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Old 10-17-2014, 11:58 AM   #1
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Good enough or half donkey?

I was just reading a thread that Foiled Again (Paula) posted about affording a new Airstream, and it made me think about some restoration issues. Rather than hijack her thread I thought I might post a couple a few thoughts here.

It is likely that at this point I have about 20k in my 72 Sovereign.

From the day of purchase to the day of my first multi state excursion it took about four months, with an entire gutting of the trailer and floor and frame repair inside of this period.

I didn't pull the shell because I didn't need to, and I didn't replace a lot of aluminum that was dinted and dinged and kind of needed replacing.

Sometimes, is "good enough" and creative camouflage good enough?

Is it sometimes best to let perfectionism go in the pursuit of "goin campin" and saving some money?

I know what my answer is, but I would like to hear som opinions.
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:30 PM   #2
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I read an editorial this week in an old Engine Masters magazine, about a guy with a friend who had bought an old '71 Nova with a wore out 307 in it, that burned oil so bad it fouled the plugs and rarely hit on all eight, but it had a nice straight body. The guy wasn't worried about the engine, because he had a fairly nice used 350 in the garage, and the plan was to simply add a cam, intake and headers, then do a weekend swap, and have a cheap, fun, and reliable old driver.

Well, he jumped on his favorite forum to show off his new machine and detail his plans. Of course, his internet buds soon had him convinced that a new set of heads should be in the plans, then a solid roller set up, then flat tops with a high duration cam, etc. etc...

More than a year later, the guy had a 13.5:1 383 with a big solid roller and ported heads sitting in his garage, right next to the Nova in exactly the same condition it had started in, except with the original engine/tranny under a blue tarp in the corner... That engine swap had the boy more or less tapped out, and tired, and there was no way the new engine could go in until the rest of the drivetrain was upgraded to match it.

He'd have been better off to just stab the 350 in the car as it sat, and had a fun cruiser.

How many times do we get in over our heads, and our budgets, and as a result, never see the project to completion? My Sov is a hundred yard trailer. From a hundred yards, she looks awesome. Get too close, and you see all the work I still need to do. But, I'm going camping this evening with the Mrs, and THAT my friend is exactly what The LoveStream's original purpose was...

-Red, loving the cooler weather...
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:34 PM   #3
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And, J, I've seen the pictures of your Sov... not seeing any half-fast stuff you're talking about...

-Red, who knows half-fast when he sees it...
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:47 PM   #4
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Good enough or half donkey?

Lol, it is the stuff you don't see in pictures that is half donkey,,,,

I was just now out looking it over again trying to figure out how to hide more of the stuff that I thought was just fine a year ago.

It is kind of funny how as things come together, my Idea of what I wanted in an old trailer has changed....

But not so much that I would seriously consider replacing panels...

Now I am looking at paint to hide imperfections and to reduce the area I will be obliged to polish...
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:51 PM   #5
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The main thing I'd like to re-do is the frame. The hardest thing to do on the whole stinking trailer... She honestly needed a whole new frame, but I welded in metal where needed, and rigged it to work. Other than that, I'm happy with it as it sits. Still tons to do, but she's clean, relatively dry, and serviceable...

-Red
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:59 PM   #6
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I replaced the last four feed of frame where leaks from the black tank had caused some erosion, but otherwise the frame on my trailer is sound.

I think I am going to paint more of my roof white and then call it done.

Your Nova story shocked me to reality, i have a project like you mention where everything just blew up from "simple" into a big deal,,,

I have enjoyed working on my half donkey trailer a lot more.

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Old 10-17-2014, 01:02 PM   #7
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My work is never perfection. I know where all the mistakes are. I know I don't have 20K in my rig, probably about 11 or 12K including the purchase price. I'll spend a bit more on it this winter but after that, it will all be about using it.

The thing with going new is that you pay for all that niceness up front and then it starts depreciating as soon as its off the lot. Fixing up old, you are adding value and the depreciation monster doesn't really bite unless you loose interest and let it sit out in a field somewhere.

And when you do it yourself, it's really your trailer, not something much more generic to appeal to everybody.

