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Old 10-24-2019, 03:40 PM   #1
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1975 31' Sovereign
Modesto , California
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 7
Rivet New '75....where to go from here

Hello ! I'm a new member and owner of a 1975 Sovereign (our first AS)
I'm going down this massive rabbit hole and need to get some advice/opinions:

The trailer has been pretty well kept and is a time machine back to 1975. A few things need repair and update (carpet for sure) BUT as of last year someone was still using it and the AC/Oven/Fridge/etc... all still in working order.

We are unsure of what to do with her. Our initial plan was to do a full reno with floorpan changes....but we are hearing from a few ppl to keep as much original as we can, do a good cleaning, etc......My questions is: Is there a major difference in value between the two options? IF we did want to flip it...would it be more desirable (say to a collector) in its 1975 glory? Or would we be better off in the long run, value-wise, to sell the parts and renovate her ?



I hope I don't sound too green. I appreciate all and any help!
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Old 10-24-2019, 05:11 PM   #2
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
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Welcome!

If you want to flip it for a profit, do as little as possible. Clean it up, do a quickie polish job, then sell it. Maybe get some of that fresh baked cookie smell that realtors use and spray it around before tours.

Renovation is an expensive rabbit hole that you will never get a return on unless you're running a custom shop and renovating other people's trailers for a profit.

If you want it for yourself, spend twice as long and three times as much money as you planned making it your own like I did. My rig is perfect for me and totally worth it. But no way will I ever recoup all of my labor and expenses if I ever sell it.
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Old 10-24-2019, 05:55 PM   #3
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1975 31' Sovereign
Modesto , California
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When you say quickie polish job- do you mean keep the patina/matte look or get it to the trendy shiny/mirror look?
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Old 10-24-2019, 06:34 PM   #4
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1962 22' Safari
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Great advice here!
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Old 10-24-2019, 08:35 PM   #5
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1973 Argosy 22
Carleton , Michigan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatleys View Post
If you want it for yourself, spend twice as long and three times as much money as you planned making it your own like I did. My rig is perfect for me and totally worth it. But no way will I ever recoup all of my labor and expenses if I ever sell it.
Well said! I have spent 20 years repairing, updating, and restoring our trailer into the trailer we love. While doing all these things; the current project always needed to be finished by the time we went on the next trip and enjoyed it Not nearly done; but that doesnt matter because I love working on it too!

Have fun with your new Airstream!

Shawn
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Old 10-25-2019, 06:31 AM   #6
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HaulingHalls View Post
When you say quickie polish job- do you mean keep the patina/matte look or get it to the trendy shiny/mirror look?
I meant mirror polish. Somewhat cynically, I meant don't take the time to do a good job on it, since that's expensive. Swirls don't show on Instagram if you turn the filters way up.

A 70s Sovereign is a fantastic trailer, but it's not rare or in demand enough to fetch a premium from a collector. Keeping it as original as possible is more of a strategy to keep your costs down than for historic preservation.
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Old 10-25-2019, 06:55 AM   #7
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

Your maximum return flipping it:
1) Do a full deep clean of the entire trailer, inside and out.

2) Poke in here and there with a camera to *demonstrate* that the frame and sub floor are in fine shape.

3) Repair any needed items ( tires / batteries / brakes / hubs / axles )

At that point you have a trailer that is able to hit the road. It is "as good as" a brand new trailer in that regard. The new owner does not *have* to do any work before they go camping.

Everything past what's above is a matter of personal taste. I may love pink and orange stripes on my trailer, others may not. Money put into matching my tastes is not likely to be good profit wise. As you do a tear out and replace renovation, the costs go up quickly.

The equally big question is - can you do the stuff above and recover what you have put into the trailer? Part of that gets to how much you spent on it already. Another big part is the cost of labor ( = do you work for free?). If you put in 500 hours and "make" $4000 when you sell the trailer ... hmmm...... What's Walmart paying these days?

Bob
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Old 10-25-2019, 07:47 AM   #8
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Usually when I see a trailer that is advertised as being in "original condition," I interpret that as meaning that it has been largely untouched, and will require a complete rebuild.

Value-wise, what I have seen over the years is that a trailer that has had nothing done to it (in original condition), but has not been maintained and will require a lot of work to make it road worthy is worth the least. A trailer in somewhat original shape that has had a few upgrades, routine maintenance, and could go camping tomorrow is in the middle of the price spectrum, and trailers that have been completely rebuilt will be worth the most, and dramatically more than the others (but the rebuilder will still probably never "get his investment back"). You could take a 1975 trailer that had spent its life cryogenically preserved in a museum, and it isn't going to be worth as much as a well-done rebuild.

Simiilarly, the interior of that trailer is practically worthless. I see people offering the entire interiors of their 70's vintage trailers for free on the classifieds routinely, and the ads stay up a long time.

