Author Topic: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?  (Read 14432 times)

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Offline soomb

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would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« on: February 01, 2010, 06:39:01 AM »
Hello all here is the back story and the question:

I have just purchased a very small parcel up in the AZ mountains.  The parcel has water and power to it, but has not had a septic system placed.  Part of the deal was a 34' Coachman trailer/RV from the late 80's-early 90's is my guess (a mess inside, so have not found the manual that I was told is "in there somewhere").  It is in OK shape, but the snow has pointed out a few leaks, so I started thinking about what I want up there until we decide if we are building a "house".  My thoughts are to build a small 1+ room place taking clues from the posters I have read religiously:
http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=641.msg99524#msg99524
and a link from another site (if I can post that here) about building a small shed http://www.seans.com/Photos/Shed2003.htm

So, my question is: What do you think?  Can you build a "shed" and then cannibalize the trailer for all the parts and fixtures?
I look forward to any and all insight.

PS- a tip of the cap to the other posts I read and learn from , but are for the next project up there.
http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=5690.0
http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=5386.0
http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=3419.0
http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=7077.0
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2010, 07:44:53 AM »
Sure you can. If fact our project was begun with the same thought. However, as time passed in our lengthy planning stage we decided against the small first idea and went right into the "let's build a proper cabin" phase.


Is the trailer too far gone, messy, and what not to consider using it for a year or two as you think about what you want to do. Most minor RV roof leaks can be repaired with a gallon or two of roof sealer. I use the white RV roof coat around all seams and joints. There is also a sealing tape that is made for the job. I've used both.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline river place

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2010, 08:19:02 AM »
We have a 32ft trailer on our 7 acres in Arkansas that we're using right now.  We're also in the process of building guest quarters in our barn that was built last year.  I also thought about RV fixtures in my barn quest quarters build however with every big box building supply company having sections setup with clearnace items we've been able to buy real house fixtures/materials much cheaper than expected plus the items are rated for home use.  While items rated for home use may not be a big deal now you never know if you want to sell in the future.

I keep a list of items I'll need on my phone and when in the stores I check to see if any of the items have a big discount.  If so, I buy them and store at our house in TX then haul them up next time.

Offline soomb

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 08:25:15 AM »
Don,
The trailer is not too far gone.  It looked like a mess but, after 6 contractor bags full of junk, and a sweep, vacuum, Formula 409 and Windex, it is coming right along, and I think should be usable for a few more years.  I have identified what I think are all of the leaks and two are the external wall windows where the caulk/seal has decayed over time, the other is at a pop-up roof vent and I think once the snow is off the roof and temps are better they can all be fixed with spring maintenance.  Do you use the RV sealer on the roof only or do you use it on your vertical surfaces as well?  Do you haul out your gray/black water?
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 09:28:17 AM »
We plan on using the stove and fridge out of a camper that came with our land.  It's a 1978 Camper and is in pretty good shape.  The stove is pretty decent actually -- works better then the brand new one in our tent trailer -- and the Fridge is pretty big for a camper.

We plan to install them much like they are now.


We're heating up water here to wash dishes (since it's winter and the Tent Trailers system would freeze up if we tried using it).


Compared to our Fridge in the Tent trailer this one is pretty big :)  We don't expect to need a full sized fridge since we don't expect to live in the cabin :)  But if we needed something bigger we might look into a 12v highly efficient unit.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 09:55:29 AM »
soomb, first of all, our RV has an aluminum roof, not a rubber epdm. Of you have epdm just make sure the paint on sealant is compatible.  I used the white liquid rubber on the roof seams and joints; A/C, ventilators, vent pipe penetrations, etc. Everyplace that has a penetration be it a pipe, a screw or anything, including the roof to wall joint. I initially gave two coats on all and renew every summer just to be sure.

I also used Eternabond Tape http://www.eternabond.com/RV-Leak-Repair-Products-s/22.htm  on some joints. It sticks to anything except silicone. I used a strip of it across the top of some of the window frame to wall joints as there were some persistent leaks. The right way to do that repair is to remove the window and use a new bead of flexible "putty", but for our quick and dirty needs on the old '83 Chevy class C the Eternabond was good enough.  ;D  I also taped several of the iffy looking exterior wall corner joints with the Eternabond. I have the white tape and spray painted a close match to the exterior.

We routed the gray water to a hole in the ground. I placed a 10 gallon barrel with perforations in the bottom in the hole.

