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Keeping the pipes from freezing


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We're currently in Kansas, workamping at amazon.com's distribution center. Tonight, the projected lows are supposed to be 7 degrees. We must be crazy to be here instead of somewhere warmer, I know.

 

This is our first time being in really cold weather in our Oliver (last winter we were in San Francisco, where it barely got below freezing). Previously, we thought that the trailer would be fine if we were living in it and keeping it warm enough to be comfortable for ourselves.

 

 

That is apparently not true when the temps drops much below about 20 for any length of time.

 

Tonight we experienced the cold water line to the bathroom - both the sink and toilet - freezing up enough to stop the flow of water (outside temps reading at 17 at the time). The hot water (currently heated on electric, thanks to amazon.com) has been flowing fine.

 

After much experimenting we discovered that we have to open the hatch underneath the double dinette seat closest to the bed (four person dinette) to warm the line. We're currently alternating placing our fan forced space heater in the chamber and in the living area to keep both us and lines warm enough. Thankfully, we haven't burst any pipes.

 

As we won't be here tomorrow evening while we're packing boxes to keep the alternating going, we'll likely keep the hatch open so that warm air is at least getting in there and keeping the space between the shells above freezing.

 

 

Any other suggestions are much appreciated.. but thought we'd pass this bit of info on incase you haven't yet gone through really cold temps yet in your Oliver.

 

- Cherie

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Since it is in the up position when open, that little hatch will often times slide shut on it's own. We have tried putting something in place to keep it open but that reduces the hot air flow into the space where it is needed. Once we discovered that the door and it's frame snap into place and is held there by two sided tape, we simply removed it, increasing our hot air flow into the area signifigantly.

I think that a simple solution might be to place a 25' heat tape on the water pipes that run from the bathroom down the highway side of the Oliver. Then run it under the rear, and over to the curb side, taking care to get the heat tape around the water pump, then come out of the hatch that gives access to the curb side electric jack. That would allow the heat tape to stay in place all of the time, yet be out of the way until needed. Then, when needed, open the hatch, pull out the cord and plug it in by the sink. A switch and indicator light might make it a more permanent install. The tape has an indicator light on it and comes on when the temperature gets down to 38 degrees.

This might be considered by the factory as an option for EXTENDED COLD WEATHER CAMPING.

In the past we have stayed overnight in a parking lot at 11 degrees, but last night's 8 degrees and the extreme wind chill factor really amplified the problem.

Our insulation may be different from other Olivers since it is among the oldest that are out here. We have the 1/2" thinsulate insulation package and no other insulation options. Under all circumstances before this that has been more than adequate.

Other ideas and input appreciated on this ! Chris, Cherie, Betty & I, are kind of out there in uncharted waters on this situation, and would like to hear ideas others may have about this.

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth 08' Oliver Legacy Elite HULL NUMBER 0003(sold)

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Woohoo... we made it last night with a dip down to 8 degree without any significant freezing damage. We did however have the outdoor showerhead burst, as we totally forgot to drain the line before the freeze. Not a big deal for us.. we hardly use the thing, and it'll be easy enough to replace. Once we shut off the water to the outside shower, all systems inside were functional and had just enough time before work to take a quick warm rinse. What a night tho.. I don't think we got much sleep as we were frantically trying to stay ahead of it and isolate which lines were freezing up - which involved the bed being torn apart most of the night.

 

We left the bedside dinette seat chamber totally open, as well as the bathroom door this evening while we worked our nightshift - and no problems. Of course, we're only getting down in the low 20s tonight, so not nearly as bad.

 

I agree Larry... something for extended long term cold camping would be an awesome feature. I always thought that a small heat system between the shells would significantly help with keeping the interior warm as well. Leaving the trailer insides so open isn't an optimal solution. It's not like we have lots of spare room to toss cushions and such aside, and normally we have Kiki who would be getting into way too much mischief :D

 

Hope winter is treating everyone well!

 

- Cherie

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I've got one of these heaters installed on my boat and it works beautifully:

 

http://www.xtremeheaters.com/index

 

Although it's never gotten below the low teens here, the engine compartment in the boat is larger than the area between the Oliver hulls (and my boat is stored on a lift - the worst possible case), so I suspect it'll do a good job. I'm thinking about putting one or two (one on each side?) in my Ollie. They're kinda steep at $280 each on Amazon.com (best price I've found plus potential discount for you workampers there), but may be well worth it since you just install them and forget about them. They'd probably also help keep the whole trailer a bit warmer since some heat would be seeping up between the hulls.

