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Old 11-08-2011, 02:21 PM   #1
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Winterizing Question from a First-Timer

Last weekend, I undertook my first winterizing of my 2011 Flying Cloud and things seemed to go as planned. However, I am curious to know whether it is better to keep my batteries in place in the trailer with a continuing 110V connection from my house or to take the batteries out for the winter and store them in my basement. I don't own a stand-alone trickle charger, so the indoor storage of the batteries might lead to their eventual depletion if I don't have a way to recharge them, correct? If I do keep them in the trailer for the winter (which is stored outside on my property), I believe I need to check the water level periodically so they don't run dry. I'd appreciate any advice you may offer as to what works best for you. Thanks.

Tom
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:49 PM   #2
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If I were going to keep the trailer plugged in all winter, I would unplug the converter from the wall and get a BatteryMinder Plus and keep the batts maintained with that. That is, unless you have thrown out that Parallax converter the trailer came with. If you have upgraded to a quality 3 stage charger, you'd be fine with just keeping it plugged in and connected to the batts.

I would put your disconnect switch on the off position if you go the BatteryMinder route.
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:59 PM   #3
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If I were going to keep the trailer plugged in all winter, I would unplug the converter from the wall and get a BatteryMinder Plus and keep the batts maintained with that. That is, unless you have thrown out that Parallax converter the trailer came with. If you have upgraded to a quality 3 stage charger, you'd be fine with just keeping it plugged in and connected to the batts.

I would put your disconnect switch on the off position if you go the BatteryMinder route.
I agree, remove the batteries and store them at room temperature not on concrete, disconnect the battery lines and trickle charge them from time to time or upgrade your converter to a three stage charger. The stock Paralax converter has only a high level of charge and will fry the batteries if left plugged in all winter.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:40 PM   #4
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I haven't tossed the Parallax yet (expect to have that done by the weekend). What has worked for me was to let them charge for 24 hours when I did my winterizing routine which included checking the electrolyte levels, then put the battery switch to Store. I then put a day each month on my calendar to change the switch from Store to Use and flipped it back the next day. Since I also keep the trailer at the house, this is convenient to do.

If you have a true 3 stage converter, it can be left on through the winter. As others have suggested an alternative is to bring them in... They still need to be charged every 30 - 60 days as lead acid batteries discharge on their own. The regular charge cycles brings the electrolyte to a slight boil which keeps the batteries from stratifying and forming sulfate crystals. Some of the 3 stage converters have a built-in desulphation cycle that periodically bumps the voltage up briefly to accomplish that goal.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:51 PM   #5
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Interstate Batteries, and I believe that's what you have in your unit, says this (I called them).

The batteries themselves will not freeze as long as they are charged. And they are good safe from damage, way below zero.

It gets down to the proximity of the trailer to your shore power, and as long as you recharge them once a month (for about 24 hours), you're good to go.
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:47 PM   #6
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It has been about a year since the last response in this thread - don't know if folks are still watching....but here goes...

We plan to purchase the FC 27FB next spring and intend to do long weekends monthly (say MAy through Oct) then store for the winter in New England. We have been looking at a storage space for RVs that is uncovered and without electricity. Reading this thread made me wonder whether that's a good or bad idea. IF we did this, would we need to remove the batteries and store them at home with a charger? Thanks for any insights for we not-even-qualified-to-count-as-newbies-yet!
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:53 PM   #7
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Welcome, Steve, Sue. Storing in New England with no power....definitely take the batts out and store them at home on a BatteryMinder Plus.
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:35 AM   #8
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We take our batts out and store inside for the winter - charging them every couple of weeks for several hours and then disconnecting ... Montana is very cold in the winter!
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Old 10-13-2012, 06:10 AM   #9
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Steve and Sue -

I own a 2011 27' FB Flying Cloud in New England (Avon, MA) and happen to be writing this from the comfort of my Airstream on a cold (30 degrees) Saturday morning.

In answer to your first question, as noted by dznf)g, I take my batteries out and connect them to a BatteryMinderPlus. That does the trick.

I store my AS at an outdoor storage facility in Lakeville, MA. This has worked well. In fact, I just pulled it out of storage yesterday to bring it to a nearby KOA for the weekend so that I can winterize it.

If you would like to correspond directly with me about my AS experience thus far, you can reach me at tdmay@me.com. In our case, we've been very happy we made the leap.

