Frozen RV Door Locks, Windows & Doors: Prevention & Solutions

As refugees from the frozen north, snowbirds escape winter at home by migrating southward each year. However, some RVers, either by choice or by circumstance, end up living in their RVs in cold weather areas.

Frozen RV Door Locks, Windows & Doors: Prevention & Solutions (Photo credit:
Frozen RV Door Locks, Windows & Doors: Prevention & Solutions (Photo source:

Winter’s bitter winds can freeze RV door locks, windows, and doors. Use these quick and easy tips to combat the ice.

Frozen Door Locks

Nothing can be more frustrating than finding your RV door locks frozen.

Frozen Door Locks: Prevention

One way to prevent frozen locks is to dip your key into Petroleum jelly or Vaseline, put it into the lock, and turn the key back and forth a few times. Repeat this to make sure the Vaseline is well-distributed onto the parts of the lock.

Frozen Door Locks: Solutions

Petroleum jelly or Vaseline. Petroleum jelly or Vaseline can also be used if you find the lock already frozen. Dip the key into the Vaseline, then insert it into the lock. Once in the lock try to wiggle the key. Do not force the key to turn; this could result in breaking the key off in the lock. If this does not work right away, repeat the steps three or four more times, then wait for five minutes.

Deicer: If you find the lock already frozen, spay deicer into the lock.

Heat the key. An effective option in severe ice conditions is to heat the key. This method usually offers a quick fix.

Hold the key with an oven mitt or gloves with the toothed tip over a lighter or match, then insert it in the lock. The heated key inserted into the lock should melt the ice. If the key is made of only metal, you can heat the key while it is in the lock. Do not try this with keys that have plastic at the top.

Frozen RV Door Locks, Windows & Doors: Prevention & Solutions (Photo source:
Frozen RV Door Locks, Windows & Doors: Prevention & Solutions (Photo source:

Hair dryer. As a last resort when all else fails, you can use a hair dryer. Warm the lock with a hairdryer or your own breath. This method is less effective, but worth a try if no other options are available. A cardboard tube placed over the frozen lock will help direct the warm air. Keep trying for several minutes, especially if you do not have a tube or if conditions are windy. When using this method, you can put the key into the lock to help direct the heat.

Lock Lubricant. Experts tend to have differing opinions about lubricant choices, but some options are recommended more often than others. Use only one of the following options per lock, since a mix could easily gum things up. Options include graphite lubricant, Teflon-based lubricant, WD-40, and rubbing alcohol. Since there’s little consensus, use as a last resort.

Frozen Windows

The simplest solution to frozen windows is to wait until the RV interior warms up. The ice should then melt shortly.

If your RV is equipped with power windows, do not keep pushing the button. If you force the window down, you can damage the motor, and this could be expensive to repair.

Frozen Doors: Prevention

To help prevent your door from freezing shut completely clean the door frame and rubber seals with soapy water and thoroughly dry. This should remove road debris and other detritus that can build up over time. Water can collect around the dirt and freeze the door shut once the temperatures drop.

Apply a rubber conditioner or rubber care product over the rubber seals with a clean cloth. Use 303 Protectant or other non-petroleum based product. This will repel water, reducing the amount that enters the seal and freezes.

Frozen Doors: Solutions

Frozen RV Door Locks, Windows & Doors: Prevention & Solutions (Photo source:
Frozen RV Door Locks, Windows & Doors: Prevention & Solutions (Photo source:

If you have not treated the doors and find them frozen shut, try these steps to unfreeze them.

Do not try to force a frozen door open. This can damage the rubber seal around the door.

While wearing gloves, hit the ice with the palms of your hands, and remove the ice as it breaks.

If this method does not work, you can use a hair dryer to melt the ice. Be  aware that excessive heat will damage the exterior paint.

Worth Pondering…

Forecast for freezing rain…. sometime in the future, but not today!!! What a beautiful day!

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Snowbird Basics

Winter is a time for boots, snow shovels, and icy roads… unless you’re a snowbird who RVs to the Sun Belt.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Neil Young once sang, “the summer ends and the winter winds begin to holler all around the bend…”

The cooler temperatures have us thinking about the coming winter: snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold. You’re familiar with the drill: dig out the snow shovel, take the snow blower on a test run, and pull out the warm winter sweaters, parkas, mitts, and snow boots. Such are the joys of a northern winter!

