Thursday, December 22, 2011

RV: It's Cold! Pre-Winter Check Up. Winter Toilet. Rodents. RVing in The Cold. Hanukkah. Beethoven. Old Navy.

For tRaVersing Thurday":

It's COLD when boiling water freezes instantly!


Pre-winter RV Checks,  by Mark Polk

"As we head toward colder temperatures, I would like to suggest a few preventive maintenance checks to prepare your RV  for the fall and winter camping seasons. Please don’t confuse these checks with winterizing your RV or preparing it for winter storage.

In no particular order, here are my top 7 pre-winter RV checks:

1. Inspect your RV batteries
Check all battery connections for secure mounting. Clean the batteries with a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and water, if necessary. If you have lead-acid batteries, check the electrolyte level in each cell and add distilled water, if necessary. Many older converter chargers provide a constant charge of approximately 13.5 volts, which is too high for fully-charged batteries and can cause the electrolyte to boiled off, resulting in an early death for the batteries.

Check water levels weekly, at a minimum, when using the RV. Test the battery state-of-charge and charge any batteries that are at or below 80 percent. A discharged or partially-charged battery will freeze much faster than a fully-charged battery. Use a digital voltmeter to measure voltage and get a quick picture of the batteries’ depth of discharge. If you don’t feel comfortable working on or around batteries, have a reputable RV service center perform battery maintenance for you.

Note: A 12-volt battery that is charged should read 12.5 to 12.7 volts. Readings less than 12.5 indicate the battery state of charge is below 80 percent and the battery needs to be charged. A 6-volt battery that is charged should read 6.25 to 6.37 volts. Readings below 6.25 indicate the battery state of charge is below 80 percent and the battery needs to be charged.

2. Test automotive antifreeze
The antifreeze in your tow vehicle or motorhome radiator should always have a 50- to 70-percent concentration of antifreeze to water. Water does a good job helping to cool an engine but it freezes quickly during cold winter temperatures. Water can also cause certain metals to rust and corrode over time. The proper concentration of antifreeze is necessary to provide freeze protection and chemical protection against corrosion.

To test the antifreeze, use quality test strips, a float-type hydrometer or a refractometer. A refractometer is the most accurate testing device.

Inspect all coolant hoses for signs of damage or leaks. Coolant hoses deteriorate from the inside out. Inspect all hoses for wear, cracks, soft spots, brittle areas and leaks. Inspect hose clamps for secure mounting and replace any damaged coolant hoses or clamps as required.

3. Use a fuel stabilizer product like STA-BIL
Fuel stabilizers provide excellent protection against stale fuel during periods of storage. They contain corrosion inhibitors, remove water and help to clean fuel injectors. There are fuel stabilizers designed for use with gasoline and diesel engines. I use a fuel stabilizer in gas-powered lawn equipment, ATVs, boats, motorcycles and RVs.

4. Furnace checkup
One LP-gas appliance that gets overlooked during warm weather is the forced-air furnace. Most service requirements for the furnace need to be accomplished by a reputable RV service center, but there are a few things the owner can do to prepare the furnace for cold-weather operation.

The battery plays an important role in the proper operation of the furnace. Keeping lead-acid batteries watered and fully charged will prevent many furnace-related problems. Inspect furnace ducting that is above floor level for damage, such as crushed ducting or obstructions that could affect furnace operation. Make sure the furnace air return is not blocked or restricted. Test the operation of the furnace before the day arrives when you actually need it. Have a certified technician test your LP-gas system annually for proper appliance operating pressure and leaks.

5. Inspect all safety devices and replace all dry-cell batteries
Carbon monoxide is deadly. Test the CO detector, LP-gas leak detector and smoke alarm for proper operation every time you use your RV. Instruct individuals on symptoms and what to do if they are exposed to carbon monoxide or if they hear LP-gas leak detector alarms. Replace all dry-cell batteries when you change the settings on your clocks in the spring and fall. Make sure you have a charged fire extinguisher on hand and that you and other adults know how to operate it.

6. Clean, inspect and reseal your roof as necessary
Not that this is directly related to fall or winter use, but I like to inspect the roof twice a year, at a minimum, and I think spring and fall are good times of the year to make these checks.

Note: Exercise caution any time you work on the roof of your motorhome. The roof surface can be slippery and a fall can result in serious injury, or worse.

Clean your roof with an approved cleaner for the type of roofing material your motorhome has. Every time you clean the roof, inspect the sealants around all of the openings and the seams on the roof. Water will take the path of least resistance, and if there is the smallest opening, it will find it. Thoroughly inspect the roof sealants for potential leaks and reseal any areas of the roof seams and around openings where you suspect a leak. Make sure you use sealants compatible with your roofing material. Keep in mind that your warranty can be voided if you fail to perform some of these required inspections. Check your motorhome owner’s manual for roof inspection intervals.

