The days of old copper piping for our Airstream Argosy had come to an end when we decided to renovate her. But even more dire to our plumbing renovation, was discovering the intake for the a Water Hook up, ran next to our 30 amp electrical box. What were those 70’s Airstream Argosy builders thinking?
Researching our plumbing project we found a few surprising details. No need for copper, Pex Piping was installed in most new RV’s and much easier to install, AND there was something called the “Shark Bite” that meant I wasn’t going to have to take a plumbing course to learn plumbing.
Our first step was to map out what faucets we were going to be using, and how the fresh water tank was going to be utilized when boondocking. We new we had 3 main faucets. Kitchen, Shower, and Bathroom Sink. We opted out for hot water in the bathroom sink, and we really wanted a outdoor shower along with our Center Bath Shower. We drew up our plans with anticipation and excitement. The one component we had NOT decided on was our Hot Water Heater.
We saw a video on using the Excel Tankless On-Demand Gas Water Heater VENTFREE – Propane (LPG) – Low Water Pressure Startup. Low Water Pressure Startup. Starts up with only 2 psi. of water pressure. Holds up to 150 psi. All other tankless gas water heaters require at least 20 psi to start up due to their outdated technology.
This sold us right away. The best part is that is runs on 2 D Batteries and that will save our Deep Cycle Batteries.
The next step was to buy 2 rolls of 50 ft Pex 1/2 pipe. One Blue (cold water) and one Red (hot water). Then buy the appropriate Shark Bite fittings including a Check Valve that you will see explained in our video below. A big expense however was the Crimp Tool Pex 1/2 and the SharkBite PEX Pipe Crimp Ring 1/2 Inch, Plumbing Fittings.
TIP: DO NOT secure the crimps until you are done mapping your Pex. Things change, design changes, and you don’t want to waste time taking apart the crimps.
Our design includes a outdoor shower utilizing the old battery box and re-using the old Argosy shower fixture. We also wanted real copper piping in our Center Bath. The GOOD NEWS, Shark Bite makes connectors for copper piping. NO sweating copper.
All in all, we are very happy with our design and using Pex as our piping choice. Time will tell how well the Shark Bite connectors hold up.
We will do a full review of the Excel on Demand Water Heater when it’s installed, so SUBSCRIBE to your YOUTUBE Channel and hit the “bell” so you can get all the updates on our Airstream Argosy Renovation.
We have to admit, we were a little nervous with the decision to put a wood burning stove in our Airstream Argosy. It’s not normally done in moving RV’s. After all, the goal was to make our Argosy as eco friendly as possible without the need for so much propane. We also are avid backpackers and always looking to “multi-use” gear, including RV gear. The other reason was in colder or wetter environments, propane heat tends to cause condensation in your RV and that is something we did NOT want. The dry heat of a wood burning stove eliminated that.
The first step was to see if was even allowed. We read a good article on RVLIFE.com and how many RV’ers have installed one. We then researched on RV Forums there was much debate on it. Seemed to be a thumbs down, but there was a lot of mention that a Pellet Stove would be better. We also looked at the National Fire Protection Association’s Standards for Wood Burning Stoves in a RV. We also looked at Ordinances and Regulations for Wood-Burning
We out weight the Pro’s and Con’s and determined that the Con’s weighed heavily on the safety part and the Pro’s seemed to be more on effective heat in small places.
With all the research we noticed a trend among the Marine Lifestyle and how they were using a wood burning stoves quite a bit. So if they were using it, why couldn’t we?
That is when the Cubic Mini Wood Burning Stove found us. It was made in Canada and they had two sizes. The Cub, and the Grizzly. The Grizzly only weighed 35 lbs and could heat 200-400 sq. ft. Since our Argosy is a little under 200 sq ft we thought this may just be what we are looking for. Plus, when we saw a video of someone installing it in their Airstream. But what really sold us was the fact if you remove the rail you have a cooking area of 6 1/2″ from the flue to the edge of the plate and 13″ side to side. We were sold. Now we have a piece of gear in our Argosy that in cold months we could boil water and have heat at the same time without ever turning on propane.
