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Old 11-30-2010, 07:31 AM   #1
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Need some creative thinking on winterizing

OK all youse Sunline gurus, help a brotha out.
We do have winter in Virginia, but it is usually a 6-week stretch of daytime temps around freezing and maybe one or two snows. Consequently, the opportunities to camp year 'round exist; you just have to watch the forecasts and pick a window of warmer weather. A stretch of 60-degree days in Feb. is not uncommon. Trips south are always an option. This will be my first winter with the Taj and we plan to camp through the year, as before. This brings up an interesting problem.

When we used the pop up year 'round, I winterized the water pump before the first hard freeze, around December. The Pup has no other water-based amenities. We would then use water jugs for all or water needs. There's a lot to be said for simplicity. However, it is a tent with all the tent-related cold weather problems: condensation on the fabric, no insulation, etc.

Now we have the Taj and Penny wants to use that in the winter (for obvious reasons). This would entail having it idle in storage for weeks at a time between trips. So, I'm trying to figure out a winterizing system that can be done and un-done without great expense. The HWH has no by-pass installed, by the way.

So, send those ideas on down,
Wright
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Old 11-30-2010, 12:01 PM   #2
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Get yourself an inexpensive air compressor (I use a small 12v compressor plugged into the tv plug) and one of these adaptors:


Hook up to the water inlet, blow out each faucet until no water appears (this will also clear most of water heater). Dump about a cup, cup and a half of rv anti freeze into the sink/shower traps and the toilet bowl. If you have a shop vac that you can rig to blow air, you can blow out the traps first, too. Cheap and effective winterizing.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:01 PM   #3
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The above is what we do too. It doesn't really take that long. Your other option is to use a porta potti and water jugs and shower in the campground bathroom. When we take a long winter trip, we'll bring the porta potti for in route use while it's still freezing. We also bring a little 3/4 hp pancake compressor along. We unwinterize when we get south. Before we head north we'll blow out the lines with the compressor. From Richmond you can probably get south in one day! Lucky you
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MACK C-85 View Post
Get yourself an inexpensive air compressor (I use a small 12v compressor plugged into the tv plug) and one of these adaptors:


Hook up to the water inlet, blow out each faucet until no water appears (this will also clear most of water heater). Dump about a cup, cup and a half of rv anti freeze into the sink/shower traps and the toilet bowl. If you have a shop vac that you can rig to blow air, you can blow out the traps first, too. Cheap and effective winterizing.
Yup, and also open your low point drains just to let them drain (otherwise you won't build any air pressure) and make sure to drain the hot water heater too. It is possible to rig up some quick drain fittings so this isn't so difficult. I can't tell you how many water heaters I've seen or heard of that cracked and froze from being left with water in them over the winter.

Jon
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:39 PM   #5
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Hi Wright

Glad to hear you want to go cool/winter weather camping. Since you have done this in the PU you already know the benefits. The shift to the TT is a little learning curve, not much but some.

Trailblazer is one of our other winter camping guys too. He may have some more tips.

Here are some things that I have overcome to enjoy the ability of winter camping. Sort of build your way up in stages. And you may already know some of these methods but I’ll type in case maybe others want to try this.

Stage 1. This is the 1st time out until you know this is for you. We do this dry in the camper just like you did in the PU. Take water jugs for drinking and camp at parks with heated shower houses or at least in park porta potties. We for sure have 120 VAC power at the site. We run an extra 12 ga power cord into the camper. My layout allows the extra cord to come in the same hole as the 30 amp cord. I plug in a 1,500 watt ceramic electric heater in that extra cord. In our bigger camper we use 2 electric heaters. The ceramic one and second unit, a 1,500 watt 120VAC an oil filled unit that looks like a big old fashion hot water radiator. I plug it into the wall outlet in the TT. Just can only use it when not using any other power drain on the wall outlet. Just flip it off if someone uses any other heat making device (hair dryer, coffee pot etc.) On the T2499, we only used 1 electric heater. And we use the on board furnace when needed. So that is how we heat. You will find the Sunline very comfortable.

