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-   -   Staying through the winter in Taos, NM without winterizing (https://www.airforums.com/forums/f462/staying-through-the-winter-in-taos-nm-without-winterizing-161869.html)

YodaBuddha 01-24-2017 03:16 AM

Staying through the winter in Taos, NM without winterizing
 
Hi Everybody!

I wanted to share my experiences with the community while my wife and I live through the winter in Taos, NM in our 2016 FC 27 FB.

We are about to get some gnarly cold weather coming in this week, with temps going down to -2F Thursday night, many days in a row where it won't go above freezing, and snow. Normally it doesnít get this cold here in Taos.

We aren't planning on taking any special measures to winterize. We are not skirting, we aren't using any mechanisms to heat or insulate the tanks or underbelly other than using our furnace, and we have made no modifications whatsoever to our Airstream. It is exactly as it came from the factory.

We also arenít planning on changing any of our normal daily routine. We are showering, washing dishes, cooking, and living as we normally do.

If we can get through this week without mishap, I'm confident that we'll make it all the way through the winter.

You might ask why are we doing this.

We are using our airstream as a mobile ski cabin. Both my wife and I are avid skiers, and we plan to ski almost every day for the rest of the season. The Taos ski area is amazing - my favorite place to ski period. It is a challenging and very steep mountain. And during the week it is not crowded at all and it feels like you have the mountain to yourself, with almost nobody else on the lifts or slopes.

We expect the airstream to be able to function as a ďmobile ski cabinĒ.

The reason we arenít taking any measures to winterize the airstream is simple. Iíve always followed the motto of not trying to solve problems that donít exist.

Iíve carefully analyzed a large number of threads where folks talk about running into various problems in cold weather in their airstreams, including some very serious problems. Iíve also carefully analyzed many threads and posts where people talk about their opinion that airstreams are only three season campers, and are simply not suitable for very cold environments.

Iíve determined that it doesnít seem likely that any of these problems will happen in our circumstances and with our particular year and model of airstream. I can go into details as to why Iíve come to this conclusion if folks are interested - let me know. Iím just trying to keep this initial post as short as possible so that it is readable and not bogged down in too much detail.

Iím not saying that this would be possible or a good idea at all if you have a different year or model. This is especially true for shorter rigs, and strangely it also might be true for the IS or other more expensive models. So, please DO NOT TRY AND DO THIS YOURSELF unless you are sure that your particular airstream has the correct features and was designed in a way so that there wonít be problems.

Weíve already been here for about 5 days, and we already weathered out a night where it went down to 16F, with temps barely going above freezing during the day. No problems so far. And quite toasty in our little house!

While we are not winterizing the rig, there are some basic protocols that we are following. Many or even all of these might seem obvious, but Iím listing them here just in case. To be honest, Iím not sure if other people are following all of these. Obviously most people follow at least some of them:

- Keep an accurate outdoor radio thermometer and pay attention to it to know whether we need to follow these protocols.
- Always run the furnace set to at least 55F when it is expected to stay below freezing for more than a few consecutive hours, and I pay attention to the actual temperature that Iím reading from my thermometer and donít only rely on temperatures from weather sites, etc. This is important.
- Have a buffer of spare propane tanks on hand at all times, and an additional ďemergencyĒ tank that we normally never touch, which would get us through the night in the case of some terrible brain fart where we failed to refill our propane tanks and didnít realize we had used our spares up. Also, Iíd rather go less frequently to fill a bunch of tanks at once, then have to fill the two tanks every week - or possibly more frequently. More efficient. Iíd like to install something like a 100 gallon tank outside the rig, but this isnít possible or practical where we are currently camping.
- Being prepared to do an ďemergency winterizationĒ at any time RV antifreeze, and always having a couple of gallons of antifreeze on hand.
- Not using a heated water hose, and disconnect the hose when it drops below freezing if we arenít actively using water. Even if below freezing, I sometimes connect it when we are showering, washing dishes, etc - just for convenience so that we donít have to keep refilling the fresh water tank or have the hassle of it running out in the middle of a shower, etc.
- Donít keep the grey water valve open if it is below freezing, but let the tank fill and dump it when it is full. This is because ice can theoretically build up in the sewer hose from small trickles of water that result from quick hand washings, etc. However, I donít worry about this unless it is expected to stay well below freezing for many days in a row. I also open it before we shower, wash dishes, etc - in these cases there is a larger and more extended flow of water, often warm water, and if anything this might melt any ice that had built up. I might not keep it open if it is below about 15F except for dumping the entire grey tank.
- Donít use any heat source other than the furnace when it is below freezing.
- Have multiple hygrometers in different locations in the rig, and I check them regularly. I have a dehumidifier ready to go if there is any serious problem with humidity levels. I pay close attention to the amount of condensation on windows and other areas, to make sure it isnít out of control. We make sure to run the shower fan even if it means we are losing some heat, to combat condensation. Obviously, running the stove vent fan when cooking is critical - and this is something that should always be done regardless of the weather.

None of this requires much work or thought, and it isnít really much extra overhead to regular daily life at all. IMHO the biggest hassle is having to drive to refill propane tanks frequently, and Iím working on a solution to have propane delivered to where we are - but not sure if that is possible where we are camping. The second biggest hassle is refilling the fresh water tank when it runs out, but that doesnít take very long. Having very high quality insulated waterproof gloves helps with this.

Iíll keep everyone posted. Feel free to ask me anything. There are many more details that I can go into.

Cheers,
YB

YodaBuddha 01-24-2017 04:01 AM

Just for fun this is us right now. Some moderate snow - maybe 2 inches has come down so far. At our elevation not likely more than 5 inches tonight - but maybe a little more.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...20%281%29.jpeg

YodaBuddha 01-24-2017 04:35 AM

To clarify - I just mean that the time it takes to drive to the propane filling station is a hassle and takes time. The folks at the station here are awesome and have been great to talk to and super helpful in every way.

twbucksr 01-24-2017 05:10 AM

We part time in our 22FB. We experienced a several days below freezing spell that had a couple of 15 degrees F mornings a few weeks back without winterizing. We set the furnace to 60 and pointed the electric heater directly under our bed to heat the space under it and not influence the furnace thermostat. The only issue we had was frozen black and grey tank valves. I had to get out the hair dryer to free them up. The 27FB is a model we are considering as our next unit as we move to a full time status. I will be curious how your experiment turns out.


Sent from my iPad using Airstream Forums

Caffeinated 01-24-2017 08:40 AM

Following. I love Taos, especially at Christmas. Walking around the village with all the luminarias lighting up the night is magical. A zillion or so years back, when I used to ski, we booked ski weeks every year at The St Bernard with Jean Mayer. The food, the location, and the Mountain.

Mike

AWCHIEF 01-24-2017 08:54 AM

Good luck!

AzAirstream 01-24-2017 12:45 PM

Subscribed. good luck.

