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Old 11-08-2014, 01:19 PM   #1
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Really Confused About Winter Camping

I'm taking delivery of a 2014 25' Flying Cloud this Thursday. I'm planning on hitting the road for 6 weeks or so, sticking to a basically southern route (the Southeast, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, etc.). I will need to take 2 sidetrips to Colorado (where it will undoubtedly be below freezing).

The FC will be delivered to me winterized and it will be in storage for a few days in the NC mountains where temps WILL get below freezing.

Once I start heading South, and into warmer climes, should I de-winterize the trailer or leave it winterized? About the only places guaranteed not to have below freezing weather in November and December are South Texas and southern Arizona, though I suspect the freezing weather I will most likely encounter will be, at the coldest, in the high 20's and at night provided I steer clear of Northern NM and Northern AZ.

Assuming I leave the trailer winterized, I can use its black water capabilities, correct? I will just have to carry water on board for drinking, dishes, etc. and would have to shower somewhere on the road. If I do leave it winterized, would I be able to utilize water hook-ups at commercial campgrounds without having to de-winterize/re-winterize?

I plan on temporarily storing the unit somewhere around Las Cruces, NM and driving my RAM 1500 TV to Colorado Springs for Thanksgiving and again over Christmas, to see my mother. Per the folks in Las Cruces, they do get freezing weather, so it would be winterized (either in its initial purchased state or a re-winterization) while in storage.

I bought this trailer to utilize all if its conveniences. OTOH, the last thing I want to deal with is burst pipes.

If anyone has traveled through this part of the US during this time of the year, I'd be grateful for any advice on how to best proceed.
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Old 11-08-2014, 01:40 PM   #2
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Hi troutjock. I think there are lots of Airstreams doing what you are planning to do. You beautiful Flying Cloud comes well protected from freezing temps as long as you are using it. Leave it winterized until youre ready to start your trip. Then start your furnace and get the trailer to 60 or so. Your furnace will heat the "basement" where your water tanks reside. Now you can connect your water hose and flush out the RV antifreeze in both the hot and cold lines. You'll want to open your water heater bypass valves to fill the water heater and then start it. You will want to start your fridge too.

Now your trailer is warm and toasty and your water system is ready to use. You can hook up and start traveling south with the idea you are going to stay in your trailer that first night. Travel with the fridge on, but furnace and water heater off.

Bring RV antifreeze with you incase you break down and have to leave the trailer in freezing temps for a couple of nights. You will have to re-winterize if you can't keep your trailer above freezing at night. I like to blow the water out of the lines with my air compressor, and then have the water pump suck in RV antifreeze throughout the water system with the bypass valves set to bypass. I drain the water heater. And I have antifreeze in all the traps and toilet valve. Your manual will give you guidance on this.

You can pull your trailer along the southern states where it is above freezing during the day, and heat your trailer up during the nights. I disconnect the city water hose at night and use the trailer fresh water tank and pump. And you don't want to be draining any gray water at night. Disconnect the slinky and valves shut. Drain your tanks during the warmth of the day.

Hope this helps. Other experienced "snow birds" can chime in too.

David
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Old 11-08-2014, 01:48 PM   #3
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We have traveled to New Mexico, Arizona and California for the last 10 winters. It's not only how far south but also the altitude that matters. At nearly 4,000 feet I would not consider leaving our Airstream at Las Cruces in winter without winterization. It may even be risky while using it at that location but we haven't tried it.

You would be much safer in southern Arizona such as Tucson, Phoenix or Yuma, or California. That's why we are there much of the winter and have lots of snow chicken company.
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Old 11-08-2014, 02:03 PM   #4
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Thank you, David. Provided there's no huge winter "event" seems I should be OK following your protocol at least through Texas.

Doug, I was hoping to leave the AS safely stored no more than a day's drive from Colorado Springs (Las Cruces is about an 8 hour drive). My mom is "getting on" and has been dealing with cancer, so it is important to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her. Looks like I may need to rethink my Las Cruces strategy.

Perhaps I'll winterize/de-winterize more than once during this trip? Or, am Ijust crazy doing this as my first AS trip?
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Old 11-08-2014, 02:21 PM   #5
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If your "storage" area is an RV park with hookups, you can leave the furnace on set at the minimum temperature and it will not freeze. I do that here at home all the time. Actually, unless the forecast calls for temps in the 20's or below, I just use a little electric heater to keep it from freezing, and I've been doing that for years.

If I suspect temps in the teens (yes it can happen here, but not very often) I drain the water system, and then blow it out with air pressure, and keep the little electric heater going. I have never done a full winterization on an Airstream, and I've never had a burst pipe, or any other damage.
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Old 11-08-2014, 04:34 PM   #6
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Steve H, your in Texas where an electric heater keeps your trailer above freezing. I'm in Minnesota where it gets so cold that the water pipes in the house walls can freeze! RV antifreeze protects your water valves (faucets, toilet flush, bypass, shutoffs, etc). The new plastic lines are much more tolerant than the old copper.

We birds migrate south to Texas in the winter months for good reason. You ought to see all the RVs on the interstate heading south after Christmas! But Minnesota is very nice in the summer time.

David
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Old 11-08-2014, 05:40 PM   #7
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Yes, David. I wasn't trying to imply my methods would work in Minnesota, but Troutjock was asking about Texas and New Mexico.

