MONMOUTH — For Jim Roy, the 1954 Yellowstone was love.

For his neighbor up the road, it was a decrepit camper the neighbor’s aunt had taken to Woodstock, currently sunk in the ground past its wheels, that he was planning to crush if someone didn’t get it off the property.

Sold.

It was a perfect fit for a business Roy launched a few months earlier in 2017 — Silver Moose Restorations — turning ramshackle classic campers into modern-day check-this-outs.

Through a mix of right-place, right-time and decades spent honing what would be the perfect skill set, Roy is bringing vintage back.

Roy and his wife, Marlene, had camped for years in a custom teardrop he’d built from scratch on the back of a 1940s boat trailer. They stopped camping for a while, but then Marlene got the bug.

“She decided she liked camping again. She says, ‘I want something that I can stand up in and something we can go for more than a weekend,'” said Roy, 48.

Enter a 1975 Airstream Land Yacht Sovereign and what would be the genesis of Silver Moose.

“We found this in Topsham and it was trashed,” Roy said. “Somebody had started the renovation, brought it to a camper place. The outside lights worked, they put in a new water heater and they never came back to get it.”

His wife’s assessment upon eyeing the Land Yacht: “You can fix that.” And for good reason: Roy has owned JMR Home Improvement for 27 years and last year built his 40th house.

“We got it here in one piece,” he said. “I noticed something hanging on the bottom so I looked underneath — the frame had broken in two. It ended up being a lot more (work) than I thought.”

As he undertook the six-month restoration in 2016, Roy posted photos of his work to the Airstream Addicts’ Facebook page.

A New Hampshire woman on the site messaged him to say a nearby RV business had her 1970 Airstream Globetrotter for six months.

“It needed a couple of panels replaced, and I guess the only Airstream tech they had quit. Now they didn’t know what to do,” Roy said.

He told her if she could get it to Maine, he’d fix it.

“Within a month she had it up here,” he said. “They ended up loving the work and it started snowballing.” A new business was born.

The next customer was a Chelsea woman who wanted the windows on her vintage Shasta resealed and polished.

“The day she pulled out, I got a text message from somebody in Boston saying, ‘We’re on our way. We have a camper that we need you to fix,'” said Roy. “It caught me off guard because it wasn’t, ‘Hey, can you give me an estimate, or, do you have time,’ (just) ‘We’ll be pulling in your driveway at 5:30.'”

Not many people work on the classics, according to Roy. The closest vintage shop he’s aware of is in Vermont.

“We don’t want to do the new stuff; we just want to keep the vintage stuff alive,” he said. “There’s nothing like the old stuff — they don’t make it like that anymore. The ’75 (Airstream), yeah, it needed a lot of work, but it’s still around. The newer campers won’t make it 40 years.”

With lights, bathrooms, stoves and woodwork along with the automotive aspects underneath, it’s not as simple as pulling into any repair shop to have the work done.

“It takes a craftsman — it’s not just rip it out, put a new one in,” said Roy. “A lot of these parts aren’t available anymore, we have to manufacture them.

“We’re doing electrical, we’re doing plumbing, we’re doing carpentry, we’re doing finished carpentry,” he said. “We just changed a set of axles on a ’63 Airstream. That one we actually did frame repair, installed a new floor. We have to do a little of everything.”

Add a few decades to all those moving parts and it’s often difficult to know exactly what a restoration will entail going in, he said. Start to peel back a rotted panel and behind it could be rotted, too.

His customers run the gamut from young families who like to camp to retirees who enjoy hitting the dozens of vintage trailer rallies across the country. Last fall, he helped a Bowdoin woman start the restoration on a ’63 Airstream she’s named the Atomic Classroom. She plans to teach pottery, knitting and painting out of it.

He has several Airstreams and other camper restorations on deck this year, including a few he plans to flip. Roy suspects Pinterest and reality TV are helping drive the new wave of vintage nostalgia.

“There’s a couple companies out West in Oregon, California that are making big dollars off restoring campers,” Roy said. “It’s like anything else — they push it onto the market (and people think), ‘Wait a minute, yeah, Grandma had one like that, it’s cool again! It’s not that rundown shack we’ve been storing our crap in in the backyard.’ That’s how we find a lot of this stuff is they’ve been storage sheds.”

Between projects last winter, Roy started a line of K-9 Kampers to complement the restoration work, making dog and cat houses patterned after the ’63 Shasta, ’68 Scotty Highlander and classic ’40s woody teardrop.

Like the people versions, “these are all built with half-inch birch plywood and then we skin them with aluminum and then paint — this is all actually real trailer parts,” Roy said. “If we were going to repair one of those, this is the same trim we’d use. Essentially, we built them like we would build a full-size camper.”

He’s also built a series of birdhouses with the same shapes for the vintage camper addict who can’t get enough.

His goal is to spend the next two years doing a mix of camper restorations and traditional construction work, eventually moving to campers full-time. His passion for restoration and a scary job site accident make that transition seem like a good idea.

Three years ago while building a garage addition in Auburn, Roy fell 12 feet through a stairway hole.

“The only thing I broke was three ribs between my shoulder blades,” he said. “The doctor told me if I would have rotated another 5 degrees, I would have been dead. It was a wake-up call that maybe I want to stay on the ground.”

He’s excited to tackle the recently unearthed ’54 Yellowstone, his first flip, later this year.

“It’s got everything in it: the stove, the fridge, everything is still there. I don’t know if it works,” Roy said. “I want it to look like you just stepped back into 1954. Shastas you see all the time. That Yellowstone, you don’t see, it’s that rare.”

[email protected]