How much is too much?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-02-2008, 12:18 PM   #1
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We have been chasing down this sadly abused burro trailer. The question is...for all of you who like projects, how much work is too much, and where does the balance lie in pricing vs. project? This trailer looks like the kids were allowed to use it to get their aggressions out. All broken lens caps, two broken windows, the interior in shambles, pads on the floor, floor is non-visible from crap/stuff on it. Floor by the door is bad, ground is visible, and joints with the wall appear to be strained. this does not appear to be marine grade wood. Trailer isn't sagging, however. No mold, but parts appear to be missing, doors gone from the cabinets, unclear if even the tabletop is present. Outside, it has two broken areas of fiberglass. (Its in a horse paddock...I think it was knocked.) The exterior wall flexes, as if the insulation is gone. (or settled?)

Would we be nuts to get this, fix the outside stuff, clean the inside, correct/patch the floor, and go camping while we fix the rest, little by little? Has anyone else done this?

Pam

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Old 07-02-2008, 12:39 PM   #2
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Pamela,

This sounds like to do it properly this would be a frame-off restoration. Many have done that here, me personally that is beyond what I would want to do. I looked for an Arizona trailer specifically when we got ours because there is no wood rot here and the bones were really good. That's the reason they mothball airplanes here.

You would just have to decide whether ur up for that much work and money. If you do it properly with quality parts and pieces, you'll have $3-5k at least in the restoration. There are ways to cut corners on restoration costs, but that's not my thing personally.

You can have a renovated late model trailer ready to camp for $3000-6000, sometimes even less if ur lucky. I see them all the time. So there's no great savings if any, in restoring vs buying a fixed up one ready to go. The folks here that restore them just love the work and accomplishment of restoring them. Figure out if your goal is to restore or to camp. If it is to camp, then look for one that is ready to go.
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:43 PM   #3
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I would totally agree with Greg. my Surfside cost $3000 and it was partly done... I finished the upholstery and floor and a few other things (maybe $1500 total) and I'm ready to camp. if you got that trailer for free... now that's different.

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Pamela,

This sounds like to do it properly this would be a frame-off restoration. Many have done that here, me personally that is beyond what I would want to do. I looked for an Arizona trailer specifically when we got ours because there is no wood rot here and the bones were really good. That's the reason they mothball airplanes here.

You would just have to decide whether ur up for that much work and money. If you do it properly with quality parts and pieces, you'll have $3-5k at least in the restoration. There are ways to cut corners on restoration costs, but that's not my thing personally.

You can have a renovated late model trailer ready to camp for $3000-6000, sometimes even less if ur lucky. I see them all the time. So there's no great savings if any, in restoring vs buying a fixed up one ready to go. The folks here that restore them just love the work and accomplishment of restoring them. Figure out if your goal is to restore or to camp. If it is to camp, then look for one that is ready to go.
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:50 PM   #4
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We have been chasing down this sadly abused burro trailer. The question is...for all of you who like projects, how much work is too much, and where does the balance lie in pricing vs. project? This trailer looks like the kids were allowed to use it to get their aggressions out. All broken lens caps, two broken windows, the interior in shambles, pads on the floor, floor is non-visible from crap/stuff on it. Floor by the door is bad, ground is visible, and joints with the wall appear to be strained. this does not appear to be marine grade wood. Trailer isn't sagging, however. No mold, but parts appear to be missing, doors gone from the cabinets, unclear if even the tabletop is present. Outside, it has two broken areas of fiberglass. (Its in a horse paddock...I think it was knocked.) The exterior wall flexes, as if the insulation is gone. (or settled?)

Would we be nuts to get this, fix the outside stuff, clean the inside, correct/patch the floor, and go camping while we fix the rest, little by little? Has anyone else done this?

Pam
Pam,
I'm with Greg on this one. . . only you can determine how much work is too much for YOU. It's important that determine your real purpose in purchasing a fixer-upper or trashed trailer. Is it because you relish the project aspect of the restoration or because you perceive this as a less expensive means to getting a camping trailer? Restoring these trailers is no easy task. As Greg pointed out, the restoration itself can be quite costly. Are you prepared to do all the necessary fiberglass repairs? Do you have a place where you can literally take the trailer apart and store the pieces as you repair and reassemble it? The floor issue is a pretty serious one at that. There are many on this forum who have concluded that, for them, a bad floor is a deal breaker. The windows are not cheap either.

