The Part-Timer’s Guide to Parking Your RV During the Pandemic


I have to admit, I never thought I’d be writing an article with a title like that… but here I am.

And I REALLY never thought I’d be producing the video to go along with it… but here it is:

 

With everything that’s going on in the world, we figure a lot of you are doing what we’re doing.  Which is NOT traveling.  All of our events and meet-ups are cancelled until at least July.

We’re part-timers.  We normally travel about half the time.   Mothballing our rig during warmer months isn’t something we ever think of – because it never happens for long.  But these are unusual times, and with half the country on some sort of lockdown, we’re thinking Lance will be staying put for a longer stretch than normal.  So what are we doing to properly park the motorhome during this pandemic?  We thought about it, came up with a plan, and what you see in the video is exactly what we did.  It’s kind of like winterizing, but not exactly, since the weather is warmer and the objectives are different.  Here’s the quick 30,000 foot view.

“Store” the Water System.

Think of this like winterizing, but with a different objective.  The enemy this time around isn’t freezing – it’s stagnation.  We drained and purged the water tank and water lines.  We also drained and flushed the waste water system.  The most important thing you can do here is to make sure to sanitize the fresh water system before putting the rig back into service.  Think about what might grow in a warm dark puddle of water in a few weeks’ time, and that should motivate you to follow this step.

“Store” the Electrical System

I don’t like storing RVs plugged in, and this is no exception.  We charged and shut off our battery.  Like… ALL THE WAY off.  If you don’t have a true shut off, then disconnect or remove your battery.  This step is not too different from winterizing.

Remove Supplies from the RV

If you normally keep a few staples in the RV – canned goods, spices, what have you – now is a good time to remove them.  They won’t taste any better after sitting in your hot rig for weeks on end.  Added bonus: passing vagrants won’t break your windows because they saw toilet paper inside.

“Store” the Vehicle

Knowing that fuel can go bad, I added some fuel stabilizer – since I really don’t know how long this might go on.  I also topped off the tires, rigged up a solar charger, and have plans to at least roll Lance around the driveway every few weeks to ward off any potential flat-spotting.

Use the Opportunity for Mods or Deferred Maintenance

I have big mods planned for this time.  But even if you don’t mod your rig, there are a lot of things you know you should to to take care of your RV… but you don’t.  So use this downtime to check the seals on your roof, or change your cabin air filter, re-torque your lug bolts, or whatever “floss your teeth” kind of work has been nagging you from the back corners of your mind.  (I suppose you could also use this time to actually floss your teeth.)

 

And there you have it.  That is literally everything we did to prep Lance for his extended springtime vacation.  If you can think of something we forgot… sound off in the comments below!

We don’t know when we’ll be hitting the road again, but when we do, we’ll be ready.  Here’s hoping you are too… and that it’s soon.

Stay well everyone!



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    24 thoughts on “The Part-Timer’s Guide to Parking Your RV During the Pandemic

    1. Don Kane

      I didn’t look at all the comments, but make sure your brakes are nice and dry, so you don’t get rust spots under the pads. This was problem for us in the midWest, shouting down the van in rainy/snowy midMarch.

      A 25 mile ride with lots of stops will shine the brake disks up, but at the expense of your brake pads.

      Reply
    2. Noel Estopinal

      James
      Have enjoyed you and your wife’s videos and learned quite a bit. If I recall correctly, you added a hydraulic leveling kit to your rig that was able to lift rig completely off the ground. Could you use that to prevent flat spots in your tires?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We do have hydraulic levelers. While they are capable of lifting the rig off the ground, that wasn’t really recommended to us by the manufacturer for long-term storage.

        Reply
    3. Other Steph

      So I hadn’t de-winterized my tanks yet… do I still need to sanitize them when this all eventually ends and I can take my Revel back out?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Personally, I always sanitize the tanks *at least* at the beginning of every season. Potentially more often depending on usage.
        So I would.

        Reply
    4. Stan

      I’ll differ on disconnecting batteries, especially with AGMs like we have.
      Keeping the batteries at a correct float voltage prevents the self-discharge chemical reactions that occur when the battery is disconnected. At least theoretically, those reactions can shorten battery life.

      Our house bank (dual 4D) and dual vehicle batteries are on the shore powered Magnum MS2012 whenever we store. This also has the advantage of keeping various vehicle and house electronics alive and not needing retraining.

      The system is about 4 years old now, and so far does not appear to have lost any measurable capacity

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        That might be OK – and if it’s working for you… don’t change a thing.
        But if we took a poll, I’d bet 90% of RVers couldn’t tell you if they had a 3-stage charger, and what their float voltage is (or should be).
        Disconnecting is probably the safest for the general population.
        Us personally, we have a lithium battery, so turning off is the way to go.

        Reply
    5. Mark

      Love your videos! They always make me smile. 🙂 The only additional thing I would suggest is to sanitize the fresh water tank and drive your RV around a bit to slosh the tank before draining it. Helps discourage mold, etc. from growing in there. I know sanitizing when I fire it up again kills those, but it bugs me thinking about them growing in there while it’s just sitting so long.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        This is definitely one for the “It Can’t Hurt” department!
        I thought about doing this, but since I just sanitized the fresh water system about 3 weeks ago before our last trip, I felt like it was overkill.

