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Old 05-02-2017, 05:34 PM   #1
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1981 31' Excella II
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Is this worth $4k

We are looking at a 31 ft 1974 Airstream with center bath right now with some rust on the frame. Is this worth $4k?

The photo of the rusted bit is the back portion, there is some rust on other frame cross beams by the walls, but it doesn't seem to go further in than 3 or 4 inches from the wall, and this rust isn't crumbling.

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Old 05-02-2017, 05:39 PM   #2
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You are standing on the edge of a very deep dark hole.
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Old 05-02-2017, 05:40 PM   #3
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It would be a great project but will cost you a fortune to redo
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Old 05-02-2017, 06:02 PM   #4
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If you have carpentry skills, basic plumbing and electrical, a large , covered work area and a good selection of both hand and power tools you could make this trailer unique and pristine in only a few hundred man-hours.

The four grand is not ridiculous but I believe you will have multiple tens of thousands in time and materials in it before it is all done.

You will never get out of it what you put in but, if you are looking for a project to keep you busy a few years...
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Old 05-02-2017, 06:03 PM   #5
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If we hadn't already purchased (for too much) and decided to renovated ours, I would totally buy this one. A lot of the tear is already done. As long as the frame feels solid, and it's just surface rust, you can easily grind it out and spray on some rustblock rustoleum spray or similar.

Some other things to consider:
  1. How do the axles look (is there anything that has been replaced/upgraded or it is all original?)
  2. Are all the windows intact (it can cost A LOT to replace the end/corner windows)
  3. Do they still have the original aluminum interior skins? Purchasing new aluminum for a 31 footer adds up QUICK.
  4. Do they still have any of the interior trim/equipment, specifically the shower liner if this was a side bath model? We made the mistake of throwing out our shower liner and that proved to be a huge pain.
  5. Are the holding tanks still there/do they leak?
  6. Are you located nearby? I noticed that the subfloor is removed in some of the photos - the subfloor actually is part of the support structure for the walls, and if you're missing enough of it, it's not something you should tow very far.


None of these things are deal breakers, you just have to ask yourself how much work you want to do. Check out our blog (linked in my footer) for how much work you're looking at getting into. For us, totally worth it, but your mileage may vary .
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Old 05-02-2017, 06:07 PM   #6
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From what others have suggested on other threads, $2-3K might be closer to the mark, but at least from the pictures it does look better than some and may even be towable with new tires, bearings, electrics and brakes. The question is likely, do you have the $s, time, motivation and skills to return her to travel ready condition.

I am convinced that given adequate motivation a skilled craftsman can create a very nice coach renovation. I'm also convinced that many folks will just invest their hard earned money in a project that will never be quite right.

Only you know you. Good luck with your decision . Pat

Edit - $4K will buy you a travel ready SOB that you can enjoy many years of exciting travel and adventures.
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Old 05-02-2017, 06:27 PM   #7
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I don't think you could get your money back from a scrap metal junker. Might make a serviceable food cart or similar.
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Old 05-02-2017, 07:07 PM   #8
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If I offered you $4k would you take it?? Do you think you could buy something else that would be better for the same or less?? Don't let the nay sayers scare you off. Restoring one of these old girls is the most rewarding challenge you could ever take on. Just go in with eyes wide open. It could take years and cost alot. When you get it to the point you can take it out on the open road and camp in it ( you will likely never be 100% done). You will experience pride and satisfaction like none other.
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Old 05-02-2017, 07:21 PM   #9
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I restore old mostly orphan cars that I fall in love with. Not because of what others see but because of what I envision. I spend far more than if I just bought one that someone else restored. Thing is, I love the hunt for parts and the little joys that come with restoring. So for me, it's not the end product so much as it's the process.

This is a long way of saying to do this if your pleasure will come from the process. If not, like what happened with a 57 Wagon I was doing, you will expensively arrive half way and either never finish it or finish it just so you can sell it. This won't be about the money but about everything else.

Always always cheaper to buy someone else's restored project after factoring in your time , shortcuts and errors honestly.
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:37 AM   #10
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Aha!

Is this the trailer described in the post below?

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f39/...on-166187.html

If so, anyone contemplating the question of what this trailer is worth needs to also be aware that it comes without the interior skins, or apparently any of the furnishings. I would also question seriously how safe it is to tow, as from the pictures it looks like several sections of floor have been removed (the floor is sandwiched between the base of the walls and the frame, so if it is removed, you may have a frame and shell that can move independently).

$4k is way too high for this aborted project. There are plenty of "as-found" trailers that are in rough shape, but at least mostly complete, for sale for less. The advantage you get with them is that you won't be trying to recreate interior skins without templates, rewiring with no clue how it was originally wired, etc.. This is a HUGE project. I am not sure I would take this trailer if it were free, unless I just intended to part it out.

good luck!
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Aha!

