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 > thinking of full-timing in New England

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Here'n'There

WA

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Posted: 07/12/10 05:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Given all that has been posted and if you really have to....

1. You will have to move your trailer into a mobile home park at least for the winter - and if you know of a RV Park open during winter please let me know where that might be.

2. Recommend you get a plumber out there to "winterize/insulate" your plumbing (including the grey and black tanks) to the greatest extent possible. Watch out on electrical usage.

3. Get skirting in place all around the bottom of the trailer

4. Get local gas company to bring out and get a refill agreement on a 100 / 200 gallon storage tank and hook it up for you - also have them give your furnace a once over - you DO have a furnace in your trailer right?

5. Install some insulating materials on your windows, skylights, entry door etc. I haven't but if I were you I would research the whats wheres whens concerning this.

6. Get a few portable heaters as back up

7. Check with your trailer manufacturer concerning snow, and especially ice loads on your roof.

8. Be on the lookout for signs of leaks during thawing periods.

9. I'm guessing you have 30 amp service in your trailer - be very careful what you try to run simultaneously - you cannot afford to have to run outside to retrip a breaker every 10 minutes.

10. Be prepared for your exit door to freeze up overnight occcassionally - there must be some sort of heat tapes or whatnot.

11. Back to electrical... it won't take much to trip a 30a breaker - maybe an electrician can temporarily wire in an additional 50 amp to run heaters, insulating tapes, hair dryers etc leaving your 30amps for ordinary every day things. I would consider the "electrical" issues of prime importance - without it,,,, well let's leave it at that!

12. DO finish up that PhD

To conclude, I won't offer my opinion but will say this... DW and I DO have one of those $100K+ 5th wheels all set up for fulltiming and dual pane windows with "amoung the best in the industry" added astrofoil insulation and I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in it, in NH, over the winter months. Then again I'm 65 years old and have only been FTing for 1.5 years - what the hell do I know!

Good luck my friend - and DO finish up that PhD.


Here'n'There
2009 Carri-Lite 36SBQ 5th Wheel
2008 Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab Long Bed Diesel Dually
On the road with Here'n'There
Role of the C133 in Viet Nam

Clay L

Palisade CO

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Posted: 07/12/10 12:43pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Here'n'There wrote:

\
SNIP

To conclude, I won't offer my opinion but will say this... DW and I DO have one of those $100K+ 5th wheels all set up for fulltiming and dual pane windows with "amoung the best in the industry" added astrofoil insulation and I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in it, in NH, over the winter months. Then again I'm 65 years old and have only been FTing for 1.5 years - what the hell do I know!

Good luck my friend - and DO finish up that PhD.


You brought up a lot of good points and I will second all of them.

After living in NH for 18 years before we started full timing in 2002,I would not want to spend a winter in my motor home there. And as you say I don't know of any RV parks that stay open for the winter. They close after Oct 1 or Oct 15 and don't open until the 1st of May.
There may be some but we couldn't find any when we wanted to go back in April the first year out.


Clay (WA5NMR), Lee (Wife), Katie & Kelli (cats) Salli (dog).

Fixed domicile after 1 year of snowbirding and eleven years Full Timing in a 2004 Winnebago Sightseer 35N, Workhorse chassis, Honda Accord toad

flyingdog

Land of Enchantment (or something to that extent)

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Posted: 07/25/10 11:18am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Warning: This will be a long post

It's definitely doable with A LOT less than a $100k coach, and I'm living proof. I have an overpriced $8k rig (worth maybe $2k now) and I did it for 3 full and a 2 half winters in central New Hampshire. Each winter cost me MUCH LESS in heating and only a little more in materials / elbow grease. By the third year, I was growing vegetables in my makeshift sunroom and enjoying sunbathing in February.

http://vitali.110mb.com/Sunroom/

First Full Winter: apx $1000 in propane, apx $200 in electric heat, apx $150 in materials
Second Full Winter: apx $700 in propane, apx $200 in electric heat, apx $300 in materials
Third Full Winter: apx $350 in propane, apx $250 in electric heat, apx $350 in materials

It's not easy *at first*, but after the first year you'll be in good shape to continue as long as necessary. My first year out in a campground near Concord, NH, I hauled in during the middle of February and had to "winterize" in the freezing cold with snow and ice already on the ground - it was NOT fun. My strong recommendation: get out there BEFORE halloween. This gives you time to get initial things set up and you can finish up with everything else as it gets colder.

