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Old 11-18-2020, 07:26 PM   #1
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Real-World Upkeep / Repair Costs?

This evening, it came up in a conversation that, as my previous project was not a liveaboard and was never driven, I had no real unexpected expenses. This gave me pause for thought, wondering what everyone's experiences in upkeep and repair costs have been.

I am concerned about these costs as I progress toward making a move on another bus, as well as my relative physical inability to do most of the work involved. I will have a finite supply of money, and not much in the way of prospects for maintaining cashflow for such things, once that money is gone.

At the moment, my options include depleting my projected budget just buying a bus and fitting it out, only to have little to no money for fuel / insurance and no place to park it, or possibly doing a bare-bones alternative setup, and be able to afford property to park on.

I would have a tight enough budget for purchase and build-out, and even one or two expensive repairs could ruin me after doing so, especially if they occur frequently or close together enough in succession.

A blown or stuck brake chamber could be a real problem for me, as could a blown transmission. Even a bad starter or bad batteries could be disastrous without the ability to do the work myself and knowing I have funds to cover the cost.

In short, I am not confident I can afford the lifestyle once I get a(nother) bus.

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Old 01-24-2021, 12:21 PM   #2
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What is stopping you from generating additional income to support the lifestyle?

Is it lack of skills?

Is it lack of motivation?

Is it the "i just can't do X" mentality?

I'm slightly perplexed by this post. Help me understand your situation from the perspective of cashflow; it's the cash that provides options so this is the issue you're really facing.
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Old 01-24-2021, 12:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkoolbusLife View Post
What is stopping you from generating additional income to support the lifestyle?

Is it lack of skills?

Is it lack of motivation?

Is it the "i just can't do X" mentality?

I'm slightly perplexed by this post. Help me understand your situation from the perspective of cashflow; it's the cash that provides options so this is the issue you're really facing.
Future cashflow for upkeep is a problem, but it's not THE problem. I have severe asthma and can't even wash or clean my own car. I get winded just taking out the trash. So I am physically unable to do any of this work myself.

The DIY aspect is more or less one part of a two-pronged problem, the other being that engine exhaust keeps my asthma stirred up. Especially a diesel, not to mention the smell of the fuel, imminent even when leaks are not present. And the exhaust even from a gas generator could kill me.

I've had offers of help as far as build-out and such, but it's likely I'll be on disability with a fixed income in the coming years, so one stuck, bad, or blown brake chamber, starter, etc. could financially ruin me. And that still doesn't keep the other factors from keeping my asthma stirred up. It sucks, but I think I should pursue other avenues.
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
I've had offers of help as far as build-out and such, but it's likely I'll be on disability with a fixed income in the coming years, so one stuck, bad, or blown brake chamber, starter, etc. could financially ruin me. And that still doesn't keep the other factors from keeping my asthma stirred up. It sucks, but I think I should pursue other avenues.
If you had little to no overhead, (i.e.; no rent/mortgage, electric bill, cable/internet bill, etc.), living as a nomad travelling at will, you should more than likely be able to sock-away enough cash to survive while living out of a bus.

Don't know if you've been on Bob Wells YouTube website: Cheap RV Living, but he has multiple videos of folks making it on little to limited income. They actually detail how they make it living as nomads, that make it look fairly easy!

Homes on Wheels Alliance is a non profit formed by Bob and others, that offer converted vans to people for free a few times/year. Worth checking out if you have any desire to full time it in a vehicle.

Your health situation would eliminate a diesel rig, but other than limiting you in overall size to a shorty type, gas ain't a bad way to go IMO.
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:20 PM   #5
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Yep, I'd suggest you get a fifth wheel trailer and a truck. Trailer can be parked wherever while the truck is in the shop, and a truck can be repaired by any common mechanic.
And heck RV places can repair your fifth wheel too, while you have a truck to drive around.

Another thought....I have a 32ft transit bus available without an engine..
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
This evening, it came up in a conversation that, as my previous project was not a liveaboard and was never driven, I had no real unexpected expenses. This gave me pause for thought, wondering what everyone's experiences in upkeep and repair costs have been.
Well, "the lifestyle" can vary immensely as you likely know- how much driving are you anticipating? Also when parked, are you looking at a dry camping arrangement (no or electric only hookup) or a wet camping arrangement (where you are plugged into sewer, water)?

I'm not moving, so I have little in terms of upkeep. Where I'm parked, I'm dry camping so I'm not really paying much there either. About twice a week, I dump and fill fresh, although I'm having to be a little more vigilant about ti all when it is freezing or is about to freeze.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
Yep, I'd suggest you get a fifth wheel trailer and a truck. Trailer can be parked wherever while the truck is in the shop, and a truck can be repaired by any common mechanic.
And heck RV places can repair your fifth wheel too, while you have a truck to drive around.
Shout out to you btw- we ended up getting a fifth wheel camper to rescue a homeless relative. Its working out great so far... slide outs offer tons of space. It was also very decently equipped for winter! Going to have to use some design cues from there in my next build- including a couple sliders =)

Anyone who goes the trailer route- don't buy anything you aren't confident is water tight!
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Old 01-24-2021, 02:13 PM   #7
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I second the 5th wheel, diesel pickups rarely leave my shop for less than $3000 much less busses. My labor rate is $139.00 an hour much less than complete coach works who I send people with actual busses.
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Old 01-24-2021, 05:49 PM   #8
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expenses

I would say a bank account or credit cart able to suck up $10,000 for major engine repair.

example: woman I know has a dt466, she was wearing earphones playing music and did not hear or recognized the bad engine sounds... She has a connecting rod hanging out the engine block in a remote location in Wyoming.
She cannot do an inframe, cause the block is junk. gonna cost her $5000 to $10,000 to replace it, depends if going good used ready to go, up to a fresh rebuild with new water pump, injectors, injection pump......

