winter use vs storage

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winter use vs storage

Post by ruby on Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:29 pm

The manual says "drain the tanks at the first hint of frost!" and I was hoping to use the van at weekends right through much of the winter.  Does anyone know 

a) if an oil filled radiator left running inside would be sufficient to make draining unecessary?
b) if one can get covers/insulation for the tanks for underneath while the van is parked?
c) if the Truma Ultrastore heater only runs on gas?  

What are your experiences?

Many thanks!
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by KMRTOPAZ on Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:56 pm

Ruby
a) In a Topaz, the fresh water tank and the grey waste tank are below the floor, so an interior heater would be of no benefit' Since that means the fresh tank needs to be drained, there will be no water supply to the Ultrastore water heater' and this also needs to be drained. The Ultrastore is the most important of the tanks.
Draining also protects the water pump which is located below the wardrobe floor, also in a position where it would not benefit from a heater
Pass on question b). 
c) the answer is no. They run on gas or mains EHU.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by daisy mae on Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:40 am

I use  500 oil radiator, I use mine nearly everyday, it is my car, 

I drain down, I am going away 3 times before Christmas this year, I will not refill, I will take 2 x 5 litre water containers as I usually do anyway and an extra 10 litre one with a tap, that will suffice with top ups at sites, I carry a spray bottle of water which fits into to the loo roll holder on the loo for flushing. Hot water, use the kettle, after decades of tenting this is luxurious even without a tank full of water. 

NO Problem of the system freezing up, and no hardship either. just my way.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by ruby on Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:27 am

Thank you both, Keith and Daisy Mae.  And if you or anyone else can help further, 
I have two further questions:  
1.  Covers.  
Do you use them?  if so, where can they be obtained?
Would a good wash and wax be sufficient?
I have read that a good breathable cover is better than nothing (there will be a few weeks my van will have to sit outdoors in a sheltered spot but under a tree.  
2.  The blown air heating system in the van
- seems to be operated only on gas, is that correct?  

Best wishes
Ruby
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by rose49f on Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:38 am

I never cover my van. I drain down completely and never put a heater in him. I will take for a drive at least once a month when not being used and if l happen to manage to get away just take water in old milk bottles. I also keep a dehumidifier in all winter.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Gromit on Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:50 am

ruby wrote:
1.  Covers.  
Do you use them?  if so, where can they be obtained?
Would a good wash and wax be sufficient?
I have read that a good breathable cover is better than nothing (there will be a few weeks my van will have to sit outdoors in a sheltered spot but under a tree.  
1. Probably not to be recommended? A pain in the backside to put on and off, and there have been a number of reports of the covers chafing the paintwork. A dilute solution of bleach (very dilute) will wash off the green algae from under the trees, and slow its re-growth.

2. KMRTopaz has answered the blown air question.

3. We use the van all year except perhaps January and February if the weather is vile. I always drain down fully after every trip in the winter (as already suggested) but I fill up with water as usual before we go and (so far!!) have never had a problem. (That's the kiss of death for our next winter trip then!! Whistle1  oh_blast!)

(P.S. It would help others who know the van if you added its year of manufacture to your details. smile!)

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Gromit on Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:56 am


ruby wrote:
1.  Covers.  
Do you use them?  if so, where can they be obtained?
Would a good wash and wax be sufficient?
I have read that a good breathable cover is better than nothing (there will be a few weeks my van will have to sit outdoors in a sheltered spot but under a tree.  
1. Probably not to be recommended, but opinions vary? A pain in the backside to put on and off, and there have been a number of reports of the covers chafing the paintwork. A dilute solution of bleach (very dilute) will wash off the green algae from under the trees, and slow its re-growth.

2. KMRTopaz has answered the blown air question.

3. We use the van all year except perhaps January and February when the weather is usually vile. I always drain down fully after every trip in the winter (as already suggested) but I fill up with water as usual before we go and (so far!!) have never had a problem. (That's the kiss of death for our next winter trip then!! Whistle1  oh_blast!)

(P.S. It would help others who know the van if you added its year of manufacture to your details. smile!)


Last edited by Gromit on Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by KMRTOPAZ on Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:15 am

Ruby
Topaz from about 2003 are fitted with an Eberspacher D2 blown air diesel heater, located under the van roughly adjacent to the forward end of the bench seat. So it's obviously necessary to know the year of manufacture to offer meaningful advice on this question. 
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by ruby on Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:29 am

Hi Keith - and Dave, 
The van is 2001 (I filled it in on my profile, I thought I did it when joining but obviously not) and the blown air heater is Truma and also the water heater is - Truma Ultrastore.  So yes the water heater operates clearly on either electric OR gas, and, I am trying to figure out if the blown air heater is the same - it seems only to work on gas but I wanted to be sure by asking ... (it makes a noise which wakes me up so a small oilfilled radiator might be the answer for when using plugged in...)

thanks to all so much for sharing all your various ways of managing winter use/storage, and your experience/knowledge really really helpful.  (I've several years of living on boats in the cold but it's a different story because the salt water surrounding the hull reduces the potential for freezing.)

