1/27/19 - Battling a Deep Freeze

Our planned departure for the Florida Panhandle is only a week away, but local overnight temps have been well below zero Fahrenheit and falling fast.


Because the NewAire has been parked since October, I decided yesterday morning to get her fired up in advance, figuring if I encountered any problems, I'd have time to address those.

Of course, she would not start. When I cranked the frozen Cummins, the best I got was some rattling and puffs of exhaust smoke. She was down and out.

As I now faced my first cold weather recovery of this particular coach, I embarked on a bit of discovery. As usual, I was able to start the dependable Power Tech diesel generator, so I had power. Then my job became locating a 110V plug for the block heater. (There is no hard-wired switch and the owner's manual only hinted at the existence of a plug, but I couldn't imagine a Cummins ISB without a block heater.)

Of course, I raised the bed/motor hatch and looked around, but I could not find a plug. That's when the DW suggested I look in the rear outside motor hatch; sure enough, there was the plug tied off right inside the hatch for easy access. Good call, DW.

I plugged in the block heater and checked the generator load to confirm it was drawing amps. Then I let her set for four hours with the generator running, hoping to raise the block temp enough to get her started.

Returning to the storage yard that afternoon, I unplugged the block heater, shut off the generator, crossed my fingers and cranked. She fired right up!

As planned, I then took a ride and got the Cummins and most ancillary systems up to near normal operating temperature. I did about 10 miles including half at 60 MPH as I watched the gauge slowly rise to 135F. Finally, I pulled into a filling station, added more anti-gel (Opti-Lube XPD), and topped up the tank. She took 8 gallons. (Not bad considering how many generator hours I have run since October.)

After returning the the storage yard, I shut her down and once more tried to fire up the Webasto heater. The burner lit right off (it had been failing - see my previous post). I half expected that outcome, figuring the problem was with a gelled up fuel filter and that getting the ISB running hot would probably radiate enough heat to un-gel the burner which is located next to the engine bay. The Webasto initially smoked like crazy, of course, but soon cleared up. One added benefit of warming up the Cummins was that the heat exchange between the engine and the hydronic heating system meant I got immediate furnace heat throughout the coach.

So now I believe I have a cold recovery protocol that will get us on the road next Saturday as planned:

Friday evening we will visit the storage yard, do our final pre-trip loading, fire up the generator, plug in the block heater, and let her cook overnight. Then show up Saturday morning and we're off!

It's going to hit -20 F on Wednesday with a high of -12 F and windchills expected around -50 F.


But I think we'll be okay.

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