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Freezing Rear Water Lines


GAP

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On 2/10/2023 at 10:23 AM, rich.dev said:

Sorry if I missed it but do you have a link to your winter mods?
Thanks, 
Rich

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.  

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@GAP thread here

 

 

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What about just heating the water in the pipes, and not the air? 

I don’t do that much winter camping, too hard with little kids.  But I am planning a trip to Alaska and keeping the pipes warm has been on my mind, as well as eliminating water waste when boondocking.

Another lifetime ago, I was an apprentice plumber in Los Angeles.  Granted, it never freezes in L.A., but for some wealthier clients, recirculating hot water pipes were popular because it allowed hot water immediately.  For clients that didn’t want their drywalls cut up, there was an option to install a pump in the bathroom farthest from the hot water heater.  This pump simply ran a line from the hot water pipe, into the pump, and then into the cold water pipe.  The pump was either activated by a switch or a temperature setting, pushing the hot water into the cold water line, which then went into the hot water heater, and then return to the pump, creating a loop, and it would remain on until the temperature at the pump reached the set temperature.  This eliminated water waste and provided fairly instant hot water.

My plan was to do something similar with my Oliver.  I don’t need a recirculating pump since the onboard pump will do the work of circulating water whenever there is a loss of pressure. 

I intend to install around 3 or 4 electronically controlled 12 volt valves.  I plan to install ½ inch tees at certain locations (i.e.: the faucet in the bathroom, the outside shower, and the fresh water fill pipe).  The tees will be to connect the hot water line to the cold water line, with an electric valve that is normally closed between these connections.  An activation of these 12 volt valves will cause the water pump to activate and will push water through the hot water heater, along the hot water line almost to the faucet where it will tee into the cold water line and then go through that line, and then get pushed into the fresh water tank.  Obviously, I’ll need a valve to divert water into the fresh water tank.

To activate the 12 volt lines at the proper intervals, I was going to get one of the cheap PID controllers from Amazon and some cheap water temperature sensors to put in key locations (i.e. outside shower cold line, the freshwater tank fill line, the freshwater tank, and the bathroom faucet).  Once the temperature gets to 40 degrees at a certain location, the correct valves open, the pump activates, both the cold and hot water lines get hot water racing through them until a desired temperature is reached (say 85 degrees).  If I also insulate what I can of the pipes, they should maintain their temperature a while. 

I’m probably not describing this too well, but the end result will be no frozen pipes, and instead of heating the entire basement, I’ll only be heating the water lines and the fresh water tank using just the hot water heater.  I anticipate this will use less propane than heating everything with the furnace.  I can leave it active while away hiking or exploring without running the propane hogging furnace. The only down side is it won’t keep the gray or black water tanks heated.    

Did this make sense?  If so, thoughts?

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@Stranded, I think that's a really cool (I mean warm) idea!  It would actually address the entire system.  Would this take some significant modifications to the plumbing?  How would you get the water "flowing" around all of the plumbing in a closed loop? 

Another option worth considering is 12V self regulating heat cables: https://www.oemheaters.com/.  I installed some of these heat cables in the plumbing areas that were most vulnerable (Water inlets, front bathroom and rear storage area water lines) a couple of years ago.  I'm pretty convinced that the areas I've protected would never freeze (camping, towing or otherwise) as long as the cables had power.  As an example of power requirements, I have 4' of cable installed around the lines and valves that compose the fresh and city water inlets and it takes 1.5 amps at full power (single digit temps and below).

Very interested in hearing what you decide to do and your results.

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Interesting idea - 

Our current home was built as a "SPEC" house about 20 years ago.  After it sat vacant on the market for two years (because the builder was asking too much money for it) we negotiated a fair price and moved in.  A short time later, I discovered that the plumber that did the original work on the house decided to install a "return on the hot water line" from the further point away from the water heater thus forming a "loop" in the hot water line.  He did this because the house is relatively long and narrow with the source of hot water being located at one end while the kitchen and laundry room are located at the other end.  Obviously this causes a rather long delay in getting hot water to that end of the house.

