Nov 122014
 

RV Maintenance Tips and Tricks

This RV maintenance article describes how we used a very common toy to protect our new RV cover from tears and other damage from sharp corners and protrusions on our travel trailer. You can protect your RV cover the same way.

The Project —

RV Cover Padding With Pool Noodles

Pool Noodles

We live in New Hampshire. We winterize our RV and store it for the winter outside our home. Our winter weather is cold, snowy, and sometimes windy. In past years, to protect our RV from this winter nastiness, we have covered the roof with a big, heavy duty tarp tied down using tent stakes, ropes, and bungee cords. This has worked pretty well, but the heavy duty tarps don’t “breath” too well and the tarp didn’t do much to protect the sides of the rig and the windows, doors, compartment hatches, and so forth. Since the tarp we’d been using had gotten somewhat threadbare and even developed a couple of small holes, we were planning to buy a new one.

Then we ran across a Camping World online sale offering really good prices on ADCO Designer Series Tyvek RV covers. These have a Tyvek top and polypropylene side panels, each with three layers of material. They’re supposed to be designed for use in wet and/or snowy areas and to be “breathable” to prevent the accumulation of condensation between the RV and the cover. Soooo…rather than spend over $100 to replace the tarp, we decided to bite the bullet and spring for the full RV cover. These covers come with a two year warranty, but we’re certainly hoping it will last longer than that.

And, that’s what this project is all about. Our travel trailer has quite a few places that have the potential to cause rips or to wear holes in the cover fabric. Windy, or even just breezy weather will cause movement of the cover over the various surfaces of the RV. Can’t be helped. We knew we should find ways to pad any sharp corners or edges or protrusions that could damage the cover. The question was, what to use to pad these areas? We had used chunks of foam rubber – from an old mattress – before on the spouts. They’d worked ok, until they blew off when the tarp billowed up in the wind. Styrofoam is too brittle and breakable. Cardboard could get damp and fall apart.

Then one of us had an epiphany. NOODLES! You know, those colorful foam thingies the kids play with in the pool or at the lake. They’re made of waterproof foam that is soft enough to protect the cover, but rigid and springy enough to grip something and stay in place – or, if necessary, we could tape them in place with some painter’s tape. They are easy to cut and shape with a simple utility knife. It being the end of the summer, Deb found some on sale at Walmart and brought home 7 or 8 “Monster Funnoodles.” The rest of this post attempts to describe and show how we used them to protect our new RV cover.

Tools

Tools

1-Tools —

  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Sharpie marker
  • A square (didn’t use it much at all)
  • Some contact cement
  • A roll of blue painter’s tape

2-Gutter Spouts —

I started with these, perhaps because they stick out pretty noticeably. They’re not particularly sharp, so maybe it’s more about protecting them from the cover! Anyway, after taking a good look, I was scratching my head as to the best way to create a pad for them. The pictures tell the story:

RV Gutter Spout Extension

Fig. 1

Pad Cut To Fit Spout

Fig. 2

Gluing Top Piece On Pad

Fig. 3

Mounted Gutter Spout Pad

Fig.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spout extensions stick out from the corners of the rig at what might be called a compound angle (Fig. 1). In order to have these pieces fit snugly and support the extensions, they were probably the toughest ones to measure and cut. I pretty much just eyeballed the thing and experimented with how to cut the top of the noodle until I got the right shape and the right angles to fit over and support the spout extension (Fig. 2). After I got the first one to fit, it was pretty easy to cut another to match it. I had started on the right front corner. The matching piece fit the left rear corner, but then I realized that the pieces for the left front and the right rear corners needed to be mirror images of the first two. With just a bit of fussing, I got those cut also.

Ok, so maybe I got a little carried away with the design – purple top and all – but they are kinda cute. Next time, I would probably cut the things so each was only one piece and I didn’t have to glue a top piece on (Fig. 3). Finally, I used painter’s tape to fasten each gutter spout pad to the corner of the rig (Fig. 4). I’m sure some of you would do it differently, and maybe better, but I think these will work.

