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Old 10-28-2014, 09:22 AM   #1
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Winter camping in real winter conditions

We have a 2003 Winnebago Adventurer 35U on a Workhorse chassis. With Northern Michigan winter soon to be upon us I am wondering if the coach is capable of being used during our November/December hunting and fishing season. Our winters start in early November with common temperatures as low as singe digit and day temperatures in the 20's (f). Snow falls can range from a few inches to a couple of feet. Any experience with use of a similar coach in these conditions? Any ideas as to what needs to be done in preparation?

Our coach is stored in a heated building during the heavy snow and cold part of the season so I can do some prep work and thaw it out again. Any help is appreciated.
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Old 10-28-2014, 09:45 AM   #2
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Must haves
1-Heated and enclosed tanks....fresh water and holding
2-LP Heat, or Genny for electric heat
3-Water supply to fill tanks

If you have that, you can handle the winter...Things like insulated windows and fan covers will make it more affordable , but that's the basics...
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:04 AM   #3
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If it's snowing you may want to consider bringing your slides in until the snow stops.
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:20 AM   #4
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I assume you will be boondocking. For short periods you will be ok..cold long spells will use lots of propane..keep sink cabinets open. Keep your wet bay and basement warm. If your dump valves are exposed they will freeze. Just dont use them until you get home. Or leave the gray tank open to drian if legal. When I use to elk hunt in NM we just took bottled water for the week and never messed with tanks. Yea we needed showers when we got home! Thats all part of it
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:27 AM   #5
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When I lived in Steamboat Springs, Co we occasionally had employees or friends stay on our property in RV's during winter ski season. Daytime temps would vary from 0 to 50; but overnight lows were frequently in the negative F, occasionally -20 F.
I provided the space and 50 amp outlets. They all went through lots of propane & electric use. The single most efficient improvement they discovered was building some type of temporary skirting around the base of their rig, whether it was a 5'er or a MH. The skirting served to both hold the heat in that critical area, as well as minimize the cold wind blowing under the rig. Obviously it has to be a long duration stay to make it worth the expense & time to build the skirting. They all found that condensation inside the RV was a major issue during winter. Extended cold periods with the windows all closed could result in an inch of ice coating the insides of windows.
We also got multiple feet of snow overnight and unless you're going to wait for the spring thaw to move the RV out, it takes some heavy equipment to drag an RV out after its surrounded by 6 ft of frozen snow buildup.
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Old 10-28-2014, 10:37 AM   #6
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We used our 2001 Adventurer 32V for winter camping several times. We live in Wisconsin and went to state parks when temperatures were in the teens. With weather that cold it did use a fair amount of propane.

We also learned quickly to put pads (we use plywood squares 12"x 12" x1 1/2" thick) under the jacks. On warm days the snow will melt. When the sun goes down the melted snow will freeze the jacks in place. If you have pads under them you can raise them, drive away, then free the pads from the frozen ground. Without pads you may have to pry the jacks off the frozen ground, or put hot water on the feet to thaw the ice holding them to the ground. Believe me freeing the plywood pads after you drive away is much easier than crawling under the coach to free the jack foot from the frozen ground.
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Old 10-28-2014, 12:52 PM   #7
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Winnebago encloses the fresh water and waste tanks in a metal compartment. There are openings from the floor ducting into that compartment. There is also an air return from the compartment into the motor home.
The service compartment is also open to the tank compartment. Winnebago says (and I have verified many times) that with the heat set at 70 degrees, overnight stays at down to 20 degrees are okay.

I added an AC outlet to my service bay and kept a ceramic disk electric heater in it set at 40 degrees that I turned on when I was seeing low temps. I could turn the inside temp down to 60 degrees at night and be okay with overnight temps down to 9 degrees.
The heater I used had an output air temp of about 180 degrees so it didn't damage the compartment walls or the waste valves and pipes.

