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Winter Temps and pipe freezing


MarkC
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First of all I should qualify myself...Never been RVing before but just put my house up for sale and will ordering an OliverII when sold. Been searching the forum for answers about cold weather camping.  I was told by Oliver that the heat ducts go around the tanks and keep them warm.  And,  people in Montana and the Dakato's own these trailers. (But do they camp in freezing temps.)  Also the owner of the company camps during the winter. These were not the answers I was hoping for.  Then, I  read that someone has put addition space heaters in areas.  One I think was under the bed on street side.  My question is...Can I camp in freezing weather, say down to 10 degrees, with just the heater going an be safe from freezing?  Do I need to cover the outside fittings, ie city water connection, shower nozzle?  Do I need at additional heaters in voids under the floors, bed, bath, cabinets?  I'm not planning prolonged winter camps.  But, sometimes the weather can change rapidly at high elevations and in some areas of the country in late fall or early winter.  Do I winterize and go without water in the winter.  Do I need extra heaters. I'm hoping all I need to do is leave the heater on and not run out of propane.  I realize that there is no definitive answer as the conditions vary but was hoping some of you have experienced cold weather and pass along how you deal with the experience.  Thank you!

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We have camped many times in temps down to what you're describing. We do not have any additional heaters under the floor.  In the situation you describe, the propane furnace will provide sufficient heat to keep your inside plumbing going. Do not hook up to outside water and expect it to be running the next morning, even with a heated hose it will most likely freeze at one end or the other so you do need to pay attention to "the outside fittings, ie city water connection, shower nozzle."  Pete has "bilge heaters" in his unit. Maybe he'll chime in here.  Realize though, you would have to have hookups (electricity) to be able to use them.

Even a large tank of water will eventually freeze at 10 degrees but in my experience, simply keeping the basement areas slightly above freezing does the trick and it's not too hard to do. It WILL use a lot of propane so be aware of that. My guess is that if the temperature never got above 10 degrees, the furnace would run pretty much constantly and you could could use up 60 pounds of propane in less than a week.  Realistically, probably daytime temps would get to near freezing or above and lessen that propane load.

Running out of propane in below freezing temps would not be fun or safe, but that's why there are wheels on your trailer.  If you are not trapped somewhere, move.

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

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48 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

MarkC, are you planning to fulltime in the trailer?

Will have a base to return to...restock, laundry, recharge my personal batteries then hit the road again.  Never done this before but thinking 2-3 week trips at first, return to recharge then take off again. Then increasing time on the road. I have lots of places I'd like to see!

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1 hour ago, ScubaRx said:

We have camped many times in temps down to what you're describing. We do not have any additional heaters under the floor.  In the situation you describe, the propane furnace will provide sufficient heat to keep your inside plumbing going. Do not hook up to outside water and expect it to be running the next morning, even with a heated hose it will most likely freeze at one end or the other so you do need to pay attention to "the outside fittings, ie city water connection, shower nozzle."  Pete has "bilge heaters" in his unit. Maybe he'll chime in here.  Realize though, you would have to have hookups (electricity) to be able to use them.

Even a large tank of water will eventually freeze at 10 degrees but in my experience, simply keeping the basement areas slightly above freezing does the trick and it's not too hard to do. It WILL use a lot of propane so be aware of that. My guess is that if the temperature never got above 10 degrees, the furnace would run pretty much constantly and you could could use up 60 pounds of propane in less than a week.  Realistically, probably daytime temps would get to near freezing or above and lessen that propane load.

Running out of propane in below freezing temps would not be fun or safe, but that's why there are wheels on your trailer.  If you are not trapped somewhere, move.

Thanks so much for your response! This was exactly what I was hoping to hear.  I think this trailer will be a good fit for me.  I plan on being in Montana and the Dakotas in fall and early winter every year. After reading your reply I will feel comfortable being there in an Oliver. Thanks again!

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If you are boon docking, you will indeed go through a whole bunch of propane, plus you are relying on a mediocre RV furnace to keep running. You can carry an extra gas bottle in your TV in case of an unplanned shortage; if the furnace quits completely due to a bad board or igniter, you will be in trouble quickly, and will need to get the Ollie to a place where you can plug in and run a couple of backup electric heaters.

The systems work well enough considering their cost, but they not especially reliable, and they are grossly inefficient compared to a modern gas residential furnace. I haven't seen efficiency ratings for RV appliances, I would appreciate a link if someone can provide one...

