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Maintenance- Paying the Piper

P2130018We’ve been back on terra firma for about 10 days now and I am just wrapping up my annual RV maintenance week on our 1995 Fleetwood Bounder to prepare for our summer season traveling from Tucson, Arizona all the way up to North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and back down into Utah before we wrap it up and head back to Tucson.  All told we don’t really put a lot of miles on the motorhome.  Last year we hit about 5,000 miles for the season and I think this will be about the same.  Largely we drive to a location, the first leg always being the longest, and then park the motorhome for the duration of the event.  We spend a day driving to the next event and park the motorhome for another week.  So it’s not necessarily the mileage as much the wear and tear of owning a 16 year old motorhome combined with raising two children who inevitably end up breaking things.

I was lucky to have the help of my Uncle Kenny and my Dad here in Tucson.  Kenny has a long history of working on heavy machinery and autos.  Between the three of us we were able to work through my entire list of repairs and some other unexpected items.

In the course of four days we were able to;

  1. Change the engine oil and filter
  2. Change the transmission oil and filter
  3. Replace engine air filter
  4. Change generator oil and filter
  5. Clean generator air filter
  6. Replace the entire generator fuel line back to the tank
  7. Clean and rewire the generator fuel pump
  8. Replace two broken hydraulic lines for the leveling system
  9. Bleed and top off hydraulic system
  10. Replace windshield wiper fluid reservoir
  11. Replace both belts on the engine
  12. Track down and fix battery charging system
  13. Check and top off rear differential fluid
  14. Check and service all 4 disc brakes
  15. Fix electric steps (bang the steps back straight)
  16. Replace two missing latches for the basement storage doors
  17. Replace shore power plug
  18. Fix broken slides on drawers in bedroom
  19. Fix broken shades
  20. Install 4 oak covers on gaping holes from missing speakers and equipment
  21. Finish trim out steps around hardwood flooring

There’s still a few odds and ends to be completed but we came a long way in a short time.  Uncle Kenny estimated the mechanical repairs alone would run over $3,000.  I feel good about the motorhome.  Despite the whopping 6 mpg we get  while towing it is comfortable to drive and comfortable on site when working.

In this case, I would rather own a motorhome that has been used, as ours has been over the last 110,000 miles and 16 years than sitting around rotting.  A 10 year old motorhome with only 20,000 miles on it is not uncommon but I would wager it will costs more in the first few years to get everything back up and running than my well used (and maintenained) motorhome.

There are some things you really can’t control.  The transmission in our suburban was a good example.  To some degree you can’t gauge when it’s going to go out, you just hope to be somewhere close to a garage that can fix it versus in the middle of nowhereville.

Not owning a home doesn’t mean you get away from the home repairs, they are just a little bit different.  In this case, we make “home repairs” both to our motorhome and sailboat every year.  What I like about our seasonal work, I spend at least a week or more each season working on the motorhome and sailboat and then we are largely done for the season.  Beyond normal maintenance and unexpected breakdown, a little concentrated work goes a long way.

P2140008My hope, wish, and prayer is that I can keep working the motorhome running (well) for several more year to be able to get on our feet again financially and start socking away some savings.  A nice new(er) motorhome sure sounds appealing but so does a watermaker on the sailboat.

It’s funny, since we split our time between the motorhome and sailboat I am pretty content with both.  Newer would be nice but money in the bank has a more pressing draw for us than the added luxuries.  Besides, the newer and more expensive things get the more expensive they are to acquire and maintain.  Don’t forget the added tension of worrying about your “investment” to the point you don’t enjoy taking your boat or motorhome out for fear of scratching the paint.

So for now, while my time is still my time, I appreciate the value we have in both our homes and am willing to invest my time to maintain both the motorhome and the sailboat to keep them running so we can enjoy our travels without worry of a scratch here or a chip there.

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