If you are boondocking you will use a bunch of propane and will be running the generator a lot to keep the batteries charged. The furnace pulls about 7 amps as I recall .
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Old 10-28-2014, 03:42 PM   #8
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I second the pads under the jacks hint ... not fun to crawl under and chip the jack pads loose ... don't ask why I know that.

You can use the toilet if you flush it with either windshield wiper fluid or pink stuff.

The electric heat will most likely not work below 35 degrees ... so make sure that you have plenty of propane ... or hook up an "extended stay" connector and take along some extra 20# tanks. Besides only the LP furnace provides heat to the bays and holding tanks.
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Old 10-28-2014, 06:57 PM   #9
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It's definitely worth putting a couple of gallons of cheap wiper fluid in both the black and grey tanks.

Something else to consider, for example, is your icemaker, if you have one... it will almost certainly route the water line up through the back of the fridge where your cover is, and that sucker WILL freeze and break on you. You should have a cutoff for that supply, and then you can unthread and hopefully drain the water from it.

And as others have said, you will go through a lot of propane -- several gallons a day.

The other thing is that you'll find rubber seals that were fine in warmer weather will start to fail in the extreme cold as they become very stiff and crack in the cold.

And other odds and ends seem to get sad. Some of it isn't very scientific, but I can tell you that my maintenance bills over the year after we wintered in Wyoming with our coach (while looking for the right house) were easily 4x what they have been every year before or since. Call it superstition, but given the choice, I would not do it again.

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Old 10-29-2014, 01:24 PM   #10
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All, thnks for some really great ideas. I was sure we would be using propane like it was water. I love the plywood jack pad idea. The only concern I have now is the black and gray valves. The combination of a 60 W bulb in the water service bay and pink stuff (or washer solvent) should help that. My water pump is located next to the water heater so I think that will be OK. I am purchasing a 3 station remote temperature monitor. Put one in the area of the black and gray water, one in the pump bay and one in the fresh water tank area. The place I hunt has power so I will take advantage of that. (Funny seeing a power pole in the middle of the woods, but oh so welcome this year) I will supplement our propane heat with our ceramic heaters. As for the seals I was hoping if I clean them and re-coat it may help that situation. Thanks for the advice, any other ideas are welcome.....
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Old 10-29-2014, 02:18 PM   #11
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Last year was the second time we did a winter trip in the RV. Two years ago we did two short, weekend boondocking trips to shake out winter camping (up in your neck of the woods - Cadillac and Boyne). Found a couple minor issues that I fixed (had a bad fuse so the house bats didn't charge while driving and under-dash air leaks), but not much else. Added an extra battery for additional capacity.

Last season, we did a 9 day part boondock/part campground trip to VT and Quebec to ski. Despite our best efforts on 2 shake out trips, we still had a problem. Our fresh water tank is located under the bed, above the floor, so I thought we'd be good (had no issue previously). However, most of the water lines, while also above-floor, ran right along the sidewalls, or worse, along the side of the pass-through storage compartment. About 4 days into the trip the lines froze overnight. I got the lines thawed in the morning and added a temp-sensitive switch and a 100-watt light source, but it only solved the problem on one side of the coach, the other side still froze. Something to keep in mind, just because the lines are in the living area doesn't mean they're safe.

Fortunately for us, there was no damage there (the lines didn't freeze solid enough long enough). Although I did end up having to replace a dump valve flange where the grey tank line connects to the valve since it cracked (I replaced the valves at the same time since I had it apart, but they weren't the issue). A relatively easy and cheap fix, if not a little smelly. Keep those valves above freezing even with heated tanks. Put plenty of extra pink in the holding tanks, especially before any other fluids (this was my issue).

