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Old 02-19-2008, 01:54 PM   #1
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Help! AS Handyman (person) needed!

I may be buying an Overlander ('64), that has been totally gutted,and I do not have the knowledge or experience to do what needs to be done. Is it possible to contract various personnal to do the jobs, much like you would find contractors to do individual projects , can the same be done with an AS? I see that there are many vintage trailer restoration companies all over the country, but none in my neck of the woods(Cape Cod). I was advised to take her to the AS dealership and they could do much of the work, but I imagine that would be the most expensive way to go. I figured that once the frame, and brakes were seen to, I could just hire an electrician cabinet maker, and plumber to do the rest . Or am I locco? ,
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Old 02-19-2008, 02:15 PM   #2
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no, you're not loco. But it will be expensive if you don't do some of the work yourself. You can see an example of a commercial outfit that does the whole job here:

Timeless Travel Trailers - We remanufacture your vintage travel trailer.

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Old 02-19-2008, 02:15 PM   #3
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It can be done that way, using people who are familiar with RV codes, etc.
Before you purchase, it would be good to get some bids, or have some idea what this proccess will cost you. While I am in no way saying don't do this, you need to be informed.
If you look at these trailers strictly from a cost viewpoint, you are almost always better off buying a trailer that is ready to go. For instance - I have a trailer for sale for $15,800. There is no way that I will come close to recovering my purchase price as well as all of the upgrades. I hear this same story over and over. The cost of restoration is much higher than most people anticipate. This makes the purchase of a ready-to-go trailer attractive.
On the other hand, if it is the process of restoration that interests you, then educate yourself, then dive in.
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Old 02-19-2008, 04:20 PM   #4
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Well, we all seem to be on the same page here. Isn't that something...lol.

If you really want to have "that" A/S, and you really don't want to try some of the work yourself, then be ready for a "I could have bought one already done" moment.

I can tell you that if I didn't do the work that is needed on my A/S, I would be looking at over $20k in parts and labor.

If you look at the individual trades involved, like the carpenter for cabinets and such, then the plumber for the water and gas issues, and electrician for the electrical side, it can add up really fast. We didn't even touch on the metal guys for any frame or skin repair. Or an Airstream dealer to take care of somethings that others wouldn't touch.

To be very honest, you can do a lot yourself. Just take your time and use common sence in what you do. You might need a hand with some floor repair, you will need help with the AC on top of your rig, and might need some help with the wiring. But all in all, some of the labor you can do yourself and the other technical things you can come right here. There are many people here who are willing to help you with anything they can.

Zep is helping me with some things in the supply chain, and his posts are helping me with so much more. I am truly glad I found this forum. Without it, I would have never started messing around with a travel trailer that is built like an aircraft!

If you still bid out the projects, keep in mind about one thing. Weight. The frame of your trailer was made with a limit on the load it will support. This comes into play with cabinets.

I was a master carpenter before I injured my hand. (I still have all my fingers...just can't keep going like the younger guys anymore.) I know that most carpenters that build cabinets, don't know how to go light for the trailer. Over the past 10 years, I have been working with low voltage systems and RV's. You can build a strong, flexible, light weight cabinet, but not like you do for homes. Please keep that in mind.

So, good luck and have fun, just don't go broke on your dream.
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babendawoodz
I may be buying an Overlander ('64), that has been totally gutted,and I do not have the knowledge or experience to do what needs to be done. Is it possible to.... Or am I locco?
Hi babendawoodz:

I'll be the heavy and jump into the punchbowl. In the world of lovely dreams, yes of course, anything is possible. But in the real world, your admitted lack of knowledge and experience is going to handicap you bigtime in dealing with all those different trade contractors who are lining up outside your door to work on your gutted Airstream. If you don't presently have a clue what to do, how are you going to supervise your contractors? What are you going to specify they build for you?

I'll keep it short. I see a very costly disaster in your near future if you buy this gutted Airstream with the unrealistic dream of having others rebuild it for you as a money saving measure. If you had a hankering to learn all the neceessary trades yourself and invest sweat equity, time and tears into the trailer, then you could regard it as a learning and building experience. But IMHO, you will be far, far better off both time and moneywise buying a fully working Airstream to learn the ropes of what a trailer is all about.

Sorry to be blunt, but I'll call this one as I see it. I suggest you spend a few weeks searching past posts and threads on what rebuilding a gutted 1950s or 60s trailer from the ground up entails. Once you have the benefit of the many members' collective expeience doing just that, then take another look at the gutted '64 Airstream and make a fresh knowledgable assessment of what likely lies ahead for you down that path. My opinion is you would be loco to buy this gutted trailer.
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 47WeeWind
Hi babendawoodz:

I'll be the heavy and jump into the punchbowl. In the world of lovely dreams, yes of course, anything is possible. But in the real world, your admitted lack of knowledge and experience is going to handicap you bigtime in dealing with all those different trade contractors who are lining up outside your door to work on your gutted Airstream. If you don't presently have a clue what to do, how are you going to supervise your contractors? What are you going to specify they build for you?

