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Thread: Extreme Cold Weather Camper ?

  1. #1
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    Default Extreme Cold Weather Camper ?

    I am looking at some cold weather and need some ideas on what to bolt on the back of a FUSE FG? I would love a large fresh water holding tank, cassette toilet, good heater/AIR for the camper, stove,frig, your basic kitchen.

    I plan on way off the beaten path trips. thus the need to be able to store supplies as well.

    Does anyone make something that will hold up to Minus -20 degrees and not freeze up? It's just me, so it does not have to be a pop up or need spare beds and all..

    -David

  2. #2
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    I remember seeing somebody take a Bigfoot Travel Trailer and mount it on the back of an FG. I think anything "off the shelf" will have to be modified to handle the cold temps.
    2012 Toyota

  3. #3
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    Check this thead in the forum: Mitsu Camper Examples by Haven. It shows Carl Hunter's Bigfoot as well as Doug Hackney's. Bigfoot is in limbo right now but used ones should be available. Oliver is also a possibility but only used ones right now. You will find plenty of experienced help here on how to mount the cabin.
    Good Luck on your project
    Bruce
    '04 Mitsu FUSO FG639 / '04 Casita
    aka:"RoadHippo"
    West Texas
    " 200 miles from everywhere!"

  4. #4
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    I have had a couple cold weather campers, I primarily use mine during the winter for the freeskiing world tour in which has 6 stops in the US, lodging at ski resorts is ridiculous so a cold weather camper is the way to go. I am using a high top sportsmobile right now which is actually fine as is with my suburban 16k btu furnace, but I used to have a skamper pop top and we did a few things to modify it for cold weather. First thing we did was sewed a removable curtain for the entire perimeter of the pop top as well as replaced the current windows' curtains. Here is instructions from ehow and the fabric we used from joann fabrics:
    http://www.ehow.com/how_4479972_make...-curtains.html
    http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog/p...RODID=prd56975
    The other option is to sew the thermal fabric to the current pop top, in which is what we are planning on doing to the FG camper that we plan on building, just waiting for spring to sell the sportsmobile as that is the best time to sell one. Funny though, I've got this schedule with rvs and campers that I buy in the fall and sell it in a year or two during the spring, always end up making a profit on them. The fabric is expensive, so I always watch the paper for 1/2 off coupons for joann.
    So beyond the thermal fabric, its good to replace your engine block heater, more power is better. I will only use the Suburban and for everything that I've had, the 16k btu is way more than enough, I've had 3 of them so far, first thing that gets replaced or added. You are going to want a generator and I like to go with a gas one converted to propane and run it on the same tank as my heater and stove, a nice big horizontally mounted tank is the way to go. I'd like to go with a diesel generator but they're so big and heavy and suck in the cold. I can't think of anything else I normally do, but all of this helps a lot, I fortunately have not been stuck or cold on multiple nights at neg 26 or lower. Oh, batteries, make sure you got a second one under the hood and I always do at least 3 27 sized rv batteries. And learn how to change your glow plugs, if your glow plugs are half dead, they will not warm up enough to start and run your diesel, I change mine more often than I should, but when it only costs 100 bucks in parts and will save me from getting stuck, its worth it. If you don't wanna change them yourself, be prepared to spend a pretty penny, I've gotten quotes anywhere from 400 to 1000, hence why I do it myself. I wish you would have been the one purchasing that skamper and throwing it on your fg, as the guy who purchased it was not planning on using it in cold weather and was going to take off the insulated curtains, oh well. If you have any questions or are near telluride and wanna talk over what you want to do let me know or just keep asking questions and I'll subscribe to this thread. I've actually lived in my campers and vans, one time for well over a year and never got cold tired or even mad that I was doing it, I loved the empty backpack style of life.

  5. #5
    I don't know if you want a turnkey camper, but I have seen refrigerated radio boxes and trailers used in the Arctic and Alaska numerous times. Since they are already insulated you just replace the chiller with a heater and you're done. One unique solution the water tank I have seen is to run the exhaust pipe from the gen through the water tank. It would be more rustic than the Bigfoot, but it would work.
    This thread is about how snobby and elitist ExPo has become, not about EE's forum. Please stay on topic while bashing this forum on this forum.

  6. #6
    haven is offline Expedition Portal Moderator Expedition Leader
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    Electric holding tank heaters are commonly used in RVs. They fit on the outside of the tank like an electric blanket, and draw current from your house battery. Sizes for tanks up to 40 gallons are available. If your tank is bigger, use can two heaters. Be careful to monitor the draw on the battery.

    Keeping the interior of the camper comfortable in cold weather also is a challenge. If you keep the camper buttoned up air tight, you'll develop lots of condensation on the walls and ceiling from the water vapor in your breath.

    One solution is an Eberspächer water heater. It has a diesel burner that heats and circulates hot water in the camper. The hot water can also be used to pre-heat the engine coolant, which makes the engine easier to start. In USA, this Eberspächer product is called Espar Hydronic.