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Old 10-21-2012, 04:09 PM   #10
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Does anyone have a list for this "Newbie" on how to winterize? We're picking up our new AS next month in NJ and driving it back to Denver. We found covered storage that does have electricity. I'm clueless where to begin on winterizing. Also, "IF" we want to take a trip, let's say in Feb/Mar/Arp perhaps, I'm assuming we still have to winterize, right? Thanks for all and any advise. Cheers!! Anna
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:16 PM   #11
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anna, while the folks here are great....have your dealer/seller walk you through the process. take written notes and make a video if possible. when the time comes you'll have the exact info you need for your trailer. don't just watch, move the levers yourself to see what it should feel like. also discuss with the dealer/seller what to do if the temps drop very low going home. a lot of folks i meet that head south for the winter, travel 'dry' if it gets very cold.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:47 PM   #12
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anna, while the folks here are great....have your dealer/seller walk you through the process. take written notes and make a video if possible. when the time comes you'll have the exact info you need for your trailer. don't just watch, move the levers yourself to see what it should feel like. also discuss with the dealer/seller what to do if the temps drop very low going home. a lot of folks i meet that head south for the winter, travel 'dry' if it gets very cold.
Thank you!!!
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Old 10-22-2012, 06:24 AM   #13
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Anna -


I would recommend you buy a copy of the e-book (or paper version) of "The Newbies' Guide to Airstreaming" by Rich Luhr. This has a very good section about winterizing your Airstream. The ebook is available from Amazon as a Kindle book or from Apple's iBooks Store. I believe the paper version is available through the Airstream Life magazine site, as Rich is the publisher of that magazine.

I have a copy of the book on my iPad and it has come in very handy as I winterized my trailer each of the past two seasons. I just winterized my trailer last weekend and the key steps involve the following (don't rely on my list - get the Newbies book or search this forum for others' winterizing lists):

1. Remove all perishables from the trailer.
2. Remove anything else that could be made into a nest for animals wanting to use your trailer as a winter home.
3. Turn off the fridge, clean it out and use the plastic brackets to hold the doors open to air it out.
4. Empty the fresh water tank by opening all the faucets until the system runs dry (but don't let your water pump run for long without water flow)
5. Drain the black and grey water tanks (I do this at a local campground near my storage facility) and flush out the black water tank thoroughly.
6. Look for and open the drain valve for the fresh water tank. Open the "low point" valves under your trailer (they vary from trailer to trailer). Raise and lower your hitch to fully drain out water from these valves.
7. Drain your hot water tank. Bypass the tank after draining and before adding antifreeze to your fresh water lines (otherwise, you'll up putting antifreeze into the hot water tank.
8. Add RV antifreeze to your fresh water system (some advise clearing your water lines if you have easy access to an air compressor to blow all the water out of the lines). To add the antifreeze, I've found that it is very helpful to install a valve upstream of the water pump so that you can add antifreeze at that point. These kits are available at RV service centers if you don't already have such a setup. I usually end up pumping in about two gallons of the antifreeze (available also at the RV service center)
9. Make sure the drain traps receive about one cup of the antifreeze to protect them.
10. Shut off the propane tanks.
11. Remove the batteries for the winter and place them indoors where they can be put on a trickle charge system (look for a BatteryMinderPlus device at Camping World, for example).

Others will add to or correct what I've listed, but this gives you an idea what is involved. I think the procedure is best done in the morning to make sure you have plenty of daylight and don't run out of time. It should take you about 1/2 half day, assuming you don't run into issues. Please don't rely on what I've just listed as a guide. It is just to give you an idea. And don't be intimidated by the length of the list. Have your cell phone handy to call your Airstream dealer if needed. That's another reason to start this in the morning (and not on a Sunday to avoid having the dealer's service center be closed). Good luck.

Tom (still a newbie too)
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:13 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdmaymac View Post
Anna -


I would recommend you buy a copy of the e-book (or paper version) of "The Newbies' Guide to Airstreaming" by Rich Luhr. This has a very good section about winterizing your Airstream. The ebook is available from Amazon as a Kindle book or from Apple's iBooks Store. I believe the paper version is available through the Airstream Life magazine site, as Rich is the publisher of that magazine.

