Here's my beloved caravan at the the Sussex Caravan and Motorhome Centre at Ashington, north of Worthing. I'd just towed it there for its annual service, after emptying out. This was on 16th February. I expected to have new tyres, but otherwise get away with only the usual checks and attentions. Let's say a £600 bill.
But caravans are essentially lightweight cabins on wheels, and the shaking and bumping they get when towed gradually loosens them up. In any case tyres become too old to be legal, and, bit by bit, various things wear out. My caravan will be sixteen years old by the end of this year, and is in remarkably good condition, considering all the use it gets each year, and how far I tow it in my travels.
But it isn't immortal. At some stage I will have to write it off. That time hasn't come yet, but it will. Then I will have to consider giving up caravanning - a source of 'cheap-as-chips' holidays, if you own one - or invest in a replacement. A caravan can be towed by a conventional diesel car, or an electric one, so if I did get something else, it wouldn't be waste of money, so long as I wanted to holiday in a caravan (which I would always want to) and have a car capable of towing it (I'm sure I always would).
Currently a new caravan like mine - if I were forced to buy one - would cost me about £20,000 or so. A good used one, six or seven years old, £10,000. So I measure the cost of any repairs that crop up against these figures. As the title of this post suggests, I am now looking at spending £3,500. That's £715 for the service itself (all the tyres had to be replaced, the spare included; and, unexpectedly, a wheel bearing), and some £2,800 for extensive damp-proofing work, mostly labour.
It's a no-brainer. £3,500 is the final nail in the coffin so far as my 2022 savings plans are concerned, but much the lesser outlay compared with getting a new (or newer) caravan. So I've said yes. I should have my caravan back early next week, and then I'll be ready for the year's holidays: 99 nights away. Well, I do want to get my money's worth!
So what is that £2,800 on damp-proofing for?
Basically rain-water and dew have been getting in behind aluminium rails and similar metal strips all over the caravan exterior. These metal strips, such as the long awning rails, are fixed to the aluminium roof and sides with screws, and sealed with mastic. The awning rails are the long strips you can see in this shot of the caravan down in Devon last year: