Incubation Question - How do you Keep Your Eggs Warm? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-17-2009, 10:15 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1985 Scamp 16 ft
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I've been scarce on these forums lately. That's because the Scamp mostly sits in my driveway. I'm beginning to think one of the reasons for that is that it's unheated. I get busy in the summer and shoulder seasons, while my kid's school schedule gives the family long weeks of free time in the cold season.

I was thinking of taking the family on a Thanksgiving trip from Denver to the Utah or Arizona national parks, but a look at the nighttime lows out there was discouraging. Even down at the South Rim, it's below 20 degrees most nights. Come to think of it, it's cold at night everywhere I would go out of Denver, in almost every season, because in summertime we head for the high country.

So I spent a cold night at home in my 16-foot Scamp, testing my few cheap options. Boiling a pot of water on the cooktop didn't nudge my thermometer even one degree. It did make my newly purchased CO detector prick up its electronic ears, showing 50 ppm of carbon monoxide accumulating in about five minutes with all windows closed (frozen shut, actually). Then I tried the Coleman Sport Cat my wife purchased. It managed to slowly raise the interior temp from 32 to 38 degrees, but no more. It was only a 1,100 BTU unit. It's probably hot enough to tip over and start a fire, but not to heat a trailer. The CO detector didn't react to it, showing the merits of the catalytic combustion process.

So it looks like safe, comfortable winter trailer use will demand some investment. I've scanned these posts and found many of you favoring the Olympic Wave 3 cat heater. I wonder if that's strong enough, and if its radiant heat really spreads well throughout the interior. I'm fascinated by the "Pine Cone" experiment with a tiny marine wood stove, but I haven't read how that worked out. And I've just noticed that the Scamp website is offering their 16K BTU Suburban furnace at $365, well below other retail prices. That sounds like the hottest, safest and most convenient option, though I've read complaints about noise and battery drain. Price is an object for me, but I want to get it right this time, and there's no easy way to demo these options before installation.

So if you don't mind the repetition, I'd like some opinions on these choices as I wile the cold night away, dreaming of redrock canyons and long, cold, starry desert nights.

What's your favorite way to heat an egg, and why?
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:01 PM   #2
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I installed a Suburban DD-17DSI (17,000BTU/H direct spark ignition) in my EggCamper and have been very happy with it.

Last winter during the Christmas season we traveled from Golden CO to the Illinois/Indiana border to visit our daughter. We stayed warm in temperatures down to 3 degrees when we RONed in Kansas and down to 10 degrees in Illinois. We also do a lot of camping in the mountains west of Golden, even in the winter. One of our favorite places is Camp Hale, near Leadville. That place gets cold even in the summer. This year our holiday plan is to go to Arizona to visit our son and his family. Will probably be using the furnace extensively again.

Anyway, I don't think you will successfully heat your Scamp with a cat heater if your goal is to camp in the high country so bite the bullet and install a vented propane furnace. You'll be glad you did.

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Old 11-17-2009, 11:10 PM   #3
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John,
We have used our Black Cat heater in our 17 ft Casita with ambient temps in the 30s and it works great. We only need the high setting (3000 BTU) for a short time and then we must turn it down to the 1500 setting because it gets so warm. This model sits at a stable 45-degree angle so we put near the door and point it toward us when we are sitting in the dining room. Using it mostly in the evenings, a propane can lasts about three days. The owners manual says to provide six square inches of ventilation. I am surprised your 1100-BTU cat worked so poorly; it's not much smaller than ours on low.

If you are planning to use the trailer a lot in winter, you can't beat the built-in furnace. But beware it is noisy and a power hog.

Marv
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:43 PM   #4
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John,
We have used our Black Cat heater in our 17 ft Casita with ambient temps in the 30s and it works great. ... I am surprised your 1100-BTU cat worked so poorly; it's not much smaller than ours on low.
Marv
I kept wondering if the Sport Cat was working properly. But it was new, and so was the fuel canister I was using. There is only one style of fuel in that size can, right? I could only see light from combustion on one edge of the pad. I could feel heat about one foot above it, but no further. I'm inexperienced with cat heaters. My last one, and old thrift shop find, didn't seem to work well either. Perhaps I'm missing something with them?

