What all does Vintage Base Camp do?
We love doing both small and large repairs, full resto-mods/custom builds, and even museum quality restorations! We have a passion for and specialize in 40's-70’s Airstreams and other trailers/campers from that era, but we also work on late model Airstreams (80's-present). We are more than happy to offer the odd repair job or winterization, do the hard stuff and get it ready for you to finish, or completely design and build/rebuild your dream trailer! For a complete list of what services we offer, check out our Services Page!
If you are needing design help, we do that in-house and work with you to ensure you get exactly what you want, from authentic vintage finishes to sleek and modern layouts. We offer drafting/renderings as well to help you envision your dream. The owner, Greg Penner, holds a BFA from The Columbus College of Art and Design and MFA in Sculpture from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Our drafting diva, Dawn, comes to us with over a decade of design experience from her time at Barter Theatre, a lifetime of artistic professional and personal endeavors, and a childhood spent living on a 30' sailboat that instilled a love for small living spaces and the unique solutions required to make it successful!
Do you have to be from Kentucky to work with Vintage Base Camp?
Of course not! Only about a quarter of our clients are from Kentucky. The rest of our clients and customers are from all over the central, mid-west, and eastern United States, though we do get the occasional west coaster or Canadian. Most of our clients drop off their projects, but you can have them delivered to us if you aren't able to travel.
Our office staff of three will be working with you to ensure you are aware of all progress and developments along the way! We stay connected with our clients digitally with photo or video, as well as phone and email updates, and regular conferences. Some clients also follow the progress of their projects on social media!
Where can I find Airstreams or other vintage trailers for sale?
We would be delighted to source the trailer for you, and often have a trailer or two up for sale at the shop at any given time! We are centrally located and often find excellent specimens within an easy day's drive of us if what we have doesn't initially interest you, or you have something specific in mind that we don't have at the moment. We also have trailers on consignment for clients that may work for your needs.
If you are more hands-on and want to find a trailer yourself, you can start online with places like Facebook Marketplace, Airstream Hunters, and Airstream classifieds. We recommend staying away from Craigslist. Just a tip when looking for yourself: if the deal seems to be too good to be true, then it is. I often recommend that buyers look at the trailer in person if possible. Do please check out our new webpage with a helpful list of questions to ask and things to have demonstrated when purchasing a trailer along with a handy List from Airforums!
Here is a very basic break down for cost when buying a stock, used Airstream. Please remember, the smaller the Airstream the more your initial cost is going to be! These prices charge yearly and seasonally, and when on the hunt you will need to check daily. If you can’t we can! If you find a trailer in working condition, make sure the seller spends the time going through the systems and tests everything! Here is a great resource to use for your search written by the Airstream Hunter!
Gutted shell, with a good exterior
16'-19’ ($3,500 – $15,000)
(The Bambi being the highest)
22’-24’ ($1,800- $9,000)
A good all systems working properly (Original interior)
(The Bambi being the highest)
Custom built (built by a professional service/ repair /restoration shop)
(The Bambi being the highest)
When would work be able to start on my project?
For smaller projects like winterizing your trailer, to windows and some skin repairs, we can generally schedule you within 1-3 months out. The sooner you contact us the better so we can get you on the calendar! For large scale projects, we like to get you scheduled 3 months to a year out; it really depends on the full scope of the project. With these larger projects we generally start a dialog with a client one to six months before you even get on the schedule so again, the sooner you reach out to us the better! Polishing is often scheduled depending on the size and time of the year. Please contact us for details on our current production schedule and pricing. For a detailed description of the steps we take for each project, check out our Process Page!
How do I reserve a spot?
Once we have had a conversation or two and have a solid idea of what you want, we will send an itemized estimate, queue fee form, and a projected start date that you can look over. This queue fee combined with a signed queue fee form and signed estimate will secure your place in our calendar. You will have 10 business days to return these forms and your queue fee in order to secure the dates given to you. If you do not submit these items within 10 business days there is a strong possibility that those dates will shift to later in the year. We understand that everyone wants their work to be done sooner rather than later and your timely return of these forms and queue fee can help make that happen!
Larger jobs require booking out further, often a year in advance. Smaller jobs can be booked with a month before arrival, but we are often booked up months in advance so it really just depends on the scope of the project. So don’t wait, book now!
For the WBBCI member that is on the road driving through and needs a quick little emergency fix, we will always do our best to get you into the shop and take care of you.
How long will the process take?
Some small jobs can take 2-3 hours, 1-5 days, or 1-4 weeks depending on what is getting addressed, product availability/delivery, and degree of difficulty! We do love small jobs!
The projects that include gutting and updating the mechanicals usually take 1-3 months. A lot depends on the size of the trailer, the shape of the frame/subfloor, and the scope of the work required.
A full-on, frame-up restoration can be approached in several ways:
We do the project in phases, which may take years.
We do the project start to finish nonstop with no breaking, this can take 6-10 months.
We do a shell-off restoration, insulation, skin interior, and new subfloor along with electrical and plumbing. You finish the rest. 1-3 months.