Aubrey and the two wingmen, Woodstock & Rascal


Oliver #032, "El Huevito"


Ford F-150 4x4


El Juevito's Travels
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What a great idea! I took a look at the specs for the small unit and it has enough energy to warm 180 cubic feet of space. Energy use is variable, dependent on the compartment's temp and overall, it merely sips at the power source . . . very nice, indeed.

 

Amazon.com is putting one in a stocking for the Wonder Egg. (I hope they don't accidentally drop in one of Meanderthal's "testing videos" from the amazon.com thread . . . that could be scary)

Pete & "Bosker".    TV -  '18 F150 Super-cab Fx4; RV  - "The Wonder Egg";   '08 Elite, Hull Number 014.


Travel blog of 1st 10 years' wanderings - http://www.peteandthewonderegg.blogspot.com


ABBCMBNBNLNSONPEQCSKYTALAKAZARCACOCTFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPAPRSCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYsm.jpg

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Our freeze up and leak also occoured near the outside shower. Our outside faucet's had been drained and didn't freeze. The "quick and dirty" fix was to just replace the outside shower's leaking line ends with teflon tape wrapped brass plugs. Here is a look at the end result:

100_0924.jpg

We went this way so that it would:

a. Use the brass plugs to clean up the threads on the small plastic fitting where the freeze stripped them.

b. Use teflon tape to reseal the damaged thread contact surfaces

c. Close off the lines so that the leak was stopped and the water could be turned back on.

Opinion:

The Oliver's internal plumbing withstood a hard freeze and the weakest point is where the leak occoured. Note how short the threaded end of the chrome line is, that runs to the outside shower. That isn't a lot of contact surface area and I suspect that because of that, those short threads were the weakest point in the water lines and is why the freeze/leak occoured there.

Resolution plan:

a. Pick up replacement plastic fittings to replace the ones that the freeze stripped the threads on, and, also an extra set of the same fittings to carry as spares, just incase. he, he, you know how stuff happens.

b. Add a electrical outlet inside, between the two hulls so that a heat tape can be plugged in and the tape's thermostat will be at the same temperature as the air between the hulls. Should the tape be plugged into the interior or heated area then the tape would not come on when it should ( 38* ).

c. Add a heat tape that wraps as much of the water pipes as is possible, paying particular attention to the areas that have bedding or stowage articles that will keep heat from the cabin from radiating into the space between the hulls. The negative to this is that there will be a "hidden" load source on the generator, however small it is. On shore power, it likely will never be noticed. On the positive side, our Ollie may never need Winterizing except for sink drains and the shower P traps.

d. Replace the sliding trap door that I removed to expedite the thawing out of the frozen areas, a simple two sided tape process.

Conclusion:

The heaters that Aubrey mention are a quality solution. Since Oliver's have a smart charger onboard, and "cooking" the coach battery to death isn't a issue, the heaters Aubrey mentions is a good, maybe even better, solution for non-Winterizing your Ollie !

But the heat tapes are simple and effective. They can stay plugged in all the time with the thermostat bringing it on as needed even during generator / boondocking sessions. The tapes will not be susecptible to pet hair, dust bunnies and so on that might restrict air flow. The tapes don't require air flow to be effective and they are almost totally silent during operation, there is a tiny click as the thermostat engages and disengages and it being between the hulls, may not be heard at all.

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth 08' Oliver Legacy Elite HULL NUMBER 0003(sold)

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Both the tape and the Xtreme Heater are great ideas ! Now, its decisions, decisions..... :lol:

Went through a couple of week long low 20 degree weather last year and early this year and was worried but the PhunnyPharm came thru with no damage but........ :?

Part of pondering will include getting Honda 2000 mounted and if the Honda will/can handle the Xtreme heater. Tape shouldn't be a problem.

Thanks for all the info, I think :o !!!!!!!

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Today was a day off for us and we went to a local Farm & Home supply place and Betty bought me a new pair of overhauls and a 13' heat tape. We installed it so that it will keep the water pump from freezing as well as the lines where the water supply comes in. The installation was tough since we were having to work through the seat storage and between the hull halves. It would be much neater if it was installed during construction and before the hull halves were mated. The power cord comes out through the manual electric jack access port, staying there until needed:

100_0925.jpg

Here is the water pump portion of the install:

100_0926.jpg

Water pump look different from yours ? Here is a closer look:

100_0927.jpg

A closer fit and better freeze protection would result from a factory install during construction.

Freeze test coming up tonight !

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth 08' Oliver Legacy Elite HULL NUMBER 0003(sold)

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Probably not much of a test in the twenties. We've not had any problems in temps in that range, boondocking. I wonder if running the gas furnace helps heat the area between the hulls. We rarely have hookups, and in the coldest weather we've camped in (I think the thermometer said low temp 13 degrees), we had to use the furnace, not electric heat.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Hey Pete!

