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Old 02-23-2012, 11:18 AM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REDNAX
Zlee has her cute little combined rig, but my rig is far more "economical" than is hers (even over an extended period) although far larger and heavier.
Oooo. No one told me I'd have to rate cuteness relative to economical! Hmmmmm.
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:22 AM   #72
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My combined rig is right at the state maximum of 65'. No one would ever call it "cute", comparably.

Vehicle sizes are not determinants of "economy" when all costs are factored. The comparisons become labored due to number of pax, full versus part-time, used versus new, DIY versus all shop labor, etc.

Why time/miles/nights is important as the first step. These are the determinants of the rig itself. "Fuel economy" is relative, then. Only then.

My T/M/N cost is lower than Zlee's but probably not as low as BartS (if our nights of use were comparable). The comparisons are too rough to really make sense of without going into details. They aren't true comparisons therefore.

Those details have to fit use first and foremost.

.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:38 PM   #73
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My wife and I travelled to Florida for a couple of months in our 1983 A/S turbo diesel 31' and we travelled approx 3200 miles and were really surprised at the mpg which was 19.3 the only reason I keep them is it tells me how well my unit is operating.We are retired living on a fixed income, and if I have to worry about the price of diesel, I should never have bought it in the first place and this has been our thinking our whole live 75 and married 54 years and still travelling
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:41 PM   #74
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I have circumstances in life preventing heavy use of trailer (aging parent) so fuel economy is not an issue. The sunk cost of the trailer and storage are my big expenses.

Perhaps the biggest effect of high fuel prices will be the delay or non purchase of my next RV. I have thought of the idea of motorhome, but $100K+ is a lot to spend on a transportation mode which may be using gas between five and ten dollars a gallon.

If thats the case, the Airstream and I will hang in there for a while. Half the depreciation has already occurred, the cost of ownership going forward is relatively low.
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:37 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post

On mine, at 8-years and 180k I am exactly at the half-way point. Therefore, not only the above items ought to be replaced (even without their failure) as longevity, reliability and low cpm means that "they" have served . . time to be sure that the next 180k/8-years is just as trouble-free.

.
Rednax

You make a very valid point. So what items have you replaced or are you going to replace before they fail? That to me is a tough step to take unless you have a lot of data as a basis for premature or regular failure at a certain mileage. For example, I have a 2002 BMW 3 series that is known to have a weak link regarding the water pump and radiator. The BMW car club tech guru says to replace both at 60k miles. My car now has 195k miles and mine has not failed yet. However, I have purchased a new water pump, radiater and other associated parts to make the replacement before it fails. Kind of like an insurance policy. I figure that I am running on borrowed time. Also if if fails and I don't notice it right away I may ruin the motor. I could be in the middle of West Virginia with no help, cell phone service or wrecker close by. What I am doing is a no brainer, but I will be hard pressed to replace the alternator,starter motor, suspension components or steering components untill they fail or indicate eminant failure is near. I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is eminant.

Dan
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Old 02-24-2012, 01:18 PM   #76
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Determining dollar value, or the relative value of the dollar from one year to the next is the ultimate tweakable statistic.

It all depends on what indicator is used.

In 1908 the Model T was $850.

Using CPI method that's $21,000
GDP deflator it's $15,000
'Consumer Bundle' puts it at $44,000
'Unskilled Wage' puts it at $87,000
'Manufacturing Compensation' values it at $140,000
GDP per capita is $118,000

IMHO, it's all academic

I just use the good 'ol MISERY INDEX
Joe,

Don't forget to figure in the "fun factor".

It goes a long way towards mitigating the "misery index"

Bob
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Old 02-24-2012, 01:18 PM   #77
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Replacing things before they fail is a hard choice. Few people want to spend the money to replace something that seems to work—"if it ain't broke, don't fix it". It can be cheaper than getting stuck somewhere, possibly relying on a bad mechanic with very high prices, paying exorbitant rates for a tow, and blocking a busy highway at rush hour.

I have replaced bad tires before they wear out with better ones. I upgrade some things to get a better result. I look it as informed maintenance. But it is hard to predict when something is about ready to go and few of us have Rednax's knowledge of mechanics to know when to act. I did learn years ago that most car parts tell you when they are wearing out if you are willing to listen, but learning what they are saying takes some attentiveness and knowledge. It is easier to ignore the signs and hope for the best even if you are challenging reality.

