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Found this whilst looking for snowchains. Could be of interest to the hardy amongst us. :D



Thanks to David Jobson for this:

General Points

If it is cold enough for good snow it is cold enough to freeze your water systems

"Winterisation" varies in efficiency!

In my experience salesmen do not understand what they are talking about.

Lagged outside tanks will freeze in persistent temperatures of below 0 deg C; it is possible to drop to lower altitudes each night to avoid this. Water heaters can be fitted inside tanks but I think their energy requirements must be prohibitive unless on an electrical hook up. Lagged tanks are not suitable for skiing - full-stop.

The best winterisation provides a double skinned floor which contains both the fresh and grey water and is heated and the outlet grey water valve is within this compartment. At the 2003 Stratford show several manufacturers told me this was planned for 2004 - but only after I had pointed out the problem.

Many motorhomes have the outlet valve outside and this will freeze solid even if the tank is still liquid. I have seen blowtorches and generator driven paint strippers proving that the salesmen are wrong!

Many people leave their grey water valve open and drip into a bucket, emptying this frequently, which is still possible even when a solid lump of ice. Caravan type waste water collectors are no use as you can not empty them. Some people, regrettably, drip onto the road and form a patch of ice.

With frequent small discharges of waste water there is still a risk of the outflow valve or pipe freezing solid.

Larger pipes are less likely to freeze.

Look for internal water pipes attached to the outside skin - these are the most likely to freeze - happened in my toilet flush this year at -15 0C and I plan some bubble wrap insulation on the inside of the cassette door.

Good winterisation also means thicker insulation on the walls - I don't know the figures though.

Central heating

Central heating is essential - without it you will be cold and damp and miserable.

Keep it on at night though lower the thermostat to save on fuel. I aim for 8-10 0C

Turn off your water pump in case the frost discharge valve on the central heating is released during the night.

If the frost valve does release, pull it up and use a peg to hold it in place until it has warmed again.


Propane is essential. Do not use butane which freezes at zero, 0 0C

(In France they do have a propane-butane mixture which I have been told is OK)

Do not use cookers for comfort heating because of the carbon monoxide problem.

Calor is not available on the continent

Most supermarkets sell a 28 mBar butane regulators - these work fine with propane. (EU standardisation on 30 mBar is due very soon) Mine was labelled "Butagaz" and fits both "Butagaz" butane and propane bottles. It is reverse thread as in UK.

It has a ridged ring for tightening rather than a nut, so a variable width wrench is useful

I have been told this regulator also fits other makes of gas. The regulator has a safety valve on the underside; this needs pressing in when the cylinder tap is first opened - it hurts with colds fingers! Most garages and supermarkets sell at least one type of gas.

Take some spare tubing and spare jubilee clips. Warm tubing in a cup of near boiling water before pushing onto regulators.

Plastic sledges can be used to pull heavy bottles.

I am planning to look into a larger fitted LPG bottle that will take 30-60 litres of LPG and fill at petrol stations. 35 p/l in France.

Only expect to make 13kg last 3-6 days if it is cold - price of a bottle of gas is roughly the same as UK Calor.


at 1600m water boils at 95°C. Eggs and pasta take a bit longer to cook!


Summer sleeping bags and low tog duvets can be used if you also have available a reasonable weight, relatively impervious layer to put over the top to trap air - thick blanket, patchwork quilt etc., but make sure it is big enough to tuck round your neck.

Thick socks and extra clothes help.

The head will now account for 90% of your heat loss. A hat can help enormously as our Victorian forefathers knew.

Warmth and Drying of Clothes

Save on fuel by wearing two or three layers of clothes in the van - don't listen to teenagers who think it should be warm enough to enable just a thin tee-shirt to be worn inside!

After skiing, clothes are often damp but will dry easily, but not in the wardrobe. Have plenty of hooks for gloves, hats, lift passes, sunglasses etc..

I have a pair of fingerless mittens - invaluable for quick outside jobs.

Front screen protection

Condensation and cold will be major problem without insulation. Firms that make such protection say that external screens are best - unless they have a zip in them you miss out on some good views. Sun creeping into valleys at 08.00 is fantastic.

For my new (to me) van this year (2003/4) I used thick bubble wrap (garden centre) duck tape and stick-on Velcro with great success and for less than £20.00!