I have a copy of the book on my iPad and it has come in very handy as I winterized my trailer each of the past two seasons. I just winterized my trailer last weekend and the key steps involve the following (don't rely on my list - get the Newbies book or search this forum for others' winterizing lists):

1. Remove all perishables from the trailer.
2. Remove anything else that could be made into a nest for animals wanting to use your trailer as a winter home.
3. Turn off the fridge, clean it out and use the plastic brackets to hold the doors open to air it out.
4. Empty the fresh water tank by opening all the faucets until the system runs dry (but don't let your water pump run for long without water flow)
5. Drain the black and grey water tanks (I do this at a local campground near my storage facility) and flush out the black water tank thoroughly.
6. Look for and open the drain valve for the fresh water tank. Open the "low point" valves under your trailer (they vary from trailer to trailer). Raise and lower your hitch to fully drain out water from these valves.
7. Drain your hot water tank. Bypass the tank after draining and before adding antifreeze to your fresh water lines (otherwise, you'll up putting antifreeze into the hot water tank.
8. Add RV antifreeze to your fresh water system (some advise clearing your water lines if you have easy access to an air compressor to blow all the water out of the lines). To add the antifreeze, I've found that it is very helpful to install a valve upstream of the water pump so that you can add antifreeze at that point. These kits are available at RV service centers if you don't already have such a setup. I usually end up pumping in about two gallons of the antifreeze (available also at the RV service center)
9. Make sure the drain traps receive about one cup of the antifreeze to protect them.
10. Shut off the propane tanks.
11. Remove the batteries for the winter and place them indoors where they can be put on a trickle charge system (look for a BatteryMinderPlus device at Camping World, for example).

Others will add to or correct what I've listed, but this gives you an idea what is involved. I think the procedure is best done in the morning to make sure you have plenty of daylight and don't run out of time. It should take you about 1/2 half day, assuming you don't run into issues. Please don't rely on what I've just listed as a guide. It is just to give you an idea. And don't be intimidated by the length of the list. Have your cell phone handy to call your Airstream dealer if needed. That's another reason to start this in the morning (and not on a Sunday to avoid having the dealer's service center be closed). Good luck.

Tom (still a newbie too)
2011 27' Flying Cloud

Thank you so much, Tom!!! I will help a great deal and I will pull out my Newbie's guide before the big trip and read it again. I had forgotten all about it and the info. on winterizing. Cheers! Anna
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:41 AM   #15
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Folks,

Before my first winter with a new 25 Safari I essentially followed the checklist on the previous post. Within a month I needed to use my rig to camp at a mountain bike race and had to go through the hassles of flushing the antifreeze out of the water system. Even then the hot water foamed for a couple days after the flush!

So I looked up the AS recommend procedure in the Owner's Manual:

WINTERIZING AND STORAGE
When storing your trailer for short or long periods use the same precautions as you would in your own home in regard to perishables, ventilation and rain protection. In addition, for prolonged storage periods flush out all the drain lines and the holding tanks. Also drain the entire water system including the water heater and the water storage tank. Instructions for draining the water system are explained in the following
paragraphs on winterizing.

THE MAIN CONSIDERATION IN WINTERIZING IS TO GUARD AGAINST FREEZING
DAMAGE TO THE FRESH WATER SYSTEM LINES, TANK, AND PUMP; THE WASTE DRAIN SYSTEM INCLUDING THE TRAPS AND TANKS, THE WATER HEATER AND THE BATTERIES.

To completely winterize your trailer follow this procedure.
1. Level the trailer from side to side and front to rear. Open all faucets.

2. Turn the water pump switch to the ON position to expel water from the storage tank

3. Open all drain valves including drain plug or valve on water heater and exterior water service valve. (See drain valves on previous page) F
F - 8 PLUMBING

4. While the water is draining from the system, open and flush the toilet-flushing valve. Depress hand spray lever while holding the spray head down inside the bowl. Depress hand spray thumb button on the telephone shower head while holding down inside the tub and drain all water from the flexible hose. Unscrew the heads on both spray units and store.

5. Turn the pump switch OFF after all water has been removed from the storage tank.

6. Remove exhaust hose from water pump.

7. Disconnect the water pump inlet connection and turn the pump on until all the water is expelled. This water, about 1/2 cup, can be caught in a towel or rag.

8. Lower the front of the trailer as far as the jack will allow until water ceases to drain, then crank the jack up as high as it will go and let any remaining water drain out.

9. After the water has stopped running from the drain lines, apply at least 60 lbs, of air pressure at the city water inlet. An air to city water adapter is available from your dealer’s RV accessory store. Be sure the toilet valve and all drain valves and faucets are open and pump outlet hose is disconnected. This can be accomplished at a service station and will force any remaining water from the water heater and remove any water which may be trapped in low areas.