Crabpot 01-24-2017 01:05 PM

YB,
Thanks for the posting, I will be leaving Virginia and driving the AS to the Salt Lake area - Alta in mid March to get some spiring skiing in, my plan is to stop in Taos on the way to get a couple of days of skiing. Plan on taking a southern route across the country that will bring me close to Taos.
I am also an avid skier, just got back from Jackson Hole and headed to Telluride in 2 weeks (not in the AS).
I have a Mountain Collective Pass and can ski 2 days free at Taos (have never skied there).
Would love to get some info from you on where I can park the AS for a couple of days. And info would be greatly appreciated.....Also like to meet you guys.
Andy

mikextr 01-24-2017 01:23 PM

Thanks for sharing your adventure/experiment. I love Taos but never considered camping during ski season. How close is your campsite to the ski village?

Lets go 01-24-2017 01:27 PM

Following. Thanks. Good Luck.

Mark

kdickinson 01-24-2017 01:33 PM

If it ain't broke don't fix it ... enjoy Kachina basin, Al's run, and the other bowls, should be some good powder coming in this week ...

n930jd 01-24-2017 01:36 PM

Thanks for posting this. I am following as well. This thread is of particular interest to me as the FC 27FB would be my choice as well. Being from AZ with NM ties, camping is second nature. With that, I find myself in Chicago for work so I have put my purchase plans on hold. I will say the only thing keeping me from moving forward with a purchase and full time living in it is this winter thing. The Chicago area seems sparse for places to full time (if it's not let me know) but if the winter code cannot be cracked - it really doesn't matter. We have sustained temps much like your Taos experiment.

Good luck. Cant wait to see how this works for you.

Antique Pedaler 01-24-2017 06:26 PM

I keep my grey dump valve from freeze up By flooding it with antifreeze.

OTRA15 01-24-2017 06:44 PM

Please keep us advised and good luck! As you mentioned, the end of this week looks challenging:

https://www.accuweather.com/en/us/tao...weather/334572

The line graphs at the bottom of this monthly view show possible low temps in the -5 F range.

It will be instructive for all if you can track not only your temps, but also the wind speed and direction, in relation to the trailer. In particular the exterior shower valves, and the elbows supplying them, seem like possible weak links in the chain IMO. A -2 F strong wind hitting these exterior valves would freeze them probably, no matter what the interior temp of the trailer. The user Vitaver indicated a problem here, in his FC27 also BTW, in a recent thread.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vitaver (Post 1896168)
Today one of my propane bottles emptied, after a month of use. I did experience freezing on the black tank valve and on the shower elbow, so I added 2 lamps under the rig with some wood boards around the tanks to keep more of the heat. One space heater on high, one on low (1.5KW and 750 W), and the thermostat on the wall set at 69.

Fortunately the forecast for Thursday calls for only 5-10 MPH winds from the NE:

https://www.accuweather.com/en/us/tao...t/334572?day=3

By any chance is your exterior shower facing the NE?

Good luck!

Peter

PS -- What are you doing about the black water waste? Will you be able to move the trailer a little, to agitate the contents, before you dump?

Suzbp 01-24-2017 06:50 PM

Following. Haven't camped in freezing temps yet.

gypsydad 01-24-2017 08:19 PM

good luck!
 
I froze 3 lines in 18-20 degree weather last month in TX. I was traveling and not home, but I had an oil heater on at 45 degrees. AS service reminded me that AS is not a 4 season trailer, and that lines can freeze even when heat is on inside if it is cold enough outside with winds. All cracks occurred at the joint of the line connections, but it took me a few hours to identify and repair...not fun. Hope your luck holds out!:blush: Be interesting to see your progress to spring...:o

OTRA15 01-24-2017 08:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gypsydad (Post 1903452)
I froze 3 lines in 18-20 degree weather last month in TX. I was traveling and not home, but I had an oil heater on at 45 degrees. AS service reminded me that AS is not a 4 season trailer, and that lines can freeze even when heat is on inside if it is cold enough outside with winds. All cracks occurred at the joint of the line connections, but it took me a few hours to identify and repair...not fun. Hope your luck holds out!:blush: Be interesting to see your progress to spring...:o

The only chance of having an AS survive extreme sub-freezing cold weather is to use the furnace, so that the trailer's heat ducts get the heat to the tanks, assuming the model has such a feature (and tank heaters if so equipped).

Supplemental electric/oil heaters only ensure that the furnace will NOT come on as much, thereby robbing the hidden tanks/pipes of crucial heat.

The OP's first post recognizes this IMO, as well as the fact that shorter trailers, without ducted heat, may not have the same capabilities to withstand extreme cold. A case in point is our FC20, in which the entire rear compartment's pipes would freeze solid in most freezing weather, especially if the wind was coming from that direction.

gypsydad 01-24-2017 08:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1903456)
The only chance of having an AS survive extreme sub-freezing cold weather is to use the furnace, so that the trailer's heat ducts get the heat to the tanks, assuming the model has such a feature (and tank heaters if so equipped).

Supplemental electric/oil heaters only ensure that the furnace will NOT come on as much, thereby robbing the hidden tanks/pipes of crucial heat.

The OP's first post recognizes this IMO, as well as the fact that shorter trailers, without ducted heat, may not have the same capabilities to withstand extreme cold. A case in point is our FC20, in which the entire rear compartment's pipes would freeze solid in most freezing weather, especially if the wind was coming from that direction.

Good points.:blush:

bwpaint 01-24-2017 09:12 PM

Following-
Thanks

h2ocoolerman 01-24-2017 11:11 PM

I have a 27FB IS and will be interested to see how this works out. also curious as to way you think the Internationals might not far as well as the FC the floor plan and plumbing all looks the same only the overheads and finishes are different.

YodaBuddha 01-24-2017 11:56 PM

Hi Andy,

We are parked at the Monte Bello RV park right now, and I would highly recommend it if you plan to do some skiing here in Taos. The owners are very good people and it is a friendly and very clean place, surrounded by open space wilderness. It is a small park so you might want to make reservations well in advance. It's about a half hour drive to the ski slopes, and it is also close to the downtown part of Taos - so a short drive to many restaurants and shopping. There are good views of the mountains from this park. The drive to the slopes is very scenic and I don't mind it at all.

If you come here in March we will probably still be here!

Cheers,
YB

YodaBuddha 01-24-2017 11:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mikextr (Post 1903267)
Thanks for sharing your adventure/experiment. I love Taos but never considered camping during ski season. How close is your campsite to the ski village?

We are about a half hour drive from the ski village. I'm not sure I would want to be camping any closer, as the weather conditions quickly get much colder as you head up the mountain towards the ski village.

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 12:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1903405)

By any chance is your exterior shower facing the NE?

Good luck!

Peter

PS -- What are you doing about the black water waste? Will you be able to move the trailer a little, to agitate the contents, before you dump?

The exterior shower is facing NW. Yeah, I'm also worried that this might be the weak link.

I'm not sure how to tell if the shower elbow has frozen, other than to test running the exterior shower. To be honest, we never use the exterior shower and don't really care about it. If the elbow pipe burst due to freezing I'd probably just disconnect the pipe heading to the shower and cap it off. I doubt that the ice would travel down the pipe deeper into the heated AS and cause additional damage. So, I think I could live with that. My plan is to ignore that crappy shower unless that pipe ruptures.