Snow Chains

These are a legal requirement in the winter season over about 1400m.

You may be stopped and asked to show them even when the roads are clear.

Chains for cars are much cheaper in France and very easy to buy at garages and supermarkets. I suspect that motorhome sized chains are less easy to get quickly.

I used http://www.snowchains.co.uk/ some years ago and they changed my old, but unused, chains for new ones for my newer van this year. Good postal service.

I see the web now has lots of hire places.

Practise putting your chains on in the UK - when it is dark, snowing and blowing is not the time to try them out!

Carry a large mat or piece of plastic to lie / kneel on as the when you need chains it is often slushy.

A pair of washing up gloves helps with the fiddly bits that can not be done with thick warm gloves.

I take knee pads too - roads are very cold, often have poor surface in the mountains and are covered in grit and my knees are ageing!

If you have a front wheel drive vehicle try and load forwards.

Consider snow / mud tyres when you next change; they were the reason that my old van never used chains.

Carry some galvanised wire for emergency repairs to chains, and a pair of pliers man enough to snip the wire.

Do not drive on chains if you don't have to - without snow they are bad for your tyres.

Make sure your continental warning triangle is easily available.

The locals with light cars and snow tyres rush about the mountain roads - let them past, some of them may even thank you.

Diesel - "Gasoil"

Don't fill up in UK - it is cheaper in France. There is a 24 hour petrol station 1.5 km from the docks at Calais at the first major round-about - "Elf". In the day it is cheaper to go into town. Several wine superstores are very close, Eastenders being open 24/7.

Fill up in the mountains just before resort; the diesel is better diluted for colder temperatures. In Dec 2003 I had problems even then with sludging when the temperature fell to -15 0C. Garages sell a diluent (clearly labelled with volumes), but I gather paraffin (kerosene) and petrol can be used too.

As in UK prices on the motorways are high, and much cheaper in the supermarkets.


Leave the hand-brake off! I have made this mistake. If it does lock, forward and reverse in quick succession usually clears it, but on an ice packed Aire it can be stubborn.

Use your engine going down hill to break when possible. A 1000m drop can causes some very hot brakes.

Windowscreen Wipers and Washers

Make sure your washer water has additive in it - easily bought in resort, but meths and water 1:4 is very good.

Cars leave their wipers sticking up off the screen to stop icing with snow and melt. Can be dangerous to others with motorhomes.


Long handled, light aluminium shovels are easy to buy in France. Avalaunch shovels are excellent as they are so light and easily stored, but they are expensive.

Brush and mat

A mat for outside on which to remove boots can be helpful and also have to hand a stiffish brush to bang and brush snow from boots. The brush is also good for clearing window screens when snowing.

If you get snow on the carpets brush it off before it melts!


Daylight is only from 08.00 to 16.30 in the skiing season so you will use much more electricity than on a summer holiday, especially with central heating fans blasting away. Cold reduces your batteries' efficiency.

Check them before you leave the UK!

Honda eu10i generators are very common in the skiing Aires as they are so light, small and quiet.

Starting the motorhome is much easier at midday when temperatures have risen a little.

If your engine won't spark it is probably sludging in the fuel pump.

Water and Hosepipes

Carry spare water containers for filling with fresh water as you may not be able to get a hosepipe attached. If in doubt about your winterisation keep one of these spare containers filled inside the van.

Traditional plastic hose becomes very stiff at low temperatures - I covet the thin collapsible orange hose that is made by Gardena and Black & Decker and available in Belgium -- perhaps also in the UK, but I have never seen it.

Thetford Cassettes

These tend to get cold and whilst they do not freeze (in my experience) an off putting mountain appears - a good shake when outside is helpful!

Peage - Motorway fees

Most French motorways are toll roads (except around towns).

Calais --> Moutiers in Dec 2003 with a 7.5m twin axle setup cost £85.00 for one way. One way cost more than other - beats me why! Motohomes (including twin axles) are counted as class II.



Two types of Aires are relevant to this article.


Motorway Aires

France has so much more space than UK, that they provide wonderful rest areas on motorways every 5-15km. You can park and sleep on any of these and there are always toilets. Try and use the caravan spaces if there is no "camping car" sign.

Many service stations will also have a camping Car sign with a pictorial drain underneath - this means that emptying facilities are available.


