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Old 10-21-2008, 07:57 PM   #1
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The budget

I received a very nice PM from a forum member who suggested I keep and post a budget on the restoration of the '67 Overlander. While this would normally be a very good suggestion, I'm not sure I'm the ideal person to serve as an example of the restoration costs. Why?

1. I'm not a professional, or even a semi-professional. I'm probably somewhere in the 3/16" professional range. I know a little bit about most of the trades (electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.). This said, I make my share of mistakes in cutting, bending, trimming, breaking, snapping, dropping and scraping. A more talented craftsman is likely to make fewer mistakes and use fewer materials.

2. I'm a chronic over-builder. I'm wrapping up the micro-shop. Green board on the wall? Heck, no... let's do 1/2" plywood. Need a bench, let's build the top and under shelf from two layers of 3/4" plywood and 2x6 underpinning. Hey, what if I need to set a long-block Chevy on the bench? How about using that old box of drywall screws on the walls? No way, let's buy the coated, bullet-proof deck screws at $8 a small, $24 per large. Grade 8 bolts... I'm sure I can find a reason to use Grade 12. During the restoration of the Overlander, I'm going to have many opportunities to save a dollar here and there... and I'm sure to squander most of them.

3. Let's not scare the children. Seriously, my brother bought a very nice "box" camper trailer. I'm guessing he paid around $20,000, but I really don't know. I know the restoration is going to cost us more than $20,000 not counting a nickel of my labor on the project.

It's really no different than building a hot rod or restoring an old home. There's the "let's pick up a cheap old Airstream and make it serviceable enough to work as a hunting camp trailer" approach. Our approach: Let's take a vintage trailer and make it durable, comfortable, modern and well-appointed enough to make into a rolling home for the better part of a year. This means a renovated frame, new floor, new wiring, new plumbing, new tanks, new LP copper gas lines, new appliances, new furnishings, etc.

The advantage of a new "box" or a new Airstream is that everything is turn-key (mostly). The advantage of a vintage Airstream is the chance to design everything. Some of us are chronic (if untalented) tinkerers. The Overlander is a chance to do things our way rather than fit our needs around someone else's design. Is it going to be cheap? No. Is it going to expensive? Probably. Are we talking about the edge of madness? Well, I hope not, but who knows? So, I'll post numbers every now and again, but remember... you can probably do whatever I have done for less.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:13 PM   #2
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The "budget" is really very simple, if you think about it. It's really a two-part budget, that goes like this:

1-Make all the money you can

2-Spend it on your Airstream.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
The "budget" is really very simple, if you think about it. It's really a two-part budget, that goes like this:

1-Make all the money you can

2-Spend it on your Airstream.
Got my vote.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
The "budget" is really very simple, if you think about it. It's really a two-part budget, that goes like this:

1-Make all the money you can

2-Spend it on your Airstream.
Thats exactly how it goes, but if you write it down someone will have you locked up and throw away the keys.
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:24 PM   #5
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I'll be most interested in your postings Hampstead. So far I'm at $1800 for the purchase price with a further $8200 in running gear, rims tires and hitch etc. The budget is looking like another $21k excluding cabinets and of course my labour. (oh and thanks to the Canadian dollar maybe another 19% depending on where I source parts). Still I think it'll be very rewarding and hopefully I'll get to go camping one day :-)
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
The "budget" is really very simple, if you think about it. It's really a two-part budget, that goes like this:

1-Make all the money you can

2-Spend it on your Airstream.
Hi Terry;
Very well presented Terry, if you have no idea what you have purchased. The only proper way to address it, is to first asses the condition of the trailer before restoration. Second is to set a perimeters of restoration. Is it going to be restored to a "like new", or just "Functional" which has its useful time limitations. Categories of restoration outside of the Original" can be limitless, and about impossible to estimate. The variables outside of the original "like new" and the "Functional original" can be thousands of dollars apart. It is easy to determine cost of axle or wheel replacement, but the labor hours can be world apart on any two identical trailers which may require much different amount of work.

Anyone purchasing a "well" used trailer should be beware of many pitfalls unless you involve knowledgeable inspector who can present you with reasonable estimated repairs required. For this you will need to tell the inspector to what extend you plan to have it restored. If you intend to hire a professional to restore your trailer you should be in a position not to have to ask how much. For instance, two years ago I have purchased a 1973 26' Argosy. From outside it looked very good, although pitted and perforated belly pan skin from road salt have sounded the warning horn which I have not heeded. Nice trailer, but gone frame. I have settled for a new Stainless Steel frame which I have [overbuilt] myself. Then I did not like the drab interior, including marginal working condition of appliances, the stained bed mattresses. In the end I have dumped everything. The only thing we have saved is the shell and pea green double kitchen sink, and I mean everything. In my estimation I was going to spend about $3000.00. Two years later I spent $14.864.00 not including my 1832 hours of labor. This is to say that not everyone would or should go to that extend, but it should give you idea of where it can lead to. If you are not motivated in more ways than just thinking that it may be fun to restore, think again.

