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Old 10-05-2012, 03:59 PM   #1
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Motorhome Travel in Winter

We just bought a 2004 Airstream Land Yacht motorhome (31 ft.) and plan to take it from Ohio to Florida this winter. I'm concerned what to do during the couple of days in freezing weather with three pets on board and a wife, too. Do we travel with it winterized until we reach warm weather or is there some way to prevent it from freezing up for a few days? Do we just run the generator the whole way, or will the chassis heater be enough? Someone out there must have experience with this. Please help.
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Old 10-05-2012, 05:25 PM   #2
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We have a 2005 LY motorhome that we have taken south the past 2 winters. (MI to Gulf Shores AL) We leave in Jan.& return in March. This is what we do....We keep it winterized. The morning we leave, the furnace gets turned on to warm everything up. We do not run the generator or the furnace while driving. The chassis heater keeps everything toasty. I think the pre-heating before we leave makes a difference. Once the moho is warm we pack the things that might freeze...we take several gallon containers of water for drinking, washing up & flushing. A long time RVer told us we could travel with water in the fresh water tank...just leave expansion space. We prefer not to tempt our luck. But, we dump water down the drains once on the road. We've not had any problems with this system.

When we stop for the night we haven't had to use the generator for heat until the next morning. The moho holds the heat pretty good. We use plenty of cozy/down blankets though. We also travel with our dog. She just snuggles in...not a problem for her.

A couple of other things we learned along the way...A small electric heater is all that is necessary most of the time. Once south we used one most mornings to take the chill out. And, the water in those gallon jugs will be COLD in the morning. Not frozen, but you'll wake up fast...so bring something to heat some clean-up water in.

One last thought, check the weather & if you can be flexible on departure dates, give yourself a 2 day window of decent weather. We did this the 2nd year & there was no snow, ice or salt on the roads. That makes the drive south so much more enjoyable. I hope this is helpful.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:23 AM   #3
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Thanks so much for your answer. Nothing like experience. I assume the various northern RV parks are closed in January. Do you stay in Wal Marts, truck stops, etc. on the way south? But there must be some RV parks open at some point in the south. Do you un-winterize in one of those, or wait until you get to Gulf Shores to handle that?
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:48 PM   #4
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You're welcome. I'm happy to offer what we've learned in our 2 year experience:-)
The first open parks we see are in southern TN & northern AL. That's too far for 1 day's driving/traveling. I'm not a fan of Walmart "camping" or truck stops...so here's our secret. (again suggested by a long time RVer.) We stay at a Cracker Barrel or a casino RV lot. Both provide RV parking & usually are well advertised along the interstate. Cracker Barrel is my preference. We usually have dinner & breakfast there & we always let the management know we're in their lot. Never had any issues with doing this. We have been told that FL doesn't allow overnight stays in parking lots. But, by the time you get to FL, there should be open campgrounds.
As far as un-winterizing goes...that happens when we get to the park & hook-up all the systems. If you stay at a full hook up park, the flushing of the system just happens with use. We continue to use bottled water for drinking...just to make sure all the lines are thoroughly rinsed out. If we're lucky, the temps will remain above freezing while south. There were a few times when the RV park asked people to open a faucet just a trickle, to prevent their outside pipes from freezing. If you will be staying in the panhandle, that's a possibility. Where are you staying in FL?
Again, hope you find this helpful.
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Old 10-08-2012, 06:48 PM   #5
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Thanks again for the useful information. In answer to your question, we stay in Fort Myers Beach.
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:38 AM   #6
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The morning we leave, the furnace gets turned on to warm everything up. We do not run the generator or the furnace while driving.

When we stop for the night we haven't had to use the generator for heat until the next morning.
Is there a reason you don't run the furnace during the drive or at night when stopped; it is 12 volt, right? I have an '04 LY and use the furnace whenever needed and always without the generator.

Also, as the tanks are heated, we use all the facilities when winter traveling; driving or parked. Am I missing something? I would hate to be making a mistake.
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:26 AM   #7
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For us, and probably you as well, there is a fair amount of heat generated inside the motor home just from running it for the better part of the day. We just don't need the furnace on during the day. If the grands happen to be with us, we have blankies.

