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Old 03-05-2019, 02:46 AM   #1
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Default Ultimate designs - open discussion

What is sufficient RV? What is the best RV? Is it RV at all?
Please read and let me know Your Opinion!

In here RV means some transportable pod or box providing basic shelter. It may be attached to a vehicle or transported as such.

My objective is to design the best possible RV by developing in box form factor answering to the definition found by the thorough study. This means I'm not happy with current situation.

I wrap here what is my understanding of the scene today:

Market, Demand, and Offer:

Currently, the U.S. market has a duopoly, manufacturing 83% of all RV:s - causing poor quality, bad customer experience, concentrating on eye candy, ignoring durability and long life. To manufacturer making money means as many sold units as possible. Making quality contravenes the goal. The faster they rot away, the sooner they leave the market and make way for new units. The quantity of RV:s on the road has not changed in 25 years, regardless of the sold units per year have multiplied. This must mean they rot away faster. Very seldom RV lasts up to 20 years. Those who survive are usually simple, robust and well built (apparently), or just well cared.



The buyer:

- The buyer buys what the market offers. Most of us have no competence to understand what is needed. Last year 500000 new RV:s were sold in the U.S. only by salesmen who offer what manufacturers make. Bling and shine dazzle buyers and masks what is essential on the road - functionality.

The Design:

- Nothing new under the sun, only small tweaks here and there. Most RV:s are still trying to look and feel like a house on the wheels. It is not a lack of effort; it is more lack of vision.

In pursuit of a solution, making the right questions is vital.




Let's think this over for a while. I have never owned a trailer or RV. They seem to me too complicated, defying the purpose with over-engineering. I have had no real need, and hotels are affordable in places I travel. The interest over this issue comes from the news. I see us heading to a future where demand for a mobile living unit is under high demand.
Learning solutions from those who know is the cheapest way to gain understanding.




RV:s available provide a lot of excesses and unnecessary, like most houses. Many solutions offered are serving some other purpose than common utility or basic need. Social status and place in society are also shown.
I see the search for the ultimate solution could also be a social experiment that can change the way we think by pointing out how little we need.
In the current paradigm, there is loads of quiet information about our society. Expecting everyone has the same style of life. The market is teaching to newcomers what we should want. This way nothing changes.

I have studied the scene by watching countless conversion videos over YouTube, followed vlogs and blogs all around the globe. I have registered in many forums. I have tried to learn from the mistakes made by others. I also have studied the latest new technology. What there is that is not applied to RV:s so far? I am also trying to reason out the train of thought behind applied solutions. It is not always easy.


I feel like trying to question the very way of life. If you reside in a regular home, have you ever wondered why most of our buildings are rectangles? It has not been like this always. For example, the ancient buildings were small and usually round.

Everything in our civilization is more or less box or rectangle. Machines processing minerals from the ground mostly end up making plates or sheets. Making sheets is the most efficient way to refine something from the earth by automated tools. If you have sheets of material, you end up making what easily comes out of it - boxes and rectangles. The tooling paradigm is built around that. And rest of the material world follows suit.

I mention all this to point out the world is all but ready. It can be built in countless ways by questioning the underlying paradigm. That is what I try to do.

What is RV not compared to the house?

RV is never going to be a house on the wheels. Let's accept that. It has no concrete foundation, no limitless water supply or electricity. It offers no abundance of utilities like the house does. There is no security provided by thick walls or fence circling property with no trespassing signs. In many ways, it is quite the opposite. You can not carry countless things into it; it has mass and size limitations.
House has fixed surroundings. Known neighbors. The Sun always raises from a specific direction and sets to its opposite.
Because of all this, why are we trying to make RV a house on the wheels? It is impossible. Instead, should we try to find the essential? Maybe re-invent old nomad way of being and remarry it with current civilization?

What is RV then?

RV should satisfy basic needs for shelter in a mobile form. It is for most of us temporary accommodation. For that reason, I think, it is not taken seriously enough. I think it should be good enough to be the primary accommodation.

Level of basic needs requires clarification. For some, basics mean shelter, a place to lay down at night, to consume a meal, provide some security. For most, it also implies a lot more: Warmth and sanitation; heat, water, light, electricity. It also could mean providing all that average house can with all sorts of appliances - needed or not.

From History, I have discovered many extremely functional solutions. Those that are developed under stress to survive and prosper with limited means and technology. Those sometimes forgotten innovations are still viable in many ways, especially in exceptional circumstances. Many of them are refined with the latest knowledge to provide new solutions (i.e., rocket stove or Bedouin way to cool the house with heat wall).
I also spend a lot of time following possible trajectories in the future. I am trying to project inertia of today to decades to come. There are loads of reasons (overpopulation, mass migration, climate change) that increase the demand for highly functional, affordable, secure and straightforward RV. One question that pops to my mind is, how much of RV sales growth comes already from areas that have met some disaster where people lose their homes?

