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Old 12-21-2008, 01:11 PM   #1
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REALLY long term storage (1 year) questions

Hey all,

Did a search but didn't find exactly what info I needed. I have to go overseas for probably a year or so, and am going to park my van in the rear of my driveway, rent the house, etc. I will have the ability to plug it in, but want to check and see what else I'm missing:

A. Batteries. Am going to plug the van in AND add a charger for the van batteries. Regardless of what I've been told by SMB and posts here, my 2006 van separator does NOT seem to switch over and keep van batteries charged when they get low.

B. Water System. Will drain as best I can, disconnect and open all ports so that air can get in there and dry it out. Hopefully. When I return, fill with VERY light bleach solution and cycle it through for about an hour, drain, rinse, and then use again.

C. Cover. I am going to look for a cover to cover the vehicle as it will be exposed to the sun, and that just seems silly. I do have a carport, but the renters will get that... If anyone knows a good place to get a van cover, that'd be great.

D. Tires. Am a bit stumped here. Should I be putting the whole van up on blocks since it'll be sitting on the tires in one place for a year? And if so, exactly what should I be using as "blocks?"

E. Oil/Amsoil. I have the AMSOIL system. Am thinking that since it's about time for a filter change, AND since SMB now tells us it's installed incorrectly, that I'll just let it sit for the year, and when I return drain the entire thing and change both filters. Question: do I really need to drain the whole thing, or just do the regular dual filter change?

F. Is there anything else I need to think about? Should I be disconnecting the main batteries from the vehicle entirely?

Sorry I won't be seeing people on the road for a bit, but I'll be looking forward to it when I return.

Regards,

Ken
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:22 PM   #2
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Ken,

I am looking for the cover answer as well....

As for the tires, it is my understanding that the biggest problem for tires is sun with no use. It is the use that allows the appropriate material to migrate to the exterior of the tire to protect it from the sun. If tires sit, then that protection breaks down. We have two other items with tires that site, and we are looking for how to cover the tires to keep them out of the sun. I suppose that if you find a cover that covers thae van all the way to the ground that you would be in good shape.

One of our items is a boat trailer, and it regularly sits for a year at a time (or more). We feel once we get the tires covered that we will be fine, even when the boat is sitting on it covered.

Where are you headed?
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:30 PM   #3
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Greg,

Thanks for the thoughts on the tires. Certainly at least some armor-all tire protectant-type stuff would help. I mean, I could zip tie tarps over the tires as well I suppose.

Am headed to Baghdad until about May, and then trying to get to Afghanistan for the rest of a year (Iraq is a "hole," but Afghanistan is stunningly gorgeous).

Ken
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:31 PM   #4
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I've seen alot of damage done by rodents in campers that have sat. I would remove ALL food items and throughly clean the interior. I've heard that those electric noise makers are effective. I'd leave one of those plugged in inside the van.
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Old 12-21-2008, 07:24 PM   #5
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I've had rodents build a nest in the engine compartment of my F250 even when in somewhat regular use.

The armor all probably isn't bad, but it's not sufficient for tire coverage. A tarp as well will break down over a year. I used a jersey fitted sheet cut in half for each side of my tandem trailer- seemed to work, but who knows? The best is probably RV tire covers, they're made to leave the bottom open (like a C on it's side) to put over parked wheels.

On your water system, how about filling it with vodka? If it sits empty stuff can grow- vodka won't freeze and should keep any nastys from growing. I've never used alcohol but I keep hearing about it as RV antifreeze.

On the oil, yes you need to drain the whole thing. Oil breaks down over time, which is why the x-month rule.

On the separator batteries, you should figure out how to tie them together instead of using a separate charger. Alternatively maybe unhooking all batteries would be a better plan. If someone unplugs your charger during month 2 you're going to come back to dead-as-dead, if you unhooke them fully charged I think they will store just fine... probably want to check that with Lifeline.
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Old 12-24-2008, 08:45 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Will do the vodka, and I bought a full size conversion van cover for under $100... seemed pretty inexpensive, so we'll see how well it lasts. And it should cover the tires.

Tying the batteries together is a good idea (although I have a gazillion battery chargers around, so it may simply be easier to add another charger than to get to the contact on that 4D battery that's wedged under the sucker).

Rodents... hoping the cats will keep that from happening. Cats are staying with the new renters!
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Old 12-24-2008, 09:00 PM   #7
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Ken, letting that much weight sitting on your tires for that length of time can damage your tires. I'm told that the tires will go "out of round" and after that the belts might separate causing failure at higher speeds. I would look into some proper rated jack stands and get some of the weight off them.

On the batteries, an AGM needs a trickle charger (very low amps) applied to sustain the batteries full float level. Standard car chargers can over charge at times and may cause damage to the house battery. They can literally boil the starting batteries dry. I don’t trust cheap automatic chargers left on for long periods of time. If you have wet well batteries somebody will have to monitor the fluid levels. Most starting batteries are wet cells even if they are maintenance free. A trickle charger should work also but I would use separate chargers for each of the chassis and house batteries. They should sit static so if something is left on it won’t kill the battery. Just be aware if you have two batteries hooked up parallel and one trickle charger feeding both, A .5 amp charger might not be enough for multiple batteries and if one battery goes bad for some reason, when you get back both will be shot. Too big of a charger can dry out a wet cell battery during hot weather. A high end charger with a temp sensor on the battery is the best way to go just very expensive.

Have you thought of one of those tent-like car port covers? They should last a year provided it’s secured to the ground well.
Good luck on your trip.
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Old 12-25-2008, 01:00 PM   #8
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Ken,

I was gone for about 7 months last year. I used a RV storage provider in Roseburg OR. Not right next door to you, but our van had its own unit and when I returned it was just like the day I left it. Compared to california prices this guy is cheap. PM if you want more info.

Steve
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Old 07-19-2011, 10:07 AM   #9
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Re: Van Cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by kzemach
I bought a full size conversion van cover for under $100... seemed pretty inexpensive, so we'll see how well it lasts. And it should cover the tires.
Where did you get your van cover at? I've been searching for a van cover that will cover my dodge extended van with a penthouse top and a roof AC unit...haven't had any luck...
thanks, L.
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Old 07-19-2011, 10:29 AM   #10
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Re: REALLY long term storage (1 year) questions

Louie-

See the following post, scroll down, and I have the pictures and purchase info. They're really NOT expensive, and work great. I used mine for over a year just fine. It discolored a bit, but I think it'd last at least another year, and this is in full California sun.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2011

Hope that helps!

Ken
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