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Author Topic: The infamous $20k emergency fund I keep reading about - Really?  (Read 3270 times)
pickpaul
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« on: October 16, 2011, 07:35:44 PM »

I get that the number is a worse case scenario but at the prices I'm seeing on pull out DD 2 Strokes paired with Alisons, could you really get even close to that with labor on a swap?

I'm planning on getting an 80's or 70's MCI, Prevost or Eagle and would love your thoughts on an appropriate emergency fund.

Cheers, Paul.
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2011, 07:46:56 PM »

It cost me more than that by the time I got out of Camp Luke 3 years ago.  The problem with emergencies is that by their very nature you don't know when they are likely to happen.  If you have lots of time and a good location then you can mitigate your costs and they would likely be considerably less but if you're on the far side of nowhere and need to get it fixed well ..........

I don't know what an appropriate emergency number is but these are big complicated machines and when they fail they can be phenomenally expensive to get back on the road.  Fortunately they don't fail in that spectacular fashion very often.  But its not impossible that they will.  When you are comparing costs of a rebuild vs. a pull and replace don't forget that unless your donor engine/transmission comes from exactly the same bus there will likely be some costs for the transition.  If you're paying shop rates for that process the costs can add up rapidly.
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2011, 07:59:44 PM »

It has been my experience that used parts that fit exactly are never available when you need them - if you can wait until one shows up, then great. But, when stuff happens away from home, storage bills add up faster than you may think.
It also depends on how you are set for adding time to your trip while you wait on service.
While I'm still having to work for a living, I don't leave the house for vacation if I don't have enough to buy return plane tickets plus a tow home. That way, if something happens, I KNOW I can get home in time for my other commitments (like work & kids school).
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2011, 08:08:49 PM »

The possibility of a costly breakdown is real, but very remote. While at home, do your preventive maintenance, get to know your machine, so it is in good shape before you go away. You have to get your bus to a state of repair that you can drive it across the continent tomorrow morning. An engine does not crater all at once without warning. Same with a transmission. Or at least it is rare. You also have to carry a good assortment of tools with you to deal with the more minor issues that will inevitably come up. And road side assistance will make you feel better too. I also have a list of mechanics and suppliers around home and all over the place that I can call in case of crisis for technical and moral support. Buses are heavy duty machines that were built to run down the highway 24/7, and if maintained properly, will continue to do so for you. In all my years of professional, volunteer and private bus driving, show stopping breakdowns have been very rare. More often, it is minor things that cause a few hours delay, or overnight at worst.

JC
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JC
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 04:55:26 AM »

I guess I haven't seen anyone posting the magic number of 20 grand to be set aside for such an emegency but rather that one has the ability to come up with that much if need be. I think previous posts have pretty well answered the question correctly. A rule of thumb when it comes down to various expenses is 50/50 labor versus parts in many cases. Most folks with these ole girls have the mechanical knowledge and abilities to do such repairs or should steer away. Along with the knowledge comes better maintanance habits and a gut feeling when something isn't quite right. The ability to find and predict potential problems in the friendly confines of home rather than meltdowns half way across the country is as good as cash in the bank!!
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 06:43:05 AM »

It is my opinion that we all need to have the resources to get us roadworthy again if something catastrophic should occur. That includes involvment in an accident. I doubt if we need to carry cash with us, but we do need access to either cash or credit should something bad happen.

The probability of something bad occuring is slight, and as owners we are the ones who can increase the reliability of our coaches by addressing problems before they happen. Some of the posts I read and some conversations I have had with folks makes me wonder about the folks on the bad end of the bell curve. Some must be so optimistic that they can continue to ignore signals that something is going wrong for countless trips, and then when their bus pukes they are dumbfounded. Rather than carrying $20,000 in cash, or credit cards with $20,000 limits I much rather pursue an agressive preventive maintenance program that not only gets me under the bus often, but it gives me peace of mind knowing I am riding on nearly new air bags, that I have no drips or leaks, that my brakes are functioning leak free and with the proper stroke and pad or drum thickness.

Nothing ever breaks or quits working while it sits in the garage, but after every trip I have a list of things I want to check, fix, adjust, or just look at before it goes out on the road again.