The entire history of the human race is largely a search for comfort. Warm southern winters certainly rate high on my comfort scale.

How about snowbirding?

Snowbirds are typically retired seniors who have the desire and financial ability to be away from home for extended periods of time.

The snowbird lifestyle is to our liking since we can take our home with us when the cold weather arrives and snow begins to falls. For us the snowbird lifestyle is the best of both worlds.


Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south, snowbirds need to take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Creating a customized checklists is one way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Consider the following tips as a starting point when creating your winter-ready checklist.

Check expiry dates for travel documents, insurance, and credit cards.

Check with your insurance to determine how extended absences may affect coverage.

You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep sidewalks clear and your home secure.

Ask a friend, trustworthy neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, and be available in emergency situations. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including smart phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats.
The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats. Photo above at Corkscrew Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Place a temporary hold on your newspaper delivery.

Receiving your mail in a timely manner can be a major concern for Snowbirds, full-timers, and other RVers who plan to be on the road for an extended period of time. Arrange with your local postal service to have your mail forwarded to a mail forwarding address. Trusted and reliable mail forwarding services include Good SamEscapees, and Dakota Post.

Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances—microwave, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, coffee pot, toaster oven, TVs, audio equipment, radios, and lamps.

Reduce costs and save energy consumption by turning the thermostat down to 45-50 degrees F (7-10 C).

Empty the refrigerator and turn it off. Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances.

Check to ensure that all smoke alarms are in working order and have fresh batteries.

Adjust the water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

do your dream
Do Your Dream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This list is a good place to start, but you may take additional steps to secure your home.

Be careful what you post on social media. Burglars have started crawling social media websites to find times when a house will be empty.

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snowbird life

behind the wheel.

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Preparing Your RV for Winter Storage

Preparing an RV to be stored for a prolonged period of time can be simple, if the proper steps are followed.

Shurhold Industries SMC in 32 ounce bottle
Shurhold Industries SMC in 32 ounce bottle

Follow these tips to make to ensure your RV is in great shape during and after long-term storage.

It is important to banish “stink fuel” before closing the RV for winter. This will help keep the RV from smelling foul when it’s opened back up in the spring.

Owners should get rid of all things that mold, mildew, and other smelly organisms need to flourish, according to a Shurhold Industries news release.

Start with the obvious, such as the refrigerator. The fridge should be emptied and cleaned.
Cushions should be removed or propped up to encourage airflow, and all cupboard and closet doors should be open for air to circulate.

Clean, vacuum, and place dehumidifiers around the cabin, two to three bags or more for a large rig.

Clean the drains and the sump prior to storage. This task is crucial to keep odors and bacteria from becoming a problem. The RV can absorb the odors and mildew that grow in moist, dark environments and they will spread throughout the RV.

Owners can first clean with Shurhold’s SMC. It can be sprayed on and wiped away with paper towels or rags. The areas should be rinsed and dried.

RV owners can use Shurhold’s Moldaway to clean the drains in sinks and showers. Place a scoop into each drain with a cup of water and let it work for a few minutes, then rinse.

Shurhold Industries Moldaway
Shurhold Industries Moldaway

Moldaway will clean and deodorize drains without harming the pipes. It will also help clean the sump container by oxygenating the sump water, killing mold/mildew spores, and other bacteria, safely and without the use of bleach.

Depending on where an RV is stored, the yard may suggest flushing antifreeze through the system.

Thoroughly clean all soft surfaces including carpets and canvas.

Owners can vacuum and shampoo carpet with SMC, and let it dry before closing the RV for winter storage. This will reduce the likelihood of any bacteria growth.

Remove cockpit carpet if possible. Roll it up and store it in the cabin after a thorough cleaning. It is best to remove canvas and store it in a dry environment.

These tips take care of only some of the important steps needed for successful long-term storage of your RV.

Consult your owner’s manuals regarding mechanical, electronic, and electric systems.


Shurhold Industries

shurhold-logo1-mediumShurhold manufactures specialty care items and accessories to clean, polish, and detail.

Shurhold began as a small, one-man operation based out a garage in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

It was started on July 1, 1973 by William E. Peach, who self-admittedly had no knowledge about the design or manufacturing of Boat Detailing Products.

Since its beginning in the garage plant, Shurhold Industries has designed and manufactured the most innovative specialty care and accessory products available for the marine, RV, and auto industries.

Shurhold is dedicated to educating owners on RV value preservation.

