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Building an all season trailer - is it feasible?


noteven

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"Full timing" is a bit more challenging in Canada due to:

 

- this winter deal that happens pretty much everywhere in this land.

 

- health care being handled by each province/territory and limitations/rules from Canada and the US around residency. This can require people to remain "home" over winter while "doctoring" as we call it here in fly over country. This can be managed. I just mention it to answer the obvious question "why stay in Canada during winter?" Not wanting this thread to be a health care discussion. So - back to the outfit itself:

 

I am thinking around the concept of a long life properly insulated trailer residence that can handle cold weather if necessary, without the need for excessive amounts of energy input to maintain comfort. Insulation performance and air tightness / contolled ventilation is the key to this I figger. This would make the trailer more comfortable / easy to cool in hot weather as well.

 

Some concepts in the folder are:

 

Low floor air brake axle system something like: http://dallassmithcorp.com/products/lo-floor-trailer-chassis-modules/ . Juice and/or crimped wire brakes are a no go for this truck driver in a vehicle like this.

 

Completely enclosing all systems and tankage within the well insulated "envelope". The basement would be at least deep enough for the average bear to crawl in to access systems for repair / maintenance. No belly tarps. Systems would be accessible for maintenance. Battery bank and fuel will be stored properly. Doors would be same R value as the walls. No junky latches. Off the shelf transport grade stuff.

 

Heat recovery ventilation. Passive / powered when necessary design being worked on. It's a secret right now.

 

Big solar little quiet low rpm generator.

 

Radiant heat. Thinking about propane or diesel fired hydronic, or even marine industry robust well built heater(s). Or hybrid system. Or some solid fuel (pellets, wood) No air blowers roaring...

 

If petroleum fuel used - likely diesel to match the tow vehicle to keep it simple...

 

Now this might sound crazy - but on board systems will be as passive, robust, and simple as possible. No technology for the sake of gadgetry / endless wiring and "systems." If the leveling system that gets run once every 2 weeks can be operated by a lever while looking at a level instead of proprietary circuit boards from a company that goes out of business 6 months after you buy it that suits me vs push button auto LED convenience.

 

A wind skirting system for winter that does not involve straw bales...

 

No sawdust and glue board...

 

Aircraft or marine grade plywoods...

 

Good recliner chairs... ok we already have those :)

 

2 level stacker garage for motorcycles :o ...

 

Anyone else thinking along these lines?

 

 

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I would think that the feasibility of this project would be determined by the skills of the builder/designer [you or someone else], availability of materials and the amount of time/money available for the project. I like your thinking and hope you will let us know your design plans and other secret stuff as the plan unfolds. Best wishes and be safe. Charlie PS....I think I remember some moving vans that might be a fit for your project !?!? :huh:

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Couple of thoughts

 

propane requires heat to vaporize - It boils at -40 but under a large draw, it will cool down to that. Part of using a large tank is to draw heat from the air for vaporization (surface area) so you may need to heat it (Jack Mayer did in Moab, Utah some years back.

 

Diesel fuel - same type of thing only it gels. #1 fuel and E911 helps but this might work better - http://www.arctic-fox.com/shop-fuel-fluid-warming-products - and really lends itself to hydronic heating.

 

Depending on the area, I would add a generator to the mix - double thought - provides power, and gets you off the grid especially if there isn't one (or it goes down) and waste engine heat feeds into the hydronic system!

 

Espar makes some good units for this also. http://www.eberspaecher-na.com/products/fuel-operated-heaters/applications/trucks/engine-preheat.html

 

Just some idle thoughts --- ok been playing with these things for a while.

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We are building one right now. The axle less suspension for us was not cost effective so we went with the STI system on a 34foot box. All the materials we are using are formaldehyde free. Diesel fired boiler for infloor heat and domestic hot water. 48 volt solar for all the electric. Our setup is for 100% off grid full-time living in the America's.

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The fifth wheel trailer (see link below) is on the market in Southern California (unless it has been sold). I have seen this trailer. It may be exactly what you are looking for and, it has already been built. You cannot build it for the purchase price. It was built for your kind of weather.

 

Check it out. I have no connection to this trailer. I met the owner for the first time when he showed me the trailer. As I recall, the above link will take you to the original owner/builders link.

 

As I recall, the original builder has over $200,000 into this build. The diesel generator looked like it was never run. If you wanted a smaller generator, you could sell it off to recoup some of your costs.

 

http://www.rvnetwork.com/index.php?showtopic=117892&hl=

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Don't know about building, but this will be our first winter hunkered down in Alberta in our Excel. With the way things are in the oilfield right now, I can't afford to turn down work this winter. Custom skirting alone will run around 4 grand CDN.

Will let you know how we make out.....

 

Mike

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That $4000 will buy you a double layer of "Reflectix" bubble insulation, wrapped in coloured vinyl on one side. A cheaper alternative involves an adjustable wood frame, fiberglass insulation, and a cover like Tyvek. I've used this method in my youth to live through winter in a truck camper. Still expensive to heat, but tolerable.

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That $4000 will buy you a double layer of "Reflectix" bubble insulation, wrapped in coloured vinyl on one side. A cheaper alternative involves an adjustable wood frame, fiberglass insulation, and a cover like Tyvek. I've used this method in my youth to live through winter in a truck camper. Still expensive to heat, but tolerable.

Trying to keep it as classy as possible

Don't want to end up looking like the winter campers at NiteHawk and I know you have seen some of those gems :)

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I call 'em as I see 'em. Sometimes function wins over form. I wasn't particularly proud of a truck camper wrapped in Tyvek and surrounded by banked snow, but it made it through a winter in Alberta.

