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Old 10-02-2019, 06:58 PM   #21
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Calgary, Alberta
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: Cummins ISC 260HP/660Q/MD3060 6spd
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Hey what an adventure I say with the baby and all! I wish my wife would’ve been up for that.
I’m no stranger to the cold as I live about 10 hour drive north of Idaho Falls; it’ll be an uphill battle but if you’re up for it I think you could do it.
I suggest you be over prepared with a few sources of heat as well as a place to go in case it just gets too cold.

This is what I’d do if I were in your situation
Heat sources:
A forced air propane furnace (about 40,000 btu) with one of those big propane tanks outside sounds like a good primary source of heat. You’ll have to make some cuts in the sidewall for the vent and run the gas line and 12 volt power. I’m not familiar with the diesel heaters or how many btu’s they are but I’d use it as a good secondary source. The 1500 watt electric heater will hardly make a dent on the cold days but I’d keep a couple around as long as you have at least 30 amps of power otherwise just 1 on 15 amp. How many amps do you have there?

For insulation:
In a bus covering up those windows would be a first priority for insulation; curtains might give you a R value of 0.5 so you’ll definitely need to put something like the ridged foam against them with r value 7.5-10. followed by the floor as there isn’t any insulation down there at all but that’s difficult. After the windows and floor basically anywhere and everywhere you can insulate will help. I’d put the bails around outside as much as you can, they have a good “R” value (insulation value) around the base as a minimum to keep wind out.

The wind will also make it cool a lot if it’s allowed to blow across the bus. The more you can shelter from the wind the better. I might get one of those big tents.

My bus has 1.5-2.5” of spray foam in the ceiling and walls and 1.5” ridged type foam in the floor (R-7.5 I think??). I haven’t used it in cold weather yet but tonight is supposed to go down to 28 degrees F so for my own amusement I’m going to see how much it takes to keep warm. I’ll let you know.

Good luck and please keep us posted on how you do; I’m very curious how it will go for you.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:18 PM   #22
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Gardiner, Ny
Posts: 10
Year: 2005
Engine: Caterpillar C7
Last winter my plans went to hell Ė I live in upstate NY and the coldest it got here was 0 F. I froze my ass off for a few days before getting things figured out. I upgraded in stages before I got warm enough. I had a relatively comfortable winter. Iíll be spending another winter here. I used 2-3 20-lb propane tanks last winter.

Iíd pulled the ceiling out and had 1Ē of XPS foam board under 3/4Ē plywood on the floor. Otherwise the bus was bare inside. I have a 35í rear engine Thomas bus. No insulation in the ceiling. Iím parked at a friendís house and have a 20A circuit and a 10 gauge, 100 foot extension cord.

The first thing I did was get an electric blanket and electric blanket. I put up curtains (I had heavy canvas tarps) to block off half the bus. I had 2 attached to the ceiling, with a 1-2 foot overlap to keep the cold air out. With a 1500 watt heater I was able to get 12 degrees above ambient. Iíd wake up in the middle of the night, all comfy in bed, need to pee, and it was 12 degrees on the other side of the covers. Not fun.

Not sure if I had the plastic sheeting up yet, but I had 6 mil plastic that I taped to the walls to prevent air infiltration. I used Tyvek tape because it stuck well (packing tape sucks and duct tape is expensive and a pain).

I lined the walls with 2 layers of 1Ē foam board, covered all the windows, and used just enough Tyvek tape to keep in in place. For the ceiling, I cut 1Ē foam board so it fit snugly between the ribs, and the same for the top emergency exits. Then press it in place. I used separate pieces to go around the curve, or you can kerf it so it bends easily.

Hint Ė a flexible putty knife with an edge ground on one side is the bomb for cutting foam board. I use a long straight edge, score the foam 2-3x then snap it. It comes out perfect every single time and I can get +/- 1/16Ē if Iím a little careful. I use a carbide knife sharpener to keep it sharp.

At this point, the 1500W heater would give me 40-50 degrees above ambient. It was awesome.