John Davies
Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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  • 10 months later...
On 12/17/2019 at 5:39 PM, MarkC said:

First of all I should qualify myself...Never been RVing before but just put my house up for sale and will ordering an OliverII when sold. Been searching the forum for answers about cold weather camping.  I was told by Oliver that the heat ducts go around the tanks and keep them warm.  And,  people in Montana and the Dakato's own these trailers. (But do they camp in freezing temps.)  Also the owner of the company camps during the winter. These were not the answers I was hoping for.  Then, I  read that someone has put addition space heaters in areas.  One I think was under the bed on street side.  My question is...Can I camp in freezing weather, say down to 10 degrees, with just the heater going an be safe from freezing?  Do I need to cover the outside fittings, ie city water connection, shower nozzle?  Do I need at additional heaters in voids under the floors, bed, bath, cabinets?  I'm not planning prolonged winter camps.  But, sometimes the weather can change rapidly at high elevations and in some areas of the country in late fall or early winter.  Do I winterize and go without water in the winter.  Do I need extra heaters. I'm hoping all I need to do is leave the heater on and not run out of propane.  I realize that there is no definitive answer as the conditions vary but was hoping some of you have experienced cold weather and pass along how you deal with the experience.  Thank you!

Just wanted to thank you for this question. I am following. Want to be FT and in colder climates (yes, on purpose) in an Elite 1 due Jan.

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2021 Elite 1 -- Hull #731

Ram 1500 Rebel 4x4

Now Sold

 

 

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I don't think the furnace in the Elite is ducted. Ask your sales person,  but I  don't think so. 

When it's really cold, owners of older Elites,  like us, will open a drawer or access hatch to send the warm air through the hull.

Mine us a 2008, so things could be different.  Just know before you go.

 

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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We've many times  camped into the teens, maybe upper single digits in the older elite. But, we don't intentionally seek out winter weather. It finds us, in the mountains in shoulder season, and sometimes in fall in Canada. .I  know the insulation is different in the newer models (we really don't have a lot). And, the furnace location has moved. 

If it's in the 20s or low 30s when we go to bed, I usually  open the bathroom door, and open the  lower drawer a bit. So far, so good. 

It was below 32 twice this past 2 weeks, during the night.  I did nothing extra. Left the bath door closed.  Ran furnace on low. We were fine. Toasty, actually.  But daytime highs were in the 50s and 60s.

 

 

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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15 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

I don't think the furnace in the Elite is ducted. Ask your sales person,  but I  don't think so. 

When it's really cold, owners of older Elites,  like us, will open a drawer or access hatch to send the warm air through the hull.

Mine us a 2008, so things could be different.  Just know before you go.

 

 

I understand that the heating ducts running through the space between the hulls is uninsulated.  The idea is that this warms the space enough to prevent interior plumbing freeze damage.

The big problem is with the exterior shower and water inlets.  I wish there was a simple solution in that respect.

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; delivered December 7, 2020

2013 F350 6.7l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

1UP-USA Heavy-duty bike rack

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

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15 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

I don't think the furnace in the Elite is ducted. Ask your sales person,  but I  don't think so. 

When it's really cold, owners of older Elites,  like us, will open a drawer or access hatch to send the warm air through the hull.

Mine us a 2008, so things could be different.  Just know before you go.

 

 

I can't seem to find it, but there is a photo somewhere on the forum showing the heat ductwork running the length of the trailer.  Older models might have had the heat coming directly from the furnace.

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; delivered December 7, 2020

2013 F350 6.7l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

1UP-USA Heavy-duty bike rack

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCAIDNVNMOKORTNTXUTWAsm.jpg

 

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27 minutes ago, Susan Huff said:

I understand that the heating ducts running through the space between the hulls is uninsulated.  The idea is that this warms the space enough to prevent interior plumbing freeze damage.

The big problem is with the exterior shower and water inlets.  I wish there was a simple solution in that respect.

That's true in the Elite II.

Our older (2008) Elite I has no ducting. I don't know about the new model Elite.

The furnace location in newer Elites  has changed, but I  don't know if it's ducted or not. One of the newer Elite owners could tell us.

 

Edited by SeaDawg

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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9 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

 

That's true in the Elite II.

Our older (2008) Elite I has no ducting. I don't know about the new model Elite.

The furnace location in newer Elites  has changed, but I  don't know if it's ducted or not. One of the newer Elite owners could tell us.

