Clearance Check

Space. Room to spare.

Unfortunately, many of the sites we have visited with our coach have very little space. Sites are small and tightly packed.

We first learned about checking for clearance when we visited the 1,000 Islands/Ivy Lea KOA in Ontario, Canada. It was our first trip out with the coach. We made a point of telling the KOA folks that we had a 40-foot coach and we would need a site where we could fit. “No problem”, they told us, “we have big rigs in here all the time.”

Looking at the site below, everything looks great. Getting to the site was a real adventure. Everything was very tight for space. And once we got in to this site? Well, what you do not see clearly from the angle of the photograph are the branches of the evergreen tree on the driver’s side resting directly on the roof of the coach.

Lorraine was very focused on the lower clearance of the coach when she guided me into the site that she did not look up. The coach lifted the branches over the top of the roofline and once the airbags had deflated, the branches remained propped up by the roof itself. Fortunately the branches did not damage the coach.

The only way we were able to exit that site was to have the KOA staff come and cut several branches from the tree.

Lesson learned. Or so we thought.

About a year later, we went to Milton Heights Campground to attend a Newmar Kountry Klub chapter rally. Our chapter rally was held last week. We quite enjoyed our time there.

Milton Heights is an old park with narrow roads and very narrow sites. For our stay, things were quiet and the surroundings pleasant.

Our entry into our site did not go as smoothly as planned.

Lorraine guided me into the narrow site. It was paved and, quite rightly, she wanted to ensure that the coach was positioned more or less centred on the narrow strip of pavement.

Unfortunately, the post for the water and electric service was tight to the narrow strip of pavement. Less than two feet. I hadn’t put the slides out as I had recently changed my routine when setting up at a site. Park, leave coach at ride height, turn engine off, exit coach, connect services, re-enter coach, slides out then jacks down. Thank heavens I followed that protocol.

I went to connect the services and, sure enough, there was no way that we would be able to put our full wall slide out without hitting the water and electric service pedestal.

Not enough space.

If I had followed our old protocol, we would have experienced damage to our full wall slide.

So, back into the coach. We repositioned the coach as far right on the paved strip as possible.

Just enough room to get the slides out.

A good reminder for us to really think about the space requirements for our coach. Many of the sites we visit were designed for a different class of motorhome. What I have learned is that if a campground looks tight, it is tight and it is best to walk out to the site first and check all clearances including clearances for the slides before making our way.

Battery Maintenance

Power

Power.

It kept going through my mind. Did we check everything related to power when we put the coach into storage for the winter?

And, specifically, did I check the house batteries for water level?

We went out to the storage facility and had an opportunity to look at all of the house batteries. the levels looked okay but I think I will need to go back and make sure that I add distilled water up to the level of the protrusion of the valve well. There is water covering the plates of the batteries themselves so they should be okay for another few weeks.

Trojan has a good video that provided me with a lot of information about deep cycle batteries. Looking back, I think I should have ordered AGM batteries for the coach. They do not require any maintenance.

Energy

energy

With our coach in a climate controlled storage facility for the winter, I found myself a tad anxious. Did I remember to look after everything before the coach went into storage?

One area of concern: batteries.

We happen to have a lot of batteries on our coach. Two of them for the automotive system. Eight for the house.

When I did some research on how to maintain batteries, this was what I found:

WATERING – MONTHLY CHECK THE LEVEL IN EVERY CELL AND FILL THE BATTERIES TO THE CORRECT LEVELS AS REQUIRED. The use of a battery-watering gun will assist in accurately completing this task. Water should be added, if needed, after the charging has been completed unless the tops of the internal plates are exposed. In that case, water should be added before charging. Be sure that a water suitable for watering batteries (colorless, odorless, tasteless, and suitable for drinking), preferably distilled water, is utilized. If you have any doubt as to the suitability of the water, have it tested and add an appropriate water line filter, if required. It is most important that all battery cells be filled to the correct level in order to obtain good battery life and minimize corrosion to the electrical system and vehicle.

