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Everything posted by GAP

  1. FREEZE myself out? Pun intended? Thanks much for the support.
  2. For the record, I am a big fan of Jason's as well. He has always been straight with me and offers very knowledgable guidance. I did not attribute a quote to him but was referring to a concept introduced in his post. I can only speak for my trailer and my testing process which points to the cut off for water freezing in pex lines on a stock Elite 2 to be in multi day temps in the low 20s. Just about anyplace where it snows is likely to see colder conditions than that. If my lines stayed liquid down to single digits with no modifications, I'd have no cause for complaint. I fear I'm cornering the market on cold weather posts, which is not fair, so will pipe in less in future discussions.
  3. Diplomatically stated. We may very well be alone in this but our purchase of an Oliver was contingent on the manufacturer claim of 4 season capacity. Day for day, we use the trailer as much in sub freezing conditions as not. When questioned, our salesperson told us that she knew of a couple that lived in their stock Oliver through the winter in Alaska. This is simply not possible. We are very disappointed in the exaggerated claim and a bit insulted by the recent caveat that they are 4 Season Trailer - in the south. That is misappropriation of a widely accepted term in the name of marketing. Given our style of camping (primarily boondocking in ski resort parking lots - we are concerned that no amount of consumer level modification will allow reliable mid winter use. Oliver can and should do the mods, even if offered as an add on package, to accomodate reasonable winter use or should curb their claims of 4 season capacity. All that said, we love our trailer and appreciate it's build quality and aesthetics. Thanks to this super knowledgable community for your thoughtful feedback on this subject.
  4. I just returned from another trip camping in temps below freezing. In the last two seasons, I've now done more then two month's of camping with temps staying below freezing even during the days. Have done the mods to assure that all areas of the basement stays above 50 degrees even when outside temperatures have dropped below zero. Tested with registered digital thermometers. I've now had multiple frozen lines under those conditions. I'm confident the culprit is the insulation (or lack thereof) and especially the type of insulations used - reflectix. This type of insulation does OK with radiational heat loss but not good at all with conductive heat loss. Translation is the pex lines freeze at points where they actually sit directly against the reflectix allowing the cold from outside to transfer through to the lines. The lines froze after a couple of days where temps were consistently in the low teens. My take is that these trailers without extensive mods are not safe to use the water system when outside temps sit in the low 20s for more than a day or so. By allowing air to flow through the basement, this threshold drops another 10 degrees. Without running heat tape along pretty much all pex lines and tank adding warming pads, an Oliver cannot operate with water below that. Our experience may not line up with others. Have asked before and do so here again for anyone who has used their trailer free of mods and used their water in ambient temps below the mid teens to share the particulars of their story. I'd love to be proven wrong on this but feel that, as sold, Olivers are not built for the type winter conditions found where snow is a common place thing.
  5. Pipes are not the only problem. The tanks are sitting on one layer of reflectix which has proven itself to allow for plenty of conductive heat loss so those would need heat pads for sure as there is no way to remove them and insulate more sensibly underneath. If tanks are only partially filled, a pad on top would not do much good so longer narrow ones applied to the tank sides is the option. Exterior ports froze in my case. Guess blowing them out after usage MAY prevent that problem. If applying heat tape, make sure to get behind the flimsy wall at rear of trailer as all that piping is super vulnerable. The lines run parallel but not always right against each other so you may have to run multiple tapes or tape between and wrap in insulation to share the heat. Under the floor (easy to remove) just inside the garage compartment is the exterior port valves for city and fresh feeds. Those should probably be looped into the heat tape application. As to the pipes, you are spot on that using heat tape and pads would either require shore power or daily generator goosing of the lithiums. Certainly not enough usable sun in winter to do the job. TopGun has a great suggestion on snaking on insulation where you can't get heat tape to. When I looked into this there were options for smart tape which is always on but adjusts it's output to the amount of heat needed. would certainly want to wire in an off switch. Very pricey stuff. simple tape and pads can be wired into cheap digital adjustable threshold thermostats so you can set to something like "on at 35 and off at 45". Have a great trip.
  6. Great points. I am not sure why water seemed to not flow well to the Truma water heater but those pipes should be easy to get my hands on. Pipes that froze for sure were the ones that go from under the streetside forward to feed the bathroom sink. Inexplicably, the factory runs those through the center of the basement where it is impossible to get to. would have been handy for them to run it along that streetside the whole length of trailer. That said, they froze in a compartment that is well above freezing cause they must have been up against belly insulation - or sitting on freezing tanks. Reflectix is guilty of conductive heat loss. Either way, sliding on pipe insulation may do the trick.
