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Old 05-03-2010, 12:19 PM
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Default How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

I'm planning on taking my family out west on a 3 week vacation this summer in our coach and know from experience that we will likely get into areas where the ambient temperature is below 32 degrees. I wrote the manufacturer of my motor coach and asked them if they have a "cold weather" kit or something similar. I was surprised to get this response:

Good Morning!

Thank you for contacting Fleetwood RV. Although your motor home is advertised with heated water and holding tank compartment, unfortunately, we can only recommend that units be winterized if you will be in temperatures of 32 degrees or below. We cannot guarantee they will not freeze, nor can we make recommendations for after market products or modifications. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience. Thanks again.

Donna R. Roe
Sr. Administrative Specialist


I know that not all RV's are limited to warm weather areas. Besides, for an initial sticker price around 300k, you would think this coach just might be setup for such travel. I suppose that much doesn't buy you much anymore. Anyone have any ideas of places that may sell kits for cold weather travel and camping? I'm sure I could rig up some insulation with heated 12v tape inside it and attach it to either a cheapo switch or, better, some thermostat to kick on and keep my fresh water tank and water lines protected from freezing. It's great if my holding tank and fresh water tank and holding tanks won't freeze, but neither will do me much good if the lines to them are frozen.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:30 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Where are you going during the summer that it would be that cold?
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:55 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

I would be rather concerned about electrical tape in a small closed in area where you pipes probably are. Leave the door to the areas (where the lines are) open and a little space heater might be slightly safer.

Like you I'm surprised at the response you got. These things are made to travel all over but they can't handle temps below 32 and still function with hot and cold water etc. I wonder how the stars handle that who travel in those things year round. There has to be a way to make them functional year round.
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:49 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

If your motor home has a heated basement there should not be a problem provided all tanks are in said basement.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:03 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Brent,

We did a similar trip in an RV a couple years ago. We were in high altitudes (e.g. Colorado) and as far north as southern Montana. The RV we had was nothing compared to yours but we had no problems.

As Reddog mentioned, your tanks are in a heated area and shouldn't freeze. Also, the water lines are probably pex so it won't be damaged should it freeze.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:44 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Check your compartments where the water lines run and see if you have any heat ducts from the furnace in there also. Cut in a T in the heat duct and put a magnetic cover over the register on that line. A half cover should give enough restriction to force some heat out in the pipe area. A good idea to dump some rv antifreeze in your holding tanks and pop the valves till you get some of it coming out. They will freeze quick running down the road and a blow dryer works well to free them up for dumping. Don't force them or you will have a mess on your hands.
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Old 05-03-2010, 04:01 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Thank you for contacting Fleetwood RV. Although your motor home is advertised with heated water and holding tank compartment, unfortunately, we can only recommend that units be winterized if you will be in temperatures of 32 degrees or below. We cannot guarantee they will not freeze, nor can we make recommendations for after market products or modifications. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience. Thanks again.

Now that is a confusing statement.

You just don't get as much for 300K as you used to.
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Old 05-03-2010, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by REDDOGTWO View Post
If your motor home has a heated basement there should not be a problem provided all tanks are in said basement.
Nope, they freeze. Already been there unfortunately. Only holding tanks and fresh water tank heated. This coach is setup for long term runs. It has a huge 100 gallon propane tank between the frame rails, 150 gallons of fresh water and takes on 150 gallons of fuel. In that configuration there is no 'full basement'. The water lines are simply out in the open.

I'd assume the people who ordered it new, based on what receipts I've found, took 2 weeks trips to FL in it and had plenty of propane to run the fridge, oven, heater, water heater for the entire trip and they likely only had to refill the fresh water tank and dump once before heading back home. Clearly they never traveled in cold weather. I have pictures from about 10 years ago of us camping in the northern Rockies in late July and it was snowing pretty good where we were.
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

That is unfortunate, my 94 31 foot Bounder has everything in the heated basement where the tanks and lines will not freeze, do what temperature I do not know but I have been in it in weather in the 20's without a problem. The only thing it that I checked it and it looked frozen so I opened the valve and was deluged with unfrozen waste water, the tank valve to the gray water tank had not been closed.
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:12 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

I started to comment that I don't care if my waste tanks are heated and why would they heat them and not the others etc., then I thought about it. It's bad if you have no water, but worse if you have frozen crap you can't get rid of. If it froze your little roundy flusher thingy at the bottom of the toilet open that would really be a bad thing.
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:46 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Replace all water with Vodka. Problem solved.
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:55 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bczoom View Post
Replace all water with Vodka. Problem solved.
And you'll have a hell of a fun trip - even if you only get a few miles from home!
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:39 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Aren't the pump and lines up in the cabin area? they should be good with the heater on.
Will you be driving much? or in a camp ground with utilities?
The fresh water tanks shouldn't freeze solid over night

The black and gray water will take more cold than the fresh before they
freeze.

