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.

Winter Storage

frozen

In a few short weeks we will be taking our coach to a climate controlled storage facility for the winter.

I wasn’t really sure how to get the coach ready so I posed the question on the iRV2 forum and, within a few minutes, I had an answer, from a fellow Canadian no less:

I also store my coach in a climate controlled facility. I also have 15 amp power. So, here’s what I do.
* Air down to bottom
* Adjust charger to 15 amp shore power and reduce the charge rate 10%
* Shut off water pump and empty ice maker
* Shut off inverter
* Shut off all 120 ac breakers except main
* Confirm AGS (Auto Genset Start) is not enabled

Oh, and of course plug it in and verify that charger is responding and drawing very little power.

NOTE: DO NOT turn off batteries at switch overhead driver.

I store mine 165 miles from home, so I have to get it right. Hope this helps and I have not missed anything. If I have, hopefully someone will jump in.

Fuel Stops

fuelstop

After our little adventure with being locked inside our coach, we were a bit tentative in terms of how to operate the door of our coach. On our return leg from the Hershey RV show, we were a bit nervous every time we went to open the door from the inside.

We now understand what caused the door mechanism to jam: we must unlock the door first before trying to open it. We just did not learn that until after we got back home.

Refueling a large coach like the Castaway means planning ahead. Most gas stations are too tight for a coach our size. We generally look for a Flying J on our route and we make our fuel stop there. We have gone into the truck stops and used the fueling stations there but it is a bit of a different experience.

Here is a short video of me leaving the RV fueling station at the New Milford, Pennsylvania Flying J:

I find the Flying Js to be a lot calmer than the truck stops. We have a Flying J credit card which allows us to pay at the pump and we get a small discount off the cost of fuel. Most of the truck stops require a pay first, pump after protocol. I also find the RV lanes at the Flying J to be cleaner than the truck stops. In the truck lanes there is usually a lot of spillage around the pump area.

One thing that I have learned when fueling the Castaway is to watch out when topping up the tank. I make an educated guess as to how much fuel I need for the coach and I ease back considerably on the pump when I get close to that estimate. My first time out I filled at a truck stop and I had the fuel spill out all over me. This was due to the higher pressure for the pump and the tendency for the diesel fuel to foam. By the time the tank had filled there was simply too much fuel still on its way. It spilled all over my hands and feet.

The smell of diesel stays on you for quite a while.

I now use disposable gloves when I fill the tank. I add fuel from the side of the coach well behind the fuel cap as opposed to directly in front of it. And I am fine to be close to a full tank. Not completely full. Not over full. Just close enough.