3-Things On the Roof —

Most of the things that stick up from the roof — A/C, vent covers, refrigerator vent cover, bathroom skylight, etc. — are smooth and rounded and clearly won’t puncture or tear the cover. The TV antenna, however, has a couple of areas with somewhat sharp edges that stick up and could cause damage, particularly under the weight of a load of snow. Same with the mount for the radio antenna. Better to be safe, and all that.

RV TV Antenna Base

Fig. 5

Top Of TV Antenna Mast

Fig. 7

RV Radio Antenna Mount

Fig. 9

 

 

 

Pad For TV Antenna Base

Fig. 6

Pad For Mast Top

Fig. 8

Fig. 10

 

 

 

 

For the base bracket of the TV antenna (Figs. 5 & 6), I simply cut a roughly 1” wide piece out of the length of the noodle section, leaving around 3” of uncut section on each end. This cutout fit down over the bracket snugly. At the other end (Figs. 7 & 8), I had to be a bit more creative with the cutout. For the radio antenna base (Figs. 9 & 10), I just cut a hole in the noodle to fit tightly over the protruding piece.

4-Bottom Corners —

Pad For Bottom RV Corner

Fig. 12

Sharp RV Corners

Fig. 11

The instructions that come with the ADCO cover specifically mention padding the bottom corners (Fig. 11) of the rig. With elastic front and rear bottom edges and straps that pull the sides together under the RV, the cover material is bound to rub on the rig’s bottom corners. On our rig at least, those corners are sharp enough to almost certainly cut the cover material after a while. Here’s how we dealt with those:

These were easy. I just cut a notch from the entire length of the noodle. This fits nicely over the corner of the rig and is held on with painter’s tape (Fig. 12).

 5-Slide Bottoms —

Our trailer has two slides. The outer frame of the bedroom slide has no sharp corners or protrusions that can damage the cover. The dinette slide, however, includes the bottom skirting of the trailer. Where the bottom of the outer frame of the slide mates with the bottom of the frame of the opening, there are some very sharp edges and corners (Fig. 13). Since the RV cover wraps under the bottom edge of the skirting, this would almost certainly tear the material sooner or later.

Sharp Edges On Slide-Out Frame

Fig. `13

"Swim Noodle" RV Cover Pad

Fig. 14

Pad For Slide-Out Frame

Fig. 15

 

 

 

The right-hand side of the slide frame (Fig. 14) required just slitting the noodle piece from end to end, with a small cutout to fit around a protruding area. The other side comes in the middle of the fender skirt (Fig. 15) and needed more trimming and fitting to accommodate the curve of the fender. Both required a couple of pieces of tape to hold them in place.

 6-Patio Awning —

There were only five spots related to the awning that concerned me. The top ends of the support arms where they connect to the awning roller (Fig. 18), The brackets at the bottoms of the support arms where they fasten to the side of the rig (Fig. 16), and the bottom of the center awning support arm (Fig. 20).

Fig. 16

Fig. 18

Awning Center Support Arm

Fig. 20

 

Fig. 17

Fig. 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom of the center awning support arm sports a 3” long pin that, when the support is in use, fits into a hole in the awning roller. Would it ever puncture the cover material? Who knows, but it was so easy to just slit one side of the noodle piece and snap it over the thing (Fig. 19), why not? As for the tops and bottoms on the outer support arms, there was nothing really sharp, but to prevent unnecessary wear I made pads to be safe (Figs. 17 & 18).

 7-Steps & Misc.  —

I was most concerned about the sharp corners at the bottom of the side plates of the stair assemblies (Fig. 21). If the cover material gets hooked on those, damage seems almost certain. Part of the assembly also sticks out above those sharp corners. It’s not really sharp, but could certainly cause wear after a while. As you can see from the pictures, vertical pieces of noodles slit down one side, with a little cutout to fit over the round hand-grip bar, and resting on the bottom cross piece (Figs. 22 & 23) look as though they will do the trick. I made one for each side of the step assembly, for both doors (Fig. 24).

RV Entry Steps

Fig. 21

Pad On Vertical Pivot Assembly

Fig. 23

Entry Door Bumper⁄Holder

Fig. 25

 

 

Pad Cut To Fit Steps

Fig. 22

Pad Both Sides of Steps

Fig. 24

Fig. 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other things that stick out on the side of the trailer are the bumper and holder for each door (fig. 25). Again, they’re not really sharp, but I figured they’d cause wear after a while. All I did was cut a hole in the noodle snug enough to hold the pad on the door bumper (Fig. 26).

