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Old 01-29-2014, 05:20 PM   #15
Restorations done right
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The competition to find cheap trailers is mighty stiff since there are some very well established people doing this already. They have their eyes on craigslist, the classifies, and all the outlets for Airstream sales. You are about 5 years late for that. Most of the deals have been gotten and then those deals go on the boat to Europe. In the past 2 years I have seen the cost of an un restored trailer double. If it is 1950's, it has almost tripled. Short trailers, have gone through the roof in the past two years. The European market is sucking most of the inventory from the USA. Unfortunately only a very small number become travel trailers again. Those that do, I commend. Most however become static food carts selling brat wurst and fish and chips. This practice crushes a guy like me who restores trailers to be used for another 40,50, 60 years as travel trailers.
There are some guys who do what you speak of. There is a seller on Ebay who does it all the time. He buys cheap, tinkers a bit to sort of make things work, shoots pictures making the trailer look better than it is and sells them. I am not sure how well he does since no one in the community talks to him.
Over the years, I flipped a few trailers. It has always happened during times of very low cash flow and I have regretted every flip but one of them. I never lost money, but what I did make was not worth it. I have learned from that mistake. Maybe your plan is to renovate at a higher quality than currently offered, but as pointed out, no one is going to pay you what you have in it without the structure being restored and that is much more involved than flipping.
I hope you find a way to make your dream a reality. Being a trailer flipper however is not a good business in my opinion. Sorry if I am being negative about your dream.

PS, if you do get into this business, please do not make coffee carts out of then.
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:23 PM   #16
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oh, yeah… As far as making a good living;
I live well, I pay the bills, but I am not getting rich. I make 20% of what I made as a cabinet maker which was my previous business. I love what I do and feel honored to be restoring an American icon.
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Old 01-29-2014, 07:18 PM   #17
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It's hard to recover restoration costs. You would be doing OK to break even. You can do OK buying a "as found" trailer and reselling it as is. But the prices have gone up and good candidates are hard to find. I always tell an owner what the trailer is worth, but this is what I am willing to pay you. I also have made a few bucks on consignment selling.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:07 AM   #18
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Thank you Frank for your insights, as they come as good advice and intention. I would like to touch on your parting comment concerning the use of these trailers other than coaches. So...let me pose this as a question, what is it that makes any vintage trailer an American icon? I believe this question raises another question that needs to be addressed, and that is the role of form and function, and which one of these, if not both, to varying degrees, plays more into this idea of an icon? If you were to ask me, I would say form influences our appeal over function. I say this because we as humans are sight predominant concerning the influence it has over our perception of objects (form)...their appeal to us. For instance, when you see a fifties diner all shiny and, well, looking like a fifties Airstream, do you see it any less attractive by it being a diner? To make that diner into a hair solon, does that change the esthetic qualities? I think not. I would agree that any major changes to the form would be a detraction, and the form compromised, thus diminishing the esthetics. So, let me say that, in my opinion, if one was to keep the form true to our understanding of what that form should be, isn't that what manifests that "iconic" identity?...and thus place function far down the scale concerning esthetics, I would say yes. The bottom line...these vintage trailers are cool, for whatever function they're used for...just don't fu<# with the lines!
PS...I run a coffee biz out of my resurrected '55 FC Airstream, of which one would not recognize being as such when signage is removed. Oh, by the way, I think we shared in someone's thread on replacing the belly pan, and I stated that I had used .040 for my pan, and others (forum members) were having difficulties with creasing using thinner stock. Of course, I also know you through the VAP...

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Old 01-30-2014, 09:58 AM   #19
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You want to make money? This is what I want to do:

Never mind. If I tell you, I won't be able to handle the competition.

As for the flips, I think the only ones that make money flipping are usually cheating. You are doing a disservice if you don't replace the axles, brakes, tires and rims. Then, the umbilical needs to be updated to modern tow hitches. Plumbing needs to be replaced, and of course probably add a gray tank for someone that wants to be able treat it like a modern trailer.

As soon as I pull up a pic with a "redone" trailer where someone has put in click lock floor and painted the inside, it's ruined for me. Especially when they say nothing about replacing the axles. It's pretty much lipstick on a pig. A buyer has a world of work to pull out that "lipstick" to get the trailer where it's supposed to be. IMHO.