Moisture in the camper. This is something you have to deal with or else you will have sweat wet walls/windows etc. It seems the worst during cooking times or sleeping. It is amazing how much moisture comes out from sleeping. I crack the roof vent a full 1” up on the far end of the TT from the bedroom. In our case this is the living area. Yes some heat is going out but the moisture then stays in check. If you do not vent enough, it will still build up. That full 1” is a good starting place. You will still have a level of window sweat but it will be in a different league then not venting enough.

Since at this point you do not have on board water in the system, we bring a mini porta potty for middle of the night no. 1 runs to the potty. We had this in our PU and still have it. It saves running to the shower house in the middle of the night….

We stage 1 camped for may years until we entered stage 2.

Stage 2 winter camping. This adds a level of storm window to the camper. EMAN here on the forum tipped me off to this. We buy the clear shrink wrap widow plastic. It fits perfect in the 1/2" aluminum channel around the windows. This helps keep more heat in the camper and just about stops the window sweat. For like $10 you can get enough to do the entire camper. See here for more info Loosing Heat From Your Windows In Cool Weather Camping You still need to vent like in stage 1 but the heat loss is greatly reduced. Some day I will build storm windows but until then I'll spend the $10 a year to do this.

Stage 3, full water when cold camping. This is the one I think you need to most info on. It has taken me a while to get to this point but now I have no fears of issues.

First is your on board tanks. How to deal with the waste water/fresh. There are about 3 options I know of.
  • Tank heaters on the outside exposed tanks. Mack C85 here has them and can give more input. I know he had commented on them before.
  • Enclosed tank compartment with heat, insulation and temperature monitoring. This is what I have. I lucked out that my Sunline had enclosed tanks. I also upgraded them some from the original. To create this if your camper does not already have it, is a building project but doable. Here are some links to pic of my setup
T310SR Enclosed Tanks Option (with Pics)

Enclosed tanks - T310SR. Any one else have them?

  • Use food grade anti freeze in the black and gray tanks. I myself have not done this but I have heard others in the winter camping circle have. They use a mixture of water and pink stuff and some use windshield washer fluid.
In your case I believe your fresh tank is inside under the bed. So that is a plus but you still have to deal with the gray and black if you plan on putting anything down the drain.

If you are going wet, these are some things to work thru mainly on the fresh water side. Each camper may be made a little different so check what you have. I have not gone wet without all these upgrades but others may have. I saw these as places to address. And it may depend on how cold it gets. In our case I have planed this down to 0 F. at night but during the day it rises to at least above freezing.

The shower P trap. Sunline on mine at least created a pocket in the floor with the Darco underbelly exposed with the P trap in it. And they slit little holes in the Darco to let water out. I believe they did this in case of a shower leak it does not flood the camper and it has a way to get out of the camper. Check if your has this. I insulated this area with 2 layers of Reflectix insulation layers under it. Here are some pics of the process







The outdoor shower. In my case I have unhooked this on the inside and caped the pipes to not have to worry about draining and a break in the winter. I also insulated the area with 1” thick foam board.


Here is an extra on the shore line cord. I can put this in and pull it out using the wire. This is 1 1/2" foam board.






And I insulated the HW heater quick drain mod. While camping have the HW on a few times a day. We do for dishes and showers. Oh and on teh shower, vent right in the batch room while showering to let the bulk of the moisture just go right out the shower vent. No need to turn teh fan on, just open the vent.


Since we have a slide camper, there are no wheel wells up in the camper. The floor is flush. On the non slide camper where the wheel well comes up into the living space you may need to add some Reflectex insulation over the inside of the wheel wells to help keep them from sweating.

Fresh water pipes. Mine are all on the inside of the camper or in the enclosed tank compartment. And I have heat ducts in those areas. The HW heater, the tank compartment, under the shower and under the sink area. So when the furnace runs those areas get heat off the outside of the hose. On smaller campers I have heard folks just leave a cabinet door open at night to let heat in. I aslo have a fresh water frost free drain valve on the fresh tank so it shuts off inside the heated compartment.

