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  #1  
Old 09-25-2006, 06:07 PM
kwatson51
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Default Cold camping in Colorado

As a prospective TM owner, I am curious how TMs do in the cold.
We were in our pup this past weekend. Night temps in the 20's and 6" of snow outside. We had an electric heater going on 'medium' all the time. It did ok in the day, but the furnace would kick on when the inside temp dropped below 55 (at night). We would like to extend our camping into October, but it gets a little nippy up here in the mountains by then. So, my 3 questions (for now) are:
1. Do the bunk ends on the TM get colder than the rest of the unit like on a pop-up?
2. With 6" of snow on top of the unit, I assume I would have to find a way to get that off before closing down. (?)
3. Is the plumbing insulated enough to keep it from freezing (ours got a little ice in it this time, but cleared out when running the pump a bit).
Your facts (and opinions) are appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 09-25-2006, 08:30 PM
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You might find this thread informative:

http://www.trailmanorowners.com/foru...hlight=mammoth
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  #3  
Old 09-25-2006, 08:41 PM
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Keith -

Your outside hoses will freeze easily - fresh water hose and accordian sewer hose. If you expect freezing weather, drain them both - couldn't hurt to leave them disconnected untill morning. If the fresh water hose freezes, it proabably won't be hurt because it is pretty tough and at least a bit stretchy to accomodate the expansion of the freezing water. If the sewer hose freezes, it is very fragile! Don't touch it, don't lift it, don't try to urge the ice out of it. The thin plastic skin is VERY fragile, and you will surely puncture it.

At the temps you are talking about, the TM plumbing won't freeze, because it is exposed to indoor heat sources. This includes the fresh water tank, the black water (in the toilet tank), and the water heater, of course. With temps in the 20's, the gray water tank won't freeze because a) the water was at least a bit warm when it entered the tank, and b) the soap, etc, in it lowers the freezing point of the water a bit.

You might unscrew the outside shower head and bring it inside. It is kind of exposed out there, and kind of fragile.

Bill
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  #4  
Old 09-25-2006, 10:32 PM
RockyMtnRay RockyMtnRay is offline
 
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Default So-So in sub freezing weather

Since I routinely camp in Colorado Campgrounds at 9000 to 10000 feet from May through Sept and have done so for 5 seasons, I have a lot of cool-cold weather experience with a TM....most nights in the 30s, many in the high 20s to low 30s.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwatson51 View Post
As a prospective TM owner, I am curious how TMs do in the cold.
We were in our pup this past weekend. Night temps in the 20's and 6" of snow outside. We had an electric heater going on 'medium' all the time. It did ok in the day, but the furnace would kick on when the inside temp dropped below 55 (at night). We would like to extend our camping into October, but it gets a little nippy up here in the mountains by then. So, my 3 questions (for now) are:
1. Do the bunk ends on the TM get colder than the rest of the unit like on a pop-up?
Yes, substantially so. The bed end of my 2720SL runs around 20 degrees colder than the rest of the trailer.
Quote:
2. With 6" of snow on top of the unit, I assume I would have to find a way to get that off before closing down. (?)
Absolutely. I got 3 - 4 inches of wet, heavy snow on the roof one night in late August while camping at Colorado State Forest State Park (Ranger Lakes CG)...no real surprise since that campground is right at the base of the Never Summer Mountains. I swept/pushed as much of the stuff off the roof as I could but the shells still came down very hard and fast even so (not a good thing). 6 inches of super dry, fluffy snow wouldn't be a problem but generally snow that falls with temps in the mid to upper 20s is fairly wet & heavy so it must be removed before closing.
Quote:
3. Is the plumbing insulated enough to keep it from freezing (ours got a little ice in it this time, but cleared out when running the pump a bit).
Depending on the model the internal plumbing (fresh water tank, piping, pump, etc.) should not freeze if the external temps remain in the 20s and there isn't much wind. However the water pump on the 2720 and 3124 front slide models is mounted on the outside wall inside the lower kitchen cabinet. Since that wall only has an inch of insulation, it could get cold enough inside the cabinet to freeze the pump if you had 8 to 10 hours of mid 20s or lower temps outside..

