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Old 03-21-2018, 04:18 PM   #1
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Cost of owning a 1994 Winnebago Brave over the last 8 years

We've had 8 years of RVing fun and were/are contemplating buying a new RV to begin a new phase in our lives. But I wanted to understand what our current RV has cost. I decided to document it and this may be useful for those considering buying a vintage RV to understand the costs involved.

If we don't buy new (and right now it looks like we won't) we are going to spend around $2k for 6 new tires and then some more to check out the mechanicals.
---------------------
Just for grins I decided to add up the service and improvements we've had done to the RV.

We bought the RV for $10,000 and have owned it for 8 years. This doesn't include registration, initial sales tax or plates because I don't remember them.

Work my husband has done includes Eternabond ($500???), replacing the shower dome ($150), new toilet ($300), velvac mirrors ($250), doghouse soundproofing, digital radio, second back-up camera to have rear view mirror camera, Tire pressure monitor system TST507 with eight sensors ($549), maxair vent covers (3), oil changes, light change outs (LED interior, markers and headlights) etc. I'll just ball park all the stuff at $2.5K because it adds up fast.

Now I will add in recurring cost: ($127/yr), insurance ($250/yr), dump card ($25/yr) storage (about $450/yr)= $852, oh heck lets call it $1K in carrying cost because I haven't added stuff like stabil, or the moisture absorbers, lysol spray, caulk etc.

To summarize:
$10,000 (cost) + $2500 (work by us) + $13,011 (work done by other) = $25,511
Yearly carrying cost = $1K* 8 years = $8,000
Total = $33,511 cost of ownership for 8 years

So costs to own RV over 8 years is about $4.5K per year. (I rounded up because I am surely forgetting some things)

Has it been worth it? Yes! We have gotten $4.5K value in fun vacations per year. (Note: this doesn't include gas, camping costs, food, supplies for the RV etc...) But there were 2 years we didn't use it so that ups it to $5500 per year. Now were getting close to 2 cruises per year. Was it worth it? Still yes because we got to take our dogs and visit fabulous national parks.

But, what would it have cost to rent an RV for the same number of vacation days? Current rental rates are $454/night for a 30ft class A in high season. $363 in shoulder season. Rental prep is $97/rental. $33,511/$454 = 73 nights in high season. $33,511/$363 = 92 nights of rental in shoulder season. I ignored rental prep.

Did we do between 73 and 92 nights of camping? Yes! I estimate we camped for about 150 nights spread over 23 trips. If we were renting we would never have done all these trips and stayed at all the fabulous places we stayed. I counted 6 big trips of over 2 weeks each (basically 1 per year leaving out 2013 and 2017 when we didn't travel at all). But is the cost per night as good as a hotel? Not really. At $33,511/150 nights = $223 per night we could have stayed in some nice hotels but maybe not the expensive ones at the national parks. And probably overall for cheaper. But would we have ate out more and not done as much hiking? Yes. So we were probably healthier staying in the RV. But value wise hotels are better. My cost doesn't include camping costs, our time working on, cleaning, prepping, winterizing, washing the linens etc. So overall hotels are a much better value.
------------------------
Work done by others. Below total is $13,011.

6/2/2016 $325.99
Complete Generator service

6/2/2016 $62.50
Replace kitchen faucet

5/7/2015 $470.97
Replace brake master cylinder

10/9/2014 $393.95
Replace Oxygen sensor, lube

6/26/2014 $1471.99
Converted dash air to R134A
New AC compressor, receiver driver, expansion valve, cooling fan clutch, Tube-o compression fittings (2), 90 degree fittin, ac flush solvent, R-134S refrigeratn, flouro dye kit, pag 46 oil
Repair cruise control vacuum line

12/4/12 $530.90
Replace brake master cylinder

8/22/2011 $161.90
Replace engine thermostat

7/21/2011 $577.47
Replace spark plugs (CR43TS, Spark plug wire set H/D), distribution rotor (RR250) and engine oil (10W30V)

7/8/2011 $557
Replace Fuel Pump, strainer, filter
8/19/2010 $120
LP System test and clean