"Aires de Services"

These are special Aires for "Camping Cars" where facilities for fresh water and emptying of both grey and brown/black waste are provided. Many will also be areas where you can spend the night. These are found throughout France and are listed in the book:

"Guide National des Aires de Services" (Larivere) which is published annually in about May.

"Flot Bleu"

Some of these Aires are just a blue fibreglass structure about three times the size of a parking meter. One euro opens it up for the services and, rather quaintly, ten minutes of electricity.

Resort Information

Aires in the French Skiing Areas

The following links come from http://campingcar.enliberte.free.fr/ an excellent French site


Region Rhone Alpes


Ain - 01

Hte_Savoie - 74 -Tignes and Val d'Isere (no listing but see below), Chamonix, La Clussaz, Megeve

Isere - 38 Alpes d'Huez, Les Deux Alpes, Vizelle [NB - this does not include Val d'Isere!]

Savoie - 73 - Includes Three Valleys, Moutiers, Bourg-St-Maurice, La Plagne, Les Arcs


Provence Alpes C. Azur


Hautes_Alpes - 05

Alpes_de_Haute_Provence - 04


A convienient map and list of the Provences and Departments can be found on the same site at link


Three Valleys Area - personal observations


There is a good supermarket with large car park about 3km out of Moutier on the Brides les Bains road. Gas and reasonably priced fuel.


Courcheval 1850


The highest of the Courcheval resorts, poshest and most expensive, and best access to lifts. Some of the big hotels allow public use to their swimming pools.


1850 leaves polite notes on your window saying parking in the day is OK, but for night you must go down to park at 1550 beside the summer swimming pool.


400m after you enter 1850 the road splits. Turn left away from the bubble lift that goes over the road. Carry on up the winding hill and park either at the second drop off point of the Jardin Alpin lift (where there is a fairly flat car park) or go on up and park on the grass verges near to the Pralong chair lift. This is particularly convienient for lunch in the camper and this lift gives good access to the slopes.


Courcheval 1650


No easy parking here so far as I know - and lift access not good to main three valleys.


Courcheval 1550


On the main road just past the higher of the village entrances there is a car park beside the outdoor swimming pool and opposite the tennis courts. This is the designated parking site for camping cars but a few years back there were no services, buses running generators all night and it has no access to lifts!


We have parked in the village of 1550 and not been moved on. Reasonable bubble up to 1850 which runs until late at night, but the ski run from 1850 to 1550 can get slushy in warmer weather.


Le Praz - aka Courcheval 1300 (Olympic ski jump village)


The lowest of the resorts so less likely to have freezing problems, but the only runs down are red and black and are often closed or in poor condition. You can come back down on the bubble though.


I have seen camping cars in the day on the main lift car park but more on the flat car park just out of the village going up the mountain, on the left hand side below the road. This seems a long walk to the lift to me, but you can, in good conditions, ski back to the van via a black run.


La Tania 1350


Purpose built, modern, but small resort with slopes well protected from sun, so holds its snow well for its altitude. There is a small green beginners slope in the village not shown on the piste map. Good modern lift out of resort, but after that you need to take a chair up the Col de la Loz or a steep button. I rate the blue back to resort as "easy blue" - unless icy, but the top of the bubble (10 person) is very easy to reach in order to take a lift down if you have beginners.


La Tania welcomes motorhomes with a Flot Bleu and free parking. The higher car park is encouraged, but take levelling wedges. Not many restaurants and only one supermarket with unsurprisingly highish prices.


Meribel - 1450


I have seen motorhomes on the car park near end of the Brides les Bains (Olympe) lifts -- no facilities I think, and about seven years ago I met some Brits who were dumping their black waste in plastic bags and letting it freeze ;-(


Anyway, Meribel is is a sun trap so slopes back down to the village are either icy or slushy. Big public swimming pool for showers.


Meribel Campsite open all year - Le Raffort


At a village about 3km short of the resort village. £20.00 per night for four seven years ago, but that included free washing machine, showers etc. Close (200m) to Bride les Bains (Olympe) lift. The camp-site building also houses a bar and excellent public restuarant much frequented by the locals.


