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Old 08-12-2003, 09:11 AM   #1
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Talking Cost of refurbishing basketcase

I've been given a 1954 Flying Cloud in basket case condition and have become obsessed with refurbishing it. I think I can do it mostly myself for between $5000-$8,000. Is this realistic?
How large of an issue is original vs modernized interior? (no shower or microwave!) Thanks for any comments!
(WARNING: TIME INTENSIVE SITE FOR 56K -- Sorry, I'll try to cut it back a bit soon!)

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Old 08-12-2003, 09:50 AM   #2
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1976 26' Argosy 26
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to prepare for restoration/refurbish of any thing old, first get a bushel basket, fill it with 100 dollar bills, get another baske and place beside the first, every time you remove 1 100 dollar bill from the first basket place 2 in the second. Just kidding... you will be amazed at how much you can spend. We bought a really nice older trailer in which everthing except the furnace worked. I have allready put in excess of $2000.00 in the trailer and am still trying to get the interior to suit us. Then comes the exterior and for us paint (you would probably polish @ $100.00 a foot) the materials alone for painting will be around another grand and I'll do the painting myself. Keep in mind you'll never get back what you put into it, it will be truly a labor of love.

Mike Keith
75 Argosy 26'
96 Ford F-250 PowerStroke
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Old 08-12-2003, 10:14 AM   #3
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1959 22' Caravanner
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That web site did not make my computer very happy.

Well your screwed, you got the disease.

Flying clouds are one of the most reconized of the Airstream family. It looks like a keeper if it's solid.

The How is the floor and frame? Like anything it has to have a good foundation. I'm about to start restoring a 59 Caravanner (built on the same platform as the Flying Cloud would be for that year). I have floor rot to deal with. That's a major under taking but it has to be done and short cutting it will comprimize the the structure of the camper.

Your interrior seems to be mostly complete. Even if you have some problems with rot and damaged cabinettes you have the original to use as a templet. If the floor is solid you really don't have a bad start.

The biggest expense is going to be the RV appliances. Your probably going to need a water heater and probably a reefer. That is going to eat uf about $1600 real quick. You probably want A/C...that's going to be close to another grand. I honestly think your being realistic on what your going to spend if your able to do most of the labor.

As to do a full restoration or something original. Well a restoration back to original is going to cost you more but you will get more if you ever decide to sell it. I honestly find it's hard to out do Airstream on the layouts. It's well thought out. I would do your best to recreate the existing cabinetry and then up date the systems like electrical and plumbing. 40+ year old wiring has a lot left to be desired. Critters could have done a number on a lot of it where you can't see it. I would plan to scrap it all.

Good luck with it.
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1988 R20 454 Suburban.
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Old 08-12-2003, 10:22 AM   #4
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Thumbs up obsessed is good!

Congratulations! Your Flying Cloud will be gorgeous when you finish... just be prepared for countless hours work and try not to count the money you'll be spending. Both will be enough to discourage you unless you're truly obsessed!

Update those things that need it (tanks, appliances, plumbing, electrical etc), and keep original those things you like about it as a '54 (cabinetry where you can, etc.)

Just keep in mind the picture of what you'll have when you're finished, and it will carry you through. The end result is worth the effort.

Best of luck, and keep us posted with your progress!

AIR 2053 Current: 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis, & 1995 Coachmen B-van
Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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Old 08-12-2003, 02:32 PM   #5
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Cool Thanks everyone!

(Sorry, 59 toaster -- I'll move some of the pictures to another page to speed it up.)

Much of the floor is going to have to be replaced. The little I've seen of the frame looks good, but it has been in the So. California desert for many years, so rust won't be too much of an issue, I hope. I'm planning on replacing the complete axle/brakes/rims/tires in the fall to get it up to safety standards, then bring it out to my home in Vegas to work on the rest of it. Just have been busy trying to plan out the entire project before biting into it. Plumbing, electrical, LP lines and A/C are a given. I'm thinking 2-3 years to get the major work done. (that should help stretch out the $$ hit as well.) My big fear is that I don't want to get into the $12-15K range if I can help it.