Technology

Like a house, RV should be well understood by the owner. Ability to track reasons for failures and problems and also to fix them. Buying RV requires no deep understanding of the unit, just like living in an apartment. The overhaul and upkeep are mostly made by someone else.
If you build your house yourself, you very likely understand it all the way, from foundation to chimney. The same applies to RV.

Common problems

- Water seeps in. Either it comes above, below or condenses from within. It is always present.
- Most RV:s are loaded with wood in many forms.
- Water reacts with wood and causes delamination, mold, rot and countless other issues because water is ignored for "better" reasons.
- Established Basic Design (e. what it supposed to look alike) ignores the laws of physics and causes most of the problems. In RV water comes from all directions. Temperature and air pressure are either ignored or not recognized to contribute to the water problem.
- The basic paradigm has not changed for decades; what was good 50 years ago, is still what it looks like. Walls and roof must have windows. Period. The result is in many cases fancy looking dysfunctional franken-home-alike. This is not a lack of effort. It is a lack of vision. Maybe some study would be good too.
- Devil is in details. Every chassis and many parts are made one by one - by hand, causing variation in quality.

What is off-grid?

Off-grid means what it says; no or limited electricity or water. Should we have no water or electricity at all? Should it be like ships, re-equip and refill at "berth"? Does it mean self-sufficiency at some level? How is it achieved? Should we have condensers making water with sunlight from the air?
What forms of solar do we need? Air heaters? Water heaters? Photovoltaic? Air coolers (directed heated airflow doing cooling)?

Solutions?

What is the best RV?

My objective is to find a design for the best possible RV and fit it in a truck box chassis. Why? The structure is not married with just one vehicle. It can be lifted onto new wheels if/when necessary. Truck box is standard size, under well-established regulation and a myriad of cars can house it. A truck as a platform is mechanically extremely simple, easy to fix and modify.

Design principle

- Expect problems and have a plan. Use readily available parts and components when possible.
- We have actuators.

- 3D design and simulation exist, why not use them?
- Use rot-free materials developed to extreme conditions.
- Using commonly available ingredients makes maintenance easy.
- Study airplanes, ships, yachts, military, and space equipment for durability.
- PU Spray foam insulation and PU sheets as insulation. They ingest no water.
- Nip out extra weight whenever possible. Lighter structure means more functionality.
- Accept water in places it should not be, using, i.e., aluminum honeycomb panels instead of wood fibers. Concentrate guiding water instead of blocking it. Honeycomb board for 20mm cost the same as plywood.
- Furniture and cardboards should have air channels to let air flow through them. This avoids closets freezing in the winter and molding in the summer. Free airflow means less moisture.
- Double floor structure. Water tanks, batteries, propane/LNG tanks should be in the heated midsole. This reduces draft in living quarters and keeps equipment in better shape.
- The shower should have a propane/solar heater and sufficient spacing. If there is a shower, there must be adequate water supply, 4gal (15Litres) per minute.
- Photovoltaic solar collectors at the roof, at least one panel to heat water.
- Windmill to generate electricity. When building on a truck, this can be attached to cab or frame, not to box/trunk/trailer due to noise and vibrations.
- Battery from Leaf, Tesla or some hybrid. Used Leaf batteries (20-30kWh) are available at eBay for less than $5K. Average house consumption is around 20Kw per day. In RV it is easily a fraction of that. The battery can be charged at charging station if solar is not sufficient. Tesla batteries have up to 120kWh if the price is not too high. Weigh price ratio better than in lead-acid batteries.
- No windows on the walls, in most cases there is nothing to see (except dumpster, parking lot or some industrial building). Most of the RV:s spend most of their time somewhere else than that abandoned beach or prairie depicted in the sales ad.
- Extendable roof with light windows, letting natural light in when desired, but also reducing drag when moving. Volvo has large freight trailers made this way.
- Aluminum honeycomb blackout curtains to all windows. Readily available from China, made to measure. Very affordable, even with motors. Works also horizontally.
- Heat pump to cool or warm if Leaf or Tesla battery is installed. This also should be attached to cab or frame on the truck due to noise and vibrations.
- Upgrade bus alternator to truck motor instead of an external generator. Simplifies structure, no multiple engines of fuels to carry around. For example, Delco 50Dn belt alternator provides up to 10.8kW at 27.8V. With 1500 rpm it gives 3.6kW, at 2400rpm around 8.8kW. It fills up Leaf battery in 2.5-4 hours. Takes max 15kW from the truck engine at 2400rpm.
Cheaper alternators from 370-560A 28V are widely available as military surplus (CE Niehoff N1602, N1603, N1609, but unfortunately under export restrictions by DoD).
- Small Rocket Stove to provide heat.
- Bedouin heat covers, meaning detached panels to form air flow between panel and chassis. Can also be used to warm. Separated from wheel wells not forming oven to bake tires.


