GXV Patagonia on the Kenworth K370 chassis

Fraron in Germany mfgs a LiFeYPO4 battery, 200ah that, due to addition of yttrium (an REE) is effective down to -25C. Otherwise my personal experience with Li batteries in the cold is truly unimpressive. The battery on my iPhone gets cold soaked in my pocket on my daily walk of 1 mile and will typically die if used at all in temperature below 25F unless >90% charged.
 

gregmchugh

Observer
I realize there is no good alternative at this point (except heading to warmer climes) but there is some amount of irony in needing diesel heat to keep batteries warm.
Some designs locate the lithium batteries in the heated area of the cabin or if they are in area where they could freeze you could use electric heating pads to keep the lithium cells from freezing and these heating pads don’t use much power when they are underneath the battery or integrated into the battery. If you already have diesel heated air or hydronic fluid available for heating the cabin then use some to heat the battery area. As I mentioned, the lithium batteries in our truck are going to stay above freezing and they are in an area with no active heating. We only need some supplemental heating for some water lines that run along the floor in the unheated area and only in very cold temps and we have a small radiant electric heating panel to activate when we need it To keep those lines from freezing.
 

kcshoots

New member
Fraron in Germany mfgs a LiFeYPO4 battery, 200ah that, due to addition of yttrium (an REE) is effective down to -25C. Otherwise my personal experience with Li batteries in the cold is truly unimpressive. The battery on my iPhone gets cold soaked in my pocket on my daily walk of 1 mile and will typically die if used at all in temperature below 25F unless >90% charged.
Just want to point out that not all batteries with lithium have the same cold use characteristics. Lithium Ion typically will discharge fine until about -20c and charge fine near or above freezing. However, other chemistries like lithium sulfur have been tested down to below -40c with little degradation.
 

lucilius

Member
Some designs locate the lithium batteries in the heated area of the cabin or if they are in area where they could freeze you could use electric heating pads to keep the lithium cells from freezing and these heating pads don’t use much power when they are underneath the battery or integrated into the battery. If you already have diesel heated air or hydronic fluid available for heating the cabin then use some to heat the battery area. As I mentioned, the lithium batteries in our truck are going to stay above freezing and they are in an area with no active heating. We only need some supplemental heating for some water lines that run along the floor in the unheated area and only in very cold temps and we have a small radiant electric heating panel to activate when we need it To keep those lines from freezing.
Right, I’m doing a similar routine w/2 electric pads that kick in underneath grey and fresh tanks when temp is below ~42F. Amp draw is about 6 amps. Two espar airtronics push warm air into the cabin and into the subfloor under the shower where a good deal of the plumbing is, and finally there is a 4” duct that blows directly into the battery cabinet, which is well-protected but only well insulated on 3 sides. Espar hydronic also moves coolant through the engine and hot water heater and provides domestic hot water. I suppose if I had really sunny conditions I could keep the pads and espars going in the cold Just using solar and without running the engine here and there (to recharge the 2x Lifeline AGM’s) but I can’t recall those stars ever aligning. Keeping electrical systems going in winter’s cold, snow and darkness can be challenging and the diesel, though less clean and somewhat more maintenance than electrical heating, always comes through. If I were always in winter conditions I think I might be looking for a small quiet diesel generator w/ an additional fuel tank.
 

gregmchugh

Observer
Right, I’m doing a similar routine w/2 electric pads that kick in underneath grey and fresh tanks when temp is below ~42F. Amp draw is about 6 amps. Two espar airtronics push warm air into the cabin and into the subfloor under the shower where a good deal of the plumbing is, and finally there is a 4” duct that blows directly into the battery cabinet, which is well-protected but only well insulated on 3 sides. Espar hydronic also moves coolant through the engine and hot water heater and provides domestic hot water. I suppose if I had really sunny conditions I could keep the pads and espars going in the cold Just using solar and without running the engine here and there (to recharge the 2x Lifeline AGM’s) but I can’t recall those stars ever aligning. Keeping electrical systems going in winter’s cold, snow and darkness can be challenging and the diesel, though less clean and somewhat more maintenance than electrical heating, always comes through. If I were always in winter conditions I think I might be looking for a small quiet diesel generator w/ an additional fuel tank.
Not often we use it but we also have an Onan 6000 watt Quiet Diesel as our final source of power when needed. Not many small diesel generators seem to be available but I recall that Onan might be doing one again and there is a 3000 watt one used under Sprinters.
 

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waveslider

Outdoorsman
RAM, I may be way off base with this assessment but there appear to be 2 main categories of people that go through this process. And It's probably more pronounced with GXV since they approach it from a "customization" perspective more than say EC or ER generally do.

Some people seem to front-load the process and build in every trinket, bauble, feature and customization right out of the gate. As part of the planning process - they include every option under the sun and leave no stone unturned. Or rather- they want to "move in" to their rig like they would a house and never turn a wrench or make an adjustment themselves through the life of their truck.