 

Have you installed your Xtreme heater yet? I received mine yesterday and am looking at placement near the charger, pointed aft. I also got a remote indicating thermometer to monitor the temp between the hulls down there.

 

Aubrey

Aubrey and the two wingmen, Woodstock & Rascal


Oliver #032, "El Huevito"


Ford F-150 4x4


El Juevito's Travels
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Aubrey,

 

I zip tied the Xtreme heater to a 10 X 12 inch flexible, non skid, rubber mat and inserted it into the hold under the aft dinette seat. It rests just aft of the smart charger and blows the warm air back between the external shower box and the inner fiberglass shell. This helps protect that weak point Mountainborn spoke about earlier, where the short threads are on those two hoses.

 

This morning it dipped down to 30 degrees. After my first Cup-of-JO, I went out to take some temperature readings using the infrared thermometer that I have for checking tire and hub temps. Here's what I got as I pointed the "red dot" around between the two egg shells.

 

Shower box - 55 degrees.

 

Back wall of trailer on street side - 55 degrees

 

Back wall on curb side - 42 degrees (shows the air circulates around between the shells)

 

Water lines near water pump - 41 degrees

 

I ran a ceramic heater inside the trailer on a very low setting. The inside temp was 45 degrees.

 

The Xtreme heater is plugged into a new a/c outlet in the fusebox using the same circuit as the refrigerator. It has 15 amps of protection which is more than enough.

 

Thanks for suggesting this great addition to our trailers, Aubrey!

Pete & "Bosker".    TV -  '18 F150 Super-cab Fx4; RV  - "The Wonder Egg";   '08 Elite, Hull Number 014.


Travel blog of 1st 10 years' wanderings - http://www.peteandthewonderegg.blogspot.com


ABBCMBNBNLNSONPEQCSKYTALAKAZARCACOCTFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPAPRSCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYsm.jpg

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jam49,

 

Fellow Texan! The 300w unit will protect 180 cu ft of space . . . I believe it would be enough to enough to provide Revilo a nice safety net against any loooooong, cooooooold spells you might encounter :)

 

Aubrey,

 

How did your temp tests work out :?:

Pete & "Bosker".    TV -  '18 F150 Super-cab Fx4; RV  - "The Wonder Egg";   '08 Elite, Hull Number 014.


Travel blog of 1st 10 years' wanderings - http://www.peteandthewonderegg.blogspot.com


ABBCMBNBNLNSONPEQCSKYTALAKAZARCACOCTFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPAPRSCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYsm.jpg

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Again, Thanks to all for sharing more ideas about taking care of our Olivers. I just ordered the xtreme heater and quick release. No freezing temperatures forecast here for the next few days. Heater is supposed to be here in a few days.

I sure like Mountainborn's heat tape job but I not confident in my abilities to do the same! jam49

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I've been living in my trailer the last several days and it hasn't gotten cold enough to trigger my Xtreme heater (I've got it mounted in the same place as Pete), but here are a few interesting observations:

 

Channel 2 temp sensor is mounted just under the water pump on the aluminum keel beam. Channel 3 is atached to the side of the outside shower housing between the hulls. Neither temp sensor is touching the outer hull. Temps are recorded during the coldest part of the day, typically about dawn. All interior compartments and doors have been kept closed and no hot water has been flowing for several hours before the readings were taken.

The curbside area is several degrees warmer than the streetside area because of the use of heat, but the difference is more pronounced when using the furnace instead of the heat strip.

I hope to get more meaningful data next week when the cabin and water are not being heated and perhaps the Xtreme heater gets triggered.

 

Aubrey

 

P.S. Something to watch out for: While testing my Xtreme heater and running a 1500w cube heater at the same time, the hose reel circuit breaker popped. Twice. Apparently too much load?

Aubrey and the two wingmen, Woodstock & Rascal


Oliver #032, "El Huevito"


Ford F-150 4x4


El Juevito's Travels
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This is the little weather station I've been using to record the temps. It was about $25 at Wal-Mart and has provisions for up to three remote sensors (sold separately) in addition to the inside sensor. I've got one sensor mounted in the propane box as well as the two previously described between the hulls.

It's pretty handy for monitoring temps as it records the min and max for each channel, plus it's got a little dude that tells me how to dress in case I can't find my glasses. :lol:

 

Aubrey

Aubrey and the two wingmen, Woodstock & Rascal


Oliver #032, "El Huevito"


Ford F-150 4x4


El Juevito's Travels
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