Coolmom, you are right that we rarely have hookups -- if we did, the light bulb solution would be perfect. And you are also right about the advantages of having the tank under the seat. The drawback is a loss of storage space. (Our first trailer had an inside tank.)
And Gordon, you are right about hot water and slippage -- I have made all of the connections with hose clamps. I am a little concerned about the vinyl leaching into the tank, but to be honest, we almost never drink the tank water -- that is for dishes and showers. We usually carry a separate six gallon jug for drinking water. That's because the tap water at most campgrounds and ranger stations (where we fill after towing with empty tanks from home) is heavily chlorinated. So we bring our own reverse osmosis water for drinking.
Having said all of that, if I had your technical skills, I would have adopted your solution, for sure. My workaround is for those of us who have no idea how to work with Pex or to wire up the system. I could learn all of that, I suppose, but the problem of freezing is so rare (first time in about 800 nights of high altitude camping!) that I am not sure it is worth the effort to get up to speed. ;)
During our last trip to Sequoia, the outlet hose leading from the water tank to the pump froze one night, when the temp got down to 11 degrees. After some helpful discussions on this forum, I rigged up this simple solution:
A hose connects to the water faucet. The hose runs to the outside through the outdoor shower opening. The hose runs along the outside wall of the trailer, and the end goes into the external fill pipe of the water tank. Right before bedtime, we run a few gallons of hot water, and the temp of the tank is substantially increased. The warmed-up water runs through the outlet hose and back to the pump.
This solution is so simple, crude, and obvious that I am almost ashamed to post pictures of it -- but here we go anyway. This is the end that screws onto the faucet – I have included a swivel fitting to make it easier to attach:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-28LKAKP_k0U/Vlu53KMqy6I/AAAAAAAAS6Y/tbBGxJ4pY9E/s400/IMG_1265.JPG height=300 width=500
Here it is attached to the faucet:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lhXbKB-z_Ck/Vlu6ByY7zeI/AAAAAAAAS6g/oEv1NvfB6qc/s400/IMG_1266.JPG height=300 width=500
The hose runs over the edge of the sink, under the counter, and into the opening for the outdoor shower:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HJu9gUcZ9Wc/Vlu6JsPLRlI/AAAAAAAAS6o/WQiMyRcSF38/s400/IMG_1268.JPG height=300 width=500
This is a view of the hose as it passes through the outdoor shower opening:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rU21mYy1MOQ/Vlu6RKuPlrI/AAAAAAAAS6w/Q84irHMePwU/s400/IMG_1267.JPG height=300 width=500
(The word "hot" was written by whoever installed the outdoor shower at the factory.)
This is an exterior view, showing the hose emerging from the outdoor shower opening – as you can see, I have also inserted blocks of tightly-fitting closed-cell foam blocks into the outdoor shower fixture as extra insulation:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0adtNUKW5vU/Vlu6Y7O-14I/AAAAAAAAS64/Pp0s9olidMY/s400/IMG_1264.JPG height=300 width=500
And here is the hose going into the external fill pipe door:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cKu5dor016Y/Vlu6h7XjoWI/AAAAAAAAS7A/M16E3vcb9a8/s400/IMG_1263.JPG height=300 width=500
For storage, the whole thing coils up and goes into an under-seat storage bin.
Some thoughts and caveats:
A thermostatically controlled built-in under-counter system would be far better. But it requires cutting into the plumbing, and some electrical work. My solution is crude but effective -- very simple and inexpensive. It does the job, especially if (like us) you rarely camp in weather below 20 degrees. (We have camped at 20 many times, with no freeze, but this last trip was just a little too cold.)
Obviously, this solution only works if you have an outside shower fixture -- otherwise, how would you get the hose through the wall? And it is much easier if you have previously removed all of the outdoor shower plumbing fixtures. (We did that when we got the trailer, because it is always too cold for a late afternoon outside shower when we are boondocking. We needed the extra room under the sink more than we needed the shower, since we use the inside shower.)
