Living the Dream – One Invoice at a Time

Not that you’d know it from today’s weather – wind, rain, hail, and snow – but it’s just about time to get the trailer out for another season. Our goal is to get to where we are going out year-round, but with colder weather than usual and household projects that didn’t happen this year.

One of the projects we needed to get done before beginning another RV season was to have the bearings on the fifth-wheel’s wheels repacked. So, off to one of the local RV dealers to have the job done.

Since the trailer was going to be there anyway, I decided to have them look into a couple of other problems we were having. The first and more serious of the two involved some separation along the street-side sidewall.

Unlike most newer trailer and motorhomes, which have single piece sidewalls, usually fiberglass, ours has sidewalls made of aluminum sheets or slats that fit together and overlap slightly. If you picture vinyl siding or perhaps tongue and groove laminate flooring, you might get an idea.

Shortly after we took delivery of the trailer (on my birthday – happy birthday to me!), we began to notice a little separation whenever we would hitch to or unhitch from the truck. It didn’t get worse over time, and we could usually pop it back into place, but we knew it was something we should have looked at, if not addressed.

Fortunately, the service department where I took the trailer employed someone who had worked on the sidewalls on this model before that company went under. So he had an idea of what to look for and how to do it without it costing a fortune.

With the use of some longer screws, they were able to better secure the sections so they would not separate during the hitching/unhitching process. While they were at it, they also straightened out the doors on the front cargo compartment so they would close and latch properly. During a return trip from a weekend outing, the doors had come unlatched, and by the time we heard the banging noise of the doors slamming against the truck’s rear bumper at 65-miles hours, the damage was complete.

Of course, none of this was done out of the kindness of their hearts, and by the time all was said and done, the total was $561, which also included replacing a damaged bearing and sealing a small crack they had found.

On a newer fifth-wheel, that probably doesn’t sound like that much money. However, based on what we paid for the trailer and its age, that is a fairly sizable sum, especially when you add in the $800-plus we spent last year after some juvenile idiots cut a hole in our door while the trailer was in storage.

On the one hand, we’ve spent an additional 15% of the the price we paid for the trailer on repairs in the last year. On the other hand, it gives us a sense of what we are letting ourselves in for if we do realize our dream of living full-time in an RV. What it hasn’t done is dampen our enthusiasm for RVing or for the lifestyle we’re hoping to one day live.

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