10. Pour a cup of non-toxic RV antifreeze which has been approved and listed by a recognized testing authority such as Underwriter Lab into the lavatory, sink and tub drains to prevent trap freeze-up. CAUTION Remove all RV anti-freeze spillage from all drain and faucet parts after winterizing. Failure to do so could result in damage to the plumbing fixture’s finish.

11. Be sure to open the waste holding tank drain valves and drain and flush the tanks thoroughly (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT AS THE SEWAGE IN THE TANKS, IF FROZEN, COULD SERIOUSLY DAMAGE THE TANKS.)

12 Remove the cartridge of the water purifier and leave the purifier valve in the open position. (If so equipped).

13. Remove the batteries from your trailer and store in a cool dry place where there is no danger of freezing. It is very important for optimum life of a battery to check it periodically and to keep it fully charged.

14. Remove any items (food, cosmetics, etc.) from trailer interior that might be damaged by freezing - or might damage the trailer if containers break.

For additional winterizing protection add a non-toxic antifreeze (approved for drinking water system) to the water lines using the following procedure.

1. Reconnect all lines except the hose to the pump inlet port. Close all drain valves.
2. Turn by-pass valve to by-pass position. To by-pass the water heater for winterizing, close valves A and C and open valve B (See illustration on next page).
3. Install a spare water purifier cartridge to be used specifically for winterizing. This cartridge will have RV anti-freeze in it when finished and will be removed and the clean cartridge re-installed for normal use. Keep the spare cartridge for future cold winterizing procedures.
4. Attach a length of hose to the pump inlet port. This piece of hose should be long enough for the free end to be inserted into and reach the bottom of the antifreeze container.
5. Dilute the antifreeze solution in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
6. Open all water faucets. F PLUMBING F - 9
7. Insert hose length into the antifreeze container, turn the pump switch on, and run the water pump until the antifreeze solution fills all water lines. Flush toilet. Work hand shower spray while holding down in tub.
8. Shut off the pump and close all faucets.
9. Disconnect the hose length from pump inlet fitting and reconnect water system inlet line.

Since I use my rig all year long I used the following procedure when I returned my trailer to covered parking:

Interior

1. Depressurized water system and drained shower hose.

2. Opened cabinets under sink and in bathroom to allow air to circulate.

3. Turned furnace on and set thermostat to 40F. Note: AS forced air furnaces circulate warm air through fresh, gray and black holding tanks to prevent freezing during cold weather camping.

Exterior

1. Cover water heater vent with a plastic barrier to prevent cold air from blowing in.

2. Used the same procedure for the refrigerator vent.

3. Emptied gray and black tanks.

4. Filled fresh water 1/4th full.

5. Replaced my lead acid batteries with sealed gel cells that will not freeze.

I've used this same procedure now for 3 hard winters (temps down to 15F) and with my 2010 FC that replaced my Safari without any problems or freezing of water or drain lines.

I also highly recommend 3R ODOR-CON / PUROGENE SALES products for fresh water and holding tank treatment and oder control.

The best is that my rig is always ready to roll!
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:50 PM   #16
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You will need to winterize anytime you are expecting below freezing temperatures for more than 12 hours or so, with an unoccupied trailer. It takes very little water to freeze, especially in all the traps and low points, to cause a big problem. A warm-ish day with risk of frost overnight? No problem... Windy evening and a few degrees below freezing, and you are risking problems in the morning...

Travelling in sub-freezing is a whole other issue... you can suck heat out of your Airstream in minutes... it just isn't made for 4 season travel...
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:29 AM   #17
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We have a Flying Coud 2012 and recently installed a solar panel. We learned not to put the switch in store mode as it tends to wipe ot all the settings on the electronic gear. The panels seem to keep the batteries charged. Are we over looking something?
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:47 AM   #18
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We have a Flying Coud 2012 and recently installed a solar panel. We learned not to put the switch in store mode as it tends to wipe ot all the settings on the electronic gear. The panels seem to keep the batteries charged. Are we over looking something?
Joan/Orson
If you are at a latitude where you are getting enough sun and your panel is a decent size (say 60w or so), you'll have no problem keeping the battery topped up. Many of the smaller automotive solar trickle chargers on only 5 or 10w panels...

For where I live, that isn't enough in the winter... where you are... no worries.
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