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Old 01-08-2017, 12:10 PM   #1
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1st time camping with Forester MBS 2401WS during hard freeze - victories and issues!

We are still newbies in the RV world and slowly but surely learning as we take our new rig out for short trips every month or so since taking possession in May 2016. Continuing to learn much from this forum, so appreciate your patience as I share experiences as well as questions in this longer post.

Overall, continue to love this unit and floorplan! Always fearful about whether/when that big slide will fail while we are out camping in the boondocks somewhere (and what we can do if it does!), but so far so good. This trip we had hard freezes for over 12 hrs during two of the nights we camped at a state park in Texas. Being from Houston TX we are definitely not experienced with this, so had to pull out all the manuals - observation: NONE of manuals tell you what to do if camping during freeze, only what to do when winterizing for storage! Plus, no wi-fi and not enough cell signal at the park to contact this forum .... Okayyyyyyyy ....

Victories/issues:
1. The slide worked! Even during freeze ... although retracted unevenly, so had to give the switch a few extra presses and someone pushing from the outside to get the bedroom side all the way in.
2. The furnace worked! Until it suddenly stopped working the second day and seemed to be in lockout ... why? Something to do with freeze? And is there anything we can do to fix it versus taking rig in for service?
3. The Arctic Package worked beautifully keeping grey and black water tanks from freezing (now THAT would not have been fun at dumping time ...!)
4. Finally filled our fresh water tank for first time to 1/4 full to use when we had to shut off the city water during the freeze to allow the faucets to drip per park ranger instructions. Bad news: Water pump did not work even though switch activated and lit. And discovered Arctic Package does not keep fresh water tank warm ... yup, solid ice in the FW tank. Thank goodness for many water bottles inside to use for flushing. Is there a secret to getting the water pump to work beyond disconnecting city water and hitting the switch inside?
5. During freeze at night, electricity flickered on and off to MW and some electrical outlets. Like every 10 minutes, all night long, accompanied by a beep each time power came back to MW. Feeling it may have something to do with power surge protector we had installed - maybe cutting out when it senses low park voltage?

All in all, was still a great 6-day trip and a great learning experience. Being prepared with some primitive camping gear came in handy, especially our brand new portable Mr Heater "Little Buddy" propane heater recommended by some fellow RVers - lightweight, small, but powerful.

Appreciate any advice on our less victorious observations and other suggestions about living in this coach during a hard freeze. Thanks for your patience in reading!



Kelly & Mary Beth
2017 Forester MBS 2401WS
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Old 01-08-2017, 05:48 PM   #2
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Propane tank not purged properly?

I can only speak to the furnace getting locked out during cold weather -

A likely possibility is freezing of the propane pressure regulator. Although I could never prove it, I suspect our propane tank was never purged properly before it was filled at the dealer (the remove after purging decal was still in place). Our furnace locked out during one of our first outings in near freezing weather. Expansion of the propane gas causes the moisture that may be present (but shouldn't be) to freeze.

I had the tank purged and had a bit of ethanol put into the tank to absorb the moisture and it has worked perfectly ever since.
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Old 01-08-2017, 09:08 PM   #3
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Regarding the furnace: Keep in mind that insects, especially spiders, like to nest up in the furnace combustion chamber and the exhaust areas when those appliances are not being used. It's always a good idea to periodically blow out ALL of the lp powered intake/vent areas with compressed air from both directions. You may have simply had some charred debris inhibiting ignition that second night. I've had that happen to me. My motto is that it's always best to attack an issue from the most simple direction first, and using compressed air is simple.
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Old 01-09-2017, 08:55 PM   #4
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Thanks for tips so far on furnace. Will check them out before next trip.


Kelly & Mary Beth
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Old 01-10-2017, 01:38 PM   #5
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Good Information

We have an MBS 2401WS and we've been wondering what was going to happen in freezing conditions. Thanks for posting this - good information.

Ross and Deb Guscette
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:54 PM   #6
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My wife and are learning on short trips also. We got our 2401R also in May 2016. Last night was our first below freezing night and it went off without a hitch. I too wonder about the procedure if the slides refuse to work. Our best mpg was just over 15 but usually 14. We have 7000 miles now.
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdwallin View Post
Thanks for tips so far on furnace. Will check them out before next trip.


Kelly & Mary Beth
2017 Forester MBS 2401WS
regarding the insects, there are screens available to cover the exhaust and intake for your furnace and fridge. They install easily and are not expensive.

I suggest you get an install them. It will keep the spiders, mud daubers, paper wasps, etc. from entering and building nests which will cause all sorts of problems. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:32 AM   #8
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for the fresh water, you are better off to keep the tank full, not empty, in cold weather. the mass of water keeps it from freezing. as for water lines, keeping a heater or light bulb on in the wet bay should provide enough warmth to keep your lines and water pump ok... and using the water pump every hour or so will keep water movement in the lines, which also keeps them from freezing up as easily. also keep your external water hose and sewer lines disconnected from the coach.
your furnace may also feed heat to your wet bay/fresh water tank/sewer tank areas, but running the furnace 24/7 may not be the best bet - you can use electric heaters to keep the chill off during the overnight hours while sleeping, if you are on shore power of course.

another note: most RVs can maintain heat inside better when the slides are in. on really freezing nights, we bring them in when we go to bed. our coach is fully accessible when the slides are in, though, yours may or may not be.

BTW, great coach - I want one of those next!
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:07 PM   #9
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One easy way of know the temp in the wet bay is by adding a multi sensor thermometer. For about $35 on Amazon I got a unit with three sensors. One in the wet bay, one in the frdige, and the last in the freezer. The last night we were in Memphis the temp was -10c (14 F). And the wet bay was at 6 C. (42F). So the furnace (which does have a duct running down there) was plenty to keep things from freezing.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:11 PM   #10
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To my knowledge, none of the Forest River built Mercedes Sprinter based class c motor homes have heated basement compartments. Further, there is no "service bay" as such. The dump valve handles are in a tiny locked compartment, the cold water "shower" in another, while the shore water line, gravity feed for fresh water, and 30 amp plug are surface mounted on the side of the motorhome. The black tank gravity dump connection is under the mh body.

To me the biggest weakness is the cold water shower connection. There is no way to turn the water off to this hose connection, and I believe this would be the first thing to freeze and break. If I were planning cold weather camping, I would explore ways to disable this feature. But my wife and I are focused on finding warm place.


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