Trailer progress, HVAC learning

This morning my friend Barbara and I primed the living room walls’ dark paneling and prepped the bedroom walls for priming tomorrow. The lighter colored walls are already looking better.

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By the way, that awesome chandelier that Barbara is standing under works, although the brass is a bit pitted. (It came loose in transit and will probably need some soldering to secure.) I’ve replaced the bulbs — had to use pliers to remove 3 broken bulbs. I found 4 watt nightlight bulbs at Home Depot, perfect for a fixture with 16 bulbs.

Okay, I didn’t just buy the Carousel for the skylight and its chandelier, but they did help draw me in!

My handyman Ian fixed yet another water leak. Both elements in my electric water heater were burned out, and he replaced those.  He replaced the hose from the water faucet to the trailer — it acquired a bubble.

He built stairs to the back door, which is the only door that works now. (The replacement sliding glass doors do not open.) He patched more soft spots in the subfloor and shored up the subfloor under the corner of the cabinetry that holds the wall oven.

My biggest problem right now is that I’m having difficulty getting anyone to sell me and install a heating and cooling system. When the flooring arrives next week, it needs to sit at “room temperature” before it is installed.

So far, one HVAC company has told me that their insurance doesn’t cover mobile homes, and two companies promised to call me back and then didn’t call.

I called the first company back and was told the owner can’t get a unit that small. They recommended I go to Home Depot and get a portable 1 ton AC unit “and maybe you can get one with a heater”.

That’s not a good solution, in my opinion.

An HVAC company owner and his assistant even drove from San Marcos to look at the trailer Friday morning.  I expected to hear back yesterday afternoon. I left a call this morning, but so far haven’t heard anything. I do know they’re busy…

I did talk to one HVAC guy (recommended by a plumber friend) who says he can install a system for a reasonable amount, but I need to get what I need myself.

So right now, the paths available seem to be (1) get a portable unit and (2) figure out and get what I need on my own and have it installed. I can do both — portable now, HVAC system acquisition and installation later — but prefer just the latter.

Here’s what I know, and if anyone wants to further enlighten me, please do.

The space to be heated/cooled is 500 square feet. The system can use all electric or electric and LP gas (propane). The trailer needs a downdraft unit — it has 8 floor vents and insulated ductwork (14″ x 2.5″). I’ve replaced the registers.

There are two main brands used in mobile homes, Coleman and Intertherm, and HVAC companies often mix them, installing an Intertherm heater and Coleman AC, for instance, or vice versa. The condenser, which goes outside, can be any brand. I can get a good warranty on a condenser, but not on the other stuff.

I need a little less than 1.5 tons for cooling, and I need 17,500 BTUs to heat it. Obviously, the more efficient the better.

All in all, these are good kinds of problems to have. Research and persistence will pay off, chipping away at my frustration, and so will reaching out.

Small/tiny housing has been a trend for years. I wonder what systems they use.


Addendum: An hour after I posted this, I heard back from an HVAC guy with an estimate. Yes!

And…it’s a couple thousand dollars more than I thought it would be. $5,600.

Basically, my Spartan Carousel is bigger than the average trailer and smaller than the average mobile home, and there just aren’t off-the-shelf units for this size of space, as far as I can figure. Unless the small housing folks have discovered a solution… I’ll continue to research that.

If I go with Coleman with a conventional central heating and air conditioning system, the smallest furnace available is 56,000 BTU, and the smallest evaporator coil is 3 tons. Both are more than I need for 500 square feet, and there’s the possibility that the AC may cycle on and off.

I’m going to research adding an AC unit (or two) on top of the trailer for now and a propane central furnace before it gets cold. That may be my best bet.


A couple of hours later: I learned that my trailer needs 1.1 tons for cooling and 12,000 output/effective BTUs for heating. Good to know.

I plan to visit Crestview RV, a huge sales and service facility just down the road in Buda, on Wednesday, my next day off when they’re open. They sell and install furnaces and air conditioners and all kinds of appliances for RVs. I found them when looking at Atwood furnaces online.

I have a hunch they can help solve my problems!

10 thoughts on “Trailer progress, HVAC learning

  1. Assuming you are content to leave the BR door open so the air can flow, you could use a 1.5 ton ‘through the wall heat pump’ to meet the loads you describe. Compressor and air handler are all together, so no ducting, no refrigeration lines to run or charge up, just cut a hole in the wall somewhere near the middle of the trailer, wire it up, and sit back……It might be a little cool in the coldest winter temps but a small space heater would cover you, or the electric back up heat in the unit might be enough.. You might need a small $10 fan on the floor somewhere to move air long ways in the trailer. There are also small, ‘split-system’ heat pumps that are already charged up. This puts the compressor outside somewhere, other wise same details……


    • William, I had no idea you were so knowledgeable about heating and AC! I will check out heat pumps. The trailer has ductwork already in place underneath. Wonder if it has to be through the wall, or could it occupy the space where the furnace was? Thanks for enlightening me. Really.


  2. Pingback: Update on the Spartan Carousel | ReCamp

  3. Mary Ann
    we love seeing the progress on your trailer please keep posting new pictures.
    If any one knows of another one of these trailers please let me know
    jon berge
    614 440 7733


  4. After years of longing and hunting for a vintage Spartan, my husband and just bought a 1955 Royal Mansion, and I am desperate to be in contact with others who have and/or are restoring these treasures. We live in Houston, but our Spartan will be parked on the Colorado River in Bastrop, near Austin. We are so fortunate that our property escaped the horrible wild fires. The Spartan we bought has two, large, UGLY A/C units in the front and back windows. They’re very securely installed, and taking them out will be no easy feat. I need wise counsel on so many Spartan issues. Help!

    Marian McWhorter


  5. Hi, Marian. Congratulations on your RM! I’ve found the Spartantrailercoaches forum on to be helpful, full of wise counsel. Whatever comes up with your trailer, chances are someone else has dealt with it. Glad your property escaped the fires — a couple of friends lost nearly everything. Will you live in it year-round, or is it a get-away place?


    • Hi, Aaron. I junked the original fuel oil furnace that was in my Carousel, which came from Washington state. No one uses fuel oil in Texas, plus we need AC in the summers here! I ended up going with a half ton HVAC unit, which fit nicely into the space where the furnace was and uses the existing floor ducts, with the compressor outside on a concrete pad. I’m not sure where you’re located, but if you live where the summers are long and hot, I recommend reinsulating and//or putting your trailer in a shady place because the original insulation is definitely not up to today’s standards. There are other options available as well, including ductless mini split systems. I’ve also seen people use window units and a wood-burning stove. Enjoy your Spartan!


      • Hey MaryAnn, Thanks for all the great info- its really helpful! We are renovating a 1955 Imperial Mansion in Austin and are trying tie into the existing ductwork like you mentioned. Where were yall able to access the ducting? I cannot find an opening anywhere in ours. Thanks! Andrew


      • Andrew, I’m not sure how the HVAC system hooked into the ducts because I didn’t install it, but it did. However, last year, after 10 years, I replaced it with a mini-split unit that is much quieter and more energy efficient.


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