I respectfully disagree with Bill about the external tank grey water not freezing if you have sustained (6 to 8 hours) of temps in the 20s. I don't think an ounce or so of detergent is going to depress the freezing point of 20-28 gallons of water more than a degree, if that. And even though the water entering the tank may be warm, that tank has a huge amount of surface area relative to its volume so it will cool down very quickly. And even if the tank doesn't freeze completely solid, the drain pipe and valve area will. So on my last trip (with night time temps forecast to be in the mid 20s and day time temps in the 50s), I poured 2 gallons of RV antifreeze into this tank upon arrival at the campground. And although the nightime temps were around 25 for about 8 hours, I did not experience any freezing....the drain valve worked correctly and the tank completely drained at the dump station on the morning of my departure (with an ambient temp of 27). Since RV antifreeze is a pre-mix, it doesn't have the effectiveness of pure antifreeze but I suspect the 2 gallons I added when combined with about 23 gallons of waste water depressed the freezing point down to the mid teens. My recommendation is therefore to pour a gallon or two of RV antifreeze into the grey tank (via the tub drain) upon arrival if night temps will be in the mid 20s or lower.

I simply will not use water/sewer hookups when the night time temps are forecast to be below freezing. Even if the campsite has a water connection (very few of the campgrounds I use do), I just use it to fill the internal fresh water tank. I'll defer to Bill's recommendation about disconnecting the sewer as I hardly ever camp in any "campground" or RV Park that actually has a sewer hookup at each campsite.

As for supplemental electric heat, that presumes that you're at a campground that has electrical hookups. If you're fortunate to be in a campground that does have hookups, then yes, a small cube heater greatly reduces the run time of the furnace...and the electrical hookup provides unlimited power for the furnace blower. But if you are boondocking sans hookups (which I do about 2/3rds of the time), then expect the furnace to run nearly steadily...and the furnace blower to rapidly drain the battery. I have dual batteries and a largish solar panel array and probably could go for 3 or 4 days without much problem as long as the days were sunny and the campsite wasn't shaded. Without that much power, I suspect one, maybe two days/nights of electrical drain from the furnace and lighting would deplete a single battery. And propane usage will skyrocket...figure on burning 2 gallons or more per day.

IMO, the biggest places for heat loss in a TM are the windows and gaps in the seals.

TMs have lots of windows and the glass in those windows is very thin so they really lose heat. But simply closing all the curtains at night causes there to be a trapped layer of insulating air between each window and its curtain and that layer greatly reduces the heat loss through the windows.

But if it's windy as well as cold (pretty typical combo in Colorado in Oct), my experience is there are enough gaps in the seals to really let in a lot of cold drafts. As they age, all TMs experience the development of some seal gaps around the edges of the beds...but these are fairly readily combatted by using various kinds of draft-stop tubes. Although the front slide models (2720SL and SD, 3124KS, 3326KS) don't have a front bed and its associated side gaps, they have a much greater seal challenge between the front upper shell and walls of the lower shell/slide. In my 2720SL, for instance, there are about 25 linear feet of flaps (5 flaps in total) that are attached to the upper shell to seal it to the lower shell via velcro. As the trailer has aged, I've found that it's a real challenge during setup to insure that many feet of velcro are sealed with no wrinkles and full overlap on all connections. Cause even a small wrinkle anywhere along the flap seals produces enough of an air gap for a cold wind to make a pretty cold draft inside the trailer.