The good thing is that if that pipe does rupture from freezing and starts to leak, we should know about it as our water pump will start running for no obvious reason. I'm keeping the city water disconnected and the pump turned off when we are not in the AS - so I don't think there would be much leaking that could happen without my noticing that a leak started, unless my wife and I were asleep and the sound of the pump didn't wake us up... Even then, we would catch this quickly and I doubt there would be any serious water damage.

If it freezes and there is no damage I really don't care, as I never use that exterior shower. To be honest, it's my least favorite feature in this AS and I wish it wasn't there at all.

Am I correct in thinking that any damage from this shower elbow freezing would only impact that very specific stretch of pipe going to the exterior shower? Or am I wrong, and could the ice spread farther inwards and damage other pipes? I can't imagine that would happen though...

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by h2ocoolerman (Post 1903516)
I have a 27FB IS and will be interested to see how this works out. also curious as to way you think the Internationals might not far as well as the FC the floor plan and plumbing all looks the same only the overheads and finishes are different.

After going over the FC vs IS manuals, while there do seem to be some mysterious omissions/differences in the 2016 FC owners manual in the section on the "Waste Water System", I'm not sure if this means there actually is any physical difference. It would make sense to me that the IS would have identical plumbing to the FC, and would perform identically the same in extreme cold. But, I'm still not 100% sure if the plumbing is identical as there are some odd differences in what is included in the owners manuals.

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 12:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1903405)
PS -- What are you doing about the black water waste? Will you be able to move the trailer a little, to agitate the contents, before you dump?

Yes, I could tow it if needed. I dumped both the black and grey tanks tonight when it was 25F and had been below freezing for over 24 hours. Both handles pulled out smoothly and based on the sound it seemed that there was only liquid contents - nothing seemed unusual or frozen.

I'm wondering why agitating the contents of the black tank would be helpful? Would this help to break up any ice if some ice had started to form?

I'm still planning on just doing things as I normally do them unless something actually goes wrong - and I'll try and solve any such problems as they come up.

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 01:48 AM

Quick update - it's 23F out right now, and has been below freezing for more than 24 hours. Tomorrow the high is expected to only be in the mid 20's, and then the mercury is supposed to drop to 3F for the overnight low. Thursday is going to be the most intense test with a low of -6F expected - and temperatures not rising out of the 20's during the day - so no chance for any thawing of tanks, valves or pipes.

It's still as toasty warm as ever here in our rig. Our cat is here too and she is very happy.

My wife took some awesome photos of the rig during heavy snow coming down this morning. I'll post these tomorrow after I get her permission (she is a pro photographer and will want to put on waterstamps and the like, and I need to get her permission in any case - but she is sleeping now).

tevake 01-25-2017 03:33 AM

Nice to hear that winter camping is going so well for you in your ski cabin.
And that the furnace is managing to keep it cozy inside.

I'm going into my third winter aboard my 345 classic Moho.
Ive done two things this year that has made colder weather a bit easier to deal with.

First putting clear plastic sheet window covering over most of the windows, leaving only the cab, bathroom, and galley uncovered. I even covered the fixed windows in the bedroom. This has really helped in maintaining comfortable temps inside.

On the vintage motorhomes there is no belly pan, so the tanks and valves are exposed to the weather? And its 21 degrees now with a little snow off and on since Christmas.
So my mini skirt made with insulation foam is really helping to keep the water flowing and valves happy. With less than two 4' x 8' sheets I was able to protect the critical areas. Once fitted, These pieces could be cleand up, and carried inside to be put in place while setting up for a longer stay in cold weather. Taped in place with tent pegs on both sides of the bottom to keep it in place with snow and wind pushing on it. I put a drop light inside near the valves, and so far it's working well.

For less than $200 these improvements have made dealing with freezing temps easier and more comfortable.

Here is a link to a thread with pics of the mini skirt.
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...rt-161065.html

Cheers Richard

OTRA15 01-25-2017 03:53 AM

Thanks for the replies. The exterior shower is probably plumbed from a nearby run of pipes inside a wall, which is inaccessible. Our outdoor shower setup is very near our interior shower valve. The only way to isolate the outdoor shower valves/elbows would be to open up the wall and re-plumb things. Not easy, and how would you install shut-off valves and drains?

As you recognize, the main risk is water damage from a frozen and cracked pipe later thawing. Yikes, what a mess that could be, as you will have to open up a wall to fix it IMO! I would seriously consider duct-taping a thick layer of fiberglass insulation onto the outside of the trailer, as a "Bandaid" over the entire outdoor shower valve area. Seriously! And I would make sure that the interior wall just inside the exterior shower is constantly bathed in warm air, like a small electric heater aimed at it. Or even a small fan circulating air. In our FC20 I would set up a small 120 volt fan to blow warm air into the shower, to make sure that exterior wall gets all the warmth it can.

Our owner's manuals should be considered rough drafts, which may or may not apply to the exact model you have. That's just the way it is . . .

The point of moving the trailer before dumping the black water is to agitate the solid waste material and toilet paper into a slurry, which can leave the tank as a uniform liquid entity. Airstream black tanks are NOT designed to move the solid wastes and TP, as the bottom of the tank is basically flat, for all practical purposes. If you do not move the trailer, and keep dumping only the liquids from the black tank, you are going to have a real mess on your hands at some point. There are tons of threads here about dealing with this, but trust me, there will be some kind of stinky sticky and messy problem.

You say: "I'm still planning on just doing things as I normally do them unless something actually goes wrong - and I'll try and solve any such problems as they come up."

The problem is that you cannot see inside the black tank, to perceive a problem which probably is building up as we speak. When the proverbial sh.t hits the fan is when you are going to know you have a problem, and it will be a mess to deal with. That is why we have brains and foresight -- to anticipate problems proactively and avoid them.

Fore-warned is fore-armed!

Maybe if you use your black water flush system as you dump the black tank, you can flush out the solid material and TP, but then you have another possible freeze-up area -- the black water flush inlet.

Which reminds me -- the city water water inlet is also exposed to the cold and a candidate for freezing, along with the outdoor shower valves.

Good luck!

Peter

PS -- A small electric hair dryer can be a handy tool to thaw dump valves. Also, after you dump both tanks, make sure that the first deposits down all waste piping incl. toilet, is a couple of gallons of RV antifreeze, which will lodge at the dumping gate valves, thereby hopefully ensuring they will operate even in really cold weather, at least for one more dump!

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 04:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1903554)
Also, after you dump both tanks, make sure that the first deposits down all waste piping incl. toilet, is a couple of gallons of RV antifreeze, which will lodge at the dumping gate valves, thereby hopefully ensuring they will operate even in really cold weather, at least for one more dump!

Thanks for the advice, but we're continuing with our original plan. We are going to test this baby to see if it can get through this type of cold without doing any winterization procedure beforehand, or making any modifications.

