for travel & nothing inside the bays froze so I don't think that will be a problem.

The main things I was concerned about was the shore water & sewer lines, which some of you have addressed.

Thanks for the heating options. Right now, we have the customary Suburban gas furnace, an Olympic catalytic heater, and a couple of electric heaters. We also have heat strips in the roof airs. The furnace will keep us warm but I haven't checked the gas usage. I guess we'll see how it goes..

Thanks, TOM
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« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2008, 06:54:19 PM »

hey tom, we're looking at getting a 14x40 mobile storage shed.  seems to cost about $2000, but would fit over the bus and help keep the snow off and heat in, if i have to work on the bus.  inside storage around here is $1400 per year and we may not be able to store it in florida for 3-4 months this year (  Wink ), so i've been lookin at other options.  you may want to consider getting one of those "portable" storage garages if you are going to be there for a long period.  seems to me i get my "investment" back within 2 years.
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Tom
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« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2008, 07:32:00 PM »

I don't know your local electric rates, but with propane prices soaring (especially if you use the 20-40# cylinders) electricity might be cheaper.  There are calculators out on the web where you put in your propane cost and electric rates and it tells you what is cheaper.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
oldmansax
Tom & Phyllis
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« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2008, 05:14:12 AM »

Tom, I thought about the portable storage houses but they bring up a whole new set of problems   Huh  It would have to be well tied down as we get more wind here than most. Nick addressed that aspect a few months back with a post about his portable building. I was also concerned about emissions from the bus, IE. flue gas from the furnace, the odors from the waste tank vent pipes, air from the cooking exhaust fan... that sort of thing. We live in the bus just like in the house & use the range, oven, vent fans, etc. I guess I could rig up somekind of exhaust fan on the portable house   Huh Huh I think I am going to start with the bus outdoors & some type of skirt around the bottom as somebody suggested. I am also still looking for an inexpensive (read CHEAP) motosat dish to cobble together with my starband system for internet service, I think a roof over the bus would hinder reception?? BTW, did you see the thread on the datastorm users forum about how to do that?

Belfert, I didn't know about the calculators, thanks for the heads up. I have a built in 100 gallon propane tank & a contract with the same company that supplies propane to my other house so the price is not as bad as it could be. Once we get the rehab house closed in,, I intend to bury a 500 gallon tank on the premises & pipe that to the bus so I can keep my on-board tank full at all times.

We still use the bus for travel about once a month so I have to keep in mind how much aggravation I want to deal with when we pack up to leave,

Still Thinking...    Huh Huh Huh

TOM
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« Reply #24 on: September 15, 2008, 05:57:07 AM »

I ran the fuel use calculator at http://www.energyexperts.org/fuelcalc/default.asp with propane at $2.47 and electricity at 10 cents a KW and electric was over 20% less expensive.

I used $2.47 for propane based on some limited research.  I used 78% efficiency for the propane furnce in an RV since they aren't known for efficiency.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2008, 06:01:18 AM »

my friend and partner, Scott Whitney, just sold 2 used DS's on ebay.  my suggestion, of course, is to get a tripod system from us, forget the DS and definitely forget Starband.  i might be somewhat biased  Cheesy

the portable garage units are not airtight, i just thought they would hold the heat in and keep the snow off.  obviously, they also do cut down on the wind blowing under the bus.  and if you stack the hay/straw around the portable garage, less likely to get pests in the bus.  and you can take it with you or take it down when the weather gets better.

mind you, i haven't bought anything and have no personal experience with these either.  we aren't planning on living in ours, just storage instead of renting an inside space.  i'm afraid of the rust, weather beating, sun damage if i just let it sit out and i don't want to pay to heat it while out in the open, but i might if under some sort of roof.  i don't have the room for permanant barn.

did you say  Nick has one and posted.  i'll have to search some comments.
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Tom
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Fran was called to a higher duty 12/16/13. I lost my life navigator.
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