Draining the fresh water system. Here I have taken this to the next level and set up my camper to have easy compressed air blow out. Each camper layout may need different tricks. In my case using the fresh water inlet valve leaves several pipes never blown out, like the pump inlet piping or the pump suction piping. So I created a method/piping where I blow from the water pump forward thrugh out the entire camper. And I drain/blow out the entire system after every camping trip winter or summer. It takes me about 10 minutes tops including hauling the hose from the compressor over.

Here is the pump setup I created.
T310SR Water Pump Upgrade

This allows me to put compressed air right after the pump and blow out forward through the entire camper with the way Sunline piped my TT. I have a routine to help this.

At the campground when pulling out and going home. Summer or winter
  • Transfer all fresh tank water to the black tank and or gray tank. Fresh tank is now pumped dry and black tank full for dumping.
  • Open camper low point drains, open kitchen and bath faucets.
  • Drain HW heater using quick drain mod. Open safety relief valve to let air get in.
  • Open fresh tank drain.

The above drains out a large part of the water before I even leave the camp site. I leave the low point drains/faucets open all the way until home. The HW heater I close the relief valve but leave the drain hose open for an air vent. It get’s tucked up inside and the cover closes. I drive to the dump station, dump and then close the fresh tank drain and cap it too as I do not want road dirt up in that fresh tank drain. I have upgraded the fresh tank drain as well.

When I get home, I blow out the entire camper, including the HW heater by pass. In winter I blow out the drain traps and put pink stuff in the traps. The blow sequence I use the low point drains to burp the system and you can hear the water flying out. Must make sure no water, even spits of it, is coming out any faucet. And I have found you need enough volume to blow with. Once you charge the system and build pressure the HW tank acts like a reservoir and help blow the camper out. I have a regulator on the air line to use no more then 45 psi. I also have an extra filter on the air line.

Areas to watch out on the blow out process for freezing. The Sealand toilet. The foot pedal water valve especially. And the hose sprayer if you have one. You must really blow and blow until there is nothing coming out. The inside shower hose and if you still have it, the outside shower hose. I also blow back down the pump suction line to the tank and out the tank drain. And I run the pump dry and blow thru the pump. I then unscrew my filter on the pump to let it air dry out.

My air blow out method may be more on the other end of the spectrum as some do or need to do but I use to deal with blowing out mobile homes for the winter on the farm and had to fix the leaks come spring on water. Anything I missed had to be fixed crawling under the thing. One gets sort of anal about the process as I’m not using any anti freeze in the fresh lines so I maybe double sure the TT is blown totally out.

You may be able to modify what I have done to fit your camper.

Hope this helps and good luck

John
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:43 PM   #6
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Teach, here is another post that may be help full.

Staying warm in a T-2363
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MACK C-85 View Post
Get yourself an inexpensive air compressor (I use a small 12v compressor plugged into the tv plug) and one of these adaptors:


Hook up to the water inlet, blow out each faucet until no water appears (this will also clear most of water heater). Dump about a cup, cup and a half of rv anti freeze into the sink/shower traps and the toilet bowl. If you have a shop vac that you can rig to blow air, you can blow out the traps first, too. Cheap and effective winterizing.
That's what I did yesterday. My neighbor has a 120V compressor, but there is no electricity at the trailer so we had to fill the tank several times and tote it to the trailer.
I was concerned that the volume produced by the compressor wasn't sufficient to blow all the water out. After several blowouts, there was still a spray, albeit fine and intermittant, coming from the galley faucet.
So, I guess the question is will a 12V compressor produce enough volume to sufficiently (if not completely) evacuate the water lines?
Here's what I did: 1) Drain water heater, siphon out remaining water, replace plug.
2) Open all faucets, inside and out (removing shower heads)
3) Open low point drains, watch until water stopped, then closed valves and all faucets
4) Hook up compressor tank and opened each faucet one at a time, including the toilet flush valve
5) Poured about a cup of antifreeze down each drain
6) Disconnected inlet hose to water pump and connected another hose. Put this hose in the antifreeze jug and pumped a quart through the pump
7) Reopened all faucets and propped the toilet flush valve open

The whole deal hinges on being able to blow out enough water using a 12V compressor since I don't have ready access to electric power.