  7. I'm with TopGun on this. We just got back from a trip in Quebec. Not to get into gory details but we've opened the entire basement up to heated airflow and done other mods to assure all the pex lines are kept above 50 degrees even when it's below 0. Our water system still froze in specific spots most notably where they are in contact with the existing reflectix insulation which seems to do OK with radiational heat loss but not so good in conductive situations. I suspect the tanks sitting directly on a single layer of reflectix against the bottom of the trailer, would be super susceptible to freezing. Water froze inside our exterior ports (city, winterization and fresh water) even though we had them insulated nicely with sealed foam tubes. As to the Truma, the unit works perfectly as long as the lines feeding it water don't freeze and ours did. You can't drive with the Truma on as the wind can blow out it's pilot light. You can either buy the anti-freeze kit or can opt to just winterize that unit. Super easy to do and you use little water but, we found, water dripping off the unit can fill in the slots that the little access door sits in and we then had to use a hair drier (don't ask) to melt it free. As suggested above, travel with water and big body wipes till temps are reliably no lower than the mid 20s. Can survive a night of a bit lower if it gets above freezing in the day but otherwise the risk is not worth the consequence. We use a 7 gallon container w/spigot (Walmart) plus two one gallon, soft sided "canteens" from amazon (all BPA free), body wipes and "waterless shampoo" which works for a week. Any longer, we find a spa, gym or rec center where we can access a shower. We opted for the composting toilet so no water wasted on flushing. Clean dishes in a small pop open sink (Amazon) which fits in the sink and spray clean with a tiny half gallon garden sprayer with a light bleach mix. Works great. Not ideal for a "4 season" camper should be but absolutely doable. Have a great trip.
  8. We've done a few thousand miles of mid winter towing with our '21 Elite 2. Mostly with an F150 with 3 peak stamped tires, so they are solid in the snow. There is a lot of weight which helps traction but it's spread out over a large area and 8 tires which hurts traction. Have had a couple of minor straight line slides but never had the trailer sway or side slip. Generally, the trailering necessitates extra caution on compacted, shallow snow. The weight seems to help it out pretty good in deep stuff but, your chances of the trailer slipping increases for sure. Given a day with black ice or light snow over ice, I'd opt for sitting it out. For the most part, if the pavement is covered, we're in 4wd and taking it slow. We have but have never deployed tire cables for both Oliver and the Ford. They would probably make for very secure driving but are a pain in the butt to use and not really up to covering lots of ground. Really an emergency option.
  9. We just got back from two week in Quebec. Was -15 one night and lots of overnights around 0. Aside from burning a 30lb LP tank every 3-4 days, was plenty warm. In spite of lots of mods to drive temps in entire garage to mid 50s on those nights, the water system froze up - when it was just above 10 degrees out. Turns out reflectix is decent at minimizing radiational heat loss but really not great at radiational heat loss so even in the warmish areas, where a pex line is up against exterior insulation, it will freeze. Luckily, no damage done. We parked for a few nights by a none-too-fancy, stick built, stock 25' class c RV. Had for-real pink board house insulation and matts of stuff that was similar to our reflectix but was thicker sheet plastic between the foil. They had no problem with their water systems on the -15 night. Had lots of useful take aways from the experience.
  10. If I understand this exchange right, you plug into the generator but your batteries are not accepting a charge?! If so, try the following: Plug a heavy duty, 3 way, grounded plug adapter into your generator. Your extension cord plugs into one side and put a neutral/ground bonding plug on the other. Follow the links to find on Amazon. Our built in surge protector can detect an "open ground" on generators as, well, they are not grounded. I have to do this with my Honda 2200i and it works perfectly.
  11. I did similar but double stick taped two layers of double bubble reflectix inside the doors to the garage and battery compartment. they were cut to the size of the doors. I backed off the latch attachment and secured them just tight enough so the rubber gasket around the door was firm against the reflectix. Easy adjustment to do.
  12. I carry a telescoping ladder similar to this . Love it. Super lightweight, lives in the cap of my truck, takes up little room. I use a truck snow scraper on the panels. If it's icy, I let the sun warm the sticky stuff before I sweep it off.
  13. I've been back and forth with Jason (the head of the shop) on this subject for over a year now. He has been responsive and respectful but, his take is that the trailers come stock ready for very cold usage. He rightly does not quantify exact temps, as there are variables, but says that the powers to be have tested down to single digits. He did not know any particulars such as if they were out when daytime temps got above freezing. He also suggested the source of in basement freezing could be orientations to wind, fullness of tanks, quality of LP, etc... but I've been thorough enough to eliminate those potential issues. Jason has shared my repeated requests to speak to folks in management but no one has gotten back to me. He was quite clear that if enough others opened tickets on this issue and expressed these concerns/experiences, he expects management would take note. I hope some of you consider doing so.
