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Old 11-18-2012, 12:23 PM   #1
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2012 20' Flying Cloud
Bishop , California
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Winter Modifications

“Mrs. Mod” recently started a new thread on snow camping which generated a lot of great responses and suggestions. I contributed some info on RV parks open in the winter here in California and mentioned that I had made several modification to my 2012 Flying Cloud 20 for winter camping. Another member asked me to start a new thread on modifications, so here goes.

First, I certainly do not claim to be an expert on winter RVing and am open to suggestions and ideas, many which have already been covered in other sections of this forum in detail. I live in Mammoth Lakes, CA (ski resort town) at an elevation of 8200 ft. in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I use my Airstream on a regular basis for winter trips in the local area. Winter camping with a 30 amp electric hookup is much easier. However, I often camp without electricity which is a little more challenging.

Heat Sources
1. Furnace
2. Heat Strip in AC
3. Vernado electric heater with digital temp control (very quiet and safe for
night use)
4. Olympian Wave Catalytic heater (medium size for 20 ft. trailer)
Notes: NEVER use your stove or oven as a heat source.
Always make sure your propane tanks are full and house
batteries fully charged for each trip.


Modifications to Trailer
1. Propane quick connect inside for Olympian heater
2. Reflectix insulation in front wrap around windows (front bed model
trailer)
3. Reflectix insert for roof vents (cut to fit around handle)
4. Reflectix roof vent pads (purchased from RV store – use Velcro to
attach for easy attachment and removal from inside vent frame on roof)
5. Plexiglass inserts for oval windows (cut with fine tooth jig saw and held
in place by half inch foam insulation tape – available at most hardware
stores)
6. Plexiglass door window cover with bubble wrap “sandwiched” between
glass and plexiglass
7. Insulated Storage area (under bed, exterior storage area, etc.) I used
backpacker foam sleeping pads purchased from Walmart. Cut and fit
pads to exterior walls and attach using Velcro, duct tape or small daps
from an electric glue gun.
8. Exterior Storage doors. Cut foam insulation slightly smaller to fit inside
of doors and attach as mentioned in #7
9. Exterior shower - Stuff compartment with foam insulation
10. Indoor/Outdoor carpet on floor of storage areas
11. Carpet on floor living area including bath
12. Pipes - Half inch foam pipe insulation on all pipes that are accessible.
13. Dump Valves and Sewer Connection - Foam insulation wrapped
around and secured with weather proof duct tape. Newer Airstreams
have heated holding tanks and valves.
14. Foam mattress pad The pad absorbs body heat and helps with
warmer sleeping

Winter Camp Procedures
1. Check weather before leaving. I use the government NOAA forecast
available on the internet and NOAA equipped radios. I find NOAA
much better than forecasts such as the Weather Channel and other
commercial forecasts.
2. Never go if major storms are coming and never tow on snow or ice
covered roads – wait until the roads are dry.
3. If possible try to camp at places with a 30 amp electric hookup.
4. RV site - If possible park with trailer side facing to maximum sun
exposure. Avoid windy areas and low areas that tend to collect cold air
at night.
5. Olympian heater - These heaters are excellent especially at higher
elevations and do not draw down the house battery like running a
furnace (without hookups). Crack windows and/or roof vents when
using. I NEVER use this heater while sleeping.
6. CO detectors. Always use at least two CO detectors with fresh
batteries in the living area. I use units with digital level readouts –read
the manual –carbon monoxide can be deadly. Always use propane
and smoke detectors which comes standard on most trailers.
7. Electric heater in the storage area which contains the water pump.
“Personal heaters” with very low amp draws are available on Amazon.
8. Electric heat pads on newer Airstreams. Use them if hookups are
available to keep holding tanks, pipes and valve from freezing.
9. Flannel sheets, fleece and wool blankets. I find these better than using
a sleeping bag. Woolrich makes and excellent combo wool/fleece
blanket.
10. Clothes – Use layers of poly pro, fleece and down commonly
available at outdoor stores like REI and Cabelas.
11. Electronics - Weather station with indoor and outdoor temperature
sensors and graph type barometer for watching for changes in
weather conditions. NOAA equipped portable radio. Computer/Smart
phone for checking weather forecasts.
12. Leave interior doors and appropriate cabinets (near water pipes)
cracked open at night for circulation of warm air into these areas.

Options on/or to use with trailer

1. Generator. - I use a Honda 2000 when camping in areas without
hookups.
2. Solar panels – I use two one hundred watt panels which are great for
keeping house batteries charged when using the furnace without
hookups. AM Solar in Oregon provides great products and info on their
website.
3. House batteries – I use two Lifeline 6 volt AGM batteries rather than
common wet cell deep cycle batteries. Lifeline batteries have more
storage capacity than most common wet cell batteries.

