So many decisions!
RV: Rent or Buy?
I spoke to this a bit in the last post about our decision to buy an RV rather than rent. It was really all a matter of cost. Yes buying was more expensive, but you have more than two weeks to spend with the RV. Two weeks of rental was going to be at least $4000 if we had to go through a dealer or RV rental company. We knew we couldn’t afford anything new and the hunt was on for an RV. We don’t have a truck or large enough vehicle to tow anything substantial. We looked at some light weight RVs to tow behind a Subaru but none of those options were viable for us. We even looked at some Airstreams and other larger RVs that we would have to purchase a truck to pull. Other than reviewing our options on RV Trader, we also looked at some RVs firsthand at Haydocy Airstream & RV. We really felt that Derrick Haydocy did a great job of showing us many of the RVs and the benefits and drawbacks of each. I really wanted that Airstream but our budget just wouldn’t handle that stress.
After reviewing our options for trailers, we then began our hunt for RVs with an engine. We had a minimal budget so older equipment would be our starting point. We had narrowed the hunt down to two RVs. One, a gas engine and the other was a diesel. Though twice the price of the gas engine, the diesel won. It may be because we have had a diesel car in our garage since 2005 and realize the outstanding longevity of those engines. Gave the 2005 VW Jetta away with over 350K miles and currently have over 200K on our Mercedes diesel. We ended up with a 1996 Tiffin Allegro Bus, affectionately known as Stevie. It cost less than trading to a truck to tow a camper and less than any of the used Airstreams we were considering.
Tires: Which ones?
Seemed like everything from the point of buying Stevie has been a costly decision not to be entered into lightly. I drove Stevie home from Southern Illinois over 300 miles on tires I was not comfortable with. She wore a mix of four different brands of tire and two different sizes of tires on her six wheels. Original equipment tires were Michelin but those were out of the question because of cost. Tires on an RV usually age-out before they wear-out so putting costly tires on the vehicle was not even a consideration. I opted for a Sumitoma because many of the RV websites had posts about the quality and the cost was less than half the price of original equipment. I am always concerned about safety so going the cheaper route is not usually my style but in this case I think we made the right decision.
Balancing: Spin balance, liquid, beads, or particles?
Who could have imagined that balancing a tire was such a difficult decision. Some don’t even bother with it, others swear by their method. And the methods are as crazy as adding golf balls to the wheel or even metal BBs. I chose a product from IMI called Equal Flexx. Not sure how it will work, but the tires are being mounted in a few weeks and I’m hoping for the best.
Repairs: Do it yourself or pay for professional?
The exhaust on Stevie had been bent back in an accident by the previous owner. Being concerned about the back pressure the bend was causing I knew it needed to be corrected. I reviewed the possibility of doing it myself, nothing much more than a 90 degree elbow and a few five inch pipes but opted to find a professional to make sure the rest of the exhaust was not harmed in any way. After spending some time at the local Freightliner repair center and getting a price for the repairs, I opted to look for a local truck mechanic to do the work and I can’t believe how lucky I was. I drive by a little quonset hut building that does truck repair from time to time. Hanthorn Truck Repair is located near Lafayette, Indiana. They fixed a tractor tire for me once, but never really thought about them for much else. We stored a motorcycle safety trailer there during winters for ABATE of Indiana a long time ago. I never really knew much about the place but that has changed. Mike Hanthorn is my new RV specialist. He’s putting on my tires for me, he just fixed the exhaust and will probably be doing a few other maintenance items as the year progresses.
It is necessary to troubleshoot issues and do as much maintenance as possible to keep costs down. Since purchasing Stevie, I have fixed the propane heater just by watching a few videos. I’ll be changing the oil on the chassis and doing a full service on the generator as soon as Spring breaks in beautiful Indiana.
Stuff: Do you really need it?
Power cords, adapters from 50 amp service to 30 or 15, dump hoses, fresh water hoses, water pressure regulators, water filters, and a bunch of maintenance items. All of that is just a lot of stuff that needs to be purchased.
Decisions, decisions, and more decisions are all a part of the journey. Begin your journey today!