Le Martagon, Caravaneige

Le Raffort

Tel 04 79 00 56 29 - Fax 04 79 00 44 92

[15 places]


There is a large and flat public car park beside the campsite where vans also park. At the end of the car park is a lift (Olympe) coming up from Brides les Bains, which goes right to the centre of Meribel. Personally I don't like the lift from here as when you get to the end it is another 3-400m walk to the main lifts. You can hire a ski and boot locker at the main lift if you want, but I can't get my boots on unless they are warm, and the lockers are not properly heated!


Mottaret - 1750m


I have never seen vans up in Mottaret where there is little flat parking anyway.


Les Meuniere - 1800m


Vans can be seen on car parks just below the main building complex where there are services. In 2003/4 I heard this was getting busy and that height barriers had been put on the other car parks.


Val Thorens - 2300m


Its about 2300m so very high, cold and barren as it is above the tree line. I have never seen any vans up here.


Bellvue St Martin - 1400m


I have never seen the car park here as it is not in sight from the main lift. There is an official Aire and I gather the village is pretty. A new bubble lift was put in a year or so back and has improved access.


Brides Les Bains - 600m


Attractive but expensive spa town on the river in the valley. This was the site of the olympic village and a four man bubble carries you right up to Meribel.


I have seen vans on the car park here, but do not know if they are allowed to stay overnight - the lift is about 800m out of town though.


Further north on the local Brides road back to Moutier are pleasant off road, river view, areas where we have parked when descending to unfreeze in a non-winterised motorhome!


Orelle - 900m


Orelle is not known to 3 Valley afficianados, but is due south of Val Thoren in the next valley of Maurienne. It links to the back of the Cime de Caron and Breche de Rosael with a long high speed gondola.


The Maurrienne valley should be worth exploirng for motorhomers as they boast 24 small resorts (+ 3 valley access) masses of pretty villages and a poverty of Brits, and the Orelle link into the three valleys.


Espace Killy - Tignes and Val d'Isere - personal observations


Tignes les Brevieres


The lowest of the resorts - I have seen vans parked on the car park here. The well marked camp-site is, I think , a summer site only.


Tignes les Boisses


Free Aire on left opposite the Church. Loos and hot water. But, it is a bit of a hike to the slopes that only go down to Les Breviere.


I note that the 2003/4 piste map shows a putative lift from Les Boisses car park to high above Tignes le Lac. This will dramatically change the usefullness of this aire.


Tignes le Levachet and Tignes le Lac


The major shopping area but undercover car paring.


In the summer I have spend a pleasant couple of days beside the lake though and used the water from the fountains.


Tignes La Claret


The highest of the resorts, at about 2100m. They permit campers to park on the flat car park here for 12 euros a day, but no overnight sleeping and this is enforced. In the summer it seems free with several vans around - this is the base of the funicular for summer skiing on the Grande Motte glacier.


Val d'Isere - la Daille - 1785


Good aire on the right at base of funicular - ski right to your van. Over Christmas 2003 there were some 30 vans here with some rather selfish parking, some empty vans and too many mini-buses. Campers parked in the lay-by at the entrance to the official parking were not moved on. Excellent community spirit and many thanks to several Belgium people who helped us with battery chargers and water.


Water and brown/black disposal, but the latter is simply the sewer cover at road level and would send a British Health and Safety inspector into apoplexy.


There are plans supply electricity here and early work was visible in 2003.


There is a list of charges (approx 10 euros per day) but in early season there was no attempt to collect this.


Overflow parking is another 300m up the road in a bus car-park where we found another 20 vans. When parked in the middle of this car park we were blocked in by three layers of cars - charming smiles, gallic shrugs, and claims of innocence met our protest when the French Ski instructor returned from the pub! The nearest bus stop / train-rouge is equi-distance north and south!


There is a swimming bath for showers in the main town. (Which I have heard is free for lift pass holders)


Val d'Isere main village




Val d'Isere - la Laisinant


About 0.75km past the main village several vans park on a small level car park at the bottom of a blue run and at a "Train-Rouge" bus stop.


Train-rouge and train-vert are a brilliant, free and frequent bus service to all of Val d'Isere and its component hamlets.


Other Areas


I have seen many motorhomes in small Italian resorts such as Aprica and Passa de Tonale. I have no idea of facilities and would welcome feedback on any other sites in Europe.

Email David Jobson




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In January last year I posted about our trip to Greece.




