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Preparing the bus for winter

This forum will archives technical threads that are unique to Eagle Buses. There will be one thread for general comments, but the technical threads will be locked. The intent is to have a repository for detailed technical information that can be of prime importance to an Eagle Bus Owner. New threads can only be created by the forum administrators.
Preparing the bus for winter
Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:13 am


I have been working on a draft of this post for over a month. Just never seem to find the time to finish it.

Let me set the stage. Our bus is almost impossible to winterize. There are lots of water items that make it impractical to drain and/or antifreeze. These include the dual element drinking filter, water systems in the fridge, and washing machine. Thus I have to keep the bus temperature above freezing (interior and bays) during the winter months. I keep the bus in the shop when we are not on the road, but the shop is not heated.

After we got the bus on the road in 2006, I simply used the Aqua-Hot to do the job. At that time, we were often on the road where it was warmer so the cost of the diesel was not a big issue.

As diesel fuel got more expensive, and we stayed home more, the cost became a significant issue. So, I got the bright idea to heat the bus with the small electric heater that we use in campgrounds or when we are on a pole. Seemed like a good idea since diesel fuel was so expensive -- until we got the first couple of bills. WOW. I did some calculations and I think we paid close to $60 per month in the worst months (1500 watts times an estimated 12 hours per day times $.11 per KWH times 30 days). I am not sure about the hours, but every time I went out, the darn heater was running.

The big issue is that the electric heater control lower temperature limit is 60 degrees. Thus the heater tried to keep the bus at 60*. In talking to someone they mentioned a thermostatically controlled outlet. I did some looking and settled on the unit shown here:

http://www.amazon.com/Farm-Innovators-TC-3-Thermostatically-Controlled/dp/B0006U2HD2

This is an thermostatically controlled outlet that you plug into a standard wall outlet (photo below). It turns on at 35* and off at 45*. I have used that outlet for 3 or 4 years now and it seems to work well.

Thermo Cube Outlet.jpg
Thermal Cube Outlet


However, in the coldest periods, I wanted to have a backup. Obviously that would be the Aqua-Hot. Unfortunately, the thermostat that comes with the system has a minimum temperature setting of something like 50* So I set about trying to find a thermostat with a lower setting. After some searching I found a category called “garage thermostats” that have very low minimum temperature setting capability. The one I chose is:

http://www.amazon.com/PRO1-IAQ-T771-Touchscreen-Non-Programmable/dp/B004Z84PW2

I replaced the thermostat (see photo below) for the main living area with this unit and I am very impressed! For the first test, I set it at 35* and turned off the radiant electric heater for a few nights. Most of the nights got down into the teens or low 20s. With just the Aqua-Hot electric element, the system maintained the bus at 35*

20141107 low temperature thermostat.jpg
"Garage Type Thermostat"
20141107 low temperature thermostat.jpg (22.54 KiB) Viewed 1569 times


Part of the testing has involved using one of temperature sensors from the fire detection system I used to sell, snaked down the outside of the boiler so that I get a good reading on the boiler temperature (heat sources shut off at 186*). That allows me to keep track on the impact of heating the coach with the Aqua-Hot only using only the electrical element. A few mornings when I only used the Aqua-Hot on electric element only, the boiler was at 140*, but the bus was at 35*. That suggests that I can keep the bus above freezing in 20* weather with the Aqua-Hot on electric only.

So, today I use a combination of the electric heater (on the thermal cube) and the Aqua-Hot with only the electrical element running. On the very coldest days I also switch on the diesel boiler just to make sure.

Last week we had the perfect “storm” (pun intended). I left town for California (teaching assignment) with temperatures in the 70s. The day I left, the huge polar storm moved in and Denver set several records for the low temperatures during the week I was gone. At our house, it got down to below -10* for long periods of time. I had not turned on the diesel switch before I left. The shop is a mess and it is hard to get to the bus, so I did not ask Pat to venture out to turn on the diesel.

When I got home yesterday, I did a quick test of the water system and it seemed to survive with no broken components.
Guess my system works for my situation. Thought others might benefit from my experience.

Jim
Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
'85 Eagle 10 with Series 60 & Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission - not at all fancy, but fully functional
Bus Project pages: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog: http://beltguy.com/blog/
Email: jim@eaglesinternational.net (Please email me rather than use the PM process)
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Re: Preparing the bus for winter
Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:16 pm


Jim we use a ThermoCube to turn on 2 garage door lights in the holding tank bay. I used the garage door bulbs as they have a plastic coating on them to give some extra protection. in the bay with the hot water heater, pump and the twin filter unit as well as the portable water softener unit I have a 60 watt bulb in a small aluminum reflector with a clam on handle. When the time come that the 50 and 60 watt resistance heating units become impossible to buy I will go to quartz bulbs. I think they would do a fine job as I know they will sure blister a finger tip if I reach under the to turn them off and touch the cover rather than the switch.
LeRoy
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Re: Preparing the bus for winter
Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:38 pm


LeRoy, great use of the Thermo Cube.

In my case, my bays are in pretty good shape. The Aqua-Hot boiler provides some heat to the bays, and I have a heat exchanger in the water bay that has a low temperature setting.

I have some plumbing that is close to the bay door, so I put a piece of 1/2 inch foam between the plumbing and the bay door. That seems to take care of the bays.

I forgot to say that I also put the window covers on and the windshield "Double Bubble Foil" insulation covers in place.

Jim
Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
'85 Eagle 10 with Series 60 & Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission - not at all fancy, but fully functional
Bus Project pages: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog: http://beltguy.com/blog/
Email: jim@eaglesinternational.net (Please email me rather than use the PM process)
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Re: Preparing the bus for winter
Thu Nov 20, 2014 11:53 am


Good information Jim thanks for posting, with the new to us Foretravel it is pretty simple to winterize, however I like to keep the inside warmer as it is tuff on the wood and i use it as my man cave to watch football. it also lets me work in there if something needs attention. We heat with propane, have a front and rear heating system that also vent into the water closet in the bay. I will look into the plug for elec heater use as well. Thanks again :D
Andy Wright 68 Silver Eagle Model 5 8V92 #7481
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Re: Preparing the bus for winter
Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:29 pm


We use ours mainly to get us through the cold area of the country on our way to AZ for the winter. Some can, some can't, some won't, all is good.
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Re: Preparing the bus for winter
Sat Nov 19, 2016 11:39 am


Since we have several new members, I thought I would bring this to the top again.

Jim
Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
'85 Eagle 10 with Series 60 & Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission - not at all fancy, but fully functional
Bus Project pages: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog: http://beltguy.com/blog/
Email: jim@eaglesinternational.net (Please email me rather than use the PM process)
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Re: Preparing the bus for winter
Sat Dec 24, 2016 9:55 am


Very helpful information, thanks.
Chuck
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