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Old 12-14-2008, 07:15 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by coltmccoy View Post
Aside from welding the frame, what else can the average person without experience not do on his own?
I'm willing to tackle just about anything. The only area I'm not confidant to do my own work is electrical systems. The only other limitations are the tools that I have at my disposal.

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North Vancouver, BC
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Old 12-14-2008, 07:44 PM   #30
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What is the Estimated Price for Full or Partial Restoration?

Greetings ColtMccoy!

Originally Posted by coltmccoy View Post
Is it typical for an RV repair/restoration center to do apprenticeships or hire without pay till you learn?
There are many avenues to working in RV repair, but the most probable is via a one or two year program offered through a vocational school or community college that combines classroom and hands-on learning. An example of such a program is the Recreation Vehicle Service Academy. Another example of a similar program would be the Texas State Technical
College at Waco's Industrial Systems and Tecnology Specialty in Recreational Vehicle Maintenance
, or Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, PA -- Recreational Vehicle Technology Specialized Diploma. There are similar programs offered somewhere in just about every state.

Small, independent repair/restoration shops are more likely to consider strictly apprenticheships.


Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 12-15-2008, 12:49 AM   #31
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I must admit, with my current situation---I am going to remove the antenna from my 1974 AS Sovereign tomorrow with luck due to leaks----One must REALLY COUNT THEIR BLESSINGS FOR OWNING AN AS!!! ANY other SOB would not be standing today....Example: my mother in law and brother in law bought an SOB--Prowler---one year ago, already the skylights are leaking, the wallpaper is peeling off, the frame is rusting---and of course, thier company is not standing by anything!!!
If you have an AS--particularly an older one--like mine---count your blessings!! Wally Byum knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he took over THIS company...He built them to last....I can not say that for other SOB's....My mother's boyfriend has several other SOB's that have gone out of business that he is trying to renovate. I told him that if he had an AS things would be much simpler.
Until you own an AS, no matter what model or year it was made, I can say that by choosing an AS is by far, the best choice to make...
If you do not believe me, ask others in this forum---How many other SOB's get stolen?
How many other SOB's have a forum?
How many other SOB's last as long as an AS??
Once you own an AS, no matter what year or model--you have great friends in this forum that will share your enthusiasm and will back you all of the way in any project that you should choose to take on....
Good luck in your choice.........
All I can say is----I HAVE had OTHER trailers before my AS....My AS is the best!!!
If I ever were lucky enough to win the lottery, I would buy up as many older AS's as possible and individualize them as my own, much like Christopher Deem, and also many others on this forum
An AS is a labor of love....Once you own an AS, you will never, ever, want anything LESS!!!
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:09 AM   #32
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1974 31' Sovereign
1970 31' Sovereign
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If you want to stay original, The bath and kitchen could run on the low end around 4-6k. W/ a custom layout. Sky's the limit. You need to set a budget. and go from there.
Schwenksville, PA
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Old 12-15-2008, 07:11 AM   #33
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Take your time...

Originally Posted by coltmccoy View Post
... having no experience restoring an AS. Do you think I could still restore one? Is it better to learn from this forum's restoration threads or trying to get a job/apprenticeship with an AS restoration/repair company?...
The more information you can gather BEFORE you purchase anything the better off you will out the rebuild threads - know exactly what to look for when searching - remember, the best buy is usually not the cheapest - get the best trailer you can afford.

Make sure any repairs that have been completed were done properly - an undocumented floor overlay is worse than no floor work at all - the frame/floor/shell interface is the single most important area of concern for someone contemplating an Airstream renovation and anything covering up this critical area simply arouses suspicion. If there IS a new floor in an older Airstream, and you cannot inspect the work either through pictures of the repair or through inspection from underneath, assume the new floor will have to be torn out and proper repairs made the shell/floor perimeter to insure overall unit integrity.

