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Old 05-06-2013, 06:53 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Murf2u View Post
As someone who's built a lot of trailers over the years, office & camp type, I have a couple of observations.

First, at 14' long, and all the other stuff you're adding, aluminum will be a colossal waste of money. It will increase the cost of construction, as well as causing huge thermal losses. Unless you plan on towing it a lot, a wood superstructure will be far cheaper and self-insulating.

Second, IMHO, the heat pump will be another (expensive) white elephant, it will only heat down to ~50 deg F., and terribly inefficient at that point too. If you need a/c use either an RV rooftop unit, or a small split system which will have far less heat loss in cold weather.

Finally, propane will be your easiest fuel for cooking, heating (other than wood) and hot water. Getting it easier than you think, you just need to know where to look. Use 30 pound aluminum "80% fill" tanks like those used on a forklift. Filling them is far cheaper, you pay by the gallon of liquid not pound like a portable grill tank, and available in almost any town.
Yes, I went back and looked and I am actually going to need 17 feet to get what I want into it. As to the heat pump, I will be using a min-split system that is 9000 BTUs (so I think we are on the same page on that one). The one I am looking at is technically a heat pump, but it is a highly advanced one. It can maintain its heating capacity down to 5 degrees F, and maintains 80% of its capacity down to -13 F. It has a SEER rating of 26 and only consumes 580 watts in AC mode and 710 watts in heating mode. Since it uses a variable speed compressor that 580 watts can drop won to around to around 200 watts to maintain temperature. (Mitsubishi MUZ-FE09NA-1 + MSZ-FE09NA-8 Mr. Slim Single Zone Mini Split Hyper Heating Heat Pump System). My biggest concern with this unit is how it will hold up to travel and road abuse. This is not designed for an RV. I am working on designing a suspension system, just for the unit that would absorb some of the bumps.

On the fuel side, I want something that is easy to find. Right now the design features with the prototype are to meet some of my personal objectives. I like remote areas. I don't want to be dependent on propane. Diesel makes me a little nervous, but I know it is much more common to find than propane.

On the materials side, I want to be very weight sensitive to allow for a broader range of tow vehicles. I LOVE wood, and have a deep appreciation for its attributes, but I am pretty far down the road (and have made up my mind) to go with aluminum.

Thanks so much for the feedback. Maybe as I get further down the road I could pick your brain some more
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Old 05-06-2013, 06:55 AM   #16
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Regarding fire safety, have a look at this option.


Fire Fight Supplemental Halon Fire Suppression Systems
I will look into this. Thanks for the link.
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Old 05-06-2013, 06:58 AM   #17
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Could you give detail on the 'small split system' ?

Maybe some links and approx. costs ?

Thanks
The unit I plan on purchasing is a Mitsubishi, 9,000 BTU, Hyper-heating, Mr. Slim Line. It is about $1,600 for a 9,000 btu unit. Below is a link with more info. Keep in mind it will probably need a suspension system, or be "hardened" for over the road travel.

Mitsubishi MUZ-FE09NA-1 + MSZ-FE09NA-8 Mr. Slim Single Zone Mini Split Hyper Heating Heat Pump System, Wall Mounted, Wireless Remote - 9,000 BTU - eComfort.com
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Old 05-06-2013, 07:40 AM   #18
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The Mr. Slim system is exactly the unit I was speaking of, I have installed these in many, many trailers over the years and they suffered no ill effects from being on the road. The only thing is you cannot use them while you are traveling they must remain stationary for 6 to 8 hours after you stop traveling before cycling the compressor.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:42 PM   #19
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I would think a stitch and glue composite construction, maybe with foam core like some boat building would be comparable to aluminum in weight. Would take considerable design though.
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Old 05-06-2013, 07:07 PM   #20
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Have you considered diesel combined heat/hot-water units made for use in RVs? I'm thinking of something like the Webasto Dual Top. Wish I had the skill and patience to undertake a project like this!
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:57 AM   #21
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The Mr. Slim system is exactly the unit I was speaking of, I have installed these in many, many trailers over the years and they suffered no ill effects from being on the road. The only thing is you cannot use them while you are traveling they must remain stationary for 6 to 8 hours after you stop traveling before cycling the compressor.
That is really great to hear. You just saved me a lot of time. I was going to design a suspension system for the unit for shock absorption (just for the mini-split system), but with this info, I will most likely mount it and go. Thanks so much for that valuable feedback.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:59 AM   #22
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I would think a stitch and glue composite construction, maybe with foam core like some boat building would be comparable to aluminum in weight. Would take considerable design though.
I had considered fiberglass, but it seems that aluminum would be easier to work with initially. I am envisioning a polished aluminum finish like on an airstream, but we will see about that. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:12 AM   #23
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Have you considered diesel combined heat/hot-water units made for use in RVs? I'm thinking of something like the Webasto Dual Top. Wish I had the skill and patience to undertake a project like this!
I have considered a diesel hot water heater and a diesel marine cooking range. Thanks for Webasto suggestion. I looked at their site and see they have a cook top.

