Winter camping...

Road stories, questions about driving the B190, lessons learned
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skater
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Winter camping...

Post by skater » Fri Nov 21, 2008 12:37 pm

Anyone else doing the winter camping thing in their B190s?

I'm going on a trip in December (conveniently paid for by my employer - it's a work trip). I just tested the furnace - it works! - and the heat strip, and I'll take an electric heater along. Probably temps between the high 20s and low 40s for the duration.

What do others do for heat?
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

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craigmar
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Post by craigmar » Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:37 pm

Hi Skater, On the occassions that I have used the van in the cold temps, I've only used the furnace or the heater option with the air conditioner. I've not had a chance to stay in a place with electric hookups so I don't know about the heater. One thing I do though, is to hang an extra sleeping bag from the top bunk so that it hangs behind the passenger and driver seats sealing the front half of the van from the floor to the bottom of the bunk. I also keep the folding door closed in the rear when that space is not in use. When you don't have to heat the extra space, it helps to keep the living quarter very comfortable. I leave the sleeping bag curtain during most of the winter and when driving it keeps the heat in the driving compartment and makes that area very comfortable without having to run the heater/defroster on high all the time because you are not heating the entire van.
My method may not work for those taking extra passengers but for one or two people, it's great.
I have also seen a van in the area with a window curtain that covers his side window made from one of those insulated sun screens but haven't talked to him about how it works, I'm sure it keeps the heat in and the cold out but I'd rather be able to look out the window and with the right sleeping bag or covers, the cold from the window doesn't really bother me when I'm sleeping.
I just came back from a trip to home depot and saw one of those window insulating kits with the double sided tape and plastic film. You outline the window with the tape apply the plastic film, heat it with a hair dryer or small heater/blower and the plastic shrinks to a tight fit eliminating any draft of cold air and also gives that air space insulation quality. I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner as I used those kits on every window in my home when I was in Mich. and they work great. I am certainly going to put one to use on the side window this weekend.

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skater
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Post by skater » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:45 pm

craigmar wrote:Hi Skater, On the occassions that I have used the van in the cold temps, I've only used the furnace or the heater option with the air conditioner. I've not had a chance to stay in a place with electric hookups so I don't know about the heater. One thing I do though, is to hang an extra sleeping bag from the top bunk so that it hangs behind the passenger and driver seats sealing the front half of the van from the floor to the bottom of the bunk. I also keep the folding door closed in the rear when that space is not in use. When you don't have to heat the extra space, it helps to keep the living quarter very comfortable. I leave the sleeping bag curtain during most of the winter and when driving it keeps the heat in the driving compartment and makes that area very comfortable without having to run the heater/defroster on high all the time because you are not heating the entire van.
I like this idea. I'll probably hang something like that up when I get to the campground. I'd probably be distracted by not being able to see out the rear window with it up while driving.
I just came back from a trip to home depot and saw one of those window insulating kits with the double sided tape and plastic film. You outline the window with the tape apply the plastic film, heat it with a hair dryer or small heater/blower and the plastic shrinks to a tight fit eliminating any draft of cold air and also gives that air space insulation quality. I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner as I used those kits on every window in my home when I was in Mich. and they work great. I am certainly going to put one to use on the side window this weekend.
Huh, that never occurred to me, either. But I've stayed in the camper in cold weather before (once over Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, and we actually got some snow, and in March near DC when I was moving in 2006) and don't remember having an issue with the window, but like you I was in the sleeping bag. :)

I do have an issue with the furnace, some squealing at startup. The problem is that the fan blades are slightly out of balance, so when it starts, the shaft vibrates and causes the squeal. I've worked on it before and improved it but haven't fixed it. I probably should just break down and get a new fan blade for it. Fortunately it only does it the first time it comes on.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

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weekender
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Winter Camping

Post by weekender » Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:32 pm

Recently spent a weekend in White Mountains, temps down into the teens at night, high 30's during the day. We were boondocking, so not near electrical hook up. The camper heater worked well to keep the camper mostly warm. I have a 93, with the heater positioned below the closet in the bathroom. Plus is that it is fairly quiet, but it is harder for the heat to reach the front of the van. I like the idea of the sleeping bag, except we were 4 in the van so we were making use of the front seats turned. If I were to make a habit of winter camping, I suspect I would have to come up with some sort of insulation for the front windshield and the driver/passenger windows and doors-- there was a lot of heat loss in this area.

One other area to note--- Humidity-- as much as it would seem to make sense to be sure every window is closed tightly, you will need to allow for humidity to escape from the van. Without it, you will likely have condensation problems, especially around the windows in the upper bunk and over the kitchen. Crack the fantastic fan, or the window over the kitchen.

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craigmar
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Post by craigmar » Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:34 pm

After staying in the van in below freezing temps recently, I did experience the holding tanks freezing up and after checking around found a couple of heaters that stick to the bottom of the tanks and supposedly keep the tanks warm. They also have heaters for the piping and the elbows if needed and all are connected in a series with an automatic thermostat that works on 120 or 13 volts. I'm wondering if anyone has installed these type heaters and how well they work.

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Ernie
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Winter Camping

Post by Ernie » Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:19 pm

Hi Skater,
Hope you stayed warm on your trip. Will post this in case it may be helpful to others.
Cut up several of the windshield sunscreens that are made of the aluminized bubble wrap stuff. Cut them to fit slightly larger than the windows, and they stay in place nicely when pressed around the edges. Will need to cut a slit for lock on the pop-out windows. I have them for every window in my van. Used them in 110F heat in Las Vegas, and in nippy weather in mountains. Also have one to fit the roof exhaust fan. They not only are great insulators and reflect heat, they give extra privacy in the bathroom area and when sleeping. When not in use, I stow them under the mattress.
Ernie

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skater
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Post by skater » Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:15 pm

I've been in cool/cold weather several times in the camper, and it generally goes okay, except that my furnace has a tendency to squeal. I fixed it once before the first trip this spring, and it was fine all weekend, then the last night of the second weekend trip, it started squealing again. Arrgh.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

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