Tag Archives: insulation

How to Make a Portable Trailer Skirt

portable trailer skirt

Over the past year, I have improved upon my trailer skirting. I knew I wanted it to be inexpensive, easy-on, easy-off, and compact enough to be easily portable. I think I have finally hit on a working combination. Here is how I made my current Portable Trailer Skirt.

insulation
minimal foam board skirting

When we got the Minnie, we started off with foam board and heat lamps. This necessitated being hooked up to electricity to run the heat lamps. My new skirt keeps the salt-water charged waste tanks thawed down to zero. Then it’s time for some supplemental heat down there. Or preferably a move to warmer temps.

trailer skirt supplies

Materials for the Portable Trailer Skirt:

Putting it together:

cutting tarp in snow

1. Cutting the tarp down to size.

My trailer measures 8’ x 26’ plus the tongue, which holds the house battery and 2 propane tanks. I figured I might want the tarps to wrap around those as well, so I estimated a
length of 80 feet, just to have some wiggle room. I cut the tarp into 5 strips measuring 3’ x 20’. To do this, I had to open it up outside. There was snow on the ground at the
time, so the tarp stayed fairly clean. I had my son stand on it to help hold it down and help fold up each piece as we went. We also used rocks to help hold the tarp down as I
cut.

tarp on sewing machine

2. Sewing on the bubble wrap.

The bubble wrap was only 12” wide, so I had to sew 3 tiers onto each strip of tarp. This was the most tedious part of the project. I was also concerned that it would be hard on
my sewing machine, but it did fine. I had to clean the tarp dust out frequently and had to be careful not to catch the presser foot on the bubble wrap, but otherwise, it was
straight seams and easing the bulk through the machine.

3. Black paint.
After sewing on all the bubble wrap, the next step was to paint the outside of the skirting black. This is to absorb more sun and help retain the heat around the trailer. It is very
windy where we usually are, so I had to wait for a still day to get the paint to stick to the tarps instead of floating away.

 applying reflectix trailer skirt

We first tried attaching the tarp with velcro, but the wind made short work of that. We also found the addition of Reflectix insulation to be a major factor in keeping the temps under the trailer more stable. First, we stand the Reflectix around the perimeter of the trailer. Over that goes the portable trailer skirt.

back of trailer skirt

I looked at what other people were doing with trailer skirts and liked the idea of attaching it with turn buttons. Amazon had them listed so I ordered 2 dozen and my son-in-law helped me to install them. I put the grommets on my tarp and attached it to the trailer turn buttons. It stayed on perfectly, but I now discovered that I needed to seal up the loose ends. This was a much better use of the velcro and keeps the wind from whipping the skirt up and blowing the Reflectix away.

Finally, around all this, we place our heavy tent weights, our extra sewer tank, and propane tank just for extra insurance in case the wind blows. If the temps dip below zero or stay below 30F for several days we still have to break out the heat lamps, but the skirting is doing its job and helping us stay warm and cozy.

And the best part about the Portable Trailer Skirt is that it comes off easy, rolls right up (both the skirt and the Reflectix), and stows away in the back of the truck or in the basement when it’s not needed.

 

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Winterizing the Traveling Homestead

winter homestead
the traveling homestead in winter
Temperatures are dropping in Colorado and winterizing is happening. So far, last year’s supplies are adequate, but since we will be spending most of the winter here this year, I want to do a much better job. Yet it still has to be easy enough to break down and pack up for midwinter trips.
Here is what we’ve done so far:
– hooked the propane up to the 100# tank, to avoid having to constantly refill the 25# tanks.
big propane tank
big boy propane tank
– Heat taped and insulated the water hose.
water line insulation
water line with heat tapes covered by sleeve
– Put reflective foam board skirting around the holding tanks.
– Put heat lamps under the holding tanks
insulation
minimal foam board skirting
– Salt water solution in the holding tanks
We have had to use a separate outlet for the heat tapes, engine block heater and heat lamps, because our breakers kept blowing. We also have a radiant space heater in addition to our central heater. We are sucking up a lot of electricity.
The convenience of the larger propane tank means that we only have to fill up about once a month, instead of weekly. 200 square feet heats with a lot less propane than 1000 square feet. The water hose has a black insulation sleeve that seems to be holding the heat from the heat tapes. Haven’t had the water freeze since we put that on.
The salt water solution seems to be at the right percentage, we are dumping the tanks twice a week with no problem yet. The lights and skirting are helping there. I am keeping a jug of the same percentage of salt water in the shade, so far it gets slushy, but not frozen solid. We expect to have plenty of 20+ below zero nights, however, so there are several upgrades I will be making to this system. I priced concrete blankets and they seemed pretty reasonable, but after studying how they were made, I decided I would try making a few myself. I also couldn’t find the style I wanted, so I can customize my homemade ones. The blankets only give an r (insulation) value of r3-5, so I will end up getting extra foam board either way. My concrete blankets will be made with plain blue tarps, to which I will sew 3 layers of bubble wrap – the same stuff they use in the commercially made ones! Then I will spray paint the outer tarp black to attract the sun’s rays. I will first fasten the tarps to the trailer with sticky Velcro, so it is easily removable without putting screws and holes in my siding. If that doesn’t work, I will try something else. At least a foot of the tarp will lay on the ground, held down with whatever weights are handy. Inside the tarp, under the trailer, will go 2”x2’ foam, r value of r5 per inch, and inside that will go ½” reflective foam board, to concentrate the heat of the heat lamps to keeping the tanks and underbelly of the trailer from freezing. This will all come away and roll into the tarps when we need to move and at the end of the season. All can be easily stored in the trailer basement or the back of the truck.
After this major project, I will be installing window insulation kits on all the windows and the screen door. With bubble wrap in between. The bubble wrap is really supposed to help, so I’m going to try it. Finally, I have 3 vents to make removeable foam covers for and 1 skylight. 2 in the bathroom, the stove vent and my “bedroom”.
We should have a warm, cozy winter with all this, and hopefully save some on the electricity and propane, too.
I will be posting more on each project as I complete it, as well as videos on my youtube channel. Stay tuned.
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