 

Edit to add: I'm thinking OP has to be more specific on where he wants to full-time in Canada at. Different geographic areas have different problems to overcome. The list of problems can include cold, wind, humidity (too much). Each will have a different solution, and can exacerbate another problem.

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We are building one right now. The axle less suspension for us was not cost effective so we went with the STI system on a 34foot box. All the materials we are using are formaldehyde free. Diesel fired boiler for infloor heat and domestic hot water. 48 volt solar for all the electric. Our setup is for 100% off grid full-time living in the America's.

What is sti system?

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Thank you everyone for your comments, suggestions and ideas so far. Keep them coming.

 

The concept is rugged / robust transport / marine grade simple stuff vs trying to mimic glitzy- junky sticks and bricks styling trend housing in a trailer that subjects the junky stuff to an earthquake every move down the road... mechanical tinkering time is for maintenance and preflight checks on whichever bikes are up for riding today not on "systems" and truck electronics and loose wire connections from the factory and complicated junk. Example - Just completely overhauled the in cab temp control system in the 97 KW work truck that automatically changes air temp right after you slide the lever a bit to move the cable to move the water valve - cable $10. Water valve (didn't actually need) $30. Diagnosis time: 1 minute (this cable broke...) repair 1 hr inc. beverage.

 

- Yes a repurposed unit vs new build is definitely an option. Like the fancy CA trailer (like to see pictures of it can't find) and Darryl thanks for the racing transporter link. Lots of value there for 2/3 the cost of a sooper pickup.

- Not doing this at all in favour of having a separate winter base shelter if needed and keep/modify the nice Carriage we have for spring/summer/fall wanderings is also an option.

- We understand mechanical space heating and what fuel does what in cold weather. Due to global warming you don't get caught out by "#2" diesel in January here. Your stuff would have already not started back in October :o

- Wind blocking is the purpose of skirting not hoping to maintain heated space under the unit for rodents.

- the sky deck will have many solar panels but they will be tilters. So snow can be allowed to accumulate - except insulation has to be enough to stop it from melting and forming ice on the roof. This is trouble ...

 

Insulation - interested in ideas / data on best performance for lowest weight (manned space vehicles) vs cost (budget not NASA) insulation-air barrier systems. Did you know there appears to be a bit of B.S. on line around insulation ? :)

 

STI and Dallas Smith axle-less wheel systems - no me haven't priced - scared... :o

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So, I'm confused, as usual.

 

If your goal is to have a unit built to withstand arctic like conditions, but you're taking motorcycles, are you ice racing? The wife and I prefer to ride in slightly (much?) warmer and less humid conditions. Big Bend, Texas works well for me through the winter months.

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So, I'm confused, as usual.

 

If your goal is to have a unit built to withstand arctic like conditions, but you're taking motorcycles, are you ice racing? The wife and I prefer to ride in slightly (much?) warmer and less humid conditions. Big Bend, Texas works well for me through the winter months.

 

Hi rickeieio - First post explains why we would want all weathers capability. We are Alberta Canuckleheads so can't always flee the winter without fail...

 

Just kicking around some ideas .... we aren't "fixated" on this plan necessarily.... some great ideas are being shared.

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You may have to make compromises along the way, but what you describe is somewhat like what I have been designing for awhile....at least in the major system components. I have no desire to "kneel" the trailer to the ground, or to live in -30 to -50 degrees F, though, so my insulation needs are less. I would be content - for example - with 2" of spray foam in the walls and 6" in the ceiling. But for -50* that won't cut it.

 

I also require a level of amenities inside that you specifically want to avoid. Things like state of the art cooking systems, a dishwasher, a large shower are things I would require - and that drives size and design. I'd also WANT to use off-the-shelf components like - for example - a bigfoot leveling system that is well designed. In your case that would have too much "gadgetry" associated with it.....in my case what I want is easily available parts and help.

 

Given you want an advanced electrical system you are going to have to compromise on your "simple" plan. Because you WILL have advanced electronics that you WILL NOT be able to fix if it goes bad. Items like MPPT charge controllers are required...and they are not simple. You will also have transformer/converts to use that stored 48 volts at 12 volt loads.

 

For heating a hydronic floor unit based on diesel would be what I would do. I'd likely use residential components, NOT an AquaHot, although that is a possibility. I'd use a small marine fireplace/stove as supplementary heat, along with electric "toe-kick" baseboard heat for additional backup. You do NOT want to have any chance of losing heat in those conditions.

 

For air conditioning I'd design around separate mini-split units, or a whole house unit. But bear in mind these units are not vibration proof and you have to deal with the possibility that they will fail at some point in time. I would not want to "break" the roof for RV AC units under any circumstance. The roof would only have a few vents coming out it....and maybe they would come out the sidewalls instead. No skylights - but instead sidewall lights like transom lights.

 

Spacecraft can certainly build what you are after. They have build all the separate features, but not all together like you would want.

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Thank you Jack -

 

We are much on the same wave length. What technology that is required - such as solar system and heating system - would be well designed and proven and good stuff.

 

I'm looking at the axle-less wheel system for it's space creation not for kneeling to the ground - it would likely have a duck tail to clear the worlds's steepest approaches at fuel stations. But then again when using a fully grown truck to haul it the wheels don't have to be half way up the coach to trolley the weight. Oh and belly skids and air suspension over-inflation valve to lift him a bit when needed...

 

I'm thinking if the unit was built rigid enough and well suspensioned enough (like a Prevost coach is) to keep shake and vibration to a minimum while under way - heating and refrigeration units would live better.

 

R30 walls and floor and R50 roof would work...

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