 Final Thoughts  —

I didn’t really keep track of just how long all this took me to complete. I worked at it a little here and a little there. What took the longest was probably deciding what to pad, and the best way to fit a pad to each spot. The design work, so to speak. Cutting and fitting some of the pieces took a bit of “fussing,” and the actual mounting and fastening of the pads went quickly. If I had done it all at once, I’m pretty sure I’d have been done in a day. One nice thing is that these pool noodles are tough and I’d expect the pads to last for several years.

 

 

 

 

These last photos show some of the pads in place on the rig, and the thing all wrapped up in its new cover. If you click on any of the images in this post, they should open up in a larger size. I’ll admit, I caught myself wondering if this was overkill. Did I really need to pad all these areas? I guess time will tell. I hope these pads will be effective in preventing or reducing wear, tears, and punctures to the RV cover through the inevitable wind, rain, and snow storms. I’ll let you know. And it would be great to hear how some of you have dealt with the same issue.

  26 Responses to “How To Protect Your RV Cover ― Use Your Noodle!”

  1. This is awesome. I’ve covered our camper every year and tried numerous solutions – duct tape, foam, rubber pads. Its always better than nothing but every year there’s a hole from the padding giving way somewhere, and lots of goo gone needed in the spring. I believe in the covers, our 8 year old trailer looks awesome – but the recurrent holes have been frustrating. I don’t think I’ll put on as many pads as you, just because I know the trouble spots – downspouts, corners, gutters and awning top. I’ve searched the forums every year for a solution and never found anything new until now – thanks for your ingenuity, and for sharing!!

    • Bill, thanks for the comment. I hope the noodles work as well for you as they did for us. Look Ma, no holes! You’re probably right about not needing all the pads, but they were so easy to cut and fit, what the heck. I think I got the idea from seeing other RVers using them to pad their slide corners to prevent “head damage.” We’ve since found some other uses for the noodles. I may post about a couple of them. I’m thinking they might fall into the duct tape category…don’t leave home without some!

      Pete

  2. Great simple tips. I used a cover
    the first winter my rig was in storage. Once I removed it to prep for travel, I found lots of mildew on the top. The manufacturer;s claim of breathability didn’t quite measure up to reality. After that, I started storing it in a shady area with no cover. It got dirty, but no mildew or mold. A good wash and it was good as new.

    • Hmmm – thought I replied to this – sorry. I never had a problem with mildew, but, if eliminating the cover fixed it, I can see why you’d give it up! Maybe the prevailing combination of temperature and humidity contributed, too.

  3. This is the best post I’ve seen so far on covering a trailer. I’m covering my trailer for the first time this year. Is there any follow up on this? Like how good has it worked over the last two years? I’m also curious if the masking tape left any residue on whatever surface is was stuck to?

    • Neil, it has worked well and has kept the cover from being ripped by sharp corners and edges. We used the blue painter’s tape, not regular masking tape. The adhesive on the painter’s tape is less sticky than the other and we’ve not yet had any problems with residue. Another reader mentioned the same concern. We remove the cover and the pads and any tape in early spring before the weather gets too warm. I’d say though, use your own judgement, use caution, and check periodically to be sure there’s no bad interaction between any tape you use and the surface of your rig.

  4. Thank-you for sharing, Wow we have used noodles just for arms on awning ,
    But this covers a lot of good stuff.

    • Robin, glad you found it helpful. Since then, I’ve found a lot of uses for these colorful pool noodles, both in and out of the RV: padding for bikes on our pull-out cargo tray, padding for places I bang my head from time to time, making spacers, and more. They’re light weight, cut easily with a razor knife, and are just handy to have around…like duct tape!

  5. That is the ugliest freaking idea I’ve ever seen

    • Well, lousy idea then – for you. But, if you’re an RVer, I’ll bet you’ll come up with something else that will work great and make you happy.