I wondered about what to do with the black. You can get those portable tanks on wheels but I thought they'd be too heavy to drag around on dirt and gravel. In the end I removed the RV toilet, made a cover for the drain hole and capped off the water pipe. Then bought a couple Porta Pottis from Walmart. We use that in the RV bathroom. When it gets just about full we would swap out the bottom for the other. We used a forest service vault toilet on the highway on the route home to empty it.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 10:00:45 AM »
I also made some plywood, OSB and 2x4 scrap covers to place over the roof top vents. (the opening window things) That was to keep the snow from weighing down on the plastic vent cover.


Because we never know how much snow there will be up there in the mountains I made some roof bracing. I ran a 2x4 front to back near the center of the interior ceiling. I cut three old 4x4 posts to act as supports. Their upper end fits against the 2x4 on the ceiling and the lower end on a square of plywood. Our RV roof has a slope to it so I use that to my advantage to knock the 4x4's into place.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2010, 10:01:36 AM »
For grey water I plan to use this:

http://thenaturalhome.com/greywater.html

We won't have black water since we will use one of these:

http://www.sun-mar.com/prod_flush_cent2_acdc.html

Though we're starting to think a smaller one without the external tank might be all we need.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2010, 10:18:38 AM »
One thing to remember when thinking "compost toilet" is that the composting action stops at 50-55 degrees F. We have the stand alone AC/DC model. For our high elevation location it was not the best choice.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2010, 10:29:17 AM »
One thing to remember when thinking "compost toilet" is that the composting action stops at 50-55 degrees F. We have the stand alone AC/DC model. For our high elevation location it was not the best choice.

I'm planning the AC/DC model as well as a backup privy for the coldest weather.

But let me ask this Don:  I'm told that when it freezes that's fine (some units need a valve removed first) because once it thaws it goes back to composting -- so, during the winter it becomes a holding tank as long as use isn't too high or you heat the tank.

But, if you install inside the cabin then when you're there it should thaw and compost and when you're gone freeze -- is this not the case?  Or is it just too cold too long and fills up too fast?

Like I said though, I plan a back up privy so when it's cold out we can go that route instead -- I'm also thinking of using the propane heater from the camper to warm the privy if I can rig it up right.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2010, 10:58:18 AM »
Our location, our experience has been less than 100% satisfactory. That's all I wish to point out. I know our location, etc may not be typical. I have to admit that somehow I did not check into composting enough to get all the facts before the purchase.

Yes, I'm told that when the compost mix warms up the action will start up again. That can also be assisted with the addition of special pro-compost substances.

If our cabin was heated all year round there would be no problem. If our weather was warmer we would have little or no problem. There are six months of the year, October through March when without a constant source of heat the composting stops stone cold dead. No maybe about it.

Our warm months are not enough to maintain a composting action sufficiently vigorous to digest the material deposited during the other cooler and cold parts of the year. Again, this is our location.

I've thought of supplementing the heat by building a solar air heat collector system. That might help keep the temperatures up high enough to allow the composting to continue.  ???  I have not yet decided on that. 

You should ask the folks at thenaturalhome. Bruce seems like a reasonable guy. I just never thought to ask about cold weather before the purchase. Side note: That's where we bought ours; also our Servel refrigerator and some odds n ends.



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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2010, 11:24:27 AM »
Thanks for the reply Don,

I read on Sunmar's website that a user in Alaska solved the same issue by installing an RV heater in the bathroom to keep the temp running at 55 degrees in the winter however I don't much like that idea of keeping a heater running when we're not there -- besides I can imagine the propane use would be pretty high.

We can easily miss a month or two so that would mean running the heat for as much as two months with no one there -- I'd be worried about fire!

Now, installing it in the cabin as a self contained unit with the AC/DC heater option might work but I find it hard to believe that at 10 degrees outside the cabin and small heater would be enough to keep it warm enough to compost.

Having said that our temps aren't as bad as yours and I'm thinking that April through October the cabin will remain warm enough (or easily warm up when we're there) to work but in October through March it's going to be too cold 90% of the time -- specially at night.

Offline NM_Shooter

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2010, 12:27:10 PM »
So... RV appliances are not code-approved for use in a cabin.  Keep that in mind. 

I am currently using a 25kbtu forced air RV furnace for my cabin er... I mean "shed".  I also have an RV water heater that I am going to employ, and will be using an RV water pump as well.  I found an RV stove assy for use in my kitchen as well.

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=4782.msg97665#msg97665

So... the answer is "no"  never use RV appliances for your cabin.  Only use them in your shed  ;D
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Offline John Raabe

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2010, 12:36:07 PM »
If you take the wheels off an RV it would be almost like a shed, wouldn't it?
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Offline OlJarhead

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2010, 01:27:07 PM »
If you take the wheels off an RV it would be almost like a shed, wouldn't it?

Ha!  I like that -- I wonder if I put the RV wheels on my 'shed' if it would qualify as an RV?  *snicker*

Offline soomb

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2010, 05:37:39 AM »
 
Did you buy a commercial gray water tank, or just make one based on research?  I think that is what I am leaning toward.  I will have to make sure food products do not go down the drain.