Having said that, I had an AC system repair done on a coach about 7 years ago by Carrier, the folks who made the AC compressor. As a result of their work I got 400 miles and had an $82,000 fire in the engine compartment. Needless to sayt having money or a credit card would have been useless, but having an insurance company that took over for me in insuring the bus was repaired was vital. My point is we need a lot of resources so we are prepared for anything, and the first and most important is knowing everything possible has been done to make sure the coach is roadworthy, but accepting the fact there are just some things that will happen despite your best efforts.
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Jon Wehrenberg
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 08:12:58 AM »

  If I were to have a major failure away from home I think I would look at having my 4104 trucked from wherever to home and then fix it myself with help from a couple of local people I know. Would not be cheap but would not cost 20 thousand. I would think up to 5 thousand should get a haul from a trucking company from about anywhere in the country. I don't get much more than a few hundred miles from home in the bus so having my bus hauled home would be something I would look at if I had a major breakdown.

 This would be if I could not find someone local to the breakdown on this site or one of the other bus forums to recommend a shop. One would of course have to weight the haul bill against having the bus repaired on the road but it would be an option.

Rick
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2011, 03:59:43 PM »

For what its worth, based on my experience from having many buses hauled - If you budget $2.50 per mile the truck will travel (empty & loaded), you will be close to the landoll hauling fee (usually they charge by the hour the truck is away from their shop). If you have the luxury of waiting for the landoll to find 'back hauls', the price may be less.
This also assumes your bus isn't too tall that it exceeds the 13'-6" height limit when loaded onto the landoll. If you exceed that, you may need 'over height' permits - not expensive, just a hassle. . . .
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2011, 04:33:53 PM »

I can say from personal experience that $5,000 is a reasonable emergency fund.  That ought to be able to get you out of an immediate pinch and at least buy you some time.

Depending on what your bus is worth, at $20,000, you need to start asking if replacement of the entire bus is more feasible than the repair
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2011, 05:52:07 PM »

Well Paul that is why I sent you a e-mail about my bus, everything is new I left no rock unturned, Everything That I could think of was rebuilt or replaced with new, and asking a fraction of what I have in it, not even thinking about the work, that was pleasure. I have more in my eng update then what some of the asking price on some of these buses. I also have invoices to backup what has been done. Some times a so called bargain with no documentation can be a expensive night mare.   
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2011, 06:00:54 PM »

  In todays market it would be a pretty nice Bus that would exceed $20K value. OTOH, if the Bus is your home, its value is also in the items you carry along, and if you built it, its priceless nature. Still, a $20K repair would be unlikely. And as suggested, $20K will buy a lot of nice Buses these days.

  I got a bit scared along the way, there have been some dusey repairs posted up here, and absolute BS hassles getting the work done. Money is one thing, time is another. There are some examples of owners waiting a week or more just to get someone to even diagnose the problem, and longer to start the actual work.

  Will the shop allow you to stay aboard while the work is done? If not, can you afford a motel indefinetly? Can you stay away from home indefinetly? If you have to leave it far from home, can you take your personal belongings? will they be safe?

  So the best defense is maintenance, intimate knowledge of your machine, and mechanical ability followed up with tools that work. But the very best thing to have, is this website. Nothing beats a few extra sets of eyes and experience on a problem, as well as advice on where to go, or where "not" to go, should you need some work. In most cases these old girls can be coaxed into limping along a long, long ways, putting both that $2.50 per mile hauling fee, and the sting of a big repair, that much farther down the road. So im going with the $2.50 per mile cushion. IOW, dont go any farther away from home than you can afford to haul it back.
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2011, 06:12:34 PM »

My plan is along the same lines as several of the post. Thorough maint program and enough of a emergency fund to get it home if it brakes down.
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Mike & Rosemarie
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2011, 07:11:39 PM »

we live full time and i'm not a mechanic, not at all.  i've learned a lot on this board and from friends, and i'm not near of afraid of a wrench as i once was, or getting dirty.  But disaster could be just that-disaster.

when we get on the road, i'm usually going somewhere with some sort of deadline.  i try to allow a couple days, not weeks, to get to my next job.  i try to check tires, wheels, oil levels, and i watch the gauges.

i have found friends along the way that have helped.  Jack Conrad, Ray Nukala, John Vickrey have helped me learn to use a wrench.  others on this board have coached, given advice, offered help, or provided phone numbers.  I've read about the free help others have provided.

i'd hate to have Bob of the North's past issues, but i'm not near as afraid as i used to be thanks to Mike's MAK board and the people that post here.
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2011, 08:19:21 PM »

This one I have a hard time understanding the $ and common sense you blow a 6-71  or a 8v71 engine the dealer wants $12,000 for a rebuild and you are going to pay 5 grand for a tow.

