Number 1 Question we're asked... How much does it cost to have my trailer restored?
Answer: This is a hard one to answer as no two trailers are alike. My ballpark
price on complete restorations of canned ham trailers is $1000 per foot, so a 16'
Shasta would run about $16000. This assumes the trailer is complete and original,
no painted interior, much of the interior cabinetry is salvageable, and that it is
going back to original. Custom interiors and modern options will add to the price,
as well as trailers missing parts. Sometimes a very nice original trailer only needs
one of our "face lifts", where we pull the skin, make sure it's structurally sound,
and replace the skin with new aluminum and paint. This can be done for considerably
less than a full restore. Bottom line is, the better condition the trailer is in,
the less it would cost to restore.
Why can't you quote me a firm price on a restoration?
Answer: We can get close on an estimate, but until we pull the skin we really don't
know the extent of the restoration that is needed since we don't have x-ray eyes.
Sometimes the structural damage is worse than anticipated, other times it is much
less than expected. We work by an hourly charge and materials. An estimate is just
that, an estimate of what it would cost. It may be a bit more, but often the cost
comes in less than expected.
There is a guy down the street that says he can restore it for $5000. Why do you
cost so much more?
Answer: Simple... because we actually do restorations right. You may get a "refurbishment"
or a cosmetic cover up for less, but unless you take the skin off and rebuild the
structure correctly it's not a restoration. Anybody can slap on some new paint,
scab in some new paneling or cover up damaged wood with paint, but unless it has
good bones it will continue to leak and can even be unsafe to use. While we do make
our trailers pretty, our number one goal is to build a trailer that is safe and trouble
Beware of the "carpenter" buddy that says he could rebuild it. Unless he really
understands the design of a vintage trailer, is skilled in electrical, plumbing,
propane and mechanics he most likely will not rebuild it correctly.
How long does a restoration take?
Answer: Once again, every trailer is different so it varies. Our average restoration
takes about 5 weeks to complete.
How soon can you restore my trailer?
Answer: We usually have a backlog of about 6-12 months. Once I have a reservation
it's added to the bottom of the list, and they are completed on a first come/first
served basis. And, no, in fairness to my customers patiently waiting I won't squeeze
one in ahead of schedule, even if offered a premium.
How do I make a reservation to have my trailer restored?
Answer: We talk first to determine what will be needed, what you want as far as options,
etc and we come up with an estimate. If it all sounds agreeable we sign a simple
contract to make sure we are on the same page. I do require a deposit to hold the
time slot in the shop, which does apply towards the restoration, but will be forfeited
if for some reason you decide not to have the restoration done when the time comes.
I don't own a trailer yet. Do you have any for sale?
Answer: Occasionally I have one available but not often, they sell fast. I do have
some unrestored that I can restore for you to your tastes (see my For Sale page)
or I'm happy to restore one that you do find. Due to the long lead times in the
shop we have often reserved a time slot and then we help you find the right trailer.
In this case we take the reservation for a trailer TBD and amend it with the estimate
once we find the trailer. We can usually determine the estimate before you commit
to buying a project trailer. We're here to help you find the perfect trailer!
I own an old trailer. What is it worth?
Answer: I probably don't know... too many variables. Condition. Location. How
bad you want to sell it. Who you sell it to, i.e. I have to buy low in order to
make a profit, I have to sell at top market for the same reason. Other factors can
really make a difference. A good ad sells, pictures of it full of junk probably
won't. Clean it up. Make sure everything works if possible. A clear title adds
a lot to the value. One thing about vintage campers... rare does not always equate
value. An off brand will probably not bring the same as a similar Shasta (unless
it's already a sought after, such as a Holiday House$$$)
I can determine the value if needed, such as an insurance appraisal. It takes research
of similar makes and models, as well as similar condition. This takes time, so there
is a charge involved.
I want to restore my own trailer. Can you guide me and tell me where to buy the
Answer: No. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but the reality is I've spent years developing
my craft and countless hours locating sources of parts. It's not fair to expect
a business to share this intellectual property for free. You wouldn't expect a chef
to teach you his recipe so you can make it at home, or ask the car mechanic to teach
you how to make a repair so you could save the money and do it yourself. It's the
same in the trailer restoration world.
My trailer really only needs a few panels replaced. Can't you just replace those
without taking the trailer all the way apart?
Answer: In most cases no. Most canned ham style trailers are built from the inside
out, so they must be rebuilt the same way. They are built like big shipping crates,
the design of the framing and paneling is what gives the trailer it's structural
strength. Any compromise of this design will result in failure down the road. Unfortunately,
it does mean that the only way to properly repair it is to remove the outer skin.
The aluminum skin on my trailer only has a few dents and dings. Can you reuse it
and repaint my trailer?
Answer: Yes, but for me it is not cost effective, nor will it produce an end result
that would meet our standards. The cost of labor for me to carefully remove and
re-install the aluminum, not to mention the cost of prepping the aluminum for paint
actually costs more than the cost of new aluminum installed. As far as painting
your trailer, in 95% of the time I won't do it over old aluminum. Those dents and
dings will really show up badly with new shiny paint, and if it's ever been repainted
before, forget it, especially if it's been painted with house paint. I can't guarantee
my paint work if I can't tell how well it was prepped before or what kind of paint
I'd be painting over. I understand that many folks don't really need a trailer that
looks new, just freshened up. That's OK, there are paint shops that will paint your
trailer, or online videos on do it yourself, but before you go that direction, read
my next question...
Do you REALLY have to remove the skin to properly restore a trailer?
Answer: In most cases, yes. Unless it has been very well cared for or stored indoors
it's whole life, it needs to have the skin removed. Safety is our number one goal,
and there is just no way to really know what issues lurks under the skin. Water
damage, the number one downfall of old trailers is of course important, I can't say
enough about the importance of having a sound trailer. The last thing you want is
a trailer to come apart on the interstate. Not necessarily unsafe, but the nuisance
of reoccurring water leaks is common if the structure is not sound. But, besides
the structural integrity, the wiring is run between the paneling and skin, the only
way to properly inspect/repair/replace the wiring is with the skin off. Quite
honestly, many old trailers are not safely wired from the factory as codes were not
as important then. And in many cases the old cloth based insulations are failing.
The risk of fire or being shocked is not something to ignore. Finally, it is the
only way to address the issue of the old insulation, if it has any at all. Large
amounts of mold can be present, as well as insect and rodent infestations. That
funky old trailer smell is not usually a good thing, and it is probably coming from
inside the walls.
I love the vintage look, but I want more modern amenities. Can you custom build
my trailer with the things I want?
Answer: Sure... within reason. I can't build the "magic" trailer as I call them.
There is only so much space, so it has to all fit. I can't put a full bathroom
and a queen size bed in a 14' Shasta for example, and still have room for anything
else. But we can add a lot of modern features (and make them look period correct
if wanted), or a full modern interior, and we can build a full custom floor plan
if desired. It all depends on your imagination and budget, custom builds adds to
the cost considerably.
I want to turn a vintage camper into a mobile store. Can you help?
Answer: Absolutely. We can help design and build any style of concession trailer.
It does require a bit of homework on your part however, especially with food service.
You will need to know the code requirements for the area you want to run your business,
and we can build it to meet those specs. You may want to check with zoning first
as well, just to make sure you can operate in the area you want before you invest
in a trailer.
Below are answers to many commonly asked questions we receive. Of course, feel free
to contact us if you have other questions or would like to discuss your particular