I made our own with surplus/used plastic barrels. I have a piece of window screen to catch particles across the top of the barrel, under the lid. It's easy to remove the lid and clean or change out the screen.

We do not have a lot of water going down the drains as we haul it in ourselves. The amount of water going through the gray water system would be greater for those using their own well. That factor will affect the size and complexity of the gray water system. We're also blessed with our location; sitting on top of a pumice field that drains very well.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 06:41:41 AM by MountainDon »
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Offline soomb

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2010, 05:44:19 AM »
So... RV appliances are not code-approved for use in a cabin.  Keep that in mind. 

I am currently using a 25kbtu forced air RV furnace for my cabin er... I mean "shed".  I also have an RV water heater that I am going to employ, and will be using an RV water pump as well.  I found an RV stove assy for use in my kitchen as well.

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=4782.msg97665#msg97665

So... the answer is "no"  never use RV appliances for your cabin.  Only use them in your shed  ;D
NM Shooter,  Thanks.  I am a big fan of the bolt together cabin up near you. 
I like how you have used the RV parts in your "shed", I think when I build my "shed" to house an ATV... and a bed, and me, the wife, the kid (soon to be kids), stove,... well you get the picture.  The RV will still be on the site so I will be able to visit my shed, until the magic elves suddenly make all the appliances, heater, and so on magically move to the shed.

Craig
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Offline NM_Shooter

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2010, 02:51:36 PM »
That bolt together cabin is owned by my favorite neighbor.  They decorated the inside with all the 1960's-ish stuff they could find.  Just cooking in there heats it up really well!
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Offline soomb

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2010, 03:41:54 PM »
do they post on here?  would love to see and read more on it.
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Offline waggin

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2010, 07:06:34 AM »
If you take the wheels off an RV it would be almost like a shed, wouldn't it?

Ha!  I like that -- I wonder if I put the RV wheels on my 'shed' if it would qualify as an RV?  *snicker*

You may be joking, but I'm seriously considering this idea.  That way it can be "parked" in a location normally not allowed due to setbacks.  Mine's going to be on skids anyway, so why not make provisions for mounting wheels?  2010 Hardtail Special Woody Edition!
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Offline Freeholdfarm

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2010, 10:25:21 AM »
When I mentioned on another forum (some time back) that I was considering using RV appliances for a small cabin, I was discouraged from doing that -- posters said that generally, RV appliances aren't meant for full-time use, and won't hold up very long if used that way (since RV's are designed for vacation use a few times a year).  Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Kathleen

Offline MountainDon

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2010, 10:39:00 AM »
I say that is nonsense. We have an '83 Class C RV (orig owners) . It has seen a lot of use. That includes a lot of hard use bouncing around on back roads where the average RV never treads. The range has never had a problem. The propane fridge has had minor repairs and will still freeze food in the fresh food part if we're not careful. The furnace had the motor replaced 2 years ago and that was used a lot as well. The water heater was replaced after 22 years, about the same as a home hot water tank. Better then some.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2010, 10:49:56 AM »
haha the 1978 stove in the camper we have is actually BETTER then the 2 year old stove in our trailer -- which was designed to be 'heavy duty' (the trailer that is).

I will make this comment though:  Our tent trailer -- which is an offroad jobby -- is NOT heavy duty.  Sure the frame and suspension are but everything else after two years of heavy use (maybe 3 years now) is falling apart.  I need to take it in to have so much done to it that I should just sell it -- but the frame and suspension are worth it -- 6" box steel frame with off road suspension and 15" wheels.

Items to repair:
- speakers falling out of walls
- screws coming loose everywhere
- sink drain broke completely off (yes we had a flood on last trip)
- rail for outside BBQ is starting to come off
- tent curtains falling off
- tents keep coming out of roof
- awning poles bent (storm damage -- very bad storm)
- seats not fitting snugly in place when table is up

However, I should ad that we really like the trailer but looking at the 32 year old camper we have and I have to say that the 32 year old camper is holding up extremely well -- better in fact.

So, if it were me, I'd not hesitate to use the older stoves and fridges but I am not sure new stuff that's made in China is worth it.

Offline Freeholdfarm

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2010, 02:37:23 PM »
Thanks for the info, you guys.  If the RV appliances really will hold up, that opens up some other avenues.

Kathleen

Offline kenhill

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Re: would you/ could you use RV parts & fixtures for a cabin?
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2010, 04:23:59 PM »
Propane camp stove ($50), 25 lb tank ($30), mantle lantern on post connected to tank ($30), and tankless water heater ($100)

 

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