The true test of course was that; would it do what we needed it to and was it going to be functional and pass inspections of any kind. We did notice the one thing that could “burn” us, was the transportation of wood from State to State. But we found a solution to that also. It turns out that the Cubic Mini Stoves (made in Canada) are really Pellet Stoves according to the size and capacity of United States Standards. The Cubic Mini’s have a 3 inch Flu size which by all U.S standards are Pellet Stoves. In Canada of course, they are called “Wood Burning Stoves”.
Speaking of Flue size. (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) There is a single wall 3 inch pipe for wood burning stoves, and a 3 inch double wall. You need to go with the double wall. This will prevent creole from collecting in your pipe and it’s much safer. We went with the Durevent Double Wall Pipe. (1) 12 inch, (1) 24 inch, (2) Duravent Pellet Stove Vent Elbow 45 Degree Insulated 3 ” Dia. Double Wall All these pipes are made for pellet stoves. Again, Pellet stoves are named that in the U.S because of size. Canada does not do this. So in essence the Cubic Mini in the U.S is a a Pellet Stove and thus sanctioned by Fire Code Standards and are allowed in Mobile Homes.
Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ll answer all questions there.
Here is the Video of the Installation: Many questions answered on the video.
Other Items we used to complete installation:
Rutland 500°RTV High Heat Silicone (Black) 10.3 Oz Cartridge
DEKTITE PIPE FLASHING BOOT: #7 RED High Temp Silicone Flexible Pipe Flashing Dektite
Simpson Duravent Pellet Vent Wall Thimble Insulated 3 ” Double Wall Steel (I made my own)
Century Drill and Tool 05074 5-Inch Shark Hole Saw
Life isn’t always easy. In fact, in the book “A Road Less Traveled”, the first sentence is “Life is hard”. With the grind of going to work, traffic, world politics, social media, and everything in between, it’s a wonder that many of us don’t go insane on a daily basis. Maybe we are going insane, this of course leads to even further stressors, holding your emotions in check.
Both Ariane and I definitely have stressors (as most do) with daily life and getting to the place we both want to be in our lives. Of course, ours is a bit different. We want to challenge ourselves to do more with less. To live free instead of being enslaved by “the man”. We are both free spirits who never really liked conforming to what “the world” tells us we must do or how we must act. Probably why we love backpacking so much and the freedom it gives us.
The trick bag is to be nomadic while living in the realities of existence. Being nomadic doesn’t mean you live a life with zero responsibility. Sometimes it means hard work.
EASY VS HARD:
Maybe the misconception starts where the “Life is hard” statement. What do we really think is hard? We go to work, do a job, collect a paycheck with little to no reward. Heck, that’s easy. You are able to pay your bills, be in debt and have stuff. That’s easy! You have a freedom that entitles you to buy on a whim what you want when you want it. Of course, you then have the stress of paying off debt, keeping the job, (because you have debt) and maintaining the circle of your life. Work = Paycheck = Pay Bills = Work Again. We know how to do THAT all to well. What’s so hard about that? Everything in between that of course is how you define YOUR freedom. Are you free? Or are you enslaved to what and who you are suppose to be? The fact of the matter is: Going to work everyday at a job you don’t like just for the paycheck to pay your monthly bills in order to get a 2 week vacation twice a year doesn’t sound like freedom at ALL. Not too mention how much you put on a credit card that you now have to pay off with interest. As Americans, we do this everyday. We even joke about it. For generations we all learned that is is just how it is. It’s what we are told we need to do. Living each day to feel stuck or enslaved by a life that quite possibly is driving you crazy not only is it unhealthy, that my friends is the EASY. Conforming to the normal. Knowing you could be doing something else with your life and instead, having the pressure of work, bills, debts, not feeling fulfilled, feeling stuck, that is HARD.
IT’S THE HARD THAT FULFILLS YOU!
We see entrepreneurs do this all the time. They have finally had it with living for someone else’s model of what they should do and what makes them happy. Sometimes at great cost. Do all entrepreneurs make it? No, not all. But when they do, they never look back. If was easy, every single one of us would be a entrepreneur.
