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Old 01-02-2009, 12:21 PM   #1
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In our newly restored UHaul VT 16, my 11 y.o. and I set out to test the theory of employing our little glass abode as winter night shelter after days of slope-fun on skis in Mammoth Lakes, CA., without hookups. After two episodes of four to five days each, here is our tale:

1. The Thanksgiving 2008 adventure was delightful, with its 20+F night temps, toasty in our 20 degree sleeping bags.

a. The double fleece velcro-fastened "snow curtains" on every window helped.
b. The 3,000 btu cat heater (by Northstar) seemed a bit meager, perhaps a little fan action would help homogenize the heat.
c. There was no need for turning the fridge on, every precooked, frozen culinary delight stayed frozen, just fine.
d. Condensation gleamed on the walls, frozen, imparting the igloo illusion...

2. On December 20, 2008, I set out for my solo Mammoth adventure, planning to stay ten days. I returned home after six...

a. The first few nights were uneventful, with "balmy" night temps in the upper teens (F.)
b. Two days of storms followed, with 30-50 mph wind gusts adding vivid drama to my attempted slumber...
c. There followed a ten degree night, crowned by a zero degree early 12/26 a.m.
d. The two DampRid containers did not put a dent in the condensation.
e. The custom length pillows with R-13 insulation I had sowed for every possible insulating opportunity in the glass abode, helped but were esentially contermanded by the shrinking door insulation in a little corner that actually harvested a mini mound of powder left after the storm.

Fortunately, the subsequent ski day was "epic," (skiers' parlance for blue skies, no wind and POWDER!) I made plenty of S and GS turns on the face of 3 and in Scottie's. Skied to two and left for home... 350 miles away. I was not going to spend another zero degree night... Perhaps it's time for a mummy bag...

It is my presumption that without a fan, the condensation with continue to scuplt itself on the walls, imparting beauty and brrrrr. The little cat heater is unlikely to overcome zero degree challenges, especially without circulation. Until resolved, spring skiing may be the only warmer option, especially for my princess. Any bright ideas?
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:09 PM   #2
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Can you park somewhere with hookups and use dry electric heat? (Or electric blanket?)
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Old 01-02-2009, 04:58 PM   #3
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Your catalytic heater likely contributed a great deal to your condensation issue. I'd second the "electric connection" option. Actually with electric you could use a small electric heater, plus your furnace (if so equipped) without worrying about the battery.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:03 AM   #4
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Shore power is NOT an option since we are camping close to the ski lift.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:49 AM   #5
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Is there any insulation in the floor? Some have had success by gluing the BLUE styrofoam blocks/sheets to the bottom of the floor. Prehack we had pictures where the styrofoam was cut to fit between the cross members on the frame. I suppose it would work best if the floor was wood. I know in cold weather camping in my Scamp, the cold just radiates up through the floor, brrrrrrr
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Old 01-03-2009, 12:36 PM   #6
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Hi Donna,
Good idea! Can we have more info on the blue styro sheets? The VT 16 floor is 1/2" marine plywood, sandwiched between two layers of glass and gelcoat.
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Old 01-03-2009, 03:12 PM   #7
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Ami, I really don't know anything more than what I've already posted. We lost the valuable information about it in the Hack. If I remember right (?) the individual cut and glued (about) 1/2-3/4" blocks/sheets, working around all the frame and plumbing. Think "puzzle." I don't even know what kind of glue you would use. I know some glues melt styrofoam. Since it's commonly used as floor insulation, perhaps Home Depot or Lowe's, etc. would be able to give you some more answers?
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:59 AM   #8
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Ami, I have no answer's for you. Just wanted to tell you your that your description of your winter camping tale is wonderful. Not so wonderful that I would try it, but enjoyed hearing your tale. Robin



I think Donna's idea would help a lot if you can figure how to make it work with your trailer.
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:18 AM   #9
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Ami, why not try a couple of inexpensive "space" blankets on the floor covered by a carpet remnant. Of course without a truly winterized construction to begin with you are already at a disadvantage for sub 20's temps as you've found out.
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:14 AM   #10
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Thanks!
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Old 01-12-2009, 11:13 AM   #11
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Thank you, Robin
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:33 PM   #12
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Dear Amy,

Catalytic heaters discharge allot of moisture, they consume hydrocarbons in the fuel oxidizing it with oxygen to produce heat thru a chemical process, the heat efficiency is 100% this being great!!! [b]BUT... with the [b]inescapable price also being the 100% of the moisture produced in this process being trapped in a little trailer sealed up in the cold. [b]H+O2=H2O

3000 b.t.u input into the trailer under those conditions is way to small in input b.t.u to maintain the temps you would want, a conventional forced air 16,000 b.t.u 80% efficient furnace would barely keep up, had you had this type of furnace you could look outside at the exhaust tube observing a steady stream of moisture trailing out of it as it burned the propane gas to keep you warm...At least this technology would have eliminated the dampness caused from the heater...You would only deal with the moisture from you and your occupants then.

I am worried for you as tightly as you tried to be sealed in there for warmth...There is a remote possibility of oxygen depletion because of the catalytic heater...Not many small 3000 btu cats have oxygen cut off sensors, I looked your model up and it does not. The fact the snow came in tells me you did have outside air, however if that becomes blocked because of the same snow you would be in great danger.

DampRid would not work in a 100% saturated environment, not with the constant recharge of moisture from the occupants and the cat endlessly adding to the moisture content of the air.

