Renovation/Fix-Up... Easier or Harder than you thought? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-12-2007, 01:30 AM   #1
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For those of you who have re-done trailers that were "fixer-uppers", I was wondering if the work was easier or harder than you expected.

Also, what basic advice would you give to someone who is about to embark on a restoration project?
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Old 02-12-2007, 07:00 AM   #2
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Hi Buck, First let me say that when a fiberglass trailer comes up for sale they usually sell pretty quick so a quick decision must be made for you to get the trailer before someone else jumps on it. So your decision is often based on description and a few photos.

I bought mine on ebay with the buy it now option so as to get it. However when I got it home and on closer inspection there were a lot of things which I had not counted on having to fix. Ex. replacing all wall covering which didn't show up in photos. A big job , to say the least. Since I had to tear everything out to do this I wound up redoing the whole inside so the expense was quite a bit more than expected.

So If planing on fixing one try to do an inspection before purchase if at all possible.
Make a list of all things you see wrong then plan on a few more that you can't see.


Ask questions of the owner of things of concern as parts and appliances for trailers are generally more expensive than for a house.

Tho I spent more on my trailer than expected I am still pleased with the way it turned out and I really enjoyed doing the work. It also allowed me to do it the way I wanted.

So, if you are handy with tools and dont have to hire everything done , Go for it. If not then You would be better off buying one already in good shape. Bill
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Old 02-12-2007, 07:08 AM   #3
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Also, what basic advice would you give to someone who is about to embark on a restoration project?
I'm working on mods, not a restoration project. I would suggest a bunch of research on any given project...learn from others mistakes. Measure twice (or four times) and cut once. Ask lots of questions, especially if the cost of materials is going to be high...no point in wasting money or materials. Working methodically is better than working quickly. And, don't allow the restoration to become so overwhelming that you forget the reason for purchasing the trailer in the first place! If necessary spread the restoration out over several months or even years. Get the trailer road ready and enjoy it for what it offers. Don't assume you know what you want to do to the trailer until you get a chance to use it a bit.

Document, document, document. And take lots of pictures as you go along....

So far, I haven't found anything any harder than remodeling a stick built house.
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Old 02-12-2007, 07:14 AM   #4
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Hi: Which do you enjoy most...Camping or Fixing things up??? Seems from my short experience you will do more of one than the other I concider our Boler a Black hole as it swallows up my time and money without end but when people see inside at what its like and say things like "looks like new" or "WOW" or "It's a lot bigger on the inside" it makes your efforts all worth while Alf S. North Shore of Lake Erie
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
I was wondering if the work was easier or harder than you expected?
Quote:
Working methodically is better than working quickly.
If necessary spread the restoration out over several months or even years.
Rebuilding my gutted-out Compact Junior turned out to be more difficult, and took longer than I originally expected. I'm not an experienced finish carpenter, and engineering and building something to be light weight yet withstand the stress and pounding of being towed across the country was a challenge and a learning experience.

I wound up rebuilding everything within the Compact Junior [b]twice. The second time was after everything I had originally done collapsed or fell apart after dragging it from California to New York and back. I had spent over $4000.00 and had not even painted it.
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:56 PM   #6
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It's hard to say as it'll vary considerably from trailer to trailer. The two project trailers I've done have been quite different.

The Boler didn't require all THAT much (although my wife and many on this board would likely disagree). I saw it mostly as a "fix-up" project with mostly serious wear & tear but not a lot of major repair/renovation work. I found almost all the work fairly enjoyable.

The PlayPac was a total renovation. The actual RENOVATION (refitting the interior) wasn't a big deal and I found quite enjoyable. The pain-in-the-rear part was the fixing of problem areas before I could start on the new interior (namely - fixing a big hole in the floor and installing new, smaller side windows which required me to build-up new wall. I wouldn't do that again.)

Project number three is sitting in my driveway (and Avatar) waiting for some free time. Like the playpac it needed a little repair work (floor rot and a busted hinge on the rear ramp/door). The floor is done - I haven't done the hinge yet though.

To me the MOST fun part is the planning of the project followed closely by the "building" part. I enjoy those two parts in very different ways however. The planning is a mostly intellectual activity. I play around with variations in a drawing program where I've got a scale plan view of the trailer sitting. The building part is more about filling in the details of the plan, solving small problems along the way and is mostly just relaxing.

The real key IMHO is to have a very honest appraisal of what you CAN and CAN'T do, assuming you want to do everything yourself instead of hiring a professional. If you know your own limitations as well as your expectations - you'll likely be happy with the result. If you underestimate your abilities and overestimate your expectations - you're just asking for trouble.

Course, that being said... for most things you might need to do - we're not talking brain surgery here. With fiberglass work - worst case you can likely grind off your mistake and start again.

Mike
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:02 PM   #7
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Buck- -don't let it overwhelm. Make it safe to tow and go!!!! We bought ours 5 years ago and it still ain't done.... Had it 3 days - went camping to try it out. Bare bones. No propane hooked up-- ice box-- flashlites and gas lantern and stove. Had a hoot! It was OURS!!!! Spent most of the weekend figuring out what to fix or modify. Now, every spring it spends a month in the shop getting more done. Last year was cupboards like the Deluxe model 'cause the wench and I were always muttering at each that our bags were in the way... Sooo cupboards and shelves so no more suitcases. This Spring it will go back into the shop and small table for front is on agenda. Also new curtains, (I had to go purchase a sewing machine last week so I can make new curtains). It will never end. That's the fun of it. The modifications will never end. Oh, it seems that also storage bins under the bed are on the agenda also. (we always leave bed made up) Oh and new floor covering. Hmm I'd better get to work NOG is coming up and I have been told by wench (MS Always Right ) that this is to be done..... later Larry
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Old 02-13-2007, 07:39 AM   #8
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I agree with Larry - camp as you renovate. You'll find that some of your expected projects don't need doing, and others will crop up unexpectedly. The more you live with your egg, the better you'll know what it needs.