So do what makes sense for you. As others have said, if you want to make a quick buck with the flip, put as little money into it as possible, make it pretty, and let the next owner worry about the rear end separation, the sagging axles, and the leaks. If you want to keep it, then try taking it out and using it a few times before you get married tothe idea of ripping everything apart.

As I often say, do you want to go camping, or do you want a years long project rebuilding a trailer?

good luck!
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Old 10-25-2019, 07:55 AM   #9
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To be fair, I don't think Airforums members are representative of the average Airstream buyer. Just because we won't pay too much and have unreasonable expectations about the condition of an original Airstream doesn't mean OP won't find exactly that sort of buyer.

In fact, it seems like that sort of buyer is the rule rather than the exception. It takes a lot of work digging into an older rig (or reading lots of threads showing what happened when other people did that) to get a feel for the horrors that lie beneath that shiny aluminum exterior.
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:39 AM   #10
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1973 29' Ambassador
Woodward , Oklahoma
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I guess I am fortunate. I have owned my Airstream for 10 or 15 years, and 'rough' camp in it during vacation time every year. I have never HAD to do any 'major' repairs to it during that time. It still has the original hot water heater, heater and water pump, stovetop, oven, refrigerator and all the original plumbing, with the exception of a gray water tank to replace the black water tank I removed when installing a Nature's Head. I did replace the axle assemblies 2 years ago, as recommended by the good folks on this forum, and the carpet with vinyl plank to satisfy wifey. I am convinced that a reasonably maintained Airstream trailer from this era can last a lifetime. I certainly intended that when I lucked into the opportunity to purchase mine! It's not fancy but it's paid for, camps well and promotes conversation as well as a pop-box full of hot pop or a one-eyed dog! Get it where it is safe to tow and water-tight, and enjoy it! They don't build 'em like this anymore is a true statement. IMO
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Old 10-25-2019, 12:11 PM   #11
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1973 21' Globetrotter
1975 26' Argosy 26
Vista , California
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You wanted as airstream, so quit worrying about the money, and try to enjoy it, go camping, the ideas of what you want ,will come, as you get to know it. I would get rid of that big microwave oven. And put a larger sink in too.
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Old 10-25-2019, 12:35 PM   #12
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2019 22' Sport
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Have a look at the propane system. The regulator and lines should probably be replaced it they are original. This will prevent propane loss and ensure safety.
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Old 10-26-2019, 01:18 AM   #13
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1975 31' Sovereign
Modesto , California
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Usually when I see a trailer that is advertised as being in "original condition," I interpret that as meaning that it has been largely untouched, and will require a complete rebuild.

Value-wise, what I have seen over the years is that a trailer that has had nothing done to it (in original condition), but has not been maintained and will require a lot of work to make it road worthy is worth the least. A trailer in somewhat original shape that has had a few upgrades, routine maintenance, and could go camping tomorrow is in the middle of the price spectrum, and trailers that have been completely rebuilt will be worth the most, and dramatically more than the others (but the rebuilder will still probably never "get his investment back"). You could take a 1975 trailer that had spent its life cryogenically preserved in a museum, and it isn't going to be worth as much as a well-done rebuild.

Simiilarly, the interior of that trailer is practically worthless. I see people offering the entire interiors of their 70's vintage trailers for free on the classifieds routinely, and the ads stay up a long time.

So do what makes sense for you. As others have said, if you want to make a quick buck with the flip, put as little money into it as possible, make it pretty, and let the next owner worry about the rear end separation, the sagging axles, and the leaks. If you want to keep it, then try taking it out and using it a few times before you get married tothe idea of ripping everything apart.

As I often say, do you want to go camping, or do you want a years long project rebuilding a trailer?

good luck!

Thank you! This was just the answer i was looking for. Honestly we bought it on a whim because of the price, but itís also been a bucket list dream of ours.

We currently live/travel full time in a 5th wheel and would love a tow behind. We are squatting in CA for winter and have the time on our hands so we are weighing all the options! We wanted a full renovation but then family started putting their two cents in about Ďkeeping it originalí so we second guessed ourselves....and yeah...we are gonna go with our original plans! My husband is a welder and grease monkey and we have a ton of material leftover from our last house flip sooooo Iím thinking we are headed down the rabbit hole : )
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Old 10-26-2019, 01:28 AM   #14
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1975 31' Sovereign
Modesto , California
Join Date: Oct 2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddhisself View Post
I guess I am fortunate. I have owned my Airstream for 10 or 15 years, and 'rough' camp in it during vacation time every year. I have never HAD to do any 'major' repairs to it during that time. It still has the original hot water heater, heater and water pump, stovetop, oven, refrigerator and all the original plumbing, with the exception of a gray water tank to replace the black water tank I removed when installing a Nature's Head. I did replace the axle assemblies 2 years ago, as recommended by the good folks on this forum, and the carpet with vinyl plank to satisfy wifey. I am convinced that a reasonably maintained Airstream trailer from this era can last a lifetime. I certainly intended that when I lucked into the opportunity to purchase mine! It's not fancy but it's paid for, camps well and promotes conversation as well as a pop-box full of hot pop or a one-eyed dog! Get it where it is safe to tow and water-tight, and enjoy it! They don't build 'em like this anymore is a true statement. IMO