Having never seen a return "hot water line" before I did some investigating and found a product called "Just Right" made by the Nibco company.  This product is installed near the water heater on that "return line", it requires NO pump because it basically works using the Venturi principle which takes advantage of the small differences in fluid pressure due to the slight difference in pressure between the return water being slightly cooler than the water coming directly out of the water heater.  You can read about how it works HERE.

As I see it, the down side is that the water heater would have to constantly be "on", but, that would probably be less expensive than having the furnace constantly "on".

Bill

p.s.  this device works great and there is always hot water available in the kitchen and laundry room.  Since there is always water circulating in those house pipes I did insulate those pipes heavily.

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2 hours ago, NCeagle said:

@Stranded, I think that's a really cool (I mean warm) idea!  It would actually address the entire system.  Would this take some significant modifications to the plumbing?  How would you get the water "flowing" around all of the plumbing in a closed loop? 

Another option worth considering is 12V self regulating heat cables: https://www.oemheaters.com/.  I installed some of these heat cables in the plumbing areas that were most vulnerable (Water inlets, front bathroom and rear storage area water lines) a couple of years ago.  I'm pretty convinced that the areas I've protected would never freeze (camping, towing or otherwise) as long as the cables had power.  As an example of power requirements, I have 4' of cable installed around the lines and valves that compose the fresh and city water inlets and it takes 1.5 amps at full power (single digit temps and below).

Very interested in hearing what you decide to do and your results.

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.

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3 minutes ago, GAP said:

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.

I assume that you have sent you suggestion to someone at Oliver?

If not then I'd send it to Rodney Lomax % Oliver Travel Trailers.

Bill

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4 minutes ago, topgun2 said:

Interesting idea - 

Our current home was built as a "SPEC" house about 20 years ago.  After it sat vacant on the market for two years (because the builder was asking too much money for it) we negotiated a fair price and moved in.  A short time later, I discovered that the plumber that did the original work on the house decided to install a "return on the hot water line" from the further point away from the water heater thus forming a "loop" in the hot water line.  He did this because the house is relatively long and narrow with the source of hot water being located at one end while the kitchen and laundry room are located at the other end.  Obviously this causes a rather long delay in getting hot water to that end of the house.

Having never seen a return "hot water line" before I did some investigating and found a product called "Just Right" made by the Nibco company.  This product is installed near the water heater on that "return line", it requires NO pump because it basically works using the Venturi principle which takes advantage of the small differences in fluid pressure due to the slight difference in pressure between the return water being slightly cooler than the water coming directly out of the water heater.  You can read about how it works HERE.

As I see it, the down side is that the water heater would have to constantly be "on", but, that would probably be less expensive than having the furnace constantly "on".

Bill

p.s.  this device works great and there is always hot water available in the kitchen and laundry room.  Since there is always water circulating in those house pipes I did insulate those pipes heavily.

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

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Just now, topgun2 said:

I assume that you have sent you suggestion to someone at Oliver?

If not then I'd send it to Rodney Lomax % Oliver Travel Trailers.

Bill

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.

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37 minutes ago, GAP said:

My question is , does this device loop in the cold water lines as well? 

I don't know - but - I doubt it since the principle on which this device works is based on pressure differences.  I wouldn't think that there would be enough pressure difference in the cold water lines.  However, in the beginning of my usage, I didn't think that it would really work for the hot water line either.  Shows ya what I know.  Certainly would not hurt to shoot the company an email.

Bill

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This is an interesting discussion. I have no direct input since I never camp when it is frigid. But I do caution about making things too complicated. Relying on pumps, computers and multiple electrically operated valves may look promising in your mind, but in the real world that will likely prove to be a long term nightmare to troubleshoot and to maintain.

KISS. Keep it simple stupid!

RV appliances, hardware and pumps are notoriously poor in quality and inefficient in energy use. It would be better to try as much as possible to use natural heat convection and basic tried and true winter camping methods.

Also keep in mind the future owners of your trailer who may not approve of mods that are not easily reversed.

