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Old 02-20-2012, 09:14 PM   #1
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Cold weather use

Howdy all.

I've spent the last month and a half in a '06 2600 touring ski resorts and so far have found the unit less than satisfactory, despite it being a winter package and certified to -30C (per the dealer, special order model they sell).

The main problem I have is that it just looses way too much heat, and running the furnace eats batteries in a hurry (I'm usually boondocking). The generator is loud as hell (Guardian RV model... I assume a budget option) so I don't much like running that several hours to recharge the batteries every day (on days when I don't drive much).

Now I've done a ton of improvement already. Got R13 foam board on the floor of the cabover, same blocking the cab wall (pretty tight fit to minimize drafts), same cut to fit tight to the badly insulated and drafty door, and pieces cut to cover the bedroom windows, frames included (since those metal frames are REALLY good at conducting heat). Foam pillows in the 3 vents, and a thick piece of poly tightly taped to the shower skylight frame (seems to work reasonably well for heat, but more importantly to keep condensation from dripping under the frame and sitting there, rotting the ceiling board... who the hell designed that?!?). Most recently spent $450 to have additional foam sprayed on the underside everywhere they could get. Really needed some sprayed to the bottom of the storage compartments since they don't seem to be insulated, but no room. Oh, and put regular fiberglass batting behind the tail lights.

I got a home inspector with an IR camera to take pics (before the floor spray went in.. that was the motivation for the spray as the underside was leaking a ton of heat), and it showed the main problem spots being all window frames (that weren't covered), the door frame, and to a lesser but substantial extent all the structural ribs, especially the aluminum boxes around each skylight. Oh, and a couple pieces of wall that were inexplicable not as good as most of the wall... maybe stress fractured insulation in those spots?

Now there is nothing can be done about much of the wall and roof studs... but I am thinking extending the vent pillows to cover the 2" around the vents to insulate those Al sections. As the wall/roof joint beams (ie. the 2 beams running the length of the coach on the top of the walls) seemed to be particularly large heat spots, even from the inside where the IR showed a significant drop in temp at the ceiling corners, I'm thinking to pull the current corner trip and spray some foam (used around door and window jams) in the corners. Unless there are some drafts that I can't find, I think that's about all I can do.

Except one thing that I'm hoping someone here can help with. At the top front of the cabover, there is daylight clearly visible where the trim piece didn't fit perfectly. I pulled off the trim and found a substantial uninsulated gap up there. The daylight wasn't coming straight thru, it was just the fiberglass letting alot of light through. Thing is, I'm not sure what's there, above or below the gap, as I can't pull the full front insulation/wall out without removing ALL the trim. And even then, if feels like the insulation/wall is glued to the fiberglass, except in the middle top where it has come loose. So... do I just stick the can of insulation there and spray to my heart's content (the low expanding stuff so I don't crack anything)? How much space is up there to fill? I've tried calling forest river to ask about this twice and my messages are not returned (I'm always eventually directed to April's voice mail).

Of course, would love to hear from someone else who has gone through insulating one of these.

That, and anyone know if a freshly balanced furnace fan (mine is definitely not perfect... it does cause noticeably vibration) will eat significantly less power? Right now the furnace fan is by far the biggest issue I have re power.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:21 PM   #2
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Hello frEEk,

I am unsure about the space in the area you are asking about but some low expanding spray foam isn't a bad idea. Maybe a better way might be to isert some small pieces of pink fiberglass insulation. That way you can actually tell how big the cavity is and it will always be removable if needed. Be carefull not to pack the finerglass to tight as you will lose all you R value if it is packed to tight.

I have a 2011 36 CKTS Cedar Creek and it too is a four season Rv with a winter package. Mine also loses heat way to fast and that disappoints me. The main floor is fine, the cold spots are the windows and the floors on the slides. I was expecting to find cold spots to be the slide seals, not the automotive style windows. I have no problem making it 80 degrees in my Rv, as the furnace does work very very well. The downfall to that is the consumption of propane, 10 to 15 lbs per day at a cost of just over a dollar a pound. I bought the cedar creek under the impression it als had electric heat, but somewhere in the build proceess with my dealer it got left out and now they inform me it isn't available. The heated tanks and underbelly works very well, the only fault I found was the water filter freezes because of its location. The filter is located about 6 onches away from the access hole in which you run you water, cable etc. this is a huge design flaw for a 4 season Rv. I also am going to look into applying sprayfoam insulation on the undersides of the slides. As for the water filter I think I am just gonna bypass it and apply some thick soft cusion foam on the lower portion of the compatment to act as an insulator.
I am totaly impressed with the Rv other than its cold living faults. It is definetly a 5 star rv and is just as nice as living at home.
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by frEEk View Post
Howdy all.