Before I get into it, you'll notice I'm in located in florida currently - this is not due to the fact that it's *hard* getting through winters in new england - it's due to family [emoticon]

Ok, the three most important things you'll need to focus on for wintering in new england, in order of how you need to deal with them, are:

Drafts
Insulation
Heating

Drafts/Air Circulation:
This comes in 3 stages, the first of which is probably the most important stage for your basic comfort. You need to grab a few cans of "great stuff" expanding foam insulation and do a thorough run through of your entire camper. You'd be amazed at how many holes they leave in these things from the factory, especially the cheaper models and the ones you're likely to find used. You'll find gaping, drafty holes around every pipe entry and likely everywhere wiring enters/exits the interior of the rig.

A lot of people worry about moisture problems that develop if you seal up too well, but when it comes right down to it, I know I'd rather have a bit of mildew than an icy cold draft on a night that drops to -15*. The people that worry about such things generally have the money to spend on excess heating as well - not how I roll let me tell you.

So, #1 is to seal every hole you find with expanding foam. #2 is to seal every exterior "vent" and everything that has a "gasket". Should be self-explanatory. If you can look through and see daylight, seal it. It's best to use 4 mil or thicker plastic sheeting (painters dropcloth) and foil tape for this anywhere you're working outside the rig, though I've gotten away with 1 mil plastic in the past. As far as those gaskets, especially with older rigs, you'll notice you have drafts around some windows, particularly the hinge/crank type windows. Seal those at this phase with plastic sheeting and foil tape. You actually don't need to seal every window from the outside as I'll be sharing a tip with you under insulation, just seal off the leaky/drafty windows. Most storage bins should be sealed if you're even a little worried about the gasket. Remember, a 20mph wind at -8* will rob you of ALL your comfort if you have even a single draft getting inside your rig.

#3 is skirting - you don't have to go crazy and buy expensive 2" foamboard like so many do - it doesn't work that way. The goal is not to "insulate" the underside of you rig - it's to stop cold air from getting under there. Consider it as a huge draft, and when that wind is blowing at -8* come February, that draft is going to rob you of all your heat, freeze your pipes and leave you wondering why you didn't just move to Florida.

If you have plenty of money to throw at skirting with thick, expensive foamboard, you'd actually do better to use plywood and fiberglass insulation with plastic sheeting sealing the entire thing from moisture and drafts - hire one of the many out of work guys (day laborers) you'll find in the winter season campgrounds to do it if you're not good with construction projects. Me? 6 mil plastic sheeting, the "clear" kind, usually found in the paint section of the local home depot or lowes. About $100 for a 100'x20' roll, which gives you more than enough to skirt a small to medium size rig and have enough for other projects.

The trick with using plastic is to get a good seal to the ground. Double the plastic over so you have a fold bottom-side and fill that with sand/soil/rocks, then tape it up to the walls of your rig using foil tape. DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE OF ANY KIND. My first year out, I tried a combination of different types of tape. I still have various duct tape and masking tape marks all over my rig from those experiments. Standard duct tape is useless in cold weather, too, and some of the newer "sub zero" types aren't much better. Foil tape is expensive, but worth it.

The added benefit of using plastic is it allows sunlight to penetrate under your rig so you get a significant temperature boost whenever the sun's shining (free heat is a BIG part of doing it cheap in my book).

Insultating:
This may come as a shocker but these rigs are NOT insulated well at all. It seemed silly to me at first, but my mother was right - blankets stapled to the ceiling and walls did wonders. You might not want to do that with a $100k rig, but you probably wouldn't HAVE to either. Just old blankets and sheets...even carefully placed and hung coats, shirts, etc...all go a long way toward keeping things cozy inside. If you're concerned about appearances, use matching colors or comforters and towels with prints on them. I had a comforter (donated by a cousin) with wolves in a beautiful night scene - full moon, mountain, snow. That went on the most "visible" wall so became basically a working tapestry - working because it added at least an R10 value to my wall [emoticon]

An important note here: hot air rises. This means you need to insulate your ceiling well. I got a very neat looking quilted effect by using a large sofa cover and stapling it up in a regular pattern. You'll notice the interior feels very cozy with fabric on the ceiling as well.

As for windows - assuming you haven't had to seal them all with 4mil or thicker plastic from the exterior, you'll want to preserve some "outside" (a winter cooped up in one of these things can give you a bad case of cabin fever).

