small wood stove case stuy

CASE STUDY: Alaska Winters in a Vintage Travel Trailer

While poking around the Airstream Forums looking for other folks that installed wood stoves I found Denise’s thread about brutal Alaska winters in a vintage travel trailer with a little wood stove as the primary heat source. The forum thread is fascinating and full of great cold weather trailer living tips & tricks.


Denise has since upgraded from her 1968 Streamline Empress to a New Airstream. Last I checked she was still sourcing a heat source for the trailer. I believe a Diesel fueled stove and a Kimberly were both on her radar.


I contacted Denise to get a few more details about her setup in the Empress. Her responses are below:


Q: Introduce yourself and your home!

A: My name is Denise and I live with my husband Zach and 4 cats. We are younger (late 20’s/ early 30’s). Our trailer is a 29′ 1968 Streamline Empress that we bought a couple of years ago. It was in pretty rough shape, but now it’s a decent rig. I love mid century vintage and instantly fell in love with it. We both work full time year round.


Q: Where is home and what is the climate like?

A: We live in South Central Alaska, which is a more moderate climate for Alaska. It’s near the Turnagain Arm, a glacial fjord, which means lots of rain and snow. Nearby is the most northern temperate rain forest in the world. Our yearly temps range from -20 (with no sun) to highs of 70’s in the summer (80 degrees is rare). The average winter day is single digits. The lack of sun in the winter makes it seem colder. The cold temps are also very consistent, the daylight doesn’t mean much of a temperature increase.


Q: What stove do you use?

A: We use the Morso 1410 “squirrel” Coal model.


Q: Did you consider any other stoves?

A: Yes! We also considered the Jotul 602, and the Kimberly stove. We selected the Morso because it was cast (longer heat radiance), was designed for coal use but was also wood friendly, and was a decent price. I have to say, I love the way it looks too. It had proven to be a good choice.


Q: Where did you purchase your stove from?

A: We purchased it from a local Morso dealer. Shipping is pricy up here!


Q: Is your wood stove your only source of heat for your trailer?

A: Our stove is our heat source. If the fire goes out, we are icicles! On very cold days we put a electric or propane heater at opposite end of the trailer to help even out the cold spots.


Q: How did you install your stove?

A: Pretty simple! We had a aluminum piece fabricated to fit in the window with a hole for the pipe. We carried the 250lb stove in (the hardest part!) positioned it on a granite hearth, ran the pipe out. The outside pipe is supported by two brackets attached to our aluminum window piece. We invested in a neat rotating rain cap that is wind friendly.


Checkout Denise full thread on airforums. Its full of winter RV living tips and discussion.

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