I have an hybrid trailer and haven't had any thing freeze with it down in the upper 20' at night but my water tank in in the trailer and the heater on and my "tent ends don't provide any insulation.
My cabin has water in it alot when the out side temp dips beow 32 and I haven't done any damage yet I have a recording thermometer in the cabin with a remote out side and its usually 10 degrees warmer in side than outside for the low temp.



http://www.thermoworks.com/products/...st/dtr900.html

tom
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommu56 View Post
Aren't the pump and lines up in the cabin area? they should be good with the heater on.
Will you be driving much? or in a camp ground with utilities?
The fresh water tanks shouldn't freeze solid over night

The black and gray water will take more cold than the fresh before they
freeze.

I have an hybrid trailer and haven't had any thing freeze with it down in the upper 20' at night but my water tank in in the trailer and the heater on and my "tent ends don't provide any insulation.
My cabin has water in it alot when the out side temp dips beow 32 and I haven't done any damage yet I have a recording thermometer in the cabin with a remote out side and its usually 10 degrees warmer in side than outside for the low temp.



http://www.thermoworks.com/products/...st/dtr900.html

tom
All lines run under the coach and between the frame rails on the Freightliner chassis. Therefore, they all are exposed to the ambient temperature.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:23 PM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

we had weather here last fall in the -20 early last fall. My bus was fine with just the furnace on. All of my local camping is at min 8000ft I would not worry at all with exposed lines at 25 degrees as your coach will radiate some heat through the floors. I would assume when you level the bus it will be fairly close to the ground. Heat rises it should have its own little micro climate under the bus. If the highs were in the 30 degree range for the day it would be different, but mid July even at 10000 ft you will still see daytime highs of at least 50. People around these parts leave there campers on the Mtn from labor day till Late Nov alot of times. Dont worry have fun call if you are in the area the locals might just know some great spots!!!
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

As long as you have the heat on, and not going much below freezing for a bit, not much will be needed. As far as the High Alt. part, if your engine is newer fuel injected version of the gas engine or a diesel, the computer will take that into consideration and lean the fuel settings for you.

If you have one of the really old versions of a motor home, then your jets need to be adjusted for the higher alt. that you may be driving at, and your pipes will freeze... Just kidding about the freezing part.

Should freezing really be an issue, drain all your water tanks and fill up the main tank with about ten gallons of RV anti freeze, then flush the lines til red comes out of all the faucets, but before that, drain out your hot water heater, when you pump the RV anti freeze into it, it will fill up with the fluid and you should be good to about -40 or so. But having the RV antifreeze in the system, you can still flush the toilet and such when you want.

The stuff is designed to be used in fresh water systems and can be drank, but won't taste good so you need to flush the stuff out when you are going to be in a real summer with heat. You can dilute the RV antifreeze with water for more in the system and still be good, I doubt you are going to be in extreme cold during the month of May or June.

Have a great trip!
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:15 AM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Click on this link and see #6. Every time I hear someone talk about camping in colder temps, I hear them mentioning how they play on putting heat tape on the external water lines. When we go out for May long weekend, quite often, it's cold and below freezing at night. We often wake up to a nice thick layer of frost over everything and sometimes a thin layer of snow. We've been camping in that kind of weather for as long as I've been on this earth and have never had a single problem with the water lines and tanks. And that's without the heat tape.

http://www.happyvagabonds.com/Rving%...e%20Winter.htm

As fogtender mentioned, as a precaution, you might want to keep a few jugs of rv antifreeze on hand and dump some in your tanks before heading out. I try to stay away from putting it right in the fresh water tank and simply close the valve coming from the tank going to the water lines. If you can survive without running water, this would be the way to go. Just make sure the fresh water tank is fully drained then close the feed line from the tank and open the valve going to the external hose that you would put into a jug of rv antifreeze. Then, run your pump opening each faucet in the camper for a few seconds each till you see the antifreeze coming out of the fixture. Only thing with this method is that you won't be using the toilet.