I have discovered that each little project I attempt leads to at least 3 more projects that ofter require hunting down parts. I just bought a new 3-way, 2.7 cubic foot refrigerator for my Campster at the bargain rate of $735. Yes, this was a bargain rate! Now I need new propane hoses since the old one is abraded, a propane tank, and to have a propane mount welded to the tongue. I'm waiting for the fireproof insulation for the refrigerator enclosure to arrive. And since the dimensions of the new frig. are not exactly the same as the old one-- even though this is the replacement model-- I'm going to have to lower the frig. enclosure by losing a drawer below and then I must purchase a new frig. vent, cut a hole in the fiberglass wall of the trailer, and install it. If it appears that this is a run-on sentence, it's really more of a run-on project! When I removed a rotted wooden frame that surrounds the lip on the roof of my poptop, I discovered that some of the custom-fabricated hardware was broken. Now I need to hunt down a replacement for this as well.

Everything adds up in terms of time and money. And the time is not necessarily the amount of time spent working on the trailer. A great deal of your time will be spent researching how to do a specific project or searching for parts online or waiting for the parts to arrive so you can begin a project. But in the end you will have a completely customized, Pamafied trailer if that is the approach you decide to take. You will also have a lot of personal pride and satisfaction if you complete the project. Many of the fixer trailer on the market are being sold by people who initially had the enthusiasm and vision for a restoration and then simply ran out of steam, time, or money.

Conway Bob's posting was very impressive about pricing. His points about what you should expect to get for the price you pay are well taken and seem right on. Like others on this forum did for me, I would caution you about taking on a bigger project than you may be able to complete just because a FGRV is conveniently located. It may very well be worth it for you to wait for a trailer that is in better shape and spend the money to get a trailer that you will be able to use sooner. Only you know can make this determination. Sleep on it. Objectify the local Burro and figure out if it is the kind of project you really want to take on. If it is. . . great! If it is not. . believe me, another one will appear if you are persistent in your search. P-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.

Gook luck!
Lisa


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Old 07-02-2008, 09:42 PM   #5
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Hi Pam,

Lisa has really given you true wisdom, only you can determine how much work is too much for you, and while "would-a, could-a, should-a" comes with any decision, patience may be the watchword here. There will ALWAYS be opprotunities available.

But if you do determine that this is within your capabilities, then GO FOR IT! And I'm going to offer you some armchair advice that may be total bunk...or may be some help....here goes...

I'm in agreement with everyone here, you are looking at a sizeable adventure, a complete restore.
At this point, consider you just have a fiberglass body and some "innards" and nothing else, that is if the frame, axle, and tires are a write-off.

The dirty job is liberating the body from the trailer...find four big, ugly, young, guys (friends or realtives), feed them pizza and beer for a weekend, and you'll have the frame, running gear, and floor removed, and the fiberglass body up on saw horses ready to get patched up.

At this point, buying a fabricated frame with axle and running gear, ready to roll under your body may be the best option. It'll be your real investment...at around $1500.

While the fiberglass body is the trailers character, the frame that's under it is it's heart and soul...and you will have a brand spanking new one bought "off the rack". New flooring is your next investment, treated, marine grade plywood ain't cheap but you won't need much...so roughly expect another $200 or less spent.

The wonderful thing about fiberglass is that it's fairly inexpensive & not hard to work. Depending on the amount of damage the curtain-climbers inflicted, you really don't have a difficult job ahead of you in repair...it's more time & labor intensive than anything else, with glassing, sanding, bondo, sanding, ect. It is definately doable. Lets be liberal and put $300 in materal costs here.

At this point, lets stop and tally things up...
$300 for Busted Burro
$1500 for new frame, axle& wheels
$200 for good flooring
$300 for fiberglass, bondo, and paint.
...so far...$2300

Of course there's a lot of leeway here...no doubt I'm under on some things, and over on others...so let's do like the politicans do... round it up a bit...
...say to $2500

Get more pizza & beer and those four double ugly's again for a weekend and you'll have a purty' new empty egg parked in the yard ready to be outfitted with fresh new "innards".