        Reply
    6. Geoff

      Hi James, respective to running engines, im not sure if you have the petrol or diesel. In Europe 99% of panel vans are diesel. Emmissions control includes a DPF. Regular brief running of a diesel will cause the DPF to block with soot and then activate ‘limp mode’ on the ecu needing dealer intervention. So…on a diesel with DPF any run has to be a decent duration drive to bring the engine to temperature and burn itself clean of soot. Maybe its just a European problem and not seen in USA

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Not a Europe vs. North America difference… a gas vs. diesel one.
        Our rig has a gasoline engine. So what we showed is what we’re doing.
        You bring up a good point though – if your chassis manufacturer has different instructions for storing your vehicle (as the Sprinter might), you’ll want to pay heed to those.

        Reply
    7. Sam Pellegrino

      GREAT INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO, AS ALWAYS!!

      My plan is to get my Travato out for a half-day-run every 10-14 days.
      Get the operating fluids up to temp, the gas will not get stale, keep the tires nice and round, exercise the genset and have the fresh water in motion.

      I can do that with abundant social distancing, and not being an irresponsible COVIDIOT.

      The cab and coach batts will be up to 100% when it goes back into enclosed storage for another couple of weeks. It’s not all that different (except for mileage and duration) than taking “a trip a month.” YMMV!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Sounds like a plan.
        Personally, I would still do something with the water system. Sloshing it around is not the same as changing it out or draining it.
        Of course, we drink our on-board water. But even if we didn’t, I don’t know that we’d appreciate washing dishes with stagnant water.

        Reply
    8. Will

      Water system sanitized. Check. Refrigerator cleaned. Check. Now I have to polish my aluminum rims that have rust on them from the brake drum. Not looking forward to pulling them off one by one, then using my drill and Scotch Brite pad to polish. Ug ug ug.

      But what else do I have to do?

      Reply
    9. TJ

      Conventional wisdom seems to be to trickle charge the batteries while in storage, but I’m with you. I store for 7 Winter months every year with both batteries sets (chassis and house) turned off. I’ve never had a problem come Spring. Still on OEM chassis battery (7 years) and 6 years on Lifeline AGM house batteries.

      Reply
    10. Ivan

      Unless you’re planning on letting Lance’s engine come up to temperature each time (as opposed to a quick start-and-stop, which IIRC isn’t great for the engine), would a better option to preventing flat spots be simply to set him up on jackstands?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Jackstands would be the best way to deal with any potential flat-spotting. And I still may do that – depends on how long this goes on.
        My current feeling is, a few quick starts and stops won’t cause any lasting damage. I don’t feel like Lance is in any danger.
        Using jackstands safely, on the other hand, requires equipment and some solid safety practices.
        We thought that was beyond the scope of this video, so we just mentioned it.

        Reply
        1. Ivan

          Makes sense – the decision is as much about the safety and comfort factor.

          Since we’re talking about a B here (as opposed to say a Prevost), one could also opt to take it instead of the car / truck / SUV when making any infrequent, necessary “essential travel” trip that arises (grocery store, etc.). Engine gets fully warmed, tires get “exercised”. Only problem is that the resulting FitRV travel video may be a little mundane. 😉

          Love the look of the house, btw.

        2. James - Post author

          Rejected video titles:
          “Your RV is the Ultimate Grocery Getter”
          “Using the RV for Take-Out!”
          “Lance Visits *THE OTHER* Grocery Store!”

          lol.

        3. Phil

          I’ve always kind of chuckled about the worry of flat spotting and jack stands. Most RV’ers/DIY’ers I know have a decent, dedicated jack sitting in the garage (having seen your shop build, etc., I’m guessing you have a couple). Every couple of weeks or month, simply jack up each wheel and turn it a quarter turn or so. Safe, quick,and no flat spots.

        4. James - Post author

          Not a bad idea, and safer for most than trying to put their RV up on jack stands.

    11. Lori Shapiro

      The Fantastic vent on the roof has a screen on it which collects, dirt, dust, and lint that should be cleaned perhaps quarterly, depending on how often you use your rig. The back fine mesh on collects everything. The problem is that with the ‘fan part’ in the way, I cannot even get a a small tubular vacuum through the fan to clean it. (Also, I don’t know how to remove the fan, without breaking it. Not a fun job.) **How can that back mesh screen filter be cleaned?

      *The outside area of the fan has an additional purchased covering on it to keep out the rain and shade it from the sun. I’m too old to climb on top and remove that covering (which would not be a fun job, and would probably remove any permanent sealant. Huge job!)

      20 years ago, I once found a circular foam filter that I could place (screw-in) at the head of the Fantastic Fan. This kept the unit fairly free from collecting dust. But, after much time passed, I had to throw piece out … since it dried out and needed replacement. I can no longer find that product anywhere. **Can you? The head filter concept and purpose was fantastic … but no more available?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Interesting. The inside filter is pretty easy to clean, but I’ve never looked further.
        I’ll have a look and see if anything jumps out at me.

        Reply

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