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Old 11-20-2019, 08:59 PM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
Leesburg , Texas
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Would you do it over again?

My parents purchased a 1974 31í Sovereign Land Yacht in 1987 for my dad to use. He was the forman for a road construction company and he lived M-F wherever they were building the roadway and came home on the weekends. He retired in 1993 and parked the airstream under a covered awning, never using it again. My parents have now both passed away and we recently sold their property. We have 60 days to remove the Airstream. My husband and I are thinking of moving it 90 minutes away to our home and renovating it. We both took early retirement and moved to the country where we have a little farm with goats, cows and chickens. We also have a surprisingly popular Airbnb cabin. Iíve read many of the forums. I know this will be hard. I know there is a significant expense. But we have the time to spend gutting and renovating it. Iíve built barns, chicken coops, finished out our 1000 sq foot cabin from top to bottom with the exception of the water and electric. My husband did water and we hired an electrician for the rest. Are we just dreaming that we can try and tackle this? Idk that we will ever even be able to travel with it as we have too many mouths to feed here to leave very often. But if we could get it up and running we may be able to turn it into another Airbnb rental. People really seem to want to get to the country for peace and quiet and I think this has the potential to be so cute! Right now, I donít think we could even get a thousand dollars for it since itís in such rough shape. But it has potential. I can see what it could be. Have any of you just regretted starting this journey and wished youíd never even tried to renovate your airstream??
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:23 PM   #2
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There are many who have started an AS renovation and didnít realize how much work, money and time it takes to rebuild one correctly. Some have sold their project midway. The only regret I have in renovating the first one was realizing one was not enough. I enjoy the challenge and the rewards when seeing the end results. If you have the time, money and desire, I say go for it. Take your time and enjoy the reno. Good luck
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:36 PM   #3
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Hundreds of people have come to regret attempting to renovate their Airstreams; you see the ads everywhere.......

" For sale, gutted Airstream trailer, ready for your dream interior, all the hard work done gutting it."

Along with the prayer of asking what they paid for the trailer before they gutted it.

Take what you think your renovation will cost, double it; take your labour estimate and triple that. Then understand you'll be lucky to break even selling it.

Go into this with your eyes wide open, with an understanding of all possible nightmare scenarios, like sub floor replacement, frame replacement at worst, welding some outriggers a possibility; new A/C's, fans, propane tanks and lines, new cabinets, axles........the list goes on.

I gutted, replaced a large proportion of my subfloor, built new cabinetry and revinyled all my interior gables of my Airstream 310 turbo diesel......no regrets at all......just started to renovate my 1978 Argosy 6.3m Minuet.

Cheers
Sidekick Tony
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:40 PM   #4
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This is your late parents AS so I assume that you are not thinking about selling it to make a profit when you are done, rather a solid link to your parents for the time that you will have it, and a really great AS when you are done.

As has been said, renovating one properly is no easy task but it sounds like you have what it takes; desire, personal connection to the AS, time, money and some know how. There will be many on this forum who, from what I have seen, will be more than happy to provide expert advice when you need it.
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Old 11-21-2019, 02:53 AM   #5
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I have never rebuilt an AS, in fact I do not own one. But it is my hopes that someday in the future I will purchase one.

What I have done is Converted a 35' 1978 GMC greyhound bus into a motor home. I thought I had a mechanically sound bus.... I started with getting the conversion done first. 80% of the way there we could start using it. Then I found out I had engine problems. Ended up rebuilding the 8v71 Detroit Diesel, and rear end, Adding tranny cooler and replacing radiator. NOTHING on this bus was small. The Heater core for warming the front of the bus while driving is about the the size of a small car radiator. It was one of the biggest learning experiences. Planning, designing , building, and ... rebuilding. At the time I had access to a machine shop, sheet metal shop, welders, and lots of carpentry and woodworking tools.

She had oak cabinets and oak accents throughout. We were able to boon dock a couple of weeks at a time, before we had to hit civilization.

It was one heck of a journey, it took several years, and more money than I want to think about. Note this was not a fancy bus. Just lots of hard work. I probably drop $75K into it back in the 1990s., We used the bus as much as we could, and the kids loved it growing up.

The upside. if you Plan,Plan,Plan, recheck your design over and over, Look for any flaws and change them before you get to the building process you will have a unique creation, that is designed to all of YOUR need and likes. I have looked at several trailers, and my gold standard to compare to is my old GMC bus.

The down side: it was a money and time sink. Almost cost me my marriage, for several years, when I wasn't at work, I was working on the bus. You guys get the picture. The only thing the GMC bus and AS have in common is they are both Aluminum. I guess that is why I like the AS. I have thought once or twice about rebuilding an AS. And I come up with NO way.