Used trailers are ALWAYS on the market - the reality of inspection and retrieval must be built into the cost of purchase. Don't be surprised if you must take a couple of thousand mile trips only to come home empty handed - such trips are simply the reality of finding an "old" trailer that is really worth the time and effort it will take to find one that is worth rebuilding.

You, in Austin, are in particular luck...the Texas Vintage Rally is scheduled in San Antonio the first weekend of February...

...attend as many seminars as you can, spend all day Saturday asking questions of those who have completed a renovation, decide what you like or dislike about each one. Be realistic in your estimate of time, money, and skillsets necessary to bring up a trailer to your satisfaction. Keep in mind that it will be extremely difficult to retain much of a return on investment should you decide to sell the trailer later.

You may find out that a 1990's (or other decade) trailer in really good shape may be best suited for your purposes.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Trailer '78 31' Sovereign

Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
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Old 12-15-2008, 09:58 AM   #34
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Colfax , North Carolina
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Originally Posted by coltmccoy View Post
Is it typical for an RV repair/restoration center to do apprenticeships or hire without pay till you learn?
I see you're in Austin, which means you may be in luck. You can PM utee94 on the forums, he is rehabbing our old '63 Overlander, and may really appreciate the help. Y'all can both learn as you go, you'll be spending someone else's money doing it, and the experience will help you determine how much you want to tackle on your own. And if you don't kill each other in the process, he may be willing to help you with whatever project you end up with.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:50 AM   #35
1972 Travelux Princess 25
Cobourg , Ontario
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Originally Posted by coltmccoy View Post
I appreciate your honesty, having no experience restoring an AS. Do you think I could still restore one? Is it better to learn from this forum's restoration threads or trying to get a job/apprenticeship with an AS restoration/repair company?

I would like to find and buy one inexpensively and fix it up.
Do you do your own home repairs? Do you fix your own car? Do you have any experience at all in doing this kind of work, or any related type of work?

How old are you?

Again, I will repeat, the best thing you can do is to buy the best trailer you can afford. Start with something that does not need a lot of repairs.

I say this at the age of 57 having spent the last 44 years of my life working in garages and bodyshops, and renovating houses for a living.

If I was in your position, I would do exactly the same thing. Buy the best trailer I could find or could afford that needs the least possible work. I would sooner spend a week driving to get a good one, than buy the first cheap one I see and spend months of time and big $$$$ bucks fixing a junker. Spend an extra $2000 and save yourself 6 months work and $5000.

Even if you manage to pull it off, your restored trailer will not be as good as the best original trailer.

Now as far as your learning question goes I can't answer it unless I know what experience, skills etc you have now. But from what you have told us so far it sounds like you do not have a lot of experience working with your hands.

Frankly even if you buy a good one, it will have enough things that need repairing to keep you busy. Don't overmatch yourself. Don't take on anything tougher than you have to.
Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 12-15-2008, 11:14 AM   #36
1972 Travelux Princess 25
Cobourg , Ontario
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There is another angle on this. Airstreams are the best travel trailers on the market with the accent on TRAVEL.

If you mean to stay in one place the Airstream is more or less a waste of money. You will have a lot more room and a better home for the same money, if you buy a mobile home in a nice mobile home park.

If you require to travel, then the Airstream is the thing. Buy a good used Airstream in the 25 foot range. Tow it with a 1/2 ton Suburban, or Dodge or Ford pickup truck, or van. An Airstream like that can also be towed with a large car like a rear drive Cadillac or Chrysler. The secret is in having the tow hitch, trailer and tow car set up properly.

You can buy a larger AS for practically the same money as the smaller models, due to the fact that they are not as popular with vacationers. But when you get into the bigger trailer you require at least a 3/4 ton truck for a tow vehicle.

As far as the repairs go. Most any handy person can do 90% of the running repairs to keep a trailer in commission. Most of the materials are available from your local hardware store or building center, or RV dealer. Everything else is available on the Internet.

