Friday, January 5, 2018

Traveling Tips - Cold Weather

We have been on the road now for a little over a week.  We have, like most of you, been experiencing cold weather.  In an RV, that can make life a little more difficult.  There are a few things we do that make it cold weather living in a RV doable and quite enjoyable.  It is all part of the adventure.

We left Virginia Beach and drove south toward Florida.  The farther south we went we noticed the front heater aka as "dash heat" was not blowing warm air.  Hmmm.  We forgot that we had the reverse problem last summer in the heat when our air conditioner would not blow cool air.

When we took it in to Bay Diesel at Red Bay, they added freon and serviced the A/C.  A tech also told me about the yellow shutoff valve near the transmission back underneath the engine.  He gave it a half turn to block the flow or warm air through the hose to the front.

I forgot all that.  In the last few days, after Pam and I experienced some cold driving in the front of the coach, we stumbled upon our conversation with the tech.  I didn't remember where the shutoff valve was located exactly.  The weather has been rainy and nasty so I wasn't anxious to get down on the ground and wedge myself under there to poke around.  We waited until we were in a better spot to do anything about it.

I called Bay Diesel yesterday morning and talked to the man himself.  Nice to talk to Chris.  He explained where the engine heater shutoff valve was:  near the bell housing and chassis frame.

Since I did not know what bell housing was, I looked it up on Google and figured out what it looked like.

It was freezing cold outside at our campground in Houston, but we were on a dry concrete pad and I figured it was as good a time as any to see what I could do.

l bundled up with gloves and work jacket and got a moving blanket to lay on.  I didn't know how long I was going to be on the ground but it doesn't take long to get cold laying on cold concrete.   I also put my headlamp to good use.  I have recently started using it more to free up my hands.
I wanted to see if I could squeeze under the coach since it was leveled and sitting pretty low to the ground.  I was able to wiggle my way under the tight space.  I looked up and around and just tried to get my bearings.  I looked where the hoses were and were they were leading.  It wasn't too long before I found the yellow shutoff valve.
I was able to get one arm raised and turn the valve where it was in line with the hose.
Then I crawled out from under the coach, picked up and put away my things.

I was surprised:  I turned a simple 5 minute job into a simple 5 minute job!
I thought:  I am winning at life!!  Yes!!!! :)
I only got excited because I have learned that things that seem simple often times aren't simple and if they are simple, I know I often have a way making things harder than they need to be...

So there it is - how to open the valve and get hot air blowing into the front dash heater.  We verified it worked and were a lot warmer on the drive to Cowtown RV Park in Aledo, TX, where we are camped for a few days.

While we are at it, I thought I'd note our own version of winterizing.  Since we live in the Roadrunner 24/7 even in cold weather at times, here are some of the things we do to make our home warmer.

Pam devised a curtain hanging system with a standard rod that is held in place with 3 self adhesive plastic Command-brand plastic hooks.  Kelly gave her a two curtains that she no longer needed and it fits in place and keeps the cold from the window and door at bay.
I got a Snuggy years ago and keep it over my leather recliner in cold weather.  Instead of cold leather, I sit on a warm blanket.
If you look real close, you can see a small blue comforter that I also drape over me.  Just like at everyone else's house, we use throws/afghan/comforters when we read or watch TV.

Last fall we got new carpet installed at MSRV in Golden/Red Bay.  Daniel did a great job with the install and put a binding on a couple of pieces of extra carpet.  I paid him extra to put binding on two long pieces I keep rolled up in the basement.  During cold weather we keep them unrolled and minimize the exposure of those cold ceramic tiles.
 Heaters.  We have a large electric space heater for the front area
In the back near the shower/bathroom, we have a smaller ceramic heater.  We turn them both off at night and pile on the blankets if necessary.
The DS bedroom slide has some drafts around the rubber seal from the outside.  Pam puts some rags and towels in strategic places to cover the holes.  Most of the time we don't even notice it and its no big deal, but in the cold weather when it is windy we can tell where the drafts are coming from.  This simple fix takes care of it.
Those are some of the things we do to keep warm in cold weather.  I left out the best way to stay warm -- stay in places that are 80 degrees and above!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  We hope you are well and warm!


  1. Thanks Randy. This is the first I have heard of this "yellow shut-off valve." We have always had dash heat, but our dash A/C has always been weak. It sounds like I should close this valve when we want to use dash A/C? Does it make a big difference? Thanks, Dave

  2. Good tips ... we have a nice down comforter we use in the winter ... very cozy. We also have two carpets that pretty much cover the tile floor in the living space. I think we need to adapt your curtain idea to the door ... lots of cold air coming in through there. Afghans and throws are my friend year-round.

  3. Really happy to learn about the yellow shut off valve. Thanks for the information!

  4. Knowing how to do simple things really makes living 24/7 in an RV more bearable.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  5. Nice article Randy! We have some shut-offs for our webasto circulating hoses/system which we can shut down in the summer (to prevent heat mixing with the A/C) and open them in the winter which brings the heat up to the front dash. About a 2 minute job, although wearing gloves prevents 10-minutes of cleaning your hands after the fact. Good job!

  6. Great thing to remember. I noticed what appears to be a crack in the strap that holds the loop with two electric wires in the fore ground. Pics are great for things to be discovered. It is you valve in the off position pic and may just be dirt and lighting etc. I made the pic big and used a business card to check straight lines, there are many, but that strap is bent to match the visual crack. You might check it out someday. Hope it is just dirt, but if it is a crack, better to fix before fail.
    Stay warm.