By the way, in West Texas as well as the higher elevations in New Mexico, it can and does get cold. Not Minnesota cold, but plenty cold for me. I remember a trip we took out to Arizona a few years ago, and it was 14 degrees when we left home, and saw -1 on the truck thermometer in the higher elevations on IH10 in Southern Arizona.
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Old 11-08-2014, 06:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troutjock View Post

..... I suspect the freezing weather I will most likely encounter will be, at the coldest, in the high 20's and at night provided I steer clear of Northern NM and Northern AZ. .....

If this is as cold as it gets - and it is above freezing during the day - then you really do not have a lot to worry about.

We generally do not winterize till well into the fall when frost is pretty much a nightly (and daily) event. While the trailer is in the driveway I generally just keep electric heat on unless there is going to be a very heavy frost - then I will also turn the furnace on.

The key thing is to keep heat on in the trailer and warmer air moving around the plumbing and tanks.

If you are leaving for a couple of days then do a dump before you go, make sure your propane tanks are full, turn off your water pump, open your faucets, open your low point drains, drain your hot-water tank, open your floor-level cupboard doors and turn on your furnace to 45 degrees or so. If you are going to use an electric heater that is fine - but don't let it do the entire job of the furnace - it is the furnace that keeps warm air moving around the tanks on cold nights.

Enjoy your trailer - after a while - and after a few cool nights are under your belt - all this will become second nature.


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Old 11-08-2014, 06:27 PM   #9
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Where the OP is going to be in NM, it likely won't be that bad at Thanksgiving, but Xmas may be different. It all depends on the weather.

Of course, none of the weather down there compares with what will come up here at altitude in northern New Mexico. Our usual lowest temp for the winter has been in the -30F to -40F range for the last 14 years; during that coldest period, we'll have highs in the teens above zero. The trade-off is the summertime, when +80F is a horribly hot day.

And we're headed that direction again this year. Currently, the southwest is experiencing a smidgen of a heat wave, so our lows over the last few mornings have been in the low teens. We're supposed to get a big cold front next week, so ...


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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
Yes, David. I wasn't trying to imply my methods would work in Minnesota, but Troutjock was asking about Texas and New Mexico.

By the way, in West Texas as well as the higher elevations in New Mexico, it can and does get cold. Not Minnesota cold, but plenty cold for me. I remember a trip we took out to Arizona a few years ago, and it was 14 degrees when we left home, and saw -1 on the truck thermometer in the higher elevations on IH10 in Southern Arizona.
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Old 11-09-2014, 04:56 PM   #10
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We were in Las Cruces last year, in February, and it was getting down into the low 30's at night. I wouldn't want to leave a trailer there in the middle of winter without winterizing it.

How about Tucson? 4 hours farther away, 1500 ft lower, average low temps Nov-Dec 48-41 degrees. Is your Ram 4WD? Depending on weather, the trip to Colo. Springs might be a 2-day trip anyway. Albuquerque could be a good stopover between Tucson and Colo. Springs.

There's a major arctic front a-comin' and if I was you, I'd skedaddle to Florida ASAP after you take delivery, then hang out and watch the weather to the west. Could get bloody cold through the south central part of the country.
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Old 11-09-2014, 05:02 PM   #11
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Gnorts, after the comments, I've been thinking more along those lines. Tucson is a great idea for the reasons you mentioned and I will look into that. The RAM is 4wd. I'd also like to check out Sante Fe so that could work out nicely.

Was hoping to see BIg Bend NP on the way. Just looked at the weather and the average lows in December and January are well under freezing.

It really is NORTH America, isn't it? While it is hard to think of the Southern US as cold, there really are very few places in out great country that can totally escape winter.
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Old 11-09-2014, 06:15 PM   #12
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If it's not already done, I suggest you install a winterizing valve in the water line on the inlet side of the water pump (before the filter too, if you have one there). I got mine off Amazon (Camco 36543 Pump Converter Winterizing Kit) a couple of years ago.

Now I can use the hose that attaches to that valve port to suck RV antifreeze into the water lines straight from the bottle. Since I don't have to pour antifreeze into the fresh water tank, I only use 2 to 3 gallons. Wal Mart has the antifreeze for under $4 a gallon.

If you need to winterize while on the road, it can be done by opening all the drains until nothing drips out (including water heater drain). Then use the water pump to drive antifreeze through all the lines until every faucet, sprayer, toilet flush valve, etc. runs pink. I winterized our trailer that way last year--didn't bother with compressed air--and had no damage at all from what I'd consider a rather severe Texas winter.

Best of luck with your trailer & trip.
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Old 11-09-2014, 06:20 PM   #13
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Part of the story on temperature is elevation:

Yuma, AZ 140
Quartzsite, AZ 900
Phoenix, AZ 1,100
Wickenburg, AZ 2,100
Tucson, AZ 2,400
Green Valley AZ 3,000
Camp Verde, AZ 3,200
Cottonwood, AZ 3,300
Las Cruces, NM 4,000
T or C, NM 4,300
Sedona, AZ 4,300
Dewey, AZ 4,600
Socorro, NM 4,600
Pueblo, CO 4,700
Denver & ABQ 5,300
Prescott, AZ 5,400
Farmington, NM 5,400
Cortez, CO 6,100
Gallup/Grants NM6,400
Durango, CO 6,500
Flagstaff, AZ 6,900
Taos, NM 7,000
Salida, CO 7,100
Santa Fe, NM 7,300
Angel Fire, NM 8,400


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Old 11-09-2014, 07:55 PM   #14
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troutjock; check the weather forecast. There is a prolonged cold wave coming that might reach Texas and other parts south. That might complicate your travel plans.

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