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Glowing in The Sun
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So, I hope you folks can help me out...

In late August I fled an abusive relationship of 18 years. I have very little money, and I had nowhere else to go but my son's rundown home in a tiny hamlet west of Ames, IA. It is owned by his dingbat gf, and she is a total mentally ill mess, she won't take her medications properly, and I HATE it here! My bedroom is my sanctuary from the daily turmoil she creates. I would LOVE to have my own place to live in, so she isn't in my life.

I want out of here really badly, and as soon as possible.

My daughter and her fiance just bought a 16 acre rural property about an hour south of Des Moines, near the Missouri border, and I can live on their place in an inexpensive, used, large-ish camper, if it can be winterized somehow. I don't have a car, so being near her would allow me to use her car, or be taken by her if I need to go somewhere. I would prefer country living over an apartment in town any day of the week. In fact, after living rurally for the last 26 years, adjusting to in-town living will be very difficult for me. I will have a hard time having people all around me so closely, it is claustrophobic and horrible.

My son works for a company that makes the special foam insulation panels for concrete tilt-up buildings, and he can get massive amounts of the reject ones for free. They are so strong you can walk on them, they aren't regular foam. The 4" thick panels have very high insulation values, and they are generally 4' x 8' in size.

I had lived in a 27' camper many years ago, for about 8 years, but it was in Northern California in the mountains, and although the winters are cold there, and some snow falls each winter, they are mild in comparison to Iowa.

Can a regular camper be winterized to be lived in, in an Iowa winter? It won't be a fancy one that has a heated basement. I have to go "cheap and cheerful". Can you guys give me some advice about this, please? I will do ANYTHING to get out of here, and I don't need anything fancy to live in to be happy. I don't care if the windows have to be covered and I live in a "cave", I will do whatever it takes to be out of here!

Thanks for any help you can give me!
 

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If it were me I would buy a big sheet of thick plastic, put it down move the trailer over it and then lay down the insulation panels. Then skirt the trailer with the insulated panels too. Fill in any gaps with expanding foam. Make sure and fill all penetrations into the trailer with steel wool to keep mice out and use heat tape on all exposed pipes. I would not use gas appliances, get electric heaters and cook with electric.

Here is another thread just below....James

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/ge.../527088-anyone-live-camper-during-winter.html
 

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I calls em like I sees em
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You can do it, it's just a matter of how comfortably. Is there electric hookup? Water?

James made good suggestions above, by superinsulating underneath the RV you should be able to avoid freezing your fresh and waste water lines/tanks. Especially with heat tape plus insulation. Also the interior will be more comfortable with less cold floors. If you can park it where one long side has a southern exposure that might help with your comfort level, at least during the day. Ideally your entrance on that south side. You will have to figure out how to dispose of your waste water. Maybe a composting toilet so you only have grey water to worry about. Moisture/condensation buildup happens fast inside an RV when it's closed up and it's cold outside, you'll want to make sure vents/exhaust fans work.
 

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I know a few people who lived in a camper trailer during a Wyoming winter, and they survived with no frostbite or frozen hands/feet. The general consensus was that it was cold, but they came through it. I've never been to Iowa, so I don't know how the winters compare.
 

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I lived in one in Western NY, heavy snow and very cold winters. If it has propane heat you should be fine. You will need to insulate and heat tape your water hose from the faucet to the trailer. Hopefully the trailer has a holding tank, there could be an issue with that freezing also. If you can't empty that you are in trouble, so keep it emptied. Other things, sometimes leave closets and cupboards open so heat filters in, find out where your water pipes run. A hairdryer worked well for frozen pipes in our travel trailer. We never had skirting and not sure how you would fix to the trailer and not have it blow away. You could use straw bales around the trailer, but they do attract mice.

Carol K
 

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Find some widower who needs a cook and house cleaner - one who has a nice big home for you to live in - and would appreciate you - then you don't have to worry about the winter in a camper -
 

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If it were me I would buy a big sheet of thick plastic, put it down move the trailer over it and then lay down the insulation panels. Then skirt the trailer with the insulated panels too. Fill in any gaps with expanding foam. Make sure and fill all penetrations into the trailer with steel wool to keep mice out and use heat tape on all exposed pipes. I would not use gas appliances, get electric heaters and cook with electric.

Here is another thread just below....James

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/ge.../527088-anyone-live-camper-during-winter.html
I like that. The insulated panels could make a huge improvement to your comfort levels. And even just a small amount of heat underneath could make a lot of difference in the warmth of the floor.

Something you could have a look at is the window film that you stick on to the window frames and shrink with a hair dryer. We did that with our windows last year (and most of the ceiling vents, too) and it did make a difference for us. RV windows, aside from the double paned ones, can be pretty drafty.

Our slides don't seal quite as tightly as we would sometimes like so we do get some ventilation happening from them leaking. Some ventilation is a good thing, even in very cold weather. The air inside can get pretty stagnant otherwise.

It can be done! If you have a good source of reliable electricity, it makes it even better.

Some shelter, even on one or two sides could be a good thing even if it's only a wind break on the side that gets the prevailing winds. Underneath the roof of a pole barn or something similar would also be good to keep the snow off if it's an option.

I haven't spent enough winter time in IA to know much about typical weather. Dips below freezing are a non-issue for most. Stretches that never get above zero (F) can be difficult but not necessarily impossible. Water lines can be winterized with an antifreeze (for potable water systems) but that would make them unusable until flushed out with clean water again. I've done that in very cold stretches when I just wasn't sure if my heat was quite enough, typically not for more than a week or so or when I'm going to be away from the rv for more than just a few days.

I'm sorry you're in the situation you are in with the family. Hope you can find a better situation soon and start building a new life. There is life after divorce even though it doesn't necessarily feel like it when you're going through it.

Take care & good luck! We'll be rootin' for ya. :)
 
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