As the original creator of the “One Handle Does It All” design, Shurhold continues to maintain the highest standard of quality and service. Innovative designs, combined with top quality materials, and meticulous workmanship make each and every Shurhold product a premium item.

Address: 3119 S.W. 42nd Avenue, Palm City, Florida 34990-5558

Phone: (772) 287-1313 or (800) 962-6241 (toll free)


Worth Pondering…

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked… In other words, I don’t improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable.”
—John Steinbeck

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The 4 Categories of RV Winterizing

All recreational vehicles require preventative maintenance, especially when placed in storage for a considerable period of time.

winterizinglogoAs RVs remain parked during the long northern winter, it is important that owners understand exactly how to winterize one of their biggest investments, according to a Five Star RV news release. Otherwise you may be in for some rather unpleasant surprises next spring.

1. Winterize the Plumbing, Appliances, and Fresh Water System

Winterizing your plumbing is one of the most important components in protecting your investment. Following are the three basic steps in successfully winterizing your RV.

First, flush out the black and gray tanks. Then drain the water heater and the fresh water system.

Secondly, if your rig has any large appliances like an icemaker, dish washer, or washing machine you will need to follow the manufacturer’s recommended procedure for winterizing their systems.

Lastly is the fresh water system.

You have a choice of either using antifreeze or air pressure to protect your fresh water system. Both are effective means, but each has its pros and cons, as outlined below.


Pros: This is the most effective means to protect your fresh water system.

Cons: Be sure that the antifreeze that you are using is approved for RV use and is non-toxic. The last thing you want to do next spring is accidentally sicken your family and friends. You will also need to flush out the taste of the antifreeze before your next excursion.

winterize-pumphookupAir pressure

Pros: This is a cheaper method than antifreeze and you can avoid the extra work at the beginning of summer when you are stuck flushing out the taste of antifreeze.

Cons: With this method, it can difficult to get all the water out. Some portions of the plumbing will still require you to drain them manually. Also if enough water collects in faucets or valves, it can freeze and cause damage. To avoid this, open each faucet briefly while blowing air through the system.

2. Pest Control

During the winter months, critters like mice or squirrels will try to avoid the elements by holing up inside your rig. While some people might find these critters cute, the mess they will leave behind is far from it.

The first and most obvious precaution is to remove any foodstuff or fragrant items like shampoo or toothpaste. Clean thoroughly; you never know where those crumbs may have fallen while you were eating. It is also recommended to get some kind of deterrent. Dryer sheets like Bounce are known to work, but conventional mouse and ant traps are quite effective.

Check the entire exterior of your rig for any openings. Remember, if you can stick your finger through a hole a mouse will have no problem entering. Cover any openings you find with duct tape or fill with expanding foam.

3. Interior Preparation

It’s always better to enter a fresh, pleasant smelling RV, then one stinking of old food and mildew. To ensure this, defrost and clean the freezer as well as the refrigerator. Leave the doors propped open and place a container of baking soda inside to absorb odors. Also, use a moisture absorbent like Damp Rid or Dri-Z-Air tol deter mold and mildew taking hold.

Close all the curtains and blinds to protect the upholstery and fabrics from the sun. To complete your interior RV winterizing, remove any dead cell batteries from items like clocks or flashlights.

The wear and tear of being out in the elements can be quite destructive. Thankfully, taking the proper precautions will keep your rig looking shiny and new. The best precaution is to store your rig undercover on a concrete pad. However, this isn’t always the most cost effective method. Getting a cover made from a breathable material such as polypropylene is a relatively cheap option and will protect against the elements and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

Likewise, getting covers for your tires is recommended, as the rubber will degrade due to the elements. Placing a board between the tire and ground is recommended, since the frozen ground and asphalt can damage the tires over time.

4. Engine Preparation

winterrvtipsKeeping your rig’s engine in good condition is an essential step in preventative maintenance. The first step is changing the oil and oil filter. Dirty oil contains acid that will eat away at the engine bearings. Check and adjust, as needed, all fluid levels: antifreeze, transmission, oil, brakes, etc.

A full gas tank and taking the time to run a fuel stabilizer through the engine and generator is a good idea. This will keep condensation from building up in the fuel tank. Disconnect the battery and make sure its water is topped off. If your rig is in long-term storage, it is often best to just remove the battery and store it somewhere it won’t freeze.