The main drawback to this system is that it has to be set up whenever you want to use it and then taken down whenever you want to change your campsite. But we so rarely encounter temperatures below 20 that this will be an infrequent event.
The other drawback is that this system does not operate automatically, unlike thermostatically controlled hot water recirculators. So, for example, I plan on running this device at least once during the night, which will mean that when I get up at 3 am (which I always do), I will have to stand there for three minutes while the hot water runs into the fresh water tank. Not a deal-breaker, but not effortless, either. And the water heater will need to stay on during the entire night, which means that it will cycle on and off every few hours, which is a little noisy. Better than frozen pipes, though!
littlemo, it was cold, yes -- but not unpleasant at all. You know the old saying -- "there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." At night, we had a down comforter and several blankets, so even though it got down to 28 inside the trailer one night, we were perfectly comfortable -- during that night I slept for nine hours, which at my age (early 60s) is astonishing.
Then, as soon as we woke up, we kicked on the heater for a couple of minutes to get the temp up into the 40s. And then we got dressed in very warm clothing -- heavy sweaters, hats, even gloves without fingers (so that we could use our hands while cooking breakfast). Yes, we could have run the heater more than we did, but it's so noisy, and it uses electricity.
During our snow-shoe hikes, we came across a few folks who had been backpacking in the snow -- no insulated trailer, no furnace, no hot shower, no fresh-brewed Starbucks coffee, just a tent and a sleeping bag. Now that is what I call rugged. By contrast, our experience was a piece of cake. (Actually, we brought Danish pastry for dessert, not cake, but you get the idea. This was not about suffering at all!)
I think the answer depends on whether you are a handy person or not -- if you are not prepared to do some work yourself, I'd get a new one with an extended warranty. If you are like me, though, the bugs and defects that always show up are not a problem -- they are fun projects that take me away from doing actual work! ;)
Gordon, I've read that unlike most meteor showers, this one should be good from dark till dawn -- so if you can't get out at three in the morning, after dinner should be ok, too. And the same sources say this is the best meteor shower of the year -- the only problem is that it is usually cold in mid-December, so not that many people can really stay out and enjoy it.
No need for binoculars, by the way. Just have a seat and lean back and look up!
One of the downsides of a trailer is that if someone is tailgating you, you can't squirt your truck's window washers and give him a little shower. It just gets on the trailer.
(Kidding, of course. If you tried that trick, you'd just enrage the idiot. Stupid is bad. Angry stupid is real bad.)
(I searched the archive for the term "amp/hour monitor" and came up completely empty -- am I asking the wrong question?? But there are quite a few for sale out there, so this item does exist. Please forgive me if this question has been asked and answered many times, but I could not find a prior discussion on point.)
Anyway, I understand that monitoring the voltage gives me the state of charge, which can roughly tell me how many amp/hours I still have in the battery. The problem, of course, is that the voltage reading varies for a lot of reasons -- temperature, how much load there was on the battery a few minutes ago, etc. I am hoping that someone can recommend an after-market device that will indicate remaining amp/hours.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
Someone asked about whether you can add an extra step and how tricky it is. Although I haven't actually done that modification to my new Glow Steps, it looks like the job should not be too hard. All of the steps are secured to the "scissor" hardware with fairly ordinary quarter inch bolts, with hex heads requiring a seven-sixteenths wrench. So it should not be difficult to unbolt one of the steps, insert a new step, and then reattach the bolts.
The only caution is this: make sure the bolts are properly torqued. If they are too loose, then the whole set of steps will deploy too fast, with a hard impact. (I know this because the other day, I tried loosening all of those bolts just a little as an experiment, to see if the steps would deploy faster. They sure did, and that's not a good thing. Don't do what I did.)
When the bolts are properly torqued, the whole assembly deploys smoothly but not catastrophically.
Monakayk, actually we have had almost no problems with freezing (until one night on this last trip when it got down to 11 degrees). But on many nights of camping in the high teens and low 20s, we have had no freezing at all, even though our trailer is not really "four-season" rated. I put some insulation (reflectix) underneath, and it seems to do the trick.
