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loejay

camper converted to ice house

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i just got a older pull type camper

anyone have any input on doing the conversion?

thanks

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loejay, I've been trying to find an older one for the same use. Combination duck hunting/fishouse. Just curious where you picked it up at?

Had a friend convert one many years ago but he used boxes/sleeves in the holes. He didn't have the frame go up and down.

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As far as the wheels go I have seen several methods, and the most effective seems to be:

1) Reinforce the corners of the camper and mount a sidewind bulldog jack on each corner.

2) Rework the axel mounts so the axel can be attached and removed with 5/8" reciever hitch pins.

Then you can lower the house right to the ice elminate the long hole sleeves need when the axels are left on the trailer.

That is all I really have for you.

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I Have a 17' camper ice house. They are great, First thing is that you want to insulate the floor, I did it by laying 1" blue styrofoam right on the existing floor, no need to tear anything out. I did take out some cabinates an a closet an the existing furnance. On top of the styrofoam I put half inch plywood an water sealed it. I found some cheap low pyle carpet an intalled that. Old campers are not insullated very well so doing the floor is a must. Some people convert the axel so the camper sits on the ice which works great but I decided to look under the frame an see where I can pop holes.I bought ten" pvc pipe, treaced out the holes, I drilled a big enough hole to slip in a long sturdy sawzall blade an cut out the hole. I took some old carpeting an cut sqaures larger than the hole stapled them down over the hole an cut a X in the middle, then measured pvc pipe so it sticks about 2" above the floor to the ground or ice.You might cwant to cut them longer if you think you'll be sitting on top of snow. Now the carpet forms a weather seal around the pvc pipe keeping out wind. I have not lost a fish yet in the dead air from ice to floor I just reach down an grab them or I use the fish elevator. Rattle reels work great in campers. The furnace should be replaced with a vented wall mount heater if you can afford one if not vent free works but please keep freash air moving at all times. Those old furnaces can have their piolet light blown out. Boar

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We just did this last fall, and used it on Mille Lacs this year. We learned TONS! A group of 3 of us did it as a low cost experiement to learn what to do and not to do, not just when building one, but using one.

The end result is more than serviceable, and with a few more improvements for next year, I could see keeping it a long time - until I can afford a cadillac. smile.gif If you get a good deal on the camper, the major part of the investment will be insulating and heating it, since they are not well insulated and the old furnaces tend to blow out easy in the cold.

First, let I'll reinforce points already made:

love to hunt said:

Quote:

1) Reinforce the corners of the camper and mount a sidewind bulldog jack on each corner.

2) Rework the axel mounts so the axel can be attached and removed with 5/8" reciever hitch pins.


We did #2, without #1. It takes about 15 minutes to drop to down with plywood, jackstands, and floor jacks. This is a servicable drop down on the cheap. You have to block it with 6x6's because of the leaf spring mounts. Because this was our "low cost" experiment, 4 jacks for the corners would have been a luxury, but would have been nice, too, rather than bring half my garage with me when it was time to move it.

Most leaf spring mounts have one fixed mount, and one adjustable mount on the frame. When re-assumbling, pin the fixed mount first, then use a convincer (hand maul) to tap the adjustable mounts into place to line up the other leaf hole and pin it. We also would take off each wheel so we didn't have to jack it up so high to get the axle out.

Finally - do NOT try to pry the frame back off the ice with the trailer tongue jack or any part of the tongue! Take the time to chip everything else out, camper trailer tongues are not built for that amount of stress. Don't ask me how we know. shocked.gif

boar had lots of good advice:

Quote:

First thing is that you want to insulate the floor


Don't skip this step! This is the difference between unpleasant and downright homelike! Think about it: No floor insulation, now cut holes in the floor, leave them open on ice all night, and now get up to go land a fish!

I would add this - the wall and ceiling insulation is just as bad in old campers. We gutted the whole thing, so we put 1.5" insulation in all the walls and celing, too.

Quote:

I did take out some cabinates an a closet an the existing furnance.


We gutted ours and rebuilt the inside entirely. Most campers waste a lot of floor and airspace which is better spent on fishing holes and functional wall storage. Also, they have lots of mold and mildew. Ours smells like a new fishhouse now and we don't get sick standing in it. smile.gif

Quote:

Rattle reels work great in campers.