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Old 03-05-2019, 04:53 AM   #2
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I do agree with most you point out.

Indeed, to avoid moisture inside the box, you have to have a permanent ventilation, the bigger the better, and get used to those cold air flows getting in.

This permanent ventilation may not be closed, it always has to remain open, even when cold outside.

A lower and a higher ventilation is needed, and they should be put on opposite sides (i.e. the lower on the right wall, the higher on the roof or on the left wall) to be sure air flows easily inside the box.

Electricity can be kept to a minimum, do we have to have an A/C installation or a 180 litres compression fridge/freezer? Led lights are sufficient to light the entire inside of the RV, it uses only a 1/10 of bulb lights.

I do not agree with what follows:

- windows : look at the picture, my truck near the sea, windows let you see what happens outside and you may enjoy the view.

- shower : a 7 litres (2 gallons) water pump is more than enough to get a comfy shower. Using a thermostatic tap makes you economize a lot of water. The water heater (instant gas, electric, whatever) has to be near the taps, and not a 15 feet away, as I already have seen it. It means either that the kitchen sink has to be near the bathroom.

- windmills and tesla batteries are extremely expensive to some, solar panels get cheaper with the years.
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Old 03-05-2019, 08:09 PM   #3
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Thank You, Proteus for valuable comments!

I agree natural light is essential. That view from Your window is quite luxurious. I suspect it is quite exceptional.

This is my idea of windows with an extendable roof. This way you do not reveal the actual ingredients of this dull freight container.

When moving, the roof is in. Whenever natural light is desired, or situation outside is like you show, the ceiling can be extended.
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Old 03-06-2019, 07:09 PM   #4
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So why are you wanting an rv? To travel? or just to build one?

Sam
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Old 03-06-2019, 10:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samcrimm View Post
So why are you wanting an rv? To travel? or just to build one?
For sure would use it myself, would it exist.


I have had this nagging feeling this should be made.

I think solving this problem helps humankind in general. Like said before; we have migration crisis underway and finding an efficient, affordable solution with western values is interesting as such. Many are drawing these $20-$200 cardboard/plywood shelters, but would YOU live in it? I most likely wouldn't if there'd be a choice.
Last summer showed us it is not just the vast areas on fire, but areas left under the blanket of smoke that is affected. How many people fled their homes for health reasons? Would it be easier if you are prepared and you have a plan? Like an RV that feels like home and is sufficient for long term stay?

I heard an estimate there are 3M climate refugees within the U.S. alone. That figure is going up. In 2017 there was no single month without fatalities by hurricanes.

I guess I'm trying to find a solution that is utmost functional, without status or social bias. Looking like more box truck than RV, but still offering all you need and maybe offering better security with active and passive solutions.
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Old 03-07-2019, 06:10 AM   #6
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I live near Holland, where water is everywhere, and where, at some time, the houses prices were crazy.

Some people did let build a house on water.

Main advantage is, when you have to move to another location for your work, you take under tow your waterhouse with you to another city.

Bigger than a RV anyway, if you wish.

https://www.holland.com/global/touri...dam-canals.htm

It also exists in the States, in Florida's keys or t Seattle, i.e.

https://www.realtor.com/news/unique-...at-in-seattle/
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Old 03-07-2019, 07:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rvmaker View Post
For sure would use it myself, would it exist.


I have had this nagging feeling this should be made.

I think solving this problem helps humankind in general. Like said before; we have migration crisis underway and finding an efficient, affordable solution with western values is interesting as such. Many are drawing these $20-$200 cardboard/plywood shelters, but would YOU live in it? I most likely wouldn't if there'd be a choice.
Last summer showed us it is not just the vast areas on fire, but areas left under the blanket of smoke that is affected. How many people fled their homes for health reasons? Would it be easier if you are prepared and you have a plan? Like an RV that feels like home and is sufficient for long term stay?

I heard an estimate there are 3M climate refugees within the U.S. alone. That figure is going up. In 2017 there was no single month without fatalities by hurricanes.

I guess I'm trying to find a solution that is utmost functional, without status or social bias. Looking like more box truck than RV, but still offering all you need and maybe offering better security with active and passive solutions.