I've spent the last month and a half in a '06 2600 touring ski resorts and so far have found the unit less than satisfactory, despite it being a winter package and certified to -30C (per the dealer, special order model they sell).
2006 was only the 2nd year we built that custom unit for them. Every year we make improvements to that model. The biggest one was going to a 2" block foam insulated floor and putting (4) batteries in the step well. Not really much we can do about the window/door frames though. Also, there is now a winter cab curtain that closes off the whole front cab area so that you are heating less. Does yours have that?
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:28 AM   #4
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Thing is, I'm not sure what's there, above or below the gap, as I can't pull the full front insulation/wall out without removing ALL the trim. And even then, if feels like the insulation/wall is glued to the fiberglass, except in the middle top where it has come loose. So... do I just stick the can of insulation there and spray to my heart's content (the low expanding stuff so I don't crack anything)? How much space is up there to fill? I've tried calling forest river to ask about this twice and my messages are not returned (I'm always eventually directed to April's voice mail).

That, and anyone know if a freshly balanced furnace fan (mine is definitely not perfect... it does cause noticeably vibration) will eat significantly less power? Right now the furnace fan is by far the biggest issue I have re power.
Almost forgot. There was probably pink fiberglass insulation stuck to the back of the front cap area that has fallen down. I would put the same stuff back in there. My fear with the spray foam is if you ever need to change out the running lights. Those wires run in that cavity and if I'm not mistaken you need to pull those out a little to change them. (Is it a molded fiberglass front cap? with running lights mounted in rubber grommets?).

Suburban has gone to a new furnace with a quieter fan. In addition to that, we have started putting a carpeted board, vertically just behind the return air vent. It acts as a baffle to reduce some of the noise, but lets air flow around it....the new fan made a big difference though.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:53 AM   #5
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Englewood, the water filter must be very annoying. I am always surprised when things like that get missed by the design team. How could it not be noticed during testing? Or perhaps the reality of the low volume RV market (compared to cars) is that thorough testing just doesn't get done. Anyway, the one I always hear of is the ice maker line which is in the fridge vent area. At least that is a luxury that can simply be turned off in the winter.

With your slide flooring, you could certainly go the spray foam route like I did, but it wasn't cheap. Assuming the underside of the slide is fairly simple, without too many obstacles, I would grab some foam insulation board from a building supply store and just cut it to fit. Even the top of the line R-MAX stuff I got was < $30 per 8x4 sheet (in the 2in thickness, which gives R13). Or the cheaper pink Owen Corning stuff, and just glue it to the underside.

The windows are indeed big problems, and ones you can't solve really. Thing is even when the double glazing works fairly well, metal frames are just a big ol' pass through for heat. They were easily the brightest items in my thermal photos (other than fridge vent and furnace of course), altho the windows didnt glow too much at all. Somewhat impressed there actually. I've heard there are vinyl frame windows available now but I assume they are rare. Best thing I can suggest there is to block off the unused windows with more of the foam board. Just have to cut channels in the board with a router for any frame bits that stick out past the wall, then velcro them in place (easy since the boards are so light).

After doing your initial improvements, I would definitely recommend getting some IR shots taken. Cost me all of $50 (granted I did go to his shop which helped alot). One thing I should have suggested at the time was to lock the scale. Every photo has a different colour vs heat scale since the camera automatically scales to the current scene. It would be more useful to have a locked exposure. Good luck getting that heating bill down!

bclemens, thanks for the authoritative reply. There was already some spray foam insulation under the floor but I imagine your new insulation certainly performed better. I know my floor certainly does feel warmer after the extra layer. More batteries are always a good thing (cept for the weight, and this unit is already significantly weight biased to the passenger side), but if the fan didn't have to run so often in the cold, the battery issue would be moot I think. Last night was well above freezing so the furnace barely came on. Of course my batteries were all but fresh after almost a day (vs all but dead in normal freezing weather). I assume the fan you are talking about is the change from 2.5" to 3". According to the Suburban warranty tech I talked to today it is probably a bearing going (rather than an out of balance fan) so I'll have to see if I can change to the 3" at the same time. That or look for a steal of their Q series variation. Agreed there isn't much u can do re window frames, other than vinyl units, but in fairness this is a budget conscious model so that can't be expected. I do have the 2 curtains (light for cabover, heavier for cab) but they were woefully short of what I wanted. I have the 2" foam board on the cabover floor and closing off the cab fairly tightly, so that problem is well and truly solved.