Rob
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:19 PM   #20
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I agree. It's awful to see all these "pretty" remodels on eBay and notice all the important stuff that wasn't done, all in favor of the fun parts. Are these sellers malicious or just ignorant??? Axles are just the tip of the iceberg-- and are colossally important.
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:31 PM   #21
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Flip-On

I know, I’ll take some heat for this so I have my flame suit on.

I disagree, yes you can make a few dollars flipping trailers, will it be enough to live on? I don’t think so. Could it be enough to help pay for a trailer you’re fixing up or a trip somewhere? Maybe.

Bottom line is this, some folks confuse restoration, renovation and usable. I own a 1966 Overlander. When I first got it, it had a hole in the floor next to the toilet the size of a cantaloupe and the trailer had been sitting for over 21 years. I paid $1,500 for the trailer, brought it home, put new tires and a water pump in it and started using the trailer, I towed that trailer from Florida to Maine, Virginia to Missouri many times. Did it have new axles “no”, did the heat/AC work “no”. But if I had decided to sell the trailer it would have had a price tag of $5,000 even though I only had $2,000 in it because the skin was good, frame was solid and someone would have paid it for the trailer because it was a nice “usable” trailer. Was it “restored” no, even renovated “no” I fixed the things that allowed it to be usable and go camping, which is all many folks are looking for anyway. Remember, most folks will spend less than 14 nights a year in the trailer. Like many, I don’t need a completely restore trailer costing $20,000-$100,000 dollars that will set in my driveway 350 days a year to do that. So if someone wants to tell me that unless my trailer (which I stay in 14 nights a year) has to have all the axles replaced, new rims, new plumbing, heater, AC, Univolt, flooring, refrigerator, etc.. etc… etc.. to be a usable trailer and if not it’s a piece of crap, I’ll say you’re full of crap. Nor does all of that stuff have to be done before selling a trailer. It would be throwing good money after bad to do so for most people. Now I will say over the past few years the hole in the floor was fixed, new axles put on, new univolt put in but I still have the original plumbing and only a black tank that has been repaired. Still need to fix the AC and heat, but not worried, I’ve got a window unit and a Mr. Buddy.

I know of folks that have found a deal (a trailer for $2,000) knowing it’s worth $5,000 easy. They flipped the trailer without doing anything to the trailer for $3,500 and stuck $1,500 in their pocket and the person who purchased the trailer for $3,500 still got a deal and could sell the trailer for $5,000 if they tried.

So I say this, if you’re riding down the road and see and Airstream sitting in the backyard of someone’s house, stop and say hello. If you can buy the trailer for a good price, flip it and put a few dollars in your pocket leaving a little meat on the bone for the next guy or person who’s going to fix it up, Please, Please “DO SO”. I'm not saying rip people off, misrepresent what the trailer is. But if done honestly in doing so, you have helped many folks, the person you bought it off of just put a few dollars in their pocket to help buy groceries, you put a few dollars in your pocket to help pay for a vacation or fix up your special trailer, the person that bought the trailer dreams come true of owning an Airstream, but most important the Airstream trailer itself for now it’s rolling back down the road (in whatever shape it maybe) allowing someone the chance to go camping with their family like many of us do here on the forums. If you had not stopped and purchased the trailer in the first place it would still be sitting in someone’s backyard being a mouse hotel rotting away until it’s taken to the scrapyard and crushed.


Enjoy,
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:32 PM   #22
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What's missing here--and what would be great to see from a buyer's perspective--is some sort of guide to who us a reputable restorer and who is not. If I know I'm buying from a guy who does all that needs done, a guy who is pickey and does it right, I'm more willing to pay a higher price.

Many people, like me, are looking for an Airstream but really aren't interested in fixing it up as a hobby. An extra $5k doesn't mean all that much f I can focus on travel and other activities.

If I was in the market for a restored Airstream who are the top five guys who do it right?

--Darin
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Old 01-30-2014, 12:49 PM   #23
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Darin,

I'm sorry to say an extra $5K is not the difference between a project and a restoration. Depending on the model and year a usable trailer could be 5-10K, a renovation $10-20K and a restoration $20-$35K or more.