Five Star RV Center

Five Star RV Center strives to serve potential RV buyers and renters, offering exceptional professionalism in every area of expertise. Their consignment system has sold hundreds of RVs, placing private owners in position saturated with honesty, integrity, and most importantly, more cash for their sold RV.

Address: 13210 Highway 99 South Everett WA 98204

Phone: (425) 741-9600 or (866) 423-9595 (toll free)


Worth Pondering…

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

—Peter Drucker

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Innovative Energy Introduces Arctic Package for RVs

Three months ago, Lowell, Indiana-based Innovative Energy announced it was launching a program to support RV manufacturers that purchased its Arctic Package insulation.

As of mid-October, the Indiana-based manufacturer of reflective insulation products has become the principal register of the trademark for Arctic Package.

“The popularity of the Arctic Package program within the RV industry is growing and the feedback we’ve received thus far is very encouraging,” said Eric Baker, executive director for RV and technical at Innovative Energy.

“Arctic Package offers the insulation RV owners need so, of course, RV manufacturers are going to have a strong interest in it.”

Innovative Energy plans to establish Arctic Package as a feature RVers come to recognize as a symbol of energy efficiency and comfort in RVs, while also establishing it as a feature RV manufacturers recognize as marketable, Baker explained.

Arctic Package

Arctic Package is an example of a hybrid insulation system whereby the performance of conventional mass insulation used in RVs is enhanced by the addition of R+HEATSHIELD radiant barrier in conjunction with mass insulation.

This hot box test demonstrates how the addition of R+HEATSHIELD radiant barrier enhances the ability of conventional mass insulation to reduce heat transfer. (Source:

R+HEATSHIELD provide a reflective surface that blocks up to 95 percent of radiant heat transfer.

Innovative Energy’s Arctic Package delivers improved comfort and energy efficiency by helping interior spaces cool down faster in hot weather, and warm up faster in cold weather.

R+HEATSHIELD can dramatically improve thermal performance and energy efficiency, keeping energy costs lower and interior spaces more comfortable.

Reflective insulation and radiant barriers are key to maximizing thermal performance and energy efficiency of insulation within an RV.

Innovative Energy products are perfectly suited to help maintain comfortable internal temperatures in an RV, especially in extreme external air temperature situations.

Unlike mass insulation, Innovative Energy’s reflective insulation products are very thin — ideal for installation in the thin wall and roof construction of an RV. The products’ reflective properties help prevent radiant heat transfer, for energy efficiency and comfort year-round.

Innovative Energy’s Arctic Package helps improve the thermal efficiency of RVs by enhancing the performance of conventional insulation used in RVs.

Key Benefits of RV Reflective Insulation Products include:

  • Improve overall thermal performance of the insulation system
  • Reduce overall energy consumption
  • Interior comfort levels are easier to achieve and maintain
  • Thin materials allow for reduction in mass insulation requirements
  • Custom sizes available, including 8-foot widths


Innovative Energy, Inc.

Innovative Energy plans to establish Arctic Package® as a feature RVers come to recognize as a symbol of energy efficiency and comfort in RVs (Source:

For more than three decades, Innovative Energy (I.E.) has been a leader in delivering high-performance reflective insulation products to a growing market of energy-conserving industries.

I.E.’s extensive array of insulation materials meets the requirements of a wide range of applications, such as building products, insulated packaging, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) materials and do-it-yourself solutions.

Innovative Energy offers high-performing insulation products featuring energy-efficient radiant thermal technology.

Address: 10653 W. 181st Avenue, Lowell, IN 46356

Phone: (219) 696-3639 or (800) 776-3645 (toll free)


Worth Pondering…

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Getting RVs Ready for Winter

Spending a northern winter in an RV might sound like a crazy idea, but hundreds of people are about to do it. And if you’re one of them, there are steps that need to be taken immediately to get ready for the cold.

Preparing your RV for winter (Source:

“It’s absolutely critical that everybody gets ready if they`re going to stay in one of these RVs for the winter, they have to get them skirted up and do all these precautionary things to survive,” Coates RV manager Tim “Dutch” Deick told KFYR-TV.

The most critical step is keeping the heating and water systems under the trailer from freezing. This can be done by “skirting” the bottom of the RV with wood or plastic.

“The reality is, when we do get some sub zero weather, it will be near impossible to keep a trailer warm. You will not be warm, plain and simple. Worse-case scenario, people can and will die and that is absolutely what we want to help prevent,” Deick said.