Hard is leaving everything you know to be normal. Everything that makes you feel comfortable. Facing the fear of the unknown and still making a DECISION to go for it. It’s Trusting the Trail when you can’t see what’s around the bend. That is what having a Nomadic Idea or living a nomadic lifestyle is all about. Does a Nomadic Lifestyle sound romantic? Sure it does? Is it hard? You bet it is. I like comparing a Entrepreneur Lifestyle to a Nomadic Lifestyle. They both have so much in common. More often than most, you have to think outside the box. You have to be flexible in your plan. Have to think of creative ways to increase your profits. But more importantly, you have to keep your debt low and your cost’s at a minimum.
Always remember a quote by T. Harv Eker;
“If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.”
Our Nomadic Idea isn’t easy, we have to “unlearn’ everything and realize that the only mistake we will ever make chasing our idea, is NOT making a decision to do it. And that’s almost worse than having the courage to dream it in the first place.
What is the best type of vehicle to live a nomadic life? If you pull a camper trailer, then your tow vehicle has to be strong enough to pull thousands of pounds. Maybe you don’t want to pull anything, and live in a custom van (huge right now) and not have to worry about where you “camp” for the night. Of course, we kind of wanted to do both.
We knew that our current Tow Vehicle for our Airstream Argosy (1998 Ford Expedition) was on it’s way to the auto graveyard to the sky. On it’s last leg. Was on it’s last hurrah. (You get the picture) We had gone on so many road trips with our Expedition and had so many adventures in it. But it was time to say goodbye which meant getting a Vehicle that could tow our 6,200 lbs Airstream and still go places where we wanted to go, even if that meant sometimes NOT pulling the Airstream. Which was one of the nice things about the Expedition.
From everything we heard and the people we spoke with, they recommended that if we could find a diesel truck, we should get one. We have had trucks before and both of us were fine with that idea. But the more we talked about it, and the fact that Less Junk>More Journey pulled their Airstream with a Diesel Van, the more we started leaning towards a van.
Pro’s and Con’s
The Pro’s of getting a Van was storage. It was also a way to keep our lifestyle on the road when we went to remote Trail Heads and or if we got stuck without the Airstream, we could possible have a decent roof over our head. With a few modifications, we could renovate a Van into a CamperVan and when we didn’t want to pull the Airstream, we could go anywhere.
The Con’ts of course was that Diesel Van’s were expensive and the older ones were hard to find with low mileage. We did NOT want to go into major debt with a car payment. Plus, we were unsure if we wanted another older year vehicle. Also, did we want another renovation project?
After searching and searching, we found a 1999 Ford e350 diesel Van with 140,000 miles on it. It was the 7.3 liter Ford engine that was one of the best engines ever built. The guy that was selling it had traveled across the Country and had already built a bed in the back. Unfortunately, he was asking too much money for what we wanted to spend for a older year tow vehicle.
Patience is a virtue.
After 4 months of searching and thinking he had sold the van. He contacted me with a much lower price. The fact we had searched so hard and found nothing that even came close to a low mileage 7.3 liter diesel that could tow 10,000 lbs (had the tow package also). We could no longer push that deal off. We bought it for 2,000 less than the original asking price. Thus, we now about to enter the #vanlife, and another renovation project. Our nomadic idea continues.
One of the biggest decisions we made was how to insulate our vintage Airstream Argosy. First, a little history lesson. Old campers, specifically vintage Airstreams came with pink fiber glass insulation and attracted almost every living creature that could squeeze into a little hole. Usually it meant baby mice, ants, birds, you name it, Airstream Renovators have found it. Notwithstanding the fact, then when this insulation got wet, it took forever to dry and usually contributed to wood rot. Wood rot you say? Yes, Airstreams not only had insulation in between the inner skins, they also had fiberglass insulation down in the Belly Pan. Which was underneath the wood floor. Which go wet…ALOT.
So when we decided what kind of insulation to replace it with, it was quite the big deal. After watching hours of videos and browsing the multitude of forum threads on Airstream forums, we decided on what we were going to do.
First, we decided NOT to insulate the Belly Pan (underneath the sub-floor). This decision was based solely on technology. The R value we would get was not worth the expense and we could lay down a cork underlay when we installed our NuCore Waterproof floor.
Second, we looked at how converted vans would use foam board to keep heat out, then Reflectix to keep heat in. This convinced us to go with 4×8 Polystyrene Garage Door Foam Board Insulation bought at Lowes.
