Worth Rebuilding?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Repairs & Maintenance' started by revance, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. revance

    revance New Member

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    I am just looking for opinions. I posted in another thread about my woes with this camper, but I figured this is really a separate topic.

    I have a 1984 Starcraft Starflyer with a 10' box. It was given to me for free by my father. To be fair to him, he only bought it a few years ago and never really did anything to fix it up.

    The Good:

    • Canvas is in incredibly good shape. Besides needing a good wash, it has one tiny <1" tear
    • Air conditioner works well
    • Lift system appears to work well
    • Cushions are in good shape

    The Bad:

    • Side walls of roof completely rotten
    • Severe hail damage on roof
    • Front of roof has a huge dent/tear that looks like a tree branch fell on it
    • Axle is completely shot and tires are hitting wheel wells
    • Frame is bowed upward in the center over the axle (prob from the shot axle)
    • Bowed frame makes door not shut properly
    • Canvas track cracked and falling apart
    • Cabinets falling apart
    • Countertops need replaced
    • Flooring very stained and needs replaced
    • Decals falling off
    • Exterior lights cracked and need replaced
    • Exterior covered in all kinds of various stuff that comes in tubes that the P-PO put on it to "fix" leaks
    • No refrigerator or ice box
    • Probably some rot I haven't found yet because I haven't pulled the cabinets out and removed the paneling
    • Little accessory doors (power etc.) on exterior are all cracked and falling apart
    • fender skirts cracked and falling apart
    • Probably more I am forgetting/haven't discovered yet


    This is what I have done so far:

    • Replaced rotten side panels on roof
    • Replaced stained/sagging ceiling
    • Replaced canvas track
    • Made curtains that utilize curtain track in new canvas track
    • Added LED tape lighting behind curtains
    • Added a water pump
    • Added a water filter
    • Sealed all roof seams by putting Eternabond Doublestick under all aluminum trim
    • Put Eternabond white tape over top edges. The box of brads I had for my nailer had 2 different lengths in it and I didn't notice until after I used them around the edge of the new ceiling. So half was fine, and the 2nd half I did had brads poking up through the aluminum skin. So I ground them down and put Eternabond tape down the sides
    • After replacing the crushed, rotten wood, I bent the giant dent/tear on the front of the roof back as flat as I could and put 2 strips of 4" eternabond tape over it. Not pretty but does the job.


    I currently have about $300 into all the repairs and additions (not counting the elastomeric roof paint I haven't put on yet).

    I WAS planning on fixing it up because besides a lot of labor, new cabinets, flooring and some paint would have cost a few hundred bucks. However now I have the bad axle and bent frame to deal with. It sounds like ordering a new axle from Dexter is going to run about $280 shipped. Then I have the frame to deal with, which I don't know if I can really fix it or if I just have to deal with it. Now I am questioning whether it is worth putting the money into. Now I am looking at over $1,000 into this and I seriously doubt I could ever sell it for anywhere near that.


    So what is your opinion?
     
  2. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    To start, almost NONE of us ever get back what we put into PUPs as far as restoration goes. The important thing is - did you get enjoyment out of it?

    What would it cost you to buy a PUP in usable condition? A PUP that costs $1K in my part of the world would not be anything I'd want to sleep in.

    Your time is worth something. But many folks get enjoyment out of repairing or restoring something. I often do. So I often don't care about the inherent costs of my time. It's usually after everyone goes to bed anyway. I'm something of a night owl.

    As for the bent frame and axle, even around my neck of the woods, there are businesses that deal with trailers and axles. I would call and describe or bring the PUP in for an evaluation and estimate. They might surprise you with a decent quote on parts and the work. Or, it could be the nail in the coffin. I would at least investigate that.

    Ultimately, only you can decide even though it is good to hear lots of opinions. There's a lot of people on here with different experiences and backgrounds that can shed their own personal views.
     
  3. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    Bend axle? could be bearings that gone bad. check the bearings before you do anything to axle. with my older popup (sold) one of the tire was leaning out... case of bad bearings ... and damaged drum which had to be replaced.
     
  4. revance

    revance New Member

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    It is a bent frame, not a bent axle. I ran a string along the main rails from front to back and there is about a 1.5" gap in the middle between the string and the frame rail. I know the axle is bad because the arm should be 22.5 degrees below and it is currently about 40 degrees above causing the tire to hit the wheel well and the arm is actually striking (and denting) the mounting bracket.

    I understand that you will likely never get back what you put into a trailer. My point was more that if I could only get a portion of what I spent fixing it when selling it, would I be better off finding a used one in better shape?

    I tend to get carried away on things like this and end up spending 10x the value of an item fixing it up. Yes, I got the enjoyment and satisfaction of fixing it, but it wasn't the best financial decision.

    The main reason for asking this is to see what everyone's opinion is knowing that the frame is bowed. Before realizing it was damaged, I figured with a good canvas and good A/C (2 most expensive parts), I couldn't go wrong fixing up the rest. Now having the foundation of the whole thing being damaged, I am questioning that logic.

    If I bought a used pop-up for $2k, I would likely find a similar list of items to fix shortly after buying it. On the other hand, for $6k, I can get a brand new one.
     
