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Old 01-16-2005, 09:30 AM   #1
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This is a tough one.

THE BUS: 1984 Ford B-700, Thomas body, ~31' living area. 460 gas engine, 60 gallon fuel tank on curb side behind entry door.

I boondock, so a power and propane-hungry RV furnace is out.

Uhh, any suggestions?
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Old 01-16-2005, 09:30 AM   #2
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This is a tough one.

THE BUS: 1984 Ford B-700, Thomas body, ~31' living area. 460 gas engine, 60 gallon fuel tank on curb side behind entry door.

I boondock, so a power and propane-hungry RV furnace is out.

Uhh, any suggestions?
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Old 01-16-2005, 09:29 PM   #3
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....remove steel interior and replace fiberglass insulation with polyisocynate foam board and spray can foam....or radiant floor heat using a built up floor and circulating antifreeze coolant in plastic lines imbeded in 1/2 inch of cement heated by engine/campfire/or waste oil burner.....or kerozene heaters at least 100,000 btu's total......ventulation is a problem with both fumes from the kero and moisture as the ceiling will drip each morning.....or a wood/pellet stove using outside air for combustion or a wood stove like a old cast iron potbelly stove and an electric blanket/inverter for nite time.....any more ideas let me know and I will research them for you but I will need the exact measurements of the bus and the wall/window make up to figure btu's....geof kaye
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Old 01-17-2005, 06:03 AM   #4
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Absolutely no woodstoes of any kind.

Radiant floor heat is not a viable option--eats too much room.

Kerosene heaters are VERY dangerous--I'd rather freeze.

I'm planning no 120V--this will be a 12V coach, including the A/C.

Heard anything about Espar diesel-fired heaters?
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Old 01-17-2005, 09:46 AM   #5
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Look into the marine industry for some good alternatives... Solar companies are a good source also (Olypian Wave Series LP Wall heater is a popular item). First INSULATE!!! No matter what you use to heat with, it won't be very fuel efficent if your insulation isn't maxed (Walls, Ceilings & Floors). 2-Part Spray Foam and the sheets of foam like at lumber yards run very close to same R-Value per inch (use can of "Great Foam" brand to seal gaps in foam boards... better than Dap brand). Don't forget to use "blankets" over your windows. Even dual-pane windows lose tons of heat.

When you start looking at "Non-RV" anything, you will run into some folks who think that you shouldn't use them. If it's not "approved" that usually means (but not always) that the appliance has not undergone extensive-&-expensive testing. The RV market place is still considered too small for the expense of "approval". Use your common sense and I'm sure you can find a good alternative.

We are leaning towards LP gas furnace (suburban like what www.ronthebusnut.com sells) for the Eagle but then we also have a huge basement to insulate along with a 9" roof raise (3" roof insulation) and a fair sized place to store LP tanks.

Try to find the book "Living on 12 volts with Ample Power" I think it has heating help in it (I would have to walk back up to the cabin to find my book but I will look this afternoon after I get off the computer... let you know what I find).
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Old 01-17-2005, 08:53 PM   #6
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....Espar is a good product but costs about $1500 with you doing the install-you need the figure the btu's need to heat before you toss money at the problem and figure insulation-polyisocynoate in each cavity along with spray can foam or have the interior sprayed with poly by a contractor at about $1.00 a board foot then add the interior metal again....no exposed foam as it is flammible...too bad-you'd love wood pellet heat-BTW it's 12 volt DC now...geof
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Old 01-17-2005, 08:58 PM   #7
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....there are 12 volt roof top AC's now made by Red Dot they are about $3200 list price now but can be had lower from a dealer....geof kaye
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Old 01-20-2005, 07:54 AM   #8
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Found my book, but it's the other one that I was thinking of (which, of coarse, is in TN while I am in NC!). Pick up an issue of Mother Earth News (or look at it in the library). They have lots of ads for heating products that are geared to the solar folks (efficent and economical). You might find a low enery one there.

Do you have a Webasto heater on your skoolie? If so, you can use it to build a heater. Look at the parts manual (.PDF) at www.hydro-hot.com for either the aqua-hot (40 ft RV's) or hydro-hot (35 ft RV's). They run about $6K+ but they are simple units. We had ordered info from the copmpany and recieved a complete parts list (high mark-up). Broken-down, we figured we could build one for less than half and that was buying most of the parts thru Lowe's. Our shell only cost $5K and I refuse to put in a heating system that costs more that the bus shell or my car.

I have hear that Espar & Proheat uses the Webasto type setup (like Aqua Hot) but Hurricane http://itrheat.com/marine_home.html uses "off-the-shelf parts which makes it easier to fix if/when it breaks down. it is a diesel unit.

As far as I now, all diesel heating units and gensets can use home heating fuel, kerosine, "off-road" diesel. The cheapest way would be for you to get a tank for home delivery and siphon from the tank into your bus' heater fuel tank. The Webasto based units can heat your water, pre-heat your engine (great it you have a diesel like we do) along with heating your space.

I keep looking at the Webasto type unit (I can buy a Webasto thru ronthebusnut among other places) and just keep coming back to it even though we look at other heat systems. I like LP heat and will use a tankless LP water heater. But David keeps talking Diesel genset and we have the space available to install a large fuel tank, where we removed the old over-the-road heat/air unit and we kept the two 12vdc blower units that we can use... I have an idea to make a long heat exchanger in the bays and just run small flexible ducts off of it using the 12vdc blowers. I also have several of the 100# LP tanks that I can use as a water tank to wrap copper pipe around (then insulate)and heat my water. But this is your conversion and you are the one who knows what you need and what you can put in.

The upside of building it your self is that when it breaks down in the middle of the night, you can fix it your self (if you have the parts). The downside is that it is a lot of research and you would need to look at several different methods of heat extraction to figure out how you can make it work for you. I have found most of my ideas come from the methods used in home-brewed solar projects.
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Old 01-22-2005, 08:21 PM   #9
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.....It might be cheaper to buy a new bus than some of those systems....can't find a supplier here so I can't get a firm price yet....last guy at Trailer Supply "thought" they were in the $7000.00 range so a wholesale deal would $4900 plus usually....geof kaye
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Old 01-23-2005, 05:48 PM   #10
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Get an Olympian catalytic heater. That's all we use in our MCI bus conversion and we are fulltimers. Right now it is 35 degrees outside and supposed to go to 18 tonight. Inside the bus it is 70 degrees.

A good source is Jolyn Enterprises www.jolynenterprises.com

It uses no 12 volt power, uses very little propane, and is perfectly safe
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