7. Plan for non-use
If you don’t plan to use your RV over the fall and winter months, winterize the plumbing system to prevent freezing. Prepare all other systems for short or long-term storage."


Cold Weather RVing

"There are lots of things to do and see in the wintertime; beautiful winter scenery, snow skiing, hunting, riding snowmobiles and much more. It’s no wonder so many people enjoy using their RV’s year round. When winter approaches each year I get numerous e-mails requesting information about using RV’s in cold temperatures. One reason I haven’t written on this subject in the past is because it would require more than just a short article to thoroughly cover this topic. Another reason for not writing about this in the past is that there are no guarantees that your RV can or will be 100% protected from the harsh winter elements by following written advice on the subject…….

Here are a few more cold weather RV tips in no particular order:
* Do not store any water hoses with water in them. If you need to use it, it will probably be frozen. You can take it inside to thaw out if need be, or use a hair dryer.
* Covering the windows with curtains, drapes or almost anything will help to hold some of the heat in. It helps to cover overhead vent openings too.
* It may be necessary to take military type showers to keep from filling the gray water tank so quickly. Heat up some water, take the water and a tall glass and enjoy your shower.
* Leave cabinets or drawers open where water lines are located to allow heat to circulate around plumbing.
* Try to avoid opening the entry door as much as possible.
* Oh and don’t forget the electric blanket. It can be a lifesaver at night.
* If you haven’t purchased your RV yet and you know you will be using an RV in cold weather see if the manufacturer offers an arctic package option when you buy it. Some packages include higher R-factor insulation values, enclosed underbelly, heated holding tanks, dual pane windows and more.

When we arrive at our destination I try to select a site that will be exposed to the sun throughout the day, but also where there is some type of wind break available. Position the RV on the site so the front or rear will be facing the brunt of any wind, not the side of the RV."    More on Mark Polk's site.


Using your RV toilet during a winter trip.

By Chris Dougherty
"I have been, and continue to be a firm believer in winter RVing. There are many wintertime activities and adventures that can be made more enjoyable by using an RV.
Some people prefer not to use the plumbing system during the winter for fear of doing something wrong and having a freeze-up, and subsequent damage. Others prefer to just use the toilet, and depend on campgrounds for their other needs. It is possible to use your RV toilet for brief periods in freezing weather, and here follows a few thoughts on how to go about it.

Winter capable RV:   Purchasing a four-season RV, or modifying one to handle sub-freezing weather is one possibility. I have done this previously with good success. This requires a coach with completely enclosed and heated holding tanks. I prefer to add individual tank heaters, and a separate heater for the utility compartment. I have also added digital freeze alarms to those areas to make sure that the temperature doesn't dip too low in vulnerable areas. Work off the holding tanks only, and dump when necessary. Don't stay connected to outside utilities.

Non-winter capable RV-  No-water option:

It may be possible to use the RV toilet without the use of water, but extreme care must be taken to prevent freezing and damage. If any of you readers out there have done this, or something similar, I'd love to hear about it (email me at mgy41512 (at) I have not done this, but have spoken to folks who have.

The process involves using potable RV antifreeze instead of water to flush the toilet. Starting with a completely empty black water tank, add at least 3-4 gallons of RV antifreeze to the black tank, and continue to use the RV antifreeze to flush the toilet as necessary. When you're done using the system, dump as usual, the there should be no freezing problem.

Warmer climate water option

For you snow birds out there, using the coach water system from the cold temperatures to the warm and vice-versa is an option, but I wouldn't recommend doing so unless you're certain that your enclosed tanks are protected well enough for the climate you'll be traveling in. An option is to use the system as pointed out above, keeping the heat in the coach on, using minimal water, and making sure there's adequate antifreeze in the holding tanks. Many folks will start using the system in the Mid-Atlantic region, for instance, headed South, and will re-winterize there on the way back.

Which ever you decide to do, make certain that the toilet is well winterized when you are done. Small amounts of water can remain in the flush valve on some toilet models, which can freeze and crack the valve if not completely removed or replaced with antifreeze.     Enjoy your winter RVing!"



From Me:  Keep trash bags and some Bio-Gel on hand for when you cannot use your toilet for some reason.  Place the bag in the toilet, add a little Bio-Gel, and use the toilet.  The bag can then be secured and thrown in the trash.