  14. Bill, Thanks much for sharing. My question is , does this device loop in the cold water lines as well? In our trailers, the loop needs to include all vulnerable hot and cold lines so as to protect them. I could not tell from their materials. will have to read through more carefully
  15. Both of you, Stranded and NCEagle have great ideas here and I've considered both. - I almost went with DC heat cables (heat tape) and it was an attractive thought. Please share how that has worked for you. I've found there are options for "self regulated" which draw more or less power depending on how cold the lines are. Some cables have built in thermostats set often to on at 45 and off at 55 or it's easy to add a digital thermostat which can be set manually. Problem for me with this set up is 1) tanks would be unprotected unless tank heat pads were added to the system 2) the amount of DC power it would take to protect all the pex pipes that are vulnerable to freezing (those outlined above) would be incapable with our winter usage style. We mostly boondock in ski resort parking lots and have never had access to AC power. Short winter days and low angle light = mostly using generator to juice our lithiums and would be a power challenge on long travel days. On really cold days, we would probably have to recharge our batteries daily. Not right or wrong, but for our use, heating the basement was the lessor of two evils. - Recirculating water through the system would be great for protecting the lines and connections. Supplementing with DC tank heaters would draw minnimal DC power. We opted for the Truma Aqua Go Comfort system, installed by the factory, which we love. The Comfort Plus system has a built in recirculating feature. In discussion with Truma, they said the plumbing is a different set up to accomodate that system or I'd opt to switch. It would be easy enough to insulate with pipe wrap foam all the exposed pex and to put heat pads on tanks. I'm don't know anything about plumbing so wish I had Stranded's skills. If I had known when ordering our Oliver that it was limited in it's cold weather use, AND I knew as much about cold weather trailer camping as I've learned, I would have tried to go a different route. My $.02 worth of unasked for input is that the factory could offer a "hard winter" upgrade that would be easy for them to instal and would be popular enough to justify the effort to develop and test.
  16. I described the initial mods in the chain 3.75 Season Trailers? This upcoming trip is to Canada and will afford me the opportunity to test the additional mods I've made this season. I'm planning on sharing the gory details of all once everything has been tested for multiple days in frigid conditions with the water system on. So far, looks like I should be good down to 0.
  17. I'm none to well versed but, in my research before buying our Oliver and since, I've not found a trailer that does clearly better than ours, except for bigger models that have ducted heat to their basements and/or heat tape as standard features. The Escape Trailers from Canada seem to do about as well if you opt for their spray on insulation sealing of their bellies. They are described as 3.5 season trailers. That said, not of the same quality build. My brother owns a brandy new Airstream which is about the same size as an E2 and he claims they can now be set up for full on winter use but has not been able to test that out and I haven't bothered to dig into their forum. I'd argue, based on their forum, that they are not of the same quality as Oliver either. RVs.even smaller ones, are often good for winter camping. Given the increased popularity of winter camping I am puzzled by there not being more options. With my last modification ( to be tested starting next week) I feel my E2 will be good down to 0. Have tested in those condition quite a few times - am close to done. It was a lot of work but only cause I had partial guidance (limited but top shelf through this forum), am not handy and don't have an engineering brain so had to go slow and there was a learning curve. These mods were relatively cheap and straightforward to do so certainly not impossible.
  18. I don't wish to stick my head in a guillotine nor to contradict Jason who has been great to work with but in posting here he is, to some degree, responding to a ticket conversation I've been having with him recently. In fact, I pointed out the threads, including links to this post, where winter capacity was being discussed. While Oliver may have intended to apply the interpretation above to what "4 Season" means, that term is used to describe equipment that is meant to be used in full on winter conditions. Sleeping bags, tents, parkas, etc... described with that term are being sold as being appropriate for frigid conditions. In housing, it marks the difference between a seasonal and year-round place. Virtually all trailers that offer heat, including those that are much less expensive than Olivers, will work fine in these winter as long as you don't employ their water systems. In the name of transparency and fairness, if Oliver meant something more like "4 Season In Tennessee", it should have been spelled this out clearly in their marketing materials. 4 Season is not a bottomless pit meaning that no one expected these trailers to be able to handle insanely cold conditions when ordered. That said, my salesperson claimed that there were folks living comfortably in non winterized stock trailers in Alaska which according to my pretty extensive testing - around 2 month's so far of winter dry camping taking temps all over the belly - is simply not possible. This claim was repeated to me again by someone responding to a ticket just two weeks ago. I requested, in both cases, to be put in touch with these owners and never received a response. My results have show that there are areas of the basement/garage with water lines that will be exposed to temps below freezing with the cabin heat at 70 when outside is in the mid teens or even low 20s if daytime temps stay below freezing. These are temperatures that are not un-common during the winter in most states including parts California and Texas and sometimes, even in Tennessee. Bottom line is that we love our trailer but feel that, We feel that in both indirect and very direct ways, it's capacity to be used in winter was exagerated. Jason is a super knowledgable, straight shooter and the company has been good to deal with but this particular situation has been a disappointment to us. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - right? Most Oliver owners, including us, bought theirs primarily for the superior quality with the vast majority having no interest in camping in below freezing temperatures. I'm sure most will disagree with my stance here but, I felt obliged to share a point of view from someone who is a frequent cold weather camper. Let my beatings begin.
