Restoration Co$$t$ - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-10-2008, 05:10 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17'
Ontario
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This post is sent out to those wonderful owners who have restored their campers. I am just looking for some ball park figures that one could expect to pay when they restore one of these trailers. I have found another one for sale that has sat for about 10 years. The roof vent is either missing or leaking ( I have not gone to check it out yet. Have only seen pictures and had a brief discussion with the owner) and as a result, needs a complete interior makeover. Plywood floor also has to be replaced. All the fiberglass seat forms, etc are suppose to be in good shape. I would think the fridge will need an going over as well. I intend to do most of the work ourselves.
Also, what is a fair price to pay for a fixer upper? Knowing that it depends a lot on exactly what condition it is in now.
Thanks for the info...
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Old 12-10-2008, 05:32 PM   #2
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Well that's a loaded question......kind of depends on what needs (or you want) to be done.

I would just make a list and start pricing items. Since you will be doing the work the money won't have to be spent all at once unless you are in a hurry. If you are going to try to turn the trailer for a profit or keep it as a user will also determine some of the costs.

With the costs involved I wouldn't pay much for a 13-14 footer that needs a total redo, such as tires, bearings, cushions, upholstery, electrical, propane work...... maybe up to 1000.00 U.S., I'd have to REALLY want it at that price. All said and done I paid about 500.00 for mine and am happy I did, it was a completer redo and no....I really didn't keep track of the cost. A few of the restoration items were given to me so that helped with the cost.
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Old 12-10-2008, 05:52 PM   #3
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I don't know about a fair price to pay for such a trailer, but I think you will find that renovating an egg is a bit like renovating a house in the sense that you can put as little or as much money as you want into it, but if you're looking at it for the long term, time and energy is what you will be spending the most. Once the fundamentals are covered (frame, axle, tires, leaks, etc.), the rest is pretty much up to you and depends largely on how much comfort you need, the state of the trailer itself and how fussy you are about details.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:26 PM   #4
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Don,

As stated above this is a wide range dependent on a lot of factors. I've seen some folks here do very inexpensive, and creative restores over a longer period of time. Then there are folks who only do very high quality expensive work and you don't want to know what that costs. Then of course there is a whole range in between. So it really depends on you and your budget, timeframe, etc.

Mine has cost about the same amount to restore as I paid for it, but it has all kinds of mods from LED lighting to high rise bar faucets. I paid $3k for it initially.

The really expensive items to replace or add are the axle, refrigerator, foam and cushion covers.

The relatively inexpensive but big labor items(time consuming) to replace are the sub-flooring, any major fiberglass repair, electrical, replacing interior liner, and those &#[at]* front and rear windows with the trim lock. Oh and Brandy would include painting the hide in this list as well.

If you use the buyers check list in the resources section to evaluate the trailer you can then go online and price out the things you found to be deficient in the trailer you are looking at. Once you get that figure double it and add 25% more and you should be pretty close.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:48 PM   #5
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First off, IMHO, if the trailer is in need for major work before you can camp in it at all, not just a trip to the carwash and an airfreshiner, but major work, it shouldn't sell for more than $1000 for a 13', $1500 for a larger model.

As stated in all these replies, there are so many variables to consider, that to get a creditable estimate you must first determine just how deep you are willing to commit to your restore.

But to put in 2 cents here I'd say to expect to get what you pay for, you buy cheap, you'll get cheap. The materals you use, and the focus of your efforts, will really determine the outcome, of your hard work.

If you are going to start "from the ground up", IMHO, don't scrimp on the frame, axle and floor. If you put your money there, you'll have given the the trailer the best foundation it can have.
So consider treated marine-grade plywood over standard. Inspect, correct & treat any corrosion in the frame. If the axle is soft, bite the bullet and get a new one. These three things will assure a second life to the trailer, and establish at least 40% of it's value.

To me, everything else...appliances, lighting, plumbing, & furnishings is secondary, and just eye-candy...they all ride on the floor, frame, and axle.

Also IMHO... you'll find that the fiberglass body will be the least worrisome, least expensive, and least labor-intensive of anything you'll work on in the restore. Fiberglass is SO easy to work with...I'm kinda funny that way.

Have fun with your blank canvas...
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Old 12-10-2008, 10:07 PM   #6
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My 1st trailer was a gutted-out Compact Jr.
It was just the fiberglass body, no cabinets or furniture, 3 intact windows and door, weak wood floor, tail light fixtures (but no wiring). The Pop-top had worn canvas. The bumper was mangled. It had leaf spring suspension, and rode low, 8" above the pavement, supposedly in order to fit under a 7' garage door... The original gelcoat had been pink, but it was painted a more masculine charcoal gray. The inside of the body was painted mustard yellow. I paid $900 for it.

