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Store Scopes in a Cargo Trailer?

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#1 Brian Musgrave

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 05:56 AM

I recently acquired a 20-inch dobsonian and I am considering storing the scope fully assembled in a 6 x12 cargo trailer.

Question: I live in the Midwest with lots of hot/cold/humid weather. What precautions would I need to take to avoid condensation from forming on optics (e.g., as a result of warm humid air condensing on cold mirrors/lenses)?

What would I need to do to properly ventilate a cargo trailer for year round use as scope storage in a humid place like the Midwest?

Specific things I am considering:

  • Insulate the trailer
  • Monitor the temperature/humidity with a wireless internet connected thermometer/humidity sensor
  • Operate a lightbulb or two in the trailer to keep the trailer above the dew point). Would this be enough during the winter?
  • Operate a dehumidifier inside the trailer - especially during the summer
  • Operate a fan continuously (to keep air moving and prevent dew from forming)

Is there anyone out there from the Midwest (or similarly humid place) who has successfully stored their scopes year round in a cargo trailer? What did you do to make it work?

Thank you.


Edited by Brian Musgrave, 28 September 2020 - 12:23 PM.


#2 Couder

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:37 AM

I too live in the Midwest - St. Louis area for 55 years, now the Missouri Ozarks. I have left my scopes in a trailer with no problems - but I do crack the door to provide ventilation. I have not had dew form inside my trailer. Maybe unrelated, but in my metal and my wood workshops all the machinery was getting a light film of rust. I tried various products, nothing worked. I finally put ceiling fans in my shops and the observatory, and leave them on 24/7 year round. I have not had rust or mold since. For something like a trailer I would use one of the large computer fans. If you need one I can send you one. I am assuming the trailer will be parked in a building.


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#3 Brian Musgrave

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 12:31 PM

I too live in the Midwest - St. Louis area for 55 years, now the Missouri Ozarks. I have left my scopes in a trailer with no problems - but I do crack the door to provide ventilation. I have not had dew form inside my trailer. Maybe unrelated, but in my metal and my wood workshops all the machinery was getting a light film of rust. I tried various products, nothing worked. I finally put ceiling fans in my shops and the observatory, and leave them on 24/7 year round. I have not had rust or mold since. For something like a trailer I would use one of the large computer fans. If you need one I can send you one. I am assuming the trailer will be parked in a building.

Thanks very much Couder.

 

I know the "scope in a trailer" topic has been covered in the forums before and there is no shortage of advice - however, good ventilation seems to be a pretty consistent thread through the discussions.

 

I previously stored my 14-inch dob in a large unheated pole barn (no fans) and over time this environment degraded the coating on the primary. 

 

What is really interesting to me about advice people provide is that it really needs to be taken within the context of their geography (which is why I mentioned the Midwest above). What works well in a drier climate won't necessarily work in a humid one. 

 

Perhaps what is needed is to define what the specific target for relative humidity and temperature should be? But maybe I'm overcomplicating this. 


Edited by Brian Musgrave, 28 September 2020 - 02:01 PM.

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#4 Phil Young

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 11:19 PM

I purchased a 5'x10' cargo trailer three years ago to get my telescopes, mounts and other astronomy equipment out of the house and garage (at the request of my wife).  The trailer sits in the direct sun from noon to evening.  During the first summer I found that the temperature inside the trailer was too warm.  I tried 12v computer fans (100 cfm) using one to force air into the trailer and one to exhaust air from the trailer, both using existing trailer vents on the side of the trailer and powered by small solar panels lying on the roof of the trailer.  The computer fans did not significantly lower the interior temperature.  The next year I purchased a 12 volt RV fan (900 cfm) and installed it in the roof at the front of the trailer and relied on the two small existing trailer vents for air intake.  I soon realized that more intake air was needed, and then installed an un-powered roof vent for air intake at the rear of the trailer.  The combination of the two roof vents significantly lowered the air temperature inside the trailer to the point where the inside temperature was similar to the outside ambient temperature.  The 12 volt RV fan is currently powered by 110 volt house current via an 100-foot extension cord to a 12 volt power supply inside the trailer until I can obtain a larger solar panel to power the fan.  I do not store eyepieces and cameras in the trailer.

 

Phil Young



#5 Brian Musgrave

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 05:02 AM

I purchased a 5'x10' cargo trailer three years ago to get my telescopes, mounts and other astronomy equipment out of the house and garage (at the request of my wife). The trailer sits in the direct sun from noon to evening. During the first summer I found that the temperature inside the trailer was too warm. I tried 12v computer fans (100 cfm) using one to force air into the trailer and one to exhaust air from the trailer, both using existing trailer vents on the side of the trailer and powered by small solar panels lying on the roof of the trailer. The computer fans did not significantly lower the interior temperature. The next year I purchased a 12 volt RV fan (900 cfm) and installed it in the roof at the front of the trailer and relied on the two small existing trailer vents for air intake. I soon realized that more intake air was needed, and then installed an un-powered roof vent for air intake at the rear of the trailer. The combination of the two roof vents significantly lowered the air temperature inside the trailer to the point where the inside temperature was similar to the outside ambient temperature. The 12 volt RV fan is currently powered by 110 volt house current via an 100-foot extension cord to a 12 volt power supply inside the trailer until I can obtain a larger solar panel to power the fan. I do not store eyepieces and cameras in the trailer.

Phil Young



Thanks Phil.

I am curious why you do not store cameras or eyepieces in your trailer. Do you feel there is a risk of damage?

Thanks again.

Edited by Brian Musgrave, 30 September 2020 - 05:04 AM.


#6 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 06:31 AM

Thanks Phil.

I am curious why you do not store cameras or eyepieces in your trailer. Do you feel there is a risk of damage?

Thanks again.

I would guess that they are too easily stolen. A lot of value in a compact package.  An eyepiece case might have $4000 worth of eyepieces and can be carried in one hand.  

 

A telescope is a more difficult to steal object, it's not easy and it's not quick. You can't just hop in a car or mosey on down the street with a Dob.

 

What is really interesting to me about advice people provide is that it really needs to be taken within the context of their geography (which is why I mentioned the Midwest above). What works well in a drier climate won't necessarily work in a humid one.

 

 

 

 

Very true.  I store three of my scopes in an unheated garage.  The garage is poorly sealed, the location is naturally windy, the climate is very dry and it rarely freezes.  Very different situation.

 

Jon




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