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Spring Time, Lets Wash The Motorhome
Well it is now time to hit the road. Unfortunately your motor home is dirty from months of non-use and neglect. Although your motor home is sure to accumulate road grime and bugs along the way, no one wants to start out in a dirty coach. Let's face it; you are going to have to get it washed, before you can experience the freedom of the open road. Rather than procrastinate the inevitable, you may be surprised to find out that the task is not as difficult as you think. When washing your motor home there are two choices. Do it yourself or have some one do it for you.
If you are convinced on doing it yourself here are some tips. First you'll need a brush with soft bristles. It is best to find one with an 18-inch width. The normal truck washing brushes you find at the RV shops are only 12 inches and are soft bristled however, having and extra 6-inch width will cut your scrubbing time by a third. Anything over 18 inches becomes too heavy and doesn't allow you the same leverage while brushing, plus it gets heavy once you dip it in the soap bucket. Too wide of a brush will teach you that there are muscles you didn't even know you had. Even if you golf or go to the gym three times a week, the muscles you use are very different from the ones you use driving a ball to the green, or working out on the machine down at the gym. You will also need a bucket.
It is better to use a bucket that the window washers use, since it is rectangular. A five gallon pail is not the weapon of choice because you will have to keep dipping your brush in one side twirling it and dipping in the other side all the while your soap is accumulating on the drive way. A bucket, which is standard equipment in the window washing business is perfect and can be purchased in any janitorial supply house along with a soft bristle 18-inch brush. Also pick up a lamb's wool soap square (1 foot by one foot) or a soap mitt. You will need some soap too.
Although it may seem easy to go behind the sink and use dishwashing soap like Joy or Palm Olive these will tend to deteriorate the gel coat on your unit. Most Motor Coach and Trailer Manufacturers recommend that you do not use Clothes washing soaps or dishwashing soaps. All temperature Cheer or Extra Action Tide are excellent for clothes but not too helpful in cleaning your motor home. We recommend a soap, which is specially made for gel coats. Usually your local motor home supply shop will have what you need. Campers Choice carries a soap called "Good Sam's" and you can find other good soaps at Camper's World. If not look in your phone book for an Automotive Detail Supplies Company, such as Pro chemicals, Auto Magic or One Step in the yellow pages or order online from www.starbrite.com boat detail supply companies. They specialize in gel coat soaps and polishes. Most all marine soaps and waxes work excellent on motor homes. If you do not have access to the Internet and are in a rural area with few detail supply companies the next best thing is Protect-All soap or Zip Wax soap at your local automotive supply store.
Now that you have all the proper and safe supplies, you can start. Be sure to shut all windows, sunlights, and vents. It is important to open all portable awnings to prevent water from getting in between and causing rotting, also to thoroughly clean them. You should begin by rinsing the top of the unit first. Be sure to remove debris, leafs, stagnant water and dirt. Fill up the bucket with water. Only use two-three capfuls of soap per bucket. By this time the water is dripping from the top around the side. Spray the rest of the motor home off to make sure it is all wet. Start washing the sunny side first.
If you have access to De-Ionized water or Reverse Osmosis, R/O, use it. Dip your brush in the bucket and go for it. When you get to rims, handles, and window borders, use the Soap Square or mitt, try to Hand soap these areas. When you are done soaping immediately rinse. Take the brush, rinse it and hit it against the driveway in a vertical direction to get all the soap and water off. Then take a big terry cloth towel and rap it around the brush and handle and dry off the side of the motor home drying the windows first before the towel gets too wet. When cleaning rollout awnings be careful no to push too hard, short quick strokes are best. Rinse for about two minutes.