I'll keep everyone updated as to how this goes. Right now I'm very happy, as there is such great powder snow on the slopes!

OTRA15 01-25-2017 06:43 AM

Best of luck!

Here is a detailed forecast [you can click ahead a couple of days at the top right]:

https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick...Type=graphical

Note -1 F early tomorrow morning, and -3 F Friday, with light NW winds as you mentioned earlier.

I think the entire assembly for the outdoor shower can be removed from the outside, now that I think about it, by removing ~ 6-8 screws. You can then lift the housing out, and see the H/C elbows behind the valves. You might consider snipping the PEX lines at that point, and installing plugs/stops in the ends of the lines? Stuff extra insulation on the pipes as you push them back into the RO, and reinstall the housing and valves after making sure they are dry inside.

Good luck!

Peter

PS -- Taos aiport conditions: https://w1.weather.gov/data/obhistory/KSKX.html

Jekerrville 01-25-2017 09:47 AM

Very best of luck.

Spent two weeks in Gunnison. CO in a 31' LY at 8,000 feet in the 1970's. Temps never above freezing and norms about 5 to 15F. Hit a couple of -10 & -15's. Just another day in Crested Bute.

Airstream did not use plastic pipes only copper. No gray water tank either, only black water and fresh water tank in living space behind front seating area.

Did you know that propane freezes in those conditions? Did you know that if you don't have fan forced ventilation in the cabin that air will stratify and it will be a toasty hot in the TOP 3 feet of the vehicle, nice in the mid 2 feet and in the 20',s below two feet?

Did you know that if you don't keep the cabinet doors open below that the pipes will freeze regardless on the interior temperature?

And finally, when water freezes it expands and regardless of the quality of the plastic fittings, they WILL shatter. Murphy's Law dictates that the shattered fitting will be in unaccessable locations to repair with out great cost and removal of structures in the cabin.

I hope you prove all of my statements false and you have a fantastic time beating the mountain into submitting to your will.!! But the same physics that propel you down the mountain are at work in and on your Airstream and all the good vibes won't change that.

Otherwise, I will offer you $500 dollars for what is left of your Airstream after the thaw.

Head to Homedepot and get a couple of rolls of waterhose heater strip, some extension cord, a couple of chicken coop lights and a few 200 watt light bulbs and a 40 foot roll of thick black plastic vapor barrier to split in two for skirting. Use the heat strip for fresh and sewer hose protection one of the lights for propane tanks and lights to warm underneath belly pan and sewer valves.

This may give you a 50/50 chance of having a functional vehicle come May.

I admire your tenacity.

Have a wonderful time and prove me wrong. :)

mojo 01-25-2017 10:25 AM

Another insulation trick is to place the large bubble wrap cut oversize to fit tight between the window glass and screen. Use the reflectix for additional insulation at night between the screen and curtains. The bubble wrap still allows sun and light to penetrate and warm the trailer.

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 01:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1903554)
Thanks for the replies. The exterior shower is probably plumbed from a nearby run of pipes inside a wall, which is inaccessible. Our outdoor shower setup is very near our interior shower valve. The only way to isolate the outdoor shower valves/elbows would be to open up the wall and re-plumb things. Not easy, and how would you install shut-off valves and drains?

Ok, you got my curiosity going. So, we unscrewed the wooden pieces necessary to get access to this plumbing. All of these pieces are inside the closet.

See the photos I've attached.

The first photo shows the closet doors for context.

The second photo shows the city water intake. Note that there's fiberglass insulation already stuffed around the intake where it exits the wall. The intake is in the center. On the right you can see the pipes going to the interior shower fixture.

The third photo is a closeup of the city water intake.

The fourth photo shows the elbow pipes going to the exterior shower knobs. The fifth is a close up of this. It's a little hard to see - they are in the back behind the interior shower wall and behind the heating duct.

Are these the pipes that everyone seems to be worried about?

I'm not at all worried about these freezing. When we opened up this space this morning it was not cold in the area and the pipes themselves did not seem very cold to the touch. The heating duct that runs through this space seems to be heating it up pretty well, as it radiates some heat from the hot air flowing through the duct.

To err on the side of caution, I'm going to buy a small fan today, and I'll open up this space again and blow warm air from the main cabin into it with the fan for the next two nights when it is going down into the single digits or colder.

I've been checking on the temperature inside the bathroom and kitchen cabinets where there is plumbing, and it seems pretty warm. To err on the side of caution, I might open up these cabinets over the next two nights, to make sure plenty of heat gets in.

I'm tempted to buy a small lightbulb or space heater to put into this space where all the plumbing is. It's all basically one big connected space, so just a single heater in there should get the whole space to be downright toasty. But, based on my observations it seems to me that this would be completely unnecessary, and might actually be a bad idea as I would be introducing a potential fire hazard!

Am I missing something here? I don't see anything at all that is worth worrying about.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...nh/closet.jpeg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%20intake.jpeg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...20closeup.jpeg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...w%20pipes.jpeg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...20closeup.jpeg

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 01:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jekerrville (Post 1903654)
Did you know that propane freezes in those conditions?

I'm sorry, but you are simply wrong. Propane boils at -44F. It freezes at -306.4įF.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jekerrville (Post 1903654)
Did you know that if you don't have fan forced ventilation in the cabin that air will stratify and it will be a toasty hot in the TOP 3 feet of the vehicle, nice in the mid 2 feet and in the 20',s below two feet?

If that's the case, how come my bare feet haven't been cold when I'm walking around in my underwear in here at night when it's been in the mid teens? It's not going to be that much different in the interior cabin when it is in the mid teens vs -5F.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jekerrville (Post 1903654)
Did you know that if you don't keep the cabinet doors open below that the pipes will freeze regardless on the interior temperature?

I've been checking inside my cabinets regularly and it hasn't been that cold in any of them when the doors are closed. But, on the nights when it goes below 10F I'll probably leave the doors open just to be on the safe side.

Please let me know if I've misunderstood you or if there is any problem you can find with my observations and reasoning.

SSquared 01-25-2017 04:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YodaBuddha (Post 1903766)
Ok, you got my curiosity going.

Thanks for the pictures. A lot of people never dig this deeply into the guts of their trailer, so now they can find out what's back there.

I have a 2013 25FB, and the plumbing is pretty similar. One difference is that you have a brass backflow prevention fitting on the black tank flush. Mine is plastic, and others on the forum have complained that the plastic fails easily (but mine is still OK).

One thought about the city water inlet: As far as having it not freeze up, it's better if the insulation is not touching it; you want the warmth from inside to be able to reach the fitting.

As you have found, the presence of the heat ducts in this area keeps it pretty warm, which helps prevent pipe freeze-ups. But I think there is some risk where the lines enter/exit the shell.

I have only camped down to about 20 or 25 F, and have not had a problem. The first time I was set up in the cold I put some fiberglass batting over the three drains under the trailer on the street side, but I have decided that is too much trouble for temperatures in that range.

Good luck and keep us posted!

