Since we’re stationary here in Bandon for the next 2 months I thought it would be nice to share some of the things we did to prepare “the beast” for downtime. RV’s like ours, especially Class A motorhomes are really meant to be driven. The engines, tires and just about everything else don’t really “like” to sit still. Our two months at Bandon is really not that long, but we still wanted to prepare our girl for the best time we could. Here’s three simple things I would recommend to anyone who plans to be stationary for a while:

1/ Add A Fuel Stabilizer Or Biocide To Your Tank

Sta-Bil is excellent for gas engines

One of the big issues with engines that sit around is fuel problems. Both gas and diesel have their individual problems:

-> Gasoline degrades with time and can become “stale”. Ironically the newer gasolines, especially the “cleaner” fuels with oxygenate additives degrade even faster than the old formulas. Heat and moisture accelerate the process. Slightly old gas won’t cause too many issues other than somewhat reduced engine performance, but the longer you leave it the more likely you are to see more serious problems such as gumming, varnish, rust, and corrosion.

-> Diesel doesn’t degrade in the same way that gasoline does, but it does have another troubling issue which is microbial growth, sometimes commonly known as “diesel algae”. The growth is caused by specialized bacteria, yeasts & molds which consume diesel and form a dangerous slimy goo in your tank. They are most ferocious in moist and hot environments. Once you get these in your engine you are in big doo-doo. It’s a thing to be avoided at all costs.

Biobor JF is my go-to for diesel

So, what to do? One of the best things you can do anytime you leave a tank is to fill it completely, thereby leaving no room for moisture. Parking your RV somewhere cool is also helpful, but not always possible for fulltimers. After that your next best insurance is a good fuel additive. For gas engines, look for fuel stabilizers such as STA-BIL 22214 Fuel Stabilizer. For diesel, STA-BIL does make a Marine Version of their product, but it’s really just same as the gas version with extra detergents. Since I’m more worried about microbial growth in diesel I much prefer the biocides such as Biobor JF Diesel Treatment or Power Service Bio-Clean. This is what the marine guys use and they know this stuff.

We filled our tank 20 miles before we got to Bandon, added a few oz of Biobor JF and also ran the generator for an hour to get the additive distributed through the whole system. For a few $$ we’re certain our diesel will be perfectly fine for the next 3 months. Peace of mind, baby!

2/ Clean, Protect & Cover Your Tires

Our tires stay covered while we're "sitting"

Our tires stay covered while we’re “sitting”

One of the worst things you can do for your tires is to let them sit around, especially in the sun. Not only does sitting start to dry out the natural oils, but UV degrades the rubber in a big way. An easy fix for tires is to use them, but if you’re sitting still for several months that’s not much of an option. The next best option is to clean off road grime with mild soap & water and protect the rubber with a good UV protector (my absolute favorite and pretty much the only one I recommend is Aerospace 303 -> it contains NO petroleum distillates which is super important for tire health) and/or a simple tire cover. We do both and feel it’s cheap protection for a big $$ item. Totally worth it!

3/ “Lube” Internal Slide Seals

Works for baby’s & RVs too!

Ever try to pull-in the slide and hear a”sticking” sound? Often when slides sit in the “out” position for longer periods, especially in warmer weather the internal rubber seals will start to “stick” to the frame of your RV. A super-easy way to prevent this is to “dust” all your internal seals with talcum or baby powder before you run out your slides. Get an old sock, tap some talcum powder onto it and run the sock along the inside wall on all your seals. Easy peasy and no more sticky! We’ve used this method for years and have been very happy with it.

You can use the same product on the outer seals too, but we prefer Aerospace 303 here because it’ll protect against cracking/deterioration too.

This excellent video by RV Geeks shows exactly how to do it:

While we’re “sitting” we will also do some general on-going maintenance such as exercising our generator (once a month), and cleaning/lubing up the jacks which can get grimy & sticky (we like T9 Lubricant since it also has protects against salt corrosion). Ideally we’ll also wax our rig (always a good general idea, especially near the ocean -> our go-to wax for many years have been RejeX, very slick stuff!), but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. Always something to do on an RV!

Those are our key steps. Do YOU have any juicy “downtime” tips to share? Do comment and discuss below!

P.S. I’ve experimented with a few Amazon links in this post. If you love ‘em, feel free to use ‘em and we’ll get a few cents in gas. Share the love, baby :)

29 Responses to 3 Simple Steps To Protect Your RV During “Downtime”

  1. Jil says:

    Good sensible advice, as usual….

  2. Would some of that reflective material that you used on the windshield also work for the tires too? We are about ready to get a 25′ roll of it.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I definitely think it could work. Your biggest issue will be figuring a way to attach it and keep it from flying away. Our tire covers have elastic on the top and bungee cord loops on the bottom, so they will stay on even in high winds. If you can jerry-rig something similar for the foil you’ll have a good solution.
      Nina

  3. Sunny Phillips says:

    Glad to use your amazon links! There does not seem to be a video link to RV Geeks showing exactly how to treat slide seals. The for info!