For $500 more you can get a A/C, a new 2-burner stove, and one of those dorm fridges that run on 'lectricity. I'm guessing the sink and furnace can be salvaged. They may be nasty but they're usually bullet-proof. Little things like cabnet doors, seat cushions, curtain fabric, ect would not be much more, especially if you explore bargain bins and remnant sales.

Speaking of remnants...vinyl floor covering remnants are VERY cheap, and you will not need much at all. Wal-Mart sells purty throw rugs for $2. Vola! Instant Interior decoration!

Not counting "Sweat Equity", it is possible to bring that little Burro back to life for around $3K to $3500.

Now here's the important part... this has all been under the premise of a "complete" restore. You can easily see that if any of the items we've written off, are actually in good enough shape to keep, especially the frame & axle, you can see a much more favorable expense.

I done some pretty simplistic brush strokes here, and obviously there are many things I've left out...(wiring & plumbing) but what I've tried to do is show that despite how that trailer may look now, it's always a doable situation. Unless that fiberglass egg had been burnt to a cinder and all thats left is a charred frame with smoldering tires, it's within reason that you can revive it and restore it. And if the math is correct, it can be done at, or below the price of one ready to roll.

My apologies for such a long post, but once I get started on something, I kinda get wound up. Good luck to you, and I wish you the best.

ConwayBob
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:27 PM   #6
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I'm in agreement with everyone here, you are looking at a sizeable adventure, a complete restore.
At this point, consider you just have a fiberglass body and some "innards" and nothing else, that is if the frame, axle, and tires are a write-off.

The dirty job is liberating the body from the trailer...find four big, ugly, young, guys (friends or realtives), feed them pizza and beer for a weekend, and you'll have the frame, running gear, and floor removed, and the fiberglass body up on saw horses ready to get patched up.

At this point, buying a fabricated frame with axle and running gear, ready to roll under your body may be the best option. It'll be your real investment...at around $1500.

While the fiberglass body is the trailers character, the frame that's under it is it's heart and soul...and you will have a brand spanking new one bought "off the rack". New flooring is your next investment, treated, marine grade plywood ain't cheap but you won't need much...so roughly expect another $200 or less spent.

The wonderful thing about fiberglass is that it's fairly inexpensive & not hard to work. Depending on the amount of damage the curtain-climbers inflicted, you really don't have a difficult job ahead of you in repair...it's more time & labor intensive than anything else, with glassing, sanding, bondo, sanding, ect. It is definately doable. Lets be liberal and put $300 in materal costs here.



ConwayBob
Well, we did it!!! Despite its incredibly run down appearance, and the fact that it was knee deep in garbage inside...we bought it, paid for it, and brought it home. (I figured if I could see it in my back window from my kitchen, I would not stop thinking about this poor little trailer...) It surprised me. when I got home, we threw EVERYTHING out from the floor. Rescued the pads, (which I don't think are salvageable, but I will try washing...) and got some good old fashioned elbow grease. Removed the last 3 feet of carpeting by the dinette, and low and behold...the floor was INTACT!! Only problem is by the door. The stove is a wash, refrig. is at the moment unopenable, running lights are shot, all connectors are cut off, (Nope, didn't do it, came that way...) Only has one cabinet door for the closet, but it has all the little covers, the dinette table, the table stand, and missing hardware for the bunk. All in all, not a bad gamble. Not to say that there isn't alot to do. I am thinking that the axles might need replacing. they are extremely stiff. The tires are the original poly tires. the electrical appears to be shot. (But I am an electrical engineer...no biggie...) Lots of hairline cracks in the shell. Two broken windows...etc.

but...all do-able, I think.

Pam
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:35 AM   #7
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welcome to the board...!
i bought a 13' '81 Burro last year, & just started frame-off restoration this spring/summer...
if i'm lucky, i'll have it on a frame by fall... i hafta update my restoration thread with new pictures...
--- steven
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:37 AM   #8
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Would we be nuts to get this, fix the outside stuff, clean the inside, correct/patch the floor, and go camping while we fix the rest, little by little? Has anyone else done this?

We've done it. Took Donna D's advice "consider your trailer a hard tent on wheels". Travelled 1/2 way across the country with Duck Tape keeping the rain out of the hole in the roof. Some people will say by the time you pay for all the repairs, you could have gotten something better. They are probably right, but they have not factored in the value of restoring something to you.

