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Old 11-17-2014, 10:11 PM   #1
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Extended Winter Traveling Below Freezing

First time I have traveled in freezing day and overnight weather for a couple of weeks in Idaho and Montana.

A couple of things I have learned:

1. Ok to keep heating pads switch on, it turns on and off to maintain 65 degrees. Keep in mind that it drains battery if not driving or shore power.

2. Put non freezing window cleaner window washing tank.

3. On hook up, empty out Black and Grey water. Then pour into in Sink drain and Toilet drain with RV antifreeze (half gallon in each Grey and Black tanks) Again, do this every time both tanks are emptied. See no. 4 below also.

4. On hook up, turn on macerator pump until you see antifreeze in dump hose line, first Black then Grey. While on Grey, let pressure out of hose until you can shut off hose valve so that antifreeze is in macerator and hose. If macerator pump freezes up, let it thaw out or crank ice out. You should keep a few 20amp fuses as they blow with macerator pump is frozen. See no. 3 above also.

5. Invest in a freeze protected water hose that has an electric heater built in (and is also water or food FDA approved) and on each fitting end wrap insulation and secure with duck tape (ends are connections to water source and to Van). Make sure you have a 6 foot or so heavy duty extension cord to plug into shore power so that heating element on freeze protected hose long enough to plug in (sometimes space between shore power and water source is too far from each other, thus the need for heavy duty extension cord).

6. Snow and Ice chains. I spent a lot of time on this and found the Thule XG Pro 12 size 245 works easiest and best on 215/85/16's back outside tires. Make sure you install according to video, but also do in following order; make inside tire connection at 12 noon position, position chain to outside tire now, next connect chain link for outside tire at 6 position then pull stretch cord to secure on third connection. Inside dual tire is clear from this chain and works great.

You more experience guys I am sure can add or reference more to this summary, again please correct if I am doing anything wrong or could be better.
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Old 11-17-2014, 11:04 PM   #2
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Thanks for info on tire chains. I spent a week in Minnesota last February, but never camped in the van. It was way too cold at -15F to -20F every night. We slept at relives or hotels.
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:46 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eliasurbina View Post
1. Ok to keep heating pads switch on, it turns on and off to maintain 65 degrees. Keep in mind that it drains battery if not driving or shore power.
Isn't that 45F, not 65F?
Quote:
4. On hook up, turn on macerator pump until you see antifreeze in dump hose line, first Black then Grey. While on Grey, let pressure out of hose until you can shut off hose valve so that antifreeze is in macerator and hose.
You shouldn't try to pump at all with the nozzle on the end of the discharge hose closed. You can rupture the hose. It doesn't deal well with pressure. Only run the macerator pump with the hose valve open so there's no pressure.
Quote:
If macerator pump freezes up, let it thaw out or crank ice out. You should keep a few 20amp fuses as they blow with macerator pump is frozen.
I think you mean hand-crank the ice out. Last time mine froze (Poverty Point State Park, LA, 1/2/2014) I just waited to dump the tanks until I got farther south where it was warmer.
Quote:
5. Invest in a freeze protected water hose that has an electric heater built in (and is also water or food FDA approved)
Pirit makes a decent heated hose, available at Camping World or Amazon. I have one, and have used it a couple of times. It's orange and blue rather than white and blue. But I feel it's better to not use a heated hose. It doesn't keep the service pedestal from freezing, and if that freezes, you've got no water. Better to just fill the fresh tank and let the tank heaters do their thing, and not even have a hose connected. Then at least you'll have water.
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You more experienced guys I am sure can add or reference more to this summary, again please correct if I am doing anything wrong or could be better.
Pretty good overall. I would add, your check valves at the municipal water inlet and exterior shower can also freeze since they're so close to the outer skin and not well heated by the furnace. All the more reason to fill your fresh tank and not hook up a hose to the municipal water inlet. But also, before winter camping, blow out your entire freshwater system AND the black tank flush fitting to make sure the check valves are dry before you head out on your trip. Even after you add fresh water to your tank and refill the lines, the check valves will still be dry, and won't freeze, as long as you don't hook up to municipal water or hook up your external shower.
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:40 AM   #4
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Welcome to the Montana experience ! Winter has not even hit here yet ...
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Old 11-18-2014, 02:55 PM   #5
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How do you "crank out" ice from the macerator pump? I am headed out from Florida to the freezing Midwest tomorrow. I just bought RV anti-freeze for the tanks so your post was timely. But I have not had to winterize my lines here in Florida so I am RVing a bit blind weatherwise.
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:47 PM   #6
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IIRC, there's a slot in the end of the shaft on the pump that you can use a screwdriver to turn the pump.
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:59 AM   #7
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No chance that I'll ever put chains on. We simply watch the weather and road conditions and stay put until roads are dry. The web cams on each state's DOT website are very cool for tracking road conditions up to the minute!
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Old 11-19-2014, 09:36 AM   #8
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I called Airstream and they say heating pads turn off at 65 degrees, maybe they are 45 degrees though, either way it is above freezing.

I agree with filling up fresh water. This helped me first freeze nite until I found a non freeze hose. So far at 15 to 20 degrees water has been flowing (for extra caution I put insulation tube at hook ups).

Also, I just barely prime the dump hose, no problems at all. But understand the caution if too much pressure.

Great help guys, I appreciate your experience and so far my 6K mile trip has been wonderful.

Only problem is when on IH10 near Palm Springs a semi blew a tire in front of me and ripped off my bumper, my generator exhaust mount, my muffler mount, pulled off the drain tubing and my black valve housing. The clearance is just too low underneath and the tire remnants just simply did a lot of damage.

I learned myself how to fix all these items or tie them down as no Airstream dealership could take me on without 30 day lead time - Airstream needs to fix the warranty/repair network.

Anyways, I enjoyed fixing things up and learned a lot.
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