I have come to the fact I will never find trailer that will meet all of my wants and needs. I my be able to do some upgrades, make the AS more boondock friendly, but it will never prefect. For me it is no longer the thrill of re-building an AS, but the thrill of spending more time with my beloved wife, enjoying seeing new sights with the years we have left

I totally remodeled a 2,000 sq ft home over 1.5 years, gutted the basement and started over, replaced every window, door, and piece of trim throughout the whole house, and built a new 250 sq ft covered deck. Totally remodeled the bathrooms and kitchen and and put in a kitchenette. This was a piece of cake compared to the bus.

Count the costs, both time and money then triple that number. If you have the resources (time, money, and equipment) to pull it off it will be the experience of a life time.
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Old 11-21-2019, 04:47 AM   #6
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Frankfort , Ohio
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No. Not unless some circumstances changed. We spent two years working on a 77 Argosy instead if camping in it, and I really missed actually CAMPING that entire time.

My mom passed this summer, leaving me an option to purchase a new one, which I did as soon as possible, and I sold the 77 Argosy that we had mostly rehabbed. We got no where near what we had in it, but I knew we wouldnít, and was ok with that. No one who redoes an old Airstream ever gets what they have put into it, so if you are fixing it to sell it, you should accept that youíll take a loss.

If youíre doing it to keep it, go for it :-)
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Old 11-21-2019, 06:37 AM   #7
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One more thing.....all it will take is one nasty Airbnb customer that trashes your beloved Airstream trailer, and the dream of rental income will evaporate, as you'll loath to rent it out ever again.
People that pay money to rent stuff, don't care.
Would you ever buy a used car, that was a daily rental?

Cheers
Sidekick Tony

PS The fact that the trailer has been under cover for most of its life, may just be the saving grace to this reno; BUT rear end seperation still a possibility, so preventative measures would need to be done.
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:27 AM   #8
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Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the Forums!

Having been slowly creeping along on my rebuild for the last several years, I can say that there are several elements that are needed for a successful rennovation:
1) Desire
2) Time
3) Resources ($$)
4) Know-how (or at least "handiness")
5) Space to do the work
6) Understanding of the potential scope of the project

It sounds like you have all of the above, so I would say "go for it!"

My bet is that most of the projects that get aborted at the post "gutting" stage have only "Desire," and are lacking many of the 2-6 elements. The first epiphany is probably that the project scope is much larger than anything they had imagined--this comes when they expose the rotten subfloor and realize a shell-off is in their future. Then they realize they don't have the time to commit to the project, they are overwhelmed by what they don't know, and they are convinced that this isn't something they can do in their driveway. That is when the "Desire" drops below the required threshold, and the project gets sold, as-is.

Good luck!
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:12 AM   #9
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It will be a lot less work if you park it and use it there. I would recommend setting up a nice parking place, with utilities and rain cover that still gives the views but keeps it dry. A little patio sitting area and rent away.
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:26 AM   #10
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Hi

There's a very basic couple of decisions / questions here:

1) Mobile or stationary? Turning it into a "tiny house" of some sort is way cheaper than keeping it mobile.

2) Rental or personal? If you are going to rent it, low cost / durable is the only way to do the renovation. It's a room at a Holiday Inn ....

3) What sort of shape is it in? Simply getting it 90 minutes down the road may be a "thousands of dollars" sort of thing. Even out in the country, that's a long ways to "sneak" a trailer. Tires / axles / brakes / bearings / lights / battery / registration / plates all get into the mix towing it. It'll take a pretty big truck to transport it without towing it.

4) How much fun will this be? If you have the time and it counts as entertainment, that's one thing. If it's a chore that turns you off, that's a very different thing. As noted above there are a *lot* of trailers sitting "waiting for love" out there ....

Lots of variables and lots to think on. By no means is this a simple decision. There are multiple ways you could go.