Even if the floor-mounted cat heater was sufficient, I don't think I could really trust it. Our trailer is typically occupied by three of us. Floor and counter space fills up fast, and there's plenty of flammable clothes and bedding all around. I would consider mounting a Wave a foot or two up the side wall, opposite the door where my bathroom isn't. That might be out of the way enough. But an indirect combustion furnace seems to take a lot of those worries away, doesn't it?

I'm very impressed, Wolf-man, that you stayed warm up at Camp Hale. It's hard to believe that once I cowboy-camped the Ski Cooper parking lot before a ski trip, in just a down bag on a foam pad. But that kind of absurdly extreme car-camping went out, for me, with the Reagan administration. Now, an unheated trailer seems barbaric!

I think about heaters all the time. Folks who live elsewhere might not relate to how much winter we've had here already on the Front Range. Even down in Denver, we've had two major storms that totaled over two feet. Two weeks before Thanksgiving! I need to go out and cut my Christmas tree soon. It's right beside my front door, a 25-foot cedar that broke its back in the last storm. "Tim-Brrrrrr.... "
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:59 PM   #5
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It's hard to believe that once I cowboy-camped the Ski Cooper parking lot before a ski trip, in just a down bag on a foam pad. But that kind of absurdly extreme car-camping went out, for me, with the Reagan administration. Now, an unheated trailer seems barbaric!
Was it the Schnapp's perhaps that gave you the courage to cowboy camp in the middle of winter at Cooper?


I think I understand by your post that you are looking to dry camp? But just wanted to add that there is always campgrounds/rvparks open this time of year that you could camp at, plug in and have a electric heater to keep you warm and still let you camp. I get that campgrounds/rvparks are not wilderness camping but at least you can get away. Have fun!
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:33 AM   #6
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I think I understand by your post that you are looking to dry camp? But just wanted to add that there is always campgrounds/rvparks open this time of year that you could camp at, plug in and have a electric heater to keep you warm and still let you camp. I get that campgrounds/rvparks are not wilderness camping but at least you can get away. Have fun!
We've been using a 110V AC heater sometimes. That's the cheap, easy solution. But there are just too many campgrounds without hookups, including most of the nicer ones. In the West, few National Park or Forest Service CGs have juice. The ones that do, like Trailer Village at the Grand Canyon and Watchman at Zion NP, get poor reviews. You wind up in a parking lot with your views blocked by bigger land yachts. I'd be kidding myself to say we'll do a lot of boondocking, but I'd like to be able to spend a warm night in any CG that tickles my fancy or meets my needs.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:38 AM   #7
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if you have no heat now, yes, it will take a bit of an investment for a nice unit, but done right, you'll be as snug as a bug in a... well, you know what I mean.

my little Burro has an Atwood... they are very popular units

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-furn...per-furnace.htm

It will take a propane tank and a 12 volt power, like a marine battery.

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Old 11-18-2009, 06:51 AM   #8
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What's your favorite way to heat an egg, and why?
I installed a Wave 3 in our 13' Scamp. I chose the Wave 3 because it mounts on the surface rather than having to be cut into an exterior wall. Also, we like to camp in places without hook-ups, so this is one less drag on the battery. It works really well for this size trailer. We start it on high, then turn it down to low for normal operation. We normally turn it off before going to bed. It's been totally reliable, silent, and warms up the Scamp in no time. Regarding CO, I installed a digital detector and see a few ppm with the heater running on high (way below any sort of alarm threshold). Running on low, it stays at 0 with just a modest amount of ventilation. For your application in a 16', I think I would install the larger model so it can run on low. I think the larger surface area of the catalyst bed would help eliminate CO production while still providing adequate heat.

Would I do it again? Yes. It's perfect for our mode of camping and subject to our operating habits. Would I use a catalytic heater for a family of three, or with pets, etc? I don't think I would. There is a source of ignition present, and if anyone gets careless with clothing or bedding, it could be a problem. We just bought a 16' Casita without furnace, and I think I'll probably go with the factory-supplied furnace, primarily because the blower will help distribute the heat more evenly. And the price really isn't that different, especially if I do most of the installation. And at some point if we sell the Casita, most people would probably rather have a furnace. I hope I don't regret that choice when it comes to battery drain and noise. The Wave 3 or 6 is a great choice, opertated with care.

Good luck with your choice!