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 05:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jekerrville (Post 1903654)
Did you know that propane freezes in those conditions? Did you know that if you don't have fan forced ventilation in the cabin that air will stratify and it will be a toasty hot in the TOP 3 feet of the vehicle, nice in the mid 2 feet and in the 20',s below two feet?

Did you know that if you don't keep the cabinet doors open below that the pipes will freeze regardless on the interior temperature?

My apologies, I think I misunderstood you. I thought that you were talking about the conditions that I'm going to be in with temps possibly just below 0F. I reread this and realized you seem to be talking about the temps you experienced in CO. In these much colder conditions I realize that things would get gnarly.

I also realize that the pressure in propane tanks can get low in temperatures in the single digits or colder if you are pulling a lot of propane from the tank running a furnace, and if the tank is low. Maybe this is what you meant when you said propane "freezes" at these temps? To combat this, I have three spare propane tanks - all of them full. I have a low temperature alarm set on my weather station to wake me up if temperatures drop in the AS while I'm sleeping. So, if this happens and the furnace stops running, the alarm will wake me up, and I'll go outside and switch to a new full tank that won't be cold from usage.

If this happens again with the new tank, I'll start bringing the cold tanks inside so that they warm up from the heat in here. I'd rather not bring propane tanks inside here for obvious safety reasons though. But, it warms up quickly in the day here and we won't be at such low temperatures for very long, so I'm not that worried about this.

OTRA15 01-25-2017 05:18 PM

Great photos! Your setup is much more freeze-friendly than ours. If you keep that space open with a fan circulating the air, you should be fine hopefully. You also are going to be able to install new shut-off valves for the H/C pipes going to the outdoor shower valves if you want later. The plastic elbows crack from freezing much more easily than does the PEX piping. Don't ask how I know.

:blink:

Yours are well exposed however so no risk similar to ours which are fairly hidden and hard to get to.

Good luck tonight! You are in good shape and your research has provided both insight and peace of mind. Well done.

Peter

Jekerrville 01-25-2017 06:24 PM

YodaBuddha
Vapor pressure. Propane is notorious for having low vapor pressure at single digits and below. Should you get a low enough pressure, or have propane that has contaminates to freeze in the regulator your screwed. Furnace will shut down the burner can, (by design) as well as hot water heater. A new full tank may also suffer from the same issue because there is just not enough room in a full tank to get everybody happy. Just saying. Looks like you have done the work to keep the inside warm and limit freezing there. But a 100 watt blub close to the tanks will not be and issue unless there is a leak and there is an arc of some sort. Then it will most likely work great. Stay warm and have a great time.

FYI- Notice most folks in the mountains have buried propane tanks. No vapor issues.

You going to Angle Fire??

All the best.

Boxite 01-25-2017 07:15 PM

Excellent info. Thanks Yoda...

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 07:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jekerrville (Post 1903894)
YodaBuddha
But a 100 watt blub close to the tanks will not be and issue unless there is a leak and there is an arc of some sort.

I've considered doing this (or something similar), but I just don't want to take any risks mixing propane with hot electrical appliances.

I'm pretty confident that if vapor pressure goes too low in the active tank, the furnace will be happy when I hook up one of my spare three tanks that are all completely full. The vapor pressure even at -5F should be fine in a full tank. The issue is that the propane in the tank gets colder because of the old PV=nRT thermodynamics equation - as the tank empties there is a strong cooling effect. So, the temperature of the propane in the active tank could go much lower than the ambient outside temperature.

Obviously the spare tanks that are full would not have suffered from this, and hence would have higher vapor pressure than the active tank.

If the spares don't work, I'll bring one of the spares inside for a while and try to heat it with a small electric heater that blows hot air, to increase it's pressure.

If this still doesn't work, we will do our emergency winterization procedure and go to a hotel ;)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jekerrville (Post 1903894)
You going to Angle Fire??

We've been skiing Taos so far, but we plan to also do some days at Angel Fire.

It's now 16F out and it is quite toasty and cozy in here.

Thanks for your response and for all of the info.

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 07:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1903863)
If you keep that space open with a fan circulating the air, you should be fine hopefully.

Good point.

I decided to put a small electric space heater in this space, set on the lowest setting. It's a small space and on this setting it has become extremely warm in there - probably over 80 already. I'll stick a thermometer in there to see how warm it is getting.

With it being so warm in there, I can't imagine any of the pipes freezing at the exterior connections

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 07:37 PM

By the way, I dumped my grey tank late this afternoon when it was 20F out, and it has not been above freezing for a couple of days. The valve opened smoothly and there was no sign of freezing.

I did have one minor mishap. The lock on the fresh water tank compartment had frozen, and I managed to break the key off in the lock applying some force to try and turn it. Those keys actually are very flimsy...

I was able to pull out the broken part of the key from the lock with a set of small pliers.

I then thawed out the lock with a hair dryer, and it opened fine with my spare key.

billdunlap 01-25-2017 08:17 PM

I also live in a ski area (Mammoth Lakes, CA) and use my Airstream for winter camping. You might want to look at my link on using the Airstream in a cold climate.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f459...ons-98695.html

Good luck - Taos is a great but I have only visited in the summer.

Bill Dunlap
Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

snow 01-25-2017 10:42 PM

OK Following this thread closely - lots of good info. Since I live in Colorado and it's currently 0 F and maybe closer to 10 F in Taos, but I have a nice wood stove going, I'm pretty comfortable. Hope you're doing OK. But, what I'm wondering is how the skiing is. It seems like a conditions are great. We're thinking of going there at the end of February- not in an Airstream. Is the hike to skiing open? Seems like there is great coverage. Love to hear your ski report. You've given me great inspiration to someday go further south than Colorado for the winter.
Cheers,
Dave

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 11:02 PM

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2029%20PM.jpg

YodaBuddha 01-25-2017 11:42 PM

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2036%20PM.jpg

OTRA15 01-26-2017 12:23 AM

Nice shot of the ice on the inside of your window glass! (if I am seeing this correctly) Condensation on the inside is a major issue in cold weather use of an AS, as you are learning. To some extent there probably will be condensation happening inside the walls, which can then be absorbed by the Fiberglas insulation, and lead to mold problems down the road as I understand it. Cracking open your roof vents can help, but obviously there will be a loss of heat.

In addition to using the furnace religiously, as you have been doing, it would not hurt to have a dehumidifier running most of the time (in the shower maybe so it can drain?), and to use these 120-volt Dampp Chasers tucked away in hidden locations like under the bed etc.:

https://www.amazon.com/Dampp-Chaser-...s=dampp+chaser

We keep a couple plugged in during our winter storage in the driveway out back. They come in lengths 24" to 48" although Amazon may not stock them. Our local hardware store has carried them for decades, and there are other similar brands. Very low wattage and fairly safe.

Good luck!

PS -- Lots of threads here on "interior condensation" FYI --

https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=011403...ior&gsc.page=1

YodaBuddha 01-26-2017 02:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904000)
To some extent there probably will be condensation happening inside the walls, which can then be absorbed by the Fiberglas insulation, and lead to mold problems down the road as I understand it.