I bought a 30,000 BTU Mr. Heater propane non-venting heater, and a timer. 5-10 minutes would get the bus as warm as I wanted. I had no trouble with the moisture, I had plenty of air infiltration. The front of the bus roughly the outside temperature, my front door wouldnít close all the way.

The floor was pretty cold. I have my bed on a deck and placed the heater under it to keep the heat up under the bed and warm up the floor where I used it most.

I didnít have water until this spring. This winter Iíll be placing a 40 gallon tank inside. One tip Iíve heard is to have heat tape on all plumbing.

This winter Iíll have the foam insulation done the way I want it before the cold hits Ė 2-3 inches in the walls. Iíll be putting 4Ē of foam insulation on the outside of the roof and making a new roof over that. It will be secured with ledger boards sandwiching the bus skin on the roof. It will meet house building codes and can handle 100+ mph winds.

Because itís a rear engine, Iím adding a basement that will go side-side between the front and rear wheels. The floor, doors and walls will have 1Ē foam insulation and should be more comfortable.

I like the idea of bales of hay around the bus. Mobile homes have skirting and it helps a lot. Iíd use plastic sheeting and tape it to the bottom of the bus body, then add a couple feet on the ground that the hay bales would rest on. Use something other than Tyvek if you want it to come off easily. The plastic doesnít need to be very thick, it just needs to not tear. The hay bales should have an insulating effect Ė theyíre tight enough to stop air flow.

It will still be really cold under the bus Ė the metal skin above the bales will still radiate heat. If you could run the hay bales up the where the floor is, or put foam board behind the hay bales that reach up that high, the floor be significantly warmer.

I had less than R-5 in my ceiling last year and is still worked really well.

Youíll need to be careful if you just put up heavy drapes. If youíre not careful at the edges, you can set up a convection current that runs behind the curtains, and youíll feel the cold air rushing past you.

Iíd put some kind of heavy curtain up at the front of the bus to block off the living area from the driverís seat, front window, and front door. Just make sure to run it from floor to ceiling and minimize air gaps. I think it would be a lot of work to insulate that area. Just blocking it off will be simple and work pretty well.

If you canít cut the air infiltration it will still be really cold. I might do something like this without the hay bales Ė use something to hold the plastic in place Ė gravel, sand, lumber Ė something like that.

Last winter I left the 1500W heater on most the time with the thermostat at 50-60 F at night and when I was away.

A few years ago I did a deep-energy retrofit on my house. Cutting air infiltration is key, and not something most people think about.

Use 1-2Ē of foam board to block the windows. Add a small sill if you donít have one so you can just press fit the foam in. I added a little duct tape handle so I could pull them out easily.

I see an extension cord in one of your pictures. Thatís good Ė you shouldnít run electric heaters or electric blankets on batteries or generator.

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 10-04-2019, 04:00 AM   #23
Skoolie
 
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Lots of good info provided by the other good folks here.

My biggest concerns would be air quality and fire hazard. You don't want a lot of air leaks but you can not survive in a sealed bag.

The factory air intake to the drivers compartment should be sufficient if you don't block it off. However you have a bulkhead isolating the living quarters so I think you should allow some air to enter past the bulkhead, preferably at floor level.

Install smoke detectors and make sure all of your doors are operational.
Escaping a fire is only step one, if you don't have a neighbor close enough to run to in your bare feet and PJ's then you need a cache.
If you have a car park it back aways from the bus and keep some emergency clothes and a spare key in it.

Cold is miserable but with warm clothes and good bedding you can sleep in your bus with no heat at all. A somewhat comforting thought when the generator fails.

Yes skirting works, pretty much mandatory. Snow shoveled up around the hay bales will help seal up the gaps.

If you think you might decide to move in mid winter you will need a tank full of winter diesel.

It's helpful to put planks under all your wheels if you are in a field or anywhere the ground does not stay bone hard. Come April if your tires are down into the soil an inch or 2 you will have to be towed to get moving.