Hopefully you're aligned with your sides on the north & south.
.7 mil plastic (as in 7/10s) is nearly as clear as kitchen type plastic wrap - use this to seal around the interiors of your windows on the SOUTH FACING side of your rig. The north side, however, is something you're going to have to sacrifice - seal it off with thicker plastic sheeting (2 mil or thicker) and use foam pads or some other form of dense insulation (got a thick blanket?) to cover it over. A lot of people spend a fortune for that foil backed bubblewrap insulation (astrofoil, etc) - it's basically worthless when you realize you can do the same thing with aluminum foil and regular insulation materials. The foil acts as a radiant barrier, adding a heat-reflecting effect to anywhere you use it. This isn't a very significant help, but especially on those north facing windows it does help, so it's worth putting a layer of foil on the window glass before you seal those up. Foil is cheap and any little bit helps.

Use the bubble wrap insulation method for any windows you get good direct sunlight from but don't look outside through, then seal them over with the .7 mil. It's not the best insulation, but it allows valuable sunlight through so you don't feel like you're living in a cave.

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/bubblewrap.htm

You'll want to cover all of your windows at night to reduce heat loss with window blankets - any insulating material will do and I've found smaller throw blankets work well for this.

If you're aligned east/west, do the best you can to ensure you get good light during the day, but you're probably not going to want to keep any windows with a clear view - it's better to bubblewrap them all and seal off any that don't get more than 2 hours of sun with heavy blankets.

Be sure to seal around the outer edge of the metal window frames as these get very cold and sweat/frost due to interior moisture if they're exposed to it.

If you have a tub, rather than the shower stall, stuff fiberglass insulation under it (cut an access hole and use a vent cover on it). Make sure to put the insulation under any water lines, between them and the floor, but not on top of them. This insulates them from the cold outside but allows the warmth to get to them. Same for any water lines running under cabinets, under the couch, through storage bins, etc. If you have water lines running through exterior storage bins, insulate all around the pipe except where it's attached to an interior wall. I had to cut access holes to an exterior bin to allow airflow to it (again, cover with a vent cover - they're fairly cheap at home depot or lowes)

After a freeze-up on a -15* night, I went a step further and rigged up computer cooling fans to an adjustable voltage AC/DC adapter and installed one each in the vent under the tub and the one in the storage bin to ENSURE warm air circulated through these freeze prone areas. They use very little electricity to move a decent amount of air and they're quiet.

This brings me to another point - park your rig as close as you can to your sewer connection. Park on top of it if you can. Over the third winter, I successfully ran 30 feet of sewer line without a freeze up, but this was pretty exceptional. You do NOT want to freeze up your line - it's a mess to deal with. Keep the line up off the ground anywhere you can, keep a good angle on it (water shouldn't sit ANYWHERE in the pipe - it should all run through) and wrap the entire thing with fiberglass insulation if it's more than 3 feet of run. Make sure insulation stays dry - seal with plastic anywhere it might get wet. I used 4" PVC piping and a roll of pink insulation (R7) to pull off that 30'. Just make sure you take plenty of piping hot showers and you should be fine as long as that line isn't exposed to the cold.

Same goes for your fresh water line - heat tape and insulate it well, and park as close to your hookup as you can. I ran a good 50 feet that third winter on fresh water, but 30 feet of that was inside my sunroom where it didn't even need heat tape and insulation.

That brings us to the last point, Heating:
There is no substitute for propane. One ice storm and you'll agree. Many people run "totally electric campers" - no propane heat, only electric. These people had to struggle with generators for sometimes two weeks after a bad ice storm knocked out power - meanwhile, if you've got propane running, even if your house battery dies out, you can crank up the stove and keep yourself warm (open a window if you have to use the stove!)

Also, using propane definitely warms the ENTIRE camper better than electric will. Electric is good as a backup and auxiliary only - if you try to use it as primary your water lines WILL freeze up.

Get a programmable thermostat and install that in place of the original - it will save you a fortune and keep you much more comfortable. Make sure you get one like the Hunter 44155C that has "span" settings - this will allow you to choose how much temperature fluctuation you can deal with before the furnace kicks on. I'd set this to the highest setting (3*), with a programmed 55*, while at work. The programmed setting would kick up to 68* before I got home from work and I'd readjust the span setting to the lowest temp fluctuation (1*) so temps wouldn't swing wildly while I was home, keeping things very comfy. The orignal thermostats installed with RV furnaces are horrible - wide temperature swings and fully manual control is the norm. Before I switched out I used nearly twice the propane and spent the nights alernating between freezing and sweating - less than pleasant.

Another factor that helps keep things evenly heated and comfortable is air circulation. It may seem strange to run a fan in the winter, but it will go a long way toward keeping the warm air off the ceiling and down around where you and your pipes will be. A small clip-on type fan placed near the ceiling and pointed down at and angle will help circulate air and keep things much more cozy.