CLEANING – MONTHLY WASH THE BATTERY TOPS WITH A SOLUTION OF 1/4 CUP (60ML) BAKING SODA TO 1 1/2 GALLONS (6 TO 1) OF CLEAR WATER. After watering spray the tops and sides of the batteries, the battery wiring and the battery racks with baking soda solution; let the solution stand for at least five minutes to allow the neutralization to take place. Rinse the entire area with a low- pressure spray of clean water. Do not wash electrical components with direct stream of high pressure water. If any evidence of corrosion is evident (green powered foam), spray again with baking soda and let the solution stand for at least 5 minutes before rinsing; repeat if required. Never wash batteries without first neutralizing the entire battery area with a baking soda solution.

Well. That seems really involved.

In all my years owning and driving cars, I have never once added water or cleaned the battery.

That obviously changes with a coach.

We will be making a visit to the storage facility to see how the Castaway is doing. And I will bring some distilled water with me.

I will check the water levels and make sure that they are topped up.

Cleaning will have to wait until the spring.

Hopefully it won’t be as major a job as this one.

Storing a Coach

storedcoach

This is where we have left our coach until April of 2017.

Gan 401 Storage offers roughly 160,000 square feet of climate controlled storage. Errol, the owner, and Mike, the building superintendent, helped guide me in to this sprawling building, the site of a former manufacturing company that used to make dashboards for cars. This former plant now holds roughly 150 cars, 150 boats and a handful of Class A coaches, keeping them warm and dry over the harsh Canadian winter.

Getting the coach into our assigned spot proved to be a challenging test of navigating backwards, not once but twice.

Both times were successful however when Errol and Mike learned that we would need to pull the coach out in April, they decided that it was best to move us to another location in the building.

Although the space is quite large inside, there are support columns everywhere and most of the turns are very tight. Easy to maneuver forward, much more demanding to maneuver backwards especially in a dimly lit building. Very hard to see clearly through the mirrors.

That was probably the most difficult part of getting the coach stored.

We had cleaned out the coach before heading to the storage facility. I then completed one final circle check of the coach and everything looked fine.

Once we arrived to the storage facility and parked the coach into our assigned spot, I lowered the jacks and I made a few changes to the onboard systems of the coach.

We are plugged into a 15-amp service for the winter. This will keep our batteries charged. However, I did not want any of the 120 AC service to be available and that meant turning off the inverter but making sure that the charger was still active. I then set the power management system to read a 15-amp service.

I went back to the fuse system and turned off most of the fuses in the coach. I wanted to make sure that most of the 120 AC services were turned off at the breaker panel.

The final change was to the hot water heater. I had been using the diesel burner for most of the season and, since the coach would not need hot water during storage, I made sure to set the source of heat to off. No diesel, no AC.

Climate systems had been turned off. Ice had been cleared from the fridge — I left the fridge doors slightly open to allow the moisture to dissipate. Black and grey tanks had been emptied. Half a tank of diesel fuel left in the fuel tank.

That was pretty much it. We are in Florida this week and once we return home we will drop by to make sure that everything is working okay with the coach.

Storing Our RV For The Winter

storage

We received a lot of feedback on the iRV2 Forum about storing our coach in a climate controlled storage facility.

And this is what we are going to do when we put the coach into storage next week.

1. Clean Out The Coach Before Delivery

We will remove everything that does not need to be held within the RV, things like clothing, food, as well as everything stored in the basement of our coach. And, to the extent possible, I will make sure that the coach is really clean inside and out.

2. Deliver Coach to Storage Facility

We are using a large storage facility in Eastern Ontario, Gan 401 Storage. They offer a heated facility with backup generators, electrical service, indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, sprinkler systems as well as a full time building superintendent.

3. Prepare Coach for Storage

We will turn off our inverter, adjust our charger to 15 amp shore power, reduce the charge rate 10%, shut off our water pump and empty our ice maker. We will shut off all 120V AC breakers except for the main. We will confirm that our Auto Genset Start is not enabled. And we will bring the air down to bottom.

4. Inspect Coach Monthly

We will go to the storage facility monthly to exercise the generator and engine and to inspect the coach for any issues. We will also be on call should there be any issues with power or break-ins.

Other suggestions we received included winterizing the coach just in case something might happen. Although power outages do occur, they are typically short in duration and, if it looks as though the power will be out for a long period and the backup generators aren’t working, we should have enough time to take any corrective action given our proximity to the storage facility.