Using 3/4 inch tiny foam squares, we could glue spacers on the inner wall to leave a 3/4 space between the outershell and the foam board. This maximizes the R-Value to 5.0 with one side of the foam board having a foil side or reflective side to reflect heat away.
On the other side of the foam board, we then put a layer of Reflectix which can add a R-value of 3.0 Getting to a 7.0 R-Value is about as good as it gets in an RV or camper. If other RV’ers are telling your they are getting a higher R-Value in a Argosy, they are in fantasy land.
In a RV or any camper, you are dealing with keeping the heat out. You just can’t run the air conditioner all the time since you are often boondocking and have no Shore Power to use. This way, we can keep the Airstream as cool as possible by reflecting the heat away from the Inner Walls. Using a spacer between outer wall, and the inner foam board, we trap the heat in that space.
We feel pretty good about our decision and we definitely have noticed the difference between the old insulation and the new.
The real test of course is when it’s a 100 degree’s in the summer, AND it’s below freezing in the winter. So far so good. No complaints.
If you have any questions, we would love to answer them as best we can. Please, like or share and help support us. We really appreciate our community.
At first, cooking with recycled water sounds like a terrible idea. But not really once you understand HOW it will be cooked. Cooking nomadic meals with recycled water is pretty easy and very sanitary. Why? The water never touches the food and it’s the science found in a product called Omeals.
What are Omeals? Omeals are a pre-cooked packaged food that can be heated in a cooking bag with ANY liquid. AND, they are really good. We have used Omeals out in the backcountry while camping in remote places where water can be hard to find. That’s what makes Omeals so great. They can be cooked with creek water, dish water, salt water, any liquid.
How it works: There is a packet of food on the inside of the main bag the water makes contact with the heating element and heats the bag of food. The heating element is like a hand warmer but gets much hotter to boil the water. Water does not make contact with the actual food. Thus the genius concept with the product. Each pouch is an 8 ounce serving.
If you are on the road or traveling in your Van, Camper or RV, this is a great way to eat with little effort. No propane, no getting a fire going. For most consumers each pouch is for 1 person. It’s a great way to store for those days that water is going to be limited or saving water is important. The amount of water is cook an Omeal is about 4-6 ounces, or about a half of cup. 16 cups in a gallon, you could save a half of gallon of water to cook a months supply of Omeals. That’s a lot of food for very little water, and if you recycled your gray water (let’s say for dishes or saving a few cups of water in the shower) you could cook a months supply of Omeals without EVER using your fresh water for cooking.
Omeals has a wide variety of choices, which is good when you are on the road. Omeals can be found on Amazon and they can shipped right to you while traveling. Happy eating!
It’s not easy coming to realize that your perhaps your brand plan isn’t really…branding well. But to be honest, we had to take a hard look at who we were and what we wanted to be about. We’ve had this idea about being nomadic for quite some time, but didn’t know how to express that with you, our followers. TheBackpackerTV started way back in 2008, the plan was just to curate content off YouTube videos about backpacking. In other words, other peoples content. Over the years it had a pretty good following on Twitter and Facebook, and we changed the content from time to time to try and make it about our content, but after 2013, it wasn’t who we were anymore. So what to do, what to do?
It was time to be honest and admit that people just were NOT connecting to the name. If they were, it was largely a backpacking audience, (not that we don’t love that audience) but we wanted something bigger that represented our dream, goals, hopes, and experiences all wrapped into one. We couldn’t be a backpacking brand and talk about our life in a RV or traveling in a RV type of lifestyle.
We went back and forth for weeks. One of the idea’s was to convert our Trust The Trail Podcast into the brand itself since it’s doing so well. But that was still all backpacking, and guided trips. We did’t think that would fit with traveling across country in a RV. Which we wanted to expand into the RV world also. Again, what to do, what to do?
Because it was all rather confusing to us, it was surely confusing to people that were following us on our Podcast, Instagram, and Facebook. We had 3 different brands going at the same time. It was that realization that we decided our Podcast needed it’s own identity, and our idea to be nomadic needed it’s own identity.
