Back to the Mothership, Again

We are once more in Ohio at the Airstream factory and service center for repairs. Yep.

We’re here for the fourth or fifth time, not because we keep breaking things (well, there’s that, too), but because this is the only factory and national service center, which means the mechanics here are excellent. And when they can’t figure something out, they have access to the engineers working in the factory right next door. Dude, these mechanics fix problems that other Airstream mechanics create.

We’re staying in that same weird “Terraport,” which is a spiral-shaped parking lot next to the service center. It’s absurdly convenient: you vacate your trailer first thing in the morning, then someone on a tractor tows it to the service bay for the day. When they’re done, they tow your trailer back to your spot. Repeat until all your Airstream problems are fixed—or you run out of money—whichever comes first. These guys charge $159/hour. On top of parts.

A treat for staying here is to see all the Airstreams parked in the “long-term” service lot, like this mid-1980s Airstream 345. I swear it was here the last time I was here. Let’s hope it’s not taking more than a year to repair.

This morning we went through what I consider to be the nerve-wracking prep routine of getting the trailer ready for repair. We needed them to look at the “trunk” area at the back, so we had to take a bunch of stuff out and pile it up in a junk-pyramid by our parking spot and protect it with a tarp. (Were all our neighbors not doing the same, I would be ashamed.) Inside, we had to find room for other outside stuff, then clear a trail for the mechanic to get to various sections. Plus secure everything for the tractor ride to the bay. All had to be done by 7 am, and we were scrambling around in the dark along with all the other folks with appointments scheduled for today.

Once the trailer was in the bay, we went over our wish-list with our mechanic (who remembered us from the last time we were here) and then we drove to a nearby small town to while away the day. Really, we just kept watching our phones, anxious for the call to come. How many of our repairs would he be able to address? What other problems would he find? How many thousands of dollars would this put us back? How many days would we need to stay in their parking lot and repeat the morning scramble?

By 4 pm it was all good news. The front door had been realigned and the hinges, we hope, entirely repaired (for the fourth time). The grey waste tank valve had been replaced. Brakes were checked, tires rotated, leaks investigated, outlandish estimates given on work we knew could wait. Best of all, we can get back on the road tomorrow.

Even before we paid our bill, we made an appointment for next year. We don’t know what we’ll break between now and then, but these appointments are so hard to get that we’re booking one now betting we’ll need it. See you next year, Mothership.

7 thoughts to “Back to the Mothership, Again”

  1. Wow. I guess people like me who don’t travel this way have no idea of what goes on behind the scenes to keep the wheels turning. $159 an hour? Damn. That must get pricey quickly. Glad it wasn’t anything major and you were able to leave the parking lot hotel behind.

    1. Oh, major work needs doing, but we got estimates on that stuff so we can think about it. Since we live in the trailer, leaving it at the service center for several weeks would mean adding the expense of lodgings. (We did that a couple of years ago when we got solar panels and batteries installed over a week.) Nomadic living can be pretty costly and complicated, but to us it’s worth it.

    1. I believe the project in SD is called DUNE and will be the endpoint of a neutrino beam that starts at Fermilab. Apparently a joke is that all particle physicists’ work will one day be in support of DUNE, I guess because it’s going to be giant. Yeah, Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. Go South Dakota!

      1. Oops, I’m mistyping on my own blog this time. I’ll repost this comment under the physics post. But yes, nature sure does distract from finance!