For mobile food vendors who put their food trucks into hibernation over the winter months, spring is an exciting time because it’s time to get your business on the road again.
If you shut down your truck properly, you made sure to prep your food truck systems for winter storage. This will help to ensure that the de-winterization process will be simple. However, since we are all human, it’s possible to have skipped a step or worse — skipped the winterization process altogether. This means preparing your food truck for spring operation may take additional work — even perhaps fixing some damage.
Here are some quick steps to help evaluate how your food truck weathered the winter:
- First Look: Inspect inside the kitchen and cab for water leaks — ceiling or paneling stains — and animal infestation. Even if no water leakage is evident, check the roof for areas where the sealant may have shrunk around vents and other seams. Once you have thoroughly checked for leaks and none are evident, wash and wax your truck. You may also want to apply a petroleum distillate-free protectant in areas including rubber roofs, tires, moldings, and plastics.
- Freshwater System: If you used a non-toxic antifreeze, drain it as thoroughly as possible via low-point drains, the water heater drain, and tank drains. Return the water-heater bypass to the operational position, and flush the system thoroughly with fresh water via the water pump and a city water connection.
- Electrical Systems and Appliances: If the batteries have been on a converter or trickle charger, they should be ready for the road. To be safe, just check electrolyte levels (if applicable) and make sure there’s no corrosion on the battery connectors. If everything looks good, connect the shore power cord, and operate all appliances — use a 30-amp (or higher) service to test the A/C. Next, use a polarity checker to ensure all wall outlets are functional.
- LP-gas: After prolonged storage with the LP-gas supply turned off, the gas lines will be full of air. To purge, open the LP-gas tank or cylinder service valve, then light a stove burner (this may require you to hold a flame next to the burner up to 30 seconds as air escapes). With the burner flame continuing, turn the refrigerator to gas, and check to ensure the flame is lit. Repeat this for the water heater and other kitchen equipment which uses gas to operate. If you suspect a leak in the lines, you can use wipe soapy water over the lines to confirm — bubbles will form where leaks exist for easy detection.
- Running Gear: During storage, tires gradually lose inflation. Re-inflate to prescribed levels for safe travel — when in doubt use the pressure value listed on the tire sidewall. Food truck owners may opt to inflate tires according to load/inflation tables, when such figures are available. This approach may improve ride quality, and must be used with accurate weight figures for safe travel. You may also want to add 10 psi as a safety margin.
Hopefully, this evaluation shows you that your food truck has survived the winter with no major damage. But in case you’ve stumbled upon some minor repairs needs, we at Mobile Cuisine have a slew of tips to help you through small jobs. If the job is larger, get it to a professional mechanic to have the problems resolved.