I hope these ideas for modifications and cold weather camping procedures are helpful. Any additional ideas or modifications would be greatly appreciated. Please contact me if you would like additional help or information.

Bill Dunlap
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:14 AM   #2
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Some other threads

Adding ductwork or fans to improve heat distribution

Heaters with little or no electric draw that are outside vented. I dislike catalytic heaters for safety reasons.

More heaters that don't require electricity

Furnace/heater sizing recommendations based on actual measurements in an Airstream in cold weather.

Electric heat alternatives including both portable heaters and built-in wall heaters.

Using 100# propane tanks for long winter trips
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:50 PM   #3
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Nice, Bill. Thanks for the list. I hope the Moderators consider making this a "stickey" to allow folks to find it easily in the future, or whatever mechanism can make that happen.
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Silver Otter
Nice, Bill. Thanks for the list. I hope the Moderators consider making this a "stickey" to allow folks to find it easily in the future, or whatever mechanism can make that happen.
Done.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:11 PM   #5
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Winter Mods

For reference: I have a 34' Avion with rear bath and twin beds in the middle. These are winter mods I have done to my trailer.
Lined all of my hidden outside walls, (closets, under beds, cabinets and rear trunk area) with Reflectix Insulation.
Made a cover for the large front window with the Reflectix. Use Velcro strips to hold in place.
1/8" plexi cut to cover the windows by the beds held in place by a
border of Velcro.
Shrink film to cover a large picture window by the door and the window over the dinnette.
Made covers for the 2 power vents using the Reflectix with bubble wrap taped to the inside of them.
For sleeping comfort I wired in additional 12 V outlets and have Electro Warmth 12 V mattress heaters for the twin beds.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:32 PM   #6
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I have experimented with insulation in the above described places and have found, by measuring temperatures with an IR thermometer, that it has no measurable benefit.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:44 AM   #7
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What is the easiest way to add a propane quick connect inside for Olympian heater? I saw a friends that added a quick disconnect hose under the refrigerator on his 27FB. He added quick disconnect coming out of the storage cabinet under the frig. He also notched the door for the propane hose......I have a 25FB and really don't want to disturb too much on my rig.

Any suggestions??
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by clicker187 View Post
What is the easiest way to add a propane quick connect inside for Olympian heater? I saw a friends that added a quick disconnect hose under the refrigerator on his 27FB. He added quick disconnect coming out of the storage cabinet under the frig. He also notched the door for the propane hose......I have a 25FB and really don't want to disturb too much on my rig.

Any suggestions??
An unvented LP heater puts carbon monoxide into the interior of the trailer. Very dangerous.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:57 AM   #9
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I've long thought of the need to install shutoffs to the outside shower. Our water lines to the outside shower are in the wall behind the shower. We tend not to tow in the road salt season, so I've not done this yet. Or has the factory gotten around to doing this?

You'd need either to have a drain cock uphill of the shutoff or blow out that line and then close the shutoff.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:01 AM   #10
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I don't want to start anything, but I have yet to see an Airstream trailer air-tight enough for a properly functioning gas-fueled catalytic heater to be a problem.



Regards,

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Old 12-08-2014, 10:23 PM   #11
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Great list, Bill.

Does anybody use some type of portable, light-weight skirting around the bottom of their AS?

In your experience, if daytime temperatures are above freezing, are you still OK without a lot of special insulation if the night temperatures hover around 20F?

Also, what are people's thoughts on camping in a winterized AS?

We've done this a fair bit, by keeping the pipes winterized, and putting a chaser of windshield washer fluid down the (manually flushed) toilet and sink.

This system requires a lot of frequently refilled water bottles (and no showers) but does ease worries about the pipes freezing.