 

 

interior lower hull.jpg

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Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; delivered December 7, 2020

2013 F350 6.7l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

1UP-USA Heavy-duty bike rack

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

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Thanks for finding that photo of an Elite II under construction.  You can clearly see the ducting. And the reflectix insulation  (which is not present in older 2008s like ours.)

I'd love to see a new Elite I photo underway. The furnace in the smaller Elite moved to the small dinette area, but I  don't know if it ducts to the bath, or anywhere else. Or, if it simply blows hot air from a single grate, as ours does, which is quite effective in heating the smaller cabin space. 

Maybe next time in Hohenwald I'll see one under construction.  It's been awhile. 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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The furnace in the Elite is located right next to the bathroom under the forward dinette seat. It is ducted into the bath and out into the cabin. It probably is not as effected as the Elite II setup as far as between the hulls heating goes.

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

             801469912_StatesVisitedTaliandSteve08-23-2021-I.jpg.26814499292ab76ee55b889b69ad3ef0.jpg1226003278_StatesVisitedTaliandSteve08-23-2021-H.jpg.dc46129cb4967a7fd2531b16699e9e45.jpg

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

In late October this year I took my Elite II Oliver (Hull 615) to Republic, Washington for Elk hunting. There was 2 to 6 inches of snow on the ground and temperatures of 8 degrees F at night, and highs of 22 degrees F during the day. I stayed in an RV park so as to have AC power readily available. I have a 5 probe digital temperature system installed in my trailer. Probe #1 is near the propane tanks, #2 is under the forward dinette seat, #3 is under the drivers side bunk, #4 is under the passenger side bunk, and #5 is attached to the spare tire. (Note, numbers 2, 3, and 4 are as low is I could get them.)

During my first night I noted that #2 temp was at 28 degrees, #3 was at 22 degrees and #4 was at 38 degrees. The "ducted" heat kept ONLY the starboard side of the trailer above freezing.  I put small AC heaters under the dinette seat and under the port side bunk. After that, all internal temps stayed above freezing. The drivers side bunk area never got above 36 degrees, even with the 300 watt heater.

Having foreknowledge of the expected temperatures, I pumped 8 oz of pink antifreeze into all 3 of the exterior water fittings. I then wrapped the fittings in pipe insulation. I believe that I had not done that, all three fittings would have frozen and cracked. I completely forgot about the exterior shower, but evidently lucked out as there has been no leak so far.

I intend to purchase 3 each 100W DC heaters, and install one under the forward dinette and 2 under the drivers side bunk. There is a spare fuse for the drivers side awning which I will use to wire all three heaters through. Have not decided where to put the switches yet.

NOTE: Pulling the Olly over salt covered roads can cause a real mess inside the RV 7 pin plug. Oliver service talked me through a very strange set of symptoms, but a set they knew quite well. Symptoms were - with trailer in a camp, no AC connected, occasionally the outside lamps of all 4 of the trailer running light/turn signal assemblies would come on (very dimly). The would stay on until late at night when the battery charge fell below 12.6V. Then they would go out. Service said "it is stray voltage from your 7 pin plug, take it apart, clean it and put some dielectric grease in there." When I took it apart it was so corroded that I replaced the 7 pin plug. Remember, this trailer was delivered to me last March (2020).  Service told me that they have switched to a molded 7 pin plug to prevent recent trailers from experiencing this problem.

The exterior of the plug looked pretty good, but the interior was a mess!

IMG_2716.jpg

IMG_2715.jpg

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theOrca,  2020 Legacy Elite II, Twin, Hull 615

Tow Vehicle - 2016 Ram 1500, Hemi, 8 Speed with 1500# rear springs and Goodyear bags.

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Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; delivered December 7, 2020

2013 F350 6.7l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

1UP-USA Heavy-duty bike rack

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCAIDNVNMOKORTNTXUTWAsm.jpg

 

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On 11/21/2020 at 2:55 PM, theOrca said:

In late October this year I took my Elite II Oliver (Hull 615) to Republic, Washington for Elk hunting. There was 2 to 6 inches of snow on the ground and temperatures of 8 degrees F at night, and highs of 22 degrees F during the day. I stayed in an RV park so as to have AC power readily available. I have a 5 probe digital temperature system installed in my trailer. Probe #1 is near the propane tanks, #2 is under the forward dinette seat, #3 is under the drivers side bunk, #4 is under the passenger side bunk, and #5 is attached to the spare tire. (Note, numbers 2, 3, and 4 are as low is I could get them.)