I'll keep it short. I see a very costly disaster in your near future if you buy this gutted Airstream with the unrealistic dream of having others rebuild it for you as a money saving measure. If you had a hankering to learn all the neceessary trades yourself and invest sweat equity, time and tears into the trailer, then you could regard it as a learning and building experience. But IMHO, you will be far, far better off both time and moneywise buying a fully working Airstream to learn the ropes of what a trailer is all about.

Sorry to be blunt, but I'll call this one as I see it. I suggest you spend a few weeks searching past posts and threads on what rebuilding a gutted 1950s or 60s trailer from the ground up entails. Once you have the benefit of the many members' collective expeience doing just that, then take another look at the gutted '64 Airstream and make a fresh knowledgable assessment of what likely lies ahead for you down that path. My opinion is you would be loco to buy this gutted trailer.
Don't want to pile on here, but as an RV professional, you will have a very hard time finding qualified, skilled people to do the right job for you on your trailer. RVs....and Airstreams in particular, are a different breed with different code requirements from housing in general. The RVIA is the governing body for the codes within the RV industry, and almost NO regular trades people even know who they are.....let alone have any working knowledge of these codes.

I would suggest contacting one of the better firms that have the skills and people required to perform your re-model and let them do it for you.......They also have a track record and the experience to do the job right the first time.

You will get a fine re-model/restoration, properly done to code and one that will last you for a long time!
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:24 PM   #7
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Three's a charm...

I would agree..sounds like a lot of heartache headed for your pocketbook with this one!

Add a couple thousand to the price of this trailer (assuming it's really cheap being it's gutted) and include a couple hundred dollars for a road trip to pick one up in better shape and be ready to roll.

You'll be ahead in the long run!

You may find this Price vs Condition information helpful - regardless of whether you are looking at a restoration or ready-to-roll vintage trailer.

Shari
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:39 PM   #8
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Why is it GUTTED?

Ah... therein hangs an oft repeated tale! It just makes me sick to see the number of messed up - half done - abandoned "projects" rotting away in people's yards, garages and fields. Obviously, you've found yet another one where big plans were interrupted by the cold cruel world of REALITY.

My RULES for HAPPY AIRSTREAMING follow:
  1. Think FIRST, list priorities and resources, follow list instead of making impulsive purchase. In a moment of deep personal honesty (after owning an old "money pit" house for 20 years) I bought new. Cheaper all the way around and I was camping the next day.
  2. Evaluate restoration process honestly. Some of the beauties that have been restored here - where you can follow the thread and KNOW that the frame, axles, floor and plumbing have been done RIGHT - would be a very wise way to go.
  3. Evaluate long term financial needs. Are you willing and able to put $20-$30K in to have a very top rated professional do the work? If so, then buy the shell, and have it professionally done.
  4. Evaluate past performance. If you are a handyman who actually FINISHES his projects, then buy the shell - dig in and learn - and do the work.
  5. Buy based on REALITY. If money is an issue and you're not a "do it right and git 'er done" personality, then go to the "classifieds" and search for the perfect restored or "nearly new" Airstream.... that's MY recipe for being a truly happy CAMPER!
Oh, and remember this advice is worth what you paid for it.

See you down the road, Paula Ford
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:48 PM   #9
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We share your love with Airstream, but sometimes, the "ideal" & "dream" can interfear with reality. As mentioned, if you are not sure how to "do it" and exactly what needs to be done, you'll have a hard time communicating your vision to someone who might not be as familiar with your dream (or Airstreams) as you are. What I mean is, the picture you have in you mind of what the finished vintage 'Stream will look like, might end up being an expensive, expensive task for someone else to build.

Another thing that tkendall brought up that is really important, is that of weight. You have to be really careful what you add because that will be weight and the frame has it's limits.

I'll venture out and say, keep looking. Don't take on more than you can chew, unless of course, you have all the necessary resources and time and $$ isn't an issue.
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Old 02-19-2008, 06:48 PM   #10
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why is it gutted...