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Old 02-24-2012, 07:59 PM   #78
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Rednax

You make a very valid point. So what items have you replaced or are you going to replace before they fail? That to me is a tough step to take unless you have a lot of data as a basis for premature or regular failure at a certain mileage. For example, I have a 2002 BMW 3 series that is known to have a weak link regarding the water pump and radiator. The BMW car club tech guru says to replace both at 60k miles. My car now has 195k miles and mine has not failed yet. However, I have purchased a new water pump, radiater and other associated parts to make the replacement before it fails. Kind of like an insurance policy. I figure that I am running on borrowed time. Also if if fails and I don't notice it right away I may ruin the motor. I could be in the middle of West Virginia with no help, cell phone service or wrecker close by. What I am doing is a no brainer, but I will be hard pressed to replace the alternator,starter motor, suspension components or steering components untill they fail or indicate eminant failure is near. I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is eminant.

Dan
As Gene points out I have made a study not only of my truck and it's potential problems, but have a pretty fair amount of experience in vehicle maintenance/repair. My own, and in business. ROBERTCROSS and some others know a good deal more than me (depth is great around here). I have no formal training (am self-taught, but willing to read and ask).

The simplest understanding is best: Be rigorous about changing all fluids, filters, belts, hoses and associated fasteners. Ahead of schedule, somewhat. Time is as important as miles. (And it is unlikely one will ever do this set of jobs too often, relatively). Same for tires & brakes (safety-related).

"That to me is a tough step to take unless you have a lot of data as a basis for premature or regular failure at a certain mileage".

No, sir, it's actually easy. On nearly any vehlcle. How long will it be kept in service and what is the halfway point in time and miles?

What I've learned is direct: Treat each system as a whole. Use only factory parts. I want no surprises. Do It Once And Do It Right.

Start with safety-related. When I do the brakes in the next year or so (well ahead of actual need) I will, literally, have replaced every single item in that system short of the brake pedal itself (but it will have a new pad). This is only a slight exaggeration. I have homework to do. But I never want to think about the brake system again. A pad replacement is not "having to think about the system", IOW. Same for seat belts (and seat cushions . . you get tired or aching, well . . . . )

With the FSM (Field Service Manual; the generic name for the factory service book as used by dealers and independents) I can study ahead of time to be sure I have all that is necessary on the jobs I do, as well as doubling the estimated hourly work. Short version: start early. Done when done.

Ideally, I have everything ready as of Friday because on Monday I have to be back at work. So, with a Saturday morning start (and hopefully no more than one/two runs to the dealer or parts store) I can work without frustration bothering me; i.e. I can quit and do something else awhile.

While I am doing this work I also have a supply of CASTROL Super Clean and rags/brushes to get those areas I normally can't keep clean. This slows me down, but as the motor bay is kept clean otherwise (to spot problems) this last bit satisfies me that I have done what I can to make it easy for a mechanic. I also run a tap down fastener holes and use a thread file on fasteners that aren't replaced. Any recommended thread dressing is also applied. Etc. Never go cheap on supplies or pass up an opportunity to clean/paint.

On the other hand the truck is due for a motor valve adjustment, and, while again this isn't hard, I don't want to buy a barring tool for one/two uses. I also want to find a good Cummins diesel mechanic to talk with about the vehicle. This is a cheap service (book maintenance), but a very expensive motor. As anything ages we want some rapport happenin' with a reputable shop.

So, sometimes it's work better done by me, (expense kinda irrelevant as my time is free), and sometimes I want a man with experience to have a look at what may or may not be going on with my vehicle. The second set of eyes is invaluable to longest life, IMO.

And there is plenty of grunt work no one wants to do. Best to have the owner do as much as possible and then have shop check over or tow it to them for completion. Kinda like doing the long wire pulls in the attic ahead of the electrician . . but he does all junctions/connections. Same with fluid analysis. Seems expensive or a pain to trend via analysis (www.dysonanalysis.com), but it catches problems. Your wallet will live through the strain.

I prefer to buy fuel/batteries/inspections/brake work from an independent fuel retailer. The third set of eyes. The business card I staple together to the towing service he uses. Something goes wrong I want it at his location, not an unknown-to-me facility.

At a minimum I want about four [4] services per year by any one of a few shops (not including tires where I may be in/out 7-8 times per year). I highly value qualified recommendations. The Internet makes this easier than before. And the bigger the metro area, the more likely one can find the truly expert. (I search all kinds of boards for references).