Winterizing Your RVs

Water Systems

If the fresh water storage tank is located inside the coach, the normal heating of the coach during cold weather should be enough to insure it is not freezing.

In severe cold weather however, it is wise to monitor the water temperature in the tank, and take appropriate steps to drain and winterize if necessary. In severe cold it may be necessary to open lower cabinet doors at night in both the bath and kitchen areas to keep warmer air circulating around water fixtures.

Now, it’s time to winterize your RV before the temperatures drop and the snow starts falling. (Source:

If you plan to leave the coach unheated for any length of time in severe cold conditions, it is best NOT to keep water in the fresh tank. It may work best to carry cooking and drinking water with you in plastic jugs instead.

If you will be using you RV when conditions fall below the freezing level, it will be necessary to protect the drainage system components from damage by the addition of an approved antifreeze solution as outlined on the product directions. Drain lines which are exposed outside the RV are especially susceptible to freezing and steps should be taken to protect them from damage.

Food Storage

In the event the RV is left for a period of time without the furnace in operation, canned goods and other foods packed in water should be stored as high as possible, since heat rises.

They may also be stored in the refrigerator as insulation against the cold; store dry foods and other items that are not damaged by freezing in the lower storage areas.

LP Gas System

Make sure to use an LP gas that will vaporize properly in the colder temperatures. Check with your LP gas representative for the proper fuel, and reread the information on LP gas selection in the LP Gas section of the owner’s manual.


Use ONLY the furnace to heat the RV. It is properly vented to the outside. NEVER use the range/oven for heating—asphyxiation and death could result.


Cooking produces large amounts of moisture. Not just as steam from pots and pans, but also as a product of combustion. Make sure to use the exhaust vents and open a window slightly to control the humidity. At night, leave a roof vent and/or a window slightly open.

Storage Preparation

When storing your RV for winter (or other extreme conditions), certain precautions need to be made to protect it until you open it again for use. Make sure to talk with your local dealer concerning any special requirements for storage in your particular geographic area.

The following steps are general, and your dealer can help you choose those that are most appropriate for your needs:

  • Park the RV on a level surface
  • Winterize the chassis as outlined in the chassis owner’s manual, and also the 110v generator (if so equipped) as outlined in the generator owner’s manual
  • Clean the RV thoroughly, both inside and out, including the refrigerator
  • Turn off all electrical switches and appliances
  • Securely close all windows, doors, and vents
  • Cover exterior vents on appliances to prevent moisture and insects from entering during storage

In storage, a battery will gradually lose charge over a 30 to 45 day period, even when disconnected by use of the battery disconnect switch.

Make sure to follow precautions associated with battery care and maintenance outlined in the electrical section of your owner’s manual.

Be sure to read your owner’s manual and follow any additional information on storage, cleaning, and winterizing procedures.

(The above information on winterizing your RV is provided courtesy CrossRoads RV)

Worth Pondering…

I played as much golf as I could in North Dakota, but summer up there is pretty short.  It usually falls on Tuesday.

—Mike Morley

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Winterizing an RV for a Northern Winter

When it comes to a northern winter and surviving its sub-zero temperatures, few things could be as tricky to prepare for as living in a recreational vehicle.

Well it’s that time of year again. (Source:

At a recent event organized at the Williston (North Dakota) Village RV Resort, Mark Petterson from Coates RV offered suggestions on ways to survive in cold temperatures.

Pettersen reviewed a list of the most important ways to ensure that an RV is ready for an onslaught of winter weather but said that skirting and safeguarding against potential hazards are the most important things to remember, reports Williston Herald.

He said there is a lot to remember, especially when it comes to blocking vents, which could asphyxiate anyone inside the camper.

“You want to make sure what you do is not something that you heard from somebody else that’s going to endanger your life,” Pettersen said.

Skirting can be done fairly easily with a kit and must be done well to ensure energy efficiency, he said.

Also key is making sure to choose the right RV Park so that nothing freezes up in the winter, Pettersen said.

Pettersen provided a complete list of tips to the audience gathered under a tent at the new RV park.

The joys of living in a northern climate (Source:

“Many easily accomplished things can be done that will have a significant accumulative effect on your comfort and safety and will dramatically increase your energy efficiency,” according to the guide.

Beginning with skirting and insulation, energy savings can be dramatic. The trickiest thing is if the trailer has a slide-out that must be particularly well insulated, Pettersen said.

