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Old 01-12-2007, 10:41 PM   #1
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The *TRUE* Cost of Restoration

We never hear too much about what we spend on our restorations. I don't know if its because we spend too much and we don't want to admit it .

Or if its the fact that it really doesn't matter since its not about money .

Durring the restoration of my '71 Safari from July 2001 through when I sold it in May of 2006, I kept detailed records as best I could of what I spent on the trailer. Everything from the purchase price to registration at the DMV.

I thought I'd post it here for those thinking of doing a restoration. Keep in mind my '71 was a basket case, meaning it needed all new appliances, and new soft goods, etc.... However no major frame or floor work was needed.

Also, I did all the work myself. The price would be dramatically higher had I dropped it off at a resotoration shop and waited for it to be done .

Here are my records. Attached as a text file to retain formatting.
Attached Files
File Type: txt Safari expenses.TXT (13.1 KB, 658 views)
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Old 01-12-2007, 11:36 PM   #2
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Was it a "ZEROSUM" Gain??

Tim,I see were you spent say 9K total over about five years. The question would be, "What did you get out of the trailer?" Not just in terms of a "sales" price? But, in total? By that I mean, enjoyment, savings of not staying in a hotel to go on vacation, doing something that most will never do, etc... This is why I had a tag on my 66 Overlander of "ZEROSUM". I felt the "amount lost was equal to the amount gained" or should I say, "ZEROSUM". I'm glad I don't keep those good of records for mine, I'd hate for the wife to see the total cost of owning 4 Airstreams. Maybe someday I'll round our the whole 1966 year!66 Globetrotter, 66 Safari, 66 Overlander, 70 Safari Special
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Old 01-13-2007, 12:04 AM   #3
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Paul,

Without a doubt it was worth it. Which is why I'm doing it again!

The enjoyment it brings to the family is worth every penny. I realize that even more with the absense of a usable trailer this past summer. Plus the pratical side of the cost of camping allows us to go on more trips per year then without a trailer.

I'm on a very tight schedule that I had better get this *new* trailer up and running for this summer!

I just wanted to let new vintage owners realize sometimes the purchase price is an entry fee. A small percentage of a completed trailer if that's their goal.
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Old 01-13-2007, 12:26 AM   #4
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well...

Having heard so much about how much trailer restoration ultimately costs, I have to say I thought the final number would be higher. Of course, given my colorful relationship with curved glass, my cost in dollars will most likely exceed that. I'm still convinced it's worth it in the long run. Ever forward! (When I get a bunch of cash).
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Old 01-13-2007, 01:58 AM   #5
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You mean someone actually got finished? I thought this was like having children, or the energizer bunny, it just keeps going and going and going. Possibly that's because I could never entertain the idea of getting rid of my Twink. I just keep giving him new "stuff" and he keeps giving me so much camping pleasure.
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Old 01-13-2007, 04:52 AM   #6
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Very Brave Tim!

You are a brave man! Keeping true cost is something I'm not up to. Especially the hours spent of my time. We're restoring the '70 Safari and my whole two weeks during the winter holiday were spent inside, over, or under the silver rocket. Yes, I loved every minute of it and it was the most relaxing vacation ever (never thought of what I needed to do at work , only saw more things to do on the AS ).

Cheers to you!
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Old 01-13-2007, 05:32 AM   #7
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Nice job! Looks like you scored a few tools too. I like retoring/fixing thing so I can get new toys on the way to fixin it
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Old 01-13-2007, 06:29 AM   #8
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I have made money so to speak

Quote:
Originally Posted by rideair
... The question would be, "What did you get out of the trailer?" ...I mean, enjoyment, savings of not staying in a hotel to go on vacation, doing something that most will never do, etc. .. I felt the "amount lost was equal to the amount gained" or should I say, "ZEROSUM"...
I like Paul's way of thinking about it. Thanks to Quicken software, I too know how much money has gone into the refurbishment of my Airstream. My wife & I balance the cost of Airstream manintenance against the cost of going to Disney World.

Our first trip to Disney almost paid for the original refurbishment in what we saved by not staying in an on-site hotel. Disney trip number two more than made up the difference. The new axles installed before trip number three were "paid" for halfway through the vacation.

The cool thing is that we prefer to vacation in my Overlander. The money we save by not staying in motels is just a pleasant bonus.

On the flip side though, I wonder how many trips to Disney World it would take to pay for a brand-new 30' slide-out?

Tom
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Old 01-13-2007, 09:20 AM   #9
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We have a 1963 Bambi. Counting the 7000 we spent on it in the beginning, We have about 15,000, in our final restoration. I did't keep detailed accounts. What I did was creat a separate checking account. It was like what some refer to in the restoration game as another hole in the ground. When it got low we porred more into it. I liked that method because I could spend you time working on the project and not the books. As someone mentioned below besides a way cool 63 Bambi we now have quite a few new tools we didn't have before. After all one can never have enough tools or Airstreams. This is a good thread for though newbees who are look at starting a new project.
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:16 AM   #10
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Is it worth it?

Of course it's worth it! We wouldn't be here otherwise .

Besides the personal labor time, which even I did not keep track of , there are financial considerations newbies need to realize.

When you buy a trailer for $1500, it going to need work. And the amount of work can be costly. It's funny how all those trips to Home Depot add up to thousands!

