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Old 08-18-2010, 06:44 PM   #1
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Winter's coming

Hi, I'm new here. I came here to post an ad to sell my Camper Van. But before I follow through, I want input. I love the van, designed and participated in building it. Been living in it a lot of the time the last two years. Now I'm moving to Boulder, CO, and feeling I just can't weather the winter in the van. Heat I have, but I think I'm looking at five to six months without the water. Pictures of the van Here:
Don't want to work enough to pay rent AND maintain/insure van.

I insulated everything I could all around with Low-E (even better than reflectix IMO). Still there's the drain line and valve for grey water, and the faucet. No black water tank. Dislike porta potti, so have devised kitty litter system I can still use. No hot water heater. Can I make it freeze-proof, especially without renting a space with electricity and staying there most of the time? Or will I just need to dry camp? I joined a gym after they said I can park all I want in their lot. So I have showers, just no cooking :-( I like fresh, home-cooked food, a lot.

I have tent-camped in the cold and I did fine, but it was in the outback, not urban.
Advice? Good references for dry camping successfully?


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Old 08-18-2010, 07:22 PM   #2
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Re: Winter's coming

Nice setup. Iíve camped in a standard SMB with exposed lines that run outside the van in temps ranging from the low 20ís on up with no problems but I also have a Espar heater running at night. While just driving around in temps around 10 to 20* the lines froze. If your van sits with no heat, I would venture to say that the cold radiated to the inside might take a toll. 32 is 32 no matter what, and if you have lines exposed to temps below 30 for any long lengths of time my guess is it will eventually freeze. Insulation can work both ways keeping freezing water from thawing out. As long as I have a good 40* temp inside at night, Iíve had no problems down to 8* but during that time I ran the Espar during the evening a couple of times as a block warmer plus ran some hot water in the sink just in case. Maybe I was over cautious but never drained the system and all was OK. Guys like Ed in Montana probably have the real answer; I just visit the artic circle from time to time.

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Old 08-18-2010, 08:01 PM   #3
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Re: Winter's coming

Are you kidding your van rocks dude you have done an amazing Job on that thing. Keep it.

Going where most dont
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:46 AM   #4
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Re: Winter's coming

What a beautiful van! Nice work.

Unfortunately, Ed in Montana has no real answer, other than drain your water lines at the first sign of a good frost. The temps swing so suddenly from 60 degrees to 10 degrees F here that extra insulation around exposed pipes doesn't help much.

Thanks for reminding me about this issue Daveb. Two years ago about this time in late summer, we had a sudden frost down to 28 degrees. I wasn't worried about the van parked out in the driveway, cause I had drained the fresh and gray water tanks. but I hadn't completely drained the lines with that little drain cock under the SMB near the gray water tank. That small amount of water froze and cracked the water input valve, which had a slow leak and caused the water pump to sputter for almost a year, before I realized what was wrong.

Yup, two things that I don't like about living in Montana is the lack of ripe tomatoes and the inability to keep water in the SMB. I better go out and open that little drain valve, now that I think of it.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:26 AM   #5
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Re: Winter's coming

I really like your setup. Keep it. Drain the systems and use Jerry cans if needed. Don't sell your freedom. Best to you
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:14 AM   #6
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Re: Winter's coming

I've been traveling all my life doing field service work. Boulder tops my list as the most un-hospitable places to be. They have more rules, regulations,fines, and spoiled rotton stuck up people than any place in America. I'd live off of melted ice before I went there for a gallon of melted water. I did see a New York sticker on your van so maybe your tolerance level is high enough to conform to their dictated standards. What do you want for your van?
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:18 AM   #7
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Re: Winter's coming

Originally Posted by Bigduke6
I really like your setup. Keep it. Drain the systems and use Jerry cans if needed. Don't sell your freedom. Best to you

Amen brother
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:43 PM   #8
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Re: Winter's coming

Wow! I so much appreciate your collective wisdom. Before I came back to the internet, I did a lot of thinking. Talked with good friends. Yep. I decided to take down the sale signs, remove the ad from Craigslist, and leave Boulder in a week or so. Hard, because I came here to be near daughter. Well, she can visit me wherever I am at the moment. It seems staying in my wonderful home has a higher priority. I had to do all the stats, cost/benefit analysis. It also helped to look at available spaces for rent here. Yuk. Don't know how I'll gain income and move around, too. We shall see.

It's so nice to have my/our work seen. Now I'll want to come here (forum) and get ideas about where to go next. Utah or NM?? Feeling so much better about this. THANK YOU, freedom lovers. I'm not going to answer the "how much" question. Next stop, craigslist.

"movinout" has a diffferent twist on it today. Love that Billy Joel song . . . .
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:40 PM   #9
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Re: Winter's coming

There is a LOT of Colorado that is not Boulder. Some of it is even near Boulder, though if you've been there for any amount of time you've probably forgotten that...

Also, you can always give up and go the apartment route, when and if it gets too hard. It's a lot tougher to try to get your van back if the apartment life doesn't work out.
and then
everything changed
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:19 PM   #10
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Re: Winter's coming

I've only been here four weeks, checking out whether I want to live near my daughter enough to abide living in Boulder. She feels like she fits in here--I don't. I really explored the whole apartment alternative, too. Van wins hands down for pleasant living quarters. Yes, the probablility I could ever get back into a van anywhere near this perfect is very low.

I have actually been boiling/using meltwater from the cooler, it's so hard to find water here. Best dump is up at Lyons. Might be the closest, too. Did find a place called Stor-Rite on Hwy 72 about 15 miles south of here) where I could store my cargo trailer and then use their RV dump all I want. At least I haven't had any trouble parking where I do night after night.

I lived in Santa Fe for 11 years and have a friend there offering to let me park in her driveway, use 110V, kitchen and bathroom in trade for work around the house. Another friend in ABQ says park your trailer here. I'm set for winter and heading to NM in a week or so to drop the trailer before heading out and enjoying the rest of this glorious summer.

See, I left the West to care for my dad in Alabama the last five years. The van is how he compensated me. Being out of Alabama is already heaven to me.

If I ever stop to think what I might in old age regret having missed in my life, it's always and only spending time in the backcountry with spectacular uninhabited landscapes in view. I'd actually rather live alone than miss that. Better stay with the van

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