You get home and don't have the tools, experience or a good source of parts and you are under the impression you are going to do it cheaper.. 

A good take out low mileage engine is going to cost you Brian did a great article cost him over 8 grand without the tow he would be at over $13,000 with a $5000.00 tow we all do it different nature of so called hobby 

I have had to bite the bullet before if I was in a 100 miles from home maybe a tow home but I was 1400 miles wasn't going to happen to this cowboy I told the dealer fix it and call me

good luck
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2011, 08:34:59 PM »

  I would like to point out that anyone can learn mechanics. Its not always a gene or a gift, some of the best mechanics will tell you they sucked at mechanical aptitude.

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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2011, 08:47:44 PM »

This one I have a hard time understanding the $ and common sense you blow a 6-71  or a 8v71 engine the dealer wants $12,000 for a rebuild and you are going to pay 5 grand for a tow.

  Clifford, ive learned a lot from you, and I respect you a great deal. But IIRC you have stated several times that an inframe overhaul is a total waste of money. It just does not make practical sense to blow $12K out on the road for half an overhaul, when you can just as easily blow the $8K Brian did and have a totally brand new engine, clutch, hoses, and all the other goodies, with a turbo to boot.

  And $5K is a lot of towing to get home. I would hope before someone tooted off more than 2000 miles from home they would have their $hi# together enough to leave with checked out stuff. But if I happen to find myself up in Minnesota with an engine problem I cant fix, an $1800 tow back home might make a lot more sense.
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« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2011, 09:07:30 PM »

The condition of the coach when you got it, in effect, meaning the amount of preventive maintenance that the previous owner ignored, the condition of the coach now, meaning the amount of preventive maintenance caught up and done regularly by the present owner, are all indicators of how much trouble will be had on the road.

What is your religion? Change parts according to schedule or wait for failure?
The price tag in the driveway is significantly less than on the road.

How much "chance taking" is being done by busnuts with out of condition coaches?

Can you hear it trying to tell you, or are you blissfully unaware of the signs?

Drive the coach infrequently or regularly? Familiarity is not achieved with one use per quarter.

Do you wrench your own, or pay to have it done?

And then mix in some old fashioned bad luck...

I'd suggest that many of us do not have/will not spend a $20 000 slush fund for recovering the coach.

Some of us are finished when the coach craps out, some of us will sell off the entrails to start again, and some of us will pony up and get it fixed.

I'd suggest a minimum of bus fare home on the Megabus/Greyhound/Trailways be kept safely set aside.

happy coaching!
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« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2011, 10:56:24 PM »


What is your religion? Change parts according to schedule or wait for failure?
The price tag in the driveway is significantly less than on the road.

  This is the jist of it right here folks. A water pump, alternator, oil pump, rocker cover gasket, radiator, Thermosatat, you name the part, it will be lightyears better and cheaper to have your Bus figured out at home than it will 500 miles down the road.

  Engines dont often just blow up or explode, something precipitates it. A bad water pump or coolant leak, or plugged radiators, anything leading to an overheat can create a boil over and crack a head. This is truth here, heads dont up and crack very often for no reason.

  Injectors. Weve heard they can crack, drop parts into a cylinder and raise hell. But its more likely on engines that are out of tune and havnt been massaged in decades rather than a fresh one.

  If youve had the pan off and rolled in new bearings, looked in the side ports and seen the liners, had the covers off and ran the rack, changed seals and gaskets against leaks, got a new water pump, good rads, newer T-stat, oil in the tranny, oil in the motor, coolant in the block and air in the brakes, youve headed off about 99% of the garbage thats going to put you on the side of the road.
 
