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Old 09-27-2010, 07:58 PM   #1
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,489
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/AT545
Re: Living in the bus during college, at 3,000 feet

You'll also have to think about how to keep your fresh and waste water from freezing. Too bad you hadn't planned on cold weather when originally doing your floor; I think that rigid poly-iso insulation would really help. I don't think adding a wood floor and rubberized undercoating is going to add up to much in terms of "R-value". I don't remember if you already added insulation to the walls, but the standard bus insulation probably doesn't do much. I suppose if you get a really efficient wood stove of a decent size, that will keep you warm if you burn enough wood. I lived in a wood-heated house one winter in New England, and I'll tell ya, it was a lot of work to continually replenish my wood suppy and keep the stove burning all the time. Wherever you park, they'd have to be cool with you storing a fairly large stack of firewood somewhere near the bus. If you buy wood and have it delivered, it'll cost ya, and probably come in a large quantity (like a cord) to be affordable.

I don't mean to sound negative, just brainstorming what challenges you will likely face. I think if you can make it work though, it would be awesome! Probably a lot more difficult than just living in a dorm/apartment, but if you are up for it, like you said, you would save some money. I think the guy who built the "Paradigm Shift" bus is in a similar situation. You might want to read up on his thread.
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:35 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Roswell, NM
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: 40 ft All American FE
Engine: 8.2LTA Fuel Pincher DD V8
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Re: Living in the bus during college, at 3,000 feet

We spent two winters in the mountains in our old RV... One winter was in Elizabethton, TN (1,593 ft) and the other winter was in Franklin, NC (Iotla Valley 2200 ft)... I'm from Franklin. You will need to get your water hose heat taped & insulated and apply a waterbed heater to the bottom of your tanks set it on the lowest setting and the place foamboard house insulation around the tanks (bottom & sides). For a fast/fairly cheap insulated floor, cut sheets of foamboard (how thick can you go?) and lay some sheathing/plywood on top (is OSB still cheap there). We heated mostly with an electric space heater. Use a "skirt" to break the wind blowing under the bus. A layer of reflectix over the windows, either a layer of reflectix or foamboard on the walls on the walls covered by a quilt or heavy blanket (you can buy used at the thrift stores). In western NC, the snow isn't the problem.. we simply don't get that much... not even Boone. But it's the wind, which tends to be damp not dry. You would need to keep your black/grey tanks dumped (in case your valves freeze up) and your fresh tank full (in case the hose freezes). You would be looking at campground rates of about $500 plus electric most likely. Check out some of the local mobile home parks. You should be able to hook up with a 30 amp plug.

Also get one of those heated mattress pads for your bed... the kind you sleep on top of, not under like a blanket... wonderful to sleep in a warm bed and the heaters can be lowered to about 40 degrees.

We also spent the winter in our old popup in Chattanooga (1800 ft). This year, it's Socorro NM (4511 ft) and the bus will be set up for winter living... next year may find us in Colorado!
This post is my opinion. It is not intended to influence anyone's judgment nor do I advocate anyone do what I propose.
Fulltime since 2006
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:20 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 227
Year: 1990
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Chassis: Super Coach II, 36 Ft. RE
Engine: Cat 3208T, MT643
Re: Living in the bus during college, at 3,000 feet

Some ideas for your consideration:

1. Tank heaters These use significant electricity, however.

2. If you're going to be spending most of your daytime at school you won't be able to tend to a woodstove. Perhaps a combination of central forced-air RV furnace and woodstove. Furnace for daytime to keep the interior above freezing and woodstove to really crank up the heat and save propane when you're in the bus at night.

3. Consider an auxillary freshwater tank inside the heat envelope interior for winter use, since your water needs will be limited if you'll be showering at the gym. Leave the exterior freshwater tank empty.

4. A cup of rock salt added to your grey or black tank after each draining will reduce the wastewater's freezing temperature by several degrees.

5. If you install a forced-air furnace, you can build an insulated enclosure (with an airspace) around your undercarriage tanks, and route a furnace duct into the space. Make sure there's also a return duct. Bonus: If you position these between the chassis rails, the floor running down the center of your bus will be warmer in those spots.

6. Many highway rest areas have free sani-dump and freshwater refill stations. If there is one nearby your parking spot, regular trips to same will not only take care of wastewater disposal and freshwater resupply, but also help keep your engine in good condition and recharge your batteries via alternator.

7. Consider two small gensets vs. one large one. You'll save on genset fuel if you only run both when you have larger power requirements.

8. Cut Reflectix (foil backed bubblewrap) to fit your windows (and skylights) in as many layers as necessary for use at night. Attach with Velcro.

9. Skylights will suck heat more than windows of same size.

10. Try to find a parking spot with access to shore power. If you keep your power consumption low a regular extension cord should suffice.

11. If you can park near someone's house you may be able to use their plumbing also (only in above freezing temperatures) using a macerator pump such as this one with hose tying into their Y trap: ... -kit/26125
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