We also started making YouTube Video’s about our Airstream Argosy renovation which was CLEAR nobody from the backpacking community wanted to watch. AND that’s pretty much how YouTube works.
So in July of 2018, we made the decision to separate our Podcast, from our idea to be nomadic and travel in our 76 Airstream Argosy and expand into the “adventure travel” category by changing our name to “This Nomadic Idea”. After all, it’s a very simple statement of fact. We want to travel and be nomadic. We had this idea to buy a vintage airstream, renovate it, and travel in it. The point was to go backpacking in all 50 states and experience what life through at us. That was the idea a year ago, and that is the idea now.
Our Trust the Trail Podcast has it’s own website, Instagram, Facebook Page/Group and Twitter.
This Nomadic Idea is who Scott and Ariane are today. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. No Twitter
Pretty simple and clean. Our lives, hopes, journeys, struggles and dreams are here on this site to share with our outdoor community, friends, and family.
The next step is to share our nomadic idea with you. Every week, we shoot out our we are getting closer and closer to hitting the road. How we are downsizing, how we are renovating the Airstream Argosy, where will we be going? All of it. After all, this is our nomadic idea.
Downsizing doesn’t mean you are able to get rid of a lifetime worth of stuff all at once. It’s a process just like everything else that one wants to learn. We had several garage sales and each one we had was all together different from the other. For example, I held on to my parents 70’s food tray and ashtray FOREVER. Why? I don’t know. I do have a genuine idea however that it was based on a falsehood of what I thought it meant to me. AND there in lies the issue of downsizing. It’s NOT the stuff, but the emotional attachment the stuff has.
Each time we have put stuff out to sell, we asked ourselves “is this important to us”? Thus the first few times Ariane asked me if the mutli colored quite ugly ashtray was important, of course I responded “YES”. It was my parents and I remember it growing up. That ashtray made it through seven (7) garage sales until it dawned on me that I had no emotional attachment to it and in fact was ugly…and I no one in my family ever smoked.
Downsizing for us was not about getting rid of stuff, but asking ourselves this:
Is our past defined from what stuff we keep, or is it defined by the experienced we have had?
After we defined what was the more important goal of downsizing, it was relatively easy to start getting rid of stuff we just didn’t need anymore. A lot of it were from our parents who has passed away. It was more their memories than ours. We continued to realize that our stuff was their stuff and we were just carrying it around for the sake of carrying it around.
Here are some tips that we have learned:
Since then, we have drastically cut down what we want and only have what we need. Getting ready to live in a 190 sq ft Travel Trailer will do that. Even so, it’s so free to be able to pack all the stuff you own in a day and move. We have gone from a 3,000 sq ft house, to a small one room apartment. In just a few months, we’ll do it all again to move into our Airstream Argosy named Lucy.
Downsizing to be nomadic is one of the best choices we have ever made.
One of the most remote places Ariane and I have ever gong hiking in. The Sycamore Wilderness Canyon offers a adventure like no other. But you won’t find any roads, developed campgrounds or crowds in Sycamore Wilderness Canyon, just 55,937 acres of wilderness marked by colorful cliffs, and soaring pinnacles.
After getting lost in that Canyon back in April 2008, I need a redemption trip back into the Canyon. This time Ariane came with. It’s the second largest canyon to emerge from Arizona’s Red Rock Country and is lesser known but just as scenic cousin of famous Oak Creek Canyon.
The wilderness encompasses all of Sycamore Canyon from its forested rim near Williams, Arizona to its desert canyon mouth in the Verde Valley. This area is home to black bear and mountain lion as well as a number of less celebrated but just as notable creatures.
The last time I went backpacking in the Canyon, it was my goal to find Taylor Cabin which is on the National Historical Register and stay in it overnight. Never did find it.
Ariane and I found a awesome boondocking site right near Cottonwood, Arizona very close to the trail-head into the Sycamore Canyon. The trail-head is actually off 89A through Sedona and Cottonwood to the turnoff to Tuzigoot National Monument. Turn north across the Verde River, then left on FR 131. It’s about 11 miles to the trailhead.
Our Boondocking site was at intersection of AZ 260 and Thousand Trails Road (FS147)/Camino Real (FS360). Approx. 34.660993,-111.965153. It has amazing views of the Red Rocks of Sedona..and it’s free.