  6. The use of noodles for padding is a great idea, but I wouldn’t leave them taped to the siding over the winter. RV overs are dust covers and are designed to not be waterproof (ie, they “breathe”) so you should expect rain and snow melt to penetrate the cover which will render the tape useless. If the tape doesn’t fail due to water, my (indoor) experience is that blue tape leaves a gummy residue if left too long (more than 2 weeks) and I’d be concerned of permanent finish damage if it should get baked on in the summer sun (if you don’t uncover the following summer).

    • Jerry, thanks for the comments. We put the cover on just before (hopefully) the first snow and removed it in early spring. A couple of pieces of tape came loose, but no real problems. I’m sure you’re right about not leaving the tape on in the summer. We got it off early enough so it came off cleanly, but I’ll keep your cautions in mind. Thanks again.

      • I agree. The tape residue that was left was difficult to remove and caused enough damage on the finish that I had to have it repainted.

        • Sorry to hear that! As I noted in response to Neil b, I had no problem with the painters tape. But maybe I was lucky, or maybe it’s a temperature thing, or has to do with the finish on a particular rig. Best to test first, check periodically, or, if there’s concern about it, find another method.

  7. As an alternative to all the effort involved with the swim noodles solution, one might consider visiting RV-Cover-Rescue.com or if you like less typing, RVCOVERRESCUE.com. Simple, quick to install, and entirely effective.

    • Hi Michael – I checked out the website you mentioned (you wouldn’t be the MH in MH57 Products, Inc. would you?) and this looks like a really neat product. Great way to protect your RV cover from damage caused by the rain-gutter spouts most of us have on our RVs. I didn’t know about RV Cover Rescue when I decided to go the noodle route. I might give it a try for the spouts, but I found there are quite a few other places on the rig with sharp corners or edges that can cause damage to the cover. The ol’ noodles solve those problems pretty well.

      Happy travels – Pete

      • Hi Pete, MH I am, to be sure. Thanks for the positive feedback and as a long-time user of improvised solutions for taming gutter spouts, all I can say is give one a try and you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily they go on, even if you still use noodles in other spots. It’s a new product and wasn’t available until November of 2016, so don’t kick yourself for not knowing about them sooner. I hope many of your site visitors find the product to be useful and worthy of their curiosity. Thanks, Mike

  8. I have had two ADCO covers, the first one lasted about 2 months and was torn to shreds. It was replaced under warranty, the second one lasted two season, the first indicated some worn areas whrre i used parts of the first vover to 3M and glue them over the holes, despite putting added support over areas indicated in your post as well as others not indicated like the exhaust pipe for the generator and vehicle. There were so many tears it was hard to know where it started and ended. I have decided not to bother purchasing another voter spent over $600 and only got 1 year service. Probably better off keep8ng it clean and waxed.

    • Stephen, it sounds like you’ve had lousy experiences with your RV covers. We had an ADCO Designer Series cover and, fortunately, had no problems. Although I did burn a small hole in it by getting too close to it with my riding mower’s exhaust pipe! Not the brightest thing I’ve ever done. Anyway, clean and waxed is certainly a good thing.

      Best of luck – Pete

  9. I am using tennis balls for the gutter spouts and then made a frame work of re-bar and flat steel to cover up my antenna before putting the cover on. All the re-bar and flat steel is covered with the noodles.

    • Tennis balls! I never thought of those, but they might be easier to cut and fit onto the spouts than noodles. Certainly, they’d protect the cover and that’s the goal. Do you secure them with tape, or some other way, so they don’t come off when it’s windy?

      Thanks for the idea – Pete

  10. Put the tennis balls in an old pair of socks and slip the tennis ball inside ti the sock at the other end and attach it to another one for the other side

    • Hey Joe, great idea! I’m not sure I would have thought of socks! They would certainly do the job. Guess if you wanted something that would hold less moisture, you could do the same with an old pair of nylon stockings. RVers are sure an inventive bunch, huh?

      Happy trails!

  11. I took the center piece from a dinning canopy added dowel rods to it. this covers the air conditioner and the antenna- forming a “dome”- kind looks like a single hump camel. I did plan on using the pool noodles- just have not got to them yet.

    • Wow, I love the “camel” picture! That’s a neat idea. I assume it’ll hold the weight of whatever snow accumulates over the winter, or don’t you get much of that lovely white stuff?

      Thanks for the comment – Pete

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