What is to be replaced ahead of time is vehicle dependent. Ball joints, clutch & hydraulics, steering rack, suspension/body bushings (factory has hydraulic body mounts versus rubber biscuits now); maybe alternator/starter (or just rebuilt) etc, are some examples on mine. I may upgrade to a one-piece driveshaft, for instance (as the factory has done on later models). I already plan to change my rear gearset from 3.73 to a 3.42 ratio. Etc. Where I can, I try to combine work. The cooling system is due, so I'll also replace the harmonic balancer (another upgraded factory part) as well as the accessory drive belt and tensioner.

Overall, it's not what I do that's important. It's how I choose to apportion the work out to others. So, some experience of what one can do ones self is the best start. A calendar with services per time & miles linked to vehicle fuel consumption/miles is the start. And then a budget.

"I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is imminent."

No, no, absolutely not. I want to choose when to take the vehicle out of service. I am not looking to run it into the ground. I want it as reliable as when new, and able to do the same work as when new. The internet allows me to poll others about time/miles with some fair amount of breadth, and my questions at dealers, shops and elsewhere can give me an idea of what to focus on.

Remember that when something wears out and fails that this has a deleterious effect not only on that system, but directly and indirectly on all other systems. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to avoid this: Avoid component and system failures.

This is little different than taking a trailer with good integrity and replacing plumbing, electrical and all appliances. Removing and replacing with new the suspension, brakes and hitch details. Etc. It may be a 1983 model, but I expect it to be on the road in 2032. Window seals, not just window operators. I want a "new vehicle" in the most basic sense. At all times and in all places.

Hope this helps.

.
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Old 02-25-2012, 10:12 PM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post

"I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is imminent."

No, no, absolutely not. I want to choose when to take the vehicle out of service. I am not looking to run it into the ground. I want it as reliable as when new, and able to do the same work as when new. The internet allows me to poll others about time/miles with some fair amount of breadth, and my questions at dealers, shops and elsewhere can give me an idea of what to focus on.
Rednax

I said that if I have no data then I say drive it until the part fails... This is not the same as running it into the ground. My TV only has 37k on it now, where in another 100k miles there will be lots of data with Tundras that have over 100k miles and I will search out what kind of failures are being experienced by the high mileage Tundra owners.

I am curious what brake parts you are going to replace besides pads and the brake fluid. I replaced the pads and fluid recently in my BMW. I think that it would be overkill to replace the master cylinder and calipers unless experience dictates that this may be a problem in the second half of life. My BMW has 195k on it and I intend not to ever sell it; although I may retire it and drive it much less often. However I don't want to spend money to replace parts that may not ever fail especially if it is not one of our traveling vehicles.

Could you please send me a link to your recommended guide for calculating the cost per mile for vehicle operation.

Thanks, Dan
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:59 AM   #80
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TWIMC.....

I must admit that my maintenance procedure's are not quite as precise as Reds'.

I depend on twice a year comprehensive vehicle inspections, the the more thorough of which coincide's with the NYS safety inspection.

My recommendation for those without the DIY gene….follow the manufacturer's maint schedule. A good deal of time, effort and resources went into it's creation.

Plus… If your vehicle's still under warranty a good service history gives the dealership much more leeway in taking care of problems that may show up after your warranty has expired.

Pay attention to what your vehicle is telling you.

If it doesn't feel, sound, or perform right…. sump'ns rong.

One of the biggest problems in any service dept is interpreting the customer's complaint, whenever I saw, NPF written on a repair order red flags went up and an extended road test was in order.

Whomever the primary operator is, will be the one most attuned to any problems, regardless of gender.

(Whether it's your wife or not.)

Ask me how I know.

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Old 02-26-2012, 09:56 AM   #81
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Bob

DIY gene- I like that. I think that I have it big time.

My brother was a service manager for 30 years. One of his biggest challenges was comunicating witht the customer about what the problem was. He was pretty good at it.

I would say that Rednax has the extreme maintenance end of the bell curve secured pretty well. He is the one that you want to buy a trailer or vehicle from. Whatever they are asking for it, just pay it, cuz it will be worth it.

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Old 02-26-2012, 10:48 AM   #82
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A way of looking at what I "plan" (which is not so formal as it may sound) is that I am willing to spend above or beyond what is necessary to use this vehicle to a projected end point. I'm not trying to get out of it cheaply. The "cheapness" (not used as a slur) comes from owning/operating the vehicle for 16-years/400k miles. Longevity - Reliability - Economy all interact with one another. But the order of those is set.

Not so different than what Bob suggests as it is what I have done nearly always (except restorations), but I'm not "waiting" in a number of instances, either. I'd rather stay well ahead, system-by-system. Someone only going to 200k/8-years needn't much bother with my way of doing it. Time becomes more important than miles at some point. The goal is to avoid a highly expensive replacement vehicle as this one has such high fuel mileage and, thus far, ultra-low operating expenses. (I see the future "permanent" trailer the same way after restoration/renovation: No end of info on this site for those already, or willing to become, vehicle-knowledgeable).