A simple answer....
As I have said before, in the feeding frenzy of Airstream ownership, the newbie buys an Airstream....some real nice ones.....then does what he or she thinks is the first step in that resurrection.....strip out the interior......and then reality sets in. Its hard work!!!! Its expensive. BAIL OUT
..... BAIL OUT..... BAIL OUT ( If you've been there, you know what I mean.)
Well, now lets try sell it! etc., etc., etc. So it shows up on EBAY....and the rest of the story................
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:39 PM   #11
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I think you would be much better off finding a trailer that is ready to go, or nearly so, and learning the basics from operating that unit. You can get a very nice trailer for less than $10K, use it, see what you like and don't like, learn how to maintain and repair it, and probably something everybody overlooks--WHY that part is there, and WHY things are as they are, before jumping in.
You may want to put appliance X in a spot, but after using a trailer for a while, you will realize it simply can't go there, and do what it is intended to do.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babendawoodz
I may be buying an Overlander ('64), that has been totally gutted,and I do not have the knowledge or experience to do what needs to be done. Is it possible to contract various personnal to do the jobs, much like you would find contractors to do individual projects , can the same be done with an AS? I see that there are many vintage trailer restoration companies all over the country, but none in my neck of the woods(Cape Cod). I was advised to take her to the AS dealership and they could do much of the work, but I imagine that would be the most expensive way to go. I figured that once the frame, and brakes were seen to, I could just hire an electrician cabinet maker, and plumber to do the rest . Or am I locco? ,
Oh Baby!
Yea, I am with everyone so far. Some really sound advice. I am speaking from experience of restoring an original trailer that still had it's innerds (luckily). It is a long and expensive endevor and that is if you do all the work on your own.
Most Airstream dealers cannot deal with vintage units and at shop rates around $80. per hour a simple part replacement like a water heater could go over 1000. Take that hours rate times the hundreds of hours spent on the little things like window sealing, waterproofing, lights yada yada you get the idea.

One of the quotes that always pops in my head at the beginning of a project is from T.S. Eliott...can not remember the poem but the line is......

"Between the Idea and the reality........Falls the Shadow"

I have been caught in some dark shadows. Seek the light little babe in the woods.....or at least find a trailer that has it's own lights.

Babe can be out having fun this year and spend the other half of the money you saved on gas going anywhere but the rocking chair.
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Old 02-20-2008, 08:31 AM   #13
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I want to jump in too, but first I want to stick my toe in... when you say gutted, what do you mean by that? Has everything been ripped out or has it been removed and someone repaired the frame and replaced the floor and stopped there? I see trailers for sale in the "gutted" state all the time. If it has been put up for sale in the gutted and the floor replaced state, well I would be interested in talking to you about the interior. I too am a furniture, cabinet, carpenter woodworker. I have close to 17 years experience and all my fingers. I am still at it, for I do not see many young guys to try and keep up with, all the cabinet makers I know are sporting grey around the edges. Any way, I am planning to do exactly what you are looking for. I want to change my business to doing nothing but custom interiors. My current project is going to be may show room as to what is possible from me and my shop. I am planning to have the big unveiling at the Cherry Blossom Rally hosted by the WDCU in April.
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Old 02-20-2008, 09:45 AM   #14
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Thank you guys for coming to the aid of a damsel in distress. If you all lived in the same village, I know you would be the first to show up for a 'barn raising'. Kudos to you all for donating your time and wisdom so selflessly.
I have been on this road a long time and when I say that I have little knowledge and experience, I should say rather, that I have little 'applied knowledge', since I have learned so much about monocoque design and construction in the last year from you guys and from Tim and his buddies( I am a podcast devotee). Say Frank, how's that bathroom coming?(your pics are awesome.)
So, I have looked at many AS's that were 'ready to go' and I always came away with the feeling that the interiors greatly diminished or compromised the beauty of the exterior. I also was concerned about the air quality of an older trailer and found out that it would be wise to replace old insulation and vents,etc. to remove contaminants . So , I thought that removal of the walls and cabinetry and walls could be done with the hopes of either re-veneering the walls or replacing them, using the old material as templates. But with a stripped AS, I have do have the work of stripping her done for me, but alas, no 'patterns ' to help me with the rebuilding. Maybe that's not a big deal. I don't know. I do know exactly what materials I want to use to keep her 'slim', right down to the fixtures, but,although I've lots of experience with a chainsaw, I have never used a table saw and although I'm an expert at soldering, I have never welded a thing. When I was in High School, girls weren't allowed to take shop,only Home Ec., so I just have to stop my whinning(WhaaaaaaaaWhaaaaa)and take off these sexist shackles and maybe, just maybe, I'll learn a new skill in the process.
I recently witnessed a really peculiar spectator sport...an RV demolition derby. I sadly witnessed a couple of vintage trailers meet an untimely death. So, I put in a request to be notified if and when they were to have another derby , to let me know if there are any old gals that I may save from the gallows. The do have a 62 Streamline. Monocoque. Good body, crappy interior, but all intact. Roomier than a AS, but not the lines..skin does not appear to be attached to the floor... hard to tell..I'll have to research the design a bit more. So what to do , what to do... in any case I will keep you posted on my escapades.
I will let you know about the gutted AS. the owner says that he 'replaced the floor, the body is 'perfect'...yeah I've heard that before. I will drive over tomorrow to take a look in person and let you know.. I'll take some pics.
You would do well to get a restoration shop going in Maryland(the closest I could find was in NC).I'll keep in touch....
Here's a quote that just popped into my head, the last line from Casablanca, ' I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.'
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