My rig, about $1000 in parts for all new front steering/suspension. And a weeks labor and $600 in tools to do the work. kingpins, brake calipers, rotors. wheel bearings, brake pads, drag links tie rods etc....

$800 for a new steering box - not a rebuild, new.

$4000 for fresh rebuilt 6 speed transmission

$700 for new twin plate clutch.

$7000 for fresh engine

$1000 for rebuilt bosch mechanical pump...

$500 to $900 for a brand new radiator

I hope this gives you an idea of the kinds of expenses for parts....

I have spent better part of a year rebuild the machine part of my bus before I ever go anywhere. When I do, it will be a new bus.

william
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Old 01-24-2021, 07:24 PM   #9
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My bus which isnt really even a bus wouldve cost over :
Over $7000 dollars should I have had to pay professionals more than I did for mechanical repairs
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Old 06-14-2022, 06:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
I would say a bank account or credit cart able to suck up $10,000 for major engine repair.

example: woman I know has a dt466, she was wearing earphones playing music and did not hear or recognized the bad engine sounds... She has a connecting rod hanging out the engine block in a remote location in Wyoming.
She cannot do an inframe, cause the block is junk. gonna cost her $5000 to $10,000 to replace it, depends if going good used ready to go, up to a fresh rebuild with new water pump, injectors, injection pump......

My rig, about $1000 in parts for all new front steering/suspension. And a weeks labor and $600 in tools to do the work. kingpins, brake calipers, rotors. wheel bearings, brake pads, drag links tie rods etc....

$800 for a new steering box - not a rebuild, new.

$4000 for fresh rebuilt 6 speed transmission

$700 for new twin plate clutch.

$7000 for fresh engine

$1000 for rebuilt bosch mechanical pump...

$500 to $900 for a brand new radiator

I hope this gives you an idea of the kinds of expenses for parts....

I have spent better part of a year rebuild the machine part of my bus before I ever go anywhere. When I do, it will be a new bus.

william
Thanks for sharing William
Is yours. Mechanical or electronic engine.
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Old 06-14-2022, 06:55 PM   #11
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Mark

This a mechanical 5.9 Cummins on a 2010 f450 chassis with a 1954 Wayne body.

William
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Old 06-14-2022, 09:47 PM   #12
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Engine: Chevy 6.2L Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
This evening, it came up in a conversation that, as my previous project was not a liveaboard and was never driven, I had no real unexpected expenses. This gave me pause for thought, wondering what everyone's experiences in upkeep and repair costs have been.

I am concerned about these costs as I progress toward making a move on another bus, as well as my relative physical inability to do most of the work involved. I will have a finite supply of money, and not much in the way of prospects for maintaining cashflow for such things, once that money is gone.

At the moment, my options include depleting my projected budget just buying a bus and fitting it out, only to have little to no money for fuel / insurance and no place to park it, or possibly doing a bare-bones alternative setup, and be able to afford property to park on.

I would have a tight enough budget for purchase and build-out, and even one or two expensive repairs could ruin me after doing so, especially if they occur frequently or close together enough in succession.

A blown or stuck brake chamber could be a real problem for me, as could a blown transmission. Even a bad starter or bad batteries could be disastrous without the ability to do the work myself and knowing I have funds to cover the cost.

In short, I am not confident I can afford the lifestyle once I get a(nother) bus.
If you're actually driving it around, or need to be able to, such as trying to camp on the sly in certain places, then I would not advise you try to work with a diesel, especially considering the health issues you mentioned.

Diesels are expensive to maintain, and when they break, they basically need to get fixed right away unless you're able to get them to a safe place you own, and can keep them without racking up a ton of fees.

I was spending as much as I was in rent when I was full-timing on my bus, if not more, for things like fuel, propane, and incidental repairs, as well as things like the occasional spot (whenever I could find a place that would let me in with a skoolie) where I could camp over night and dump and restock ice/water. And that's without even going into all the incidental repairs that popped up, where the parts are usually at least $150-400 doing the labor myself. If you're expecting to pay for labor, expect at least $80/hr, although it's probably closer to $120/hr these days, if not more.

And god forbid you ever need a tow, my medium-duty chassis was usually $500 for the hook-up and $5/mile past the first 10 or whatever they included.
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Old 06-15-2022, 07:35 AM   #13
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bus upkeep costs are definitely real, esp if you want to buy quality parts even when fixing things yourself.. and now shop rates are through the roof as are things like tires, belts, hoses etc.. I know if I lived aboard a bus I would spend more than I do to live in my house.. granted i bought my house in 2004 and refi a couple times to have a mortgage rate in the 2's (that I wont touch)... but unless someone has land and builds a fully off-grid rig , its not cheap... if you have land and are off-grid you can prob make a good go of it on the cheap since you dont have to travel all the time.. can pick and choose your trips and do maintenance items at home on your own terms..



troub le with full-timing and not having a "home base".. is that most retailers, campgrounds, etc frown on people doing mechanical work in their parking lots.. so if you do break.. and can fix it yourself you are still constrained with trying to find a place to do the work. esp if the repair means taking things apart and making the bus non-driveable for a period of time.. if you were in a parking lot and the owner said "leave".. now you have to get it towed someplace..



I havent figured out how people perform repair / maint items if they have no land to live on.. unless they know people who will let them park..
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Old 06-15-2022, 11:42 AM   #14
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If you can find a place with a local owner, money usually talks, when it comes to doing repairs and such. Other than that, though, these days, there's not much you can do if you aren't at a place that you own, or have a good understanding with the owner, if you rent.
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Old 06-15-2022, 12:31 PM   #15
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Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
Upkeep

I must grease mine, today. Now I have to find my grease guns.

William
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