After that one really cold night, we just left the breakfast dishes in the sink, went hiking, and came back in the afternoon to find that the ice had thawed -- hurrah! We figured out later that the outlet pipe leading from the fresh water tank to the pump was the problem.
The next few nights were around 20, and we had no more trouble. But just to be safe, I am intending to add some real insulation (a layer of solid extruded foam), with a layer of coroplast under that for protection. That is my next big project!
Here is a shot from another really cold trip -- we were boondocking at 9500 feet in the Eastern Sierra, and the wind was so strong that I had to park the truck right next to the water heater so that the wind would not blow out the flame:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Wj6YB8Y30c0/U4terrDhoTI/AAAAAAAAKak/CyTdWhG3CQE/s1600/IMGP13231.jpg height=400 width=600
Sounds miserable, right? Nope -- nothing is so wonderful as boondocking in bad weather, buttoned up inside a comfortable (albeit small) RV!
Gary, that link got eaten by a bear -- it takes me to a "reply to thread" dialogue box, rather than to the CBC story. If you get a chance, could you please post a new link?
And Bob, if you'd like to see bears, come on down to the Sierras -- this guy was banging on our trailer one night a couple of weeks ago, and we scared him off by banging back at him:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nKfrG-k38Hs/Vk1Woc4KD3I/AAAAAAAAS10/7nLE5VvgqyA/s640/599%2Bbear%2Bcloseup.jpg height=400 width=600
(And yes, it was the same bear -- we found his footprints outside our trailer, and then his fresh prints matched those next to our window. It had to be the same prints -- the tread on his tennis shoes matched exactly. ;) )
Phenomenal photos! There is a place called Takhini River Lodge -- it looks like it is not far from you in the Ibex Valley -- that offers Northern Lights viewing. Judging from your photos, it looks like a good area! Might just have to break out the wallet and head up North. Probably not this year, but maybe next.
Two more suggestions -- if your kids can hike a couple of miles, you can have your own private geyser basin -- the Imperial area, near Fairy Falls:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_dtW7wd3cENA/TNiR4UlCXrI/AAAAAAAACYY/3he6m9PO8vo/s640/2010+10+13+%286%29.JPG height=300 width=600
No boardwalks, no crowds. Just watch where you step! The ground that you sit on can be quite warm -- an odd sensation.
And Boiling River near Mammoth Hot Springs is another easy hike -- bring bathing suits and towels and sturdy sandals. Even if the weather is cold, you can sit in the river where the hot springs flow in -- a natural jacuzzi:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_dtW7wd3cENA/TNiV4eGGaQI/AAAAAAAACaA/ioUHEzqFYTY/s400/2010+10+15+%288%29.JPG height=600 width=400
If you'd like a few more ideas, check out our blog:
Yellowstone blog post
Well, it's true that the step spacing can be uneven if the campsite is at an odd slope. But three adjustable steps (on the GSR) sure beats the two non-adjustable steps on the original equipment on my trailer! That is especially true when we are boondocking, and the ground slopes away from the door -- we always had to have a stepstool in position for DW, so that she could make that first big step. And the stepstool was not always perfectly stable, especially at a rocky campsite with uneven ground.
myredracer, it seems that the "sloping step" problem can be adjusted with the landing gear, right? There are two ways to adjust the landing gear: retracting the extension and tucking the leg under the step a little. So for example, in the picture above, do you have the landing gear (those little legs) fully retracted? And I can see that the legs are not tucked under -- if you tuck them back a little under the step, that brings the bottom step further toward the ground (and thus reduces or eliminates the slope).
Having said all of that, I find it a little hard to push in the small detent button that retracts or extends the legs -- the spring inside the leg is pretty hefty. No big deal, but it could have been a weaker spring, with no loss of functionality.
Right -- I understood that you meant the many "scissor bolts," for lack of a better term. I really like the idea about tuning the steps -- very clever.
(See end of first post in this thread -- if you try to tune the scissor bolts yourself, be very careful. I tried it -- big failure -- and re-tightened all the bolts)