  4. Erin says:

    We just completed a Freightliner class, and the instructor highly recommended putting something under the tires regardless of whether you’re on concrete, grass, gravel … cardboard or carpet remnants will work … anything that’s not made of rubber. We will be putting the MH in storage for 3.5 months and much of what you suggested is on our list; the talcum powder for the inner seals is a good tip and we added that to our list.

    • libertatemamo says:

      That’s a good tip! I think the idea is to put a vapor barrier between the tires and the ground. I’ve seen that mentioned, but we’ve not had it on our list. Cheers for sharing!
      Nina

  5. Peter says:

    Hey Guys…Thanks for the good info. We have been doing some of it for awhile but always great to hear other’s thoughts. The “something under the tires” theme has been kicked around for quite awhile and I have never had a definitive answer sent my way….even so, it can’t hurt to stick something under them…..On another note, pretty windy summer so far, huh?

    • libertatemamo says:

      DEFINTELY a windy summer so far. Way more wind than last year out here. Whoo hooo! I’m loving the cooler weather though.
      Nina

  6. Carol K. says:

    Hi Guys! Thanks for the great tips. The 5th wheel should be delivered down here to Mission in the next month or so and I plan to do all these things since I will be stationary for a while. As a part of my job here I need to put together a periodic newsletter for our RV followers. Do you mind if I borrow your tips for an article to publish in our November newsletter? Of course I’ll give you guys credit as where I found all the great info and provide a link to your blog.

  7. Ray Burr says:

    Great set of tips. I like the baby powder one, got to try it out. Another thing that’s good to do while in downtime is go all around the rig and tighten any bolts, nuts ,screws, fixtures, etc that likely have come loose during the times we move around a lot. While looking for things to tighten it gives a good chance to also eye ball the rig for problems.

  8. Susan says:

    All great tips above and especially using the baby powder on the slides for when Fred is parked for a few months. Monday we will arrive at Bonito Hollow RV Park, just north of Ruidoso, NM, staying there until the end of September for our first camp host gig. We’ll see how it goes.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hope your workamping experience turns out great! I do love that area of NM. If you haven’t seen White Sands National Monument, I recommend going. You won’t be too far and it’s a totally unique experience.
      Nina

  9. Mister Ed says:

    Be carefull as to what kind STA-BIL u use STA-BIL makes 3 kinds
    22275 is for ethanol and can be used with reg, gas as well
    look at the color
    Reds not setup for eth, but yellow and blue are ,
    note that blue is for long term marine gas some not all marine gas use eth, but blue is fine
    Diesel fuel comes 2 ways summer grade (your in that now) and winter grade (anti gel)with less wax and the new one is DEF at the pump BUT read the stat,s on the truckers net about this pro & con
    Also Anything u put in your fuel tank that has alcohol will evaporate and do no good in the long term

    Can one have a lighthouse job if single …???..
    Joy your day

    • libertatemamo says:

      Good info on the STA-BIL, although the RED version is still what you want for gas engines (for storage specifically).

      According to Gold Eagle Co.:
      “STA-BIL® Ethanol Treatment (golden color) is not designed for storage. It is for every-day use to fight ethanol problems and performance improvement. STA-BIL® Fuel Stabilizer (red) is recommended for storage.”

      The above is a quote directly from the company, so the red version is still what you want when “sitting around” even with ethanol-mix fuels. The company says the red version will work with “any gasoline (even Ethanol blends, up to E-85)”. This info is also listed in the FAQ on their website.

      From STA-BIL website:
      “Q: Should I stop using STA-BIl Fuel Stabilizer and use the new STA-BIl Ethanol Treatment or Marine Formula STA-BIL instead?
      A: There are specific needs for each product. As a general guideline, if you are STORING your gasoline vehicle or equipment for 30 days or more, we recommend you use Red STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer. For EVERYDAY PROTECTION against Ethanol blended fuels in your Marine gasoline engine, we recommended using Marine Formula STA-BIL at every fill up during the season. For protection in all other non-marine gasoline vehicles, use new STA-BIL Ethanol Treatment at every fill up”

      More details here:
      http://www.goldeagle.com/brands/stabil/faq.aspx#278

      As for diesel, yup you have a point on the 2 versions. We never get far enough north (or cold enough) to fill-up on the winter version. Pretty much all the diesel we use is summer-version only and most of the southern-most states will sell the summer version year-around. The biocide will work for either version of the fuel.

      As for the lighthouse job, it’s one of the *few* hosting jobs that requires a couple (since you physically need 2 people to man the lighthouse), but there are plenty of other hosting jobs you can do as a single.

