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Old 10-23-2010, 09:03 AM   #1
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Missoula , Montana
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Flying Cloud 23FB Holding Tank Heating Pads

Greetings from Montana,

It's startin' to get cold!

On page C-6 of the Flying Cloud Trailering Guide it says "The 20', and 23' models have 12-Volt heat pads installed with the fresh, gray and black water tanks. These pads are individually switched."

I've Googled, searched these forums, and checked all literature that came with our 2011 Flying Cloud 23FB, and this is the only reference I can find to these heating pads. There are no obvious switches in the AS for this purpose.

I was hoping someone could clarify whether or not this model actually has these pads and how they operate.

Cheers!
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:27 AM   #2
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I believe that the switches are tied to their own thermostat that kicks in automatically on at freezing temps. The manual is kind enough to inform us that these only last for 3 hrs if running on battery only.

I suspect that the apparatus is located in the belly pan area in the vicinity of the tanks. I have not seen any switches other than the lights in the main cabin & bedroom areas, and the water heater/tank sensor area in the bathroom.

If you are looking to disable them they may have their own fuse which would be located adjacent to the breaker box (since they are 12v only). Heck, the the "switch" may even be located there. It's one place I've not really poked my head into.

I think the company that makes these is called Ultraheat and the have a pretty good website. AS uses standard vendors and I have not been able to find anyone else who makes these. So they are probably it.

Interesting thread, I'm thinking of beefing up the pipe and elbow areas with additional pads for ski trips to new mexico.
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:25 AM   #3
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12 volt? That's a potential improvement over the previous, fairly limiting 120v version. You have 3 scenarios when you want to use it...

1. You are at a 120v AC plug. Your converter will power this as well as they might work (about which I know nothing).
2. You are boondocking. Resistance appliances suck a lot of amp-hours -- of which your battery has a limited supply. You wouldn't like to regularly discharge lead-acid batteries much below 45 %. Service life and charge depth could be compromised if you do. You can readily understand the percent of discharge by isolating the battery and measuring voltage -- reference: Lead-Acid batteries
3. You are underway. A high-draw option like the warming mats might suck principally out of the Airstream's battery. The bigger factor is that your TV's alternator doesn't produce an excess of amps. Another factor is voltage drop with the distance back to the Airstream. For instance, it could take some hundreds of miles to recharge a 50% discharged battery in the trailer (assuming no use of the tank heaters). A heavy duty alternator in a tow or snowplow package isn't a surefire solution. I would wish for some actual data to back up these seat-of-the pants thoughts. But I'm wondering what the tank heaters' output can amount to when on the road.

It might take some exploration under the cabinets to see if your tanks actually have ducting from the furnace like other Airstreams.
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:17 PM   #4
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I was under the impression that the under tanks were heated through the forsed air heating system.
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:19 PM   #5
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I should add on the 25fb
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:27 PM   #6
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Here at the park, we get our share of Airstreams (for some reason!), and I've found quite a lot of variation in outfitting. Some -- including some vintage rigs -- are designed for wintertime use: The sewer tank(s) and onboard sewer lines/valves as well as the whole of the fresh-water system are enclosed and heated by the propane system. However, others are designed strictly as summertime rigs: Tanks and sewer lines/valves are fully exposed to the environment, neither enclosed nor heated.

When we ran the park in the winter, we would always recommend that folks not even consider coming here with a summer-only rig, for the whole system would freeze (and result in considerable damage to the rig) within hours of arrival. That said, we did have a few folks who more or less successfully retrofitted their summertime rigs for wintertime use. It involved quite a bit of heat tape/blankets under lots of insulation, all done so as not to result in fire.

We also had some in motorhomes who would add a 110v. lightbulb to the water-related compartments. (One added a small room-size heater and wound up melting some pipes!) These are compartments that were heated by the onboard system, just not sufficiently.

In any event, we always recommended that folks keep bathroom and kitchen cabinets open, where those cabinets included water systems.


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Old 10-23-2010, 01:56 PM   #7
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On the FC they use the 12v heated mats on the 23' and smaller. 25 uses the forced air.

If these are the Ultraheat brand they have some data on the power usage on their website. I suspect current draw will be a function of the ambient temp. However, I agree that the there could be issues if you are concerned about charging your battery and heating under tow.