I've met a lot of people trying to figure out how to restore mine. The big thing for me was that it was not a big cash outlay all at once. I've gotten 3 years of entertainment out of the trailer. Whether surfing the web for ideas, sourcing parts, drawing plans etc. If you enjoy that type of thing, then you'll enjoy it. Others don't, and will think you are crazy. Would I do it all over again? I'm not sure. I think that all depends on the trailer and what it needs. I do know, I know much better what to look for and what is an easy fix, and what is not. I'm pretty sure, I would not do another Boler American again.

Roy
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Old 07-03-2008, 09:39 AM   #9
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Well, we did it!!! Despite its incredibly run down appearance, and the fact that it was knee deep in garbage inside...we bought it, paid for it, and brought it home. (I figured if I could see it in my back window from my kitchen, I would not stop thinking about this poor little trailer...) It surprised me. when I got home, we threw EVERYTHING out from the floor. Rescued the pads, (which I don't think are salvageable, but I will try washing...) and got some good old fashioned elbow grease. Removed the last 3 feet of carpeting by the dinette, and low and behold...the floor was INTACT!! Only problem is by the door. The stove is a wash, refrig. is at the moment unopenable, running lights are shot, all connectors are cut off, (Nope, didn't do it, came that way...) Only has one cabinet door for the closet, but it has all the little covers, the dinette table, the table stand, and missing hardware for the bunk. All in all, not a bad gamble. Not to say that there isn't alot to do. I am thinking that the axles might need replacing. they are extremely stiff. The tires are the original poly tires. the electrical appears to be shot. (But I am an electrical engineer...no biggie...) Lots of hairline cracks in the shell. Two broken windows...etc.

but...all do-able, I think.

Pam
GOOD FOR YOU!!! And I'm sure that now you have it home it's already lookin' better! From what you've written, most of the damage is superficial and definately fixable...probably better than original,(LED Taillites).

Your floor problem, if it's small and accessible is a real easy fix...I had to fix mine. Dig out all the rot you can. If the effected area doesn't go clean through, and not as large as, say, a small washbasin in area, you can probably get away with using a Stop-Rot compound and wood filler. Elmer's make a wonderful stop-rot...it's like watered down white glue that penetrates the wood fiber and solidifies hard. You then start using wood filler to bring the void back up to grade.

If the rot is more extensive, you may have to section out the damage and install a new floor panel. Very doable.

I don't know, but ain't axles 'suposed to be stiff? I would think that'd be better than one flopping around.

With the carpet ripped out, keep it as a template for it's replacement. Consider Vinyl flooring or Hardwood Floor panels like I did. Very Snazzy. Besides, a hard floor won't hold dirt and sand like carpet, and if you think it'd be cold on the tootsies, that's why they sell throw rugs. I did my Scamp with Faux Hardwood flooring that cost under $100. (I splurged and bought 2 packages, got leftovers for later replacements if needed.)

Toss the fridge, but keep the stove. The burners probably still work , if not, they're replaceable. I cleaned mine up with a wire cup brush and a drill to remove rust, and scuff up the finish, then spraypainted a heat resistant, hammered metal paint that looks great. By all means, if you do toss it out, keep the grills, clips, and knobs. (always a demand for them)

You're going to flex your electrical muscles and do a new rewire...and add things like extra outlets, LED interior lights, a AC/DC converter, outside power socket, a nitelight by the door... solar... ground effect lights... satelite dish...
"Oh, the ideas that're swirling around..."

If it's just spidercracks in the glass, you got a creampuff. Rubbing compound can clean up most. Check your local Lowes for the Elmers Glue White Fiberglass kit, perfect for small fiberglass repairs. Comes with white, cake frosting-like fiberglass, a hardner compound, a small section of glass matting, and squeegee applicators.

Word to the wise...the white gelcoat isn't very deep...sand with a gentle hand.

I'm so happy for you... keep us posted as you go to work, and of course...LOTS OF PHOTO'S!!!

ConwayBob
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Old 07-03-2008, 10:03 AM   #10
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Take many before and after pictures. Half the fun is restoring it yourself . The best part is you get to learn as you go . Also if it has problems later you will know exactly where to look, because you know every inch of the trailer. Besides its only money you can't take it with you, unless you are on earth and camping. Keep us posted on the progress. If you have any problems or questions just ask. Many members on this site will help.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:47 AM   #11
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...and by all means, keep us posted here!


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