Is this the trailer described in the post below?

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f39/...on-166187.html

If so, anyone contemplating the question of what this trailer is worth needs to also be aware that it comes without the interior skins, or apparently any of the furnishings. I would also question seriously how safe it is to tow, as from the pictures it looks like several sections of floor have been removed (the floor is sandwiched between the base of the walls and the frame, so if it is removed, you may have a frame and shell that can move independently).

$4k is way too high for this aborted project. There are plenty of "as-found" trailers that are in rough shape, but at least mostly complete, for sale for less. The advantage you get with them is that you won't be trying to recreate interior skins without templates, rewiring with no clue how it was originally wired, etc.. This is a HUGE project. I am not sure I would take this trailer if it were free, unless I just intended to part it out.

good luck!
I agree.

The frame looks shot to me. I also don't think its safe to tow it as it is. You are probably looking at a shell off to fix the frame and lay new sub-floor. Then there is the drive train (axles, brakes, tires), electric lines, water lines, LP lines, water tanks, and appliances. You also have to make the trailer water tight (replacing window gaskets, glazing beads, sealing the roof, etc).

Even if you do all the work yourself, my guess is that you are looking at a minimum of $15k and a minimum of 1 year of work. I say minimum because with these older trailers that are usually a couple of surprises that increase your project budget/duration.
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Old 05-03-2017, 10:21 AM   #12
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I just blew up and squinted extra hard at the picture of the missing rear section of floor. Looks to me that the last two cross memebers are rusted away, and that the rear main frame rails are also rusted completely through and will need to be rebuilt. Show stopper? Not necessarily, and in fact, this kind of damage is typical of this age of trailer, and is something you will likely find on any 70's era trailer that hasn't already been rebuilt.

I often say that when you buy a trailer of this age, you are essentially buying just the shell, as everything else might get replaced anyway. As long as you understand that you are looking at a shell-off (and probably would be for any as-found trailer this age), and potentially years of work, and the task is made even bigger and more expensive due to the missing skins and other original interior parts, then at least you are not likely in for big surprises. Just make sure you have seen pictures of the entire exterior--if there is a big dent in an exterior panel, then that changes the value immediately.

Value wise, I guess if you can't find anything within a reasonable distance that is similarly priced, and you are keen to get started, then the $4k isn't a big deal--as long as you realize that it will be dwarfed in the long run by all the other costs you incur during the rennovation. And for negotiation purposes--be assured, the seller has done you no favors by disassembling the trailer and throwing the parts away!
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Old 05-03-2017, 10:45 AM   #13
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1981 31' Excella II
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All, thank you so much for the input. We were really looking to see if people were confident in there being better 28'+ center bath out there.

It sounds like that's the case. We are happy and prepared to put in the big bucks and time for the reno, but we are passing on this.

If anyone hears about a trailer local to them that fits our search, please feel free to let us know.

Thanks again so much!
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Old 05-03-2017, 10:51 AM   #14
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1981 31' Excella II
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post

I often say that when you buy a trailer of this age, you are essentially buying just the shell, as everything else might get replaced anyway.
Agreed we are leaning towards gutting any trailer we get down to the shell and start over unless we can have absolute certainty that the everything behind the inner skin and under the subfloor is sound and robust.
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:32 PM   #15
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70's era 31 footers are plentiful and $4K should get you much more bang for your buck. I'd steer clear of this unless you really have the heart for a large project.
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:47 PM   #16
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1981 31' Excella II
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70's era 31 footers are plentiful and $4K should get you much more bang for your buck. I'd steer clear of this unless you really have the heart for a large project.
Thanks! We are definitely remodeling the whole interior, and just really want to be comfortable with the state of the frame / inner walls. We plan to live-in for a couple years.
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Old 05-03-2017, 02:19 PM   #17
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1973 31' Sovereign
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70's era 31 footers are plentiful and $4K should get you much more bang for your buck. I'd steer clear of this unless you really have the heart for a large project.
^^What he said - we found at least 1/2 dozen when we were searching, they all need work and most of the interiors are shot. Remember, frames can be welded by it just means more work.

Here is a Link to our 31ft rennovation
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Old 05-03-2017, 02:27 PM   #18
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I sold my 31' Sovereign to my next door neighbor for $3,500.00 and everything in it worked. Unless the body on that unit is immaculate and you have most if not all the skills to rebuild ,plumb and wire the interior, I would pass. The easy part is getting it down to the shell. If you've never restored something like this,you'll be astounded by the time and money it takes. It's rewarding but if you add your time in ,it could easily be more expensive than buying new.
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Old 05-03-2017, 03:22 PM   #19
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A leverite ,leave it where you found it.
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Old 05-03-2017, 06:47 PM   #20
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. . .
. . . but we are passing on this.
. . .
Thanks for confirming that you are passing on this one. A good move IMO.

Good luck!
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