Preventing Rust on Your Undercarriage and Installing a Cedar Lined Closet

Living in different areas of the country, we have often had to learn how to cope with various weather and living conditions. For example, in the Midwest, we had to insulate our water hose and leave a little water running from the faucet if not live with no running water in many of the winter months. Southern California showed us that we had to keep our tires protected and treated so they didn’t crack in the desert heat. High altitude areas changed how we baked. In Hawaii we learned that dealing with cockroaches is easily remedied with Borax and that table salt will make ice last longer in the heat. Here on the coast of Northern California, we have come across our newest challenges: moisture and salt.

Now, every since we started working in California (2011), we have often stayed for weeks on end on the coastline. This, however, has been the first time that we have been on the coast for months at a time. Also, when I say coast, I mean coast. The ocean is basically in our backyard.


When we first moved here eight and a half months ago, we knew that the salt from the ocean would be an issue. We started to wash down our vehicle and our 5th wheel weekly. We were fortunate to also find a woman at our campground who does a wash and wax service for our 5th wheel.

As diligent as we were, five months down the road, we started seeing rust spot up in the undercarriages of both our 5th wheel and our vehicles. We knew that something had to be done and fast. Even growing up in Minnesota with salt trucks coating the roads in the winter, our vehicles never had any signs of rust. Five months on the ocean and BAM: metal cancer.

We started to grind down and wire brush all the rust off and then spray it with Rustoleum. Everything had to be done in small sections because once the metal was clear of the rust and cleaned off, it had to be coated with the paint right away.   We just bought cans of basic rustoleum from our local hardware store. For under the truck and jeep we bought the high heat resistant rustoleum pain and taped off the connectors, filters, and other areas where it would be metal on metal rubbing. The final step will happen when our awesome RV-service lady puts on a clear coating to insure everything is sealed. We also have been doing spot treatments to the paint on our vehicles and are going to be replacing all of our screws on the exterior of the 5th wheel.


Our next issue that we have dealt with in the past few months has been one with moisture. It’s very damp here and moisture tends to build up on our windows often. This was something that we didn’t think was an issue until one day I went into our closet to get a pair of shoes and there was mold on them. WHAT?!?!?! I started to go through the closet and found that many pairs of my shoes and a few bags had mold growing on them…eeeeew. I ran my hand along the backside of the wall and it was wet with condensation. I knew what had to be done: install a cedar lining. Luckily, this was a fairly easy project and I was able to crank it out in a day.

Before I ran to the store to buy my materials, I cleared out the closet and put a pie tin filled with a mixture of baking soda and salt.  This would help capture some of the moisture trapped in the small area while I was gone.   I went to the Home Depot and purchased 5 of their cedar lining kits. You can find them in the closet section. When I got home I started by ripping up the only remaining carpet in our rig, which was located in the closet.  We never took it out when we did our big renovation because we figured it wouldn’t be seen, so why go through the hassle.   When I ripped it up, I found a big blotch of mold growing on the plywood. Bleach to the rescue! After bleaching all the surfaces down, I let things dry and got started on the installation process.

emptying the closet

emptying the closet

mold under the carpet! ICK!

mold under the carpet! ICK!

These kits are super easy to install. It’s a tongue and groove system and I chose to secure it to the existing walls with simple trim nails (as opposed to gluing down the boards). The boards were also very easy to cut to size. Just a few scores on each side with a utility knife and a clean break was sure to happen. The entre project took me about 6 hours to complete. I was then also able to clear out a few items in our closet too, which is always a nice feeling.  We now have a nice cedar lined closet that naturally resists mold and moisture and as a bonus, it smells nice!

Finished cedar lined closet!

Finished cedar lined closet!

I used the extra planks and put them in drawers and under our daybed.  We also use the DampRid buckets, you can also find these at The Home Depot.  Luckily, we have had no warping in our floors from moisture.

So, if you find yourself living on the coastal areas of the North Western United States, remember to wash and wax your vehicles regularly, protect your under carriage, and look out for moisture build up.


Preventing Rust on Your Undercarriage and Installing a Cedar Lined Closet — 4 Comments

  1. Hi! I’ve been enjoying reading your blog. A suggestion from someone who owns an RV and spends a lot of time on the coast of BC…get a dehumidifier! That mold you found will also be in the walls and ceiling of your unit. If you’ve had condensation on your windows, you will have a moisture issue. This is a huge deal when living in an RV. I’d hate to see you get sick or have to replace your RV due to mold and mildew.

  2. I was wondering about the mold/mildew continuing to form behind your cedar lining. I love following your writing and your adventures. Will continue to follow so as to learn your next step!

    • I think well be ok since I bleached the walls and cedar is naturally resistant to mold and mildew. Since we took these extra steps, we have not had any condensation build up on our windows or anywhere in the RV. Only time will tell ,but so far, so good!

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