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Old 09-22-2016, 03:04 PM   #1
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
San Francisco , California
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1979 Airstream Excella - complete restoration project

hello once again. After going back and fourth between 345's and 310's etc. We decided to go smaller and get a 1979 Airstream Excella 28ft. It will need a lot of work, but I look forward to the process. I am of course hoping to share and learn from this amazing network of Airstream ppl. There is so much good stuff in here.

I currently have an issue with suspension ( I suspect) I have added a few photos and since I am a rookie..(gotta start somewhere) I am not 100% sure what I am looking at here. Hopefully some of you can help me and maybe even point me in the right direction in relation to buying the part that is broken. Or maybe even tell me to just update the whole thing.

(for some reason, all photos were turned upside down as they were uploaded)

but who can tell me what I am looking at. The mechanical part. The big rubber "thing" the broken part. And is this something that should be fixed or simply replaced with new stuff?
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Old 09-22-2016, 03:06 PM   #2
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1979 31' Excella 500
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Welcome to the '79 Excella Club!
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Old 09-22-2016, 03:32 PM   #3
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1984 31' Airstream310
Honokaa , Hawaii
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Welcome!

The big round rubber part is one of the two airbags that holds up the rear of the coach. My experience on these is limited to fixing plumbing leaks in the air lines that keep the bags inflated, but it looks like your problem is with the leveling valve system attached to them. I see a metal arm detached and hanging down, it should be attached to the leveling valve system. It looks pretty rusty, but I can't tell whether it can be reattached, or needs to be replaced. Are you going to fix it yourself?
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Old 09-22-2016, 03:39 PM   #4
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
San Francisco , California
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I am planning to fix most of it myself with the help of a mechanic that I know. The part that you are referring to is broken. It cannot be put back. But since I dont really know what it is, its difficult to search for a replacement

So... an additional question / comment.

Is the airbag part of the general suspension system or is it for leveling while parking?
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Old 09-22-2016, 06:19 PM   #5
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1984 31' Airstream310
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First, you need to find this thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...ead-95034.html

thanks the intrepid Keyair, it has a bunch of information and references that be of great value to you.

The airbag system is part of the general suspension. On our 310, the original leaf springs are cut off at one end and the airbags hold the frame up off of that end of the spring. Without the airbags, the frame is bouncing on the cut off spring and the coach is not safe to drive on the highway. Not sure whether your 280 is set up differently. I am attaching the "air suspension" pages from my 310 Service Manual for more info.
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:09 PM   #6
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1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
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There, I fixed it

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I doubt that you'll be able to buy that leveling rod anywhere. Your best bet is to just remove the two pieces and them back together.

Should be a simple fix.

Brad
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Old 09-22-2016, 09:19 PM   #7
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1982 28' Airstream 280
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That broken rod is the control rod that tells the leveling valve to add or release air pressure in the air spring (bag). If the coach is carrying extra weight and riding low the valve will add air to raise the coach to the correct ride height. If you remove weight the valve releases air to lower the coach. The valves work continuously while going down highway. There is a 10 to 15 second delay in the valves so that they don't waste air reacting to every bump.

If you remove the bolt on the edge of the frame you will find a metal ring with a rubber donut inside. Weld the ring beck to the end of the rod and reassemble.

If you loosen the bolt on the flat arm of the leveling valve you adjust the valve to set the correct ride height, remember the time delay for the valve and air spring to react. The air spring height on both sides should match. The compressor must be running to inflate the springs and be aware the coach will come down on you as the valves release air.
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Old 09-25-2016, 12:00 PM   #8
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
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Thought I would post a bit of progress photos :)

Thanks for the answer. I will see if I can weld that piece back together or if I have to get a new one made.

Other than that, I am getting closer to the bare bones of this old lady.

Still need to remove Aircondition, which will be replaced by a TurboKool. And the Onan Generator which will be replaced by Solar on the roof. (I know that many of you love aircondition, but we are not big fan's and it requires to much energy)

Also, I am considering if I should replace the under floor plates and while I am at it, remove the walls and insulate it, since this is most likely not very effective after nearly 40 years. It does not seem to costly, but more like something that would take up quite a bit of time though.

Does anyone have experience with spray foam vs. other types of insulation like Reflectix® Insulation?
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Old 09-25-2016, 12:09 PM   #9
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
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Stabilizer and suspension protection

I am considering to add something like this https://www.etrailer.com/Camper-Jack...39-941704.html to stabilize the motorhome while parked and to take some of the pressure of the suspension while parked? This one is 420$ and I see single ones at 20-50$. https://www.etrailer.com/comparison....RT&pc2=AT82298


Any experience? Recommendations?
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Old 09-25-2016, 12:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhagemann View Post
Thanks for the answer. I will see if I can weld that piece back together or if I have to get a new one made.
If you can't get it welded, send it to me and I'll get it fixed.

Quote:
Other than that, I am getting closer to the bare bones of this old lady.
What's your time frame for getting the interior reinstalled?

Quote:
Still need to remove Aircondition, which will be replaced by a TurboKool. And the Onan Generator which will be replaced by Solar on the roof. (I know that many of you love aircondition, but we are not big fan's and it requires to much energy)
Interesting. I used to have a swamp cooler in my house in Golden Colorado and it worked pretty good. However the humidity level in Golden is considerably less than anything you're going to encounter as you head south. I hate to say it but I think the last thing I would consider using on an Airstream would be a swamp cooler. That thing will be constantly pumping moist air inside an all metal enclosure.