Good day!
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by daisy mae on Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:28 pm

I would never recommend a cover, had one on  a caravan, in spite of strapping well down it  still chaffed the body work in places, vans need to breathe, a wash and polish if you can is all it needs. 

My heating works on gas and electric,

 In my Topaz it was a diesel heater.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Bad Penny on Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:15 pm

If the weather is consistantly frosty and you are afraid to fill the system, you can still use the van and keep any water you need in a container, even to flush the loo. Your heating will keep you comfortable and cosy.
Yes I know it's a bit more work, but at least you can use your MH. I know of people who do just that.

Leighton.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by daisy mae on Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:41 pm

As I do above
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winter use vs storage

Post by ruby on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:25 pm

Hello All, again

I have a further question:  Today I figured out draining my 2001 Topaz's water tanks and the water heater.  That all seems ok and clear as per in the manual.  
But, the manual also says that I should disconnect the water pump, and there isn't a diagram to show where it is - do any of you know where does one access it? 

(the spray bottle by the loo to flush it seems a great idea! thx!)
thanks,
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Gromit on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:35 pm

ruby wrote:  
But, the manual also says that I should disconnect the water pump, and there isn't a diagram to show where it is - do any of you know where does one access it? 
That's a new one on me Ruby!  scratch head

Does it mean physically disconnect (I would be amazed if it does!!) or electrically disconnect - as in "switch off"?

I would run it for a few seconds after fully draining down. This should purge out most of any remaining water, and after that just ensure that it is switched off.

Baffled, I am!  think_smiley_46

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by ruby on Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:01 pm

hi Dave

glad you're baffled  smile!  I shall get it and quote it in the morning... I understood that one should physically disconnect it... Yes I ran the pump a little bit til it sounded 'dry'.  I'll be happy if that is sufficient!

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by KMRTOPAZ on Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:23 am

Ruby
The Topaz water pump is located under the floor of the wardrobe, at the forward end. If you look into the gas bottle compartment, you will see that it is about ten inches shorter than the width of the wardrobe.  The pump is in that space.
Access is achieved by removing the floor of the wardrobe. Not difficult but a real faff.  I doubt AS would have put it there if it is really necessary to disconnect. As stated above, run it dry for a few seconds after draining the fresh tank to clear any residual water.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by daisy mae on Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:54 am

I didn`t disconnect the water pump in my Topaz, 

The person who had it before me from new, cut a hole in the floor of the wardrobe and fitted a round bung, so could turn on / off gas as needed, also pump if needed I presume. without going outside.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by bolero boy on Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:09 am

ruby wrote:The manual says "drain the tanks at the first hint of frost!" and I was hoping to use the van at weekends right through much of the winter.  Does anyone know 

a) if an oil filled radiator left running inside would be sufficient to make draining unecessary?
b) if one can get covers/insulation for the tanks for underneath while the van is parked?
c) if the Truma Ultrastore heater only runs on gas?  

What are your experiences?

Many thanks!
im afraid this is a 'feature' of most uk vans that (despite constant feferences to things like 'grade 3 insulation') are not 'winterised' with regard to tanks, pipework etc...
underslung tanks, exposed pipes will always have owners on the defensive with regard to playing safe when frost is around.
the main issue is the protection of the boiler and the water pump/taps...
draining down does the job, but for folk who are back in the van each weekend (especially those who use non-fac sites and use their van shower) this can be annoying, as the van (usually) needs to be drained as soon as its parked on the drive after arriving home...
although this can be a tedious process, a bit of practice can pay dividends...
assuming hrey waste already emptied, on our van (not AS but has Truma Combi 6E) the process is.....
undo bung of fresh tank and allow to drain onto the drive.....5 mins...
when fresh tank empty, activate hot water drain tap with water pump on
there is also a second drain tap to pump out water from lowest point of the pipework, activate this switch
the above takes 10 mins to completely empty water tank and pipework, this can be done while emptying out other 'stuff' (clothes, food, etc) from the van so wastes little time.
check all taps/circuits are empty.....turn off water pump....
of course, this then increases the 'pitch up' time when on site, filling tank and priming boiler/hot water system etc.... 
for those with an accessible EHU, an alternative is to set the heater to 900w and the thermostat to around 5+ deg and maintain a low heat in the van, and by default, in the boiler as you would on site...
a pain, i know but getting slick at the process can keep things safe but reduce the hassle....
good luck.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Gromit on Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:41 am

bolero boy wrote: . . . the process is.....
undo bung of fresh tank and allow to drain onto the drive.....5 mins...
when fresh tank empty, activate hot water drain tap with water pump on
there is also a second drain tap to pump out water from lowest point of the pipework, activate this switch
the above takes 10 mins to completely empty water tank and pipework, this can be done while emptying out other 'stuff' (clothes, food, etc) from the van so wastes little time.
check all taps/circuits are empty.....turn off water pump....
Why turn the water pump on while the tank drains? You've got me even more baffled now!  hugegrins  On most recent A/S vans that could easily destroy it, as it's a submersible and it would be running dry.  (Also I haven't got a "second drain tap to pump out water from lowest point of the pipework". Just the yellow lever manual or auto dump valve??)