8/12/2010 $863.98
Replace water pump

8/6/2010 $1365
Replace left bedroom window crank
Install fantastic fans in bedroom and bathroom
Fix leaking grey water valve
Install back-up camera
Replace idler arms
Replace drag link
Replace tie rod ends

8/1/2010 $249
Progressive HW30C - 30 amp EMS w/Remote

7/23/2010 $1541
Change oil and oil filter
Replace all rubber fuel lines
Replace evac canister
Replace stabilizer shock/steering damper

7/6/2010 $260
Alignment
Replace starter

7/3/2010
Weight 4660lb steer, 8340lb drive

7/2/2010 $3860
Drain and fill brake fluid
Replace shocks with Bilstein comfort shocks
New tires - Hankook AH11 8R19.5
Alignment
Service generator and install new fuel pump
- Replace fuel filter, oil filter, fuel pump, MX ROTELLAT15W40

6/21/2010
Airbag extension kit$100, inspection $95
-----------------------
Previous Owner
Replace roof air conditioner Coleman Mach 3 $838.96 2/23/2009
Upgraded electrical system charger (ac/dc converter) $598.12 3/20/2008
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Old 03-21-2018, 06:51 PM   #2
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It's amazing what we will spend just to make memories with our families. And it's worth every dime every time
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Old 03-21-2018, 07:01 PM   #3
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RV for fun not to save money. Right.
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Old 03-22-2018, 06:28 AM   #4
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We are just getting started with our 1994 Brave and our cost maybe even higher than yours but the memories are priceless ..... We are now redoing the graphics on ours at a cost of $4,000 with some paint work included in that $4k number ..... Then count the Suspension Work and I donít even want to think about that number ....

Hereís a couple pics of the graphic work
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Old 03-22-2018, 06:36 AM   #5
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RV cost vs staying in hotels/motels was one of my primary arguments against buying a motorhome(DW wanted motorhome not I). I wanted the freedom of a smaller vehicle (mini-van or full size van) to explore the back roads more. What tipped us toward a Motorhome was having a clean bathroom on demand, tastier and healthier food choices ,better flexibility in where we could overnight and of course a safe and comfortable place for our dog to be so we could go into stores and museums together.

Our compromise was an older small motorhome (1995 Winnebago Warrior 23 class a) It was old/cheap enough to justify customizing the interior to our tastes and small enough to fit into most parking lots and drive safely on back roads. Fortunately I was able to catch up all the deferred maintenance and install the upgrades myself so up front cost of the unit was $8,000 + $5,400 in parts and accessories.
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Old 03-22-2018, 11:25 AM   #6
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Wow, Brave Wrigley, your Brave looks great! We have been using the floor coating solution and it looks better for a year or 2 but needs to be reapplied. Right now it is worn off quite a bit and looks very patchy.

Rick, great you could do most yourself. It is a worthwhile point that having it done probably cost 3x as much as doing things yourself.

You bought a great size! I love the smaller RVs. Ours is 30 ft so we can park it in 2 spaces across but I would love to get down to 25 ft. Also the early & mid '90s ones were narrow bodies. Very easy to fit places.
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Old 03-22-2018, 12:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micd View Post
Wow, Brave Wrigley, your Brave looks great! We have been using the floor coating solution and it looks better for a year or 2 but needs to be reapplied. Right now it is worn off quite a bit and looks very patchy.

Rick, great you could do most yourself. It is a worthwhile point that having it done probably cost 3x as much as doing things yourself.

You bought a great size! I love the smaller RVs. Ours is 30 ft so we can park it in 2 spaces across but I would love to get down to 25 ft. Also the early & mid '90s ones were narrow bodies. Very easy to fit places.
Looking at floor wax or poli glow when done with re-strip job .... Kinda worried about using wax or poli glow due to blotchy issues but fiberglass is dull and could use freshen up ......

Unit is 23í with only 52,000 miles and 185 hours on generator ..... One Owner Southern California Unit, very clean - we love the size and fits us perfect ..... some say itís a Sport RV ......

