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Old 07-31-2018, 06:51 PM   #1
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Default American Cruiser use in Winter

Hi All,

I am looking to use a Class B in winter (New England) with a working shower. I am new to Class B but I have already discovered that my options may be limited. Budget also has me looking around the 20k which limits my options to older used models.

I am considering a 1999 American Cruiser, it claims to have "Four season internal water system". Does anyone have experience with below freezing temps with an American Cruiser? Any thoughts on how cold I could go without freezing up?

Thank You,

Tom
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Old 07-31-2018, 07:07 PM   #2
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.

An RV is no different than your brick and mortar home -- during the winter months, it requires a constant input of energy to be habitable. ie. you need to heat it, heat it, and heat it.

Otherwise, the pipes will burst.

What do you want the RV for?
Fulltime living?
Weekend winter camping trips?
Ski trips?


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Old 07-31-2018, 09:11 PM   #3
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My hope is to spend several weeks at a time in the van during spring in the mountains, so probably late March, this is after the coldest part of the winter but still can hit some cold snaps, maybe down to 15F. I will spend a few days off grid at a time with some electrical hookup on other days. I assume that I will need to constantly heat the van with a combination of LP and the generator. Perhaps need to full up on LP every 3 or 4 days (not sure). My real question is - Is the American Cruiser better at handling cold weather than a typical class B and does anyone have first-hand experience?
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Old 08-09-2018, 05:21 PM   #4
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SkiBum,

Check out MIKE WENDLAND at Roadtreking. He has some vedios and good advice on winter camping. He does it in Northern Michigan. Colder than New England. If I can get my act together, I will see you out there.

Heapie
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Old 08-09-2018, 05:22 PM   #5
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I've overnighted in my '95 Coachmen in 14*F temps and 40mph gusts. I not only had to run the propane furnace, but the generator and a ceramic heater... and was only able to keep the temp at just about 60*. Most of your heat loss will be through the windows. It's not likely you'll be able to keep the water lines from freezing as they're likely located in cabinets near the metal outside walls.

I use my van in the winter in Iowa, and occasionally traveling to warmer climes, but I use a porta-potty instead of the plumbing, and I use bottled water and a wash basin. Showers are done at truck stops and other places that offer public showers.

That said, the larger issue in sub-freezing temps is where and how you'd take on fresh water, and where you'll dump your gray and black tanks. Likely unless you can drive to somewhere that doesn't freeze, neither will be available to you; at least not easily accessibly.
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Old 08-09-2018, 05:32 PM   #6
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I have a 99 American Cruiser. Unless they have a specific add-on, it is not 4 seasons.
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Old 08-09-2018, 06:05 PM   #7
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Most Class Bs have their water tanks outside under the van. These will freeze like any other water will freeze in cold New England winters that are outside. No matter what Class B you buy from the newest to oldest you might find none are set up to go through a winter 24/7. In New England campgrounds close at the end of October and don't open again until April - just for this reason. There is not way to have water for drinking, washing, a shower, or the toilet other than having bottled water inside and keeping the heat on high 24/7 and even then it can't cgo down any drain or the toilet. There are larger RVs set up with heated tanks and are designed from the start for four seasons. No B is, not even the Roadtrek 190s or 210s that have an interior fresh water tank inside that they says is protected from the cold (and only about 7 gallons) - but that water still has to go down the drains into the exposed waste tanks outside the van where it would freeze.
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:12 PM   #8
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I cannot speak for American Cruiser, I have a Winnebago Era on a 2015 Sprinter 3500 chassis. The plumbing is all outside. I took a cross-country trip last winter with nightly temps into the teens many nights and single digits on a couple. I used the on board water and sewer systems BUT, I had added heating blankets to fresh water, black and grey tanks and the water lines outside, under the coach. These were combination 12v DC and 120v AC. I had a propane furnace which crapped out for a couple of nights when I also had a 15 watt ceramic 120v AC heater and the heat strip in the roof air conditioner. My indoor water pump froze up one of the nights that the furnace was out and I forgot to open the cabinet door. Yes, it was a great trip BUT, I had full hook-ups every night. I certainly did not try to hook up sewer connects in freezing weather, awaiting warmer days for that.
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Old 08-09-2018, 10:46 PM   #9
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Not only do you need to keep fresh water from freezing, you need to keep all the drain lines under the floors and waste tanks from freezing. That requires a reliable and constant energy supply and insulation. Not really feasible unless plugged into a post all winter with insulation and heat under van. But, we camp all winter. Carry bottled water. Use a 5 gallon bucket to collect grey water. Flush toilet with anti-freeze. Can keep from getting too rank for a week or so using sponge baths and other techniques...then have to find shower in nearest town, open campground or truck stop.
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Old 08-09-2018, 11:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belzar View Post
Not only do you need to keep fresh water from freezing, you need to keep all the drain lines under the floors and waste tanks from freezing. That requires a reliable and constant energy supply and insulation. Not really feasible unless plugged into a post all winter with insulation and heat under van.
It is feasible if you have a fuel-fired hydronic heating system such as the Espar D5. I extended the Espar's loop so as to run the hot glycol along all the pipes and wrapped them in insulation. They also run along the (insulated) tanks. No need to heat the underside of the van.