The process I've always used takes seconds, and is as follows:--

Open the fresh water drain tap and the dump valve (hot water drain). Open all the taps and set mixers to the centre.

Go and have a cup of tea.

Return and run the pump for a few seconds to clear any residual water. Shake out the shower head for the same reason.

That's it. Don't think I've forgotten anything? Total time about a minute - excluding the cuppa!  Whistle1

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by bolero boy on Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:58 am

the ten minutes i alluded to was that the hot tank takes this amount of (elapsed) time to drain (well it has on every van ive owned)...yes, the turning of a drain cock and lifting a drain lever only takes seconds, turning on the water pump seems to make it drain far smoother...we dont have a submersible pump, sorry.
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Gromit on Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:09 am

bolero boy wrote:the ten minutes i alluded to was that the hot tank takes this amount of (elapsed) time to drain (well it has on every van ive owned)...yes, the turning of a drain cock and lifting a drain lever only takes seconds, turning on the water pump seems to make it drain far smoother...we dont have a submersible pump, sorry.
Don't be sorry - you're lucky you don't have one!! up!  Cheap and nasty little gadgets which cause some (but strangely not all) people a load of hassle.

Agreed about the ten minutes - hence the cup of tea!  hugegrins

Your Carthago must have a quite different system. Turning on the water pump while the hot tank drains could be disastrous on recent A/S vans, and wouldn't make the slightest difference to how well it drained anyway.

Just a caveat for new A/S owners!  content

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Peter Brown on Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:35 am

Yes there are quite a few aspects of AS Motorhomes that are bespoke. That is why it is useful to have a forum where Auto-sleeper Owners can exchange their experiences.

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by bolero boy on Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:20 am

Gromit wrote:
bolero boy wrote:the ten minutes i alluded to was that the hot tank takes this amount of (elapsed) time to drain (well it has on every van ive owned)...yes, the turning of a drain cock and lifting a drain lever only takes seconds, turning on the water pump seems to make it drain far smoother...we dont have a submersible pump, sorry.
Don't be sorry - you're lucky you don't have one!! up!  Cheap and nasty little gadgets which cause some (but strangely not all) people a load of hassle.

Agreed about the ten minutes - hence the cup of tea!  hugegrins

Your Carthago must have a quite different system. Turning on the water pump while the hot tank drains could be disastrous on recent A/S vans, and wouldn't make the slightest difference to how well it drained anyway.

Just a caveat for new A/S owners!  content
hi Dave, im not on this forum to necessarily chat about my own van, plenty of places for that, merely to offer any advice assistance where appliances/processes are common across brands/ranges.
the Carthago does have a useful idea here though, in that there is a seperate drain on the cold side at the lowest point in the pipework. this dump lever sits next to the hot drain so both sides get cleared of residual water and the pump helps force this clear....a bit like one of these flo blow things....lol

going back to the issue of 'to drain or not'....i was thinking about those who keep their vans above freezing with oil radiators and wondered if that energy/electric were fed directly to the vans own heating system (set very low) would negate the reason to drain in the first place....after all, when we are in the van with the heating on (possibly higher than 5 deg....) we would be happy that the system wouldnt be susceptible to freezing/damage....
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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by Gromit on Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:41 am

bolero boy wrote: . . . I was thinking about those who keep their vans above freezing with oil radiators and wondered if that energy/electric were fed directly to the vans own heating system (set very low) would negate the reason to drain in the first place....after all, when we are in the van with the heating on (possibly higher than 5 deg....) we would be happy that the system wouldnt be susceptible to freezing/damage....
I wouldn't want to risk it, largely because most A/S vans are not actually very well insulated. The "Grade 3 Insulation Certificate" they make such a fuss about (as do other makers I should add!) tells us far more about the output of the heater than the level of insulation.

The external pipework would certainly freeze solid in a cold spell, whether they are insulated or not. That would then mean that no draining down would be possible, even if there was suddenly an urgent reason to do so.

Part of the reason we don't usually freeze up when the van is in use is the fact that water is being heated, and both hot and cold are being moved round the system all the time. Plus hot water is going into the grey waste tank at frequent intervals.

My advice to novice motorhomers would be to play safe by draining down thoroughly from about now onwards, and fill up as normal if/when they want to use the van during the winter. I'm probably taking a risk by saying this, but we use the van until every December and start again in late February/early March - and so far we've never had a problem.

Just my opinion of course. (One of these might be handy if the external pipes do freeze up >  hairdryer)

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Re: winter use vs storage

Post by daisy mae on Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:07 pm

I wouldn`t use the vans heating system when parked on drive, as it is more costly to replace if needed to, the oil rad is easily bought at a reasonable price so cost effective in the long run I feel, if needed to replace.
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