During my first night I noted that #2 temp was at 28 degrees, #3 was at 22 degrees and #4 was at 38 degrees. The "ducted" heat kept ONLY the starboard side of the trailer above freezing.  I put small AC heaters under the dinette seat and under the port side bunk. After that, all internal temps stayed above freezing. The drivers side bunk area never got above 36 degrees, even with the 300 watt heater.

Having foreknowledge of the expected temperatures, I pumped 8 oz of pink antifreeze into all 3 of the exterior water fittings. I then wrapped the fittings in pipe insulation. I believe that I had not done that, all three fittings would have frozen and cracked. I completely forgot about the exterior shower, but evidently lucked out as there has been no leak so far.

I intend to purchase 3 each 100W DC heaters, and install one under the forward dinette and 2 under the drivers side bunk. There is a spare fuse for the drivers side awning which I will use to wire all three heaters through. Have not decided where to put the switches yet.

NOTE: Pulling the Olly over salt covered roads can cause a real mess inside the RV 7 pin plug. Oliver service talked me through a very strange set of symptoms, but a set they knew quite well. Symptoms were - with trailer in a camp, no AC connected, occasionally the outside lamps of all 4 of the trailer running light/turn signal assemblies would come on (very dimly). The would stay on until late at night when the battery charge fell below 12.6V. Then they would go out. Service said "it is stray voltage from your 7 pin plug, take it apart, clean it and put some dielectric grease in there." When I took it apart it was so corroded that I replaced the 7 pin plug. Remember, this trailer was delivered to me last March (2020).  Service told me that they have switched to a molded 7 pin plug to prevent recent trailers from experiencing this problem.

The exterior of the plug looked pretty good, but the interior was a mess!

IMG_2716.jpg

IMG_2715.jpg

Thanks for sharing this information on your various temps.  I also have 5 temperature probes and have noticed the big temperature differentials between the curb side basement where the vent / heat are located and the street side which has nothing and therefore colder temps.  I tried leaving a top partially off on that are to see if any air would be sucked in when the ducted heat was running but that didn't happen.

So I've been thinking about this too and I was leaning towards putting 2 small vents under the dinette seat and street side bed with some DC fans (like computer fans) to pull air in from the "warm" cabin.  Along with a switch, I'm also considering attaching a thermostat underneath so they come on automatically when the temp gets below 40 or so in the basement.  I put a small fan above the partially opened top cover of the street side basement and the temps warmed up considerably so in theory fans should work.

There's also enough room in the street side basement to add another layer or two of reflectix on top of the installed stuff (which is very thin reflectix).

I'm just curious, what made you decide on small 100w DC heaters?  I guess it's like running a 100 watt incandescent light bulb in each basement - will that be sufficient?

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2020 Elite II, Hull 688 --- 2021 Silverado 2500HD, 6.6L Duramax Diesel

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20 hours ago, NCeagle said:

Thanks for sharing this information on your various temps.  I also have 5 temperature probes and have noticed the big temperature differentials between the curb side basement where the vent / heat are located and the street side which has nothing and therefore colder temps.  I tried leaving a top partially off on that are to see if any air would be sucked in when the ducted heat was running but that didn't happen.

So I've been thinking about this too and I was leaning towards putting 2 small vents under the dinette seat and street side bed with some DC fans (like computer fans) to pull air in from the "warm" cabin.  Along with a switch, I'm also considering attaching a thermostat underneath so they come on automatically when the temp gets below 40 or so in the basement.  I put a small fan above the partially opened top cover of the street side basement and the temps warmed up considerably so in theory fans should work.

There's also enough room in the street side basement to add another layer or two of reflectix on top of the installed stuff (which is very thin reflectix).

I'm just curious, what made you decide on small 100w DC heaters?  I guess it's like running a 100 watt incandescent light bulb in each basement - will that be sufficient?

I chose 100W heaters as a function of maximum load (three heaters, or 300W). That wattage at 12 volts equals 25 actual amps. I think even that amount of load will seriously deplete my battery bank by dawn on a really cold night. Hopefully the combination of my Honda 2200 for 3 to 4 hours the next day, PLUS the solar will allow full recovery. I will have the option to run one, two or all three heaters as needed/possible.

I cannot see any way to get more reflectix between the two water lines and the lower hull on the drivers side... (Bummer!)

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theOrca,  2020 Legacy Elite II, Twin, Hull 615

Tow Vehicle - 2016 Ram 1500, Hemi, 8 Speed with 1500# rear springs and Goodyear bags.

