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Old 08-09-2009, 09:14 PM   #1
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Digging My Own Grave; Or, If I Could Only Take it Back!

Ok all willing participants,

I have been flirting with this whole 'renovate the AS' thing for years. On a two-barrel shotgun, I have pulled one of the triggers. I sold my SOB on Friday. Easy enough, as I had people knocking down my door to buy it. But should I go back, I will be in their same shoes trying to find a 24 foot camper. It takes months, even years.

The other barrel is this 1970 Overlander. This is the year and model I want, and have been looking semi-aggressively for about 5 years. The downside is that it isn't the perfect candidate. Does that even exist? Between price, condition and layout, I doubt it. So I figure to be realistic, we all have to make a compromise here and there. So here is where I need your help...............

The issues are, it has some floor rot, but surprisingly little. As it looks right now, I probably wouldn't be replacing any subfloor.

All of the appliances are original, but working (except the A\C and the converter). But with $1,250 fridges, I have to have a contingency fund.

The axles aren't completely shot, but close. They work, and unloaded the axles arms are dead level.

The awning mechanism is great, but the fabric is goners (this in one I haven't been able to put a number on yet $?).

The bathroom is an open book. I probed what little floor there is with an ice pick and it came up solid. Beyond that, I am at a loss.

I have to show up with new wheels/tires to even get it home.

Everything else is cosmetic. Now that includes the dented rear corner panels. Long term, they need to be replaced.

The negotiated price sits at $2,500. What do y'all think?

Aside from the awning material (can I even get it and how much?), can someone give me an idea on the # of square feet to assume for new flooring?

I am awaiting any and all opinions, anxiously.

Best Regards,
Wuttever
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:18 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
.... it has some floor rot, but surprisingly little. As it looks right now, I probably wouldn't be replacing any subfloor....
If it has any floor rot at all you will need to replace at least some of the sub-floor. There are many active threads right now with pictures of people doing a good job of repairing rot..the rot needs to be removed, the adjacent areas under the "C" channel explored - probably more rot, and the new sub-floor needs to go under the "C" channel and the other ends properly (double joined) to the adjacent good floor. In one of your other threads you mentioned plexiglass - this is an indication that water may have been allowed to get to the inside of the trailer some time in the past. A thorough investigation of the entire shell/floor/frame perimeter is in order.


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Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
All of the appliances are original, but working (except the A\C and the converter). But with $1,250 fridges, I have to have a contingency fund.
There are many internet options available, and in many instances "home type" units will work - but do not underestimate the cost of new units AND the "nickle and dime" items that will have to be purchased during the replacement.


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The axles aren't completely shot, but close. They work, and unloaded the axles arms are dead level.
Dude - the axles are almost 40 years old! I would be really surprised if they would give anything close to an acceptable ride - on the other hand, they should be plenty good to get the unit home if the bearings and brakes are still good. Some people here on the Forums are surprisingly quick about the whole refurb thing, others, like me, take several years, and still others never get it done - the point is that the axles could be one of the last things you need to purchase.

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Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
The awning mechanism is great, but the fabric is goners (this one I haven't been able to put a number on yet $?).
Fabric is available from a variety of sources - this area should be one of the least of your problems.

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Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
The bathroom is an open book. I probed what little floor there is with an ice pick and it came up solid. Beyond that, I am at a loss.
The bathroom fixtures and plumbing are areas where it is best to assume the worst. Hidden freeze damage and plugged plumbing could become a nightmare.

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Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
I have to show up with new wheels/tires to even get it home.
New tires are a given - but you COULD use used passenger car tires just to get it home - not recommending this - just throwing it out as an option so that you could get it home to evaluate the trailer properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
Everything else is cosmetic. Now that includes the dented rear corner panels. Long term, they need to be replaced.
All the little bits and projects quickly add up in terms of time and money. Best to do all of the repairs while the interior is open and you can get to backside of the shell (or whatever you need to get to). This is one area where "might as well" works - as in "might as well do it now while I can get to it". This adds time and money to the current project, but, overall, adds value and saves time to "do it right the first time".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
The negotiated price sits at $2,500. What do y'all think?
If this unit is the one you want (I understand about "birthday specific") AND the $2,500 would not be a huge hit to you, go for it...but, as in buying anything "old", there is a certain amount of risk to the gamble. The frame and floor could be cherry, on the other hand you could uncover a nest of worms (or snakes, or mice, or ...) each time you take off a panel. You never really know until you get a$$ deep into it.

The $2,500 is just the entry price to get your foot in the door to really see what you have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wuttevr View Post
I am awaiting any and all opinions, anxiously.
I would suggest to read as many of the "refurb" threads as you possibly could as soon as you can...especially the ones dealing with trailers around the year you are looking at. Pay special attention to the ones that contain a lot of pictures - especially the ones repairing the floor/shell/frame. Interior and cosmetic work can be done at any time - the real work of a refurb is the floor and frame, and the removal of everything necessary to get to the problems. If you think you can do it, then go for it, on the other hand, do not overestimate your ability, time, and resources necessary to finish the job.

For many people, a dream could soon become a nightmare.

