total makeover-Would you do it again - Fiberglass RV

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Old 08-24-2007, 10:32 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1972 Compact Jr
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I have read some of the posts that describe the work that people have done when they have gutted a trailer and did a total makeover. Would you do it again? Periodically there are shells for sale and I wonder if I should jump into ownership from the floor up. Would you do it again?
What would avoid? any suggestion of what not to attempt? Is it cost effective? Should I wait till I find one that doesn't need much attention?

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Old 08-24-2007, 11:10 PM   #2
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Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
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I faced the same decisions when I go my trailer.
Questions to ask yourself.
1. Do I have the knowledge or capable of learning how to rebuild the systems?
2. Do I have the physical ability to do this?
3. Do I have the time and willing to spend it on the work required?
4. Am I the type of person that finishes something I start? (not all are)

I think a person should think about these and maybe others anytime you're looking at a used trailer in any condition but new. Even then there's mods you're going to make.

Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 08-25-2007, 12:48 PM   #3
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Trailer: Boler 1700SGH (Stage II twoftitis)
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- Do I have any deadlines or does it matter if I finish it this year?
- Do I have the money to see it through to the end?
- Do I have enough tools to do all the work?
- What am I prepared to pay others to do for me.

The half-makeover on my B1700 has so far cost me about $2500 in addition to the trailer itself. I've got a few hundred $$ more to go before we're "done".
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Old 08-25-2007, 02:32 PM   #4
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Is it cost effective? Should I wait till I find one that doesn't need much attention?
My experience was that it was not cost effective, from a purely monetary viewpoint. In the end, it will cost about the same as if you bought a new one right off the bat. Instead of making payments on a loan, you'll be buying tires now, then lumber next month, then maybe a stove and a porta-potty for Christmas...

[b]However, the experience of building a trailer of your own is priceless, something you won't get by just making payments on a new vehicle loan. You'll understand how things work (or don't work) much better. It is something I am glad I have done [b]once.
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 08-25-2007, 02:33 PM   #5
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Trailer: 2015 Escape 19
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I completely gutted 13 Scamp in February and rebuilt it from the ensolite up. The video of the project is posted in the show us your rigs.
We pulled it on the first trip in May and have since pulled about 5 or 6 long trips since then. We have had absolutely no mechanical issues since we started camping and can concentrate on enjoying the camp instead of running to the parts store.
Many of the mods I put in from learning about them on this forum have made life in the Scamp very enjoyable.
If we had just cleaned it up and put it into service I'm sure we would have had one headache after another on our trips.
Would I do it again? Absolutely!! Loved the rebuilding it as much as we're enjoying using it.

Did I save any money? Probably not, but I did end up with the Scamp exactly like I want it with the things we feel were important to have.

What not to attempt? I personally didn't want to replace flooring, ensolite, or have major outside repairs so I found a shell that was solid in those areas. The rest to me is just cosmetic and fix up.
Scamp Owners International
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Old 08-25-2007, 04:08 PM   #6
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Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
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Sometimes a person has just too many projects to take on rebuilding a trailer. That was/is my case. I'm in the middle of several other projects and needed the year around escape factor, hence the trailer was purchased new. Even then I find I'm futzing with it. Changing things here and there. But I also have had the complete use since it arrived.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 08-26-2007, 03:48 AM   #7
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Trailer: 1976 13 ft Boler and 1980 Trillium 5500
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I bought a 1980 Trillium 5500 this year that needs a complete makeover - We are going to give it a new frame, axle, wheels, gut the interior, put in a new plywood floor and build all new counter, bathroom, couch and bed. I am going to hire out the steel frame building, but other than that I intend to do it all myself. There are a couple reasons I went this route, as opposed to just buying a ready to go trailer. First and foremost is cost. I do believe that it is going to be cheaper to build than buy, especially since I paid so little for the trailer to begin with. Secondly, is that the Trillium 5500 has alot of louvered windows, which is the type of window I prefer, so that sold us on that model, and they are hard to come by, so you buy what you can get. Thirdly, I can incorporate elements that are not available from any current manufacturers, like radiant heat (I hope!), tankless hot water heater and full solar set up. I am not in a big hurry and will complete the work as I can afford it. In the meantime we will keep camping in Sunny, our little Boler. Most important of all, I enjoy tinkering around and woodworking, so I look forward to rebuilding our Trill' from the ground up. If you don't enjoy that sort of work, I would not suggest you undertake such a project. In the end, I consider it part of the pleasure of owning an old trailer. Good luck! Alec
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Old 08-26-2007, 11:15 AM   #8
Trailer: No Trailer Yet
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we're in the process of fixing up our '96 casita LD. New axle, brakes, brake controller, fantastic fan, new draincocks, etc outside, new suburban hw heater (gas/elec).... some strange plumbing under the sink which my husband is trying to sort out and redo b/c of some seepage.

the heater fires up but doesn't stay lit. it looks like it needs a good cleaning - another fall project.

fridge works on propane, but on elec is pretty weak.

once all the systems are working well, there's very little I plan to mod for appearance sake. I'm just thrilled to have a lightweight camper that's an easy tow and affordable on gas to actually use it. Can sleep off the ground (former boondock tent camper) - have 12v fans, lights, propane stove inside, sink, toilet, shower, storage. I'm good to go

I bought mine cheap and a bit ugly so I don't have to worry about it. Kind of like a beater car that drives well.