I took it to a welder and had the bumper cut off and replaced, and installed stabilizer jacks. Then to the RV shop and had the leaf spring axle "flipped" or more accurately changed from a spring-under to a spring-over installation with new clamps and hardware, raising it 4". I bought a wheel and tire to use as a spare. I ran wiring and connected the tail lights to a 6-pin round connector. There were no electric brakes, but I added a "Battery Charge Line". I removed the rotted 1/2" plywood floor and installed new 3/4" plywood with sheet vinyl flooring.

I covered the interior with reflectix insulation and glued oilcloth over that. I replaced the rotted interior wood window and door trim. I bought a 3' wide home bathroom vanity cabinet with Formica countertop, and after modifying it to fit the shape of the body, installed it as a kitchen. I plumbed in a 10 gallon watertank and a manual hand-pump/faucet. The faucet was tall enough to use a plastic dish-pan on the counter instead of a sink. (They want what for a bar sink?!?)

I walled off the opposite rear corner, and installed an accordion-style folding door to make a privacy room for the Thetford 565 Porta-potty. I built 2 benches, and a folding table, then bought 4" thick foam and lots of Denim to make the cushions. I installed a group 24 battery and wired up several 12-volt outlets. I bought 4 fluorescent camp lights and hung them as fixtures, and plugged them into the outlets. We already had an Igloo 12-volt cooler with an AC adapter. I wired up two 110-volt outlets to a 15-amp cord to plug the trailer in.

I put window-tint film on the windows and had mini-blinds made to fit.




I stopped counting after I spent over $4000 to do all of the above, which included the initial $900 purchase price.

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Old 12-10-2008, 10:28 PM   #7
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As other people have said, refurbishing/repair costs can vary widely. They depend on your creative ability, range of handyman skills, and willingness to take your time with the project and scrounge for materials.

As an example of what I mean, Lynne and I decided we wanted softer foam and different upholstery for the foam in our trailer. We saved money by having Lynne do the sewing work herself, but spent hundreds on custom-made, multi-density foam pads for our dinette seats and seat backs.

Meanwhile some lucky fiberglass owner and patient scrounger got our two-year-old original Scamp dinette foam for free.
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Old 12-10-2008, 10:49 PM   #8
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17'
Ontario
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Thanks for the replies. I realize it is a very vague post and will depend a lot on how far I want to go with it and if I am going to use it or resell it. Is there a section in the forums here that has all of the restoration posts and pictures of work done or just do a manual search back thru the pages on modification, alterations and neat updates section. I really enjoy reading what other people have dome with their projects. Always lots of idea of things I never even thought of. Great site......
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:13 PM   #9
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I don't know if I "restored" or rebuilt the Compact JR...... But, I do know how much I spent doing it. Initial purchase price was $400... I kept track of all the purchases right down to the 2 and 3 dollar ones. BUT.... this doesn't take into account of the things I used that were laying around the shop: for example, the left over spindles from my old Scamp axle I used to make the new straight axle to replace the dropped axle, or all the mahogany that came out of my friend's garage, or all the wood screws that came out of the bucket, or, or, or. And the upholstrey was cheap, Tijuana Tony did the pop up curtain for $150 including material, recovered 8 cushions for $10 each (installing new zippers) using material I already had. Made me an awning supplying material for $150. Brushed the paint on. LED tail lites were given to me free by Roger of Ephrata (another member) Tires $10 apiece from local wrecking yard, spare wheel $10 (Vega wheel from wrecking yard also--needed a little modifying, tho) Already had the POR 15 paint that went on frame. All told it came to $1985 and odd cents including purchase price. Was a rush job, only took from the first week of April until OCT to do. Manhours put in??? Probably over 200, was afraid to keep track of that. Larry
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:18 PM   #10
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Are you going to do the work yourself or pay someone else to do the work. We were able to get material for bedding and curtains on sale at Wally's. The upholstery material we found in a bin of mill ends at Len's Mill. My wife did the sewing [and associated loud words]. I painted the outside and made the front dinette and permanant bed. The screen door we did a couple of years ago and I jobbed out the new axle to someone who knew more about it than I did.. If someone else had done the work the cost would have been prohibitive for such a small trailer. We didn't do the work all at one time bit phased it over a couple of years. Next I'd like to have an awning and attachable screen room but our separate dining shelter is good for a few more years. Maybe this comminy year an electrical water pump and perhaps new wiring. There's always something else to do. My suggestion is to complete ONE project and then pick another, unless it's in such bad shape that you can't use it. You can always camp with the trailer in between. That also gives you time to check out what other people have done to theirs. What ever you decide WE WANT PICTURES.
Here's some of our costs that we've incurred by doing the work ourselves, and I think that this is your low budget.
Comfort foam mattress.....................................$100
Material for screen door.....................................$50-$75
Material for curtains bedding and seat covers......$45
Front Dinette and premanant bed........................$100
Replace axle.............................................. .......$300-$500 [this will depend on who/where/when]
Add outside hatches to access under seat storage.two at $75 each
Brightsides Paint and primer................................$250
New spare tire cover....$85 plus money order plus registered mail = $98
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Old 12-11-2008, 12:25 AM   #11
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I am just looking for some ball park figures that one could expect to pay when they restore one of these trailers. ... I intend to do most of the work ourselves. ... Also, what is a fair price to pay for a fixer upper?
Hi Don and welcome to FGRV