OTH I really like the Alde heating system, I think it would work GREAT in an Ollie with its double hulls. But the USA distributor won’t sell complete kits to individual owners, we are apparently not to be trusted. With Alde, if you have a cold area, just add another small heating register there. Run your fresh water lines next to the heating lines, all will be well. And of course, eliminate as many openings cut into the trailer as possible, those are disasters in terms of heat loss. (And dust entry.)

337C0789-623F-4196-8D29-D934E9313131.jpeg.959b357b6adb508b40a51d99ae8a7002.jpeg
 

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/camper-reviews/alde-hydronic-heating-system-test-and-review/

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16 hours ago, NCeagle said:

@Stranded, I think that's a really cool (I mean warm) idea!  It would actually address the entire system.  Would this take some significant modifications to the plumbing?  How would you get the water "flowing" around all of the plumbing in a closed loop? 

Another option worth considering is 12V self regulating heat cables: https://www.oemheaters.com/.  I installed some of these heat cables in the plumbing areas that were most vulnerable (Water inlets, front bathroom and rear storage area water lines) a couple of years ago.  I'm pretty convinced that the areas I've protected would never freeze (camping, towing or otherwise) as long as the cables had power.  As an example of power requirements, I have 4' of cable installed around the lines and valves that compose the fresh and city water inlets and it takes 1.5 amps at full power (single digit temps and below).

Very interested in hearing what you decide to do and your results.

The modifications would be minor, and if I use normally closed valves, it'll have no effect on the usual set up if I do it right.

As to the flowing, the RV pump (I think it’s a Shurflo) maintains a pressurized system.  When a faucet or other fixture is opened, there’s a loss in pressurization which activates the pump. 

In order to cause the loss in pressurization, and thus activate the pump to circulate water through the hot water heater, I plan to have a valve that connects the cold water system to the pipe that feeds the fresh water tank.  Once that valve is opened, the pump will sense the loss in pressurization, and as the water circulates, it will end up in the fresh water tank.  Thus, the water pump will be circulating water from the fresh water tank, through the pump, through the hot water heater, through both hot and then the cold lines, and then back into the fresh water tank.  When the valves shut, everything returns to factory style water flow through each of the ports.

Obviously, I’ll also need a valve near the pump that closes all direct flow from the pump through the cold water pipes, with exception to the one that feeds the hot water heater. 

I now it’s difficult to envision without a visual aid, and if I get some free time, I’ll draw a diagram. 

As to controlling them, I realize a PID controller and multiple temperature sensors in the pipes will severely affect cost and will be difficult to prototype.  The PID controller and temp sensors would be a sort of phase 2 of development, if I even do the alteration at all.

But if I install the diverter valves (and I'm thinking there'll be a minimum of 4 of them), as a phase 1 approach, I’ll probably set up the activation of the diverter valves with a cheap sprinkler system controller that works off of time.  Depending on conditions, I’ll program it to circulate water for 3 to 5 minutes through the pipes once an hour while I’m away from the trailer. 

Again, this is all an idea in my head of something I might do, and since the point of a forum is to share information and ideas, I wanted to throw this out there as an alternative to running the furnace just to heat the basement.

I still haven’t solved the problem with black and gray tanks not being heated.  Theoretically, so long as they’re not too full, any freezing occurring in them shouldn’t crack them……right?

 

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4 hours ago, John E Davies said:

This is an interesting discussion. I have no direct input since I never camp when it is frigid. But I do caution about making things too complicated. Relying on pumps, computers and multiple electrically operated valves may look promising in your mind, but in the real world that will likely prove to be a long term nightmare to troubleshoot and to maintain.

KISS. Keep it simple stupid!

RV appliances, hardware and pumps are notoriously poor in quality and inefficient in energy use. It would be better to try as much as possible to use natural heat convection and basic tried and true winter camping methods.

Also keep in mind the future owners of your trailer who may not approve of mods that are not easily reversed.

