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Old 10-29-2006, 12:55 AM   #11
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Edmond, OK
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Year: 1993
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International
Engine: 7.3 International diesel
Rated Cap: 60
You could insulate the tank under the bus and use some heat tape. I use it to keep my pet snakes warm under their tanks. You can buy a roll of it and cut it to whatever length you like. Make small sections or whatever. If you can solder, it's simple to do. You can buy a rheostat switch at Wal-Mart like you would use for dimming lights in your house. The heat tape doesn't use much power at all. You could stick it on the tank. You don't need to heat the water up. Just enough heat to keep it from freezing. If you could use some 3/4" pink styrofoam to insulate your tank and then the heat tape, it will keep it warm enough.
1993 International Carpenter 10 Window bus
7.3L diesel w/AT545
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Old 10-29-2006, 06:10 AM   #12
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Headface….to answer your question what do the folks living in the million dollar motorhomes do….
First off these people hardly ever stay in an area where its very cold , they migrate to warmer climes .
The folks who live fulltime in their big 5th Wheel trailers and monster RV’s who think they might stay in an area for the winter …tend to go for Heated & insulated Bays where their Holding and water tanks are usually kept from freezing.
They run duct work off their 12-volt LP forced air gas furnaces for this.

Unfortunately School buses don’t have very much room underneath them for building in realistic insulated bays…. Realistic is the key word there. Anyone who hasn’t lived fulltime in a Bus in a very cold place like Alaska or Minnesota just doesn’t get , how fast a tank will freeze after a few days of 30 below temps.
So…In our last bus Home I located the tanks under our bed where they were mostly kept from freezing. The ‘natural Flow of air ‘certainly does not keep the tanks from freezing in a very cold place so we used a couple of 12-volt fans to force heated air under our bed.
Even so , when it got down to 20-30 below and stayed that way we had ice chunks floating around in the tanks.

If I was to do another Bus conversion …instead of locating the tanks ‘As is’ under our bed . I’d cut out a section on the side of the bus. Like I did for the steel boxes I installed in our latest Bus.

And build in a seriously well-insulated box to hold the tanks . I’d heat in with a combination of forced air off our woodstove and a 12-volt holding tank heating pad.
Here’s the link to the folks who make them.
They cost around $120.00
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Old 10-29-2006, 07:41 AM   #13
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I forgot this bit….
You could also heat up the area where you locate the tank with homemade “radiator” that would pull hot water from your LP Gas water heater ( or even a wood stove type of hot water heating system )…and circulate it through the ‘Radiators’ piping system with a hot water circulator pump.
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Old 10-29-2006, 06:03 PM   #14
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$15 submersible stock tank heaters anyone?

What about blackwater tanks? This is one thing I've always thought about a little. Being that heat is a byproduct of the decomposition, will they stay warm assuming that decomposition is always taking place? I want to say yes, but the enzymes that are responsible for the decomposition don't do cold real well. Anyone want to test it for us?
Skooling state at a time...
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Old 10-29-2006, 09:04 PM   #15
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The last two years in a row I have used simple rope lights to heat the holding tanks under my travel trailer. It has worked well, doesn't create a lot of heat or use much 18' section of rope lights uses only 54watts of power. I wrapped it around the dump valves, and back & forth across the bottom of the tanks. Used some duct tape to hold it up initically, then took a water heater blanket and put that underneath of it all, then used some bungee cords for support to hold it all up in place. I also ran some rope lights along with the freshwater hose and enclosed that in a foam pipe insulation... it all worked well, could get down into the teens for several days but my water would run freely and the tanks never froze!!

This year I'm using heat tape on the hose & tanks which might be slightly hotter than the rope lights. We'll see how it all works out! I just got done wrapping the fresh water hose last weekend...still gotta work on the tanks though...

You just might be a Redneck if...
...your motor home used to be a school bus!
...Your living room has a steering wheel!
...Your home has brake lights

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee
1989 Thomas Diesel Pusher (Cat 3208/Freightliner)
Chesapeake, Virginia
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Old 10-29-2006, 09:59 PM   #16
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Black tanks will still freeze solid. Ever use an outhouse in the winter?
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Old 10-30-2006, 05:26 AM   #17
Join Date: Dec 2003
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No need to test anything….this kind of stuff has been known by Composting Toilet folks for years.
For decomposition to take place you need a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit , That means the whole mass within the holding tank needs to be at and stay at that temp to start the break-down process.
At that minimum ‘start-up’ temp the decomposition process is very sluggish, and it produces very little excess’ heat’.
In the winter …If the tank is slung under the bus it’s never going to produce enough of its own heat to keep itself from freezing solid.

Some of the newer RV’s that come with Cold weather packages have really thought out their systems well.
Here’s a pic of an 5th wheels heated ‘port’ …where everything is kept in one place for efficiency.

One of the great things about this setup is they worked out the freezing issue with the dump valves.
Since they’re inside the rig and are kept warm they won’t build up ice, like they do when they’re slung under a rig.
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Old 10-30-2006, 06:41 AM   #18
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Looking at those tank heaters they remind me very much of the heater you use with a waterbed. Those can often times be had for free bed and all. Of course they're AC not DC but free is alway good and you could always use the inverter. Think it would work?
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