Other tips included never bringing an LP tank into the trailer for safety, having an internally heated hose and exposing the thermostat to the ambient temperature, positioning the RV as close as possible to the sewer connection and using heat tape to keep the connection warm enough, having a fully charged battery and using insulated styrofoam panels on the inside of storage compartments and at hatches, according to the guide.

“If you have something that worked last year, don’t necessarily change it,” Pettersen said.

“Although we didn’t have winter last year,” he joked.

For safety reasons, though, an RV owner should be careful to never restrict venting to the furnace, fridge or water heater, Pettersen said.

“That could be deadly,” he said.

“You have to know what you can do and what you can’t do.”

Inside of the RV, residents should be cautious not to use an unlimited number of heaters and other appliances into outlets, which could overload the service, the guide said.

Condensation and resulting mold is also something to be careful of, in the bathroom area especially, Williston Herald reports.

RV residents also should be aware that RV fridges were never designed for freezing temperatures. He said his advice is to replace a fridge hesitantly as in many cases, a new fridge will not fix the problem, he said.

“Don’t let somebody talk you in winter into a new refrigerator,” he said.

Foam board insulating skirting (Source:

The most important thing once again, Pettersen said, is to ensure that venting to a gas fridge is not obstructed.

Vern Haugen, developer of the Williston Village RV Resort, said the workshop aimed at helping make the public aware of ways they can be prepared for winter and said at the new park he has allowed extra space for RVs and aims to do things right.

“We’re trying to keep this thing really nice,” he said.

Attendee Sue Hughes, who said she returned to the Williston area a year ago and lives in an RV outside of town, said she appreciated the tips and hopes for another mild winter.

“It wasn’t winter,” she said of last year. “I hope we’re fortunate.”

Chris and Debbi Shafer said they are also living in an RV in another location and are weighing the option of moving before winter. They said they will take away several points to apply to their RV

“It was actually very informative,” Debbi Shafer said, adding that she hopes she can be ready for what comes.

“I hope I won’t make his life too miserable,” she said with a smile.

Worth Pondering…

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.

—Alfred Wainwright

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Oilfield Workers Buy Up Bakken Tough Trailers

Camps for Bakken oilfield workers in North Dakota and Montana are dotted with fifth wheel trailers shielded with foam-board insulation and skirting and whatever else workers can muster to keep water pipes and waste tanks from freezing and to lower heating costs.

Dustin Bretz is shown with a super-insulated 34-foot work crew housing unit at Tour America RV Center. Many of the dealership’s RVs are headed to the Bakken oil field where the boom in jobs has created a severe housing shortage. (Source: Larry Mayer/Billings Gazette)

When Bakken oilfield workers come calling Dustin Bretz, salesman at Tour America RV Center in Billings, Montana, knows standard RVs aren’t going to cut it.

There’s camping rough and then there’s Bakken rough, living full time through the winter on the frozen prairie of North Dakota and Montana, where more than a few days of arctic weather are normal, Bretz told The Billings Gazette.

“Winter time can run as cold as 30 below zero, and a lot of RVs aren’t made for that.”

So Tour America started looking for one that could handle these harsh winter conditions and came up with a Camp Lodge, Work and Play fifth wheel custom built for the Bakken environment.

“These go relatively quickly,” Bretz said.

“It has 2 to 3 inches of spray foam on the lower chasse, heated water lines, and holding tanks. They have dual-pane windows, like your house. This is a niche product.”

In this July, 2011 photo, a man walks back to his temporary housing unit in a man camp outside of Williston, N.D. Many oilfield workers say sharing an RV beats living in a man camp any day. And, some of the oilfield work is done far from the nearest man camp, making super-insulated RVs or other manufactured housing a preferred choice. (Source: AP)

Bretz has the rugged trailers, which retail for about $34,000, parked north of his main lot in full view of eastbound Interstate 90, where semis loaded with drilling equipment and bentonite are streaming to the oil patch. His show-pony RVs are in Tour America’s corral, not so easily spotted from the freeway.

Housing of all kinds is scarce in the Bakken oilfield, where high-paying jobs have lured thousands of transient workers. Real homes are hard to come by, but so are campers and trailers. The running joke is that the oilfield holds the record for homeless people with $100,000 incomes. At a western North Dakota housing summit last spring, developers identified the need for 5,000 homes over the next two years.