We hit the trail early in the morning since the desert sun can get hot fast. We were on the hunt for agent Verde Hohokam Indian Ruins which we DID FIND. It’s almost like a treasure hunt trying to find these ruins. You can easily day hike to the ruins. It’s about 6 1/2 miles there and back to the trail head.
The ruins are tricky to find. But they are off the Packard Mesa Trail (66) which you can connect to from the Parsons Spring Trail. Once you cross the creek and get on the Packard Mesa Trail it leaves the canyon floor and heads up to the mesa.
This involves a nice climb, up, a short time level and up again, until you reach the mesa.
The trail is a bit rocky and the maintenance of the trail is a bit low. Once on the mesa the trail is less easy to follow. The cows made a lot of parallel trails, but most of them are leading to the tank.
At gate 3, that’s the only one with a gate, that can be closed.
Don’t go through this gate, but go back 40 yards.
Now start hiking, North/East in a small sandy wash.
Try to follow the cowtrails wherever they are. Head more North, until you meet a jeep trail and than turn right.
Follow the jeep trail until it kind of ends. Look for trails that head up and follow these trails. THERE IS NO MARKING. This is where you want to go, between those hills is the trail, leading up to the ruins.
Once you find the ruins, stay the night and camp up on the hill near the trail signs and the jeep road. You can go right up that hill and find the perfect camp site to take in the amazing beautiful views of the Sycamore Wilderness Canyon.
Listen to our podcast of the Sycamore Wilderness Canyon experience on “Trust the Trail”
Rarely do we get to put to test our woodworking skills. However, renovating a Airstream Argosy and custom building everything will test your knowledge quickly. Our first woodworking test was building our queen size bed frame that open up to provide extra storage underneath our bed. Being that our Airstream Argosy is only 180 sq ft. It’s important to utilize every single space.
As the original part of our design, we knew right from the start we wanted our bed to be a queen size. After all, we have two dogs that demand a big bed to stretch on. It was also our plan to have the bed sideways instead of back to front. We wanted to utilize our panoramic windows and wake up each morning looking out. But more importantly, we wanted to create a extra storage compartment on the back window side to store sheets, blankets, and also use it as a shelf.
First we laid out everything for the build.
Materials we used were:
(2) 8 ft 2 x 4
(2) 8 ft 2 x 2
(3) 8 ft 1 x 3
(1) Piano Hinge
(4) 2 inch L Brackets
(1) Box of 1 1/2 inch wood screws
(1) Box of 2 inch wood screws
The only caveat in the build was building around our subfloor trap door. We needed to make sure we still had access to pull up our trap door and at the same time make a support piece to hold up our bed when we lifted it up.
We wanted to use light wood so the top and bottom boards were 1 x 3 and our supports were 2 x 4. Our Queen size mattress was going to be 60 x 80 so we could just fit that in before the end curve and long enough to give us 3 inches on both ends.
We went with a 12 inch Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress It fit’s perfect and we can wake up looking right out of our windows without ever lifting up our heads.
The next step of course was to build the side and back end and how to integrate a shelf unit back there. This was going to be the tricky part.
Again, using 1 x 3’s and 2 x 4’s we finished the frame, so it was now on to the bed lift. Really just a square so the bed lift itself can sit on the frame. You can see in the right back corner how close we to the corner we got. This was important because we had to build the shelf back on the 2 x 4 that crosses in the back. Its also where the piano hinge sits.
The bed sits on 2 x 2’s and the 2 x 2’s sit on the bed frame with full support.
It lifted up pretty easy, but that was without the mattress and all the blankets Ariane just has to have.
We had to make sure that we could still access our 30 amp box in the lower right hand corner and of course plumbing and other important access gear.
The back storage/shelf was just building a inner wall against the bed and then cutting out the top. We had saved some of the old Argosy shelves that we could use as templates.
It was time to put it all together and test. We used 1 x 2’s for the slots that the mattress sits on. Once we put our mattress on it certainly made it much harder to lift, but not that hard to hamper anything.
Take a look at the whole process from start to finish.
If you have any questions about how we built our bed OR if you have your own Airstream Reno project. Ask away, we will be happy to answer.