Others (and my wife and I fall into this category) seem to focus hard on getting the real basics - the deal killers - just right and the other things can be added, adapted or included later on once you have some experience under your belt on how you use it, your habits, etc. That does mean that we had a certain amount of "building" to do once we got our truck. Honestly, building isn't the right word but its more than moving your pots and pans in but less than truly constructing anything. I just can't think of a better term for it.

In this regard, GXV earns high praise (Rene really) for her experience and her willingness to say "hey, I know you think you want X - but here's why you might consider a diff option - or here's a alternative that you might consider" That experience and understanding was hugely beneficial. But to our own credit that also means that she is dealing with people who know EXACTLY how they want to use their vehicle and the things that are important to them. Having spent hundreds if not thousands of nights in our SMB taught us exactly what we want and don't want.

Where I suspect this whole model falls down are in the cases where people know they want a truck - maybe they like the pictures, their friends have one, they saw an instagram account once.....whatever the situation - but they have NO experience whatsoever with living/traveling in a camper or even have any idea what they actually want to use the truck for. They just know it's cool, they want one and they assumed that GXV is going to magically know how they are supposed to build it to use it in every scenario possible. That is a recipe for disaster I have to assume. That combined with the likelihood that such people expect it to be JUST like home with virtually unlimited hot water, unlimited electricity and all the audio/video conveniences of home means people are going to be disappointed and it has NOTHING to do with the capability of the builder or the vehicle.

So I often wonder what percentage of "bad press" these builders get is based on unrealistic expectations and how much of it is shoddy workmanship, etc. I can say with great certainty that our SMB was an absolute POS from a construction perspective. Of that I am quite clear because I had to become a SMB mechanic and what I saw was disturbing. I can also report that GXV is LIGHT years ahead of that in terms of build quality and workmanship. Does that mean everything was perfect? Nope. But then I will refer back to our motto of really trying to keep it basic which offers less opportunity for us to put GXV over their skis trying to do something for us they aren't well prepared for. Although we have had some issues that I wish they had paid closer attention to I can tell you that the number of things on our truck that I marvel at the fine workmanship far outnumber the opposite of that. Everyone has their own experiences, but that is our take on it.

I guess this was a really long winded way of saying you should spend as much time - if not more - really assessing what you want to use your vehicle for than you do kicking the tires of various builders. If you do that, your choice of manufacturer will almost become obvious and what you end up with is likely to be exactly what you want.

We don't regret for an instant and it was the most expensive thing we have ever bought in our life.....

smalltruck_LI.jpg
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
RAM, I may be way off base with this assessment but there appear to be 2 main categories of people that go through this process. And It's probably more pronounced with GXV since they approach it from a "customization" perspective more than say EC or ER generally do.

Some people seem to front-load the process and build in every trinket, bauble, feature and customization right out of the gate. As part of the planning process - they include every option under the sun and leave no stone unturned. Or rather- they want to "move in" to their rig like they would a house and never turn a wrench or make an adjustment themselves through the life of their truck.

Others (and my wife and I fall into this category) seem to focus hard on getting the real basics - the deal killers - just right and the other things can be added, adapted or included later on once you have some experience under your belt on how you use it, your habits, etc. That does mean that we had a certain amount of "building" to do once we got our truck. Honestly, building isn't the right word but its more than moving your pots and pans in but less than truly constructing anything. I just can't think of a better term for it.

In this regard, GXV earns high praise (Rene really) for her experience and her willingness to say "hey, I know you think you want X - but here's why you might consider a diff option - or here's a alternative that you might consider" That experience and understanding was hugely beneficial. But to our own credit that also means that she is dealing with people who know EXACTLY how they want to use their vehicle and the things that are important to them. Having spent hundreds if not thousands of nights in our SMB taught us exactly what we want and don't want.

Where I suspect this whole model falls down are in the cases where people know they want a truck - maybe they like the pictures, their friends have one, they saw an instagram account once.....whatever the situation - but they have NO experience whatsoever with living/traveling in a camper or even have any idea what they actually want to use the truck for. They just know it's cool, they want one and they assumed that GXV is going to magically know how they are supposed to build it to use it in every scenario possible. That is a recipe for disaster I have to assume. That combined with the likelihood that such people expect it to be JUST like home with virtually unlimited hot water, unlimited electricity and all the audio/video conveniences of home means people are going to be disappointed and it has NOTHING to do with the capability of the builder or the vehicle.

