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5 Mistakes I Made purchasing a Vintage Camper

When purchasing a vintage trailer that needed renovations, I thought it would be easy!  I’ve been a glorified assistant for several of my home renovations, so I was looking forward to taking something on myself and getting my hands dirty! 

Spoiler Alert: I was wrong… I had no idea how much work would go into this little 13′ Roadrunner ! I’ve been learning a lot along the way and I’m sharing 5 mistakes I made when purchasing a vintage trailer. 

Mistake 1 – Test the appliances:  Our appliances looked clean and the sellers said they were functional.. while the stove & oven work perfectly, the refrigerator started shooting sparks out when we tried to light it.. hey Alexa, add fridge to list of unexpected expenses.

Mistake 2 – Check the windows:  Make sure they open, the handles are still intact and the torque window operator (the mechanism that actually makes the window open) is operational! These are such small things but when you have to replace them on all the windows in your trailer, it can really add up! 

Mistake 3 – Check underneath the Trailer:  Damage underneath the trailer is easy to miss, but the metal frame the trailer is actually built on can rust.  It’s good to know what you’re dealing with before it becomes another unexpected cost! 

Mistake 4 – Check the Skins:  If the trailer has been painted multiple times and the skins are in rough shape, plan to purchase new skins. We originally planned to sandblast and reuse the skins currently on our trailer.  However the paint was so thick, it would have cost just as much to purchase brand new skins.  New skins to cover a 13′ trailer run around $2,000.  

Mistake 5 – Have a plan to keep the Trailer Undercover:  Have a plan in place to store the trailer under cover during the renovation.  Tackling a trailer renovation takes a whole lot of time and keeping it out of the elements while it’s under construction is key, especially if you plan to remove the skins.  Once the trailer is open to the elements, you run the risk of a big rain storm causing weeks of additional work.

There have been many (many) lessons learned and many more that I’m sure we will continue to learn and share along the way! 

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