I prepared a follow up of our journey back to Italy and a bit of skiing in the Dolomites. For some reason I never got round to posting it but this looks like a good opportunity to do so. Having done a few m/home ski trips inc the Pyrenees, Val d’Isere, (et environs) and Granada, and Italy, I’m sticking my neck out and am daring to suggest that in terms of convenience for motorhoming, diversity of ski-ing, care of pistes and general hospitality, - Italy and particularly the Dolomiti top the list. A personal view… this contribution is really with regard to one particular site we had the good fortune to find at La Villa


The story picks up after we had spent a few days in Venice (The 2nd part of the Greek odyssey is attached to the previous thread and finishes in Venice)




FUEL and GAS for the Mountains:

We’re going to the mountains in winter. I’ve learned before that ordinary diesel gels when it’s cold and won’t fire the engine without lots of smoke and good luck. In preparation I’d almost emptied my tanks so that I’d be able to fill with the local low temperature stuff as soon as I got a chance.


Going north the first fuel station after San Giuliano offered LPG and co-incidentally the non-gelling diesel. The attendant tut tutted as I carried my carabottle across the forecourt to the gas pump, and his waggy waggy finger was a fairly clear sign that it was not going to get refilled.


So we hid the carabottle in the garage and at another station just before the end of the A27 near Belluno, the co-pilot diverted the attendant’s attention while I stuffed €10 worth of LPG in the bottle. However, we discovered that road going LPG does not appear to be as good as neat propane at low temperatures.


On Monday 1 Feb, we were running from the LPG carabottle and the overnight temperature fell to -18C. At 4am the Truma heater stopped working and the “no gas” warning light came on. I changed to a full tank of neat Propane and all was well. A bit later that morning the carabottlle pressure gauge indicated we still had 6 litres of LPG in the tank - only slightly less than half, so I conclude it was just too cold for the LPG to evaporate. I’m sure it wasn’t the regulator, it’s got an eis-ex heater and worked fine when we were using neat Propane at other times.


The S51 to Cortina D’ampezzo was a pretty route. Cortina is promoted as a chic resort populated by the rich and fashion conscious but as we drove through at lunchtime, we thought that, apart from an impressive ice fountain in the middle of the town, it looked rather scruffy. Perhaps as it spurns campers, (no parking at all!) - I in turn spurn IT. We turned on to the R48 towards our intended destination of Corvara.


This route winds and climbs steadily to Passo Falzarego, the highest point around, complete with obligatory gift shop. Here we faced a dilemma. The map showed the R48 (a bigish red road) continuing to Arabba, - a short way from Corvarra. TomTom was suggesting the much thinner yellow road via La Villa. We bought a post card in the gift shop and sought advice, which agreed with TomTom, - so La Villa it was. What we hadn’t expected was to find a brilliant serviced AIre there


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(aka Camping Campolongo / Parking Odlina) 46N35’20” 11E54’03” is on Str Ninz (Nr49) just behind the Furneria bakery on the main road at the bottom end of the village. Oscar (see picture) runs the site and is a really helpful and cheerful chap. Every night at about 4.30 / 5.00 p.m., when the lifts close, Oscar arrives with the longest hose you’ve ever seen. It gets passed from truck to truck and we fill our tanks with beautiful clear mountain-spring water. He also supplies gas. 11 litre Italian cylinders €28 + €10 deposit. Or he can refill you own cylinder of any type. I thought that only happened in Portugal. No matter, - jolly convenient.


Disposal of grey water is a novelty. A 50-gallon oil drum modified with a bit of blacksmithing is suspended on a trailer cradle and is wheeled from truck to truck. We just bucket the grey from outlet to drum, it’s a little smelly but I’ve put up with far worse and it saves moving the vehicle. There is a pukka dump point at the entrance but nobody uses it except to empty cassettes. The normal water taps are disconnected in winter (they’d freeze) so you regulate the supply by winding big crank handles that operate underground valves.


Parking Odlina is set up for camping cars only. If each one of the 50 pitches were taken you’d be less than 2 meters from your neighbour. This is generally at Christmas and New Year, Carnival time, - (late Feb) and August. But presently it’s about 40% full so there’s a comfortable gap everywhere. Each pitch gets a 5amp supply included in the nightly rate of €20. Pay on exit - notes only - no credit cards.