If it isn't that cold out, the furnace isn't needed at night for warmth. If it is that cold, we run the furnace or get a site for the night with electricity.

If it is warm enough inside your RV for you, it is warm enough to keep pipes, tanks, etc. from freezing, is what we have always been told.


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Old 12-09-2012, 07:38 AM   #8
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Rag, Pretty much what Maggie said....we have never needed to supplement the chassis heat while driving. When we stop at night we run the furnace as needed...but, we usually don't need heat until the morning. Then we turn the furnace on...is it 12 volt? We have always started the generator. Next time we'll try it both ways.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:09 AM   #9
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is it 12 volt? We have always started the generator. Next time we'll try it both ways.
Yes, it is definitely 12 volt.

Thanks for responding....
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Old 07-12-2013, 11:34 AM   #10
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I am not certain about your Land Yacht but we used to winter camp in our classic all of the time. One year my son and I spent a week at Canton and Cleveland, OH in January sub-zero weather. Then there was the memorable trip when we ended up at Jackson Center on New Years Eve. As long as we kept the interior warm nothing froze. Another Ohio adventure was a campground along Lake Erie. We had so much snow overnight we could not open the door. There are many northern campgrounds which stay open all winter and people who use them.
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:56 PM   #11
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Thanks so much for your answer. Nothing like experience. I assume the various northern RV parks are closed in January. Do you stay in Wal Marts, truck stops, etc. on the way south? But there must be some RV parks open at some point in the south. Do you un-winterize in one of those, or wait until you get to Gulf Shores to handle that?
In my (admittedly limited) experience, anywhere south of the latitude of the Arkansas/Louisiana state line will have at least some parks open year-round, anywhere north of there will close for the winter. DeGray Lake Resort State Park at Bismarck, AR closes for the winter the end of Thanksgiving weekend (but puts on a fine Thanksgiving buffet just before that; highly recommended). Safe to assume most places north of there also close for the winter.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:56 PM   #12
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We don't do snow anymore, we are full time Florida residents, the occasional trip north is only in warm weather, our normal travel is 200 miles a day but when pushed for time or weather window we can double that. so a trip south with the given advice of a couple of days clear weather should be easy to do. We are far enough south that winterizing is to make sure the water lines are empty by Jan until Feb. However, when we have a mild winter with a short freeze time. a couple of hours, I don't worry about it. Land Yacht's have freshwater tank under the bed, and some protection of holding tanks but they are under the chassis, if I lived north I would either insulate or have a thermostatic controlled heat wire installed near the valves, the waterlines are inside so running the furnace would do it. Furnace does use 12v and uses a lot of battery power to run all night so plug in or running generator would be prudent. My problem is that if the furnace is on but not running due to low thermostat setting when I park, I have been surprised by going out on a cold morning and hearing the furnace running, so I now make sure it is in the off position.
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Old 07-12-2013, 04:02 PM   #13
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Speaking of snow...and sorry to jump in on your thread but I just saw where someone said during a big snow last year, they went up on top and covered their vents. Never heard that before and wondered if that is common practice? Also live in Ohio.
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:16 AM   #14
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Funny to be discussing snow in July!
But, to answer Splinter....I don't remember a discussion of covering the vents from the outside. Several suggested covering them with an interior insulating material...name escapes me, but it looks like shiny/metal bubble wrap.
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Old 07-15-2013, 05:01 AM   #15
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Several suggested covering them with an interior insulating material...name escapes me, but it looks like shiny/metal bubble wrap.
Reflectix. I used to have a vent cover that applied to the inside of the vent with Velcro(bought at Parts66, but also carried by Camping World and others), but quit carrying it because I never use it.

Prodex has better insulating qualities (comes in 5mm and 10mm thicknesses), but tends to be less flexible and so might be harder to use if you apply it to the exterior.

Personally, I'd leave at least one the vents uncovered. You've still got to have ventilation, and a rooftop vent creates less of a cold draft than opening a window. Yes, it wastes some heat, but think about it; your carbon monoxide detector is near the ceiling for a reason— CO is lighter than air— and having a rooftop vent open means that potential CO buildup can safely be vented to the outside before it has a chance to hurt you.

