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Old 08-19-2015, 01:41 PM   #11
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ED, we were boondocking. Sole heat was from propane furnace.

Here is the workaround I am considering for next year.


I have hatched the following project with a master RV mechanic here in VT for next January when he is not busy. As has been discussed before, the weak link in the water management is the discharge valves that are outside of the heated space. Our idea is to encase the entire external plumbing in an insulated fiberglass cover custom designed such that it seals against the bottom of the trailer. It would be on hinges so when you want to dump, you would unlatch the case and let it rotate downward, eventually resting on the ground and exposing the discharge plumbing. The space would be heated by punching two holes in the trailer floor asjacent to the heater which in the 17b is right in the right place close to the discharge valve and 3' pipe leading from the black tank to the gate valve. The mechanic will install a small 12v fan in one hole to circulate warm air into this space. This strategy will extend the heated space over the ENTIRE water system. I anticipate that it will be effective as low as 0F (-18C). One concern is that I lose ground clearance.
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Old 08-19-2015, 02:27 PM   #12
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Thanks, Alan! Would I just find that at a Home Depot type store? I turned in my Build Sheet. Wonder if ETI would still install without the added charge.
No to both questions.

I had to order the 12 v. heat tape online and ship it to ETI (and the recommended termination fitting).
Freezstop Low-Voltage Heating Cable available at OEMHeaters.com

The ETI charge was $125 Canadian. It included the switch.

If I could do it over I would add a second heat tape to the black tank drain pipe.

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Old 08-19-2015, 03:37 PM   #13
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Noted for next trailer. Thank you.
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Old 08-19-2015, 05:17 PM   #14
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Same here...I am still working on my build sheet for a June 2016 completion 17B. I now plan to include additional 12-volt heat tape for the unprotected discharge pipes.

Backstory -- I am a former Casita 16' Spirit Deluxe owner. We loved the trailer, but I spent 10 weeks living in it for a "Workamper" job at Amazon.com in Fernley, NV during the fall, right up until a few days before Christmas (their peak season).

Fernley is just outside Reno, in the high desert. It gets cold at night in December, like 9 Fahrenheit / -12C. I was in a paid-for RV site with full hookups. I was smart enough not to dribble grey water into the sewer after it got cold, and I thought it would not be a problem to leave on December 23rd, after the Amazon gig was up.

Naturally I was anxious to get home. I just needed to dump all tanks, winterize, and get going. The trailer was staying there in Fernley for the winter until I could pick it up in the spring.

But it was a "No go" on dumping the black tank...there was 3" of solidly frozen effluent in the black water discharge pipe. I ran over to Loews and got some heat tape and applied it....nothing. I hit it with a hair dryer....nothing. One of the guys at the RV park says, "I'll run home and get my worklight and put it under the pipe...that will take care of it." I was kind of skeptical, not wanting to melt the blasted thing, but I moved the worklight up and down the length of the pipe to keep the heat from being concentrated in one area for too long.

It worked. I left a day later than I planned and had a very sad Christmas dinner, a cheese sandwich eaten by myself, because I was still on the road, that's all I had left in the cooler, and all the restaurants were closed!

So I am thinking the 12-volt heat tape keeping the effluent in a fluid state would have solved this problem.

I am very much looking forward to my new 17B and future Workamper opportunities. Like I said, I loved my Casita, but the Escape is a step up in design, materials, and workmanship.
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Old 08-19-2015, 06:12 PM   #15
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Same here...I am still working on my build sheet for a June 2016 completion 17B. I now plan to include additional 12-volt heat tape for the unprotected discharge pipes.
I am also working on a 17B build sheet for a January completion. Do you know how many feet of tape would be required? Are you also considering the 12 volt heating pads?
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Old 08-19-2015, 06:39 PM   #16
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Yes, I am going with the 12-volt heating pads...why not it's just another $300 and gives you more tricks up your sleeve when you are cold weather camping. Peace of mind is worth adding 1% to the total cost of the trailer, in my view.

When things get a bit less crazy at ETI after the summer, I was planning to ask them how much would be needed. Probably 6 - 9 feet so they can wrap things with pretty tight loops. I am only considering the 3' black tank discharge pipe...if there are others that are similarly exposed, I'm hoping ETI will let me know and we can order enough heat tape to protect those as well.
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Old 08-19-2015, 07:02 PM   #17
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The 12v heat pads are only useful if you have electric hookups and if you have electric hookups then you have access to electric heat inside, Your black tank is inside the trailer. so only the grey and fresh are protected with 12v pads. If you use the cg facilities then the tank issues disappear.
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Old 08-19-2015, 08:55 PM   #18
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The 12v heat pads are only useful if you have electric hookups and if you have electric hookups then you have access to electric heat inside, Your black tank is inside the trailer. so only the grey and fresh are protected with 12v pads. If you use the cg facilities then the tank issues disappear.
That was also my understanding of the heating pads but would protecting your drain pipes with heating tape nonetheless be a good idea? Assuming 6 feet of tape @ <4 watts/foot it would seem reasonable to run them for a limited time with solar and large batteries.

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Old 08-19-2015, 10:05 PM   #19
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If you are going with heat tape, I wonder if just running it on the bottom of the 3' pipe would be enough heat if you then cover the whole pipe with foam insulation. Much less tape and power than wrapping that length of pipe.
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Old 08-19-2015, 10:40 PM   #20
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Okay now, I've been a member of the all-molded-towable forums for years. Does it make me an expert? FAR from it! But after all these years and all the posts I've read, it still counts with PAY ATTENTION. We could be talking about towing weights or temperature.

I still think, if the temperature dips low enough for a long enough time... consider your "all-molded-towable," is really nothing than a hard-sided tent (BUT, you sleep warmer).

I can't help other than that....
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