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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 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 -306.4F.

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.


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