  5. gruss

    gruss Active Member

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    If it were me I'd stop working on it now (in all honesty I probably never would of started ;) ) BUT

    Before I scrapped everything I'd cross reference how many years StarCraft made that model the same, and if there were any re branded ones that are the same.

    Look around for a bit and see if you find a match that rolls straight but with gutted canvas or a rotted roof or both and probably get it cheap...swap your roof on and switch the canvas.

    Save some of your work, keep the spare parts you want, part out/scrap the rest.
     
  6. revance

    revance New Member

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    A buddy of mine offered to flatten out the frame. So I guess I will order an axle tomorrow.
     
  7. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    My opinion is to cut your losses and look for something with a good frame, roof and canvas. Exactly what will the results of your buddy "straightening the frame" be? Why did it bend in the first place?

    We're not talking about restoring a '32 Ford, it is just a thrashed camper that will never be worth anything except to you. And based on your description of the current condition, I'm not sure it is worth that much to you either.
     
  8. edh

    edh Active Member

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    A bit of a different opinion: the most expensive part to replace is the canvas and you don't need to do that. And it sounds like you've probably stopped the leaks and made your rood usable. If your buddy can straighten the frame and you can switch in the axle yourself, you'll probably end up with a usable camper that might be all you need.

    You're already invested time and money in it and it would be a shame to start over--you'd get zero return (use) on investment if you stop now. You'll probably never recoup your investment but you might get some good times out of it. And it's a lot more affordable than that $6k newbie (and the quality of inexpensive campers can be marginal BTW). Finally, if you can get this one usable for under a grand I doubt you'd find a better used one for anything close to that.

    So my vote would be to see what you can do with the frame and if you get it close enough to track properly when pulled, and can close it up (door works, roof aligns with box, etc), put an axle in it and enjoy it. If you don't plan to use it this year you could even look around for a used axle--you might get lucky and turn up a cheap parts-only camper (even if it's not the same brand it might use the same axle--you'd have to do some research to see what other campers it was used on). Good luck!
     
  9. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I would part it out and invest the money in another camper.
     
  10. R00

    R00 Active Member

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    I'm all about buying new when possible, but its not always possible...

    Look at it this way:

    You put a G into it...

    Camp 10 nites @ $100/nite
    Camp 20 nites @ $50/nite
    Get 50 nites out of it? $20/nite

    Makes it seem more worthwhile doesn't it?

    IMO the only thing making a trailer into trash is mold, rot, and catastrophical mechanical failure (see the post about someone's roof flying off @ 55 mph)

    Yours doesn't sound catastrophical, honestly. I think your buddy can get it close enough to work, but be careful for the rest of the trailer's lifetime. Once stressed, metal becomes weak. One good pothole even on a good axle could put your bend right back into it.
     
  11. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    ^^^ this.
     
  12. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

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    Continue repairing and put it up for sale at a price that you can recoup your money or more. If you sell it great, if not you have a camper you can use.
     
  13. R00

    R00 Active Member

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    ^^^that^^^
     
  14. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

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    When the 4th bullet in the list of "good things" about the camper is that the cushions are ok, then I think it's time to scrap it.

    You can keep the AC and put it in your new unit, so you'll pay less by being able to buy one without AC. Or sell it to someone else who wants AC.

    Really unless you're specifically wanting to do a project just to say you can, I'd run away. Buy something else, and take the time you would have spent hacking at the thing, and spend it camping instead.
     
  15. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    I'm in the camp with the ones saying to scrap the project.. But do it smartly.. Remove the canvas (take lots of pictures of it installed first) fold it up and carefully store it. Pull the fridge, furnace, water heater, water pump, watewr tank, ac and anything else, take pictures of everything. Remove all the cabinets, beds and rest of interior leaving the empty box, lift system and roof.

    Once you find a replacement pup, you can sell off any of the things you don't want or need.. You can sell the old trailer now as a covered utility trailer.
     
  16. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    I don't understand how the frame could be bent. Steel frames do not bend easily. If your friend can straighten out the frame, I assume using a frame machine, then it should be fine. I don't agree with the steel being so weakened that a pot hole will bend it again. Auto body shops have been straightening frames for years. You could have a welder strengthen the frame for cheap money, if you are worried about it.
     
  17. revance

    revance New Member

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    I am fairly certain that the frame got bowed because the PO hauled the thing around with absolutely zero suspension. The axle arm was raising up so high it was hitting the mounting bracket.

    Besides the axle, it is currently usable. The bowed frame is unfortunate, but besides there being a bit of a gap at the door, it really could be used as-is. The remaining problems are all aesthetic. With Eternabond doublestick under the seams and Eternabond roof tape over the seams... the roof won't be leaking any time soon.

    Maybe I should just replace the axle, leave it ugly, and put a decal of uncle Eddie on it.
     
  18. R00

    R00 Active Member

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    Auto frames and trailer frames are two completely different critters.
     
  19. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    Pretty easy... Using stabs for leveling is one quick and easy way to bend the frame..
     
  20. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    I am only familiar with the frame on my 1997 StarCraft Venture 2408. My frame looks very strong and doesn't look like it will bend easily. It is possible that other campers and newer campers have a much weaker frame. I believe that I could use the stabilizers to level or lift my camper without worry of bending the frame. I would think that the stabilizers would break before the frame bent. From the posts around here some people must have thin aluminum or possibly wood frames.
     

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