Congratulations on your expecting a baby!

Were it me I would have a warm house or apartment with dependable indoor plumbing and a washing machine all lined up for the new mom. I know a nice couple that didn't, they are no longer together.
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Old 10-04-2019, 08:39 AM   #24
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uninsulated, esp in 89 is rough.. the factory insulation is likely detoriorated as it always does.. a factory school bus has over 200,000 btu of heaters installed for heating while driving..



coveringthe windows will be the biggest help as school bus windows look cool but are terrible insulators.. I love the idea of the RV tent, however people tell me it gets pretty windy in idaho winters


hay bails underneath sound like an idea but remmeber hay is extremely flammable and any single spark from a wire or a diesel heater, etc could set off a fire youd never escape from so id be wary to stuff ab unch of hay up under a bus..



if it were me id be firing up the engine and heading right down to arizona! winter it out in quartzite or something..
-Christopher
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:05 AM   #25
Bus Nut
 
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You could check how your ceiling insulation is by pulling out a few of those rectangle ceiling lights and feeling around or looking in with a small mirror. If there’s little or nothing in there you could get blow insulation or possibly the right kind of spray foam for filling voids through those holes.

Here is how my bus did in the 28 degree night. I ran the furnace with the electric heater on and the furnace was running roughly 30 minutes an hour, when the electric heater was off the furnace ran roughly 40 minutes an hour.
The furnace is 35,000 BTU’s and the bus is about 40 feet long with good insulation but some very big windows up front and a sunroof with probably no R value. You have about 24 feet interior so you might pull it off with a good furnace.
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:33 PM   #26
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I met and old Mainer who lived in a travel trailer all winter. His solution was concrete curing blankets. He bought a pallet of them at auction and laid two layers over the trailer strapped at the bottom. Had Most of his windows covered two. He also had hay bales as skirting. He told me his propane consumption was cut almost in half.
It seemed like a great idea in a pinch. Similar to tenting the bus but with insulated blankets made for the purpose.
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Old 10-06-2019, 12:29 PM   #27
Skoolie
 
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Need to insulate

Go stand in your metal shed when it's damp n cold out
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:14 PM   #28
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Sorry I can not help but love your bus & layout i would personally put a wood burner on there only because I love them 😍
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:38 PM   #29
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I’d go as far as to not only do the concrete blankets or similar and skirting but also extend the concrete blankets to one side of the bus and point that side north to help with the cold northerly winds. You’d limit your exposure to basically one long wall and two small ones.

Someone mentioned that busses won’t lose heat to winds like we do because they don’t have evaporation. But that totally ignores the fact that any time you have to things two different temperatures they will exchange heat. And obviously the larger volume of air you have contacting the bus the more the heat transfers.
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Old 10-15-2019, 06:28 PM   #30
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We are hoping it snows before it gets too cold so we can pack snow around the straw bales (which are in now) and the sides a little. We won’t die if something crazy happens, we have a few friends that would be able to have us stay while we figured things out, but we love living in our home. I am debating whether to use plastic on the windows or a mixture of plastic and foam board. I would assume foam board insulation does better than plastic, but I’m not sure how much.

It got into the teens ~15-17 F last week and we did alright, stayed warm, but it was obvious that the cold had ways in, they’re just hard to figure out where they come from.
I don’t completely understand the concrete thing and we will be driving our bus after the winter so I’m not sure how that will go.
Oh and we checked the fiberglass ceiling insulation. It’s thick and seems nice still which is crazy since it’s 30 years old.
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Old 10-15-2019, 08:50 PM   #31
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Good to know you have a backup plan in place in case it gets too cold.
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Old 10-15-2019, 10:18 PM   #32
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We are hoping it snows before it gets too cold so we can pack snow around the straw bales (which are in now) and the sides a little. We wonít die if something crazy happens, we have a few friends that would be able to have us stay while we figured things out, but we love living in our home. I am debating whether to use plastic on the windows or a mixture of plastic and foam board. I would assume foam board insulation does better than plastic, but Iím not sure how much.