  19. My take is on why the basement and garage areas are so much colder is because they are insulated by just a single fiberglass shell covered with a layer of reflectix which is less than ideal. I'm sure the tank can transmit cold but not at the rate suggested above. The conditions that cause water to lose heat at 20 times faster than air is caused by evaporative heat loss. I agree fully that the tanks should be better insulated from the cold outer shell but feel that if the basement was kept at a reasonable temp (let'd say 45 degrees) it would take a lot to cause the water in the tank to actually be in danger of freezing. Your thoughts on adding rigid insulation boards to the belly is something I've been toying with for a while. I was considering running a test with a piece of that material to see how it responds to contact cement and spray adhesive. I assume those adhesives would cause the board to "melt" so would not be workable. 2" velcroe with good double stick tape may work but would really want to test as dropping a board on the highway could cause a sad faced story. I do feel that in general, Olivers could really use an upgrade in approach to insulation. The few ideas I've had to improve seem unworkable. One was to have company spray adhesive foam between the shells. Easy to snake feed tubes in just about anywhere but what happens if an electric connection is dislodged or a future repair/mod needs to be done? Also, the insulation itself needs to be water and mold resistant or I'd be writing another story with a rough ending.
  20. I'm like the idea of tossing in handwarmers but, on trips as long as we take, it would get costly. I've stipped out the flimsy wall and floor and now that I have a clear view of where the runs run, am developing a strategy. Currently torn between using heat tape between the lines surrounds by insulation or running either 2" semi rigid duct or 1" electrical conduit (doubling as duct). Love your approach to protecting the inlets. You've inspired me to consider doing something similar with a hollowed out round block of closed cell foam and a pipe clamp or bunji to secure. Thanks on that.
  21. As always John, you bring up a great point. Do you have any idea what the torque on those bolts should be? I've never checked them.
  22. Rivernerd, From my mad scientist experimentation, there are four things you can do to improve this situation. 1). The column of the leveling jack and, most especially, the metal flange the column is attached to, makes for a great cold radiator. some creative work with reflectix and silver tape would go a long way 2). unscrew the ext shower head, bring that line into the compartment and reattach the head. Pull the hot and cold knobs. Now there is enough room to add a block of closed cell foam under the little door to the ext shower compartment 3). cut two layers of reflectix material to cover the entire exterior access door. Cut to fit around the latch but wide enough so it gets pinched by the rubber door gasket to make a seal. Adjust the latch enough so it squeezes the reflectix to close gaps but not so much that the hinges to the door are straining when door is closed. 4). add a small return vent under that bed. Mabey do this last to see if required as it's the most invasive. I went entirely overboard there and replaced the most rearward heat vent on the curbside, snaked under the floor, pst the inverter and fed out to the isle across from the existing galley heat vent. Had to insulate the hose from existing electronics. It works great and certainly heats the battery compartment but bet if I had started with the points above, would not have been necessary. Hope this helps.
  23. We do the same but we shut off the propane while at the pump.
  24. I think it's super important for winter campers to remember that there is a substantial part of the water system that is, as far as has been discussed on the forums, still vulnerable to freezing even after the 2023 model year improvements. The area where the lines running through my garage in rear of the belly has consistently dropped below freezing when outside temps are still in the mid teens. This is even though I made all the same alterations on return ducts that Oliver has plus the mod to heat feeds coming from the furnace as described in "More Airflow In Bathroom". As previously shared in this chain, while camping, the rest of the belly remained comfortably above freezing when outside temps dropped to -5 but that rearward compartment ended up with plumbing exposed temps in the mid 20s. The reason I started this thread was to share what I found about this vulnerability and to ask if anybody has found a workaround. Circling back to that question here. Any insight would be much appreciated.
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