OTH I really like the Alde heating system, I think it would work GREAT in an Ollie with its double hulls. But the USA distributor won’t sell complete kits to individual owners, we are apparently not to be trusted. With Alde, if you have a cold area, just add another small heating register there. Run your fresh water lines next to the heating lines, all will be well. And of course, eliminate as many openings cut into the trailer as possible, those are disasters in terms of heat loss. (And dust entry.)

337C0789-623F-4196-8D29-D934E9313131.jpeg.959b357b6adb508b40a51d99ae8a7002.jpeg
 

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/camper-reviews/alde-hydronic-heating-system-test-and-review/

John Davies

Spokane WA

I do worry about the future owner since my family will be outgrowing my trailer in just a few years, and I'll need to sell the trailer.  The modifications would be simple for me to undo: just cut out the valves and use PEX 1/2 inch couplings to splice the pipes together where the tees for the valves went. 

 As to over complicating things, I also agree on the KISS formula and believe it's best.  Unfortunately, for most automation, it's going to require some complexity and expense.  And to be honest, I may never incorporate any of the ideas I'm posting on this thread, but I wanted to share them as another possibility of how to eliminate freezing pipes; you never know who you might inspire as they look for ideas while going down their own rabbit hole. 

As an aside, I do appreciate your posts and willingness to make modifications and document such: its information sharing like yours that help the rest of us consider possibilities of improvements to our trailers.

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On 1/30/2023 at 8:06 PM, SeaDawg said:

Yes, I understood that. 

I was actually pretty excited to see you were good at zero. We've never camped in those temps. Actually, probably wouldn't enjoy it, either. 

 

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.

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23 minutes ago, GAP said:

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. 

Sounds like good general guidance.

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We camped once when night time temperatures were mid-teens and daytime temps were high 20s. That was for about 5 days.  No issues with water lines freezing.  We’re not big fans of that type of cold and avoid it if possible.

The last time I had my basement partitions out I could see the water lines laying against the hull as they ran around the back of the trailer.  It would be easy enough to either wrap those with insulation or lay some thick insulation down under the water lines.  The back of the trailer seems like it is the most vulnerable area for the water lines.  The lines under the bed seem more protected but should get some more insulation too.  For the few times we’re in weather below 20 that might be enough.

Thanks to our cold weather campers for their experience.  Mike

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3 hours ago, Mike and Carol said:

We camped once when night time temperatures were mid-teens and daytime temps were high 20s. That was for about 5 days.  No issues with water lines freezing.  We’re not big fans of that type of cold and avoid it if possible.

The last time I had my basement partitions out I could see the water lines laying against the hull as they ran around the back of the trailer.  It would be easy enough to either wrap those with insulation or lay some thick insulation down under the water lines.  The back of the trailer seems like it is the most vulnerable area for the water lines.  The lines under the bed seem more protected but should get some more insulation too.  For the few times we’re in weather below 20 that might be enough.

Thanks to our cold weather campers for their experience.  Mike

Mike, I read all the comments above in the thread.  My understanding of PEX lines are that they can expand quite a bit without breaking.  3 times their size if I recall.  Water expands something like 9%, a figure that wouldn't present a problem for the PEX lines.  One source I read said that the temperature needed to freeze water in a PEX line that isn't insulated is 20°f.  Two problems that I see happening in freezing temperatures are the inability to have water at the faucet due to the water now being frozen in the PEX lines and possible breaking at the non PEX junctions.  Maybe if they use PVC fittings which I think are used, that wouldn't be able to expand like the PEX and they would fail.  I would think that the water in the small PVC fittings would expand out into the PEX line laterally instead of pushing against the walls of the PVC fitting, in other words, the path of least resistance.  I can't see myself camping in sub freezing temperatures, but a brief period of sub freezing temperatures might happen while pulling the trailer through mountains, for instance.  Maybe for most of us, we don't have to worry about freezing lines.  I winterized the trailer and will take it out when it's safely above freezing.  Am I being overly confident in the ability of the trailer to withstand a little cold?