Quote:
Also, I am considering if I should replace the under floor plates...
Not sure what you're referring too here. The construction of the shell won't really allow you to remove any of the skin under the floor. Airstream built the shells in two ways that I know of. The Argosies had an aluminum skin laid down and then a 1"x2" grid of steel tubing was laid down with the cavities filled with 3/4" white foam board. Last there is 5/8" plywood on top of that. This is how my Argosy is constructed and I don't see anyway to actually remove any of it.

Sometime later, possibly at the start of the Classic series (79/80?) they changed by moving the aluminum skin to sit on top of the 1"x2" grid and then the plywood was laid on top of the skin. At some point the skin changed to galvanized sheet metal but I don't know when.


Quote:
...and while I am at it, remove the walls and insulate it, since this is most likely not very effective after nearly 40 years. It does not seem to costly, but more like something that would take up quite a bit of time though.
Does anyone have experience with spray foam vs. other types of insulation like Reflectix® Insulation?
I've been researching this task as well. I'm leaning towards the Reflectix® but haven't made a final decision. If you look on the Trailer side of the forums there is a sub forum that has a lot of info on insulating. I've been poking around there and have found some good info.

Brad
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Old 09-25-2016, 12:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhagemann View Post
I am considering to add something like this https://www.etrailer.com/Camper-Jack...39-941704.html to stabilize the motorhome while parked and to take some of the pressure of the suspension while parked? This one is 420$ and I see single ones at 20-50$. https://www.etrailer.com/comparison....RT&pc2=AT82298


Any experience? Recommendations?
Never seen or heard of anyone using something like this. I think for a vehicle suspension it's not needed. I can see some benefit for the trailers due to how their frames are constructed.
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Old 09-25-2016, 01:48 PM   #12
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
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Thanks for all that great stuff.

"Thanks... I will get back to you on that one "


What's your time frame for getting the interior reinstalled?

"About 6-9 month .


Interesting. I used to have a swamp cooler in my house in Golden Colorado and it worked pretty good. However the humidity level in Golden is considerably less than anything you're going to encounter as you head south. I hate to say it but I think the last thing I would consider using on an Airstream would be a swamp cooler. That thing will be constantly pumping moist air inside an all metal enclosure.

"Ok. If not a swamp cooler. What is the best alternative to an Aircondition?"


Not sure what you're referring too here.

"it most likely just me, now using the right words. Im referring to the floor that you can see on the photo. There was a Linoleum on top. Then a very thin plywood and then this floor, which also looks like plywood. No? Under this there is old insulation. I want to remove this floor, change the insulation and then put new plates on the floor. Its just 6 big pieces "


The construction of the shell won't really allow you to remove any of the skin under the floor. Airstream built the shells in two ways that I know of. The Argosies had an aluminum skin laid down and then a 1"x2" grid of steel tubing was laid down with the cavities filled with 3/4" white foam board. Last there is 5/8" plywood on top of that. This is how my Argosy is constructed and I don't see anyway to actually remove any of it.

Sometime later, possibly at the start of the Classic series (79/80?) they changed by moving the aluminum skin to sit on top of the 1"x2" grid and then the plywood was laid on top of the skin. At some point the skin changed to galvanized sheet metal but I don't know when.

"I have to investigate this further"


I've been researching this task as well. I'm leaning towards the Reflectix® but haven't made a final decision. If you look on the Trailer side of the forums there is a sub forum that has a lot of info on insulating. I've been poking around there and have found some good info.

"I will have a look at the trailer Forum. Thanks."
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Old 09-25-2016, 01:50 PM   #13
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So what do you do when you park for longer periods of time. Dont you have anything to support the back of the motorhome? Both as stabilizer and to just take the stress of the suspension?

Or is this not necessary?
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Old 09-25-2016, 04:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhagemann View Post
"About 6-9 month .
That's an ambious schedule but if you've got the time it's definitely doable. My problem is I never seem to have the time

Quote:
"Ok. If not a swamp cooler. What is the best alternative to an Aircondition?"
Take some time and read through Martin's rebuilt of his 75 Argosy. He used a different type of air conditioner that uses ducting and isn't roof mounted. He still uses a generator but it's a smaller Honda generator.

Quote:
"it most likely just me, now using the right words. Im referring to the floor that you can see on the photo. There was a Linoleum on top. Then a very thin plywood and then this floor, which also looks like plywood. No? Under this there is old insulation. I want to remove this floor, change the insulation and then put new plates on the floor. Its just 6 big pieces "
Ok, I think I understand what you're describing. It appears someone laid some plywood covering over the original plywood and covered with linoleum. The original would have been just the 5/8" plywood and then carpeting.

Seeing that your's is plywood sheets then it's probably fastened down like my 74 which is they used what I think are called elevator screws to hold the plywood in place. The later Classics used screws and nails to hold the full length OSB down and it's really a pain to get the floor up for replacement.

The problem with replacing any of the original plywood is the outer walls sort of sit on top of the plywood. Airstream made things interlocking in that they wrapped a modified C channel around the plywood, set ribs in place and then installed the outer and inner skins. To remove the plywood you have to remove the bottom row of inside skin, remove a bunch of bolts and screws holding the plywood to the truck chassis and then remove the plywood. You won't be able to replace the plywood using full size sheets because there is no way to set a full sheet in place.

Bottom line is wood floor replacement is a royal pain in the .....

Sorry I haven't been able to give you anything to cheer about.

I guess the one question I would ask, is the plywood in really bad shape or are you just wanting to replace the insulation?
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