We knew it would be expensive driving the skoolie / motorhome for Operation Sunshine. Fuel would be a big price tag as motor homes are notorious fuel guzzlers. Diesel prices haven’t been significantly lower than gasoline prices in decades so having a diesel pusher doesn’t make much of a difference. When we purchased our school bus from a local mechanic we were totally confident that the motor was in good shape; his reputation banked on it. What we didn’t calculate in was the rough roads we might encounter, and the shaking that the bus wasn’t used to. So repairs have made the travels in our skoolie more expensive than anticipated.
Its great to have a vehicle that’s not all computerized. Buying older vehicles is a real boon when you (or in my case, my hubby!) can tinker on it. Oil changes, batteries, etc. Never trained as a mechanic he’s always been able to do some of the smaller repair jobs on our vehicles, saving us loads of money over the 3+ decades we’ve been together.
But there are things he just can’t do on a big rig like ours simply because of its size and weight. Like changing the tires when we have a flat. Or today its doing a wheel alignment because since we got the new tire (back north of Yosemite) it seems to have gone out of whack. When it was first put on it drove straight as an arrow, but over the past few weeks its started to pull. Now its peeled away the outside tred.
Everette’s able to do the re-aligning but not when he can’t even budge the tie-rod loose. He borrowed a wrench from a Mexican friend of ours, Luis, but it wasn’t big enough…it wouldn’t budge a thing. So we went scouting for a mechanic or tire shop where he could get some help applying torque to release it.
We didn’t have to go too far to find Joe at a tire shop in the community at the southend of Ensenada. Joe thankfully speaks English really well…much better than our Spanish!
There was just enough room in the yard so Everette could drive the skoolie over the pit. There they could get a better angle to apply the needed pressure. They jacked up the frame to get the weight off the tires and release some pressure from the threads. The pipe wrench Joe had at the tire shop wasn’t enough. We fortunately found what we needed at the Construction store a couple blocks away. With the two wrenches and two men under the skoolie they were able to loosen the tie-rod so Everette could straighten out the tires.
$150 pesos for the use of the pit and Joe’s help.
$662 pesos for the wrench we had to buy.
A huge benefit of traveling in Mexico is the lower cost of so much (NOT electronics though!). Whenever we’ve needed mechanical work done on our vehicles its always been economical. The workmanship isn’t always the best…but that’s an issue north of the border, too.
P.S. Its nice knowing that our Blue Bird skoolie is easy to get parts for here in Mexico if necessary. There are so many school buses throughout the country, many of them are Blue Bird’s also, so no fear of getting anything we need in a timely manner. I imagine it will be that way throughout the Americas.
P.P.S. No, we do not carry a bunch of extra parts just in case, like I know some travellers do. Since we’ve had 2 break downs involving the same hose we now do have an extra hose with us. But otherwise we don’t carry much else for repairs. We’ve always found the help we need when we need it. We also believe that the more we fuss and worry about all the things that could potentially go wrong, the more we attract those situations to us (law of attraction). We want to be wise and balance being prepared vs living in fear. Besides, we don’t have extra space to carry all the extras (we may or may not even need!)
P.P.P.S. I think Everette just used a zip-tie to give support to the hose that just keeps breaking. Thinking it just needs support for all the jiggling its doing on some pretty rough roads
10 Road Trip Hacks From People Who Know
We've traveled 250,000kms+ in 10 years with our 9 kids... and lived to tell about it!
Get 10 Hacks to help make your next Road Trip the Best One EVER!!!