And a final point on heating is to look into both passive and active solar heating. You'd be amazed at how much money you can save with inexpensive, DIY solar heating projects. My second winter I set up an active solar heating system that ran on 12V, using a thermostat and computer fans, with simple outdoor collectors.

http://vitali.110mb.com/Solar/

The system worked miracles, but there were problems with it. It didn't perform well on cloudy days and windy days would allow some cold air drafts to sneak in. The first link I gave showing my sunroom was the solution to the problem - the materials for the sunroom cost about $250 - electrical conduit, 6 mil plastic sheeting and lots of tape. That sunroom would get up to 75* on a cold sunny day in February - I'd sit there sunbathing and enjoying the warmth while all my neighbors hid inside with their electric heaters blasting [emoticon] Meanwhile, I used it as a greenhouse with some overnight electric heat to prevent freezes and grew peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, etc, all winter long. Cold cloudy days still saw temps reach the lower 50s. This was the winter of 2008-9 when we saw temperatures drop to -25* for two nights - I had to run that electric heater a little harder but I didn't freeze up even once.

If you've read this far, not only am I surprised but I'm thankful you've done so. I figure my experience with this topic will help at least somebody - when it comes to the frigid north and saving money, I feel like I'm somewhat of an expert on the subject. Not many have had this experience but many are having to live it now due to the way this country is being run.

Hopefully I've been a help with all this typing [emoticon]

* This post was edited 07/25/10 11:35am by flyingdog *

nepsis

KS/MO

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Posted: 09/26/10 09:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great info, folks. Special thanks to flyingdog. Gave me some great ideas for my potential move to St. Paul soon. I've wintered in my 5er in KS/MO the last couple winters, but moving north kind of worries me. Great to hear that it has not only worked, but has worked well for at least a few folks out there. Just started a topic inquiring for more info, fyi: http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/24422170/p/1.cfm

--R


----------

1998 Coachmen Royal, 32' 5er
1988 Chevy 3500
Me (Ham: KD0KKF)
My dog

seraphim

Ohio

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Posted: 09/27/10 03:57am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I don't recall anyone answering one of the OPs questions, and it may be moot by now, but:

A mobile home park is generally set for people to put a larger mobile home on a permanent basis. A mobile home is larger, and generally not designed to be transported on a regular basis. You might want to look into rented a mobile home at an established "trailer park". A trailer park is not a campground, which generally assumes a transient population.

Durability probably depends on how much you're going to move it around. Do you know anyone with a bit of land where you could park it free? If you're not going to lug it around a lot, durability shouldn't be an issue, I'd think.

You could always go stealth in a Class B lol.

Seriously, consider the room suggestion (especially in today's economy, people will consider renting out a spare room - someone you know, perhaps?) or a room mate. There's a lot more hassle with an RV and no guarantee the results will be cheaper.

* This post was edited 09/27/10 05:42am by seraphim *


2012 GMC 3500HD Crew Cab LB 4x4 DRW with Duramax 6.6 diesel 2013 Palomino Maverick 2902. [

Note: Due to invalid formatting, all formatting has been ignored.

flyingdog

Land of Enchantment (or something to that extent)

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Posted: 07/25/10 11:25am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Oh - before I forget again...important things to keep in mind for if/when you freeze up:

hair driers work wonders SOMETIMES - always have one ready but expect it to take a while

scolding hot water poured over a metal pipe can crack it, but it gets the job done FAST

if you ask the campground manager to help, it's going to cost you $$$

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 07/25/10 01:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi flyingdog,

The links to your sun room don't work....


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, soon to have SiO2 batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

joanne0012

Boston, MA

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Posted: 07/25/10 02:11pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The sunroom link worked for me. Flyingdog's post is testimony that the proposed winter stay in New England is feasible. Nevertheless, I'm going to encourage you to put some more energy into the roommate situation, it will be a lot less expense, hassles, and discomfort. At the very least price out the monthly rates at trailer parks or campgrounds vs minimal rent on a basic studio apartment.


Joanne


pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 07/25/10 02:18pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Joanne0012,

Still doesn't work for me. I wonder why?

You might want to read the "sticky" at the full timing forum on winter camping.

DIYGuy

TX, NY and all points in between.

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Posted: 09/27/10 06:32am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You won't be able to find a place to park in NE in the winter time, unless you have a friend with a heated airplane hanger.

Your sewer lines will freeze solid.
Your city water line will freeze solid.

Right idea, wrong part of the country.


Full-Timers, Class of 2014
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