I've replaced the full brake system on a pair of recent cars: master cylinder, vacuum booster, hard & soft lines, calipers, etc, with upgraded parts (cryo-treated, stainless, etc) and seen the same or slightly better street performance. Wear on new pads, rotors, almost nil. Not cheap, but not really expensive, either. On this truck I haven't laid out what I will do beyond notes to same. But I have no intention of finding age/wear related problems at, say, year twelve when a "new system" would be in it's fourth year instead and not subject to this. The HVAC is already ready to be made new (near-constant A/C use down here).

One source for cpm calculation basics is AAA. Search, and download .pdf on Your Driving Costs. There are more sophisticated spreadsheets mainly business-oriented. The assumption for most, however, is tax & finance related short lives. But by projecting current costs (taxes, insurance, fuel, etc) one can take a vehicle a fair distance. See also EDMUNDS True Cost of Ownership and read background assumptions. Choose a new version of present vehicle. Can also extrapolate from this. (I also use OOIDA for their truck business .pdf).

System-by-system replacement is factored in ahead of time to build a savings account. Debt to do so is the wrong approach (credit card interest charge repairs at $130-hr shop and full retail parts cost, etc). Unplanned repairs are almost par for the course. But safety-related ones would be unacceptable, in the main: brakes, tires, suspension, steering, etc.

Windshields, seat belts, etc, all tend to be worn out at some point and need replacement prior to failure. Run through the state inspection list and make plans.

Getting back to travel trailer economy, it is still, IMO, the longest-lived pair that aren't spared any expense which will prove the most economical in all ways at the end of a long period. So, choose well. Expend plenty of elbow grease and try a few DIY skill expansions. Get the right TT/TV now.

What is the most important TT system? Water? Electric? Propane? First would be brakes, tires, suspension and the electrical to run a road safety checklist. What is last on most all restorations we've seen? Approach from a different angle, IMO. An aluminum garden shed is rather worthless.

If the cost of fuel is $6/gl, then knowing exactly how to predict fuel burn over a given set of miles is beneficial to use. Records, records, records. And more skill acquisition at better use of fuel be it gasoline, propane or electric. Travel may be more expensive, but fuel is only part of it. Bad roads (lowered maintenance budgets), higher insurance costs, etc all argue in favor of the right pair of vehicles kept the longest time with a commensurate budget.

A well-sorted pair has uses above and beyond just recreational travel. Natural or man-made disasters (of varying degrees), the future conversion of a TT to a in-law suite .. the use of a pickup by a family business .. etc. This pair of vehicles is always, conceivably, a pair with other potentials. Income or assets aside, it behooves me to think along those lines a bit as well, whether for family use or potential sale. Because others already are.

The future won't be like the past. Were I still a homeowner that is where economising would be to the tune of less-is-more. 2000-s/f for two people is rather dumb. But money spent on the means of mobility where one can be on-time, in-place and ready for what's new: retirement, job opportunity, family residence change, etc. Literally, a back door from out of the present arrangement. A TT-TV combo of the right sort thus has high value to me (or might be to one of my family members).

Recreational travel is icing on the cake. Spiritual salve, after a good deal of trouble to make it so. The number of those, for instance, retired yet still working part-time is an easy path to investigate. Especially to see where one might do it better as to vehicles, alone.

Just fill it with water and go has plenty of depth. How to achieve it has plenty of elbow room to make it so.

.
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Old 02-26-2012, 11:18 AM   #83
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I have been poked more the once here on the forums for advocating the RCM method. Errantly translated as the Robert Cross Method....which it is defiantly
NOT. .

BTW a system learned while working in Flight Equipment during my time in the Corps.

Bob
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Old 02-26-2012, 12:58 PM   #84
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I wish I had the time and interest to maintain vehicles like Rednax and Bob Cross. I may kidnap both of them and chain to the shop. I do have a DIY gene, but it gets diverted to other projects (like spending too much time on the Forum).

Some of the reason I avoid having it done by others is when I watch their work habits, I get distressed. Small county, small labor pool, small number of careful and accomplished mechanics.

Yesterday when my wife was driving, I thought the 4Runner was trying to tell me something. A sound that was a little off, almost imperceptible, but I don't know what it could be. The fact I have a cold may have been the problem. I hope so.

What was this thread about anyway?

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