The Aire is 300 metres from the 1st lift, on a slight uphill gradient. You walk to it and ski most of the way back. The area faces SE so you get sun till about 4pm at this time of year. As with most snow areas, the community is well equipped with ploughs. These are all very large and powerful but can only be driven at 70 mph even in car parks. Just have a large grappa, hold your breath and watch in wonderment as it clears snow to within millimetres of wing mirrors.


DeSpar supermarket (like a big Sainsbury’s local) is about 300 mtres, back across the main road. Ski Hire about the same and loads more in the village. A Conad s/mkt there too. Also in the village apart from the normal ski oriented things, swimming pool, and library with Internet at €3/hour, - ID required.


La Villa is part of the Alta Badia ski area (La Villa, Badia, San Cassiano, Corvara and Colfosco , 130kms piste / 52 lifts), and a local pass (high season now) is €41/day or €29 half day (after noon). The skiing is about 60/40 blue/red with some green cross country routes. There are a couple of blacks including the hair raising Gran Risa world cup slalom slope. After 10 days getting our knees ready we did this on 8 Feb 2010. If you ever want to know what wallpaper feels like when it’s being scraped off the plaster…….


€49 buys a day pass for the whole area including Arabba, Canazei/Fassa, and Selva/Gardena. This means you can do the Sella Ronda where you ski all round a very big group of mountains. You can join this route in Corvara, which is one hour each way if you’re reasonably confident and quick. It’s a lot of skiing in one day but it’s a great excursion.




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Also in the area is Camping Colfosco. I didn’t like it because it had more rules than the MCC. One I really objected to prohibited


“entering the washrooms with anything except slippers or sandals”


Now this is mid winter, it’s freezing and one is expected to schlep across 50 meters of snow in light footwear….?


Not for me, - I’d rather ablute in my truck, but then I’d fall foul (forgive pun) of the additional € 0.70 / day for disposing of waste. Surely disposal of waste should be included in the overnight price? Some other thoughts about camping Colfosco…


It’s a bit pricey in high season, (i.e. Jan Feb). €29.50 for 2 people + C.Car + metered electric.

It’s at the foot of a mountain, - or more accurately in the shade of it, so it doesn’t see the sun all day…… Brrr chilly.


It’s an uncomfortably long uphill walk to the 2 nearest lifts - Sodlisa, which happens to be one of the oldest, slowest, and most crowded in the area and Borest, which just goes a long way horizontally to Corvara.


It’s a long way to the town, though a bus does stop just outside the site.


I think that compared with Camping Colfosco, the Aire at La Villa wins hands down.


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There is a Camping at San Cassiano but we didn’t bother looking because it’s a long way out of the village.


Our neighbour Hatmud is the world’s greatest authority on the best places to camp near ski areas for little money. This surprises me because he’s in a very expensive truck and you wouldn’t think cost would be high on his agenda, but you can’t always judge the length of the book by the colour of the handle on the sausage. (Louis Prima fans might get that one.)


On his advice our next port of call is San Viglio… We would have moved today (10 Feb 2010) but 2” of snow fell overnight.



The site is a bit of rough old land attached to the Pizzeria Rittenkeller in Strada Ras Costa. 46N42’22” 11E55’45” The Bord Atlas GPS for the entrance is well wrong. I can confirm this as while looking for it I ended up in a chicken shed.


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Today (10 Feb 2010) I spotted a new thread on the forum about winterised trucks. One of the contributors on this forum has been creating a website especially for ski camping sites. His advice page is very thorough and may answer a lot of your questions.


We chose our current truck (Hymer S660 yr 2000) specifically with low temperature camping in mind. We’d done some winter camping in an unsuitable vehicle before so we knew what didn’t work:


(1) In very cold weather, condensation is a significant problem. In our first truck there was no air space under the bedding or behind the seats. Result, - beads of condensation after use and the upholstery getting damper and damper. Our current truck has wooden slats creating an air space under the beds and behind the seats. This is part of the warm air circulation system. It works jolly well at keeping the upholstery aired.


(2) Any construction with less than 2” thick foam sandwich walls is unlikely to offer enough insulation to prevent the water pipes inside freezing.


(3) Water tanks need to be in an area that is always warmed. Our fresh is in the garage. The whole space is fed by a warm air duct. It keeps the water from freezing and the space can be used as an airing cupboard.