I want to enjoy camping and not get caught up in making it like home. If I wanted shiny I would have bought a new one.

the nice thing about these campers though, they are pretty much the same new or old, right down to the ugly dated casita fabric lol. Might as well buy used and not go overboard expense wise with refurbishing it. Otherwise used/redo isn't much of a bargain.
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Old 08-26-2007, 04:40 PM   #9
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My instantaneous reaction to your question is that if you are asking it, likely you won't be happy doing it. If you aren't champing at the bit for a project like this, then you likely will find it to be work, not fun, and the savings may not be there.

OTOH, others who have taken on a project like this, and enjoyed it, seem to do it again.
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:32 PM   #10
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
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Something that no one has mentioned as of yet, is do you have a place to work on it?

Would I do it again? I don't know, I have not finished the first one yet. The one thing that made up my mind to buy a wreck was Donna D saying something like: "Just consider it a hard tent on wheels, while you are working on it, you don't have to have it finished to use it"

One one hand, it would be nice to just enjoy using a finished trailer, on the other doing something for yourself can be enjoyable.

Economics makes a difference. Last year was a little tight to be buying something in good shape, and we really did not want to borrow for something better, so we did the best we could with what we had. Spending a bit each year is like making loan payments but you are paying yourself. If we had made our purchase this year, we were in a position to buy something much better. Though I would not have know as much as I do now about how these things are made and would have taken a bigger chance on getting burnt. There are some very nice looking and functional trailers out there that are literal time bombs. I really would rather be towing my "wreck" than one of those 3000 klicks from home because I know what to expect.

I guess the one thing no one has mentioned yet is the socialization and pride that comes with doing your own restoration. There are a lot of great people that I've met over this last year or so that I may never have gotten involved with - if it were not for working on my "project". Going to one of the meets and showing off your work as well as looking at others work can be both entertaining and rewarding. Some people pay to learn, some people pay for hobbies, why not invest in yourself? Learning here and by doing is free and your costs are your time and parts.
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Old 08-26-2007, 08:28 PM   #11
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I would not hesitate to do another reno project. I am dying to take on another challenge and I look all of the time for a wreck that I can fix up, but I don't see too many of them within a reasonable distance. I really enjoy working on these trailers and I think that is the bottom line.
Owner of the "Treasure Chest"
see my past projects here:
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:55 AM   #12
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Trailer: 1975 13 ft Trillium
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Registry my age and limited physical capabilities, I would not do a total redo. But then we are content with the egg we have, so why 'do' another one? If I were into buying and selling these things, I might consider buyin one, cleanin it up and offering it for sale at a 'fair' market value, nothing more.....
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Old 08-27-2007, 01:19 PM   #13
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I wouldn't hesitate to do another re-do. The most important thing, I'd suggest, would be to have a very keen idea of what various "fixes" are gonna cost you and if you feel confident doing them. I firmly believe that most people are capable of doing more of this sort of thing than they usually believe they are. It's not like it's brain surgery after all.

For example:
Frame repairs - cheaper than you might have thought. We paid (several years ago now) about US$130 to have the standard Boler weak spots strengthened (it cracked on one side) AND weld in 4 small automotive jacks.

Replacement Windows - Nutsy expensive if you've got to order custom sizes. Tolerable if you can order stock sizes. Pretty decent if you luck out and find them on eBay or a surplus store. On the other hand - repair parts for the old windows are still available.

How much it's likely to cost will also depend strongly on what you want out of the trailer (of course). If you've got a flooded/trashed shell and you want to make what amounts to a rolling tent with nothing but 110V inside - that's pretty cheap. If you want/need to replace/install 12V or gas appliances (furnace and fridge mainly) - that gets pricy.

I hate fiddling with gas lines myself and just don't do it. Plus I don't like cooking indoors when camping. It's a handy confluence of personal preference with my level of incompetence.

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Old 08-28-2007, 06:53 PM   #14
Trailer: 1999 Starcraft Star Lite 25RQH
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Hey Folks. I just sold my 13 ft Boler that I had completely redone to purchase a 17 ft. Because my wife is handdicapped, we needed a trailer with a shower in it. The 17 ft we bought needs a lot of work. I just got it home this past wednesday, August 22/07 Right now it is at the repair shop because although I don't mind doing most of the work, I don't know a thing about the propane system or the electrical so they are going over all of that for me. All the rest, Flooring, Wall paper, Paint, Polishing, is not a problem. We are going to a wine tasting meet in Sept and our unit will not be totally ready but I don't care as long as the basic's are working, the rest we will do as time and most of all MONEY allow. It may not look the greatest, but it is mine and we will enjoy it all the same. If any of you have the time way not plan to join us at the Niagara Falls, Ontario KOA the weekend of Sept 21 to 23. Come one, Come All. Yours in Bolering. Jim

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