Storage of BT

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 11:37
ThreadID: 122016 Views:2971 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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All (and Steve especially),

Well Anthony's ex-BT18 has made it across Australia and is now happily ensconced in our driveway in Perth.

We plan to use it off and on but with the realities of life and my job it may spend months at a time just parked. What would you recommend for parking it for extended periods? Eg:

+ Water tanks empty or full? (I've heard and will implement the idea of putting some stocking material over the drain pipes to keep wasps out. Ditto the sullage hose.)
+ Should the A-frame be on an axle-stand rather than our (foam-filled) jockey wheel?
+ Is it OK parked on its tyres or should they all be up in the air on axle stands? (I hope that was something needed for much older technology tyres because it would be a hell of a job, and dangerous.)
+ Fridge on or off? (We have 4 solar panels.)
+ Connected to mains with batter charger, or not?
+ Should we leave the 4 seasons hatch open at all?
+ Do the batteries need a "work-out" every now and then eg turning on a bunch of lights for an evening, or are they better left just being topped up by the solar or mains charger (depending on answer to previous question)?
+ Should we cycle the pumps every now and then so they don't seize up? If so how long?
+ Is it OK to leave the Thetford cleaned but with the recommended 3 litres of water and green chemical in the bottom tank, or should we leave it dry?
+ Does the water heater need to be used occasionally for any reason? (We will monitor the sacrificial anode of course.)

All suggestions gratefully received.

Matt and Lana
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Reply By: Bushtracker - Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 17:17

Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 17:17
Hello!
It is Sunday morning at 6:30 and I am just checking into the BOG.... I do not have my mouse, just the scratch pad on this ADSL laptop connection... So am somewhat handicapped.. So the cumulative answer from the overall experiences of the 1000 will be coming, but not until Monday at the earliest.. I had on my mental list, to make a TIP on this exact point, because there has been some wrong or only partially correct advice given in the past.

For example: The refrigerator, left on or off... Out of convenience people have suggested leaving it on and running in storage, while I say NO, except for the short haul..... And here is why:

1) If you leave food in it, you run a terrible risk. Just recently someone went away, and for some external reason that we cannot figure out, some obscure voltage spike, some static discharge, some minor lightening strike; something made the Regulator trip off on a protective circuit and there was no one there to reset it. Now we do not know what caused that, but the contents spoiled and the smell has permeated the fridge so badly that it needs to be replaced as all attempts to air and clean it out even to the point of a professional Ozone generator, have failed.
Even a minor mechanical failure, a $25 thermostat dies, and the smell if left long enough can ruin the fridge, so storage with spoilable food in there? Absolutely not!!
2) Even if you clean out the spoilable material, that could run the above risk if there is some kind of problem.... The Danfoss compressor only has a limited life that is unknown and variable.. Maybe it will run 8 years, or 10 years, who knows? But it is limited, and why put the hours on it when you don't need to?
3) A power outage if stored inside, or a circuit tripping, or some electronic malfunction in any number of components, and there is no one there to look after things... A ten cent fuse in the battery charger is blown because of some fault or voltage spike, and you could ruin an expensive set of batteries. Anything goes wrong, and the batteries run down until the Multimeter Voltage Regulator cuts of the supply on LVD (Low Voltage Dissconnect), and then the batteries sit there in a partially discharged state.. If they sit there like that long enough they will be damaged or ruined...

So, in summary, while some advise the leave the fridge running, I would suggest that the cumulative experience at Bushtracker says no. If I am not using the van for a while, I empty the fridge of perishables, and leave it off... One more thing, always leave the door open to air it out.... That is very good for the fridge, and clean and dry it will be fresh when you want it again... NEVER store it with the door closed, as it will grow mould and get smelly and such...

It is Sunday, and I am going back to my coffee, and will have an answer to the rest on Monday when I have my mouse. I have already almost lost this response twice hitting something wrong.. Ha! The overall answer to all to your very thorough question will be quite lengthy, due to variabilities like inside or outside storage, hooked up to power or not, etcetera... But you have hit almost all the important points...

Will check in Monday..
Regards from the Ranger
AnswerID: 566499

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 20:11

Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 20:11
Hi Matt and Lana

So glad you have picked up your BT. You will have wonderful travels with it. Steve will i am sure give us advice to the rest of your questions later. I will be interested to hear his recommendations too.