Above all, purchase the best possible trailer you can afford to start with - I promise you this will be money well spent.
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:33 AM   #3
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I paid about that much for my 68 TW. Knew is was a little more than it was really work as it sat, but it was only 10 miles from my house. I had looked for 2 years and the difference in price would have been eaten up trying to bring one home from 500 miles away. The point, if it is close to home, sounds like a good price.

Dennis summed up everything very well. You will find things that you don't expect to need fixing. Axles, just do it. Bath, there will be leaks. Electrical, there will be gremlins. Appliances, there will be issues. Many are expensive to fix, but don't underestimate the time factor to do things.

Finally, take a look at 1967 Airstream Overlander

Tom's website contains a wealth of knowledge for anyone, but especially someone with an Overlander.


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Old 08-10-2009, 07:13 AM   #4
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Hard to be humble

Dennis,

I feel like I should send you a check. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that entire thing up. Wow! Plus, it hit the mark, squarely. I feel like my head is now out of the clouds and I am more firmly grounded.

The funny part is, my wife and I started a spreadsheet last night to try and come up with a budget. I just hit "delete". I need to double it and add 5. It accounted for everything I knew, plus everything else breaking, plus some. But I have seen the 10k number thrown around fairly regularly, and I was admittedly a little shy of that.

Back to thinking, just more realistically this time.

Best,
Wuttevr
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:27 AM   #5
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Dennis,

I feel like I should send you a check. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that entire thing up. Wow! Plus, it hit the mark, squarely. I feel like my head is now out of the clouds and I am more firmly grounded.

The funny part is, my wife and I started a spreadsheet last night to try and come up with a budget. I just hit "delete". I need to double it and add 5. It accounted for everything I knew, plus everything else breaking, plus some. But I have seen the 10k number thrown around fairly regularly, and I was admittedly a little shy of that.

Back to thinking, just more realistically this time.

Best,
Wuttevr
We bought a similar vintage coach, in similar condition, for about the same money. We now have nearly $14,000 in it, and counting. Here's a thread documenting our efforts: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f314...ins-32395.html
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:54 AM   #6
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Get creative on purchasing new parts and components. Even if you don't need something "right now" but you find a good price on something you will need latter buy it then. I got a 6 cubic foot fridge for 200.00 from a guy that lives north of me. I've had it for a year and I,m still not ready for it. I picked up an intellipower for 80 bucks on Craigslist brand new. Learn how to use E-bay and how to do nation wide Craigslist searchs. You can bring the prices down if know ahead of time what you are going to need and shop smartly.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:34 AM   #7
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My buddy just bought a 5.5 cu ft. NorCold fridge, brand new, for $750, from an RV supply house in Texas and it, along with a water heater, catalytic heater and range top all shipped to northern WA by UPS ground for under $200. His total for all of the above was $1,700. About half of what he'd of had to pay if he bought locally. He found the deal on the internet, checked them out with the Better Business Bureau and also looked on line for anyone voicing complaints and found nothing negative. He's very happy with the service he got.

I bought my range top stove as a take out at an RV dealer as the folks wanted an oven so I paid $100. Lots of folks go the other way and want to change from a range top to one with oven so again the take-out usually sells for a lot less. The dealer has no use for it and they take up room, collect dust, and they are often willing to deal. Same goes for most any part. Others will look for a wreck of a not too old SOB and part it out. Just make sure there's enough value in what you are getting to make the purchase worthwhile. Appliances going through a roll-over may not function properly again and you need to have propane appliances checked out properly before installing in case something has cracked in the accident. When looking at take-out pieces make sure to check it over good, try to get the manuals for it.

I just bought an awning (long long long story on the old one I can make even longer if I have to) and got an outstanding price from RV Awnings For Less on line. Several hundred dollars less expensive than any other price I could find, I had it in a week, and can't say enough about how easy it was to deal with them and their follow up.

It is amazing how creative shopping on the internet can save you money. Be careful though, some deals are not what they seem so follow through on researching who you are ordering from. Many will also ship free if you are willing to wait for ground service and that can save you a lot of money.

A $10K investment would give you a very nice rig if you are doing the work mostly yourself. Well worth the investment if you plan on using it often and still want to have some value left in it when you are ready to sell.

Barry
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Old 08-10-2009, 12:57 PM   #8
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Airstream Blood Disease

I am firmly convinced that the CDC should study this. Wuttevr bit me years ago, has been coarsing through my veins ever since. The symptoms include: rubbernecking when you see anything shinny and silver, saying "piece of junk" when you see any given box trailer, and your kids yelling "Airstream!!!!" at the top of their lungs when there is a sighting. But the worst symptom of all, at least in my case, is a total loss of rational decision making ability.

Yep. Despite everyone's warnings that it will be a money and time pit, that it will always be more than I bargained for, and even my own acknowledgement that it could possibly cause me personal harm, I pulled the other trigger. I've just gotta have it.

I appreciate all of the input from everyone. Seriously, none of it fell on deaf ears. But in the very near future, when I post about how frustrated I am, please, no "We told you So's". It wasn't me who bought this thing. It was that other guy who has the disease, and he wasn't thinking clearly.

