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Old 11-09-2018, 11:40 PM   #1
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Winter camping in 2018 DX3

I had a thread regarding tire chains earlier. Someone mentioned to report back but I thought it would be better to just start a new thread.

Anyway, I had an opportunity for some side work in South Eastern part of North Dakota. In the previous thread I had asked about chains for the DX3 because I had to traverse 4 mountain passes to get here in South Eastern, North Dakota. I was not able to obtain before departure time so had them shipped forward to a contact at the destination and packed up and left to go.

Didn't need chains but we did hit snow storms and very cold temperatures. I'm happy to say we got here safely but wanted to share some observations regarding how the DX3 performed in the cold.

First off the M2 chassis/power plant performed quite well. Stability on the road was excellent. We experienced blowing snow, ice, slush on roadway but the truck handled all without issue. We did slip a couple of times but nothing that caused white knuckles.
Overnight boondocks 3 nights was interesting. First night was also the first snow fall. Really wet stuff. We had all slides out. Coach stayed warm as did the water bay. Lowest temp was low 20's. Water bay stayed mid forties. Our unit has propane aqua hot system. it was running all night with temp set in bedroom at 63. front was at 60. settings were by choice to conserve battery power. We enjoyed the evening with temp set at 70.
Everything worked well. Batteries lasted all night and we kicked the genset off in the AM for coffee and a quick breakfast. Then we tried prep to leave. The bedroom slide and passenger side main slide moved in just great. When we tried to bring in the main slide on drivers side it was moving in just fine until just near the end it raised up quickly into the ceiling and stopped. The wood surround broke out on of the pieces on the corner but thankfully minor indentation of the ceiling. Found out the over slide awning (which is spring loaded retraction only) was not strong enough to role up the awning with the heavy snow on it. It bunched up and created an "ice dam" of slush at the top of the slide wall. OK I didn't have a ladder or any device to remove the ice/slush up there. We were at a Cracker Barrel facility and they lent us a 6 foot ladder and a push broom which I was able to remove the ice/slush and then retract the slide..Took an hour and a half to get that but some was waiting for the ladder. The folks at the Cracker Barrel in Missoula, Montana were very helpful.

Second night. We shut down to increasing bad weather around 5 pm at a Cabelas in Billings, Montana for the night. Temp now was in the teens and heavy snow. We had a great dinner. Watched a movie all while genset was running to make sure the batteries were charged up. Wet Bay temp by morning was in the high twenties. Not terrible but not good either. Aqua Hot on lp burner was not maintaining sufficient heat into the wet bay. This night we kept the main slide and the bedroom slide in. The passenger slide we had out and extended the main awning just enough to get past the slide. This kept the snow from building up on the slide awning. Again we set the temps to 63 in the bedroom and 60 in the front of the coach. Batteries did not last all night this time. We woke up to the genset coming on at 5 AM. So we turned up the heat and had coffee and a quick breakfast and get on the road. All went well but a concern was raised with the aqua hot not being able to keep the wet bay above freezing.
For all yous info The aqua hot on a DX3 37TS is just below the grey and black water tanks on the passenger side of the rig. This compartment is a passthru to the wet bay. I'm sure the residual heat of the aqua hot running and the fact that the aqua hot piping going thru the wet bay would keep these areas from freezing.

Alright third night we arrive at destination. Outside temp 9 degrees and wind. It is cold!

Tonight we have 30 amp shore power. I setup a small ceramic heater in the wet bay. It is on the lowest setting. Maintaining 41 degrees. Great, I don't have to worry about freezing up as long as I have shore power.
Aqua hot running, fireplace running coach is maintaining 65. That's livable and we can sleep in a cool bedroom not an issue. Thank heaven we have area rugs for the living area and sheep skin rugs for the bedroom because the floors are COLD! Only basement bays that have any resemblance of heat are the aqua hot and the wet bay. All others are frozen. Batteries themselves are warm but not enough to warm the bay. (It is open to outside for ventilation)

I am going to add another ceramic heater in the second bay on the passenger side which has an outside receptacle in it. This is so I can put some stuff that I don't want frozen outside rather then inside. Other compartments will have to be for stuff that the cold won't bother. Or some frozen steaks maybe.

Observations so far:
1. there needs to be a heat exchanger added in the wet bay on its own thermostat to protect the water system.
2. I need to have a ladder and a broom to clear snow from the slide awnings. I found a 12.5 foot telescoping ladder rated type 3 (300 lbs) at Acme tools in Fargo, ND. It collapses to 32 inches so storage is easy. And I got a thick wood handle small angle head broom that has a 5 foot handle to push snow off of the awnings if needed.
3. I now have 1 set of cable chains that cover the dually rear with tensioners for emergency purposes only. If the weather is bad enough to require chains I will stay over somewhere or choose a different route.

All in all, the DX3 in a winter camp is doable. It may not be like home but with some prep and precaution it will be quite adequate for this trip.

This may change as time goes, I will be in North Dakota weather till December.

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Old 11-10-2018, 12:03 AM   #2
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They’re building them with a thermostat in the wet bay now but it runs the bathroom heat exchanger. It’s an easy mod to do yourself. Two conductor from the aqua hot control panel to the thermostat and to the heat exchanger. There at plenty of BTUs the bedroom Tstat just cycles early. Positive side effect is you have a toasty bathroom in the morning.

