You are looking at one of my Christmas presents – a needlepoint done by my sister-in-law in memory of the classic rv scene in “Breaking Bad

I still haven’t found a place to hang it, but I like it.  It is only the 3rd piece of art will will have bothered to put on the walls so far.

We have another cold front moving in, so I thought I would post up a bit more about surviving really cold temperatures.  A few weeks ago I talked about some of the challenges we were having – like our propane freezing up.  This time I want to talk about the slide topper, ancillary heating, and engine cycles.

I had someone ask me about what to do with the slide topper in winter months.  Many RV experts say that you should always be cleaning the snow off the topper.  In my experience there is no need to move the snow.  Usually having snow on the topper is something we like.  The weight of the snow pushes the topper down until it is resting on top of the slide.  Then when the wind comes, the topper doesn’t blow around all over the place.

When you close the slide, I find that most of the snow just naturally falls off the slide topper onto the ground.  I can see the slide topper all rolled up afterwards.  I see lots of snow getting stuck on it.  Fortunately the take-up roll seems to be able to deal with the added thickness.  Also the take-up roller is tensioned and always pulling on the topper.  It is always trying to roll it up.  I have found that as the snow melts, the topper just self adjusts.

My one caveat to my suggestion to leaving the topper alone came this winter for the first time.  A lot of snow was on the slide topper and the sun came out.  The snow was in a slushy state.  It hadn’t liquified enough to run off the topper yet.  That night We had a flash freeze to like -10 and all the snow turned to ice.

If at that point I had to bring in the slide I would have gotten a ladder and pushed all the ice off.  I think 3 or 4 inches of ice would not have rolled off the top so easily.  I also think if the ice didn’t fall off it would have crushed the take-up roller.

I think every year you live in an RV you learn more and try more.  One of the things we hate to do is start-up the RV.  We are parked here – surrounded by snow.  Our fireplace prevents the slide from easily closing.  All our stuff is in the way.  Starting up the RV and driving it around is a big pain.

I noticed that people with diesel pusher motorhomes all claim that they don’t need to “exercise” their rigs.  I decided to do some searching.  After talking to quite a few longtime mechanics they all said they same thing.  No need to start up and drive your house around.

Yes driving the house around lets everything get lubricated and get up to temperature.  Yes my engine battery will probably be dead after not being used for the entire winter.  Yes – lots of my components are not better off not being used.

But there is the thing.  Starting up my rv after 30 days 12 times a year, or starting up my just periodically thru the year will produce the same effect.  After 30 days all the parts are dry.  The oil is sitting at the bottom of the engine.  The differentials are all dry.  30 days or 90 days – it’s the same effect.

The damage happens when you start it up.  All the oil has to fly around and lubricate everything.  All the parts have to warm up, and the gaskets all need to get used so they stay fresh.  If I stress it 12 times or just 5 times – It doesn’t really matter.

The part I don’t like is that means that I am not 100% travel ready.  There is a good chance that I will need to jump start the engine with the house batteries.  Things might be a bit messed up the next time I start this beast up in March.

I don’t know if no winter starts is better then 5 winter starts.  Last year I had no problems, but I started the house up every 6 weeks or so.  We will see how this works out.

RV dealers say that you should start up every 30 days.  Car dealers say you should get oil changes every 3,000 miles.  Most cars only need oils changes every 5-8,000 miles, so maybe listening to mechanics will payoff in the same way?

The last thing we played with this year is a 2nd space heater.  Using the space heater in the kitchen or living room produced fuse popping.  Using the extra space heater in the garage / bedroom area seems to work ok.  Our little 1500 watt deLong heater can warm up that garage to a very comfortable sleeping temperature.

I am going to risk our propane container tonight.  I usually err on the side of caution, but all our water tanks are full and we have the 2 space heaters.  If for some reason the propane would fail at 2am – 3am nothing would freeze up by the time I have to get up at 6am.

We have another big freeze coming in 24 more hours.  The temps should fall in the -7F area – I assume that windchill could hit -30F.  We will see.  I still have a full 30lb canister and almost 1/3rd of a 100lb onboard propane tank to make it with.  Hopefully we can hang on until Wed morning when the propane truck shows up!

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