So I often wonder what percentage of "bad press" these builders get is based on unrealistic expectations and how much of it is shoddy workmanship, etc. I can say with great certainty that our SMB was an absolute POS from a construction perspective. Of that I am quite clear because I had to become a SMB mechanic and what I saw was disturbing. I can also report that GXV is LIGHT years ahead of that in terms of build quality and workmanship. Does that mean everything was perfect? Nope. But then I will refer back to our motto of really trying to keep it basic which offers less opportunity for us to put GXV over their skis trying to do something for us they aren't well prepared for. Although we have had some issues that I wish they had paid closer attention to I can tell you that the number of things on our truck that I marvel at the fine workmanship far outnumber the opposite of that. Everyone has their own experiences, but that is our take on it.

I guess this was a really long winded way of saying you should spend as much time - if not more - really assessing what you want to use your vehicle for than you do kicking the tires of various builders. If you do that, your choice of manufacturer will almost become obvious and what you end up with is likely to be exactly what you want.

We don't regret for an instant and it was the most expensive thing we have ever bought in our life.....
Thanks again for another great response.

Ive been doing the vehicle based camping / exploring 20 years, and what we like and need most definitely changes with age as well. I owned and build up one of almost every Toyota Made, to various stages.

My last setup was Tundra with a four wheel camper. Mostly did well, but being 6'4" 285lbs, i need more room, and to simplify things a bit.

I did a minimum of one long 30 day trip to the Arctic a year.

This year i learned that
-Popping a roof up and down 4 nights in a row in rain coming down sideways just absolutely sucks!
-No such thing as too much fuel (unless of course you're on fire). Even if you don't need it for range reasons, cost saving reasons make up for the cost of the second tank pretty quick. On my trip fuel ranged from 2.25 to 8.25 a gallon!
-I needed less interior room inside my truck, and more inside the camper
-Dealing with a lot of propane usage (heater, stove, hot water) on long trips is a major PITA.
-For 95% of the trails/roads i do and places i go, size generally isn't an issue. I am ok with not doing that 5% anymore in order to be a lot more comfy. Ive down the tight trail rock crawling stuff years ago, doesnt appeal to me now
-Less setup and breakdown time the better.

The Tundra has sold and my Ram 5500 should be here this week or next. I am stoked to take everything i've learned on my last 15+ builds and design and build my ideal setup. For now anyway! :)
 

waveslider

Outdoorsman
Yeah. We had a couple of must-haves and the first was an inordinate amount of windows. The one thing we absolutely loved about the SMB was the 360 deg view it afforded when the top was up so we were very fixated on the most and biggest windows we could fit and GXV made that work. There is no more room on the walls for windows and we are so happy we made sure to get that.

The other thing was a minimum amount of "moving things to get access to things". Because our days usually start with really early mornings, being able to jump out of bed and get moving was a priority. So taking down a bed and moving cushions and such was a no-go. Even though the permanent bed area is a lot of "wasted space" so-to-speak, we decided it was the way to go.

An indoor shower was an absolute must-have. I still had them put an exterior shower in since that is my norm -but we wanted to be able to shower in the winter. We considered not even putting in a cassette toilet and JUST having a shower because that's not a huge priority for us, but in the end we are glad we did and it's quite the luxury.

The large pass-thru on the Kenworth is what really made the decision easy for us. It ends up being similar to the EC in that the cab and the cabin stitch together and it's the equivalent of having a big window out the front which checks the #1 box above as well. Again, the SMB showed us that having the front be part of the living area is useful.

Finally, the short wheelbase and incredible turning radius are what convinced us the KW was the right choice. It turns WAY tighter than my F250 extra cab long bed and we frequently maneuver into and out of remote boat ramps and drift boat launches with ease. Our truck is about as short as they can conceivably make it.

Plus, they made it big enough for me to stand straight up in it...there's that. At 6'8" tall that's a serious consideration.
 

Alloy

Well-known member
Although we have had some issues that I wish they had paid closer attention to I can tell you that the number of things on our truck that I marvel at the fine workmanship far outnumber the opposite of that.
Don't want to spread dirt so I understand if is best left alone but I'm wondering what they could have paid more attention to?
 

waveslider

Outdoorsman
Nothing significant enough to call out specifically. Anytime you have humans with hands assembling things something will get missed.

When you add to that the fact that In many cases they are installing products from other manufacturers, stuff isn’t going to work.

I've been quite vocal in the past about the lack of quality with our SMB - which I can absolutely attest to - and this doesn’t even rise beyond the level of mentioning the fact that no one is perfect.

So, no dirt to be had. Sorry.
 
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Alloy

Well-known member
Nothing significant enough to call out specifically. Anytime you have humans with hands assembling things something will get missed.

When you add to that the fact that In many cases they are installing products from other manufacturers, stuff isn’t going to work.

I've been quite vocal in the past about the lack of quality with our SMB - which I can absolutely attest to - and this doesn’t even rise beyond the level of mentioning the fact that no one is perfect.

So, no dirt to be had. Sorry.
This what I was wondering. Often the dirt is supplied equipment. Custom builders want to build a better product but they are subject to mass produced equiment and short comings in the technical know how from the manufacturers.
 
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