Telescoping ladder is a must. You’ll want to clear snow off the roof too if you get any significant accumulation.
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Old 11-10-2018, 12:02 PM   #3
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Although we will probably never be camping when its that cold I enjoyed reading your experiences. Good info
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Old 11-10-2018, 05:33 PM   #4
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Make yourself some foam plugs for under your slide by the tracks. It will help keep the heat in your lower compartments.
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Old 11-10-2018, 05:50 PM   #5
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Great info - please keep us posted on your further experiences winter "camping" . . .
We're looking to try to do some winter camping ourselves, but we're in a Berkshire 34QS, so no heated basement/water bay. Still trying to get things figured out, but ceramic heaters with some thermostatically controlled outlets seems to be the best solution so far.
Also, interested to hear about your fresh water setup (i.e., are you planning on connecting to a water supply or just fill you water tank periodically and use your on board system) as well as your black/grey tank dumping experiences.
Thanks again for sharing your experiences!
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Old 11-11-2018, 03:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by FOURWHL View Post
Theyíre building them with a thermostat in the wet bay now but it runs the bathroom heat exchanger. Itís an easy mod to do yourself. Two conductor from the aqua hot control panel to the thermostat and to the heat exchanger. There at plenty of BTUs the bedroom Tstat just cycles early. Positive side effect is you have a toasty bathroom in the morning.

Telescoping ladder is a must. Youíll want to clear snow off the roof too if you get any significant accumulation.
I would like to mod my wet bay and bathroom heat.Can you give me more info:
What thermostat did you use? Where did you connect to the aqua hot panel ( I assume you mean in the aqua hot bay)?

Much appreciated
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Old 11-11-2018, 06:20 PM   #7
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We have a 2018 DX3 with all electric, no propane, Aquahot. My question is, we have "Aquahot Burners", two buttons. When are we suppose to use them and what do the actually do? Do we need a little ceramic heater below as well. We are in the mountains in No. AZ 6500' don't know yet how it will do, just want to be prepared.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:12 PM   #8
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One of the buttons says 'electric' or something like that. That one heats the Aquahot with electricity. However, When cold you could run out of heat and hot water.


The button that says 'burner' uses diesel fuel from the Freightliner fuel tank. That is the big gun that will give you infinite hot water for heating and hot water. Electric uses Park power. I turn on the burner to stay toasty when cold.



Don't know about the ceramic heater. 20 degrees is the coldest I've experience and never thought about a ceramic heater.
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Old 11-11-2018, 10:37 PM   #9
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OUCH! ran out of propane today. It is 18 degrees out. Electric AquaHot cannot keep up. Fortunately, we called a local propane distributor and he was able to fill us. We just had to get to his location on a Sunday! Great service. Moved slides and set up for travel and drove the 30 miles to get filled up. Got the bill expecting abnormal pricing. 1.45 a gallon!!!! WOW last fill was 2.79 a gallon. Great!

Got back to our "camp" and reset everything all is good rig is at 60 degrees which is great for sleeping. It will be warmer in the morning.

Our fresh water. We have been running off our fresh water tank so far. Today, it is low so we have a 50ft heated fresh water hose connected to the MH. This would be great but there is about an eight inch exposed section of piping from the faucet to the hose connection. It is uninsulated so I have been using the heated hose to fill the fresh tank and then shutting off the water supply and draining down the faucet. So far so good. Hope to have some form of insulation on the faucet so I can leave it on full time. Just have to find the time to do this. We are working dawn till dark for now because it is supposed to warm up here in a couple of days which will make it impossible to work. The mud will be to deep!

Anyway our current configuration is
AquaHot on burner and electric for heat and hot water running continuous.
Slides are out on both sides. Have main awning out just enough to keep the snow off of the passenger side slide.
Have 2 throw rugs in main living area that covers most of the tile floor
Fireplace is on full time.
Thermostats set to 73 degrees. Hope the cabin will be near 70 by morning. Currently 60 at 9:30 pm.
Wet bay is at 44 degrees with a supplemental mini ceramic electric heater set up inside in addition to the residual heat from the aqua hot.
Another mini ceramic heater in the second bay back from the entry door for stuff that needs to not freeze. This bay has a separate built in electrical outlet so I have the heater set on low. Seems to do OK. I do not have a temp monitor in here.
We have water hooked up but will have to get some form of insulation at the faucet.
We keep the tank drain hose in the wet bay and only connect to the sewer connection when dumping is needed and then get everything back in the wet bay. So far so good.

One of things you must pay attention to. When you take a shower make sure you open the vent and have the fan extracting the moisture. Yeas it makes the shower area a bit cold but you do not want to have the moisture build up in the MH. This could cause issues down the road so to speak.

After you shower and get the hair dry and do all the other stuff close up your vent.

You have to keep the moisture down also when cooking. Just keep that in mind. Vent out daily.

Till next time

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Old 11-11-2018, 11:32 PM   #10
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We are working dawn till dark for now because it is supposed to warm up here in a couple of days which will make it impossible to work. The mud will be to deep!
OK Ken, I can't resist - - - What on earth are you doing up there?? Kind of reminds me of when I was working in the Arctic had to be cold enough for the tundra to be frozen solid and to build ice roads.
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