Tips for keeping rodents away from a stored RV
Now that winter is on the way, many RVs are likely being put away until Spring. Hopefully their storage space does not serve as a cold-weather home for unwanted guests like mice, rats and squirrels. These critters can do a lot of damage. Here are some quick tips about how to keep them out of a stored RV.


RVing in the Cold.

"This is in preparation of our first full winter of full-time RV living in cold country. (Previous winters while full-time RVing we were in warmer, more southern states.) Bob had a seasonal job in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We lived in our travel trailer, parked on the job site.

It is getting colder at night. We are thinking about how we are going to winterize our travel trailer for the winter. In years past, we've gone south, so winterizing wasn't an issue. However, we've lived in "sticks and bricks" houses and regular mobile homes in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, so we do have some winterizing experience.

Wintering in the Black Hills was beautiful. It was a terrific experience. I'm not saying we want to spend every winter in RVing in cold climate, but RVing in cold weather is not only do-able, it was enjoyable. Winterizing the travel trailer made all the difference in the world."  Article at:


From Me:  Another thing that will greatly add to the comfort of your RV in the cold or heat is to line the outer walls of the upper and lower cabinets with some insulating foam board, or  Reflectix. 


Hanukkah, Christmas and Light.

December 21, 2011 - "Traditional festivals of light miss the truth about the true "Light of the world". "
Watch this BT Daily at


On his Day:

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony world premiere in Vienna. Dec 22, 1808:

"If the initial reviews failed to recognize it as one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, one needs to understand the adverse conditions under which the work was first heard. The concert venue was freezing cold; it was more than two hours into a mammoth four-hour program before the piece began; and the orchestra played poorly enough that day to force the nearly deaf composer—also acting as conductor and pianist—to stop the ensemble partway into one passage and start again from the very beginning. It was, all in all, a very inauspicious beginning for what would soon become the world's most recognizable piece of classical music: Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67—the "Fifth Symphony"—which received its world premiere on this day in 1808."


Continental Congress creates a Continental Navy

"On Friday, December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress creates a Continental Navy, naming Esek Hopkins, Esq., as commander in chief of the fleet.

Congress also named four captains to the new service: Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle and John Burrows Hopkins. Their respective vessels, the Alfred, Columbus, Andrew Doria and Cabot, became the first ships of the Navy's fleet. Five first lieutenants, including future American hero John Paul Jones, five second lieutenants, and three third lieutenants also received their commissions.

Hopkins' first assignment was to assess the feasibility of an attack on British naval forces in the Chesapeake Bay. After sailing south with his meager force of eight ships, Hopkins decided that victory in such an encounter was impossible. He sailed to the Bahamas instead, where he attacked the British port of Nassau, a decision for which he was relieved of his command upon returning to the continent."



I had an appointment with a different chiropractor, who I used to go to.  Jay wanted to go into Conroe, too, so we left our neighborhood about 8.30.  That was a rush for me to be ready and all my critters trended to, including Misty's walk-about down at Jay's.

We got there early, so I was in and out of there before the time of my appointment.  He said that the pain in my left side that started two weeks ago, could have been because my back was out.  It does feel better this morning.

After returning the non-Fax printer with the defective cord to Walmart, we went to St. Mark's Thrift Shop.  The sign said that they would be closed from the 22nd. on, for the holiday.  But no one came to open the store.  There were several cars, and lots of people waiting, so I got out my local mini-phone book and called the church, only to find out that they would be closed for the 21st, too.

We knew the big fancy Angelic Thrift Shop would be open, so I bought a gift certificate, two more ethernet cables for 25c. each, and a couple of clocks.  I have three clocks dead in the water right now, sometimes the 'motors' go out in them, so I wanted to be prepared.  One clock was the type that gets inserted in a picture.  Next stop was Dollar Tree, so we could buy batteries.  Then bought some xylitol at the health food store,, and a few bargains at Kroger's.

I had tried using re-chargeable batteries in the clocks, but it didn't work, so now my kitchen and workshop clocks work again. I don't know how many times I glanced up there while the kitchen clock was down.

Maybe we are making up for all the rain shortfall, as it another rainy day.


Dizzy-Dick said...

I have camped in cold weather, like 17 degrees. My class-C has an Arctic Pack for all three tanks and the water lines. Not real sure about the new class-A. They said that the furnace also heated the basement storage areas, so that would include the tanks. No crowds where it is cold.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, Dick.

I had a Hi-Lo trailer which had been specially equipped for Alaska, but we never had that kind of weather to try out those modifications.

Our normal fall and winter weather is the best time to go RVing around here. Too hot and crowded in the summer.

Happy Tails, and Trails, Penny, TX