We turned the dining table area into a full time seat/bed for our dog to ride / sleep on and when we eat inside we simply pull out couple TV dinner tables and use them, we love the coach .... had new center and rear cushions made and bingo, super nice sitting and sleeping area .....
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Old 03-22-2018, 01:25 PM   #8
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Where else can you bring your own bed, and know you don't have bed bugs. Bring your own frig to keep your beer cold. Camp next to a river or lake. Camp inside one of this countries great national parks....and and and......

You can't put a price on freedom. Personally I'm very turned off by air travel. They can have it. I would rather drive to Alaska...Just how many people can say that. For one night we camped at the furthest westerly location one can drive to in North America on the "continuous" road system (Anchor Point AK. / Halibut Campground).

I don't care if you have a $400k rig or a $50 tent, or anything in between. The point is, your able to explore so many places in North America and have a bed to sleep in at night.
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Old 03-22-2018, 01:29 PM   #9
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BraveWrigley, Cool!

Ours originally had the barrel chairs and table across from the dinette. The previous owner took them out and put in a sofa. But it wasn't attached to anything so we took it out. Here are the pics when we bought it.
1994 Brave 29RQ RV: Our first RV!

We decided to use the empty space for dog crates and the left over seatbelts from the barrel chairs were perfect to secure them. Pics. here.
1994 Brave 29RQ RV: Dog's travel accomodations

Your lucky to have gotten the 23ft. Smaller units are coming back and these older Winnebagos, even with the repairs and fix-ups are alot less than new ones.
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https://1994brave29rqrv.blogspot.com/
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Old 03-22-2018, 01:31 PM   #10
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Superslif,

I agree. I primarily posted this to allow people just getting in to understand the expenses and types of work that needs done on an older RV.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:19 PM   #11
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We went a slightly different route, but have found that it fits us SO well. Our 38+ft dp has been so comfy for all five of us. We're still working the kinks out as to how we can bring our kitties with us, but I've seen a few clever options we can check out.

As far as some of the recurring...insurance to cover all yearly weekends...$360/yr. Permanent plates (chewed-up vet...long story), $17 and that's it. Fuel? THAT is the biggest surprise of them all. Even with a Cummins 6CTA 8.3, our fuel usage rivals that of our Tahoe...10-12mpg. With some discounts thru Good Sam, the price has averaged around $2.60/gal.

Since I'm still a bit of a neophyte, I let the pros handle our water system woes and first engine/chassis service. Slowly, I'm starting to get a handle on what's where under there, and those particular costs are going to drop considerably. I already did an initial service on the genset, which cost less than $35 for filters, oil, and coolant.

There's cost involved, but at least you can still do A LOT of stuff on these older MHs yourself. God forbid you get stuck trying to do a lot of this with the new sealed and monitored crap they've put on a lot of the new stuff. No thanks!

Besides, our older buddies have personality and don't all look alike. Bonus.
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Old 03-23-2018, 08:02 AM   #12
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ArgoPilot,

Congrats on being able to do the work yourself! You can look at my costs and see how much you are saving.
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Old 03-23-2018, 03:37 PM   #13
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I'm not sure exactly what you've got under your hood/bonnet/engine hatch/doghouse...is your baby a gasser or diesel? I THINK I read correctly it's one of GM's chassis, right?
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Old 03-23-2018, 06:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micd View Post
BraveWrigley, Cool!

Ours originally had the barrel chairs and table across from the dinette. The previous owner took them out and put in a sofa. But it wasn't attached to anything so we took it out. Here are the pics when we bought it.
1994 Brave 29RQ RV: Our first RV!

We decided to use the empty space for dog crates and the left over seatbelts from the barrel chairs were perfect to secure them. Pics. here.
1994 Brave 29RQ RV: Dog's travel accomodations

Your lucky to have gotten the 23ft. Smaller units are coming back and these older Winnebagos, even with the repairs and fix-ups are alot less than new ones.
Exactly why we have no problem investing in our unit, I mean it just fits - we are thinking about removing the shower, which we donít use and flip the bed and who knows .....

We originally had $150k budgeted for a motor home and got to looking and thinking about our lifestyle- dogs and Leviís just didnít fit into those super plush jobs so with the used 1994 we have some serious cash left over for lots of stuff like our restore of the outside and the quad Koni shocks we put on the rear ..... both wife and I love this little guy .....
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