We leave one light running, which this time of the year takes care of the solar input, and we monitor the digital read-out. If need be, we put on extra lights. Steve's advice is not to let batteries below 12 or above 14.5. Batteries went low one cloudy week and we needed to put the charger on from mains power to bring them back to life. Caravan is parked on the West side of house, so gets limited solar input.

I suggest lighting the HWS occasionally. When we went away in January, it hadn't been used since we brought it home in April previous year, and gas wouldn't light. When we got home we had to get a gas plumber out to get it running. I am going to see if it will light today and give it a run every now and then. Also while away in January, one of the shower taps blocked - haven't looked at that problem yet - could only get water from one (hot or cold i can't remember - because it was all cold anyway!) Luckily i had taken my big plastic bowl from the "real camping" days, so we would add a kettle of hot water and have a "bath".

I had left the hatches a little bit open, and was in Bunbury the day of the 1 April storm (which for us here at Bridgetown was much worse than the later storm which practically demolished Bunbury). The wind was from the South, which was unusual for such a storm, and the bathroom hatch was open to the South. It filled with leaves, and the rain came in and splattered the whole bathroom with gum leave stains. I had to wait for it to get dry, blow the leaves off the vent, and find a spare day to clean. I am about to clean it this morning, and hope i can get the bathroom white again. The dirt and rain through the 4 seasons (left on bit open only) was minimal and easily wiped up. No ill effects from slightly open windows. We had not closed it all, because we are still little doing things in the van to get it right for us, before i clean it again and repack 'that pile of stuff waiting in the middle of my kitchen' back into the cupboards.

Do check out Steve's tips, which have now been posted into the member documents areas. A bit of ongoing maintenance may save a problem when out in the sticks (eg back window winders & dust).

Welcome to the world of luxury holidays (can't call it camping!)

Judy
Motherhen

Red desert dreaming

Follow our travelogues, bush camping and other travel hints at www.australiasomuchtosee.com

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Follow Up By: MattandLana - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:30

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:30
Thanks Judy.
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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 22:40

Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 22:40
We haven't had any problems with our van that is now 4 years old. THIS IS WHAT WE DO WHEN IT IS NOT BEING USED AT HOME.

+ Water tanks empty or full? WE LEAVE OURS WITH WHATEVER WAS LEFT IN THEM WHEN WE RETURNED HOME, AND TOP UP WHEN LEAVING NEXT.
I've heard and will implement the idea of putting some stocking material over the drain pipes to keep wasps out. Ditto the sullage hose.)

+ Should the A-frame be on an axle-stand rather than our (foam-filled) jockey wheel? WE USE AN AXEL STAND BOTH WHEN CAMPING AT AT HOME AS IT TAKES MORE MOVEMENT OUT OF VAN.

+ Is it OK parked on its tyres or should they all be up in the air on axle stands? (I hope that was something needed for much older technology tyres because it would be a hell of a job, and dangerous.)
OURS JUST SIT ON THE TYRES. THE SPARES HAVE WHEEL COVERS ON THEM AND THE VAN IS IN PROTECTED AREA NOT EXPOSED TO DIRECT SUNLIGHT, SO NO PROBLEMS FROM SUN ON TYRES.

+ Fridge on or off? (We have 4 solar panels.) OURS STAYS OFF UNLESS WE WANT IT FOR EXTRA FRIDGE SPACE WHEN WE HAVE VISITORS.

+ Connected to mains with batter charger, or not? THE MAINS POWER IS CONNECTED BUT CHARGER IS TURNED OFF. OURS IS UNDER A LASOR-LITE ROOF AND IT GETS PLENTY OF SOLAR CHARGE TO KEEP THE BATTERIES FULL.

+ Should we leave the 4 seasons hatch open at all? WE LEAVE HATCH OPEN AS WELL AS WINDOWS TO GIVE IT AIR, BUT OURS IS UNDER COVER.

+ Do the batteries need a "work-out" every now and then eg turning on a bunch of lights for an evening, or are they better left just being topped up by the solar or mains charger (depending on answer to previous question)? WE ONLY USE THE LIGHTS WHEN WE GO OUT AT NIGHT, WE DO HAVE A "MEGAPULSE" CONNECT AND THAT APPEARS TO KEEP BATTERIES IN A1 CONDITION.