So after camping for literally dozens of nights with near freezing or even sub freezing weather, I certainly agree that a TM is much better than a popup. And as long as the night time temps stay in the 30s or 40s, it's not much trouble to stay comfortably warm with or without electrical hookups. But if the night time temps drop in the mid to low 20s, especially if accompanied by wind, then things get a lot more challenging, especially if you don't have electrical hookups. And if there's snow you've got two problems...the stuff has to be gotten off the roof before you close the trailer and towing becomes a real scary process.
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I use my TM as a base camp for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and climbing Colorado's 14ers


The Trailer: 2002 TM Model 2720SL ( Mods: Solar Panels (170 Watts), Dual T-105 Batteries, Electric Tongue Jack, Side AC, Programmable Thermostat, Doran TP Monitor System)

The Tow Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Tundra V8 SR5 4X4 w/Tow Package (Towing & Performance Mods: JBA Headers, Gibson Muffler, 4.30 gears, Michelin LTX M/S Tires, Prodigy Brake Controller, Transmission Temperature Gauge)


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  #5  
Old 09-25-2006, 11:42 PM
kwatson51
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Thank you all for your responses...a lot of sound wisdom here.
And thank you very much Ray for sharing your knowlege and experience...this is an awesome response! It's good to know that there is someone here in the Springs that has personal experience in what I'm talking about.

After reading your post, I was wondering if the TM was really that much better than a pup. But after digesting it a bit more, I realized that everything is relative ; and even though the TM is not an Airstream (assuming Airstreams are good), the TMs should be a significant upgrade from a pup. Now, I just need to decide whether that upgrade is worth the $$$ of a TM.

One more thing -- Did you buy your unit new? locally?
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Old 09-26-2006, 09:26 AM
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Keith -

I'll defer to Ray on the freezing of the gray water tank. My comments were based on three nights in Pennsylvania with substantial snow and temps in the 20s, and two nights in New Hampshire, again with snow and 20's. However, in each case, there was no wind, which could make a big difference. No freezing in either case, and I still attribute at least some of this to dumping two gallons of warm dishwater into the tank in the evening.

You can buy glue-on heaters which slap onto the bottom of the tank, outside the trailer. They do require more than battery power, though, so they aren't much help if you are dry-camping. I've never had one, so can't tell you if they work, but the concept is good.

In the end, Ray's application of RV antifreeze is probably a safe precaution.

Bill
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  #7  
Old 09-26-2006, 04:09 PM
RockyMtnRay RockyMtnRay is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwatson51 View Post
Thank you all for your responses...a lot of sound wisdom here.
And thank you very much Ray for sharing your knowlege and experience...this is an awesome response! It's good to know that there is someone here in the Springs that has personal experience in what I'm talking about.
Most welcome. Mainly because of our extremely high altitudes and very cold nights even in mid summer, Colorado camping is quite different than camping elsewhere in the nation and I felt you needed a very detailed answer to your questions.
Quote:
After reading your post, I was wondering if the TM was really that much better than a pup. But after digesting it a bit more, I realized that everything is relative ; and even though the TM is not an Airstream (assuming Airstreams are good), the TMs should be a significant upgrade from a pup. Now, I just need to decide whether that upgrade is worth the $$$ of a TM.
When it comes to cool/cold weather camping, a TM is most definitely a lot better than a pup...hard walls (with 1 inch of foam insulation) and glass windows (even thin glass) make for a far warmer, more comfortable interior than canvas walls and plastic film windows. But in subfreezing conditions, a TM is also no Bigfoot trailer with the optional double pane windows and heated, enclosed holding tanks. I've long felt that if the TM company was located in Fargo, ND instead of relatively balmy Lake City, TN, the trailer would have been engineered substantially differently.

As for the worthiness of spending about 2.5 times as much for a TM versus a roughly equivalent high end popup, that was for me a real easy decision: popups simply don't have the real travel trailer amenities like a true bathroom with a true, albeit small shower or holding tanks or an actual living room area like the "SL" (slide, living room) type TMs do. No matter how fancy, the best you can do in a popup is "camp"...in a TM, especially an "SL" TM, you can actually live in near residential accomodations. Having the amentities of a real travel trailer in a vehicle that had the storability and towability of a popup was for me well worth about $15K...especially when that $15K was spread/amortized over a 20 year expected period of ownership.