John

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8 minutes ago, John Welte said:

Mike, I read all the comments above in the thread.  My understanding of PEX lines are that they can expand quite a bit without breaking.  3 times their size if I recall.  Water expands something like 9%, a figure that wouldn't present a problem for the PEX lines.  One source I read said that the temperature needed to freeze water in a PEX line that isn't insulated is 20°f.  Two problems that I see happening in freezing temperatures are the inability to have water at the faucet due to the water now being frozen in the PEX lines and possible breaking at the non PEX junctions.  Maybe if they use PVC fittings which I think are used, that wouldn't be able to expand like the PEX and they would fail.  I would think that the water in the small PVC fittings would expand out into the PEX line laterally instead of pushing against the walls of the PVC fitting, in other words, the path of least resistance.  I can't see myself camping in sub freezing temperatures, but a brief period of sub freezing temperatures might happen while pulling the trailer through mountains, for instance.  Maybe for most of us, we don't have to worry about freezing lines.  I winterized the trailer and will take it out when it's safely above freezing.  Am I being overly confident in the ability of the trailer to withstand a little cold?

John

My research into the capacities of PEX have netted similar info as you have stated above. Although there have been times where we were caught by bad weather, I too, reside in the group of folks that would never purposely camp in sub freezing temps.

There have been mountains of how-to information posted here and all over the internet concerning cold weather (at freezing or above) camping and, since you've probably already read it all, I won't go into it again here.

So, in answer to your question "Am I being overly confident in the ability of the trailer to withstand a little cold?" ... Absolutely not.

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19 hours ago, GAP said:

...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...

If I were someone that actually enjoyed being out in weather that cold and had purchased a travel trailer for the express purpose of being able to do it, I would make whatever modifications I felt were necessary to enable me to be able to safely and comfortably enjoy my passion.

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1 hour ago, John Welte said:

Am I being overly confident in the ability of the trailer to withstand a little cold?

No.  It takes many hours in below freezing temps to fully freeze the water in the Pex lines.

1 hour ago, John Welte said:

a brief period of sub freezing temperatures might happen while pulling the trailer through mountains, for instance. 

This will not be enough time for the water in the Pex lines to freeze.  But overnight at 0 F. without heat in the trailer?  That would likely be enough.

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Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

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20 hours ago, ScubaRx said:

If I were someone that actually enjoyed being out in weather that cold and had purchased a travel trailer for the express purpose of being able to do it, I would make whatever modifications I felt were necessary to enable me to be able to safely and comfortably enjoy my passion.

Or, buy a trailer or motor home that has factory-installed 12V tank heaters, and a furnace design that properly heats the area where the tanks and plumbing are located.  Stock Olivers are true 4-season trailers only in the Southern US, where they are made.  Knowing what I know now about the stock Oliver trailer's performance in below-freezing temps, I believe it is remarkably "aggressive" marketing for Oliver to include on its website photos of its trailers being used for snow camping.

4 seasons camper trailer

 

Legacy Elite II Four Seasons

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Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

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4 hours ago, Rivernerd said:

Or, buy a trailer or motorhome that has factory--installed 12V tank heaters, and a furnace design that properly heats the area where the tanks and plumbing are located.  Stock Olivers are true 4-season trailers only in the Southern US, where they are made.  Knowing what I know now about the stock Oliver trailer's performance in below-freezing temps, I believe it is remarkably "aggressive" marketing for Oliver to include on its website photos of its trailers being used for snow camping.

4 seasons camper trailer

 

Legacy Elite II Four Seasons

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.

2021 Elite 2, Twin Bed, Lithium & Solar, 3000W Inverter

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28 minutes ago, GAP said:

...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...

Be careful when you say something is "simply not possible." i.e. Many engineers have long said that bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly, or that bumblebee flight is not consistent with any known aerodynamics. This is obviously a myth since they are, in fact, able to fly. Modern research using technology such as aerodynamic modelling and high speed cameras, have provided further proof that bumblebees can indeed fly. So, this Alaska "claim" is not exaggerated. I have personal knowledge of several different Oliver's that spent two winters in Alaska. Also, for years every trailer forum I am associated with (including this one) said that it was impossible to run an RV air conditioner off batteries. But now.....

... and a bit insulted by the recent caveat that they are 4 Season Trailer - in the south. 