You will use a lot of propane, try to supplement it with an electric heater if possible. Any precipitation will cause issues with your slide out and/or topper. Batteries will drain faster and take longer to charge back up.
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:07 PM   #12
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One more idea ... if snow accumulates to say more than 3 or 4 inches on your extended slideouts you will not be able to retract them unless you brush the snow off first ... so I suggest you either
1) keep your slideouts in when you are away from the coach or when it is snowing
2) make sure that you take along a push broom and a ladder to push the snow off the top of the slideouts in case you forget.

I learned this the hard way. I have been in two places where we got over 12 inches of snow and I had my slideout extended ... I had to hire someone to come and get the snow off the roof and the top of slideouts before I could retract them before departing ...
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:26 PM   #13
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One thing everyone failed to mention was tire chains. Get 6 inches or more of snow and your mh will be going no where fast.
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michealwhela View Post
All, thnks for some really great ideas. I was sure we would be using propane like it was water. I love the plywood jack pad idea. The only concern I have now is the black and gray valves. The combination of a 60 W bulb in the water service bay and pink stuff (or washer solvent) should help that. My water pump is located next to the water heater so I think that will be OK. I am purchasing a 3 station remote temperature monitor. Put one in the area of the black and gray water, one in the pump bay and one in the fresh water tank area. The place I hunt has power so I will take advantage of that. (Funny seeing a power pole in the middle of the woods, but oh so welcome this year) I will supplement our propane heat with our ceramic heaters. As for the seals I was hoping if I clean them and re-coat it may help that situation. Thanks for the advice, any other ideas are welcome.....
We also use a 3 station temperature monitor. One is in the wet bay, one in the water tank compartment, and the third reads the actual outdoor temperature. When the outside monitor reads in the high teens both the wet compartment and the water tank compartment read in the mid 40's with the gas thermostat set between 55*F and 60*F.
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Old 10-29-2014, 09:39 PM   #15
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One other thing...make sure you know where your water lines are routed and that they are heated...My coach has the lines all in the basement and fairly close together, but in a coach with a driveline running front to back, I'm not sure how they get routed. But if they go through a compartment that's not heated you'll need to address that as well. No fun discovering that the lines are frozen just when you need to flush...

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Old 10-30-2014, 04:17 AM   #16
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I have stayed in the White Mountains of New Hampshire when the temps were in the 20's and had no problems with my 2001 35U however mine was originally owned by someone who camped in Alaska during the colder months and was ordered with the thermal pane windows. The basement on the 35U is heated by the furnace so if you are using the propane furnace you should be good for about a week or two on a full tank depending on how much sun you get during the day and how long you linger with the door open.

You may want to wrap some rags around the sewer line and water hose where it enters the wet bay to prevent drafts.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:31 AM   #17
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Short weekends maybe ok and fun but extended winter use is a HARDSHIP by the time you prep everything it gets to be non enjoyment unlless absolutely essential. Everthing ouside gets brittle when it freezes including the slide awnings they crack, door locks, window locks, antennas etc. if your in Michigan your well aware of the problems. Get a hotel room or head south.
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Old 10-31-2014, 04:19 PM   #18
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Now this is winter camping

This is my son's place in Williston, ND during the winter. Gets pretty brutal up there in the winter, doesn't matter how much you try to prepare for the cold Mother Nature usually wins. He is going on his 3rd. round of winter while living in his 5er., 40-50 below zero sometimes.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:29 AM   #19
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Your going hunting.....its part of the adventure..go have fun. Its very doable. I did it many years in a 1979 TT..took no water did our business outside. Extra propane and generator. I've also done it in a sheep header's tent with wood stove in near zero temps. ..loved it.
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Old 11-03-2014, 05:11 AM   #20
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Any thoughts on the water pump? Ours is in the bay next to the water heater being attached to the water heater wall. I am thinking the heat from the motorhome plus the heat from the water heater should keep the bay warm. This bay has no power source but is open to the water tanks so should ?? get enough heat.
Now the weather prediction is mild temperatures (upper 20's) but a lot of snow (2 to 3 feet). Many of the roads may not be plowed in that area as they are forest trails. We shall see.
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