I would have not succeeded if it was not for strong drive to do it for my lovely wife Margaret Kay who in my mind deserves the best. The 18 hour work days for the two years would not have been possible without my wife by my side. I do have a 120 K investment which was paid for by my wife's smile and pride to own such a gem. Full restoration is not for backyard mechanics especially those with weak heart and will to succeed. Thanks, "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:36 AM   #7
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The Budget .........or........you get what you pay for

I paid $4000 for my trailer. I put $20,000 into repairs and customization.
I will spend about $6000 more to cherry it out. You do the math. I could
have almost purchased a brand new trailer. But then I would not have a trailer that suits my tastes and needs.
P.S. I could have spent less money if I worked on it myself, but I was in a rush. My trailer is not a hobby. It is a nessesary tool to facilitate a
way of life. Dave
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:24 AM   #8
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Great Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
I received a very nice PM from a forum member who suggested I keep and post a budget on the restoration of the '67 Overlander. While this would normally be a very good suggestion, I'm not sure I'm the ideal person to serve as an example of the restoration costs. Why?


I beg to differ on your qualifications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
1. I'm not a professional, or even a semi-professional. I'm probably somewhere in the 3/16" professional range. I know a little bit about most of the trades (electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.).


I would venture that almost all of the serious readers here on the Forums fall into this category. Look at the amazing percentage of the posters and rebuilders here who are into aviation, boating, and vintage automobiles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
2. I'm a chronic over-builder. I'm wrapping up the micro-shop. Green board on the wall? Heck, no...


Dude - you're working on an Airstream - what better project to overbuild - you don't have to worry about the weight nearly as much as working on an aviation project, and hopefully you will not have to worry about it floating in only 6" of water. As alluded to in the response to #1 above, Airstreaming is not the first project many of us have undertaken - moreover, EVERY ONE of the Airstream Do It Yourselfers I have talked to has "overbuilt" one area or another - depending on individual expertise, experience, and desires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
3. Let's not scare the children. Seriously, my brother bought a very nice "box" camper trailer. I'm guessing he paid around $20,000, but I really don't know. I know the restoration is going to cost us more than $20,000


If someone needs scaring, much better to do it BEFORE they get in so far over their heads that their only option is to take a total loss on the project and haul it off to the junk dealer to find out what the daily quote on scrap aluminum is. 20 Grand is about right for a cardboard and staples "box" camper - IF he bought it with a loan - SURPRISE - he is upside down on the loan the minute he drives it off of the lot - and at the end of the loan - another surprise - he has a camper that is totally worthless and is ready for the junk yard. Talk about scary!

Compare your brother's expense to what your initial purchase price is (probably out of pocket), and what your anticipated rebuild costs will be (the estimate comes, in part, courtesy of some of the Forum members) - again, probably out of pocket, and for about the same amount of money as your brother spent (probably less, if you include cost of interest) you have an American Icon that will afford your grandkids an opportunity to exercise a Great Schlep upon you in order to enhance inheritance rights. Try THAT with your brother's Cardboard And Staples Some Other Brand (CASSOB).


Quote:
Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
It's really no different than building a hot rod or restoring an old home. There's the "let's pick up a cheap old Airstream and make it serviceable enough to work as a hunting camp trailer" approach. Our approach: Let's take a vintage trailer and make it durable, comfortable, modern and well-appointed enough to make into a rolling home for the better part of a year. This means a renovated frame, new floor, new wiring, new plumbing, new tanks, new LP copper gas lines, new appliances, new furnishings, etc.


Well said, AND you have a unit that is finished EXACTLY the way you want it, AND it will last you the rest of your traveling days, AND you brought the total cost in for about 25% of a factory new Airstream.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
The advantage of a new "box" or a new Airstream is that everything is turn-key (mostly). The advantage of a vintage Airstream is the chance to design everything. Some of us are chronic (if untalented) tinkerers. The Overlander is a chance to do things our way rather than fit our needs around someone else's design. Is it going to be cheap? No. Is it going to expensive? Probably. Are we talking about the edge of madness? Well, I hope not, but who knows? So, I'll post numbers every now and again, but remember... you can probably do whatever I have done for less.


Read my signature line "Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

Right now, in my 31' Sovereign trailer, my sunk costs are $21,000 for the purchase, retrieval, and refurb, plus about 700 hours of my time - and you could almost double the time if you included the time spent chasing parts. Stripping and polishing adds another $6,500. Some will spend more, others will spend much less, but, for all of the reasons you and many others have expressed, I have a shiney 30 year old Ready To Explore America apparatus with new running gear, decked out EXACTLY how we want…and, as long as I avoid it’s untimely demise, it should last for as long as I am able to drive a vehicle in front of it.

Go for it.
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:29 AM   #9
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I'm saving receipts but not looking at them right now... I have about $2000 in materials and $4000.00 for the trailer...
New lights inside
New fresh water tank
Flooring
water pump
vent covers and water cap cover
New stove top

But then I have a wood shop so some of my materials I all ready had so it's hard to put a number on it.... all of my 1x4 framing I have.. my solid maple wood I use for cabinet fronts I have, screws, nails, ect. I already have... So it's not realistic cost...