Someone was living in this one as of last year and using everything- the AC needed a service but from what we are told and what weíve tested it all works..we are moving her to our winter location this weekend and are going to go through it all more thoroughly but from what we checked thereís no rot or leaks etc...the rear end separating wasnít on my homework list before this forum so Iím definitely going to be looking at that. We hauled her home 4 hours though and she didnít come apart lol (she has brand new tires on her too). Iím being cautiously optimistic and have read through a ton of threads on here. I really hope to go into this with some wisdom from you all!
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Old 10-26-2019, 01:32 AM   #15
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1975 31' Sovereign
Modesto , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatleys View Post
I meant mirror polish. Somewhat cynically, I meant don't take the time to do a good job on it, since that's expensive. Swirls don't show on Instagram if you turn the filters way up.

A 70s Sovereign is a fantastic trailer, but it's not rare or in demand enough to fetch a premium from a collector. Keeping it as original as possible is more of a strategy to keep your costs down than for historic preservation.


Thank you! Thatís more of what I was wanting to know- my parents are the Ďof it ainít broke donít fix it and it might be worth more money that wayí type and I started doubting our original plans to remodel her!
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Old 10-26-2019, 07:09 AM   #16
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

If you are going to *use* the trailer then fix it up to meet your needs. The beast is no different than a house that hasn't been refurb'd in 45 years. It needs attention to be livable.

Bob
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Old 10-27-2019, 10:52 AM   #17
CC
 
1972 27' Overlander
Heinsburg , AB
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Posts: 108
Welcome Halls. I'm in the camp make it your own (for what it's worth). I hope you will keep us posted as you progress through your reno. The Greatleys did an awesome rebuild and dbj216 has a great rebuild thread. Good luck!
CC
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Old 10-28-2019, 07:42 PM   #18
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1975 31' Sovereign
Kenosha , Wisconsin
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Great to see the photos of the interior of your 75 Sovereign. I have almost the same trailer, however mine has the "L" shaped couch. It takes up a lot of room, but it does allow us to sleep 5 or 6 at times. Most every other floor plan is for 4 only. My trailer has a ton of miles on it. We guess over 300,000 miles. It had a lot of the issues that have been covered here. It was purchased by my folks in 1985, and was in pretty good shape at that time. It had been used though, not a sit at campground unit. At one point, Dad returned it to Jackson Center for a frame stiffener. Again for the elephant ears for rear separation. In 2001 he purchased a 1999 and I took the 75. By that time, it had quite a few issues. It had been in an incident where a tire blow-out on the Suburban caused a 180 degree broad slide down the highway. That was quite a ride! I suspect that is when the frame broke in front of the stiffeners that Airstream installed. The broken frame went unnoticed as the body was carrying the load. The break was under the cabinet between the water pump and the sink. When I got it, the strain was showing on the bulkheads, etc. I ended up stripping the entire bottom and side wraps. I replaced all of the outriggers and about half of the cross-members. I built new holding tank racks and pans, and had bent up 10 gauge "C" channel that slip fit inside of the original frame. I was able to straighten up where the break occurred, and welded in the replacement "C" channel in along both sides and extended back to the holding tanks. This significantly strengthened the frame. I remove all of the fiberglass insulation as it held water and promoted rust. I attached 2" dense foam Styrofoam to the floor board for insulation. This allows any water that enters the bottom of the trailer to be able to dry up as there is air space above the belly skin. I then rebuilt the interior mostly as original, but put in a laminate floor in the kitchen, carpet in the bedroom and vinyl in the bathroom. We love it. Just got back from camping yesterday. I winterized it, so it is almost ready for winter storage.

Steve
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Old 11-03-2019, 10:44 AM   #19
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manchaca , Texas
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Respopnse to Greatleys

You said:
"don't take the time to do a good job on it, since that's expensive. Swirls don't show on Instagram if you turn the filters way up."
In other words do a lousy job and cheat on the photos.
How dishonest can you be? A rivet master? Shame on you.
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Old 11-03-2019, 12:54 PM   #20
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2017 25' Flying Cloud
Manchester , New Hampshire
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It depends

If renovation means a butcher block counter, bar stools and a composting toilet leave it alone. If you can and want to do fine cabinetry, plumbing, welding and are good with spending $ for a new furnace, AC, etc renovate it.

My business partner loves restoring cars, building custom motorcycles, he always looses money. If your doing it, it has to be for you.

Steve
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