No matter the size of the job, please keep in mind that in the world of working on vintage and late model trailers, there are always delays. Some of which we plan for, many of which are surprises despite our best attempts at preplanning. Because of these setbacks and others, our shop schedule shifts, and shifts often. Sometimes by a day, sometimes by weeks depending on the situation and trailer in question. We STRONGLY suggest that you do not make any travel/camping plans with your trailer until it is physically attached to your tow vehicle upon completion of work and we are handing your keys back. We've learned the hard way, and don't want to see our clients disappointed with plans falling through because of unforeseeable events. We thank you for your understanding!
How much money are we talking about here?
It truly depends on what you need!
Axles are $750 per axle plus shipping. 1-3 hours of labor additional. Shocks, brackets, etc extra.
Most small projects can range from $33 to $5,000 depending on the job - this is obviously a large variance, but in doing one job there are often things that are discovered that also need addressing, so historically speaking this can be a realistic estimate range.
Moderate size projects from a week to a month in the shop range from $4,500-$10,000.
Air conditioner installations are usually 1-3 hrs labor not including the cost of the AC and ADB. For vintage trailers and Argosy’s, any additional 110v updates to the breaker box can incur more costs. $1,100-$1,800.
Polishing costs depend on the skin condition, or if it is a re-polish. $175-$200 a linear foot is a good estimate. For example, a 22’ trailer polished for the first time at $200 a linear foot would be $4,400, not including materials. This also means we are stripping the clear coat off on pre-1962 trailers. There are some discrepancies on what year Airstream started clear coating so most trailer 1963 and later we will strip.
Larger scale mechanical up-dates on a vintage or late model Airstream can include re-plumbing (water-heater/all new faucets/toilet/PEX and pump), updating the electric, addressing the converter and fuse block, changing the floor covering, new countertops, updating all the appliances, or new curtains and upholstery. These jobs are just some of the many examples in this category and can range from $5,000-$30,000.
We get a lot of requests for estimates for a partial rebuild which usually includes new layout drawings, new subfloor, new insulation, new electric and plumbing, as well as rebuilding the windows/hatches/door, a new AC and vent fans, and finally new axles and wheels. There are a few small items included such as sealing the skin exterior and interior etc, however, the owner will be handling the rest of the interior finishing. This type of job runs around $30,000-$50,000, and you will have a solid foundation and ready-to-finish blank canvas!
A vintage or late model Airstream custom-built vending trailer with a gull-wing hatch, or retail trailer (Bar/Food/VIP lounge or Showroom/Retail space) $45,000-$100,000.
A vintage or late model Airstream complete shell-off/ground-up build, custom or museum quality finish, camp ready, off the shop floor will be $65,000-$125,000.
Whoa. That could be a lot of money...
We respect your investment in our company.
One thing that is often forgotten when considering the financials is the condition of the trailer you are wanting to renovate or restore, or the condition you left it in for us to finish. As clients, you want a finished, working trailer that will work like new with all the modern amenities of a 2019 travel trailer wrapped up in a vintage shell. This is a doable task. If you compare the custom build cost to buying a new travel trailer it might be less, or comparable, or three times as much. You just have to set a budget.
All too often potential clients bring us a rusted, gutted shell or have gutted the trailer and gotten in over their heads with a budget of 15k-30k. Unfortunately, depending on what your vision is and the size of the trailer, that is not enough capital to have a custom, ready-to-camp trailer built by professionals. That amount would be enough to get the entire project ready for an interior to be built-to-suit or spec built, but not enough to finish and trim it out. The condition is critical to this process and if your travel trailer is too far gone, (for example, it needs a new frame) you might want to walk away from that particular trailer. If it's an emotional attachment, we can rebuild it, but that just needs to be factored into the overall cost.
These are vintage trailers and repairs, general upkeep maintenance, and full-on restorations can be costly, and more often than not they cannot be financed. We will work with your budget, but it needs to be a realistic budget and timeframe for what you are asking us to build or repair. Our rates are comparable to other companies in our field. Beware if you find a company that comes in way low on an estimate, you pay for what you get.
What are you paying for?
Labor: We have a team of five skilled craftsman/technicians and office staff that includes an office manager and in-house digital designer that take great pride in their work. They are specially trained in their given areas and bring years of experience to your project. We work as a brain trust. Our collective experience as a workforce spans several decades in both RV and related industries. Take a moment and check out our bios. A few of our team members are camper owners and adventurers themselves and use this practical knowledge to better serve our clients. Come and meet us so you know your project is in excellent hands.
Parts: Parts and products are twice as much as residential items, this is almost always the case for standard RV appliances. When installing mechanicals such as plumbing and electrical, we use RV industry standards or better, unless the project dictates something different (this does happen). For cabinetry, we always use domestic lumber.
Quality: As the owner, I split my attention between communication in the office, and overseeing production in the shop. I am the person that takes on project management and quality control. I have the artistic background and critical eye to critique every detail. My seal of approval goes on each and every aspect of a project before it rolls out the door, and pride goes into each job no matter the scale by every member of our staff and crew.
We hope that you will consider working with us and encourage you to reach out to us if you are ready to start your journey.
We would consider it an honor to work with you and bring your dream to life!