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On 10/24/2020 at 8:19 AM, SeaDawg said:

A shutoff/bypass for the outside shower would be a simple solution

If you know a simple design I would love to hear it. I think it would take two bypass valves with lines going out the bottom of the hull .... or is there another way to purge all the trapped water from the two lines going up to the shower unit? You can’t just bypass the hot into the cold line at the shower or you end up with luke warm (100 degree) hot water. 

I rarely use that shower and would much prefer it to be ALWAYS bypassed, but not permanently removed. And I would like the valves to be conveniently located with all the others, under the curb side bed on the LE2, that way the lines going across the rear of the trailer would be empty too. 😬

Hmmmm, time to think on this. It seems possible, the bypass valves could tee into the existing fresh tank drain line , but it needs to be completely foolproof when you winterize, with no trapped water. Thanks for any ideas...

John Davies 

Spokane WA

 

Edited by John E Davies

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Here's a propane-dependent solution I'm implementing to warm problem areas along the curb-side basement.  I have found that by default, the street side basement runs about 10 degrees cooler than the curb-side basement when the furnace is on.  The difference increases as the outside temp decreases.  My simple goal is to balance the basements in order to protect the street-side plumbing.  It's not particularly difficult to run another HVAC line down the curb-side and it takes advantage of the existing furnace.  

First, I just used a T connector on the back side of the furnace and tied into the line that goes up to the curb-side all the way to the bathroom.  Here's a picture.  I'm going to install a manual damper inline so I can restrict flow as needed.

IMG_2673.thumb.jpg.34994ca56b678c5ef5ebfc4159abc611.jpg

I then removed the flimsy plastic walls on the side and rear of the basement to make room.  Here's the view looking into the basement from outside after removal:

IMG_2686.thumb.jpg.b45b03d2cc39251204ccd48cac357f8e.jpg

You can see the plumbing running along the back bumper area.  This area runs a few degrees cooler than the street-side basement, so it's important to get some heat here as well to prevent freezing.  I used 4" dryer duct to run along the back bumper plumbing.  Then it's reduces down to a 3" solid duct that runs along the basement roof out of the way.

IMG_2690.thumb.jpg.3e6bfaab31bed27b923cfed499cb2c14.jpg

Here goes the 3" duct through the basement wall (pvc board) into the street-side basement:

IMG_2689.thumb.jpg.4d09d20511349f6e41f02647bddfef00.jpg

Here's the final picture for now, looking from the back of the trailer towards the front (you can see the inverter on the right).  I ran out of time yesterday so I just terminated the connection inside the street-side basement.  It's super easy to finish running the 3" duct the rest of the way up the black tank drain pipe to where the footwell for the dinette is.  I'm going to put some strategically placed holes along the duct now in order to balance out the temps on both sides at something reasonable.

IMG_2688.thumb.jpg.88119785bf68c201467a5b8712bc5a0b.jpg

Still need an all-electric backup, but I feel like this is a good start.  Easy, quick and takes advantage of the existing components.

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2020 Elite II, Hull 688 --- 2021 Silverado 2500HD, 6.6L Duramax Diesel

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This is quite cool (warm actually😬) but I have comments. 

Do you have concerns about crushing the overhead duct in the rear storage area? Up high is good, but I push 12” high milk crates loaded with hard items in and out of that spot. Could you use a different shaped duct that was more rectangular in cross section? Ideally Oliver would have a molded in place fiberglass warm air passage there in the roof of the compartment or along the water lines! It actually would not be too hard to manufacture a ‘glass duct that could be bonded to the ceiling there.... but that might overheat the mattress and its occupant. Could you make a big hole at the rear wall and run the air duct underneath the floor itself? I have never looked under that floor.

Exposed steel in an electrical compartment probably violates RVIA codes, plus it is not good practice. Consider wrapping it in some non-conducting material in that location, maybe a layer of thin neoprene with self adhesive backing. You need to make sure the duct can easily be removed for wiring access there. You really do not want a sharp edge of steel to cut a wire! I personally would never do it your way.

If you have the good toilet (AKA Natures Head) you could use the unused 3” black drain pipe as an air duct and eliminate the fragile steel one on that side of the trailer. And you could use the black tank as an air plenum to heat the bathroom floor and under the vanity (using the existing 1.5” tank vent). This also violates codes but at least it is in a non-conducting way. 

Thanks for your comments, I have been pondering a similar mod. My main hangup has been getting the warm air across the back of the trailer....

John Davies

Spokane WA

Edited by John E Davies
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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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