The only tip I have is: see if you can work out a bulk purchase agreement with your local taxi service, to cover the cost of your next 10 gazillion trips to Lowe's or Home Depot.
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Old 02-13-2007, 08:21 AM   #9
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I bought my Love Bug knowing that it was a wreck and very dirty. It sat for a long time without windows or door attached and everything that was hooked to the walls was now laying in a pile. Clean up and painting was easier that I expected. Floor repair slightly more of a pain. Frame rebuild more extensive but fun in a perverted way. Fiberglass repairs done (and redone and redone) easier than I expected. Sanding off the latex paint was much more time consuming that expected. Painting more fun and faster than expected. The only expense surprise was needing a new axle, even that was not bad at $170.

If you have to pay somebody to do the repairs, buy one that is in great shape only.
I had a ball working on my FGRV. I am looking for another one to rebuild.

Bob Cupp
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Old 02-13-2007, 02:16 PM   #10
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If you have to pay somebody to do the repairs, buy one that is in great shape only.
A corollary to Bob's remark is if you do decide to pay someone to have some of the work done on your trailer, be sure to ask for an estimate of the cost first. It sounds very obvious, but in our enthusiasm to get some brake/wheel work done on our Casita we walked away without an estimate, and got a very surprising bill when we picked it up later. A very expensive lesson for us!

Jeanne
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Old 02-13-2007, 07:10 PM   #11
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I'm working on mods, not a restoration project. I would suggest a bunch of research on any given project...learn from others mistakes. Measure twice (or four times) and cut once. Ask lots of questions, especially if the cost of materials is going to be high...no point in wasting money or materials. Working methodically is better than working quickly. And, don't allow the restoration to become so overwhelming that you forget the reason for purchasing the trailer in the first place! If necessary spread the restoration out over several months or even years. Get the trailer road ready and enjoy it for what it offers. Don't assume you know what you want to do to the trailer until you get a chance to use it a bit.

Document, document, document. And take lots of pictures as you go along....

So far, I haven't found anything any harder than remodeling a stick built house.

I agree with using the trailer before doing alot of remodeling. The first chance Larry and I had to go for a weekend after buying our scamp was a lot of fun and cold. I think we spent most of the weekend wrapped up in blankets talking about what we needed to do to make our little scamp more livable. We have done some updates and have more to go. I think our first purchase was a Mr. Buddy propane heater. Everytime we go scamping we think of other things to make the scamp more homey. Larry bought himself a sewing machine last weekend, hopefully he will have our new curtains done before the Oregon camp out in April...
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Old 02-14-2007, 09:28 AM   #12
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I have been doing a renovation to our Scamp since we bought it, took a year to get it to the point we could take it out. Some photos of what needed to be done is at the following link

http://www.geocities.com/englehrt/scamp/

Have to take some present photos, still have much work to be done, have replaced all of the floors except under the kitchenette with 3/4 plywood and laminated flooring. There were a number of problems to be solved and a few mistakes made along the way. Bought ours off of ebay, from the listing photos I knew somewhat of what to expect and found a few surprises along the way. All in all, we love our little camper, if we would have had to pay someone for the work done, it would not have been worth it. Now just have to figure out how to fix up a hacked up kitchenette unit and fix the closet up after finishing the front bench and get after the betterhalf to finish the cusions and start planning the exterior paintjob and and and, there is a lot of work involved in picking up someone elses neglected camper. Not sure if it was easier or harder then expected, in the end, we have something that we can call our own.
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Old 02-14-2007, 11:54 AM   #13
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Not sure if it was easier or harder then expected, in the end, we have something that we can call our own.
Shawn: Your photos make me feel better about the Cadet. I have it down to the plywood and that's the next removal. I'm wondering what treasure I'll find beneath the floor.
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Old 02-14-2007, 12:03 PM   #14
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I have been doing a renovation to our Scamp since we bought it, took a year to get it to the point we could take it out. Some photos of what needed to be done is at the following link

http://www.geocities.com/englehrt/scamp/

Have to take some present photos, still have much work to be done, have replaced all of the floors except under the kitchenette with 3/4 plywood and laminated flooring. There were a number of problems to be solved and a few mistakes made along the way. Bought ours off of ebay, from the listing photos I knew somewhat of what to expect and found a few surprises along the way. All in all, we love our little camper, if we would have had to pay someone for the work done, it would not have been worth it. Now just have to figure out how to fix up a hacked up kitchenette unit and fix the closet up after finishing the front bench and get after the betterhalf to finish the cusions and start planning the exterior paintjob and and and, there is a lot of work involved in picking up someone elses neglected camper. Not sure if it was easier or harder then expected, in the end, we have something that we can call our own.
Wow! You have a serious project on your hands there!

The thing that makes it tough for me is that I live in Chicago and have no driveway and my garage isn't high enough to put my U-Haul inside. That leaves the street or the alley for me to work on it. I'm hoping to find a nice tall garage by spring so I can work on it without having to move it back and forth every day. Looks like this is going to be quite a challange, but I think I can handle it.
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