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Old 01-25-2011, 09:20 AM   #1
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Question for snow-bound Yankees

This ol' Grit needs some Yankee advice. Penny and I are in dire need of a camping trip soon (as are most all of us, I reckon) and plan to take the Taj out of storage and to a RV park near Virginia Beach in Feb. We'll have access to full hook ups.

We've camped in our pop-up in 20 degree overnights with no problems. We didn't fill the water tank and used jugs of water for cooking and hygene. The Taj has Penny spoiled, now.

So, question is - how low can we go? I am smart enough to disconnect the water hose and drain it before retiring if the overnight temps will be below 30. At what temp would you get nervous with your water system up and running? Any advice to deal with an unexpected temp drop?

Thanks,
Teach
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:08 AM   #2
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Well, with the heat on and the trailer comfortable for you, the interior lines should be no problem. We have camped over night in single digits without an issue. The furnace maintained 70 - 72 degrees with ease. This was with Full Hookups and the H2O hose was drained and stored in shower.

The issue becomes the tanks that are exposed under the trailer. On our rig we have the factory installed optional electric heater pads on all three of our tanks. The tanks are not as sensitive to freezing as there is plenty of space for expansion, but without tank heaters, I would be concerned if the temperature did not go above freezing during the daytime. The heaters can be added aftermarket if you get into winter camping. Many of our neighbors had issues with not being able to dump thier tanks due to frozen drain pipes. On our 276SR the valves on the black/gray tanks are located right at the tanks, so the pipes are dry and we drained without a problem. I have heard of people adding electric heat tape to their "wet" pipes to prevent freeze-ups too.

We live/camp in the Mid-Atlantic area and usually camp up to Thanksgiving and if the weather is OK, we have a trip to Fredericksburg, VA planned in early February.

Mack
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:43 AM   #3
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Teach,

Your freshwater tank is probably like mine - inside the trailer under a bed or couch - so it is not prone to freezing problems. However, you probably have the same plastic drain valve on it plus some kind of plastic tubing back to the tank. If it really gets cold (single digits or worse), that may freeze and could possibly break the valve. The city water inlet is possibly prone to the same issues but less likely to break if frozen solid. If either of both of them freezes up, generally just warming them a bit with a hair dryer will solve the problem. Doesn't need much temp increase, just enough to unfreeze it. I can get at all that piping from the inside, either under the couch or pull out a kitchen drawer.

I would be attentive if temps get below 20F. You can avoid freezing problems on the fresh water side if you can just open up the compartments where the drain and city water come into the trailer before retiring for the night. That is an old plumber's trick to unfreeze residential kitchen faucet pipes - just open the cupboard doors under the sink.

As Mack says, the outside black and gray tanks may be more of a problem. In both of our trailers they are the very shallow, wide tanks. More surface area exposed to the cold, more possibility of freezing up. I have wet pipes coming from both tanks to a single drain point. Gray is a 3 or 4 foot run of 1.5" ABS and the black is maybe a foot total of 3" ABS. I would worry more about the gray line - more surface area to volume of liquid - greater potential to freeze.

Unless someone modified your rig, it likely it does not have enclosed tanks. (Mack already hit on heaters.)

So, depending on predicted temps for your trip, you may or may not have some challenges here.

I just realized that you have full hookups for this proposed trip (smacks forehead!) You can solve the problem on the gray tank, by leaving the drain open into the drain hookup for the whole stay. I do not know what the addition of "contents" to the black tank does to the specific gravity and in turn the freezing point of it all.

Maybe a solution is to retain liquid in both tanks during the day, and then dump just before the evening temps drop. (Black first and then gray to partly clean up.) That way you could leave the dump valves open over night which would avoid freezing issues all together. A little 3 AM trip to the lavatory would not be an issue.
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:00 AM   #4
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Teach,
I would be attentive if temps get below 20F.
So, depending on predicted temps for your trip, you may or may not have some challenges here.
I'm the old Boy Scout and winter canoeist. Penny doesn't "do cold." If the temps don't rise into the lower 50s-over-30s range for the weekend, she isn't going to want to go. That can, and often does happen in late Feb. down here, especially near the ocean.
So if'n the Taj can handle lower 30s-upper 20s overnight safely, that answers my question. We run an electric space heater for temp maintenance and use the furnace to jump start the warmth in the a.m.

I knew youse guys would know,
Teach
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:56 PM   #5
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We had plenty of high 20's to 30's at night during our Christmas trip to SC this year. We use the electric space heater at night and gas in the morning just like you guys. We didn't have any problems with anything freezing as long as Steve disconnected the water hose at night. We never bothered to dump anything before going to bed. We even put a half tank of water into the fresh tank so there'd be water for the night pottying and the morning coffee without going out to rehook up the hose. We had a valve freeze at home one time and poured a little warm water over it to thaw it out.
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:32 PM   #6
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Teach

In "your" camper situation with the fresh water tank under the bed and taking the city water hose off at night, and being on full hookups to drain the gray tank,

I see 5 places left that could be an issue.