That insatiable demand for housing of all kinds has become good business for Billings companies with products ready to sell. Pierce Homes now markets a modular model named for the Bakken and built by Commodore Homes. At Canadian-American Structured Solutions Inc. (CASS), the demand for oilfield housing drives a significant portion of the recently created company’s business.

“I would say the fallout from the Williston area is 25 percent of our business,” said Larry Nelson, CASS investor and CFO.

CASS, which set up shop in Billings only a few months ago, shipped a four-plex to Powers Lake, North Dakota, and created duplexes bound for Regina, Saskatchewan. The company has an apartment house building in Glendive and multiple accounts from Baker to Williston.

CASS builds its products to suit the building codes for permanent structures in whatever community to which its buildings are headed.

Bakken Reservoir fields in Williston Basin

Even businesses that don’t normally target the Bakken market are picking up customers, reports The Billings Gazette.

“We say we don’t sell single-wides, but we sell a bunch of these little cabins that are right around the $60,000 mark, the cost of a nice, fifth-wheel trailer,” said Jeff Lee, of American Homes.

Lee said American Homes in Billings has sold six of the 560-square-foot cabins since August. Not all of the buildings were Bakken bound, but he expects more will be sold into the oilfield in the future.

American sells a hunting cabin that’s a super-super insulated single-wide modular home with 6-inch walls and homelike features.

“This really is just a souped up single wide, but it has a good look and feel, laminate floors, residential doors and windows and furnaces.”

Lee said American Homes in Billings has sold six of the 560-square-foot cabins since August.

Worth Pondering…

I played as much golf as I could in North Dakota, but summer up there is pretty short.  It usually falls on Tuesday.

—Mike Morley

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Flocking South for the Winter? A Home Checklist for Snowbirds

It seems like a bad dream, those thirty-four years when I trudged to work each day.

A major concentration of snowbirds in Ol' Airy Zonie occurs each winter in the Tucson area. Pictured above is Catalina State Park located in the Tucson-Oro Valley area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A major concentration of snowbirds in Ol’ Airy Zonie occurs each winter in the Tucson area. Pictured above is Catalina State Park located in the Tucson-Oro Valley area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter was the worst: Get up with the sky still black; hastily don my suit or sports jacket; struggle into my Parka; pull on winter boots and gloves; and with sub-freezing temperatures trudge to my car in the still-black freezing cold.

The arduous chore of getting the car ready to drive was the next challenge. With luck the lock or doors were not iced shut, so that I could start the heater and defroster. Unplugging the block heater was followed by the chilly task of shoveling tracks from the garage to the back alley while the car heated up.

And then, with a prayer, I was off to work in the darkness, hoping that the snowplows had cleared a path along my route. Upon arriving home in the late afternoon, the sky was already black again.

Such is the life when living in the Great White North!

But now I’m enjoying the snowbird lifestyle.

Now that the month of October has arrived, the official Snowbird season is about to begin. Thousands of snowbirds are preparing their recreational vehicles for travel to Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern California, Texas, Florida, or another warm southern destination.

The majority of Snowbirds who make Southern California their winter home, head for the Coachella Valley with its 10 desert resort cities—Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs (pictured above), Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Thousand Palms, Indio, and Bermuda Dunes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the annual migration begins, many homeowners set themselves up for potential disaster.

Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk.

Houses are a lot like teenagers, neither one should be left alone for very long.

Snowbirds come home to problems because they failed to properly plan when they left in the fall.

But simple steps can eliminate the nightmare.

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Whether you’re new to the snowbird lifestyle or an experienced RVer, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Remember, it will be much easier to enjoy your winter in the sun if you have taken steps to protect your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

Consider the following tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:

Check expiry dates
Well in advance of your departure, check expiry dates for your passport and other travel documents, driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, credit cards, and membership cards—and renew if necessary.

Home insurance

Check with your insurance agency to determine how extended absences may affect coverage. Determine if your insurer requires regular walk-throughs during your absence and if so, how frequently.

Snow removal
You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep your sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well.

Contact person
Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. The contact person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations, and make repair appointments if necessary. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Sometimes called the tree duck for its habit of nesting in trees, the black-bellied whistling duck is a year-round resident of the lower Texas Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contact information
Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including cell phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

Notify neighbors

Inform trusted neighbors that you will be away for a specified period of time. You’ll want them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Ensure they have a list of contact persons, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on snowbird preparations

Part 2: The Iceman Cometh! Are YOU Ready to Flock South?

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snowbird life

behind the wheel.

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