Another question: What if I hooked a 12V shop vac on blow and blew air INTO all the faucets and out the city inlet and low-point drains? It seems as if a lower air pressure/higher air volume would do the job since I'm blowing the water down hill. Whaddayathink?

Wright
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:45 AM   #8
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Wright......


I don't know about your equipment.....but I'd darn sure use a new hose and triple-filter anything blowing from my shop-vacs!!


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Old 12-01-2010, 06:52 AM   #9
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Wright......


I don't know about your equipment.....but I'd darn sure use a new hose and triple-filter anything blowing from my shop-vacs!!


Frank
LOL ... I was thinking of a brand-new vac to be used for this purpose only. Would it work?
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:56 AM   #10
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Wright.....

It seems to me that it might well work, depending on the individual trailer's plumbing setup and low-point drains.

But look....if considering spending that kind of cash on a "special" shop-vac.....consider that one can probably buy the WalMart-priced nontoxic antifreeze multiple (many?) times over before equalling the outright and incidental costs of a potentially satisfactory shop-vac blower setup. Which will also require storage space somewhere.


Not trying to be negative, but......


Frank .
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awellis3 View Post
That's what I did yesterday. My neighbor has a 120V compressor, but there is no electricity at the trailer so we had to fill the tank several times and tote it to the trailer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by awellis3 View Post
I was concerned that the volume produced by the compressor wasn't sufficient to blow all the water out. After several blowouts, there was still a spray, albeit fine and intermittant, coming from the galley faucet.
So, I guess the question is will a 12V compressor produce enough volume to sufficiently (if not completely) evacuate the water lines?
Here's what I did: 1) Drain water heater, siphon out remaining water, replace plug.
2) Open all faucets, inside and out (removing shower heads)
3) Open low point drains, watch until water stopped, then closed valves and all faucets
4) Hook up compressor tank and opened each faucet one at a time, including the toilet flush valve
5) Poured about a cup of antifreeze down each drain
6) Disconnected inlet hose to water pump and connected another hose. Put this hose in the antifreeze jug and pumped a quart through the pump
7) Reopened all faucets and propped the toilet flush valve open

The whole deal hinges on being able to blow out enough water using a 12V compressor since I don't have ready access to electric power.

Another question: What if I hooked a 12V shop vac on blow and blew air INTO all the faucets and out the city inlet and low-point drains? It seems as if a lower air pressure/higher air volume would do the job since I'm blowing the water down hill. Whaddayathink?

Wright
(AKA "Teach")
Hi Teach

A few things I have found, maybe others can add what they have found to help give a higher level of confidence in what you did was acceptable or not.

I have found that the amount of pressure/volume in the system makes a noticeable difference in the about amount of water blown out. Just this last campout my air pressure regulator was turned down to about 30psi. I could tell, this thing is not blowing out like it normally does, the amount of water coming out is not the same as usual. So I looked and, yup it is was turned down. So I upped it to 45psi and then redid. Well sure enough more water starts flying out.