Parker
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:58 AM   #9
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The biggest heat loss and points of condensation in a lot of these trailers is from the single-pane windows. Since the Scamp has a plexiglass front window without a metal frame, the moisture from the inside of the window can be problematic. One solution is to use backpacker foam, cut to the gravel guard shape and either glued or just placed behind the guard and "locked" into place at night. The rest of the windows can be covered with insulation (Reflex?). Be sure to keep the vent open and air moving. Otherwise the trailer turns into a cold sauna.

If you plan to do much cold weather camping, you can insulate the floor by gluing blue styrofoam sheeting to the underside of the floor. Blue styrofoam is lightweight and doesn't hold moisture.
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Old 11-18-2009, 07:29 AM   #10
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John
I had a gravity feed furnace in my Trillium 1300 that had no fan at all.
It was like the ones the factory uses now but just had no fan and thus was great when no power was available.
If you could find one of these I would think about it.
I am not sure why they stopped using them?

I stayed at Taylor once with mine in October and also on the Buena Vista side of Cottonwood Pass and also at the Spring Creek CG all while it was very "Brisk" or seasonal
to a native and I almost could not turn the heater down far enough.
Keeping a window open was no big sacrifice,in fact it was welcome.

A few years ago I was at a CG outside the Springs at Thanksgiving and a small electric cube really does do the job when there is power.
We are in Denver and the Springs every Thanksgiving and it is killing me deciding whether to camp or Hotel like the rest of the family.


I would think finding one of these older heaters in an RV junkyard may not be too tough?
Just a thought.

Ed
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:55 AM   #11
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I thought I was in the wrong forum when I read this topic...I was going to tell you how I built the incubator for my turtle eggs!


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I only have an electric wall heater now but like the Wave 3 and might put one in when I move permanently to Washington. I don't think venting is a problem with the poptop up but could also crack a window, and I can convert the old Coleman Lamp gasline to the Wave 3, I think. (Or more likely, have someone do that for me!) I have a friend who has one in her camper and I liked it.

Bobbie
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:01 AM   #12
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...What's your favorite way to heat an egg, and why?
I installed a Platinum Cat in my Hunter I (photos here, bottom row). Haven't used it yet for camping, but in brief tests in the back yard, it seems to work well, and I can tell it will at least take the chill off, and maybe even get a little toasty, depending on the outside temp.

It's mounted in a cabinet door, which swings to face it up the aisle toward the seats/beds. It produces radiant heat, not forced air, sort of like a very small wood stove. The fan doesn't circulate warm air, but vents the combustion products to the outside. It uses very little electricity - according to my e-meter, it draws 4-5 amps for a minute or two at startup, then 0.25 amp when running.

This replaced an old Hydro Flame heater that came with the trailer. I bought the Plat Cat about 8 years ago from someone who had bought it new and never installed it, and finally found a use for it myself just a couple of months ago.
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Old 11-18-2009, 10:39 AM   #13
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my old Coleman furnace is still working great. it's the fanless model so it draws no power to run. not sure if they still make them but I would think there's a newer model available. I've had camper with the fan in the past and you're lucky if it will go the night without killing the battery. I'm up in Winnipeg BTW so it's likely working a little harder.

as others have said, your sportcat should work fine but I question the venting when using these inside.
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:19 PM   #14
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Hi John,

I have a new Casita and have spent 5 nights in it to date, as I'm getting it set up for solar (there's a thread on it in the forum). I've been camped at my brother's in Grand Junction, and it's been rather chilly, mid 20s. I have a vented heater that came installed with it, so I'm fine, and I really think that's what you're going to need. I base this on years of camping in W. Colorado and SE Utah, in cars, tents and pop-up campers.

I've camped in the San Rafael Desert (s. of Green River, Horseshoe Canyon) and all over the desert in the dead of winter. I used to have a Four Runner and I slept in the back of it, quite often my 5 gallon jug would freeze solid (outside). It wasn't always much fun, but the real secret is a good down bag and warm clothes, including a hat. You can survive about anything with the right gear. But being comfortable is another matter, and for that, get the vented heater.

I'm going solar so I can stay warm without having to move around, as the solar will recharge my batteries and thus I can run the heater. I boondock exclusively, so no plugins. I'm looking forward to spending the winter in SE Utah and will full time it. Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions about wintering out there or can give me advice!
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