1. The black tank or more so the black tank dump valve. Now granted it is going to take an amount of time to freeze a 3" pipe full of water if the day time temp's get up into the high 30's low 40's, but there is something you can do to give you a level of protection. Pour some pink stuff into the black tank before you add water. The pink stuff will go to the lowest point and then mix with the 1st water entering tank. I have heard of some actually flushing with windshield wiper fluid that do winter camping. I have never done that so do not know it's effectiveness or how much dilution even the pink stuff can handle. Since the pink stuff is rated at -50F it can handle some dilution. Since it's make up is different do not know if a engine coolant antifreeze tester could tell. The type of glycol is different. Maybe try it on a jug of pink stuff straight and see how cold it will go. Basically once pink stuff primed, just add a little more per amount of flushes. Just like a car engine, even if you have some antifreeze in it does not freeze solid like no antifreeze. More like freezes in sheets well until it gets really cold then it doe not matter...

2. Another area pending how yours is made is the shower drain. See mine. Yes the pipe trap is fractions of an inch away from the black Darco vapor barrier.


Adding some pink stuff to the shower trap each night of use just eliminates the worry.

In my case I upgraded to add some Reflectix insulation. I also have a heat duct that runs under the shower basin so that areas gets warm.


3. The outside shower. Maybe. Depends how cold it goes, I insulated mine and for winter camping I unhooked water feed tube and capped them off. In your case just stuff a old towel or something in the compartment to give a layer of protection.


4. The HW heater. Heat the hot water before going to bed. It will stay hot a long time and slow down any issues. There is really not any insulation between the outside world and the outside of the tank other then lost heat. In my case I insulated my quick drain hose as it is only filled with the 1st in cold water and never warms up in that hose. For the main tank, the heat from the tank keeps it from getting into issues.


5. Steve talked about the little fresh water tank drain, wrap it up in something to help insulate even an old towel.

Pending how warm the ground is (not frozen to start with) and if it goes back up to low 40's during the day odds are fair you may not have any issues. If you want a layer of protection to sleep sound and not worrying about it the 5 places above do not take much to overcome.

Good luck. We still have snow on the ground and no camping for us again this coming weekend. Bummer....

John
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:33 AM   #7
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John, Do you have specific details of your heater drain hose? I like that idea.
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Old 01-26-2011, 07:23 AM   #8
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Teach

Pour some pink stuff into the black tank before you add water. The pink stuff will go to the lowest point and then mix with the 1st water entering tank.
John
Now that's a good idea. I planned to bring some A/F along to winterize again before breaking camp. I'll add some to the holding tanks while they're in use.

Teach
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Old 01-26-2011, 05:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awellis3 View Post
This ol' Grit needs some Yankee advice. Penny and I are in dire need of a camping trip soon (as are most all of us, I reckon) and plan to take the Taj out of storage and to a RV park near Virginia Beach in Feb. We'll have access to full hook ups.
Better idea:

Our Sunny right now is burried in snow in the backyard in sometimes below zero weather. As much as I'd like to go camping we try ease the pain each year with a late fall and early spring Caribbean cruise.

It's not camping but sure makes a great runner up.
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Old 01-26-2011, 08:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
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John, Do you have specific details of your heater drain hose? I like that idea.
Jim

There are several here on the forum that have different vintages of this. I know Kitty created a similar setup and Sunline Fan had a little valve some how stuck in there on one of his older campers.

Here is how mine started. You need to use nylon fittings in the Atwood aluminum tanks. Corrosion problem if you use metal fittings. 1/2" NPT to 1/2" hose barb in my case.



Then you must get potable water hose with a pressure rating at least to 100psi mine is 150 psi. The hose must be able to handle hot water

I used a boiler drain valve on the end so I could tuck it up in the compartment with the door closed. Used stainless steel hose clamps over the hose ends.




If you can find a drain cock of some kind with plastic thread and short enough to screw in the tank under the gas line and still close the door, then you do not need the hose part.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 01-26-2011, 08:57 PM   #11
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Old 01-26-2011, 09:17 PM   #12
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Great ideas. I like the hose since it will allow the water to be drained to the outside for whatever that is worth. The important thing is what do I have to werk with.
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Old 01-27-2011, 07:28 AM   #13
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Better idea: ... we try ease the pain each year with a late fall and early spring Caribbean cruise.
Hey, I'm just an ol' retired school teacher. Heck, I didn't make enough money to go Caribbean crusin' when I had a paycheck comin' in.

Hence,
Teach
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Old 01-30-2011, 07:45 AM   #14
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Hey, I'm just an ol' retired school teacher. Heck, I didn't make enough money to go Caribbean crusin' when I had a paycheck comin' in.

Hence,
Teach
I know what you're saying but..........most people assume that. Shop around, watch the prices, and take an interior room, and compare different times of the year. Believe ir or not we've never booked for more than $165/day per couple and (14 cruises, mostly Royal Caribbean) you can hardly stay at the local Holiday Inn for that and they don't feed you 24 hours a day.

Take a look at prices, you'll be surprised. EXAMPLE:
Right now look at Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas out of Ft Lauderdale, 5 nights, interior room, Feb 21, $349 each.

You can spend more but you don't have to. It is truly about the most inexpensive vacation you can take.

Best of all, the cheapest times are out of camping season and no winterizing. Maybe now our April cruise will become a Sunline Meet and Greet
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