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Old 03-22-2011, 07:56 PM
ZootFenster ZootFenster is offline
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Default Dry Run - 1 week off grid trailer camping



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Our bugout plan is a travel trailer on 200 acres in the Texas Hill country. Our friend finally got a road graveled to passable levels, so the family headed up for a week without grid power, water or sewer. The goal was to see what worked and what didn't. Problems were solved one at a time.

What worked:
Cooking: Solar oven: Oh yeah! 350F in the sun! Heats water, cooks an entire chicken, makes beans. One of the biggest surprises! A rock tower at the edge of the firepit made a nice rocket stove for grilling meat. The Coleman dual fuel campstove works great and runs off gasoline as well as Coleman liquid fuel. We brought propane tanks and grills, but never hooked them up.

Water: We hauled fresh water into the site with the trailer, 5 gal buckets and jerrycans. During the week, we refilled once in town. The monolithic water filters worked exceptionally well (it was clear water). The biggest water use was showers (more later). Still got by with 2-3 gal per person per day. We found a hand dug well onsite that has 12ft of water about 20 ft down. Next trip, we will add a large tank and filters. There is a creek about 1/2 mile away. My 12V pump setup did not work well. Need to redo the connections from 1/2" plastic tubing to water hoses.

Washing: Dishes are easy. Two tubs. The first cleans the grease, the second has a little Clorox added to purify the rinse water. We used a lot of paper goods because we had limited water for washing. More water = less trash.

Showers: A good hot shower in the evening is the key to staying cool. The solar shower bags suck! That little hose is kinked and puts out too little flow. It doesn't reach between the legs. And the water may be luke warm, but the breeze whipping around the tarp is dang cold. After two days, I fixed the trailer propane hot water tank. Showers were the main water user! Even when the kids didn't take one. Got to develop a good water supply!

Power: I had added two 6V T-105 batteries to the trailer and a smart charger. We ran the generator in the morning because the boss still wanted to use an electric coffee pot. Other than that, there was little electrical draw. Never ran out of battery juice, but the inverter only ran the trailer lights, not the 120V auxiliary outlets. So there was no way to plug anything else into the battery circuit. Used 3 gal gasoline for the week in the 2800W gennie. The little Harbor Freight hand pump was great for transfering fuel.

Refrigeration: The propane powered fridge worked fine, BUT it needs a 12V power source for the safety system. Lose battery power and the fridge shuts down. So we left the trailer on the site, but could not leave the fridge on.

Sewer: We cleaned the existing outhouse used by deer hunters and found it preferable to the trailer toilet. What grey and black water we produced went into a dug pit that was covered when we left. Can't be any worse than 50 500 lb cows pooping every day.

Other: Weedeaters are worthless on Texas brush. We spent many hours cutting cedars with loppers and chainsaw. Fiskar loppers are outstanding! A 4 wheel gator is a must for getting around 200 acres. We borrowed one from the site hunter.

We left the trailer onsite. Everyone decided that this was better than state park camping. Next step is to see if the landowner will let us set up a trailer semi-permanently onsite. Then we could install an awning, small solar system and water tank. Great week and a good start on a backup living location.
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Old 03-22-2011, 08:49 PM
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Rotax Rotax is offline
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For your showers, do the "Navy Shower"....rinse your body, turn off the water, soap up, rinse off. Save tons of water. I travel in my 40ft Motorhome for my work. Most of the time I never stay at a campground. I can go 2 weeks and still have water left over in my 100 gal tank taking a shower every day and using the the toilet.

For your power add 2-4 more 6v batteries. That will add more longevity to your power, plus up your power, also use 2-3 solar panels for the charging. This will save your fuel. Upgrade your converter and you can run 120 volt. I run a satellite receiver and TV off my batteries thru the converter. The only item in my Coach that I do not run off of battery power is my microwave, it will run, but just not quite enough for full power.

Propane use for your fridge, you can run a long time off a tank. I have 38 gal on my coach, in the summer I only need to fill up once. In the winter running the furnace that is a whole other story. You might want to get you one or two blue flame type heaters. These just burn propane and do not use power.
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Old 03-22-2011, 09:02 PM
Eugene Eugene is online now
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If you can set up something semi perm, build a roof over the trailer. rv's are built as cheap as possible and you need to reseal roof seams often or build a better roof over it. a few poles and a simple frame then some of the metal roofing that can be used for water collection and then a water barrel to collect in.
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Old 03-22-2011, 09:39 PM
jmac00 jmac00 is offline
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my cabin is completely off grid. But we have a little advantage in that I have 400' of lake frontage.

We have a couple means of power. First I have two 6v (220Ah)deep cycle Golf cart batteries in series for 12v. connected to a 1500watt inverter. The 12v water pump and macerator run directly off the batteries.

To Charge the batteries I have 75watts of solar panels. A Listor 4000watt diesel Generator (runs for 4 hours on a half gallon of fuel) with a Onan 4000watt gasoline generator as a back up and for use in the winter. The generators not only help charge the batteries but they heat the 40gallon Hot water tank. The cabin is set up so I can switch between 12v and 120volts anytime I want. The Refrigerator is a 1955<or so> Servel propane fired and the stove is propane. I can run 3 weeks straight on two 20lbs propane tanks, 6 weeks if I turn them off at night.

If necessary I can drink the lake water, but for now we import potable water. We have 15 gallons on stand-by (not in the winter) we have a full working bathroom.

The place is heated with a Thermo-Control wood fired stove. The place is insulated to the max. I have 30 acres of hard wood and my property is surrounded by a 12,000 acre conservancy (I will NEVER have to worry about neighbors )

The only down side is the only way to get to the cabin is by boat or snowmobile (or ATV) so there is a month or two in the fall and spring when ice is an issue

We only run lights and a radio. All the lights are the latest in Compact florescent or LED. I have 16 lights in the cabin with a total wattage of 202 watts. I can run the lights 24/7 and not drain the batteries completely.
Old 03-23-2011, 10:17 AM
jeeperNY jeeperNY is offline
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Great write-ups. For camping we take a small 12-volt Engel fridge hooked up to my Jeep's dual batteries, deep cycle Odyssey batteries. Before leaving I power the fridge on 120-volt house mains to get it ice cold, and then have never had a battery deplete its energy completely for maintaining the fridge's cool temp (and insulating cover also used and keep out of the sun in hot climate). While camping, if you're taking the vehicle 4x4 wheeling, then the batteries will stay charged for as long as you have gas.

Agree, a cool shower makes a difference, but a cool beer is .............
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