That's why I quit using my vent cover.
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:01 PM   #16
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Thumbs up Driving/Camping in below freezing temperatures.

We picked up our 2005 LY 30 in Boise a couple of years ago and drove across the mountains to Denver area during a snowstorm and daytime high of 18 degrees F with a strong crosswind in December a few years ago. At night it dropped to minus 5 F. ( no we are not nuts. Its just that we bought this M/H and had to get it home. Weather was supposed to be in the 30's.) From Denver east the temp was 25 to 35 during the day with 10 to 15 at night. We did not have the M/H winterized. The hot water tank was on bypass. There was about 15 gallons of fresh water in the tank under the bed. The water pipes in the M/H run on top of the floor around the walls. Stayed at Walmarts for 2 nights since campgrounds were not open. We ran the engine heater and auxillary during the day augmented by the furnace. Left doors/drawers open/removed around the floor. At night we ran the gen and the furnace. We were quite warm. The water supply pipe by the wall on the rear roadside was frozen for the next day. The waste water in the 2 tanks froze at the outlets for 3 days. Tanks are "heated" but not the outlets. When we hit warm weather the water pipe and tanks thawed with no leaks. Learned a couple of things. (a) It can be done. (b)M/H drives very well in a snowstorm. At no time did I as the driver feel stupid or scared. Front window did not freeze up. Tire traction was excellent. Stayed in right hand lane running in snow ruts. left hand lane was snowcovered. Trucks passing us were a challege due to complete whiteouts. (c)the heating systems in the M/H are terrific. the use of this new flex stuff for the water supply lines saved us from split pipes when it froze. (d) yes you can use the wate water tanks sparingly in freezing weather.

Yes in hindsight of course we should have winterized the unit. If we had known we would be driving through a snow storm, we would have waited it out. But when we left Boise the temp was 35 and we had the forecast of 20 to 35 for the next 4 days. This was and is our only experience in driving thru the mountains in winter.

No, we wouldn't volunteer to do it again.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:42 AM   #17
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Sounds like a 1st trip to remember. I hope you have had some warmer weather to enjoy your unit since.

Having the HW tank on bypass may have saved you some grief. It is hard to protect it when travelling in sever weather unless you leave it on and heated all the time. (or trim up a piece of styrofam to seal the HW tank door to the outside if not using it)

A couple jugs of RV antifreeze are inexpensive and will help to prevent the waste tank outlets from a freeze.

With the PEX plumbing able to stand some stress, that leaves the pump, check valves, and shut off valves as the major stress points.

Owning an RV is much like any other experience in life. The longer you have it, the more ways you will learn to enjoy it.

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Old 09-03-2013, 12:52 PM   #18
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...................... (or trim up a piece of styrofam to seal the HW tank door to the outside if not using it)
Do you mean the door to the water heater from the outside? If it's like mine, I think styrofoam or anything else inflammable would not be a great idea there. You probably mean while the heater is off, but I know with my memory it'd be likely to stay there until I wondered what the funny burning smell was next time I lighted the heater!

I've traveled in -20 degrees with the heater on, no problem. So long as we keep the furnace on, and avoid using the grey and black tanks if possible, so as not to fill them above the 1/3 mark, and also shut off the feed to the driver-side outside faucet in the sewer access door, I believe that my 1994 LY is completely safe for winter travel. The water tank is under the bed, and I make sure the driver side drawer under the bed is open so air can circulate. We have often used ours in sub-zero temperatures. If you shut off the furnace and water heater, you are in trouble quickly, so ...... keep 'em running!
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:04 PM   #19
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You are so right about the memory!

I now use a system where I tie a ribbon on or near the object or switch to remind me of things I need to do.

On my unit, the fresh water bay is isolated to the rear of the heated main bay, so I have solved the freeze weather condition with a 12V heater.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f313...ml#post1260320

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[QUOTE=Punch;1349422]Do you mean the door to the water heater from the outside? If it's like mine, I think styrofoam or anything else inflammable would not be a great idea there. You probably mean while the heater is off, but I know with my memory it'd be likely to stay there until I wondered what the funny burning smell was next time I lighted the heater!
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:01 PM   #20
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That makes sense.... good idea. Nothing like anything on my '94 LY.
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