The nice thing about vintage trailers is that you can usually put the money into it over time as you can afford it. And it a lot of cases continue to use it as you do.
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:26 AM   #11
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I have a 73 Safari that will be around 16K when the restore process is finished in the next month. I utilized someone to do alot of the basic work and I am doing the finish work due to time restrictions. We have done a lot to it - all new cabinets, bunk beds, dinette, appliances, etc..., but it will be well worth it this spring. We almost bought a new non-AS trailer that would have been 21K and dropped about 5K the first year and a bit more every year after. So I figure I would skip the depreciation and go for appreciation or at least be able to get close to what I have in it - and that is if I ever get rid of it.
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
Of course it's worth it! We wouldn't be here otherwise .

Besides the personal labor time, which even I did not keep track of , there are financial considerations newbies need to realize.

When you buy a trailer for $1500, it going to need work. And the amount of work can be costly. It's funny how all those trips to Home Depot add up to thousands!

The nice thing about vintage trailers is that you can usually put the money into it over time as you can afford it. And it a lot of cases continue to use it as you do.
Tim,
You are so right on. There is a componant that I don't think most folks figure in to the bottom line: The time and transportation costs associated with the many trips back and forth to the hardware store. After almost every project, regardless of how well I think I have planned, I am amazed (bummed) at how much time I wasted running around picking up supplies. To say nothing of fuel and maintenance on the vehicle.
Thanks for posting that, many folks have referred to these restoration costs, this is the first time I've seen a comprehensive list.

Dave
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
Of course it's worth it! We wouldn't be here otherwise .
That is a question I have asked myself quite a few times in the last few months.

After many hours of reading these forums and honestly estimating the costs ( labor not included ) , I've figured it to be about $10,000 dollars .

When I feel a little bit of discouragement begin to set in , I go out and hang with the trailer and imagine the project completed and know that it will be VERY worth it.

Thanks Tim for your accounting skills.
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:51 AM   #14
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My tally for the 1963 Overlander is at $ 18500.00 so far, raw materials only, no labor, only some tools included.
This includes the purchase price of the trailer. It does not include delivery expenses, and it does not include minor hardware store trips for small items .
I have a rough .xls file where I keep track of the bigger items, from $ 50.00 up.
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Old 01-13-2007, 12:45 PM   #15
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We bought "Molly" fully restored so I did not have the satisfaction of doing it myself. Altho, after waiting many years for just the right rig for the two of us
I'm glad she was allready done. All the reciepts from the previous owner were included, and some time spent at the shop that did all the work helped us make the deal. Close to 10,000 was spent just prior to the sale. I'ts what we wanted, not having to do much except cosmeticts inside and normal maintance. But there is that satisfaction of doing it yourself.....
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Old 01-13-2007, 03:26 PM   #16
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On my second

I've got two vintage rigs. One is done and used on a regular basis, the other is in the shop.


Let's just say, the second after all said and done will crest $20K. Could it be done cheaper, sure. But I'm not doing it that way and I only want to do this once.

In terms of why spend so much restoring, it's not an ROI thing at all. It's all about building someting for fun and not having a boss looking over your shoulder to see if the dollars make sense... that's why they they call it a hobby. If people don't like my design or workmanship.... piss off

The next rig I buy will be turn key and have a motor certainly will be more than $20k. And it better have a warranty!




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Old 01-13-2007, 03:46 PM   #17
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My policy is not to keep track of these things, and here's why:

in 1996 I bought a 1968 mustang for $4k

In 2003 I sold it for $7k

In between those years I spent about $10k on it, and it was never in a state where it could be regularly used and enjoyed. I never really felt bad about it until I added up the receipts when I was preparing to sell it!

My Caravel cost $6k, but I could use it right away. I figure over the past four years I've put maybe $6k into it. I have enjoyed it regularly this whole time, and it has never been down for maintenance when I wanted to use it. Since I don't intend to sell it, I'd say this was a much better use of time and money than the mustang ever was!


Not to be a Negative Nellie, but my advice to newbies buying anything old that they plan to work on is to buy the best you can - old car, trailer, boat, whatever! It sounds very romantic to buy a gutted wreck and bring it back from the grave, but very few people can do that, and many many people will run out of time, money, or patience with the project. After all, how do you think it ended up gutted? The previous owner probably had the same high hopes and got burnt out on the project, probably spending many sleepless nights hoping someone would come along and take the mess off his hands! So if people ask, I always say buy the best you can, try to get it to a state where you can enjoy it, and work on it as you go along. And never ever count the money!
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Old 01-13-2007, 04:08 PM   #18
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Tom,
It would take one trip. Just think of all the head turning and life in the lap of luxury!! It is all a matter of perspective.

I tracked the cost of a rebuild of a 1963 garden tractor that I did a few years a go. When I was done and added up the cost. I just about fell over. I learned that the used parts market is a great place.

With my Airstream project I follow Tom's thought. It is all about getting out and having a good time with the family.
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Old 01-13-2007, 04:26 PM   #19
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I have about $4800 in so far and about another 800-1,000 when done.

That'a the easy part.............now add about 300+ hours.

If you offered me 20K today I would say not enough.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:03 PM   #20
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That's the good thing about having more then one. I found I need 2 so that 1 is always ready to go. The other always needs something fixed. The 3rd is a long term project, the 4th is waiting, the 5th is good for parts.
I have sold 5 other newer trailers, that only needed a good cleaning, to raise money to keep all this afloat. (At least my wife buys that story)
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