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Old 06-19-2008, 08:19 PM   #1
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1968 30' Sovereign
Belleville , Ontario
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Frame/floor repair... how much $$$?

Hello guys, I sure you've all likely heard at some point from somebody that Airstream owners are independently wealthy, however not the case with me.
My trailer needs a good portion of the floor replaced; two spots in the living room (leaky vista views), under the kitchen cabinets (leaky sink drain vent) and the bathroom floor (I think they all need this at some point) not to mention the repair needed for the nasty rear frame sagging. Currently the trailer is protected from leaking in two plastic garages.
I see lots and lots of fantastic information here from those who have done it themselves and a few who have hired it done but not too much about the cost... am I allowed to ask that?
If you don't mind, may I ask how involved and how much it costed any of you to do a frame repair/floor replacement either yourself or hired at an RV shop? I ask this because I just don't know if I'm up to the task of trying to get the 30' shell off my Sovereign when I'm working outside, not to mention I have limited walking/standing tolerances. I think I would like to hire it done if possible (who in Southern Ontario Canada does that aside from CanAm Airstream?) however I have no idea what the cost would be. To me it would be worth a couple thousand to hire it done, but would that do it?? I intend on removing all the interior cabinetry myself.
In addition, if the interior skin is removed myself to save a few bucks, can I then tow the trailer to a repair facility to have the frame/floor and running gear done? Or would this cause damage to the exterior skin not having the structural integrity of the interior skin? I need to pull out the interior skin anyhow to re-insulate and replace the terrible aluminum 12v & 110v wiring.
Your input is appreciated. If I shouldn't ask financials then by all means please let me know.
Thanks!!! Ryan
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Old 06-20-2008, 07:57 AM   #2
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It all depends on now mush your labor is worth to you, Because that's the big ticket item. I sometime think that my labor is worth 100 dollars per hour, but when I am providing service to myself it goes down to about 50 cents an hour. The other cost is material, with the biggest cost the plywood you choose to use, but figure around 80 bucks a sheet. then there is the rivet costs, special tools, paint etc. I think it would have been cost prohibitive to have had my Globetrotter done by a professional
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:42 AM   #3
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...and then there's the "while we're at it" syndrome ~

Most professional shops will charge $20-50K+ for a total restoration, which is what it sounds like you will have once you get into it. Heck, even doing it ourselves, by the time you add in supplies, replacement parts, panels, specialty tools...we will be getting close to that (the lower end) by the time we are through.

It's not for the faint of heart! I think that's why you see so many "mid-restoration" trailers on ebay. People get started and run out of either resources, ability or realize it's a bigger project than they anticipated.

It all depends on the actual condition your specific trailer is in...step back and really look at it, is it worth getting into or would you be better off finding one without the floor/frame issues you describe? You can travel a looong distance, even with high gas prices, to pick-up one with fewer "big ticket" issues and come out ahead.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do ~

Shari
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Old 06-20-2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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1961 28' Ambassador
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I'm in the process of replacing the rear floor on my 61 Ambassador. Currently, I have all of the flooring out and I'm repairing the frame. Total costs so far: $66 for steel. Total hours so far: easily over 40. at $50 / hour labor, it would have cost me at least $2000 in labor to get where I'm at. To get the flooring back on, I will be spending about $300 for new plywood, about $150 for a gray tank, and maybe $150 for fasteners. I am going to splurge and have my cabinets refaced by Frank Yensan at Hand Built International Trailer Company, which will cost me a couple thousand dollars. I could skip this and reuse the cabinets, but I want to have a functional and beautiful trailer when I'm done. Oh, I'm also going to have the interior repainted with a zolotone-like finish, but I don't have a price for this yet.

You can see it's not too expensive to do it yourself. Of course, I have all the tools, welders, grinders, etc (I even had a can of POR-15) laying around). If you have the skill, tools, and patience you can save yourself thousands of dollars. Check out my blog at 1961 Airstream Restoration to see what I'm doing and how it looks.
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Old 06-20-2008, 10:15 AM   #5
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Thumbs up Looks good!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoverOwner View Post
Check out my blog at 1961 Airstream Restoration to see what I'm doing and how it looks.
It does help to have a nice shop with all the tools (and the ability to know how to use them!) like yours!

Shari
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoverOwner View Post
I'm in the process of replacing the rear floor on my 61 Ambassador. Currently, I have all of the flooring out and I'm repairing the frame. Total costs so far: $66 for steel. Total hours so far: easily over 40. at $50 / hour labor, it would have cost me at least $2000 in labor to get where I'm at. To get the flooring back on, I will be spending about $300 for new plywood, about $150 for a gray tank, and maybe $150 for fasteners. I am going to splurge and have my cabinets refaced by Frank Yensan at Hand Built International Trailer Company, which will cost me a couple thousand dollars. I could skip this and reuse the cabinets, but I want to have a functional and beautiful trailer when I'm done. Oh, I'm also going to have the interior repainted with a zolotone-like finish, but I don't have a price for this yet.

You can see it's not too expensive to do it yourself. Of course, I have all the tools, welders, grinders, etc (I even had a can of POR-15) laying around). If you have the skill, tools, and patience you can save yourself thousands of dollars. Check out my blog at 1961 Airstream Restoration to see what I'm doing and how it looks.
What, Franks' not going to let you pay him in pie????

menormy-- some people are reluctant to talk about the financial aspects, while others like John clearly don't have any problem with it. It's okay to ask, and anyone who doesn't want to give you details, won't.

Good luck on whatever you decide. As John pointed out, a lot of it you can do yourself, but having the right tools and a good workspace is critical if you're going to do anything really heavy duty like welding.