Thanks for your response and I'm going to read through the threads you linked to. I just wanted to get back to you more quickly to say that based on my observations I would not expect condensation to currently be happening within the walls. This is based on the interior humidity that I am measuring combined with observations I'm making of both frost and water condensation on certain other surfaces (such as the window I showed in my photo).

I really don't want to rip open a wall in order to prove my hypothesis though ;)

YodaBuddha 01-26-2017 02:50 AM

Interior humidity levels are low and there is minimal visible condensation - only some condensation on window surfaces and a few random other places, like the metal frame around the door, towards the bottom.

I'm measuring 26% relative humidity at 70.3F right now. Pretty low.

tevake 01-26-2017 07:46 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks for that comprehensive list Bill, well done, helpful.

I really like that weather station, Yodabuddha.
Does it have an outside sensor it communicates with?

The night temps have gone from high 20s down to mid teens over the last few nights here in Chino Valley. I'm starting to use the furnace to supplement the electric heaters.

I like the way that the ducted heating seems to be working to keep your floor warm. You would not be barefooted in one of these older motorhomes.
There really are considerable differences in different airstream models.

I've been noticing great icicles forming under Windows from the snow melting there.

Bare in mind that I am Hawaii guy, so this winter stuff is new to me, and kind of fun and very pretty in ways. I feel like a kid wondering around taking pictures.
Just limiting as to what can be done outside, my 911 engine is sitting there in the Nomad Garage, done and ready to go back into the car. Not sure when it'll warm up enough for me to work outside.

Toasterlife 01-26-2017 09:02 AM

Could you please clarify that you have access to shore power?

OTRA15 01-26-2017 12:21 PM

With the use of electric heaters and hair dryers, and no discussion of a generator, it seems highly likely that shore power is being used IMO.

YodaBuddha 01-26-2017 01:03 PM

We made it through the night with no problems at all. The low temperature was 1F, and it was in the single digits for about nine or ten hours, maybe a little longer.

Yes, we are connected to 50A shore power.

I've attached photos of how I'm using a small space heater to heat the area where both the city water intake pipe and external shower pipes poke through the exterior wall of the airstream. All of these pipes are in the same general, connected space - and it is a relatively small space - so this small heater keeps it very warm in there running on it's lowest setting. I'm not sure if it would be a good idea to run it on a higher setting in such a small space.

I think that this space heater might be overkill and unnecessary since the furnace ducts running through this space also radiate a lot of heat. But, I'm going to continue running it when temperatures go down into the single digits.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2010%20AM.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2045%20AM.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2056%20AM.jpg

YodaBuddha 01-26-2017 01:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tevake (Post 1904049)
I really like that weather station, Yodabuddha.
Does it have an outside sensor it communicates with?

Thanks! Yes, it has an outdoor sensor that I attached to the propane tank hood with strong velcro tape. They carry these at Target. I'd highly recommend getting one - both for fun and also so that you can make better decisions as to when it is necessary to switch from electric heat to running your furnace, etc.

It also has various temperature alarms that you can set - so that you can get woken up in the middle of the night if your furnace has failed and the interior temperature is dropping, or alerted when the outdoor temperature drops below freezing.

Caffeinated 01-26-2017 01:12 PM

I'm amazed that things have not frozen given the conditions. I'm also pretty impressed.

Mike

OTRA15 01-26-2017 02:30 PM

Thanks for the new photos. The concentration of plumbing in that space under the closet is very helpful to surviving the extreme cold IMO. Could you let us know where the other plumbing is, such as the main galley sink, and the water pump? If easy to do, more photos would help others who attempt to replicate your success in different Airstream models.

It will also be helpful if you could confirm that the black and grey dump valves and the two waste tanks have survived all of this. Having them relatively empty is a big "plus" to not having cracks in the tanks. Do you have electric tank heaters, in addition to the heat ducting running someplace near there?

Not sure if your owner's manual has any schematics of your model's heat ducts and tank heaters here:

https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...ying-Cloud.pdf

On p. 27/112 in the PDF is the 27FB floor plan, which shows your bath and galley sinks across the hall from the plumbing closet/wardrobe, correct? Is the water pump over there someplace also? Does the plumbing run all above the main floor on that side of the trailer, and how does the water get over there from the city water inlet? Is the water heater under the bed maybe?

If any of the plumbing runs under the main floor, to get from side to side perhaps, perhaps there are heat ducts down there as well.

Congratulations for mastering the pipes in time to protect your investment -- and sanity!

Peter

YodaBuddha 01-26-2017 03:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904208)
Could you let us know where the other plumbing is, such as the main galley sink, and the water pump?

I've attached photos of the plumbing under the main galley sink. You can see the pipes descending by the exterior wall. I'm not entirely sure where they go from here, but I suspect they go under the floor through the belly area where the tanks are that's heated by the furnace.

I kept the cabinet doors under the sink open last night to keep these pipes warmer.

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904208)
It will also be helpful if you could confirm that the black and grey dump valves and the two waste tanks have survived all of this.

I dumped both the black and grey tanks today. The outdoor temperature had gone up to 25F. The valves pulled smoothly and there was no sign of freezing at all. Both tanks were at 50%.

I believe that if the tanks or valves had frozen in the night they would have still been frozen when I dumped - although in theory there might have been some freezing when it was in the single digits that got thawed out by the furnace heat once the temps had gone up into the 20's - but this seems very unlikely to me.

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904208)
Do you have electric tank heaters, in addition to the heat ducting running someplace near there?

Nope.

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904208)
On p. 27/112 in the PDF is the 27FB floor plan, which shows your bath and galley sinks across the hall from the plumbing closet/wardrobe, correct? Is the water pump over there someplace also? Does the plumbing run all above the main floor on that side of the trailer, and how does the water get over there from the city water inlet? Is the water heater under the bed maybe?

Yes, they are across the hall. The water pump is bolted to the floor under the closet next to where I put the small space heater.

I believe that the plumbing runs under the floor from the closet over to the bathroom and galley sinks.

The water heater is under the bathroom sink (I attached a photo of it). It keeps things pretty warm under there, so I wasn't worried about freezing pipes there.

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904208)
If any of the plumbing runs under the main floor, to get from side to side perhaps, perhaps there are heat ducts down there as well.

Yes, the main floor stays quite warm (actually warm to the touch) when the furnace is running, even at these extremely low temperatures. Looking underneath the Airstream from outside, the entire underbelly is sealed with metal sheets and there are absolutely no pipes or tanks visible. Based on the fact that the floor stays warm, it seems that this area is quite well heated by the furnace (I believe there must be an actual vent down there), and I've been assuming that Airstream must have run the pipes through this area in order to protect them from freezing.