  But like the man said, you should keep some Bus fare.
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« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2011, 05:42:06 AM »

Something that I don't think has been mentioned yet is what I call "project creep".  That's when you get into a project and the cost grows because you justify additional expense by saying "well, we're in this deep already, might as well do it right."  That definitely happened to us 3 years ago - we could likely have got out of Camp Luke for 12-14,000 if we'd cut every corner we came to.  I'm glad we didn't do that but we likely could have cut our final bill by a third if we had.  Project creep is going to be a factor whether you are on the road or in your own shop but its likely worse on the road because you're paying somebody else to pull the wrench.
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2011, 06:06:28 AM »

One thing nobody has mentioned so far is the cost of maintaining a coach (chassis only) to keep it in the highest state of reliability possible. The costs do not reflect unplanned expenses such as a transmission or motor rebuild, but does include preventive maintenance including timely replacement of air bags, brake chambers, hoses, coolant, oil, tires, Transmission fluid and filters, lubes, brake service, etc. etc. Based on my annual mileage I allow about $6000 annually and this does not include repairs to the house, insurance, fuel, or other expenses.

I have included labor based on the hours it takes me to do the work at $100 per hour, but for an owner to do all the work themselves the cost annually can be cut down to about $4000 or a little less.

To help put this in perspective these are coaches that have a chassis that now costs north of $500,000 and even if our coach is decades old and worth 1% of the cost of a new chassis the cost to maintain it will be just as much or more if we start to consider rebuilding, repairing or replacing old parts. With fuel now costing $.50 or more per mile, insurance, maintenance costs, this is not a hobby for those faint of heart. Not doing maintenance will save a lot of money, but that is almost akin to playing Russian Roulette and just because the broken down bus is only worth $XXXX it doesn't mean the cost to tow or repair will be any less than the cost required to repair a six figure bus with the same needed repair.

The good news in all of this is my costs to own the bus are insignificant compared to owning the plane I just sold.
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Jon Wehrenberg
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« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2011, 07:16:22 AM »

Paul, I thought we we talking about road repair here,2 strokes give you plenty of warning before they need a major out of frame but most do not heed the warning then they pay the price on the road  that is my take on it anyway

 I'll say it again owners kill the engines no more than you guys use a bus the 2 stroke should out live the owner lol  

It is not a problem for a DD dealer to drop 1 liner set in one to get you going or overhaul 1/2 of a v engine then do the other 1/2 later a inframe will get another 50 to 100,000 miles and that may work for you but the engine will give warning.

Most of the rebuilt engines I saw are working on the 2nd or 3rd inframe kit and after market kit on top of that.
 
If you want 3 or 4 hundred thousand miles from one do it right if you want less patch it

good luck
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« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2011, 07:43:10 AM »

This one I have a hard time understanding the $ and common sense you blow a 6-71  or a 8v71 engine the dealer wants $12,000 for a rebuild and you are going to pay 5 grand for a tow.

You get home and don't have the tools, experience or a good source of parts and you are under the impression you are going to do it cheaper..  

A good take out low mileage engine is going to cost you Brian did a great article cost him over 8 grand without the tow he would be at over $13,000 with a $5000.00 tow we all do it different nature of so called hobby  

I have had to bite the bullet before if I was in a 100 miles from home maybe a tow home but I was 1400 miles wasn't going to happen to this cowboy I told the dealer fix it and call me



good luck

 Clifford,  let me restate what I was trying to say. Running up a 5 grand haul bill and then putting 12 more into a 671 dealer overhaul or other repairs when I get home is not in the future for me. My coach is a '59 4104, if it was a late model Prevost that might be different.

  I was trying to make the point that if I was on the road and had a major problem hauling the bus home for repairs would be just one of several options I would take into consideration. I think that would be using common sense. Once home I do know that with help from this forum and a few of my friends I could get the 04 up and going again.

Sorry for any confusion with my earlier post.

Rick
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« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2011, 09:10:21 AM »

Deciding to buy and use an old bus is a gamble with no guarantees.  But the original question was about the appropriate amount to set aside for an "emergency fund."  An "emergency fund" is just like an insurance policy.    Carry no insurance and you are taking an enormous risk that you may or may not get away with.  Have enough of an "emergency fund" and your overall risk of an unmanageable situation disappears.  