    As a substitute for the electric tank heater, you could run lines from the Hydronic unit past the water holding tank.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbly1850 View Post
    Does anyone make something that will hold up to Minus -20 degrees and not freeze up?
    Anything will - if you apply enough heat. The best trick is to keep the water tank inside the cabin, and to keep the cabin above freezing.

    westyss build his cabin using a composite material that he says the manufacturer rates at R-7 per inch.

    http://www.expeditionportal.com/foru...ad.php?t=48351

    It looks like he used 2 inches or so thickness. He had a Mr. Buddy catalytic heater (those are 4k btu up to 18k btu I think), and it was too much so he replaced it with a 3k catalytic and even camping below -5C (+23F) it was "balmy" inside

    http://www.expeditionportal.com/foru...5&postcount=54


    That's pretty good, but still a long way from -20F. Turtle 4 crossed Siberia, in winter with a popup camper with a winter kit and a 20k btu diesel fired heater:

    http://www.turtleexpedition.com/vehicles/turtle4.php

    They said:

    "Our Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper was unsuccessfully modified to handle the extreme cold of Siberia. It survived, and we survived, but in the process we again discovered the reality that despite its light weight and low profile, a pop-up camper is still a tent, best suited for temperate three-season camping. Once Spring arrived, the camper performed as expected, with the exception of annoying sidewall leaks during torrential downpours and high winds."


    I have a 12k Surburban heater in my camper, and I would only recommend it for weekend trips unless you have a large propane tank or ready access to refills. Mine eats propane and battery amp*hours like candy. I have a 5 gallon built-in propane tank and using just the stove it lasts months. Stove and small Norcold 323 fridge, a month or so. Using the stove, fridge and heater - under a week.


    For a pre-built camper, the Alaskan seems to have good cold-weather reviews, with the exception of the split door which doesn't do a good job of keeping in the heat between the upper and lower door sections.

    I would think the best way to go with a pre-built would be a fiberglass unit like Bigfoot or DontPanic42's Casita. Bruce (DontPanic42) should be able to tell you how it fares in winter - though I find it very interesting that his post in this thread seems to steer you toward a Bigfoot and not toward a Casita... (Maybe he's got cold tootsies.)


    The other problem is the water tank(s). Water is 8.4 lbs per gallon, so big tanks are bloody heavy. For a cold weather rig, you can't hang them outside and if you put them inside you not only give up space, but you raise the rig's Center of Gravity noticeably.

    Some decades ago, I helped a buddy convert a school bus and we wrestled with these same issues. What we came up with was a raised sub-floor. We built a 12" raised sub-floor down either side of the cabin. Under that in front was a pair of 50 gallon, 10" thick fresh water tanks, and further to the rear, a similar set of grey and black tanks. This kept all the water inside the insulated cabin proper, while still keeping the CoG as low as possible without hanging the tanks below. Another benefit, was that by using the two tanks in a saddle configuration with a small 1/2" crossover to connect them, it kept the weight balanced and also prevented a bunch of side to side sloshing.

    You can find pretty slim tanks if you look around:

    http://www.plastic-mart.com/class.php?cat=12


    This 110g tank that is only 9" tall catches my eye, though 33" wide might be a bit much:

    http://www.plastic-mart.com/class.php?cat=12


    For a -20F rig, I might be tempted to start with a standard delivery box and line it with a couple three inches of that stuff that westyss used, stick the water tanks under sub-floors down either side, with an Espar diesel hydronic for heat, and (as haven said) the hot water lines run along side the water tanks under the sub-floor.


    An added benefit to having the water tanks (and/or batteries) inside the cabin is that they constitute a pretty hefty thermal mass - which is great in the winter...not so great in the summer.
    Last edited by dwh; 12-02-2010 at 01:27 AM.
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  8. #8
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    My Unicat is toasty warm at -25F because it has R13 solid walls and double pane windows, but it takes about 12 hrs to get there from cold soaked because its' heater is only 5 kw. (hydronic Webasto)

    Charlie
    Unimog U500 with Unicat camper; diesel BMW X5 35d, diesel BJ40 Landcruiser and diesel M37

  9. #9
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    We have a house made of Transonite, a pultruded composite by Martin-Marietta. Our 17'x8'x6'2" box [1.25" thick] is very comfortable at 0°F [haven't had a chance to test it lower yet] with a 17,000 btu Espar hydronic heater and (3) fan-driven radiators. [Calculations suggest that we could easily go to -20°F, but we haven't actually done that yet.]

    Our biggest problem is that the house is so tight that we are having condensation problems - breathing, showering and propane cooking (in that order) seem to be producing more humidity than we can handle. So, windows, vents and hatches are dripping and the internal humidity regularly reaches 60+%. But our skin is NOT dry/itchy this winter!!!
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwh View Post
    Turtle 4 crossed Siberia, in winter with a popup camper with a winter kit and a 20k btu diesel fired heater:

    http://www.turtleexpedition.com/vehicles/turtle4.php

    They said:

    "Our Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper was unsuccessfully modified to handle the extreme cold of Siberia. It survived, and we survived, but in the process we again discovered the reality that despite its light weight and low profile, a pop-up camper is still a tent, best suited for temperate three-season camping. Once Spring arrived, the camper performed as expected, with the exception of annoying sidewall leaks during torrential downpours and high winds."
    IIRC on the Siberia trip they were also unable to raise the roof in really cold weather because the soft walls got brittle at those temps.

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