Today we’re talking about what lots of you wonder…real time cost on the road. For starters we’re chatting about unexpected costs. Everyone has them, it’s just how many and how much do they add up to?
A time line of our unexpected costs goes like this:
We left Charlotte, with our first stop being Alabama.
1. Our brakes weren’t operating correctly, turns out they were wired backwards and were not connected from the Airstream to the Suburban, or to the battery for the pull-away brake.
2. The black tank valve, a Thetford valve (good product line, but hard to find parts for) was leaking. New rubber seals and new closing latch..
**we’re adding in a few more states to this second repair…Alabama was just the beginning of this story**
Las Cruces, NM:
Black tank valve is still leaking, completely replace Thetford valve with a more universal system.
Las Vegas, NV:
Still leaking…While doing another project, the entire underside back end was uncovered, finally revealing the root problem. Our black tank had a stress fracture. Removed, had the stress fracture ground out to remove bacteria then spot welded, including a new drain connection.
3 states and $500 later, the leak is fixed!
Back to Alabama…
3. While working on (above listed) plumbing, the utility box that is affixed to the back bumper of the Airstream was removed, revealing a decayed frame which was creating leaks. New aluminum frame, Bondo and caulked.
4. Flat tire. Patch job and mount spare.
5. Door lock broke.
6. We had the Airstream professionally painted before leaving Charlotte. Right after getting on the road, the metal trim that circles the middle of the Airstream started flaking off. Stripped down and found moisture behind the trim was the culprit, (the new paint having sealed it and ultimately pushed it out) Refilled trim with short hair bondo, sand and smooth, re-paint.
San Diego, CA:
1. Both ceiling light fixtures (vintage originals) burn out.
1. Routine transmission flush for the Suburban turns into 4 hidden leaks and a bad pin.
Lake Havasu, AZ:
1. Tire blow out. New tire.
**brakes on the blink, to be continued in Vegas**
Las Vegas, NV:
1. Brakes on right side of Airstream (2 of 4) 1 is completely burnt out, 1 is disconnected.
2. Decided to install gray tank for more flexibility in camping (see this post), We priced an estimated cost of $300 for materials with Sean installing and decided it was well worth it… after a day and a half of removing metal and insulation in preparation, we find major frame damage and decay hidden underneath everything.
Cost $400 (and no gray tank..still)
Total Cost: $4725.00
So there you have it.
$5000 bones later, which for us, averages out to 3 months on the road, so it’s a pretty big hit. You expect the unexpected when you live on the road full-time. Unfortunately this means you don’t know what will happen or when. We certainly did not anticipate almost $5000 worth in less than 3 months and we still need/want to install a gray tank and complete this with a 2000watt generator. Oye.
A BIG factor in all of these costs is that they are much, much lower because Sean did 75% of the labor. It would have been a good deal less expensive if he could have done all of it. However you can’t take everything with you, including tools, etc. and then a huge factor is having the space to do the actual work. Almost all campgrounds do now allow repair work. This is very limiting and sometimes, as we had to do, you must go with a local shop. The hourly on most shops run anywhere from $90 – $150+ so it adds up quick.
We know the reality of what costs what on the road is everyone’s biggest question, and hopefully this helps give a better picture of what life on the road can entail. Your unexpected costs may be entirely different, we’re sure they will be, but it’s more the what and when than will? The will is pretty much a guarantee. If you have no wiggle room in your bank account, wait till you do. Even though we have wiggle room, it definitely requires sacrifices & adjustments.
Bottom line. Be prepared for ???.