      Nina

  10. Joel and Rebecca Woolf says:

    My name is Joel Woolf I`m a retired diesel mechanic I recommend on `07 and older diesels to run a quart or 2 of ATF (automatic transmission fluid )once you start driving again . It has a high detergent for cleaning constant pressure pump and injectors to it and strong hydraulic properties for building pressure in cp pump and injectors also if you ever have change out a fuel filter on the side of road and you don`t have diesel on hand to fillup the filter use ATF works great .Also it`s easier to carry then diesel fuel safer to .My wife and myself have been reading your blog for a couple of years now.We just became fulltimers 3 months ago.we are in winchester bay oregon,just up the road . We are hiding from the heat .thanx for all the great reading and wonderful pictures .

    • libertatemamo says:

      What an awesome little tip and one I would NEVER have thought of. Maybe we should whisk you away for more good tips :)
      ENJOY Winchester Bay!! I highly recommend the tour at Umqua River Lighthouse…you need to sign-up for it at the museum, but you get to see one of the prettiest Fresnel lenses on the coast.
      Nina

  11. mister Ed says:

    update im sorry
    in reading the new is better the old was not used for ethanol however you are right the new is now for Eth, sorry for the miss info
    note
    SEE LAST QA ON BOTTOM???

    Q: I’ve heard that 1) The Old STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer is no good with the new fuels. 2) Red STA-BIL Fuel stabilizer gums up carburetors/engines 3) Old STA-BIl no longer works. 4) A mechanic told me to stop using STA-BIL, and that I should use a different STA-BIL product now.

    A: STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer is designed to be used during storage or infrequent use in any gasoline engine, and will keep any gasoline (even Ethanol blends, up to E-85) fresh for up to 12 months.

    (The STA-BIL® formula was improved over a year ago to include additional corrosion protection to protect against the damaging effects experienced when using Ethanol blended fuels.)

    STA-BIL is compatible with ALL 2 and 4 cycle engines, and will absolutely NOT harm any components in an engine. The best way to protect your fuel system from Ethanol blended fuels related issues year-round (not just during storage), we recommend using new STA-BIl Ethanol Treatment. For Marine engines, such as a boat or jet-ski, we recommend Marine Formula STA-BIL Ethanol Treatment which has been specifically formulated for the extra severe conditions faced by these engines.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Q: How long will the new STA-BIL® Ethanol Treatment store my fuel?
    A: New STA-BIL® Ethanol Treatment is designed to be used during USE of your gasoline powered equipment to protect against Ethanol related issues, such as corrosion, water, and power-robbing deposit formation. It will also stabilize fuel for up to 12 months. However, we recommend using STA-BIL® Fuel Stabilizer during STORAGE of your equipment, if you are storing for more than 30 days.
    ____________________________________________________________Ok if it works for 12 mo,s tell me why i need to add a stabillzer to the treatment?????
    ___________________________________________________________

    • libertatemamo says:

      Definitely a bit of confusion on that one. Not going to presume to know why, but perhaps you can shoot an e-mail to the company and ask? I’m gonna guess it’s a question of formula with the red (possibly) having more stabilizer ingredients. Since Sta-Bil keeps their formula proprietary that’s a total guess. All I know is that the red version is the one targeted for long-term storage, regardless of gasoline fuel type, and most RVers I’ve talked to have been very happy with it. From that last QA looks like the other would potentially work, but I’d still recommend the red for anyone just starting out.
      Nina

  12. Caroline says:

    What if anything do you do to combat rust from the salt air? We boondocked 3 different times on the Texas coast for a total of 20 days. The rust seemed to multiply like crazy and even got under and lifted a long strip of paint on one step.

    • libertatemamo says:

      That’s a tough one. Really all you can do is wash, rinse and wax our rig. We try to keep her clean and will wash her as soon as we leave the coast again. You can use Rust-Oleum on exposed metal bits too.
      Nina

  13. Onja says:

    I have parked my MH on ‘Mud Flaps’ that I have picked up at various T/S’s. I read long time ago if you park an extended period of time, put your tires on a rubber pad, and not some piece of carpet as it collects moisture whereas rubber does not.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Parking on old mudflaps (or some kind of other rubber) is a great idea. The key is to get a moisture barrier between your tires and the ground. Cheers for sharing!

      Nina

  14. Here is a tip that will protect your sewer hose so that you will not have to replace it as often:
    http://rvfulltime.us/how-to-make-your-rv-sewer-hose-last

  15. […] This year is made even better by the return of good buddies Technomadia who have succumbed to the charms of this place the same way we have (and who are much more efficient at blogging about it than I am :)). We’re both spending two months here and invite you to over for a lighthouse tour** if you’re in the area. If you decide to drop by and visit “the beast” we just ask that you let us know beforehand. This is our nature time you see, and we’re likely to be off running in the woods and communing with the earth. Oh, and if you’re wondering how we prepare our rig for 2 months of downtime I wrote a post about that here -> 3 Simple Steps To Protect Your RV During “Downtime” […]

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