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Old 12-03-2010, 12:27 PM   #11
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

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Originally Posted by Ford_6L_E350
All in all, it might be easier and cheaper to pay for heated storage, even heated to 30 degrees would take care off all the issues.

Or, maybe leave the SMB somewhere warmer and rent a car to drive up there.

Mike
Ditto.
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Old 12-03-2010, 03:51 PM   #12
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

I don't own a Diesel van but I have trucked in Northern BC and AB as well as the US northwest for about 2 decades and this is what I would suggest to you:

If the owners manual specifies a different weight oil for those temps, change it but remember to change it back when you get back home.

Change your fuel filter and if you have a water separator make sure you drain it regularly. Water in fuel is a bigger problem than fuel gelling IMO. I have never seen fuel gel but I have seen ice form in fuel filters, with the engine running (!).

I never use fuel additives but do keep a couple of jugs of "Power Service Diesel 911"with me as my Last Option. You might want to do the same. If it makes you feel better, put a quart in on your last fill. It really does "thaw" the fuel system.

Make sure your last fill up before you park it is with local fuel. Diesel is blended for local temperatures, you don't want So Cal Diesel at -40. Diesel is blended with Kerosene in the winter to keep it from gelling. Expect your MPG to drop substantially.

When you park it, make sure it faces a wall or put a tarp or piece of plywood in front of the van to keep the wind from cooling the engine once you do plug it in.

If you don't have them already, install oil pan and block heaters and plug them in 4 hours before you want to start the van. Make sure you unplug the heaters before actually starting the van. You should be able to run those heaters off a 2000 W genset.
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Old 12-03-2010, 04:55 PM   #13
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

Make sure your water system and gray water tank are drained and winterized.
We are going to be camping in the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, ID, in January and we are going to camp dry.
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Old 12-03-2010, 04:57 PM   #14
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

Let us know how the trip goes. We want to winter camp in the Yellowstone area.
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Old 12-03-2010, 04:59 PM   #15
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

Having run a bus company in Wyoming for 10 years here is my 2 cents worth. A block heater is mandatory, after sitting for a few days the engine will most likely not start without it. However 4 hours is enough to warm it up, so it does not need to be plugged in the entire time you are gone. Don't bother with an oil pan heater, they can cause more problems than they are worth. Use an anti gel and run your tank low before you arrive and fill with local diesel. I would only change the oil if you are due, modern 15w-40 is really amazing, we use it year round. Don't count on it being cold, it is +35 today in Jackson, just be prepared.

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Old 12-03-2010, 11:11 PM   #16
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

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1) I have a 2006 6.0 PSD 4x2. I have all terrain tires. I had planned on getting chains for the rear tires. Doesn't SMB buy all the E-350s pre-configured with limited slip rear??
Not sure it matters, the chains should take you far with even an open rear end. Practice putting them on in the driveway, and make sure and stop and put them on before you need them.


Quote:
2) I have the flat plate heat exchanger which can be used to heat the block...can't it? Although I don't think that does me much good since I need to leave the vehicle for several days. How easy is it to add an AC engine block heater??
As others have said, if you have diesel I believe you have a block heater. Plug directly into the shore power or genny, don't go through the van systems. Also ensure your source does not have a GFI (ground fault interrupt, like in bathroom outlets) because the block heater will pop it. I'd plug in and hang around for a bit to make sure the power stays on.

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3) My batteries are not easy to get to because of my under vehicle wheelchair lift so it won't be easy to do anything for them. Should I just plan on needing a jump start when I return to my SMB?
My F250 came from canukida and it has 3 plugs in front- 1 block heater and 2 battery blankets, one for each starter battery. I don't think topping them off will matter if they are that cold (not sure) but that's what the batt blankets are for. I am not sure about installing them in the van, as the batteries are in trays on the frame but if you can find someone who knows vans to install them the wheelchair lift shouldn't matter as the plug/plugs can be run out the front of the van next to the block heater plug.

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4) Are there any additives I should add to the fuel tank? When do I need to work about fuel gelling.
First, winter diesel additive. I just use what the people on the board have suggested (slips my mind at the moment).

Second, buy your last tank(s) in as cold of climates as possible. The diesel in Montana has better cold weather anti-gel than that in Georgia.

Quote:
5) Should I get an oil change to a lighter weight oil before the trip? I will be driving from California to Montana.
The block heater will probably take care of this, as long as you don't have a very summer blend. I'd think it was a good idea from the standpoint of stopping and starting along the way, all those places that aren't the -40° multi day stop; places where you won't be plugging in.

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What other things am I not aware of that I need to plan for, vehicle wise.
I wouldn't just empty my water system, I'd vodka the heck out of it. As much as possible, and run it through the taps and everything. You never know, it could wind up being survival vodka.

Second, since you'll have shore power, consider getting a couple of 100w bulbs in trouble lights (the kind that mechanics hang under the hood) or those cheap clip-on lights with the metal reflector. Ditch the reflector and put them inside the van (not near anything) turned on.



100w bulbs put out a considerable amount of heat... back in the day we used them as overnight block/battery heaters. They won't keep your water system from freezing (not even in the +teens I know from experience) but it's an easy way to keep a few degrees of heat going into your cabin without something dangerous like an electric heater. Even if you only keep it to -10° while you're gone, that's better than -40°

Also, WOW!
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Old 12-08-2010, 05:41 PM   #17
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

Thanks for the vodka tip. Great idea
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:13 AM   #18
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

Can you run the vodka through your water pump. No danger of the alcohol damaging the pump?
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:27 AM   #19
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

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Can you run the vodka through your water pump. No danger of the alcohol damaging the pump?
Rapids
Good question.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:52 AM   #20
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Re: Extreme Cold Questions

When I put Vodka in my water system, it is to kill growth of micro-organisms. And I only need 1-2% alcohol to do the job. At that small percentage I'm not concerned about the pump or other rubber/plastics in the system.

It probably takes more Vodka than that to act as antifreeze, but I don't really know. And, just like biodiesel, anything above 5% is an unknown.

Mike
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