Storing an RV

Shower and sink drains: The water in them will evaporate also. No problem with seals in this case, but the RV will stink when you get back. Pour an ounce of cooking oil (slowly) into them to keep the water from evaporating.

Tires and underside: Air tires to normal pressure and cover to prevent sun from rotting side walls. If good tires, no problem. If lousy, you’ll need to replace them anyway when you get back. Do not completely wrap tires (or you’ll end up with critters making a home in there).

Sprinkle abundant “Comet” cleanser or “Green Light” ant killer (far better) all around anything touching the ground. Ants and such won’t (usually) be a bother. If you’re fortunate enough to have a caretaker, the ant killer can be reapplied as needed after rains (or snow?).

Make sure holes on underside (into RV) are either plugged with stainless-steel wool (not regular steel wool) pot scrubber pieces or taped with aluminum duct tape (not just the gray tape). Either will keep (usually) rodents out.

Gas Tank: Here’s where you can screw up the whole thing if you don’t do it right…

1. Just before going into storage, you need to get the tank pretty near empty. Then (or before if you’re a careful planner), go to auto store and get “Stor-Gas” or similar gas treatment. This is NOT the alcohol crap they sell to absorb water in gas tanks (which you should never use anyway). This is stuff that people put into lawn mower and boat engines during the “off” season. Ask for help if you need it. Read label carefully to determine how many ounces of the brand you buy will treat how many gallons of gas. Good auto stores will have large cans of this stuff which is cheaper. Discount stores will have tiny bottles of same stuff for small engines like lawn mowers (cost more but it’s the same thing). Buy what they call for, plus a bit more.

2. On your last drive before going into storage, with tank fairly empty, pour Stor-Gas in and fill the tank with fuel. Then store your rig. The Stor-Gas will have permeated your whole gas system (including carb or injectors) by the time you park. This maneuver will keep your gas from turning into a sludgy varnish paste (which gasoline WILL do if left in a tank, without this treatment, for more than a few months). Do NOT neglect this step, you don’t want a fuel system full of varnish.

Diesel systems are treated similarly. Check with auto store or, better yet, with a “John Deere” store for proper chemical. (I have done all this and left RV in storage for over 2 years and it started right up–but see below.)

ENGINE: Let’s assume some things. Before you put your RV in storage, you’ll have done the above, had transmission serviced (including change of fluid), lubed and changed oil and filter.

• It isn’t necessary to remove spark plugs and squirt oil in each cylinder then reinsert plugs unless the RV will be in storage for more than a year.

• If it will be in storage more than six months, you should get a pint of “Marvel Mystery Oil” and when you run the engine the last time, at idle, air cleaner removed, slowly pour oil into main (front) carb throttle bores (or throttle body air inlet on fuel injection systems). When down to about ½ a pint, pour faster to stall engine out. Do not start it again. Your cylinders and upper valve train will be nicely coated with preservative oil.

• There’s little to do in the engine compartment. Cover air cleaner with screen or aluminum foil. Taped with aluminum duct tape to keep critters from getting into the filter element. Some people spread moth balls around, but I can’t see that it does much good. If you park in a rodent-infested area they may very well eat wire insulation, hoses, etc., anyway.

Removing from storage:

  1. Don’t forget to clear the air cleaner.
  2. Inspect hoses, fuel lines (the only rubber the critters ate in AZ), general wiring and belts (they eat those too).
  3. Make sure you clean out critter nests.
  4. Check radiator water.
  5. Check transmission fluid.
  6. Check batteries.
  7. Check power steering fluid.
  8. Change oil and filter (it will have turned acidy if you’ve been gone more than six months).
  9. Do not start engine up right away. Disconnect coil wire (check manual–some vehicles need a different step) and turn engine over several seconds to get oil up to valve train, etc.
  10. Reconnect coil and start engine. In most cases, it will start right up. Sometimes, gas at carburetor or injectors will have evaporated. Pump the hell out of the thing and it’ll usually start.
  11. Don’t drive it until you have run it through all the gears a few times.
  12. Make sure brakes are OK. Sometimes critters chew the flexible lines near wheels.

Answers to some questions:

  1. Don’t leave heat and electricity on (unless you have a caretaker).
  2. Don’t forget to turn off AC circuit breakers to unused circuits.
  3. Don’t forget to pull fuses to unused 12 volt circuits–especially the water pump.
  4. Reefer: Clean it out! Never leave it running with anything in it if you or reliable caretaker aren’t there (if electricity is disconnected or your LP tank runs out (even if going away for a short time, you do NOT want your reefer to quit while it has food in it), you’ll have the equivalent of a dead body in your RV–no fun to clean up). Some people put an open can of coffee in to keep fresh smell. I prop door open and use lightly-wadded newspapers and an open box of baking soda.
  5. Should you cover windows on inside with aluminum foil? Loosely only. Too tight a seal can crack a window if heat builds up. There are enough natural air leaks in most RVs so closing it up is OK.
  6. An uncovered plastic garbage can with about 20-30 gal of water in it will evaporate and provide enough humidity to prevent cracking and peeling inside for a few months.
  7. Cover roof vents. Plywood boxes and bricks aren’t usually needed and can become deadly missiles in a storm. Scraps of foam or bubble-packaging material taped down (and over air conditioner and reefer vent) are ordinarily OK.
  8. Solar panels shouldn’t need a cover.
  9. A screen cap over end of exhaust pipe, more screen or ready-made screens over furnace and water heater vents along with a screen taped to inside of reefer rear access panel helps.

Are all the storage steps necessary? Depends on how long it will be stored. The Stor-Gas/diesel stabilizer step is recommended for 2 months or more, water draining for 3 months.

phred Tinseth © 1998-2002 Reproduction Permitted

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