IMG_6066.jpg

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Old 08-10-2018, 03:33 PM   #11
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I read a web site a few years ago about how to live in an RV in winter and be able to use the plumbing (they were in a campground in Canada). These instructions work if you're camping in one spot and not traveling around. They involved putting a skirt around the RV like the ones used on mobile homes. They used heat tape and installed 40 watt light bulbs underneath the RV to keep the pipes and tanks from freezing. I think there were other things they did as well to help insulate the underside of the vehicle, and these instructions were geared more for a Class A or C. I don't remember now, but I'm assuming the RV would be hooked up to the sewage outlet, since this system wouldn't work very long if you couldn't dump your tanks.
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:45 PM   #12
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Why are folks commenting that have outside plumbing ? He specifically says that his class b has inside plumbing. I have a 1987 Coachman class b with all inside plumbing and it is fine for weeks at a time in Michigan. However it is insulated like **** like most class B's. I cover the windows with insulation and/or windshield sun shades of the bubble type and I hang a barrier behind the front seats as well as cover all the front windows.
Also, set up a second plug so that u can use the grill tanks of propane or even a 100 pounder so u don't have to keep uncovering to go get more propane.
Subzero, I will also crack a window and run the stove but a buddy heater works great too. However if you don't have windows covered good u will get tons of condensation.
A 12 volt mattress pad that truckers use is a GREAT addition to any cold camping.
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camoman View Post
Why are folks commenting that have outside plumbing ? He specifically says that his class b has inside plumbing. I have a 1987 Coachman class b with all inside plumbing and it is fine for weeks at a time in Michigan. However it is insulated like **** like most class B's. I cover the windows with insulation and/or windshield sun shades of the bubble type and I hang a barrier behind the front seats as well as cover all the front windows.
Also, set up a second plug so that u can use the grill tanks of propane or even a 100 pounder so u don't have to keep uncovering to go get more propane.
Subzero, I will also crack a window and run the stove but a buddy heater works great too. However if you don't have windows covered good u will get tons of condensation.
A 12 volt mattress pad that truckers use is a GREAT addition to any cold camping.
Just curious - how do you deal with emptying your tanks?
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:55 PM   #14
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Inassume you mean the black and gray water.
The easiest way to empty them is not to fill them !! Lol

You can just leave the gray water line open to drain on the ground.
However, they make the little totes for emptying them.
Also, you can use double Walmart bags to **** and just toss them and then leave the black water open as well after you rinse it out well with bleach and water. Just empty and then dump a half gallon or gallon of bleach and 3 or 4 gallons of water and drive it for a day or two and then empty again.
Then you can just let urine run on the ground.
Urine is generally sterile.unless younhave some.strange disease.
I'm assuming that you will be boondocking so that is what this advice is based on.
If you prefer, you can also just use bottles for urine and dump them on vegetation(its good for them) and rinse them out or toss them in a trash can.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:01 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camoman View Post
Inassume you mean the black and gray water.
The easiest way to empty them is not to fill them !! Lol

You can just leave the gray water line open to drain on the ground.
However, they make the little totes for emptying them.
Also, you can use double Walmart bags to **** and just toss them and then leave the black water open as well after you rinse it out well with bleach and water. Just empty and then dump a half gallon or gallon of bleach and 3 or 4 gallons of water and drive it for a day or two and then empty again.
Then you can just let urine run on the ground.
Urine is generally sterile.unless younhave some.strange disease.
I'm assuming that you will be boondocking so that is what this advice is based on.
If you prefer, you can also just use bottles for urine and dump them on vegetation(its good for them) and rinse them out or toss them in a trash can.
I hope this entire message was meant as a joke.

Some of it may have been reasonable advice in the 1940s. Only some...
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:14 AM   #16
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A bad joke and illegal.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:03 PM   #17
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No issue with peeing in woods or land filling bagged feces. But dumping black tank on public land, even after pouring some bleach in toilet, is not cool or sanitary. I was taught a camping ethic of leave no trace, even if it costs a few bucks more to find a sanitary dump site.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:33 PM   #18
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Dumping black or graywater tanks is illegal on virtually all public lands (and most other places as well). Here is a typical statement of Forest Service policy:

Quote:
Toilet buildings are not suitable locations for emptying motor home or camping trailer gray or black water due to the large volume of material holding tanks can contain. If there is no specifically identified facility in a campground for emptying holding tanks campers must keep the material in the tanks until they can locate an appropriate dump station. It is illegal to dump these materials on Forest Service lands at any location other than in a specifically identified dump facility, and tickets will be issued to violators.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mnf/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5066205

The difference between peeing on a tree or using a cat-hole latrine and dumping your tanks is a matter of dispersal. When backpacking in deep wilderness it matters little what you do. At anything resembling a campsite, adequate dispersal is essential to minimize cumulative effects. Many popular NF dispersed campsites that I frequent have appallingly disgusting areas a few steps into the woods, because people are too lazy to walk 50 yards into the woods in a random direction. The effects of graywater dumping are less obvious until the tiny food scraps and cosmetics smells give the place a reputation among the local fauna as a place to dig.

Even if it weren't illegal (which it is), the proposed advice is grossly irresponsible in the 21st century. Please don't do it.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:46 PM   #19
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Illegal dumping, burning garbage, scattered trash...this is why the USFS is closing off boondocking opportunities all over the country.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:58 PM   #20
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It always amaze me how people would go to all extend to justify their illegal dumping.

*smh*

There are reasons for the law.
You have not learned the reasons.
The examples you cited are in different context, thus not applicable as excuses.
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