Bob
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:43 AM   #11
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Go for it. The renovation is half the fun. Don't do it for the $, do it for the fun and satisfaction that it's really yours.
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Old 11-21-2019, 01:27 PM   #12
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Go for it!!
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Old 11-21-2019, 01:48 PM   #13
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Renovating it and making it safe and roadworthy is much harder than making it land worthy. Sounds like you have the land/space you have the experience and a little guest house or Airbnb would certainly be easy,... enough. If you put it back under cover you won't really even have to worry too much about leaks.
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Old 11-21-2019, 03:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WessonFarm View Post
My parents purchased a 1974 31í Sovereign Land Yacht in 1987 for my dad to use. He was the forman for a road construction company and he lived M-F wherever they were building the roadway and came home on the weekends. He retired in 1993 and parked the airstream under a covered awning, never using it again. My parents have now both passed away and we recently sold their property. We have 60 days to remove the Airstream. My husband and I are thinking of moving it 90 minutes away to our home and renovating it. We both took early retirement and moved to the country where we have a little farm with goats, cows and chickens. We also have a surprisingly popular Airbnb cabin. Iíve read many of the forums. I know this will be hard. I know there is a significant expense. But we have the time to spend gutting and renovating it. Iíve built barns, chicken coops, finished out our 1000 sq foot cabin from top to bottom with the exception of the water and electric. My husband did water and we hired an electrician for the rest. Are we just dreaming that we can try and tackle this? Idk that we will ever even be able to travel with it as we have too many mouths to feed here to leave very often. But if we could get it up and running we may be able to turn it into another Airbnb rental. People really seem to want to get to the country for peace and quiet and I think this has the potential to be so cute! Right now, I donít think we could even get a thousand dollars for it since itís in such rough shape. But it has potential. I can see what it could be. Have any of you just regretted starting this journey and wished youíd never even tried to renovate your airstream??
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At the end of the day there is TIME and there is MONEY. Fixing up the old Airstream will take larger quantities of both than you can anticipate. As you note, using the Airstream to travel doesn't mix well if you have livestock and or too many pets to travel with you. That leaves fixing it up minimally so it is safe and dry and cute and then try and rent it out. I would suggest that you flat-bed the trailer to your home and go to work. Keep your checkbook and credit card handy. Or...advertise it, sell it, take the money, and the TIME and MONEY that you didn't have to spend on it and do something really fun at your new rural retreat. These are the best years of your life and you don't know how long life and health will last. Do whatever will give you the greatest joy.
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Old 11-21-2019, 08:07 PM   #15
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1974 31' Sovereign
Leesburg , Texas
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I think I’m still trying to find what makes me happy now that our nest is empty. We sold our family house and moved to the country. At the time, the kids were excited about us moving and couldn’t wait to visit. And that is now a rare event. The Airbnb visitors have helped a lot and I really enjoyed getting the cabin in order to rent it out. My husband and I talked it out and decided if we did anything with the AS, it would be to transform it into permanent structure. We just have too much going on here to travel much. I think we would come out thousands of dollars ahead by renting an AS to use for vacations instead of trying to get this one ready to go for the handful of times we may be able to leave here. Although the AS was under a cover, I anticipate everything inside will have to go. The inside walls all have mildew on them and the last time i was inside it, I stared down a raccoon that was somehow inside there. He won and I bolted. So I know going forward that it’s a job. But, since it was passed onto us, we didn’t have to buy anything and we feel like it has good bones. We’ll see how it goes!
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:10 PM   #16
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Okay, smart move; this makes the reno far easier; no new axles, shocks or having to worry about weight distribution........

So, tow trailer to your property, reverse trailer up onto blocks that are level with each other, so trailer is level side to side. Unhitch from TV, then with hitch jack, level trailer front to back. With a combination of bricks and shims made of Ipe, (rot impervious wood) support frame under main frame and the outer outriggers. This will stop any frame collapsing.
Strip out interior, but keep everything, as you never know, you might need to use something for a template or decide to reuse something; Using a good epoxy flooring paint, paint subfloor to seal it. Using original walls as templates, cut new walls out of whatever material you want, OR as I did, revinyl interior gables with new vinyl; I used a 3m Di-noc Weave vinyl, which is durable and fresh. The weave pattern also does a great job of hiding imperfections.
Add PEX A plumbing pipe, cabinets, bedding and new upholstery you want and bedding.
In short order, you'll be enjoying your trailer.

Cheers
Sidekick Tony

PS Use Spray-Nine antibacterial spray cleaner to clean the trailer, top to bottom.
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Old 11-22-2019, 01:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WessonFarm View Post
Although the AS was under a cover, I anticipate everything inside will have to go.
Your decision sounds reasonable to me, although I am concerned by the above statement. Does this mean that you will be gutting the interior and will start from scratch? Is this necessary? Would a thorough cleaning, repair or replacement of appliances and recovering of soft goods not be enough to make it a workable Airbnb?

Regardless, your plans may change down the road and you may decide later to make it roadworthy and travel with it.

Good luck.

Dan
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:16 PM   #18
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I Say "Go for It!"

You might enjoy referring to a book published in 2018 ccalled Tin Can Homestead:The Art of Airstream Living by Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw which described their re-do of their Airstream.
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