Can't say there is any hint of fiberglass back there, but that is a great tip about not blocking access to the lights, thank you. It is not a cap in the same way as the newer units have a clearly separate front cap. the fiberglass just wraps the front same as it does on the back. Good idea on the board too. I may just try that. I had thought of some sound insulating sheet on the back of the vent (with slits cut in of course) but I'm thinking the baffle would work better. But ultimately the issue I'm having isn't fan noise, it is vibration that frequently harmonizes with other furnace parts. Just the reality of buying an ex-rental (ie. heavily used) unit I'd say.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:24 AM   #6
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Great blog, we love to see people really using RV's to their fullest. Extra interesting to me too, since I cover the northwest (Colorado to Alaska). I travel out to RV shows all winter and I got tired of seeing everyone carying their skis through the airport. So last February, I went out to our little ski hill in Jones, MI (225 vertical feet) and slid down for the first time ever, with the goal of taking some side trips while out for business.

It helps that I have Canadream as an account, since the owner and fleet advisor are avid skiers. They had a conference at Nakiska, which would prove to be my first real mountain. I quickly learned that a midwest black, was really a blue/green. Since then I have gotten to ski Copper Mountain and most recently spent (2) days at Marmot Basin. Needless to say, I'm hooked.

I'll need to be hitting Seattle soon, which means another "side trip". I had no idea they had skiing so close. Eventually I'd like to tackle Whistler...
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:27 AM   #7
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Thanks bclemens. And that's great that you've picked up the snow sliding bug. It is a pricey passtime but a good one. Surprised that you got up to Marmot Basin, that is pretty out of the way. That's very cool that you can do side trips, you're going to see alot more resorts than most people do in their lives that way. And Whistler is worth a visit for sure, especially being not too far from Vancouver where I'm sure you go sometimes anyway, but all the "best in north america" hype is... not so important. I've had fantastic days at little, basic ski hills and so-so days at top rated, top dollar destination resorts.Then again, part of what I love is the aspect of exploring a new mountain, so every ski resort is a good stop for me.

That's funny to hear that the CD (where I bought it of course) owners are skiers. They need to use their own winter unit for a trip I think, they'll quickly come back with some excellent ideas and revisions for next year's model.Unfortunately, most of them aren't exactly going to bring the price down
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:40 AM   #8
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They do use the unit. There is a group of four or five guys that take a week every February for a "guys ski trip". They follow the good snow. It is that ski trip that results in the most input for the product. Every year I attend a two day meeting to discuss the previous years product We have been making steady improvements since 2005. The biggest jump being 2009. 2" insulated floor, new furnace, more insulation, Azdel Superlight substrate added an additional R-2 to the sidewalls and is a better thermal break.

Last year was a great year for product reliability...I am working on this years spec as I type (well between typing this). Many of the items that get brought up go right into our standard unit...which makes the list shorter every year. The exception being the winter unit...most people don't want to pay for the upgrades that are required.

Just looked back at the 2005/2006 2600 winter spec and it was just shy of (2) pages. This year, the list of custom features is a full (3) pages and that doesn't reflect all the things we have made standard in the last 6 years.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:22 PM   #9
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it's actually good to hear that there are so many custom features... with the number of things I had to address i started wondering if i had been told stories. You making me wish i had bought a '09, but of course that was well outside budget. I certainly appreciate the issue of people not wanting to pay for all the winter features... until they actually try it, then the value becomes apparent quickly
Hope u get a chance to take a unit skiing one day too. it is an eye opener to the added challenge of winter boondocking (the unit's rating stock is realistically achievable only when plugged in. And with my improved insulation the bathroom pipes actually freeze at -17C (rather than -30C) I imagine because I'm running the furnace less, thus less heat into the utility compartments heated by the ducting.

For anyone interested in the thermals:





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Old 02-24-2012, 10:26 PM   #10
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