If you have a spray nozzle or turbo nozzle concentrate the spray directly on the awning to make sure all soap is removed. When drying the side of the coach or trailer you can lay the towel as flat as possible and use the distance from your elbow to your hand to move the towel in a vertical diagonal direction forward to dry the largest surface area as possible. Flip the towel over to a dry side often while drying. Dry as high as you can reach comfortably and dry the rest with the towel tied to the brush. Repeat this process for all sides; you can take you time and move slower on the shady sides since there is no problem with water spotting in the shade. Expect the entire wash to take anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
Let us say that you cannot wash your coach in your driveway due to CC and R's of your neighborhood, space requirements, personal physical limitations, park restrictions, or it is just too much work and you don't really have the desire or the time. Well you still have many options left at your disposal. You can take it to a coin-op car wash which has extra long hoses and at least one high bay and wash it yourself there using their facilities and supplies. If it is purely a physical reason or if you hate to wash it yourself, you can take it to a truck wash, carwash, hire a mobile service, go to a carwash fundraiser at the school, or church or heck, just wait for a strong rain with horizontal winds.
If you intend on taking your coach to a truck wash there are several things you should know. Most truck washes use Hydrofluoric acid, which can cause instant and permanent damage to the pigmentation of your paint and deterioriation of your gel coat. Even though gel coats are ten times thicker than the average clear coat on a car, you still need to be careful with it. The other problem is Hydrofluoric acid will kill a good wax job. Be sure to ask the operator of the Truck Wash if they use acid in their wash. If they don't and cannot guarantee to wash your coach without acid then go somewhere else. If they can wash it without acid you will pay approximately $ 1.25- $2.00 per foot. Some truck washes have minimums so you may find a 22-foot motor home still costs forty dollars even though they usually charge $1.25 per foot. Also if you have stripping which is peeling in anyway, forget the truck wash since the high pressure will worsen the situation. Whatever you decide, be prepared to wait in line for your turn at a truck wash. To find a truck wash near you go to Truck.net. The largest truck wash in North America is Blue Beacon with 90 locations. The best truck washes for quality is Little Sisters out West and The Truck Wash Guys a mobile service.
Carwashes are often good sources for washing a motor home. Try to go on a Tuesday, that is the slowest day for car washes, ask for a hand wash and usually they will oblige. If you go on a peak Saturday or Sunday, they may tell you they are not interested due to space problems and they are too busy. Expect a carwash to charge upwards of $50.00 for even a small motor home and break out you dollar bill roll for tips to the crew, the workers usually rely on tips and only make minimum wage, so they are expecting it. Be real nice to the manager of the car wash since they are not really set up for motor home type washing and they will feel they are doing you a favor. Plus they will tend to put their best help on your motor home, if you are really nice and pleasant.
If you have the patience to wait until there is a local youth group is having a fundraiser then be sure to clear it with the supervisor first before getting in line and pull out $30.00 and hold it in your hand while you ask them if they can do it (that always works). Bring your own brush (two if you have them) for the kids to use, since normally they will not have a soft bristle long handled brush at a carwash fundraiser for cars, pick-ups and SUVs.
If you want to hire a mobile washing service you will often find them in the phone book yellow pages under "Automotive Detailing" heading. There are also companies, which offer services online and deliver the wash to your home, business, RV Park, or Storage Yard. One such service is The Car Wash Guys. It is similar to the online grocer concept. If you store your motor home at a location, many times the storage manager will have a name and number of a local washing service to give you. If you use their recommendation you may have just found the perfect place to wash your motor home. Often Storage managers will take a 10% commission for referring customers to a local mobile washing service. This fee is usually never paid, since it is often traded to the storage company manager for a free car wash. Prices for mobile washers range from $1.00 per foot all the way up to $4.00 per foot.
Expect the mobile operator to try to sell you additional services such as waxing, carpet cleaning, etc. All of which may be a great idea and you can determine if in fact they are needed or if you would rather use that money to offset fuel costs this season. This may be the gentlest way to wash your motor home other than washing it yourself. To insure a great job tell the mobile washers that you will refer them to your friends and have them do it next time it gets dirty.
Whatever you decide stop procrastinating, just wash it. After all, isn't it time to hit the road, it is a big continent and there are so many great places to see. Go for it, you only live once.
Lance Winslow - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs
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