A fan would make no difference in an enclosed environment, you would have to exhaust a percentage of inside air to the outside to drop the moisture content of the interior trailer...that would work better from a moisture point of view...the heat loss would be chilling...also you would still see moisture on the walls because the walls of the trailer are below the condensation temperature for any water present or left in the air to appear there....This is why...Just the breath of two occupants adds pints per hour of moisture to the interior air. In Arctic environments, dehydration due to water loss thru the breath alone is a big problem for survival...these rules are the same inside or outside the trailers environment.

Your instincts were really good, you left the area, you did the right thing under the circumstances you faced in that situation, you should pat yourself on the back for that!

If you want to cold weather camp in those Arctic conditions, the old furnaces that exhaust to the outside are good, they use no power, have a dry heat, are cheap to find using outside air only for combustion of propane. Forced air systems will work well too, but require battery to operate...no battery, no heat.
In an extended, emergency that can be tricky...Cold also lowers available power from batteries.

I cannot compliment you enough for the decision to leave, with the equipment you had you assessed the situation correctly.

Hope it helps.

Harry




Quote:
In our newly restored UHaul VT 16, my 11 y.o. and I set out to test the theory of employing our little glass abode as winter night shelter after days of slope-fun on skis in Mammoth Lakes, CA., without hookups. After two episodes of four to five days each, here is our tale:

1. The Thanksgiving 2008 adventure was delightful, with its 20+F night temps, toasty in our 20 degree sleeping bags.


b. The 3,000 btu cat heater (by Northstar) seemed a bit meager, perhaps a little fan action would help homogenize the heat.

d. Condensation gleamed on the walls, frozen, imparting the igloo illusion...


d. The two DampRid containers did not put a dent in the condensation.



It is my presumption that without a fan, the condensation with continue to scuplt itself on the walls, imparting beauty and brrrrr. The little cat heater is unlikely to overcome zero degree challenges, especially without circulation?
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:11 AM   #13
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I use a 6,000BTU non-cat heater with ODS, which is way oversize for my Scamp 13', esp as it did not have any thermostat -- Full on or full off!

What I did was go through the trailer and insulate the metal surfaces on the windows and vents on the BACK sides where one doesn't normally see the condensation forming. I also insulated the front window by gluing backpacker foam to the back of the gravel guard, plus I hung curtains to keep cabin air from flowing across the window surface. I did NOT try to insulate the windows, preferring to let the condensation happen where gravity and the window drains would handle it.

Because the 6KBTU was over-size, I opened the roof vent a small amount -- This allowed the hottest, and most vapor-laden, air to escape.

Were I doing it again, I would give serious consideration to using two Coleman Black Cats of 3KBTU each, one to help getting started and one to maintain the heat.

I also do NOT run the heating at night, preferring to use a good sleeping bag instead.

I'm not particularly worried about floor insulation because the cold air under the trailer is sinking, not rising.

PS All unvented LP heaters, cat or not, put water vapor in the air as part of the LP burning process -- Specifically, one ounce of water per 1,000 BTU per hour
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Old 01-21-2009, 12:19 PM   #14
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I was never in danger since I had no heater on during sleep time. Also, I have two vents, cut directly next to the heater, one high one low tubed to the outside fresh air.

Ami
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:12 PM   #15
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Harry,
Can you post more detail about the "old furnaces" you mentioned will produce 16,000 dry heat btu's

Thanks
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:55 PM   #16
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Dear Ami,

Sorry for the delay, I got called to duty at the volunteer fire department, I get called without notice sometimes, afterward I often come home and crash a couple of days getting up for work only. (getting to old for this stuff now) Below is an Ebay link to the type of old convective furnace I am talking about, most "rusty" people on this site know about them...You might put a call out out on the F.B.R.V. website for one of these older units asking if anyone has one they have removed?...The example I have sent is a side discharge vent/air supply tube type, you most likely have a need for a rear discharge vent/supply tube type...I do not know the inside design of your trailer to advise you which way you would go. These older furnaces are well loved and [b]often recycled. Ebay has a steady consistent parade of them which has reliably turned up on their site. The Canadian Ebay site had allot of them. The old suburban brand that was put into the 70s era Acorns and latter into early Scamp 13s were very small and good.

You sound like a savy person who knows how to camp, glad you were never in any danger, safe camping always and good journeys in the future.

F.Y.I. if you decide to purchase one of these furnaces I have the outside vent/air intake assembly to this type of furnace in my shop in storage, this is the assembly that sits outside the trailer, you are welcome to it.

Harry


http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/propane-fur...sQ5fAccessories

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Harry,
Can you post more detail about the "old furnaces" you mentioned will produce 16,000 dry heat btu's

Thanks
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Old 02-07-2009, 06:14 PM   #17
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Harry,
Originally there was a defective rear venting Suburban furnace I removed. I'd like one that does not use 12V. Can you specify some that would work?
Ami
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:19 PM   #18
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If you plan to do this sort of camping regulalrly, get a Honda 2000 watt generator and a good lock chain to make sure it does not walk off. Electric heat, charged batteries, home cooked meals near a wonderful ski resort. What could be better!?!

My wife and I have been out camping in temperatures a few degrees below zero and had a great time. Even though we used 'dry' electric heat, we still had condensation problems.

Our backup plan was to go home if the weather got really bad or the power failed.

-- Dan Meyer
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:52 PM   #19
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get a large hunting type sleeping bag rated to 0 deg or so. then get a light mummy summer bag rated at 20f or so. stuff the mummy in the camp bag and you will be so warm you will sweat. also i know there is a full hookup camp in bridgeport about an hour north of mammoth. and i think there may be one in lee vining as well. aside from that id go with a generator if you got one. what about using those damp rid bags or balls to get rid of some of the moisture. im not sure how fast they work but we used them while full timing in the winter and i remember emptying them a lot.
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