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Old 06-29-2015, 08:39 PM   #1
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Winter Living in Anchorage in a AS Interstate?

I wonder if I will be able to live through the winter in my Airstream Interstate. I am leaving for Anchorage, Alaska in about 1 week and don't have any reason to return home to Las Vegas - footloose for a year or more.

Any suggestions for this first time motor home senior traveler that will be traveling by myself with my cell phone and Verizon hot spot (perhaps and or not?) and computer? Nope, not even a little dog.

I am totally new at this.
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Old 06-29-2015, 08:46 PM   #2
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I'm thinking you will be fine if the Interstate is inside an insulated heated garage with full hookups. But ask Protagonist for his thoughts.

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Old 06-29-2015, 09:28 PM   #3
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Not a good idea.

A guy lived all winter in his Airstream…..In Arizona. He doesn't want to do it again. The snow and the cold made it not fun. Although lower elevations in Arizona would be tolerable

Even Four Season Campers ( which Airstreams are not ) aren't four season campers. Do a google search on the average high and low temperatures of where you will be staying.
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Old 06-30-2015, 06:11 AM   #4
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Winter comes early to Alaska (Sept.) and stays late (June). I would try something less harsh for your trial run. There is an on going thread here about a lady that lives in an Airstream in Anchorage full time,do a search.
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Old 06-30-2015, 06:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Goal15 View Post
I'm thinking you will be fine if the Interstate is inside an insulated heated garage with full hookups. But ask Protagonist for his thoughts.

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Yes, if you can do this......and only if you can do this.

Aside from the likely impossible task of keeping things from freezing, you will be ridiculously cold and have more condensation inside from basic activities of daily living than you can keep up with.

Water literally pools beneath the exterior walls during any extended time period in extreme cold....ask me how I know this....and I have had temps just down in the teens.

Don't do it. Store your Interstate for the winter and rent a place to live.


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Old 06-30-2015, 07:04 AM   #6
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I'm thinking you will be fine if the Interstate is inside an insulated heated garage with full hookups. But ask Protagonist for his thoughts.
You are too kind. Really. I live along the Gulf Coast, and while I've been winter camping in Louisiana where the temperature dropped below freezing, we're talking temperatures in the 20s, not the -20s! Completely different situation.

But having been asked, I'll offer my thoughts.

As the military folks I used to work for would say, bottom line up front— don't try to live in an Interstate in Alaska in winter. There are a number of problems associated with the task.

First, while you have electric tank heaters that will keep your fresh and gray tanks from freezing— your black tank is heated by the furnace because it's half above the floor— that doesn't keep your macerator pump from freezing, or the hoses running from the tanks to the pump, or the discharge line that traps water in each coil as it's coiled up on the reel. You would have to add 12vDC heat tape to those features if you want to use them in winter. Also you can only run your tank heaters while you're plugged in or running the generator; if you try to run them off the house batteries you'll drain the batteries dead overnight.

Second, your on-board propane supply will not last very long if you're running both the furnace full-time. And unlike a trailer, you can't remove the built-in tank to get it refilled. To make matters worse, propane doesn't vaporize properly in extreme cold; propane liquefies at -45°F, so the closer to that temperature you get, the less propane vapor you'll have to run your furnace or generator or water heater. I have heard of (but not seen) propane tank heaters intended to keep the tank at a temperature of +35°F to ensure proper vaporization pressure, but your Interstate doesn't have one.

Third, the only parts of an Interstate that's well-insulated are the roof and floor; the walls have minimal-to-nonexistent insulation, and of course you'll lose heat like crazy through those big uninsulated windows all around.

Fourth, you'll need to add a block heater to keep the engine from getting too cold while parked. Even if you use #1 diesel (i.e. winter blend), it has a "cloud point," at which the paraffin in the fuel begins to crystallize, of about -40°F. The closer you get to that temperature, the thicker diesel fuel gets, causing problems for your fuel filter and injectors. But even worse, your DEF will begin to freeze at around +12°F, so below that temperature you should not operate a common-rail fuel injected diesel engine that uses DEF for exhaust treatment. Alaskans and others from the Great White North should stick to older diesel engines that don't use DEF.

So, putting the bottom line back at the bottom where it belongs (take THAT, you green-suited ex-bosses!) add a block heater, add heat tape to your DEF system to keep it from freezing, winterize the van very completely and very carefully, and just use the van as basic transport during the Alaskan winter, not as living quarters.
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Old 06-30-2015, 09:29 AM   #7
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There are a number of people that have published records of living through the Alaskan winter in vans and trailers.

They all, without exception, reported hardship, difficulties and deprivation - from frozen water lines to condensation to things just breaking because of the extreme cold. One guy ended up building a strawbale structure over his van, just to keep some level of warmth inside.

I live in Ontario, where we routinely go down to -20º (Celsius) during winter. Even in my (old) house services start struggling at those temperatures. I could not imagine living in an Airstream.

The only people I've seen pull this off, built their own RV on a truck platform. They started out by insulating the heck out of the structure, then made sure that all essential services were contained within the insulated box, they double glassed all windows and added a solid fuel heater. But even they were using their vehicle to go skiing down south, not to over-winter in Alaska.
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Old 06-30-2015, 12:45 PM   #8
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I grew up near Anchorage. While the last couple of winters have experienced temperatures far above normal, it can be unbearably cold in the winter.

The cold is only one part. I would also be concerned about the darkness. You will only see the sun for 3 hours or so per day in the winter. We all have different tolerances, but I would get severe cabin fever spending a cold dark winter inside an Interstate.

I hope I don't offend anyone, and think I can say this as I lived there for most of my life, but while Alaska is beautiful, Anchorage is not a very nice city. There are probably a lot nicer places in the lower 48 with beautiful scenery to spend the winter.
Good luck whatever you decide!
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Old 06-30-2015, 04:49 PM   #9
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Lots of great advice provided. I occasionally take my winterized Interstate out in very cold weather. Sometimes as cold as -8F. Everything is fine in short durations. My furnace kept up with the cold and didn't even run continually but I don't think I'd want to spend days on end coping with the dark and extreme temps. Your unit would have to be totally winterized as I don't think the tank heaters could keep up with long duration extreme temps plugged in or not. In my short duration trips I can use the toilet followed up with dumping RV antifreeze. I wouldn't recommend doing this but if you do please share the results with us.
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Old 06-30-2015, 05:40 PM   #10
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Talking to myself?

tomato lady ( the original poster ) has 2 posts. Ya think she will be able to find this thread?

We should have a FAQ section for people. especially the ones that are thinking about buying and living in an Airstream.
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:10 PM   #11
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I wouldn't try it. First snow is end of October and it doesn't melt until late May. I lived in Kenai (SW of Anchorage) for two years and we experienced minus 60 degrees at times during the winter. Save your trip for summer; beautiful, great fishing, exploring and 20+ hours of sunlight.
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:37 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone. This is lots of good info. I had actually tho't I would rent a place to live when it got to cold inside the AS, but never having been there in winter I wasn't sure when or how soon in the fall this would happen. I also forgot about the long dark days. I am still going - leaving in about 10 days. Ha, it's taking me a long time to figure out where I am going to put stuff and what I am going to leave behind. And this is just things for me - if there was a another person with stuff going with me this packing would really be a project.
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Old 07-01-2015, 06:07 AM   #13
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Have a great trip.


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