Most of the time if you want a "restored" trailer you find the year/model you like, take it a guy like Frank and start writing checks or plan on buying a bunch of tools, getting busted knuckles and spending a bunch of time dirty.

Enjoy,
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Old 01-30-2014, 01:18 PM   #24
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Maybe there's a business in de-flipping trailers? Buy the badly flipped "new floor covering and bad paint" trailers, strip them down and sell them with a warts and all inspection. And no I'm not going to attempt this….
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Old 01-30-2014, 04:50 PM   #25
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Quote:
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Darin,

I'm sorry to say an extra $5K is not the difference between a project and a restoration. Depending on the model and year a usable trailer could be 5-10K, a renovation $10-20K and a restoration $20-$35K or more.

Most of the time if you want a "restored" trailer you find the year/model you like, take it a guy like Frank and start writing checks or plan on buying a bunch of tools, getting busted knuckles and spending a bunch of time dirty.

Enjoy,
A restored trailer is a new trailer. Have you priced new ones? I bet Airstream don't put 1400 hours into building a 26 footer.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:01 PM   #26
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Frank,

You are correct. Before ever paying what they want for a new trailer, I would either find a trailer that was fully restored a few years prior (saving a few bucks) or laying out the cash to have someone do it knowing in the end I would have a far better product.

Hope you have lots of heat in your shop!

Enjoy,
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:44 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rideair View Post
I know, I’ll take some heat for this so I have my flame suit on.

I disagree, yes you can make a few dollars flipping trailers, will it be enough to live on? I don’t think so. Could it be enough to help pay for a trailer you’re fixing up or a trip somewhere? Maybe.
I know of folks that have found a deal (a trailer for $2,000) knowing it’s worth $5,000 easy. They flipped the trailer without doing anything to the trailer for $3,500 and stuck $1,500 in their pocket and the person who purchased the trailer for $3,500 still got a deal and could sell the trailer for $5,000 if they tried.

So I say this, if you’re riding down the road and see and Airstream sitting in the backyard of someone’s house, stop and say hello. If you can buy the trailer for a good price, flip it and put a few dollars in your pocket leaving a little meat on the bone for the next guy or person who’s going to fix it up, Please, Please “DO SO”. I'm not saying rip people off, misrepresent what the trailer is. But if done honestly in doing so, you have helped many folks, the person you bought it off of just put a few dollars in their pocket to help buy groceries, you put a few dollars in your pocket to help pay for a vacation or fix up your special trailer, the person that bought the trailer dreams come true of owning an Airstream, but most important the Airstream trailer itself for now it’s rolling back down the road (in whatever shape it maybe) allowing someone the chance to go camping with their family like many of us do here on the forums. If you had not stopped and purchased the trailer in the first place it would still be sitting in someone’s backyard being a mouse hotel rotting away until it’s taken to the scrapyard and crushed.


Enjoy,
I'm with Paul on this. Not trying to condone unscrupulous people, but if its a fair price for all and you are an educated buyer can be a good deal for all. As far as I'm concerned, Airstream sales/movement and activity that keeps them in the limelight is good for everyone.

My current 26 foot trailer has served me well for last 14 months. When I got it I essentially traded an old sailboat for it. It needed plumbing, minor subfloor repair, upholstery, tires, etc. I have spent last year slowly replacing and fixing things as a hobby in my spare time. I have a new water heater, everything inside works with new counter tops, new floors, window treatments, fixtures, paint etc. I think its pretty neat. I am now considering another Airstream that is one or two feet longer with different floorplan. I will essentially be selling mine (for about what I have in it financially) and starting over with a bigger one that needs the same stuff again.

I should be able to sell mine and have enough money to buy another project and have a small budget left over to start refurbishing it. So I am not a flipper as much as a "mover upper" on a budget!
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:48 AM   #28
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I have my eye on one right now on Craigslist. Its obviously a guy flipping it. I am sure he bought it for 3k from someone, but its a fairly nice trailer worth about 5-6k in present state. He is asking 6k so I don't mind feeding his dogs and family, still a good deal for me.

Its in fine shape to use now, and when I am finished with it next year should be worth around 12k or so. I could sell it for that if I get tired of it. (But I probably will spend several thousand to get it to that point) so am really just getting back my original investment.

One can only accomplish this with an Airstream, the SOBs just decay slowly into oblivion.
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