Greg A, gives a good response in the 4th post of this thread. I'm about a year behind in posting my fixes and mods but have been trying to post the chronological restoration of my original wreck in this thread. Including the trailer, I'm probably up to about $4G CDN so far, I've kept most the bills, but have not added them up. Here is a rough breakdown in loonies.

Trashed trailer = $600
Propane system, inspect and service fridge, stove, furnace, new switch over regulator, two new low profile tanks, all new lines, custom welded furnace intake/exhaust etc. = $1000
New axle with electric brakes including frame mods to switch to trailing arm, plus 3 new tires and rims = $1000
Added overhead cabinets and other woodwork $350.

The rest goes to adding solar power with high tech controller and monitors, wiring components, rivets, nuts bolts, custom aluminum welding for the door/body fix, flooring, newer used cushions, curtains, etc. etc. I've got boxes of stuff that I have yet to install plus, I'll be working on the plumbing next year. The year after that will be all the window seals and gel coat.

Many people including my wife thought I was crazy when I started. Donna D had said the one line that both got me started and kept me going ... it was something like "consider it as a hard tent on wheels till you get it finished".

When one is considering the costs of a restoration, one should also consider the benefits of those costs aside from the actual trailer. For me it has given me 3 years of "entertainment" or hobby value, it has given me something to do. The activies are not only the fixing, but also the researching and the planning. It has allowed me the pleasure of meeting lots of great people I never would have met both online and in person and go places I never would have gone. Some of those people have become very good friends. Some of these things, you cannot put a dollar value to including a certain amount of pride.

One has to consider the cost of a new trailer or the cost of renting one if you really want to do a comparison. I suppose that by the time I am finished, if I were to include my own labour, I'd be at par with buying new. Right now even with the restoration incomplete, my trailer is worth more that what it cost new some 36 years ago. Yes I could have done things cheaper but I expect my efforts will at least double the trailers useful life.
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Old 12-11-2008, 07:29 AM   #12
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This post is sent out to those wonderful owners who have restored their campers. I am just looking for some ball park figures that one could expect to pay when they restore one of these trailers. I have found another one for sale that has sat for about 10 years. The roof vent is either missing or leaking ( I have not gone to check it out yet. Have only seen pictures and had a brief discussion with the owner) and as a result, needs a complete interior makeover. Plywood floor also has to be replaced. All the fiberglass seat forms, etc are suppose to be in good shape. I would think the fridge will need an going over as well. I intend to do most of the work ourselves.
Also, what is a fair price to pay for a fixer upper? Knowing that it depends a lot on exactly what condition it is in now.
Thanks for the info...
Hi: Don... Sounds like you'd benefit from a visit to Bolerama camping at Emily P.P. Omeeme Ont. 1st. weekend after July 1st. Last year there were 110 "Eggs" in the nest to view Mods & Makeovers. Many trailers are in "just bought" condition so you will fit right in!!! I hope you can join us there.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 12-11-2008, 03:39 PM   #13
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17'
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Sounds like a plan. Where abouts is it located? I would imagine there will be more discussion on it in the spring time. Another thing I forgot to mention is that I have a 1975 Trillium 1300 that is ready to go camping with right now (bought it about a month ago) but have now located a "fixer upper" which should be fun. Guess it is an addiction like everybody says....oh well, could be worse.
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Old 12-11-2008, 04:48 PM   #14
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a re-build grand total is Here
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