I pick it up on Friday or Saturday, assuming my new wheels get here on time. Oh, and my kids have already given it an endearing name - "Dumpster". This name came to my daughter as she was waving goodbye to our perfectly good (quite nice, actually) Jayco. She asked what we were going to camp in now. I told her that we were going to get the Airstream we looked at the weekend before. To which she replied - "I'm not sleeping in that dumpster". And her name was chosen............
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Old 08-10-2009, 01:23 PM   #9
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Despite everyone's warnings that it will be a money and time pit, that it will always be more than I bargained for, and even my own acknowledgement that it could possibly cause me personal harm, I pulled the other trigger. I've just gotta have it.
Uh-Ohhh....now you done it.

Drugs, alcohol, sex, food, shopping - we all have our little mill stones to drag around - now yours is aluminum....

No time for the kids, less time for the wife, and all the money going toward completion....

All of the "I told you so's" will be directed toward the other guy - your evil twin brother.

Tell your twin brother - the evil one - that he should start a daily log recording the time and money spent on the project - errr...thrown into the dumpster.

And pictures - lots and lots of pictures - just to remind the kids where their college fund went.
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Old 08-10-2009, 03:29 PM   #10
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Now come on Dennis, it's not that bad... Our airstream so far has given my wife and I some real quality time together. She is just as much into this as I am, although she is less able to do some of the work than I. The kids are already mapping out where they wan to go. My oldest daughter already wants one of those maps for the side so we can add states we visit... all I need is to borrow your polisher when the time comes...
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Old 08-10-2009, 04:36 PM   #11
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i gotta quit reading this forum...i found one for $1250, and I don't even care what shape it is in...what kind of thinking is that? well, i have a usuable one in the driveway, but i really want to build one MY way...I may be single soon...or pushing daisies...yikes!
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:45 PM   #12
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Putting the Horse Before the Cart

Don't you just love Grandma's cliche's? Sadly, you will have to get used to it.

So posession is going to be delayed several days. The yahoo that I ordered the wheels from off of Ebay (I would tell you who it was since I got a SCREAMING DEAL, but I'm not gonna give him the business, read on) didn't come through with same day shipping as promised. This will set me back. Well who gets new aluminum wheels before even getting it, or sealing up the leaks? Me. That's who. Just so you know who you are dealing with, this is going to be a renovation, not a restoration. Hubcaps just don't do it for me. Besides, I figured I should get these little gems now, as opposed to waiting until the end when I am totally pennyless (see, I really did learn something from everyone's advice). And as previously mentioned, I have to show up with wheels/tires to even get it home. So why blow $50 per wheel on steel, when you can blow under a hun on aluminum? Hey, that almost rhymes.

So I spent some time today, perusing the various vintage trailer parts suppliers websites. To sum it all up; I am surprised. I couldn't believe how little Out-of-Doors-Mart (is that right?) is asking for body panels. I have to say I was expecting at least triple that, at least from what I have read. -on the other hand. (get ready for a rant)

What blew me away is what I found for price on replacing the awning fabric for a Zip-Dee. Please God, let my awning be some other brand! Of course by the looks of it, I could completely replace my entire awning for what just the fabric costs. So I am hoping that some knowledgable, kind soul can identify the manufacturer of my awning from this photo. Including any leads on where to get the fabric would be an even bigger bonus!

The other thing I learned is that the plexiglass that is in the front wrap-around windows is going to stay plexiglass. Ouch! Although I noticed it could be worse. If mine (Oh wait. Since posession is 9/10ths of the law, it isn't mine) was one year older, I would be seeking TARP funds.

Thanks in advance, and keep it shiny out there!

.........Yes. I know the axles are shot.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:03 PM   #13
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Hi, Wuttevr -- I paid $2500 for a 68 Trade Wind because it was good enough to camp in while also making necessary repairs. But, over three years I have spent about $10K on materials, stocking up on what I know I will need, trying to buy aluminum when the price is low (like now), and learning as I go about the infrastructure and everything invisible but necessary for long-term use and safety. I could easily spend another $10K on the interior, but I'll have to restrain myself.

I had to start from scratch for tools beyond my household tool kit. Compressor, air tools, even learned to weld and bought a welder. If you are already set with all the tools, you'll have a better time of it.

There is an episode on the VAP (thevap.com) in which the guys discuss the cost of rehab/restore/remodel. I think they came up with around $30,000, which might take into account the value of your labor. But, they also admitted it's a labor of love. And, you'll never recover the expense once you decide to sell. Just like a house, in that respect -- you do what makes you happy, but you don't expect to get your money back.

In this economy, it's hard to know if you're making the best decision. But, in the long run, it is fun to own a piece of American ingenuity. And, you might be the only Airstream in the campground a lot of the time. Get used to a lot of curious people stopping by. You don't get that with a big white box. Those all look alike to me.

I'll bet your Overlander will still be on the road long after your SOB goes to plastic and MDF heaven. Except in a 70s model, you might have some MDF and plastic, too, but it will still be going down the road having a great time!

My $.02
Anne
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:15 PM   #14
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Your awning looks like an A & E or a Carefree---not a Zip Dee!
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