Please state the source for "the recent caveat that they are 4 Season Trailer - in the south." Also, although I have long searched for a definition for the term "4 season trailer", I have yet to find a reliable source that could provide a definitive answer. If you have one please share it with the group.

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.  Our situation may be somewhat unique but we spent roughly $75k on the trailer and $50k on a truck capable of towing it based on inaccurate marketing so feel we are justified in squeaking about this situation.

I'm sorry, but unfortunately, given your style of camping and the 'as delivered' capabilities of the Oliver, you may have chosen an inadequate trailer. I could not begin to advise you on an alternative as I would never intentionally camp in the conditions you have chosen and have never researched it along those lines.

Oliver can and should do the mods, even if offered as an add on package, to accommodate reasonable winter use...

Oliver can do mods after the build, if they choose to which they may or may not. Whether you can afford it would be another question and entirely up to you. It would have to be designed by you and presented to them for consideration. Honestly, I would not count on it.

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 knowledgeable community for your thoughtful feedback on this subject.

In a side note, we will be coming thru your area in June and I would be happy to hear your ideas on what you think would be needed. I've done many extensive mods on our trailer thru the years and if I could offer you any assistance, I would be glad to.

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Steve, Tali and our dog Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie, Lucy and Reacher (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

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5 hours ago, John Welte said:

I winterized the trailer and will take it out when it's safely above freezing.  Am I being overly confident in the ability of the trailer to withstand a little cold?

I don’t think so.  We have had a lot of time where the temps were below freezing, both stationary and while moving) with no issues.  I don’t winterize.  We’ve had two occasions where the temps here in south Texas got into single digits and stayed below freezing for days.  I kept the heat on, opened hatches and had no problems.

If I was looking for a cold weather trailer for camping in constant below freezing weather I would be looking at a Nash/Arctic Fox or even better an Outdoor RV.  They have a lot more insulation in the walls and ceiling, enclosed tanks with dedicated heat ducting plus tank heaters.  The Oliver 4 season capabilities are for how most of us camp - above freezing with occasional, but not sustained, below freezing camping.  Mike

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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21 hours ago, ScubaRx said:

In a side note, we will be coming thru your area in June and I would be happy to hear your ideas on what you think would be needed. I've done many extensive mods on our trailer thru the years and if I could offer you any assistance, I would be glad to.

 

21 hours ago, ScubaRx said:

I am not sure how to respond to your points in the body of your response but will try to do so here.

-  As to folks living in an Oliver in Alaska:  I did not say this was not possible but did not believe it could be done in a stock, unmodified unit.  Do the folks you know of, camp through the winter without any mods, without a skirt, with their water system on?  Either way, I'd love to learn how they are doing it.

-  The source of the claim that these trailers are 4 season for southern climates was made on this forum, by Jason, from the Oliver shop.  I could not find which chain he posted in so if anyone knows, please share.  To the best of my memory, he shared that by 4 Season, Oliver intended that to apply to where they are built in Tennessee.  

-  I appreciate you pointing out the Oliver can do Mods.  In all my questions about winter use, none of the shop folks have suggested that they can do alterations that would have a greater effect then what I've already done.  They have made few productive suggestions for improving frigid weather performance or helping me decide on approaches for my mods.  Considering that I purchased this trailer under the claim that it already was outfitted for winter use, I would be dubious about asking them to perform additional work specific to that goal.

-  Not that it makes me any sort of authority but I was a winter mountaineer and instructor for years.  Has always seemed to me that the conditions described by the term 4 Season is widely accepted as: Winter = 0 to 30 degrees, Spring and Fall are 30 to 60 and Summer is 60 to 90.  Anything above or below that range seems to be considered as extremes by the outdoor industry.

Thanks very much for your thoughts and questions on all this.  I am not normally a pot stirrer and am not looking to be controversial.

 

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2021 Elite 2, Twin Bed, Lithium & Solar, 3000W Inverter

2022 Ford F150, 3.5L V6 EcoBoost, 4x4 Supercab, Trailer Tow Package

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