Here in the US we rv for fun, work and to live. We want to park in a nice mowed lot and enjoy the view, could be the ocean could be mountains and everything in between. we also like to free camp, in the middle of no where desert or mountain. I want the generator running, keeping the ac cooling, the sat. tv working, Grilling a steak on the BBQ drinking a beer or something on the rocks. We have great roads, we travel to see how beautiful our country is. it is nothing to go 2000 miles and never leave an interstate Hwy except for fuel and food. Europe not so much i am guessing. We worry about 2.85 a gal Diesel, $30 to $100 over night parking in a rv park. I payed 700. for 30 days in Florida this past January, Home was 30 deg and Florida was 75 deg. When we are going somewhere we stop at rest stops, Walmarts, Lowes, etc. I pull a Jeep behind to go place when we park. Others pull any thing they want behind there rv. I want it nice, neat, easy to work on, and systems that make living on the road easier. When we know a hurricane is coming we load up our rv and get out of the way, New Orleans and FEMA got basic trailers by the thousands for people to live in cause there home flooded. California..... well that a different store, they are crazy. Everyone is different, think different and act different, your only going to appeal to a certain group of people the rest have a better Idea. I am interested in what your doing and would like to see what you end up with.
Sam
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Old 03-07-2019, 10:14 PM   #8
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Note taking time.... school is in session. Box truck to RV school that is. When you speak of ventilation, are you talking about between the insulation and the outer skin of the box? This is where I'm really pondering things on my conversion. I'm thinking of leaving a 1/2 inch space between my floor of the truck (wood laminated) and my closed cell insulation. So the floor joists (2X6) will be attached to the trucks floor, and I was planning on notching a hole at the ends of each joist and alternating the holes, then having a fan that can be snapped on, or run on a timer. So in the event that moisture gathers on that wood floor, I can circulate air through and get things dry, or keep it dry. The ceiling will be the same. 2X6 framed just below my aluminum roof, with closed cell insulation, and a fan to move air over the top of the closed cell, and prevent condensation. Walls will have a space between the closed cell and the outer skin of the box, but no forced air ventilation at that point. I also plan to coat the original wood floor of the truck with fiberglass resin to help prevent moisture damage to the floor decking. Am I on the right path in my thinking?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Proteus View Post
I do agree with most you point out.

Indeed, to avoid moisture inside the box, you have to have a permanent ventilation, the bigger the better, and get used to those cold air flows getting in.

This permanent ventilation may not be closed, it always has to remain open, even when cold outside.

A lower and a higher ventilation is needed, and they should be put on opposite sides (i.e. the lower on the right wall, the higher on the roof or on the left wall) to be sure air flows easily inside the box.

Electricity can be kept to a minimum, do we have to have an A/C installation or a 180 litres compression fridge/freezer? Led lights are sufficient to light the entire inside of the RV, it uses only a 1/10 of bulb lights.

I do not agree with what follows:

- windows : look at the picture, my truck near the sea, windows let you see what happens outside and you may enjoy the view.

- shower : a 7 litres (2 gallons) water pump is more than enough to get a comfy shower. Using a thermostatic tap makes you economize a lot of water. The water heater (instant gas, electric, whatever) has to be near the taps, and not a 15 feet away, as I already have seen it. It means either that the kitchen sink has to be near the bathroom.

- windmills and tesla batteries are extremely expensive to some, solar panels get cheaper with the years.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:00 AM   #9
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When you speak of ventilation, are you talking about between the insulation and the outer skin of the box?

Can You explain this with a pic?
and I was planning on notching a hole at the ends of each joist and alternating the holes, then having a fan that can be snapped on, or run on a timer.
This is not a good idea:
to coat the original wood floor of the truck with fiberglass resin to help prevent moisture damage to the floor decking. Am I on the right path in my thinking?
In structures, water flows down, but also from warm to cool, thick to thin. Plywood is problematic because it is layered thin-thick-thin-thick, thick glue between layers of wood. When creating a temperature difference of at least 2°C the water starts to flow towards the cold. Steam pressure is higher in warm than cold. In case of barriers, it will be stuck and stay for prolonged periods - to reach temperature or pressure difference to flow again. For this reason, flooded houses are tough to dry. Standing moist feeds all kinds of fungi and other micro-organisms and they tend to cause problems. Not to mention the freeze-thaw cycle in a colder climate. Water expands when it freezes causing moist structures to break.

For example, freight containers or vans have this problem - the density is reversed, the thick side is outermost layer and water has nowhere to go. Therefore it condensates and drips down. The worst possible mistake is to use mineral- or other kinds of wool insulation inside. I see this a lot.

Spray Foam PU attaches seamlessly to metal surface leaving no space for water. It also mutes the temperature difference from the surface, so the moist (steam) stays in the air and then that needs to be vented out.
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Old 03-08-2019, 05:04 AM   #10
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This vehicle rolled in today, notice deformed plywood. The owner used what he happened to have, last summer. The car spent winter outside and now looks like this.

Plywood is right type at the floor, but wrong at the walls. It is too thin, only three layers and it has sucked a lot of water. Deforming stays even the sheets dry up.


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