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Old 11-13-2014, 09:36 AM   #1
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Coldest weather you have used the water tanks in your Tropical?

We need to move a load of stuff to the northeastern WA / ID border this weekend and the motorhome is our only vehicle capable of towing my enclosed trailer. With the current polar vortex, tonight's low is forecast to be 7f. I'm leaving the motorhome winterized - single digit lows are probably not what National had in mind when they decided to have the furnace blow "some" hot air into the tank compartment. I'm curious if anyone has used their mid 2000's TropiCal holding tanks in sub freezing weather. If you have, how cold did it get?? I put a few gallons in the freshwater holding tank overnight. We had a hard frost, but the water in the tank isn't frozen.

And yes, I know there is something inherently wrong with using a coach with Tropic in it's name in these conditions!
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Old 11-13-2014, 10:18 AM   #2
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Good Morning,

We have a 2005 National Dolphin, model 5320 (33'), not sure how it compares with yours. It has the WH 8.1 with the Allison tranny.

We could not stay ahead of a snow storm driving thru New Mexico on our way to Tucson, and had to stop in Santa Fe for a day. The temps dropped down to about 10 degrees, then we continued on after the snow subsided and the roads were clear. We drove with the temps hovering in the 20's until getting close to the Deming area. We were winterized, and used bottled water to flush the toilet when necessary. The furnace did keep the basement and holding tanks above freezing. We were very comfortable during the entire trip. The only problem I encountered had to do with keeping the windshield defrosted, but that was my fault for not beginning the process before it was needed. We did keep the slides in during the trip, which is not a problem with the living space in our coach.

We initially had about a third of a tank of fresh water, but did not use it. We used bottled water for everything. We left the tank alone, and had no problems with it.

We tow a Jeep Liberty, and did not have any problems with that.

Hope this helps,

Bruce
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Old 11-13-2014, 05:58 PM   #3
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My '01 Tradewinds has the rear furnace that blows down into the tank ates. I try to keep my thermostat at 50 degrees while it's plugged in in the backyard. I also just drain the fresh tank when we get home from a trip as we carry 10 gallons for general use on the road.
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Old 11-16-2014, 01:46 AM   #4
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Firebug, just to be clear you had a fair amount of water in the freshwater tank during your adventure, and no problems? Excellent!

We left everything winterized, with all three tanks empty or very nearly empty. I poured a gallon of pink RV antifreeze into the blackwater tank and about 1/3rd of a gallon of winter windshield washer fluid (good to -15f and way cheaper than "real" antifreeze) into the grey tank. All of the water we used came via 1 gallon jugs from Walmart ($.88 ea). After the first night (one of the guys working on our new shop said his truck display showed 3f at 6am) we observed the following: a jug stored about 15" away from the wall inside a below the floor compartment at the front of the coach was very cold, but no ice. A jug in the same compartment but up against the exterior wall was about half frozen. It had dripped a bit and formed a small icicle. The good news was that the jug stored under the bathroom sink was actually hot! The rear furnace really heats up that area. It was an unexpected pleasure to have hot water to wash our faces and hands in the morning. The drawers along the curbside in the bedroom are also warmed, but not so dramatically. Still, it was nice having warm socks and underwear.

If I had had more time to prepare, I would have moved our outdoor temp sensor from the frame rail at the extreme front of the coach to the tank bay. With not much heat inside that area of the coach, the weather station reported 22f when the news said it was 7f. That was more heat bleeding into a relatively exposed area than I expected. It would have been valuable info to have seen how cold the freshwater tank got.

On the whole, we were very happy with how our T350 TropiCal performed. We did have 50 amp service and used a small ceramic heater to supplement the propane furnaces. We left the galley slide in the first night, but the coach was so comfortable we cranked it out for the rest of our stay.

So having survived our little excursion, my thoughts turned to what it would take to make the RV nearly cold-proof. We have one of the hot water circulating pumps in our stick home. It samples the water temp coming from the hotwater supply, and when it drops below a certain threshold it pumps water from the hot water pipe into the cold water pipe, so you have hot water almost instantly from any tap attached upstream of the device. If those pumps could be set to maintain a much lower temperature, I think with a connection strategically placed between hot and cold pipes you could install one of those units so that a safe water temp was maintained through the pump and pipes throughout the coach. Propane use might be a problem, but I'm sure you could at least use the coach without suffering any damage.
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Old 11-16-2014, 07:49 AM   #5
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That is correct, we kept the furnace on so the compartments were heated, and we had no problems with the fresh water tank. Once we arrived at the CG in Santa Fe, the conditions were near-blizzard, so we did not want to dump the tank on the ground. Like you mentioned, we keep the slides in during freezing temps, too.
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Old 11-16-2014, 05:22 PM   #6
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We were camped in SD when an early snowfall dropped the temps to 10degrees, with 11 inches of snow. I turned on all the compartment lights, we didn't run the furnace at night, everything was fine. I believe it took a good four days for all the ice to melt from the roof and slide outs.


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Old 11-16-2014, 05:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred and Bonnie View Post
We were camped in SD when an early snowfall dropped the temps to 10degrees, with 11 inches of snow. I turned on all the compartment lights, we didn't run the furnace at night, everything was fine. I believe it took a good four days for all the ice to melt from the roof and slide outs.


Fred
...not that I'd expect to have to first-hand this scenario, but when you guys get a bunch of ice and snow, is it common practice to retract your slides in order to keep awnings from being damaged?

Prior posts are noted, but is this par for the course for all of us?

Do you do anything with plumbing vents on the roof if snowfall gets higher than they are?

Do you worry about too much weight of snow on your roof, and get up to sweep it off? Do you carry a yard-blower in order to do snow removal quickly?

inquiring minds, just in case...
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