Sunday, November 29, 2015

Prepping the Trailer for our Trip

We bought our trailer with long term considerations in mind. We knew that during the interim between selling our house and moving to RCW (Rio Concho West) that we would be living in the trailer for anywhere from several weeks to several months, but we also knew that we needed to consider other times; especially the months and years after getting settled at Rio Concho West. Our present Coachmen Freedom Express 246RKS is smaller and lighter than our previous trailer and, admittedly, it is not nearly as comfortable. Being smaller and lighter, it is easier to tow, and with long term travel in mind, that is why we purchased it.

But we are about to be living in the trailer for several months now, and we'd like it to be as comfortable as possible, so we are making a few modifications. Tomorrow, we'll take the trailer to Camping World in Lubbock to get the following work done.

For some time now, we've been disappointed in the reception we get through our antenna. We've camped in many of the same parks where we previously camped in our Rockwood trailer, and we simply don't pick up as many channels with our current trailer as we did with the Rockwood. I'd go so far as to say we pick up roughly about half the number of channels, if that many. The Rockwood had an antenna you raised when you were parked, and you could then rotate it to get improved reception. On our Coachmen, we have a permanently raised stationery"batwing" style antenna. It's nice to not have to worry about raising or lowering it, but it probably only picks up stations in a 30 mile radius or so. We are upgrading to a more powerful antenna.

I also do not like how the propane regulator works on our Coachmen. We have two 20 pound propane tanks that supply gas for cooking and heating, and occasionally for the water heater and the refrigerator depending on our location. There are two options for setting the regulator. First, you can point it to a single tank. When that tank becomes empty, then no more propane is going to the items that need it. You have to physically go outside and switch the regulator from the empty tank to the second tank. Second, you can set the regulator to both tanks. In this case, propane will be pulled evenly from both tanks until both are empty. Then you are stuck with 2 empty tanks and no propane. Not good. On our recent trip to Kerrville, we had 2 or 3 cold mornings in the 40s. On our last cold morning, I hopped out of bed to a really cold trailer. I attempted to turn on the stove to heat some water, but the burner would not light. Ah, empty tank. So, in 42 degree weather, I threw on some clothes and hurried out to the front of the trailer to switch the regulator to our full tank. That's not a big issue because it wasn't that cold. I will upgrade the regulator to one that will automatically switch from an empty tank to a full tank. This is the type I had on the Rockwood, and it works well. You just need to periodically check your tanks to make sure how much propane you have. In cold weather, I always carry an extra 20 pound tank so that we do not run out. In really cold weather, it is not unusual to go through about 2 tanks per week.

The biggest and most expensive upgrade, though, is something much less noticeable, but very important. Since we are heading out as the coldest time of the year sets in, I'm concerned about my water tanks. The trailer has three tanks: grey water (sinks and shower), black water (toilet), and fresh water. The fresh water tank is 49 gallons while the other two are 33 gallons each. In areas with temperatures below 32 degrees, the water in these tanks can freeze. Now, their location on the underside of the trailer will provide some warmth that seeps out from the trailer, but if temps get low enough, the contents of those tanks can freeze. To prevent this, we are installing some tank heating pads. We had these on the Rockwood; in fact, the trailer came equipped with them from the factory, and I really appreciated this feature. When the weather is below freezing, I'll flip switches from inside the trailer to turn on the pads. They are attached to the bottom of the tanks and will warm the contents to prevent any freezing.

I'll still have to worry about water freezing in the hose that connects to the city water where we are camping. I will wrap it in insulation, then cover that insulation with a layer of duct tape. That will help for minor freezes. For colder weather, I'll simply need to leave a tap slightly open to allow water to drip all night.

We hope to go places where the weather is pleasant during the winter, but just about any place in the continental US can get a hard freeze. We are planning ahead to avoid any problems.

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