So yeah, good enough and go campin is my thought too.
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Old 10-17-2014, 01:12 PM   #8
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OMG, that Nova story is so dead on! I have a classic Mustang in the garage. It ran (briefly) when I bought it. I yanked the old 6cyl engine/tranny in favor of a 2.3 Turbo setup (2.3s were a stock option, so the engine mounts were easy to find, and the turbo will give it more power than the old 6 ever had). But then there's all these options - oh if you do it you have to do this, and you have to do that, and you know you'll want it so you might as well do it now while the car's apart. Next thing you know you need a new rear end and bigger brakes and blah blah blah and the project has been in the garage for 9 years. Right now I would give anything to stumble across a nice 302 I could just drop in it and start cruising it around.

For my trailer, I did what I HAD to do. The minimum. At the time I was doing the front half of the floor, people told me 'you have to pull out the bathroom, there's going to be some rotten spots under there too'. But I looked and couldn't find any in the exposed areas, so I did not do that. It would have expanded the scope of the project too much. You need to determine what your goals are (camping!), do what is necessary to reach that, and not worry about the little things you did not do. My trailer is not perfect, it has bumps and scars of 45 years on the road. I'm ok with that. I love camping in it, that is what is important.

Now, if I could just transfer that thinking to my Mustang, I would have it back on the road before winter is over!
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Old 10-17-2014, 01:18 PM   #9
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Dude, those 302's are everywhere... And, if you find the right one, you can bolt up the supercharger, like on the Boss, but then, you might want to...

Yeah, mine was a '69 Triumph Spitfire Mark III, that I was just going to replace the carpet in... It is completely disassembled in the barn, and if anybody wants it, come get it, it's yours.

-Red
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Old 10-17-2014, 01:23 PM   #10
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Dude, those 302's are everywhere... And, if you find the right one, you can bolt up the supercharger, like on the Boss, but then, you might want to...

Yeah, mine was a '69 Triumph Spitfire Mark III, that I was just going to replace the carpet in... It is completely disassembled in the barn, and if anybody wants it, come get it, it's yours.

-Red
Ha ha, you totally get it I actually offered my mustang project for free to a guy who has restored a bunch of them and keeps admiring it, but he said no, he knows I would regret it if I give up, so I have to finish it. He's probably right...
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Old 10-17-2014, 02:24 PM   #11
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One of the good things I have liked about building my own trailer is the trial and error curve.

There are more than a few things I have totally redone for one reason or another.

The first time out I found that I made the back of my trailer too heavy. After looking at it a little and figuring that I didn't like the way it turned out I simply remodeled my remodel, taking out 400 pounds and replacing it with 50 pounds.

After finishing the kitchen and making my first trip I discovered I didn't like the counter opposite of the stove, so I took it out and replaced it. After another trip I figured I wanted a bigger top in the cabinet I had just built so I made a bigger top that is more like a table...

In doing all of this over and over I have managed to make my trailer easy to take apart and put together for servicing, everything is easy to get to in ten minutes with a power screwdriver.
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Old 10-17-2014, 02:29 PM   #12
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The best way to restore anything is to buy it already restored. Let the seller eat the factor of 3 or 4 loss that happens when you restore something that is only worth a fraction of what you have in it.

Perry
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Old 10-17-2014, 03:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panama Red View Post
The main thing I'd like to re-do is the frame. The hardest thing to do on the whole stinking trailer... She honestly needed a whole new frame, but I welded in metal where needed, and rigged it to work. Other than that, I'm happy with it as it sits. Still tons to do, but she's clean, relatively dry, and serviceable...

-Red
I read a thread in Airforums some time ago where someone with an Argosy built himself a new frame out of stainless steel - same dimensions but 5x stronger and it will never rust out again.
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Old 10-17-2014, 03:22 PM   #14
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Half Vast is better than no Vast.

I approve of working trailers as opposed to works of art. I know if I started restoring, it would never end - I'd run out of energy and drive to complete the task.

You have captured the essence of "GOING CAMPING" with a trailer you haven't so over restored that you're afraid to USE it.

I might pop some serious cash some day to have someone ELSE do a restored 10 meter Avion for me, but that presumes winning at least a small lottery.

The real cost of any restoration if you count the cost of your labor at any kind of reasonable rate is far higher than the sum of the purchases you made to complete the job. So I wouldn't be shocked to drop $60-$100K to get a big rig well restored. And that doesn't include Granite countertops.

If it matters (and it shouldn't really) You have my wholehearted approval... you had a vision, and you're towin' it on down the road. Good for you, trailblazer!

Paula
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