This is an extract from ‘Australian Caravan+RV’ magazine – Issue 005 Autumn 2008 – page 90.
With thanks to James Kelman, CEO of Wax Converters Textiles – manufacturers of the canvas used by The Complete Campsite.
When you first get your new camper trailer home, you will need to ‘season’ the canvas. This can be done be erecting it in the backyard for a few dewy nights and allowing it to dry well during the day. Alternately, give it a gentle hose with clean water (making sure you don’t breach water restrictions), and allow it to dry. Repeat this cycle three times. This will ensure the canvas and the cotton stitching swells and fills the stitching holes, reducing leaks.
Always ensure your canvas is dry before storing it away. Damp canvas is a perfect place for mould or mildew to grow and this can break down the canvas. If you do get this, allow the canvas to dry fully, then brush the mould spots with a soft bristle brush before applying a mix of one-part liquid household bleach (e.g. White King – do not use harsh pool chlorines) and four-parts water.
Brush or sponge this on gently (never scrub harshly at your canvas or it will damage the waterproofing) and allow to dry. Brush it gently with a soft brush and wash over with clean water and, again, allow to dry. After this, it may require an application of a waterproofing agent.
If you’re away and it’s raining when you pack up, ensure you get the canvas fully exposed to the air as soon as possible afterwards and allow it to dry before packing up again.
Do not allow bird droppings, earth, sand or vegetable matter to remain in contact with your canvas. These can stain or, in the case of bird droppings, damage the canvas. Brush such areas gently with a soft brush (such as an old tooth brush), hose with clean water and allow it to dry. Droppings should be treated ASAP because of their acidity. An old toothbrush is suitable soft to remove stains such as bird droppings which can damage your canvas.
Keep your canvas clean by regular brushing both inside and out with a soft bristle brush and hose it down occasionally with cold, clean water. Start at the bottom of the walls and work upwards.
Never apply soaps or detergents. If you have canvas near a sink, try to ensure you do not get these materials on the canvas. If you do, dry immediately with a cloth and wash over with clean water as soaps and detergents can damage the waterproofing.
Also keep substances such as cleaning fluids, insecticides, petrol, oil, vehicle exhaust, solvents, kerosene or similar materials well away. Even the use of aerosols such as hairspray and deodorant in the vicinity of the canvas can be harmful to its life and usefulness.
After each trip (perhaps when packing up before heading home), check your canvas for damage, bird droppings, sap or other blemishes and ensure that you fix them as soon as possible. And make sure you store all tent poles and pegs in containers away from the canvas.
Or what you can do is, once a year, when you set some time aside to check the wheel bearings or other periodical maintenance, take time to fold out the canvas and give it a quick once-over and a clean. It is a wise precaution to make sure the canvas is wetted down at least once a year to keep it dry inside.
Well looked after, your canvas will last you a lifetime. Happy camping……