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Old 04-25-2007, 02:15 PM   #1
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Annual upkeep and maintenance questions???

My wife and I are in our 30s. She's a professional athlete who travels regularly to compete all over North America. I have an "exec" type job with enough vacation time that I can travel with her quite a bit.

We've been discussing selling our house and full-timing in an AS. We would be in a New or Newish (1999 to 2007) 30+ footer. Traveling with it around 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year. We know how to budget for fuel, insurance, etc. and many other travel expenses. We do a lot of traveling already and we know what to expect. I've been reading through the threads and see plenty on everything from fuel costs to park expenses. All that is great info.

What I'm hoping that some of you full-timers out there could help me with is an estimate of the maintenance and upkeep costs involved with full time living in an AS.

What does regularly scheduled maintence look like for an AS Trailer and what does it cost?

How much should be budgeted annually for those unexpected repairs?

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Old 04-25-2007, 02:43 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums. Check out Tour of America :: Home

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Old 04-25-2007, 05:39 PM   #3
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hi scotty and welcome to airstream'n

there are a few threads here on budgets and full time living expenses...

more threads on maintenance and repair costs...

which vary wildly based on the age, condition, size, and usage of the unit...

and the human condition.

hub/bearings and brake care regularly are the absolute minimum upkeep issues...

then just keep on adding items.

many books published now on full time rv life....

and several have budget chapters.

here is a site connected to a book, now available as an e-book.

Road Trip Planner

i purchased the pulp version 2 years ago and still use it.

like most written info on the budget topic, none are perfect...

but this one does include a 'budget worksheet'.

many would consider a moho or class c unit for your adventure...

trailer vs all-in-one can impact budget issues significantly...

a brand new tv/trailer combo or moho might have relatively few maintenance costs in moderate use for 1-2 years....

while older gear could cost a lot to keep road worthy.

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Old 04-30-2007, 11:15 AM   #4
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Scotty C, as Mistral Blue said, we do talk about maintenance in our weblog. Use the Search tool in the left column of the weblog to find entries about maintenance and repairs. After over 500 days on the road we've had a few experiences...

Tour of America: Maintenance
Tour of America: Maintenance schedule
Tour of America: Routine Maintenance

Originally Posted by Scotty C
What does regularly scheduled maintence look like for an AS Trailer and what does it cost?
For a later model trailer such as you are suggesting, I would say maintenance is minimal. Full-timing puts extra loads on the trailer but Airstreams are built to take it. Routine items include:

checking tire condition, tire pressure, and lug nut torque: free
checking brakes: free if you learn how
lubing hitch: free
checking battery water level: free
lubing exterior locks & latches: free
verifying belly pan integrity: free
checking lights: free
re-caulking kitchen, bath & shower: nearly free if you do it yourself
repacking wheel bearings: $100?
tires replacement: about $500-600 per set of four installed. We got 30,000 miles out of our Goodyear Marathons, using Centramatic balancers and keeping them properly inflated.

Being full-timers, we go in for an annual inspection to have a professional check all the critical systems: gas system, running gear & brakes, hitch, etc. We also repack the bearings annually.

If you want your Airstream to last a long time, I suggest a leak test that is done by pressurizing the interior and checking the entire exterior with soap solution. A good annual inspection could easily run $300-600 plus any necessary repairs.

Brakes will need replacement periodically, but the actual interval depends on whether you have drums or discs, the setting of your brake controller, and what type of travel you do.

Originally Posted by Scotty C
How much should be budgeted annually for those unexpected repairs?
The problem with "unexpected repairs" is that they are unexpected. You can't budget for them. But what's the worst repair you might have, barring a collision or a fire? Most problems that are likely to crop up will cost a few hundred bucks to fix at most, like a blown tire or a loose piece of belly pan.

For example, our big disaster last summer was an entire wheel coming off the trailer. This cost about $700 for a replacement tire, aluminum wheel & hub, Centrametic balancer, wheel bearing repack, studs, lug nuts, wheel well trim, and labor.

A big repair would be a complete replacement refrigerator, out of warranty. Figure somewhere between $1000 and $2000 depending on the fridge size.

With a warranty, your annual repair cost will likely be very low as long as you keep an eye on everything and fix problems promptly (especially leaks or integrity issues). Without a warranty you can still have low annual repair cost if you do the small things yourself and stay ahead of the maintenance.

Most of the "unexpected" repairs I see on trailers are the result of lack of attention to the rig. Check it out from top to bottom, stem to stern, every month or so, and you'll find little indicators of problems before they become "unexpected repairs". For example, popped or loose rivets (anywhere, including on the belly pan), low water in the battery, water stains inside the trailer, unusual smells, loose nuts, cracks, blown fuses, unusual amounts of dust after towing, poor function of appliances, rub marks in unexpected places, uneven wear patterns on the tires, etc.

Personally I would expect to spend $1000-1500 per year to keep a frequently-used (full-time) Airstream trailer in good running order, and be prepared for more just in case. That's small potatoes compared to what many people spend to keep their cars on the road.
Former full-timer | AIRSTREAM LIFE magazine | Tour of America (old blog) | Man In The Maze (current blog)

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Old 05-09-2007, 03:11 PM   #5
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thanks for the reply. That's what I was looking for.
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