I've been playing with floorplans, and I think you are right -- It would be awfully hard to improve on the original, though I sure would like to get a small shower into it and a double bed in the back.

I'm getting those bushel baskets ready, and will keep you posted!

--Thanks again!
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Old 08-12-2003, 03:40 PM   #6
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Well, since you have some time.... can start looking for deals on stuff like a fridge, water heater, and a/c unit now. There's an RV salvage place here in Phoenix that has deals once in a while, or you can do the EvilBay thing. Also, you can save by getting a rebuilt fridge, and so on.

If you were trying to do the whole thing in a month, you'd have a problem. But with a lot of time, you can pick and choose for deals.

If you want inspiration, check this out:

Safety Tip: Keep your wife involved, picking out fabrics and colors, etc. If she loses interest, you're dead.
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Old 08-12-2003, 08:40 PM   #7
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1959 24' Tradewind
Phoenix , Arizona
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Scott, that baby is a keeper. Our '59 TradeWind was in sorry shape when we got her home in Sept. of '01. At least our floor was pretty solid. All of the woodwork had four coats of paint on it. Yuk! We stripped it down, refinished the wood, added a new 2-way water heater, refurbished 2 way fridge, black water tank, fresh water tank, new matteresses, updated propane tanks, some 12 volt lighting, complete 12 volt system including Intelli-Power with Charge Wizard, new table with aluminum edging, countertop with aluminum edging and new stainless sink. We replaced the axle with new electric brakes, wheels and tires. All of this was tons of fun to do in the non-summer months in the desert. We took our first trip in May of '02 for two weeks and had a great time. I still need to polish, which I plan on doing once it cools off.

It is difficult to add up all of the expenses especially the trips to the hardware store for the little stuff that you need in order to complete a bigger project. A project that you estimate a couple of hours will turn into a weekend event. Don't get discouraged. If you posess the skills to do most of it yourself, you'll really love it.

Think of all of the time you'll have to enjoy your efforts as you travel everywhere you'll want to go. You'll get thumbs up going down the freeway. Other campers will want to peek inside at every campground. Folks will follow behind you and next to you on the highway staring with wide eyed looks. Your face will shine brighter than the polish job on your tow behind baby. Your wife'll get jealous and start acting differently towards you around camping season. It will all be worth it indeed. Enjoy the ride, you're hooked!

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Old 08-12-2003, 09:27 PM   #8
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An Airstream referb is cheaper than GOLF!...mine was $4000 +or- a few bucks....check frame-exterior skin-axels...if they are OK have a go at it....if not I wouldn't bother....geof-near Cincinnati
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Old 11-02-2003, 10:59 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone/ update

Well, it's started. So far all the carpet and tile is out, as well as anything that wasn't riveted down. I updated my site and thinned it way down to make it more 56K friendly. I'll get new pics up after my next trip.

The short of it is that the rear 4x8 floor panel was completely rotten and the rear U channel mostly disintegrated. The front 4x8 panel is shot only on the right side, maybe 1 1/2 feet worth. There is also a section right in front of the door that will have to be replaced. Overall, most the floor is solid.

I've been devouring the various forums to get ideas on how to best do the repairs and am having the time of my life! It will go slow for the first couple of months till I get it to Vegas. Right now I'm working on it during trips to CA. I'll finish as much of the floor there as possible, replace the windows, and put on a new axle, electric brakes, rims and tires. (I don't want to deal with split rims if I can help it.) I'm thinking about a Dexter axle, but welcome any suggestions. It's a bit far to transport down to Inland RV, though I was seriously considering that for a while.

Looking forward to my first rivet gun!

Ahhhhh. . . Life is good!
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Old 11-02-2003, 02:03 PM   #10
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Question I couldn't help but wonder


Since you're at this stage where you've gotten everything out..Right?
Why not check the entire frame out for any rust that might be there..It'll never be any easier to inspect and/or repair than now..
It could be that your frame is in excellent shape but, given the age of your lovely unit..The odds are slightly higher against you.
I whole heartly agree with the others, once finis..You're gonna have one heck of a beautiful unit~Including the "shine" that can be achived on this vintage year..
Good luck~


WBCCI 5292 AIR 807
NEU #64
New England Unit
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