But I will keep track of what I buy..
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:43 AM   #10
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Thanks for the thoughts thus far. For me, the Airstream restoration is not about the money. It's also not about ego. I don't expect to win any design or restoration awards. The only two people I need (or plan) to please with this project are my wife and me.

I bought the '67 Overlander locally. We paid $3,500. It wasn't a great deal, but it wasn't a bad deal. We could have bought something 2,000 miles away and spent a chunk of change getting it here. We spent a few buck on the title. The registration will need to wait until the trailer can pass inspection. If I had barn or hanger, I might consider a shell off renovation... but I don't. I'm going to have a professional shop do the frame and floor... and while an intriguing thought I don't think we'll be going with stainless steel.

There's going to be a natural break point. Certain things should be done before the floor goes down, like roughing in the plumbing and installing the black and gray tanks. We'll have the shop get the Overlander to a certain point and we'll tow the trailer back to Maryland to handle the rest of the work ourselves (with perhaps an occasional hand from local folks).

To get the rig to the shop, I'm going to need four new tires at about $100 a pop. Unless I find a miracle fix for the exterior lights, I'll probably drop another $100 in a temporary light bar/system. My Nissan Titan does not have the tow mirrors. I can do the cheesy extend-o mirrors or I can pony up the $400 Nissan wants for OEM trailer mirrors. We'll probably keep the Titan until we go on "hiatus" and then we'll pick up another TV. If we're doing all 49, I want something suitable for the pull to Alaska and back.

I have heard two schools of thought. The restoration shop we're using thinks the axles will be fine for a one-shot tow of an empty (interior stripped) trailer. The other school of thought is replace the before it moves again. I'll probably compromise with a repack of the bearings to get us to the shop. The tin girl will have new axles before its return north.

I readily concede that I am a "shadetree mechanic." I'm also a reasonably bright guy who knows how to read and puzzle his way through things... including a frame up restoration of a '52 Chevy truck. My wife and I plan to take up to a year of early retirement/hiatus beginning in July 2011. We are selling our home and pulling out of the driveway towing a '67 Overlander in whatever condition it is at that moment. And we're living in it for up to a year. I don't plan to put in any 18-hour days... except occasionally at my paying job. And it's this job that will allow me to write a check to sever an occasional Gordian knot.

I'll drop a note on my expenses from time to time.
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:20 AM   #11
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Hampstead.....
where are you having your framework and axles done? i have a 77argosy and im very interested in having it professionally inspected and possibly worked on. im looking for something relatively close to nashville tn that wont knock me in the dirt. do any of these shops offer a payment plan ? obviously a newb here. i have just gutted and configured my dream layout on a very surface level type of way but i would very much like to tackle all of the things that must be tackled before i begin to hope to begin.
as i continue to say, i am overwhelmed but excited. and i like the quote about the 2 part budget. thats about where im at on the reality scale. i dont mind spending all my money on this i just dont want to blow cash. i want to be smart.
looking for a decent route for an inspection and some good hands for interior and underinterior.
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:54 AM   #12
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i think hampstead was due to be relocating around this time.
you can read the threads he started for some of the ups and downs of the remodel.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/sear...earchid=564938
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:49 PM   #13
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richinny thanks. however the link did not work...
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Old 10-05-2011, 04:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
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richinny thanks. however the link did not work...
The links to a search aren't permanent, the server eventually flushes a search out of cache and it has to be recreated.

You can do your own search for threads a user has started (it's usually a much shorter list than the one that's easy to get to, "more posts by this user.")

Go to a user's profile page, then click the Statistics tab, and the second link will say "Find all threads started by <username>"

For hampstead38, the profile page is here. You can get to anyone's profile page by clicking on their username in a post, or by searching for them under the Community tab, Members List and then click the search.
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:14 PM   #15
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thanks a bunch. just trying to fill my brain with actual knowledge rather than speculation. many many questions. dont even know where to begin with my questions but thanks to all of you patient patrons i am making some headway,,,
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:03 PM   #16
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jruargosy

i just bought a 1978 sovereign. i live in murfreesboro. i am trying to completely restore mine as you talked about doing to your argosy. Did you ever find a good place to get the frame and axels check out in your area? any help would be great thanks!!
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:44 PM   #17
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I bought a '74 Argosy just over 2 years ago for $2,200. While I have not done a shell off restoration. I consider myself lucky in a way because the frame is in good shape. I removed the gaucho and built and installed a dinette. Reconfigured everything in the bath except the tub. Built and installed new cabinet fronts in the galley along with some new base cabinets, new sink, new cook top and a new cabinet for the micro wave. I am still working on the berthing area.
Replaced all of the copper plumbing with PEX along with new sinks and faucets in the galley and bath. Also some additional light fixtures and a new water heater.
New tires, new shocks. Just ordered 2 axles.
Upgraded the electrical with a new converter and various other electrical stuff.
The $$$$ investment if you want to call it an investment is approaching $10,000.00
We have travelled just over 5,000 miles and spent 27 nights in her so far.
It's been worth every dime because I have spent every minute of it with my lovely wife.
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