I'm not going to say anything now that might jinx me, at least not until this cold snap is over ;)

I am starting to get a little worried about condensation in the walls and am using a couple of small dehumidifiers now. I'm not that worried as the climate here in Taos is usually fairly mild (at least at this elevation out on the mesa), with temperatures going up above freezing every day, lots of sun, and very low humidity. So, once this cold snap is over I think the Airstream will dry out quickly. A few days of condensation is probably not enough to cause any serious problems (I hope) - and with the dehumidifiers going the condensation should be greatly reduced.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2035%20PM.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2000%20PM.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2028%20PM.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%2039%20PM.jpg

OTRA15 01-26-2017 04:02 PM

Great photos thanks!

Ah, now we see your secret.

The black cat watching over all . . .

:cat:

Antique Pedaler 01-26-2017 05:36 PM

Here's the couple who have all the experience in wintering in an Airstream in Alaska and the Grand Canyon . Here on airforum look up deauxrite from 2012. Like Dudley do right.

YodaBuddha 01-27-2017 12:59 AM

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/...%20PM.jpg?dl=0

YodaBuddha 01-27-2017 01:05 AM

My furnace is still cycling on and off - given it is running now probably 90% of the time - but the fact that it is cycling shows it isn't maxed out yet - now at 3.4F.

xrvr 01-27-2017 05:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904152)
With the use of electric heaters and hair dryers, and no discussion of a generator, it seems highly likely that shore power is being used IMO.

Or there's a uhaul trailer filled with fully charged batteries. ,!

OTRA15 01-27-2017 06:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Antique Pedaler (Post 1904283)
Here's the couple who have all the experience in wintering in an Airstream in Alaska and the Grand Canyon . Here on airforum look up deauxrite from 2012. Like Dudley do right.

Thanks for the reference. Here is deuxrite's thread on Winter Living in the Grand Canyon:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f459...yon-98031.html

and deuxrite has posted in this thread which also looks on-topic judging from the title:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f227...tes-84702.html

Search results for that user name:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/sear...archid=6828809

OTRA15 01-27-2017 06:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YodaBuddha (Post 1904416)
My furnace is still cycling on and off - given it is running now probably 90% of the time - but the fact that it is cycling shows it isn't maxed out yet - now at 3.4F.

The additional electric heat you have added contributes to the cycling, which does have the downside of robbing the very hidden locations of crucial heat from the heating ducts. I would consider turning off the electric heaters in those visible plumbing spaces, if they are safely warm [edit -- or put the heaters in fan only mode]. A simple electric fan in those spaces would have been an adequate solution IMO, as they are exposed directly to warm air, and would permit the main furnace to supply all the heat, including to the tank/piping areas buried deep below in the underbelly of the beast.

:blink:

Adventure.AS 01-27-2017 07:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YodaBuddha (Post 1904416)
My furnace is still cycling on and off - given it is running now probably 90% of the time - but the fact that it is cycling shows it isn't maxed out yet - now at 3.4F.

Using the supplemental electric heat directed into the plumbing space appears to be a viable option. With the furnace running 90% of the time it is still putting plenty of heat into the plumbing and tank area as well as heating the interior living space.

Where some people run in to problems is in using the supplemental heat in the living space. In that configuration the furnace runs too little and that could cause the plumbing and tanks to get to the freezing point in very cold weather.

Alluminati 01-27-2017 02:05 PM

Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

I hate cold weather, which is why I want my trailer to work stupendously to shelter me from the elements when the mercury drops. But you've made it sound fun, and now I want to go skiing!

YodaBuddha 01-27-2017 03:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1904443)
The additional electric heat you have added contributes to the cycling, which does have the downside of robbing the very hidden locations of crucial heat from the heating ducts. I would consider turning off the electric heaters in those visible plumbing spaces, if they are safely warm [edit -- or put the heaters in fan only mode]. A simple electric fan in those spaces would have been an adequate solution IMO, as they are exposed directly to warm air, and would permit the main furnace to supply all the heat, including to the tank/piping areas buried deep below in the underbelly of the beast.

:blink:

The electric heater that I'm using is very small and has a low 600W power setting. Also, since it is heating this interior space that is closed off from the living area, I'm not sure how much it actually heats the living area. And, we like to keep it very warm in here, so we probably run the furnace more than average.

I've been paying close attention to how much the furnace is running, and I haven't noticed a significant difference with the electric heater running in this space.

For these reasons, I wasn't that worried.

However, I would still rather not run this electric heater for the reasons you describe. The reason why I'm using it might sound absurd. Our cat loves cavelike spaces and she will go into this space instantly if we leave the door to it open. My wife and I don't want her to go in there as we're afraid she might be drawn to crawl to the warmth of the furnace, and we aren't sure if it might be hazardous for her to be in there. Also, we are worried that she might scratch the furnace ductwork, or damage the wiring, or even get herself electrocuted.

So, leaving this door open doesn't seem to be an option.

In any case, last night it went down to -5.1F here, and I dumped the grey tank this morning when it had risen to about 20F. No freezing and no problems.

I have a feeling that last night will be the coldest night of the year here in Taos - so I'm feeling confident that there is no risk of freezing with our current setup, including the electric heater.

I'm planning on not running the electric heater if temperatures are only going down into the 20's. I'm a little torn about whether to run it if temps go into the teens.

Docinabox 01-29-2017 10:00 AM

Thank you for exploring the limits of your airstream for all of us! Very nice write up with a lot of great information. Someday I hope to do winter camping off grid. There are a lot of great ideas here to help. I hope things continue to go well for you.

abqdor 01-30-2017 01:49 PM

Very informative. Thanks for starting the thread.

n930jd 01-31-2017 08:47 PM

Any update?

AirDFW 01-31-2017 09:27 PM

Staying through the winter in Taos, NM without winterizing
 
Spent time in Santa Fe in similar conditions for a week with success. 2016 27FB. Headed to AngelFire for a week next month and only adjustments will be: heated water hose and dehumidifer. Heated hose won't change the usage protocol, but will prevent me from the need to disconnect / drain / store somewhere warm / reconnect constantly, which is a bit maddening.

OP: How long is a a single OEM size AS propane tank lasting you in those temps?

BHecht 02-02-2017 03:19 PM

Just subscribed. Very interested to see how it goes, as I just got a 23 International Signature that will likely live in Lake Tahoe as a guest house, preferably year round. Good luck!

YodaBuddha 02-04-2017 02:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AirDFW (Post 1906384)
OP: How long is a a single OEM size AS propane tank lasting you in those temps?

In the coldest temps we had, approximately three to four days. This is not a very accurate estimate as I was following a protocol to not let any tanks go completely empty - so I am not 100% sure how much longer I could have gone on a given tank.0

YodaBuddha 02-04-2017 02:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by n930jd (Post 1906373)
Any update?

Sorry for the delayed reply. I've been very busy skiing and haven't logged on in a bit.

Everything's great. Zero problems and business as usual.

YodaBuddha 02-04-2017 02:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YodaBuddha (Post 1907711)
In the coldest temps we had, approximately three to four days. This is not a very accurate estimate as I was following a protocol to not let any tanks go completely empty - so I am not 100% sure how much longer I could have gone on a given tank.0

Note that tanks might have only lasted two days, but there was a significant amount of passive solar heating here in the day. Even with temps in the twenties, the sun kept it warm enough so the furnace almost never ran.

