bw - I like your compromise!! That's the one I would go with! You're staying within your budget and contractual guidelines, I would never suggest going against the wife's wishes. It also gives you incentive to finish some other projects, to give you additional funds to pay the Schooner off even sooner! I would also consider the comments of your native brother, he seems to think you might be able to negotiate down substantially. Also consider the idea that if you did look at it now, the owner may be more inclined to deal during the winter, when no one in their right mind would purchase a fixer upper camper, rather than waiting until spring/summer to see some cash.
I'm actually in a little pickle myself with the spouse, albeit he doesn't know it yet. I may have a really cool trailer for sale in the near future, but I know I can recoup my investment. Still it's good that you're being up front, I know all about "fretting", it doesn't stop until you have that title in your hand.
And who knows, you might not even want it once you see the damage inside.
One other thing to consider, from reading the original description, the owner might be following your journey and deliberation right here, maybe he'd be empathetic to another addict!!
True Wisdom isn't learning from your mistakes,
It's learning from other's mistakes!
I guess I'll pass on the $2800 Prairie Schooner for now. I was perusing the web and the simple search of "1949 Prairie Schooner" turned up the result below. $810 - are you kidding me! Mobiltec was right on with his early post commenting that $1000 is all it's worth at best. Should have taken Larry's advice from the beginning and saved my time of all this fretting.
So now I must seriously take 48spartanette's advice and offer those (5) crisp one hundred dollar bills and save myself a bundle of dough! Maybe have this photo in my back pocket as a real negotiating tool??
As a reminder, here's the one below I had my heart set on. Nearly identical don't you think?? The photos included in the one above show it is darn near the same thing, only in much nicer shape. Yup...$500 is what the one below is worth. Maybe now I can convince the wife DLW it can still be that conversation piece parked next to the shop. If I can land it for that five hundo of course!