It got into the teens ~15-17 F last week and we did alright, stayed warm, but it was obvious that the cold had ways in, theyíre just hard to figure out where they come from.
I donít completely understand the concrete thing and we will be driving our bus after the winter so Iím not sure how that will go.
Oh and we checked the fiberglass ceiling insulation. Itís thick and seems nice still which is crazy since itís 30 years old.
concrete curing blankets are insulated blankets designed to regulate the temperature in concrete during the curing of freshly poured concrete - once the concrete has cured sufficiently, the blankets are folded or rolled up and stored away for the next concrete job, ( or used as temporary insulation for old skoolies - lol )
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Old 10-15-2019, 11:01 PM   #33
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I was just reading over your thread and noticed your water heater in the bedroom appears to be an unvented propane unit. These are typically designed for use outside as if not operating properly can exhaust carbon monoxide which is unsafe. You might read over the operating info to clarify. I'm not a fan of any unvented gas heaters. I used one in a camper years ago but have changed my tune. I know you have a CO detector, but being picky home inspector, I like to keep people safe
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Old 10-15-2019, 11:51 PM   #34
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I would guess a lot of that cold you are feeling is being generated inside the bus as your air circulates across those cold windows. Foam would give you the most heat retention but for me I like windows in my living space.
You can likely buy a window insulator kit at your hardware store for cheap. It is just a plastic kit that you fit and tape over the windows (on the inside of your bus). The plastic is thin, tough, stretchy and very clear. Once done you will in effect have double pane windows. The tape sticks well on the wood framed windows in my house and I expect it would work well in a bus.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:30 PM   #35
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Ok that makes a lot more sense about the curing blankets, I was thinking some sort of mesh-bag of concrete that hardened when it got wet, haha.
I have read it and it has two ways of automatically shutting off, we shower at the university gym more often anyway, and yeah we have a new detector.
I was wondering, since we have so many windows, if there was something I could use that would be just as good as those window insulating kits but cheaper, but if they are the best then maybe Iíll buy some this week and put them on the windows.
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Old 10-16-2019, 01:42 PM   #36
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Ok that makes a lot more sense about the curing blankets, I was thinking some sort of mesh-bag of concrete that hardened when it got wet, haha.
I have read it and it has two ways of automatically shutting off, we shower at the university gym more often anyway, and yeah we have a new detector.
I was wondering, since we have so many windows, if there was something I could use that would be just as good as those window insulating kits but cheaper, but if they are the best then maybe I’ll buy some this week and put them on the windows.
I'd go with styrofoam, cut to push fit - someone made the suggestion to put duct tape on the side facing the window and leave a tail hanging out in the bus for easy removal of the foam - do some windows with the clear plastic and some with the foam
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:03 PM   #37
Skoolie
 
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I was wondering, since we have so many windows, if there was something I could use that would be just as good as those window insulating kits but cheaper, but if they are the best then maybe Iíll buy some this week and put them on the windows.
Why not buy 1 kit and use it on your priority windows? You will then know how many windows it covers and can decide what you want to do with the rest.
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Old 10-29-2019, 05:52 PM   #38
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Are you still in Idaho Falls? If so are you keeping the bus warm with the cold and wind we have right now?
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Old 10-29-2019, 06:04 PM   #39
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Not O.P, but im in Willard UT and not struggling so far. Electric blanket has been nice for the nights.

I did have to move to where I have shore power though. Li-Ion battery can't charge in the cold and is depleted.

I installed it in a external battery box for safety in case of a battery fire, but now regret that because the battery is too cold.

Not sure about my water. It worked yesterday but I'm guessing the lines are frozen up now.
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Old 10-30-2019, 01:34 AM   #40
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Are you still in Idaho Falls? If so are you keeping the bus warm with the cold and wind we have right now?
The pipes froze last night so itís not so great actually! I have been running a heater all day to try to melt them but I donít think itís going to work, the line runs against the side of the bus (on the inside).
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