Nothing like the New Mexican sun in the winter at high altitude!

OTRA15 02-04-2017 06:25 AM

Thanks for the updates. Glad your AS survived the bitter cold, in large part thanks to your willingness to R&D and explore the plumbing system's details. Well done!

It is good to keep in mind, however, and in my personal opinion, that our great trailers are not very well insulated, with R values in the single digits apparently, so that "making it work" involves very high energy costs in the use of petroleum fuels of some kind, whether we are heating or cooling.

The quote below is from one of many older threads which touch on R values. Just a FYI to keep us all aware that Mother Earth is paying a price when we push the envelope and need to stay "comfortable."

The use of renewable energies such as solar and wind dampen this profound use of fossil fuels, of course, but storage capacity becomes an issue on the road due to battery weights.

Getting ready for Spring!

Cheers,

Peter

[click on arrow in quote to go to that thread]

Quote:

Originally Posted by 2airishuman (Post 786744)
hi dillon

welcome to the board.

shells are spun glass and NOW floors are bubble foil.

its ALL single digit R value, there is only so much that can be done in such a small gap.

newer units also have a 'thermal break' butyl tape used in the walls (between sink/ribs)

which reduces conduction THROUGH the walls, but as bob's pic shows, NOT MUCH.

with windows/vents/skylights and holes for fridge/furnace stove vent and VERY POORLY sealed doors...

a/s are NOT known for being well insulated for the EXTREMES of temperature ranges.

LOTs of discussion about this in old threads (mostly 04/05)

when there were RUMORS of different insulation in different models...

of course the rumors were wrong, but made for posting interest.

all u need is in these threads.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f249...ries-8925.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...ion-13619.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...sts-40442.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...ess-46441.html

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f458...load-9024.html

cheers
2air'


YodaBuddha 02-04-2017 11:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OTRA15 (Post 1907730)
...so that "making it work" involves very high energy costs in the use of petroleum fuels of some kind, whether we are heating or cooling.

Good point. However, my estimates are that we are using less fossil fuel heating the airstream, even on the coldest nights, then if either my wife or I was driving a car to commute to work every day on your average commute route. Since we've arranged our lives and our work so that we don't need to commute to work, we actually have a lower fossil fuel footprint than the average American who commutes.

Also, note that we did not choose to go to the most frigid of climates with our Airstream. Winters in Taos are actually very mild. This was a very unusual cold spell - rather rare. Normally it goes well above freezing every day and only dips into the 20's at night, and we would use much less fuel for heating.

Keep in mind that this is a very "back of the envelope" sort of calculation - but I still believe that it is accurate enough to be in the ball park.

Here we go.

To get to work, the average commuter drives 15 miles each way. Let's assume that the average car gets 20 miles per gallon during this commute - note that the average gas milage is probably lower than this, but I'm being conservative in this calculation.

This means that they would burn approximately 1.5 gallons of gas per day, five days a week.

A gallon of gas weighs 6.2 pounds, so this is 9.3 pounds of gas a day.

On the coldest days, 30 pounds of propane seems to last about 4 days. So, we are burning 7.5 pounds of propane per day. This is less fuel consumption than used for the average daily commute to work!

Now, on normal days here in Taos when it isn't unusually cold, a 30 pound propane tank seems to last about 8 days or more. So, we are actually burning less than half the fossil fuel than we would in this daily commute to work.

Additionally, we aren't living in a larger normal house. While a normal house would be better insulated, because of it's size it would require a similar amount of fuel for heating than the Airstream.

So, I disagree with your statement implying that what we are doing is worse for the environment than living in an ordinary house and/or doing "normal" things such as commuting to work.

OTRA15 02-05-2017 06:53 AM

All good points, thanks! The general point was to suggest that we all live consciously with full awareness of our choices. It is hard to get through life without leaving many footprints, but some folks take the costs to Mother Earth for granted IMO, not you necessarily.

Peter

n930jd 02-05-2017 01:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YodaBuddha (Post 1907712)
Sorry for the delayed reply. I've been very busy skiing and haven't logged on in a bit.

Everything's great. Zero problems and business as usual.

Nice. I'm really encouraged by this. Glad it's working

AirDFW 02-07-2017 07:12 PM

Will be in AngelFire in three weeks and will report back on our adventures as well.

Lindenwood 02-21-2019 05:10 PM

I know this is old, but I wanted to thank you fir your outstanding contribution here.

My wife and I are likely going to start our first foray into full-timing in an Airstream (a FC30 FB Bunk) in January in NM, so this is great info!

Spartanguy 04-29-2019 01:22 AM

YoddaBuddha, what courage to post this!! I plan to winter in my 2015 FC 25 in Colorado. I always wondered how my 2lb backpacking tent could be 4 seasons (for me), but not a camper, ha ha. Many options for making it through the winter. Worst case scenario winterize the unit and sleep inside its walls as shelter. I do wonder if my FC has any heat running to the “insulated and enclosed underbelly”, I don’t think so. It’s been a minute since your post, but sounds like a great time using your Airstream as a ski cabin!

OTRA15 04-29-2019 05:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YodaBuddha (Post 1907711)
In the coldest temps we had, approximately three to four days. This is not a very accurate estimate as I was following a protocol to not let any tanks go completely empty - so I am not 100% sure how much longer I could have gone on a given tank.0

Could you please give us an update on this experiment in AS winter living?

Your last post below was on 2/4/17, and I think it was your last post on AirForums. Do you still own the Airstream, and howzit going?

:blink:

Thanks,

Peter

OTRA15 04-29-2019 05:57 AM

FYI the new search function in the blue box above works great in the desktop version of this site. [not so in the App apparently]

ďWinter propane usageĒ will reveal many disparate threads about using our aluminum tents in the winter. Propane consumption is typically very high ó unconscionably? ó and plumbing problems from freezing are typical.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Wint...com&gws_rd=ssl

FYI
FWIW

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lindenwood (Post 2212314)
I know this is old, but I wanted to thank you fir your outstanding contribution here.

My wife and I are likely going to start our first foray into full-timing in an Airstream (a FC30 FB Bunk) in January in NM, so this is great info!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spartanguy (Post 2236096)
YoddaBuddha, what courage to post this!! I plan to winter in my 2015 FC 25 in Colorado. I always wondered how my 2lb backpacking tent could be 4 seasons (for me), but not a camper, ha ha. Many options for making it through the winter. Worst case scenario winterize the unit and sleep inside its walls as shelter. I do wonder if my FC has any heat running to the ďinsulated and enclosed underbellyĒ, I donít think so. Itís been a minute since your post, but sounds like a great time using your Airstream as a ski cabin!


OTRA15 04-29-2019 06:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AirDFW (Post 1909150)
Will be in AngelFire in three weeks and will report back on our adventures as well.

Could you please update us on this? You last posted in 2017.

Thanks,

Peter

gypsydad 04-30-2019 09:51 AM

Likely hear from them when the thaw comes!:lol:


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