Our waste is under-slung, - but it’s insulated and also has a small warm air bleed inside the insulation. We had considered buying a double floor Frankia, but the extra 300mm overall height put us off. Our truck is only 3.005 m high (inc folded sat dish)


(4) The outlet valve and pipe for the waste is as important as the tank itself. Our valve is within the insulation and the outlet pipe is big bore (about 45mm) and has a gradient away from the valve so that it always drains completely and no ice forms in the pipe.


Some of the other camping cars (Adria, CI and Roller Team) on the site where we are at the time of writing have only 25mm bore pipes and every time they want to drain, have to get the hairdryer out to thaw the system.


By comparison we had no trouble draining even when temperatures fell to -18C


(5) Propane may contain droplets of moisture that could freeze and block the regulator. We have an eis-ex system. This is a small 12-volt device that clips on and heats the regulator.


(6) To keep the water in the boiler from freezing, the boiler needs to be able to run on thermostat 24 hours a day. (N.B. Running a fan heater keeps the air inside the truck warm but doesn’t necessarily warm the water in the boiler enough.)


(7) Ensure you have or can get plenty of gas cylinders. We expect to use 11 litres in 3 or 4 days ( for all our heating and cooking ). We have an auto-change over from main to reserve tank because we have learned that gas cylinders always empty at 4 a.m. BUT if you can afford the price and have sufficient payload, a large fixed lpg tank will be more convenient.


HOWEVER, I’m not entirely convinced that all gas is the same. I’ve been able to completely empty an Italian Propane cylinder in -11C and similarly a German Propane cylinder at -2C but a French Propane cylinder stopped evaporating at +4C even though it was still a quarter full, similarly at +4C, a rechargeable LPG cylinder not evaporating even though the gauge showed 6 litres remaining.


(8) If you can specify a heater, choose one that is slow start so that the sudden whoomph of ignition doesn’t wake you up every time it kicks in.


(9) Limited slip differential gives added traction in slippery conditions. This applies to muddy fields as well as snow. Our truck has an solenoid operated LSD so we only engage it when we need to.


(Since writing this, I've changed my tyres to All season M&S but I was still glad of the LSD in Sand this summer)


If you’ll be buying or renting gas cylinders abroad it’s worth noting that the thread on French, German and Greek cylinders, - and Spanish connectors that clip onto the cylinder, - are all the same but Italian threads are smaller. I use a D2 adaptor to connect Italian bottles to my German threaded regulator. The adaptor is one of a set I bought from Pfeiffer at Düsseldorf ages ago. I’ve never seen them in England.


Essential kit:

(1) Chains, or better still winter tyres with chains as a standby for when it gets really silly. Even if it’s a lovely day when you park up and you’re not on winter tyres, put the chains on then. I’ll be a lot easier than doing it in falling snow or when the bottoms of the tyres are buried in ice.


(2) Snow shovel(s). The big ally ones that the locals use are about €35. We’ve got a UK polyprop stable shovel. It’s very light and deals with snow well, - but ice not so good.


(3) Jerry cans for carrying fresh water when the hose is frozen.


(4) Stiff and soft hand brushes for getting snow off boots (and roof of camping car)


(5) Boot scraper and additional rubber mat to leave outside the door. Try not to get snow inside. It looks cute but melts.


(6) Fan Heater with an element of IkW or less. Most hook ups are at least 5amp so you can usually draw 1100 watts before the mcb trips. (Also See below – adaptor)


(7) Plug in timer for the fan heater, especially for the mornings.


(8) Antifreeze your coolant and washer liquid to the lowest temperature you can. I note some German filling stations sell a diesel additive that prevents gelling down to –26C


(9) Windscreen insulation mats. Some of the cab conversion trucks parked here use mats that cover the entire cab and engine compartment.


Other thoughts based on what’s occurring here in the Dolomites this week:


Diesel heaters: I’ve seen two trucks fitted with these. To me they seem a lot noisier than gas heaters, A key advantage it seems to me is that you can organise the pipework to warm the engine prior to starting. Hearsay is that Fiats are particularly prone to problems in cold weather. Mercs not so much.


Generator: If you’re planning to stay where you can’t hook up, take a generator or get one of these 12 volt methanol jobbies. Whatever you do make sure you can always get your start battery up to full potential.


The picture below is half the gas set. I don't have a jpg of the complete 8 pieces. If you want further info PM me and I'll send you a pdf. 4 are for filling your tanks and 4 are for connecting to the vehicle system.


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