What all this might cost I don't know. If I had to take a wild ass guess I would say $5000 to $10000 for a good trailer, and another $5000 and up for a good tow vehicle. Plus say a $1000 for hitch and accessories. Then, keep a $1000 in the cookie jar for emergencies and you should wind up OK.

If you are serious about this give us a detailed rundown of your requirements and budget. There are people all across the country reading this forum, who can help you find a good trailer and good tow vehicle at a decent price.

Will say again, don't overmatch yourself for your first bout. Pick a "pushover", you will still have all the learning experience you can handle.
Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 12-15-2008, 06:31 PM   #37
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I live in Brownsville, TX actually. I just put Austin cuz I used to live there and like it. And also my screen name and UT football this year. Too bad no playoffs. Maybe someday. Sorry for any confusion. I definitely would help anybody fixing an AS in Austin or apprenticing if I was still there. Thanks.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:49 PM   #38
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Anyone need any help workin' on their AS in Brownsville, TX?
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Old 12-17-2008, 07:15 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by coltmccoy View Post
Thank you all; very fast, informative. Would like an AS to live as a primary residence for the costs of living savings. Will search the forums more. Don't know the costs of yearly/monthly upkeep to the AS if you do it or pay someone else. Is it difficult to do? Just wash it like a car for exterior upkeep? Guess it's all here. It's easy to find.
OK, here is a voice from the "buy nearly new or even new" side. I am on my second new Airstream. I too fulltime. If you've got semi-decent credit you can finance the purchase price of an Airstream with reasonable down payment $2000 or so. With a new(er) Airstream, you can move in within a day or two. With new you are making monthly payments of $400 - $600 depending on the size & model. New can be financed for 10 to 15 years (which of course you can pay off early if you're smart and have any spare funds).

On the used/vintage side I'll bet that anyone doing the work for herself/himself would spend that amount on parts, tools, etc. AND would still have the overhead of a house or apartment until the unit was almost finished (3 months minimum - a year easily for many).

I'd guess a good professionally done restoration without anything exotic like zebra wood or really high end fixtures would cost between $1000 and $2000 per FOOT of the length of the A/S. (And that's assuming the frame is repairable and doesn't need to be replaced.)

Most people who have hung around here for a while have heard stories of half finished restorations, where the owner's interest flagged, or a job change or health change forced the owner to sell a half-done mess. My two cents - if you have 3 or more half-finished projects lying around for years - DON'T even start redoing an Airstream. It is a BIG project.

With either new or vintage, you'll be replacing some appliances earlier than you would in a home. Vibration from travel takes a toll. The appliances - with the possible exception of the refrigerator aren't built that sturdily. I expect no more than 5 years on the water heater or furnace and I'll be very happy if the air conditioner lasts much beyond that. At least once every two years I plan on re-sealing the seams... and then there are tires. Even if you've only got 10,000 miles on them, most people believe it's best to replace tires at 5 years. Vents, window seals, etc. also have a finite lifetime.

Of course you don't have to mow the lawn or shingle the roof. I'm saving a lot compared to my old 3,000 sq ft house.

Unless you own appropriately zoned land, you'll be paying lot rent somewhere. Oh and you do have to manage your own sewage - check "black tank" under the Search function.

Good luck, Paula

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 12-17-2008, 07:53 PM   #40
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Hey ColtMcCoy, too bad you're in Brownsville, I was about to hook you up with the restoration chance of a lifetime.

I'm in the midst of a frame-up renovation on the back half of my '63 Overlander.

If you're ever in the neighborhood, feel free to look me up. I'm a huge Longhorn fan as well, with both an undergrad and graduate degree from The University. And the way the votes turned out sucked for UT and Colt, but no worries, just extra motivation to go all the way next year.

Hook 'em Horns!
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Old 12-18-2008, 12:40 PM   #41
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Wish I could help ya utee94
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Old 12-18-2008, 02:21 PM   #42
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Really looks like an awesome project Marcus. Hook 'em!

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