Last edited by NorthernRedneck; 05-04-2010 at 12:26 AM.
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:55 AM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Dad has a very large horse trailer (sundowner with living quarters forward) that is set up for cold weather in that it has heating mats on the bottom of all tanks that keep them liquid no matter how cold it gets. Have You considered running your heater core hoses beside the waterlines and wrapping them together in a blanket of insulation? this would probably go a long way toward getting things moving again should they freeze.
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:58 AM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by groomerguyNWO View Post
Click on this link and see #6. Every time I hear someone talk about camping in colder temps, I hear them mentioning how they play on putting heat tape on the external water lines. When we go out for May long weekend, quite often, it's cold and below freezing at night. We often wake up to a nice thick layer of frost over everything and sometimes a thin layer of snow. We've been camping in that kind of weather for as long as I've been on this earth and have never had a single problem with the water lines and tanks. And that's without the heat tape.

http://www.happyvagabonds.com/Rving%...e%20Winter.htm

As fogtender mentioned, as a precaution, you might want to keep a few jugs of rv antifreeze on hand and dump some in your tanks before heading out. I try to stay away from putting it right in the fresh water tank and simply close the valve coming from the tank going to the water lines. If you can survive without running water, this would be the way to go. Just make sure the fresh water tank is fully drained then close the feed line from the tank and open the valve going to the external hose that you would put into a jug of rv antifreeze. Then, run your pump opening each faucet in the camper for a few seconds each till you see the antifreeze coming out of the fixture. Only thing with this method is that you won't be using the toilet.

Naw, you can use the toilet with the RV anti freeze in it, matter of fact, the black water tank won't freeze either... Use to do that for winter camping and used the toilet for emergencies, because there was no place to dump the tank in winter... you had to pick and choose your emergencies...
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: How do you set an RV up for high altitude/cold weather travel?

Thanks for the replies. I now realize I haven't provided much info on the coach which, obviously, would be helpful. It's a 2004 diesel pusher with a Cat C9, turbo diesel, engine in the back. The only time we experienced the lines starting to freeze over was coming back from FL in early January. That's also when I found, going up Mt. Eagle, that a diesel pusher will go like crazy up hills in snow and ice, but won't turn worth a hoot. Between the all wheel ABS and jake brake, it slowed okay coming down.

Once at the bottom on the north side of the mountain, the ambient outdoor temp display was showing about 23 degrees. I suppose the first few "oh shit", it won't turn!" comments from me gave her reason to use the can on the other side of the mountain. Only then did I discover something was wrong when she said the toilet wouldn't flush. A quick look at the gauges showed the "black" tank only 1/4 full, gray 1/2 full and still about 75 gallons of fresh water. I also had the water heater off since I wasn't planning on taking a shower before we got home.

I immediately flipped the water heater on and pulled over at the next rest stop. After about 5 minutes I got one of the faucets to start dribbling then flowing then running normal. Not knowing any other option, and wanting to keep the toilet option available with 6 of us in the coach, I just slightly opened all of the sink faucets; hoping I had enough fresh water to keep flowing the rest of the way home. I did, with about 50 gallons to spare.

Maybe that gives a little more of a true picture of the issue. Under the coach I can see all the water lines in the open clipped to the frame rails running the length of the coach. When driving, nothing put warm air under the coach since it's a diesel pusher. It has a 4 cyl Kubota diesel under the front for a generator, but I don't think it would put out much heat since it's liquid cooled and has it's own radiator. This is why I think I need to somehow insulate and slightly heat the lines (heat above freezing). It doesn't look like the large fresh water tank is properly protected either. It's clearly an optional larger tank and it looks like only about half is protected.

Hopefully this sheds a little more light on the dilemma. And, yes, what you guys living at altitude expressed is exactly what I experienced; nights well below freezing but temps at least in the 40's during the day. Dropping the air ride suspension before hitting the auto leveling jacks does keep it a bit lower to the ground, but the darn jacks do raise it a bit. Still, if that is my only issue, I feel that putting a little ceramic space heater on the ground under the coach at night would keep things from freezing as I'm sitting still. I'm mainly concerned about any winter travel. I keep thinking someone would have to sell some sort of insulating and heating kit for RV's.
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