The amount to set aside is really a judgement call based on what your contingency plans would be, what you can afford and what kind of gambler you are...  (What you are willing to lose).  A person with just a $1,000 emergency fund is a big gambler, but a person with access to $100,000 doesn't worry about anything.
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« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2011, 09:42:08 AM »

So far I like the "enough for a bus ticket home" suggestion the best.  Work has been lousy recently so I'm just glad my bus has free storage or it would be gone.  When I have the cash to run it again, I'll  do my PM, run good tires and fluids, watch my temps and gauges, hope for the best, and have the means to get home without my bus if needs be.
That being said, it you take it easy you can get lots of miles out of an old rig.
One of my favorite quotes is from a buddy of mine years ago, "old cars are like old people, they need plenty of fluids"...That guy was really not a mechanic, he could barely work out changing a tire, still in the 1990's he drove a 68 Volvo  from Canada to Guatemala and back, he also drove 25 year old schoolie
almost as far.  Fluids aren't everything, but all my old rigs get new everything before I start to use them for long distances.....When was the last time you changed/checked your Dif anf Trans oil?
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« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2011, 09:46:55 AM »

The amount of your emergency fund should reflect how you plan to handle said emergency!
If you plan/need to get back up and rolling ASAP, then you'd better pack a hefty fund.

If your in no hurry with no place to go, and no certain time to be there then you can get by with less.

If you are limited on funds, but need to get home & it will be a while before you can get the funds for a major repair towing it home maybe the best option. (especially if you or someone you personally know are going to do the repair)
In that case a $3000-$5000 fund should get ya home.

On the other hand like Clifford points out. (and we all know if anyone can fix it himself, Clifford can!)
If you gonna fix it right away & not going to try to cut corners then the $3-5000 will go along way toward the repair bill.

Just remember one thing a blown tire can cost $1000 or more for a service call, tire, and any damages that HAVE to be repaired right away to get you back on the road. (like an airbag, airline, etc.)

SO the magic # is what it takes to make you comfortable.
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2011, 11:48:18 AM »

I don't have an emergency fund for the bus, different from any other fund that I might have.  If something happens, I'll just deal with it.  I figure no sense planning for what you can't control, but  do the things you can control and the rest will fall into place.

Brian
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« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2011, 12:32:42 PM »

I am part of the 20K fund crowd. My first thought, why not? Grin Extra security never hurts.

We just had a new tranny put in our bus, while on the road. See the thread that I just started on the replacement.

I am with Brian, though. Do what you can, don't worry about what you can't. That is what we did, still lost the tranny on the road, but it really didn't matter too much. Simply moved on.

FWIW

John
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« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2011, 12:55:33 PM »

My problem with having a special fund is that it tends to distort the decision making process.  I mean, I have enough money in my general fund to buy a brand new bus if I felt like it, but that ain't gonna happen.  If I have 20 large set aside for the bus, odds are when something happens I'm gonna just spend it, when the right thing to do is to sit back, analyze, review options, make a decision based on all the factors.  Maybe the right decision is to fix the bus at the camp site, have it towed home, have it towed to Choo Choo, or just load all the crap in the toad, take the plates and VIN numbers off it and run away under a cloak of darkness....

I carry credit cards with maybe 75 grand of available credit on them (I have no idea why, they just keep increasing my limits).  I have access to say 100K in cash within a week.  More than that I have to start to sell stuff.  The bus cost me $40K all in, it's worth way less than that now, you have to make decisions....   and having the ready in your pocket whispering "let me out, I can help..." can help you make a bad decision.

Brian
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thejumpsuitman
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« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2011, 03:46:50 PM »

I don't have an emergency fund for the bus, different from any other fund that I might have.  If something happens, I'll just deal with it.  I figure no sense planning for what you can't control, but  do the things you can control and the rest will fall into place.

Brian

I'm with you Brian,  no need to have a special "bus emergency fund"...  Just a life emergency fund.  If I'm at home and something horrible happens that isn't covered by insurance then it will certainly come out of the same money that a bus emergency would.
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