Not a big concern for me, since I will be at electrified sites and/or carrying my gen in the bed of the pickup for winter camps. I think a bigger problem would be the length of pipe from the dump valves to the holding tank. I suspect these would freeze solid at sustained 25 degree temps.

It's probably worth an email to AS in JC to find out what brand of heater they installed. I don't remember seeing any literature on them in the pile of warranty stuff.
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Old 10-23-2010, 04:17 PM   #8
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Tank heater switches

The tank heater switches are located in our 2007 23' Safari (recently renamed Flying Cloud) in the Vanity sink area just above the Comfort Control thermostat.

Airstream Safari Owners Manual page C-5 states, "The 22 ft. and 23 ft. models have 12-Volt heat pads installed with the fresh, gray, and black water tanks. These pads are individually switched. This feature allows the saving of battery power in a dry camp situation."

Just about every aspect of the 2007 23' Safari with L-Lounge and factory installed solar panels is covered in SilverGate's Safari is Home at Last!
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:05 PM   #9
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One mystery solved, and another starts.....

I went out to the storage unit today and I discovered why the 2009 & later 23FB clan are having difficulty finding the switched to the heating pads. This would be because there are no heating pads in the 23FB! Contrary to what is listed in the owners manual, the system is forced air (sort of).

I pulled the panel under the pantry to see if I could find some wires and trace them around. What I found is a ~2" diameter hose running from a T in the 4" diameter ducts that run to the under the galley to the bathroom. The open end of the hose is bolted onto a hole cut in the floor which presumably sits above the black tank. See photos below. I confirmed at least one more 2" hose running off of the forward duct hose exiting in the bedroom area.

Overall the construction of this system reminds me of the time I used a soup can and fencing wire to reconnect rusted out sections of my exhaust system while I was working at a summer camp. Only marginally better than the time I thought I could assemble my dorm room loft after consuming a case of beer.

I have serious doubts that this would do anything to keeping your tanks from freezing into a solid brick for 2 reasons. 1). When I ran the heater on our last trip most of the warm air came from the main blower vent, very little air actually came out of the 4" ducts at all. Doubt that more than 5% even makes it into the 2" hose. 2). There is at least a 1/2" gap between the edge of the hose and the hole in the floor. with that kind of a gap your are pretty certain that no air will force it self down there. Even though there are 4 screw tabs in the connector, only one holds the hose in place since the floor hole is so much larger than the hose.

Gotta say this is pretty disappointing, since the 12v heat pad system was one of the features I liked better than the 25FB. Our unit is still under warranty, but I'm not sure this is really a warranty issue.........
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:29 PM   #10
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I'm not sure it would take mush warm air to keep that tank form freezing during temps. in the 20's and 30's
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:52 PM   #11
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Interesting thread. We have a 2008 23 FB SE and we were also told that the 23 and above units have heating on the tanks. However, we do not have any control on/off switches above the thermostat so also am not sure what exists to do the warming.

Sounds like a call to Airstream is in order to figure this out!
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Old 10-24-2010, 05:38 PM   #12
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I didn't know there was a 23 FB, I thought the FB'S were 25' & 27'
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen H View Post
I didn't know there was a 23 FB, I thought the FB'S were 25' & 27'
There is a 23FB (Full Bed). We have a 2008 flying cloud 23FB Special Edition. I am pretty sure there also is a 22 full bed configuration as well.

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Old 10-27-2010, 12:16 PM   #14
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Well it's official.....

Heard back from AS tech today who confirmed that the 23FB (front bed) uses forced air holding tank heating. Not the 12v pads as stated in the manual. Other 23' flying cloud configurations do have the heating pads.

I have asked them to update their literature to please make this clear. dealers have no clue and would probably never look. the uniformed may make a costly mistake in a freezing environment. We'll see what happens for future buyers...

For those in question of the 23FB model designation. It is the layout with a queen size bed in the front of the unit (similar to the 25FB) and rear bathroom with toilet separate from shower stall.

As stated previously, I seriously doubt the ability of this configuration to ward off any major cold spell past 25 deg. Now I'll need to look into what it will take to undertake installing 12v pads. No doubt a costly affair subject to a different thread.
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