Keeping moisture out of the interior (via wet/snowy boots and jackets) and parking them in the truck, and minimizing production of steam (via cooking spaghetti or whatnot,) is a good way to lower the amount of condensation apt to appear along the inside walls and windows during cold weather. Even on cold nights, we generally sleep with the vent open just a peep.
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Old 12-09-2014, 04:03 PM   #12
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An unvented Olympian heater is certified for use inside of an r.v. It does not generate carbon monoxide provided the catalyst (on the pad) is in good condition. The instructions are to crack windows and vents on opposite ends of the trailer as it will use oxygen and if the oxygen supply in the trailer is depleted, it will emit carbon monoxide as a result of incomplete combustion.
I agree with the thread originator, I do not use mine when I am sleeping. I also have propane, monoxide and smoke detectors.
The heater is very handy for warming the trailer when getting up early before generator hours. I hunt in Colorado in my trailer and get up early most every day.
Mine is installed on the wall next to the stove. Pull the stove and the propane line is accessible.
The thread originator has posted a useful list of winter suggestions. The only thing I have done additionally is to change all my lighting to LEDs. 12v incandescent lamps use a lot of electricity.
I am good to go down to about 20 f. Below that and I have to run the generator or turn off the furnace and winterize the trailer. Usually cold temps discourage other campers and I am free to run my generator in an empty campground.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:04 AM   #13
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A dehumidifier during winter camping, I would suggest.
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Old 10-05-2015, 11:02 AM   #14
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An unvented Olympian heater is certified for use inside of an r.v. It does not generate carbon monoxide provided the catalyst (on the pad) is in good condition.
Who provides the certification? RVIA does not sanction ANY unvented gas burning appliance as original equipment other than the range and oven. That is why you will not see any RV manufacturer providing them from the factory.
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:37 PM   #15
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Very Helpful Bill,
I use my 25 Safari to hunt in the fall in Colorado and camp off the grid in temps down to the low teens in my 2004 25 foot Safari.
I have some of the modifications on my trailer that you suggest such as the Olympian heater and solar charger. Like you, we don't use the Olympian heater while sleeping but it keeps the trailer comfortable without electricity when we are awake.
I suggest a few other modifications. I have upgraded to group 27 batteries from group 24. These fit in the stock battery box if you drill out the rivets on lid. You can re rivet after the batteries are installed. The bigger batteries give you quite a bit more battery power to run the furnace all night.
Batteries won't last long with the stock single stage converter charger. I have upgraded to a three state unit which doubles battery life.
I also have a 2000 EU Honda generator. I have only one solar panel on my trailer and a little extra from the generator is necessary to keep my batteries charged particularly on cloudy rainy, snowy days.
We keep our heat on the low setting at night which keeps the temperature about 50 in the back bedroom. We sleep in sleeping backs rather than make up the bed.
On my wish list are l.e.d. lights. The incandescent bulbs take quite a bit of electricity.
Also the next time I change batteries, I will probably use agms and go with 4 batteries. I remodeled my Airstream to take out the couch and put in a dinette and I have a bit if room inside in the front of my trailer for two more batteries. The agms have more charge discharge cycles and are worth it if you do a lot of dry camping.
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Old 10-23-2016, 01:59 PM   #16
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Good information.
We plan to replace the black water tank with a composting toilet and relocate the freshwater tank to the living area so we can add insulation to where they were previously mounted in the frame.
The grey water tank will be staying put since it needs to be lower than any source of grey water and I'm 6'7", so I'm not willing to lose headspace in the shower.
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Old 11-11-2016, 11:41 AM   #17
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Thanks for the response. My own experience is much like this. We do an annual mid-september trip to June Lake and our little 1500 watt space heater pretty much runs continuously to keep the trailer above mid-60s. Have also used a Mr. Buddy inside the trailer. It works but goes through propane pretty fast. Don't use it any more. Also carry a 2000 Honda for unanticipated situations.
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Old 02-17-2019, 12:41 PM   #18
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In a 2017+ FC30 FB Bunk, what are the minimum steps to ensure the trailer is able to safely withstand NM winters during full-time living? It seems like many of these mods in this thread are about heat retention, but which ones are absolutely required to avoid frozen lines and what-not? For example, how does the now-standard "Enclosed Aluminum Insulated Heated Underbelly" fit in to all of this?

I ask because we are going to start full-timing in January with very little actual RV experience. I just want to make sure I am correctly prioritizing the mods so I am not fiddling with vent covers while my pipes burst in the walls, heh.
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Old 02-21-2019, 02:54 PM   #19
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In a 2017+ FC30 FB Bunk, what are the minimum steps to ensure the trailer is able to safely withstand NM winters during full-time living? It seems like many of these mods in this thread are about heat retention, but which ones are absolutely required to avoid frozen lines and what-not? For example, how does the now-standard "Enclosed Aluminum Insulated Heated Underbelly" fit in to all of this?

I ask because we are going to start full-timing in January with very little actual RV experience. I just want to make sure I am correctly prioritizing the mods so I am not fiddling with vent covers while my pipes burst in the walls, heh.
January... So in 11 months?

Where in NM, what are the lowest temps you expect to see?
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Old 02-22-2019, 02:45 AM   #20
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January... So in 11 months?

Where in NM, what are the lowest temps you expect to see?
Indeed, we are planning to buy in the fall to start gearing it up, and will move in around Jan.

We'll be in Clovis, NM. Average overnight lows are in the mid-20s in January, with occasional dips into the mid-teens. Average daytime highs in the high-40s for Jan, with rare days where it stays below freezing for >24 hours.

I've been reading a lot of threads on the subject and found good info, especially indicating that comfortable winter living is overall pretty sustainable as long as you keep up the supply of propane!
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