I was strongly considering going with an ITR Water heater. The Water Heater by ITR | International Thermal Research. But I think I am going to try a tankless electric heater first.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:31 AM   #24
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Murf2u,
Have another question for you. What is your recommendation on a suspension system? I want a smooth ride, and would also like to be able to handle off road conditions. I am leaning towards the Mor/Ryde independent suspension system. Was wondering what your thoughts are on that. Should I be looking at another system? Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:10 AM   #25
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I watched the videos of the fireplace that you picked out. In one of the vids i could see smoke entering the living space when the door was open. I would love to have a fireplace, but not if it put excessive smoke in the living space.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:20 AM   #26
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I've built a few trailers that were designed built solely as "boondocking" units, as temporary housing for what in the oil, mining and forestry industries are known as "gate keepers". Folks who control and record who comes and goes and with what. By virtue of where they're located, they have no hook ups available.

Regardless of how where or why, a few constants always seemed to come up.

1) Weight is highly over-rated, the 'real-world' difference between super light, light, and regular amounts to a hill of beans in all but extreme cases such as very long trailers or very small tow vehicles.

2) Electricity is under-rated, you will never have enough solar / battery capacity and its expensive. Very expensive. The best compromise solution is a Honda generator, compact, light fuel efficient and about as dependable as gravity. A 3k genny will burn less than 4 gallons per 24 hours of run time. Add a few GC batteries and an inverter and your set.

3) Limit your fuel sources. You don't want to sourcing out diesel, gasoline, propane, etc., etc. A gas genny will be cheaper in the long run than a diesel unless you are going to be putting MANY thousands of hours on it. Diesel is more per gallon, and a typical diesel genset burns more fuel per hour than a comparable gas unit does.

4) Stay with proven, commonly available technology, from running gear to appliances. The cost will be less and if you have a problem away from home, you'll have the best chance for finding parts & service and getting back on the road.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:35 AM   #27
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Murf2u,
Have another question for you. What is your recommendation on a suspension system? I want a smooth ride, and would also like to be able to handle off road conditions. I am leaning towards the Mor/Ryde independent suspension system. Was wondering what your thoughts are on that. Should I be looking at another system? Thanks in advance.
If you are wanting to have a fairly rugged setup that will give you better clearance for off pavement use I would recommend a standard tandem axle setup but with the axles flipped so instead of a 4" drop, they have a 4" lift. A net gain of 8" of ground clearance.

Independent suspension will smooth out bumpy roads at high speeds, but at slow speeds on rough terrain it takes a beating. IMHO you have to choose between supple on road, and robust off road, or a compromise with both. In theory you could add an air bag system to smooth out the ride, but I suspect they would lead a very short life off-road.
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:54 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Murf2u View Post
I've built a few trailers that were designed built solely as "boondocking" units, as temporary housing for what in the oil, mining and forestry industries are known as "gate keepers". Folks who control and record who comes and goes and with what. By virtue of where they're located, they have no hook ups available.

Regardless of how where or why, a few constants always seemed to come up.

1) Weight is highly over-rated, the 'real-world' difference between super light, light, and regular amounts to a hill of beans in all but extreme cases such as very long trailers or very small tow vehicles.

2) Electricity is under-rated, you will never have enough solar / battery capacity and its expensive. Very expensive. The best compromise solution is a Honda generator, compact, light fuel efficient and about as dependable as gravity. A 3k genny will burn less than 4 gallons per 24 hours of run time. Add a few GC batteries and an inverter and your set.

3) Limit your fuel sources. You don't want to sourcing out diesel, gasoline, propane, etc., etc. A gas genny will be cheaper in the long run than a diesel unless you are going to be putting MANY thousands of hours on it. Diesel is more per gallon, and a typical diesel genset burns more fuel per hour than a comparable gas unit does.

4) Stay with proven, commonly available technology, from running gear to appliances. The cost will be less and if you have a problem away from home, you'll have the best chance for finding parts & service and getting back on the road.
GREAT info. You just eliminated any thought of a diesel hot water heater and cook stove.

My foray into solar is based on some other projects on which I am working as well, so the experience hear will be helpful for those other projects. Same is true with the LiIon batteries. Thanks again for the feedback.
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