+ Should we cycle the pumps every now and then so they don't seize up? If so how long? NEVER USE THE PUMPS WHEN AT HOME.

+ Is it OK to leave the Thetford cleaned but with the recommended 3 litres of water and green chemical in the bottom tank, or should we leave it dry? WE DON'T PUT THE GREEN CHEMICAL IN UNTIL WE ARE READY TO LEAVE AS IT HAS A LIMITED LIFE. AND WE DON'T GET ANY SMELLS.

+ Does the water heater need to be used occasionally for any reason? (We will monitor the sacrificial anode of course.) ONLY EVER TURN OURS ON WHEN WE REQUIRE IT WHEN CAMPING.

IT WORKS FOR US, SO WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO IT.

Enjoying the friendship of BOG members

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AnswerID: 566501

Follow Up By: MattandLana - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:30

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:30
Thanks for the tips Brian and Margaret
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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:36

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:36
I don't mean to be stepping on your toes Brian, you did a nice job... But there are a few things I need to add to in the Posting that follows.... For instance there is a little different outlook this time of year, as some areas of storage will FREEZE... And that changes the picture a little. Also, from memory that van had some unknown non-standard equipment, and I do not know if the charger has a Float mode for long term... A few things like that...

Regards, stg
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Reply By: Bushtracker - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:32

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:32
Brian answered most of these as to what works for him...

I will make a few more comments...

A question of how long? Inside or out? Freezing climate or not? There are some other considerations on most of these concerns... But I will try...

Water tanks: Read my concerns on leaving the tanks full, on the TIP on the Town Water Inlets.... I drain mine, there are some health concerns you need to be aware of... I drain mine, leave them empty, and flush them once before going again. (Drinking water side)... The shower water side does not mater much.. Unless you are in an area where the water could freeze!!! Then YES, drain them all definitely, pumps run dry a minute, as well...

Tyres a few months, no worries... Years? I would jack up and turn them around to a different spot once a year.. I know the Tyre Engineers will tell you that is only a problem with the old polyester cord tyres, but radials suffer a bit as well and I think sitting too long on one spot could stress the radial ply, and change its shape enough to possible increase the chance of delamination when turned back on high speed heat... Probably not an issue under a year in storage...

Mains battery charger? If inside, you don't have a choice... Outside with fridge off, solar is just fine on its own and probably safer. BUT, the previous Owner put in a different charger to my knowledge, and you do not want it sitting on a high voltage as it will force the batteries to dissapate heat, and that long term causes damage... If the charger has a "Float" stage, and sits with the batteries at around 13.8 or so, then fine... BUT some chargers sit a 14.8 and that is too high for long term storage... Our charger goes to a higher voltage and then drops back to float for long term... I do not know what batteries you have in that van, or what the voltages are on the charger, so be careful...

Batteries, yes they benefit from a little excercise, but a few months in storage is no problem....

Pumps have not been a problem either... But if it was storage for a very long time, then yes...

Water heater, I would definitely leave off... Not an issue in storage unless you are in an AREA THAT FREEZES THEN YES... Pull the anode and drain it... As above on the water in the tanks, you would not want the water to freeze up as it would destroy the WH as well...

Hope I have been of a help,
Kind Regards and Congratulations on your new Bushtracker...
Steven Gibbs, Director...
AnswerID: 566502

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:40

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 22:40
One more thing I neglected... Outside the Four Seasons Hatch should stay closed... A storm will blow rain in, even if the hatch is on the "Rain" nearly closed setting... If the rain hits the floor, no problem, but depending on your layout it could get upholstery wet...

I always have my ensuite hatch open a few inches... There is more, when I have time to put on a Posting... But this hits most of your questions...
Kind Regards, stg
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FollowupID: 844626

Reply By: Jaunty Jordans - Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 at 09:23

Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 at 09:23
To all the replyees!!!

Thanks muchly forall the info. We too are putting BT instorage for 6 months while travelling os, it will be outside but in a lockup area in a caravan park here in Darwin so we really appreciate all the hints. I'm more concerned re batteries charge dropping as there will not be anyone to keep an eye on itwhile we are absent. Am hoping sun is good enough until Decmber to keep charge above 11.
Thanks again
Prue
AnswerID: 566503

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