Here are my rules for buying a vintage trailer. I consider 50s canned hams the epitome of vintage campers. Retro mid 60s are cool as well. Anything 1970 or newer is too new for me... Older is always better.
1. Must have a TITLE in states that require one.
2. Interior paint is a red flag in that it can hide previous water damage.
3. Roof sealants do not work and some are impossible to remove, not to mention causing metal rot. I like a clean metal roof. A little sealant is better than an entirely coated roof and much easier to inspect.
4. The trailer must be TOW-ABLE. Look underneath... Cracks and broken welds in the frame are very bad as is rust thru. The coupler should be in good condition and able to be latched securely onto the towing ball.
5. ORIGINAL parts, pieces and appliances must be in place. Windows are particularly important, as some are impossible to replace. Missing windows spell trouble.
6. Do not buy gutted trailers. The "hard work" has just been made worse.
7. PHOTOS of the "restoration" should be mandatory. Most vintage trailers should be repaired from the outside in with the skins removed. Always ask; PHOTOS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.
Lastly, what makes a trailer vintage are the vintage appointments. Upgrades are fine if done tastefully. New and Modern lowers the value considerably.
Note on titles: If your State or Province doesn't issue titles, you should present the registration at the DMV. States have that information and will issue a title if required in that area.
Don't even start a restoration if you aren't prepared to repair unseen rotten wood. Any camper 50 years old has rotten wood/framing/walls that need repaired.
Make peace with the fact that if you buy a vintage camper that hasn't been restored you will not be able to Glamp-it-up and be camping in a couple of weeks. Sure, we've all heard the story of somebody who was driving in the desert and comes across a barn where a 60 year old ham has been sitting under cover since it was new...the farmer just wants it out of there...so he will sell it to you for $200...with the title...and he'll put new tires on it and repack the bearings for you...all you have to do is clean it and make new curtains. But the rest of us have to repair rotten wood.
By the way, if you have the address for that farmer with the ham in the barn, email me.
Harbor freight magnet tail lights are great. Make sure none of the windows are about to fall out before towing. Take off any light globes inside and protect them. Take off stove eye grates. Make sure door will stay shut. Check roof vents and gas vents to make sure they won’t come off. Make sure no rocks or any other objects are on the roof. Make sure no under trailer plumbing is about to come off. Just stop and check every so often on your way home. We just pulled our 59 over 1000 miles from Shasta Toms driveway to ours and had no trouble with a little bit of preparing.
Never buy a trailer you are not able to physically inspect yourself. If it's in another state, go check it out and then make arrangements for sale and transport. I have a video that shows exactly what can happen when you buy a trailer that you didn't go inspect itself.
God grant me the strength to restore the trailers I can, The courage to strip the parts off the ones I can't, And the wisdom to know the difference...
What has happened to peoples' conscience that would allow them to act the way this ebay seller did to a fellow human.. just blows my mind. I'm hoping someone can do proper sleuthing and find this person, although then what. I'm in my 70s now and grew up thinking our word was our honor, other peoples' feelings mattered, other peoples' opinion of us mattered and I guess I want to still feel that way, but something unlocked the door to a new anger and meanness recently and it's heartbreaking to witness the way our world is devolving. Whew.