Here is the sequence I use.
  • Gravity drain as much is going to come out. In my case/TT layout the compressed air is injected at the pump discharge point blowing forward.
  • Charge the system with 45 psi and wait until it reaches that pressure filling. It takes a while to charge the HW heater as the volume is big.
  • I burp and blow down the hot and cold low point drains. One at a time and cycle back and forth until I can hear water stop coming out. There is a fair amount of volume loss there with a 3/8" hole to atmosphere open. I am using a 3 HP compressor/ 20 gallon tank and it works to keep up with that wide open hole.
  • I then go out and burp/blow out the HW heater to get any last amount from below the drain plug. Since I drained at camp that last 2 quarts has bounced a lot of it out into the system. The blow out now does not remove much more. By having a drain valve I can burp the system. Could not do this with only removing the plug. If I did not drain at camp, then I start here and blow this down first then the low point drains.
  • Once the low point drains are thru the first pass, I burp/blow out the toilet until no more water is coming in the bowl. And I do the back and forth between sprayer and foot valve again to make sure it is dry.
  • I burp the HW heater bypass to make sure no water is in it.
  • Then I go to the bath sink, shower and burp/blow each hot and cold faucet.
  • Then I go do the kitchen and burp/blow each hot and cold faucet. In my case the hot is the farthest from the HW water heater. It will spit for a long time, once it stops spitting then I stop. Again with the compressor pumping in constantly.
  • I then go back and make sure the low point drains are cleaned out and no more spitting water, check the toilet again and then go out and do the outside shower.
  • Now I shut off the compressed air supply. And drain the HW heater of all air.
  • Go back in and valve the off pump discharge and blow thru the pump running pump dry for about 5 seconds. Valve off and blow the pump suction line back into the fresh tank. Take pump suction screen cover off and let it air dry out.
  • Open bath and kitchen faucets on hot and cold to allow air vent and leave HW heater drain hose open for air vent.
  • My city water connection allows a gravity drain to the low point drains due to layout. If yours does not, blow thru it as well and out the low points if the plumbing it set up that way. Mine is.
I may be over kill by a bit but I feel confident it works. I have never experimented with less being paranoid of a freeze crack.
I question why you are leaving your toilet foot valve propped open. The tank gases are going to come up in the camper. If you are concerned about the water in the foot valve, unscrew the fill hose. That is what Sealand stated on my vintage.

I myself do not think the shop vacuum will have enough force even though it has volume to blow out water in low lying pipes. You need enough psi to lift water up hill the shop vac cannot supply that pressure.

Since you pumped pink stuff thru the pump the system is now contaminated so drinking from it is not advisable. Since this is the case, why not just pump the pink stuff thru the rest of the camper?

Just to note, in my setup and draining process I do drink from the fresh tank and have no fears of issues. I also monitor chlorine and other things too but that is a separate post.

Hope this helps. Again I maybe skewed on the far end of making sure I have no left over standing water. There may be a point where some water left can freeze and not hurt just I am not trying to find it that point. Again paranoid from fixing mobile home lines from freezing from years ago.

John

Edit 12/1/10 PM Updated blow out sequence
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nasa42a View Post
Wright.....

But look....if considering spending that kind of cash on a "special" shop-vac.....consider that one can probably buy the WalMart-priced nontoxic antifreeze multiple (many?) times over before equalling the outright and incidental costs of a potentially satisfactory shop-vac blower setup.

Frank .
True, true, but if you amortize the vac's (or compressor's) cost over the number of times it is used it may be better, especially if I'm doing it 4 or 5 times a winter, which is the reason for this post.

Wright
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:44 AM   #13
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Hi Teach

So I upped it to 45psi and then redid. Well sure enough more water starts flying out.
That's what i was afraid of. My neighbor's compressor can put out the pressure but the volume is limited.


Quote:
I myself do not think the shop vacuum will have enough force even though it has volume to blow out water in low lying pipes. You need enough psi to lift water up hill

Actually, I thought I'd be blowing downhill from the sinks to the low point drains.

Quote:
Since you pumped pink stuff thru the pump the system is now contaminated so drinking from it is not advisable.

I only pumped a bit and it's in the water heater now. I didn't want to put the pink stuff in the fresh water tank.
My long-term solution is to pull the WH and install a bypass with the valves accessibile from my bedside cabinet. With the existing shunt at the water pump, I could pump right from the bottle and the cost would be about 8 bucks a trip. But until I can do the WH plumbing, I'll have to do a blow out as best as possible.

Thanks,
Teach
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:13 PM   #14
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Yeah, I never prop open the toilet valve. Just carefully pour a little antifreeze on the ball valve and call it good.
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1997 T-2653 Blue Denim, #5471
1979 12 1/2' MC, Beige & Avocado, #4639
Past Sunlines: '97 T-2653 #5089, '94 T-2251, '86 T-1550, '94 T-2363, '98 T-270SR
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