-Marcus
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menormy View Post
My trailer needs a good portion of the floor replaced; two spots in the living room (leaky vista views), under the kitchen cabinets (leaky sink drain vent) and the bathroom floor (I think they all need this at some point) not to mention the repair needed for the nasty rear frame sagging. Currently the trailer is protected from leaking in two plastic garages.
I see lots and lots of fantastic information here from those who have done it themselves and a few who have hired it done but not too much about the cost... am I allowed to ask that?
If you don't mind, may I ask how involved and how much it costed any of you to do a frame repair/floor replacement either yourself or hired at an RV shop? I ask this because I just don't know if I'm up to the task of trying to get the 30' shell off my Sovereign when I'm working outside, not to mention I have limited walking/standing tolerances. I think I would like to hire it done if possible (who in Southern Ontario Canada does that aside from CanAm Airstream?) however I have no idea what the cost would be. To me it would be worth a couple thousand to hire it done, but would that do it?? I intend on removing all the interior cabinetry myself.
Hi Ryan! I recently asked myself the same questions in particular about repairing/replacing the frame. You can find my little epic here: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...rot-39673.html The gist of what I eventually discovered is that at least cost wise it depends upon the extent of the damage.

To start it seemed important to assess the damage accurately. So I talked to three different welders and had them come out and personally inspect the frame. BTW there is a HUGE amount of work involved in removing the belly skins, flooring and other systems in order to realistically assess the condition of a trailer frame. Fortunately or unfortunately I eventually found out that I needed to entirely replace the frame or send the trailer back to the boneyard.

I also visited the local steel supplier to obtain an idea of the cost of materials. In retrospect I would probably also look into salvage steel which can be just as good as the shiny stuff and will save you lots of money. I also called a trailer renovation specialist just to see what a professional would charge to replace an entire frame.

Of course your frame may only need repairs. However here is a rough idea of the numbers involved in a frame replacement for a '29 trailer NOT including the labor necessary to remove the belly skins and the shell and then reinstall. Keep in mind these figures will vary according to the welder and the steel supplier.

The raw steel cost about $1,000 and I suspect the labor will run around $1,500 although I haven't received the bill yet because we're still doing the work. By comparision the professional bid a new frame at $6,000 not including labor and additional $2,500 in labor to remove and replace!

I would recommend taking a close-up look at the damage, take lots of pictures and post 'em here, and ask lots of questions before you make a decision! Good luck!
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utee94 View Post
What, Franks' not going to let you pay him in pie????

menormy-- some people are reluctant to talk about the financial aspects, while others like John clearly don't have any problem with it. It's okay to ask, and anyone who doesn't want to give you details, won't.

Good luck on whatever you decide. As John pointed out, a lot of it you can do yourself, but having the right tools and a good workspace is critical if you're going to do anything really heavy duty like welding.


-Marcus

I should be more clear; I am having Frank re-do all of the wood in my trailer, and while we have not talked specific prices I am assuming it will be the most expensive part of this restoration. If you have seen Frank's work, I am sure you have been impressed. We have talked ballpark prices, and the numbers we have discussed have been much lower than anywhere else I investigated. Again, this will be the most expensive part of my project, but if I had the skills and tools to work with wood I would save big bucks. I may be able to weld, but when it comes to finish carpentry, I simply do not have the skills.
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:47 PM   #9
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My "frame" repairs have been very labor intensive but inexpensive. My labor is VERY cheap and the welding was done by a friend who just hit me for a half gallon of Crown. With the subfloor I will have about $700 in it.

BUT...now for the rest of the story. The following are some things you might run in to (and all of which I have):

New Black tank, dump valve, and galvanixed box for that

New furnace

New water pump

New water heater

New toilet

New axles, tires, and wheels

Replace front window

Paint to refinish bath

New cooktop

New roof A/C

Replace step assembly

Replace refer scoop

New converter

New refrigerator

New wood work

By the time I am through I hope to stay close to the $10K figure that has been tossed around.
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Old 06-20-2008, 12:53 PM   #10
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Exclamation Symptoms...

Quote:
Originally Posted by vhord View Post
BUT...now for the rest of the story. The following are some things you might run in to (and all of which I have):

New Black tank, dump valve, and galvanixed box for that
New furnace
New water pump
New water heater
New toilet
New axles, tires, and wheels
Replace front window
Paint to refinish bath
New cooktop
New roof A/C
Replace step assembly
Replace refer scoop
New converter
New refrigerator
New wood work

By the time I am through I hope to stay close to the $10K figure that has been tossed around.
That's the "while we're at it" syndrome also known as "Imightaswell" sickness!

Don't forget:

New foam/mattresses
New upholstery
New curtains
New floorcovering

Shari
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post
That's the "while we're at it" syndrome also known as "Imightaswell" sickness!

Shari

A.K.A. Shipfitters disease
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:12 PM   #12
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"while we're at it" syndrome

Oh yea! I forgot to mention the new flooring, new battery, new Flexsteel sofa, and the new awning. Also while I am at it I might as well replace those two outside corner sheets that are bent.
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post
.

Most professional shops will charge $20-50K+ for a total restoration, which is what it sounds like you will have once you get into it.
I think you are potentially way off on this. Most top notch (I.e. GSM, David Winik, etc) professional shops would charge significantly more for a total restoration. From one of those shops you are probably looking for 20-30K just to fix any frame issues, put a new floor in, and re-zolatone. Add in cash for new insulation, dent / panel repair / replacement, new electrics, cabanets, new axles, etc and you are easily going to double that and possible triple it.

My 2 cents (or more)....
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:44 PM   #14
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Also while I am at it I might as well replace those two outside corner sheets that are bent.
Now you're talking my language

Kip
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