YES. Allow money in the budget for a rattle reel for each hole! I love that sound... Go with the ones that swing out of the way to clear the auger, or mount them on or near the ceiling.

We also mounted Rod Rockers for jig rods over the holes, too.

Quote:

The furnace should be replaced with a vented wall mount heater if you can afford one if not vent free works but please keep freash air moving at all times. Those old furnaces can have their piolet light blown out.


We agree with boar. The old HydroFlame furnace we had, while a venerable unit, is persnickety. Over the winter, I became one with the furnace, and I think like the furnace now, so I'm OK with it. It is a 9000 BTU barrel-style external feed and vent (remember, we put 1.5" pink foam in all the walls and celings, too, so 9000 BTU works OK).

It is hard to light the pilot because of wind blowing in or out the pilot hole, depending on wind direction. We built a big goofy wind baffle outside to help get the pilot lit so the pilot hole can be shut. We use a propane torch to lite it, anything else gets blown out. It takes a while to heat things up inside, so I boosted warmup with the buddy heater then shut it off and let the furnace maintain. It's never gone out on me in 4 or 5 weekends, strong wind, -20 below, etc. That said, while I could survive with what we have, we want a new furnace.

I could maintain a 70 degree temp differential compared to the outside with the 9000 BTU barrel furnace and 1.5" insulation all around. When -20 outside, it was 55 inside. If it was above 20 degrees, the thermostat would cycle the furnace. Otherwise, it was on all the time, need more BTUs.

We also used computer fans above the holes to keep them open in exterme cold, worked slick.

-----Now, some more info-----

We rewired a little bit. Once you rip some guts out, you see wiring opportunities. We ran a new 12v DC circuit for hole lights and computer fans and automobile cig lighter power outlets and stereo. We also extended the 110v AC circuit to have more outlets.

We custom built our bunks. We made cusions out of 3 layers of carpet padding and used more flexible indoor/outdoor carpeting on top, with an air-powered staple gun. With a sleeping bag, works great.

The horizontal, multi-shutter style windows in older campers are great for ventilation, like after re-drilling your holes, But they are drafty single pane heat robbers. We took Reflectix silver bubble-wrap insulator and cut pieces for each window and the roof pop-top vent and velcro mounted them to the windows custom-fit like. BIG difference, and inexpensive. In the daytime with solar rays we don't need them, we put them up at night.

The doors are not usually insulated. Check it out. If not, poke a hole every 8 inches in a grid and fill the door with Great Stuff! Just be careful not to fill it into the doorknob assembly.

While the poor-mans drop down system (pull-pins on the axle) worked, we're tentatively planning to reinforce the frame in the offseason and add a home-fab crank down system. With the poor mans version, it can create a lot of work later if you don't pick up and move a few times per season, cause the ice buildup from banking and ice sag flooding will slowly lock you in, and build the ice level up around the frame and blocking. When you have to jack up a whole house and re-assemble the running gear, that can be a major pain in the butt.

For that reason, even if you are gung-ho enuff to do the poor mans drop down, engineer a way to fish through tubes from the elevated assembled camper for when you don't want to drop down. The Fish Elevator, or a Big Dipper ice scoop (what I use) will help you land the bigger fish if you're worried about losing them. I never lost one either, like boar.

Finally, old remodeled campers are perfect skid houses, if you have access to a big trailer and and winch setup (or truck with logging chains?) Most car hauler trailers are 7 foot wide, as are most older campers. There's some true monster skid-house campers on Mille Lacs.

OK, that's all I can do for now! We should write a book or wiki on doing conversions...

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Thanks for the input federline and boar

this one is a 50's model teardrop fender wells

it has a 3 layer floor in it. top is 5/8 plywood middle is what i call buffalo board then 5/8 plywood.i have installed a 24000 btu forced air furnace i don't think heat will be a problem. for this yr we are using tubes to the ice. being as so old the walls are in sad shape. just screwed 1/2 plywood over them for a quick fix.used it on friday and think it will be a handy unit.

thanks again for the info

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