When I go on one of my hiking/biking/kayaking/mountain climbing trips, I "camp" in name only and I certainly have no interest in "roughing it" in any way, shape or form. When I return to the campground after a 17 mile hike (with 2000 to 3000 feet of vertical), I want fresh made ice for my martini, a hot shower for my body and a hot meal (oven baked lasagna is just awesome on those cold rainy evenings in the mountains)...and a really comfy overstuffed chair to plunk my tired butt in...all inside a real trailer with glass windows and hard walls. But when I return home, I also want to stow my trailer inside my own garage instead of at some expensive RV storage lot where it could be destroyed by our infamous hail storms or cooked by our UV intense sunlight. And as an independent software designer/consultant, I've occasionally taken my trailer on business trips and used it/worked out of it much like at residential hotel (but at a fraction of the cost of those hotels). So for me, the value decision was super easy...huge comfort gains without the other pains of a real travel trailer at a price I easily could handle. I guess it all depends on how highly you value comfort...is the trailer mostly just for sleeping (an off-the-ground tent on wheels) while you do most of the other traditional camping activities outside or do you want something you can actually live in for a week or two.
Quote:
One more thing -- Did you buy your unit new? locally?
Bought it brand new at the Car Show here in Colorado Springs. Ordered it through them at the annual RV show so got a decent (about 15%) show discount off list price.
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Ray

I use my TM as a base camp for hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and climbing Colorado's 14ers


The Trailer: 2002 TM Model 2720SL ( Mods: Solar Panels (170 Watts), Dual T-105 Batteries, Electric Tongue Jack, Side AC, Programmable Thermostat, Doran TP Monitor System)

The Tow Vehicle: 2003 Toyota Tundra V8 SR5 4X4 w/Tow Package (Towing & Performance Mods: JBA Headers, Gibson Muffler, 4.30 gears, Michelin LTX M/S Tires, Prodigy Brake Controller, Transmission Temperature Gauge)


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  #8  
Old 09-27-2006, 04:18 AM
Bill & Lisa
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One thing I would elaborate on that RMR said that makes a big difference for less than a $5 investment. - The "draft stop tubes". These are swim noodles, or pipe wrap insultation that are inserted up in the "gap" along the side of the beds (from outside) after you pull them out in place. In a 3023 all that covers this 2-3" wide gap is the "flap" you fold down inside and secure with velcro. We have camped as low as 18F and camp year round. Those thin flaps not only transfer some cold drafts to the inside but also are a prime target for condensation of the moist air inside the trailer. This condensation normally will get absorbed into the bed sheets since the sheets normally touch the flaps. Not what I want to be part of my camping experience. Sticking pipe insulation up in the gaps has greatly reduced the drafts in the bed areas and eliminated the wet sheets. We also started using them in the warmer months as they help keep the cool inside the TM from escaping to the outside as well.

We did have problems with the low point drains freezing once and I also had to use a hair dryer to unfreeze my black water slide valve once but so did our neighbor in his class A.

Bill
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Old 09-27-2006, 09:13 AM
camp2canoe
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Swim noodles along the edge of the bunks to cover the flaps - clever idea. On our one subfreezing nights experience the only problem was a freeze up of our fresh water hose. This was exacerbated as our hydrant was not working (we now know to check both the hydrant and electric before setting up) so we had 50' of hose lying on the freezing ground to the neighboring campsite. On the second night we left the cold water trickling in the sink as we were connected to a sewer drop and this eliminated the freeze up problem.
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Old 09-29-2006, 11:38 AM
Bill & Lisa
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Just to be clear, the noodles are not on top of the flaps but inserted from outside up into the channels that the flaps cover. A quick look under a bed will make it obvious where to add this insulator.

bill
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