Monday, July 26, 2010

Sorry for the lack of posts

I had really hoped to keep up to date on this blog and the summer has gotten away from us.

The beauty of this camper is that we only really had to replace wood on the ceiling, which we did, with beadboard.  We did remove one cabinet which was not very functional and made it difficult to get into and out of the dinette.

We have taken the Shasta on a few trips since my last post. Each time we learn a bit more about what we need, etc. The Shasta has been a great home on every trip. Even though she is only 10 feet long, we sleep and camp two adults and our three younger children in comfortably.

A trip to Northern Minnesota a few weeks ago proved what babies we all are though. We were in the midst of a Minnesota heat-wave and found out that we had become very comfortable sleeping in air conditioned comfort. A windless night at 85 degrees made us think twice about an upcoming trip to Iowa and Kansas we were set to go in July.

I began to think about a solution. Window air conditioner units are not practical -- especially with the vintage Jalousie windows in the Shasta. I did not want to cut a 2 by 3 foot hole in the side of the camper. I was not sure if the Shasta would support a camper roof top unit -- plus they were prohibitively expensive! Then it hit me -- there was another option. We have several portable room air conditioners in various offices where I work (I work in a largely un-air-conditioned building). These room units have a 8 inch exhaust tube that goes to the outside -- this exhausts the hot air that is emitted from the air conditioner. Newer units don't even need a tube for emitting condensate -- they blow the hot air from the exhaust onto the collected condensate inside the unit -- evaporating it along with the hot air. Even if I had purchased an older unit, or if this unit cannot keep up with the condensate in it's evaporative mode, simply attaching a hose to the back of the unit and running it through the hole where the icebox used to drain would be acceptable.

So I went about trying to find a unit -- looking where it all started with the Shasta -- Craigslist. In the heat of summer, these units go very fast! As luck would have it, I found a used unit for a great price. I drove across town, found that the unit was in great shape so soon my new (at least new to me) air conditioner unit was riding shotgun with me back to the Shasta.

Cutting a small 8 inch round hole in the side of the camper was much more acceptable to me than other venting options. Vintage camper enthusiasts are probably cringing right now, but really, the cut was minimal. I placed the vent near the other utility connections on the front, street side of the trailer. I purchased one of those louvered dryer vents in white. The vent fits right in along beside the gravity fill water connection. It is hardly noticeable. When you look at newer rigs, they have all variety of doors, vents, connections, and other dohickeys.

I found that the air conditioner fit perfectly in the closet - this allowed it to be out of the way when it was not being used and when we wanted to use it, we just opened the closet door. The exhaust venting tube made a 360 degree loop with the excess storing in the area under where the icebox sits (note that my Shasta's icebox was removed by a previous owner, so I have filled the space with a smaller A.C. refrigerator and a small microwave).

We knew that we made the right decision when we arrived and set up camp in Iowa. The outside temperature was near 90 degrees, but we slept comfortably -- under blankets inside the Shasta. The next two nights in Kansas were equally restful. It does not take a lot to cool a 10 by 8 foot space! The humm of the air conditioner also drowns out any late-night parties that may be occurring outside of the camper.

We did get a bit tired of opening and closing the closet door so by the 2nd night, I temporarily removed and stowed the closet door. This made things a lot more comfortable. I am thinking of removing the closet door and storing it at home and crafting a two-section door for my Shasta's closet so that the lower section could be opened when the air conditioner is being used. While I did not mind cutting the 8 inch hole for the exhaust -- I would not consider ruining the original closet door -- so I would craft this 2 section door out of something else and keep the original door intact and safely stored for replacement when I want to return the Shasta to vintage condition.

All in all, the Air Conditioning made sleeping a lot easier. Call me spoiled -- but I don't want to sweat when I sleep. Of course, I also want a few more comforts of home in my rig -- that's why I opted for the Shasta and not a tent-camper or worse (at least for me) a tent. I don't want to rough it that much!

Well, better sign off for now. We love the Shasta and hope to go see the Tall Ships in Duluth for at least a night. I'll let you know how that trip goes.