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Old 12-04-2009, 05:03 AM   #1
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Austin , Texas
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Gutted '67 Ambassador... what am I getting into

My wife and I are looking at buying a gutted 67 tradewind and want to turn it into a cross between a mobile office/showroom for our work and a way to get our young girls out camping with us a bit easier.

It is totally gutted on the inside at the moment. Nothing at all left. I'm trying to gauge how much I am getting myself into and would love some feedback.
The skin is solid, frame is good and subfloor in generally good shape with a couple of places that need to be refit but nothing major.

Our plan is to do the following:
- New floors
- New interior walls (any links on "how-to" for this would be helpful)
- New electrical
- New plumbing
- Simple little kitchen setup: dometic fridge, sink and range
- Simple bathroom: toilet and shower/tub combo
- Couches that convert to beds on each end of the trailer

I don't think we'll be doing a true vintage restoration as this will be for work as much as for family so we'll be adding in additional lighting and keeping as much open space as possible inside.

Any insight into the process would be huge. I've read through some of the restoration threads others have done and it has already helped a great deal.

Thanks in advance

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Old 12-04-2009, 06:30 AM   #2
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1968 24' Tradewind
Oxford, , Mississippi
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If you don't have any fixtures or cabinets, the amount of work and time goes up tremendously. Don't underestimate the hours needed, you will not believe how long some quick and simple things can take. Doing what you are planning requires a lot of skill in a lot of areas. Will you be able to work on the project indoors or not is another factor. I lost many days working on mine because of rain and cold. Be honest with your skill set and available time. The process is very rewarding

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Old 12-04-2009, 06:46 AM   #3
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1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
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Estancia , New Mexico
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Originally Posted by 68 TWind View Post
The process is very rewarding
Alpine Cowboy
Are you talking about replacing the subfloor, or just putting in new surface flooring? 68 Tradewind is right about time. Also most people who tackle the task end up spending more $ than they anticipated. The process is very rewarding if you enjoy it, but don't count on making any money or even breaking even on resale. One item you did not list which may need attention is new axles. Surprisingly the axles on both my 70s were shot but the axles on my 67 look OK.
Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:01 AM   #4
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1968 28' Ambassador
Seaside , Oregon
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Unless it is free or close to it I would seriously look at one that you all you need is to retrofit as you go along, Look at Purman's thread, that will show you the work needed and he still kept a lot of the interior. I would really think about putting in a new bathroom, that's a big undertaking. I don't know that I have seen anyone here on the forum say they have done a project on your size in less then 6 months. Life get's in the way. But saying all this if it was a 1962 Ambassador gutted at a good price (1000) I'd be owning it and looking at a long term project. Love the size.
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:46 AM   #5
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I've restored a couple of vintage trucks so I'm decent mechanically and as far as the wood working/carpentry goes I've got a helping hand in the form of my best friend who is a master carpenter and contractor who is willing to pitch in where needed. I'm planning on doing 99% of the work myself or with the help of a few key friends that can help with electrical and plumbing.

The subfloor is fine, so I'll be throwing new flooring on top of that.

Not looking to make any money on it, but I also don't want to lose my mind or my shirt trying to get this thing up to snuff. The primary goal is to make this into a mobile office/showroom with as little "stuff" in it as possible - trying to keep the maximum amount of open space as I can.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:10 PM   #6
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Malakoff , Texas
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I have had similar ideas myself...and still have them. An
empty trailer is open to any and all ideas.

The hesitation you hear in these responses may have
to do with the hundereds of man-hours involved.

By the time you lay down a few beads of caulk, drill
out a few rivets, install a few may
reconsider the wisdom of such a course of action.

However, life is for the living and dreams are worth
working for.
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Old 12-04-2009, 02:56 PM   #7
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
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Hey Alpinecowboy – Welcome to the forums!

There are those of us that will happily take on a challenge like this! Take a look at our thread ( - we're through Summer #1 of what I think is a 5 year project. There are several other complete refurb and restoration threads you can look at as well to get ideas and figure out if what you plan on doing is something you feel you can accomplish. One we read thoroughly before jumping into this ourselves was this one:

You mention interior walls in your first post. Does this mean you do not have any of the interior skins? These will need to be replaced, as the interior skin is riveted to the ribs, and is part of the overall structure of the shell. According to several people on this forum, you must have the interior skins in place if you ever want to move the trailer without causing major damage to the shell.

Do some research by reading through the various restoration threads. Also, read through the threads that are in the areas you have specific questions about. Electrical, plumbing, etc. There’s a wealth of information here. Sometimes, it can seem kind of daunting to find what you’re really looking for, but keep at it. And of course, ask questions! Lot’s of help here too!

Good luck!
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Old 12-04-2009, 06:01 PM   #8
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1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
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Estancia , New Mexico
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Originally Posted by Minno View Post

According to several people on this forum, you must have the interior skins in place if you ever want to move the trailer without causing major damage to the shell.
I have not done it myself but have seen several coaches totally gutted, including interior skins, towed with no problem. Also, have not done it myself, but have seen a totally gutted, including floor, coach towed using interior 2x4 crossbraces in an X configuration.
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Old 12-04-2009, 06:59 PM   #9
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crossville , Tennessee
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i regularly redo interiors on vintage a/s is sideline of my rv service shop. i prefer to gut coach as starting point. rare to go back original, most of my custumers want the interior to fit their needs rather than a design from 30/40 years ago. a lot of patience is a fundamental requirement. if you do the work yourself or work for bbq friends is not expensive however the last interior i did with some minor floor repair and custom appls. cost the owner 12,000.00 and that doesn't include his new mags or alum. tanks. i do a lot with inverters,agm batteries and small a/c refers . computer work stations have become an essential e-me for 888 # and would be happy to break it down for you.
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Old 12-05-2009, 07:03 AM   #10
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