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Old 01-29-2003, 05:55 PM   #1
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Almost a 325 owner

OK, I'm getting real close to buying a 1985 325 classic, here are my questions.

1) the owner says it has a 4 speed Allison trans, but Freds matrix shows that these came with the GM trans (400 or 425--3 speeds?) Now GM owns Allison are these true Allison trans ? or is the trans a 545 Allison 4 speed as used in school busses and MDT's?

If not a 545 has anyone upgraded to a 4, 5 or 6 speed Allison with a 454 engine?

2) I'll need to find a storage yard in the San Francisco Bay area. Anyone have any info.

3) Your biased opinions and experiences with the "Gear Vender" and "US Gear" overdrive units ?

Thanks, great forum! and I'll be back with more newbie questions!

Jerry
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Old 01-30-2003, 08:55 AM   #2
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As far as I know they older classics Airstream MH's came with the 400 series 3-speeds. I have a 91 model and it is a 3 spd/400 series. Did you drive it, does it have 4-gears fwd? Can you tell by the colume indicator or does it have a overdrive/towing button? The newer trans swap should be fairly easy to do. There is plenty of room to work with and somebody should sell a kit. It may even bolt right up. The newer trans. do have more computer controlls so getting that squared away would be the biggest challenge. Congrats on the your new AS MH. They are the coolest thing on the road!
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Old 01-30-2003, 10:46 AM   #3
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Almost a 325 owner / More questions

I've been to see it yet, but spent about an hour on the phone with the current owner. He's the second owner. He's "convinced" that his is the best 325 around...he maybe just tossing out some sales BS or maybe this happens after you own an Airstream .

Anyway he said the original owner had the trans replaced with an Allison 545, which is a 4 speed direct drive (no O/D) then added a gear vender O?D and he is very happy with the set up.

Any problem area's I should watch out for?

Did these have a daignostic (SP) plug for the engines?
this is a 1985

How about the gross carrying cap?

Did all come with 19.5 rims?

Thanks

Jerry
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Old 01-30-2003, 11:44 PM   #4
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I do not think you will find a system diagnostic plug. These are pretty basic beasts. The rim width will vary. Mine has the 17in wheels, I think the larger heavier units have the 19in rims. On the engine look for cracked manifolds. The main thing to look for is body damage, and cracked interior panels. Check for any water damage from external or internal leaks. Things like this are expensive to have repaired. I do not think that AS MH's have anymore or any less problems than other makes. If in doubt have it checked out by a good service department.
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Old 01-31-2003, 07:11 AM   #5
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Be sure on your inspection to get underneath and use a flashlight to see what is going on there. You can have a very nice vehicle on the "top" side, but the bottom view can show you corrosion, floor problems, frame damage, etc.
Hopefully none of that will be present.
Also start up the generator, turn on everything - A/C, refrigerator, etc. to see how they are working.
Check tires for cracking. check shocks for leaking, check air bags for pressure. Look at the exhaust system for rust through.

Just a few off the top of my head. Good luck! Buying and getting to know one of these rigs is a lot of fun.
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Old 01-31-2003, 08:05 AM   #6
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The ALDL plug is used for diagnostics on the fuel injected engines, so unless this has been converted it won't have one.

An Allison 545 uses a truck SAE engine mount, the 454's used in these are auto engines. These are very expensive transmissions and would cost a lot to adapt. The Turbo 425s are very reliable, cheap to maintain and rebuild (call a shop and see what a fluid change costs for the Allison). Pictures are of a 545R Allison and Turbo 425, very easy to distinguish the difference, the Allison is twice the size, much deeper pan, the mount to the engine is round.

John
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Old 01-31-2003, 10:16 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the help. I'm still at the talking stage....trying to get enough info to justify the trip to check it out ($500.00 for two of us, I'm not allowed to look at larger toys without adult supervision .

My only concern is having the mileage claim of 38,000 (which seems low to me for a 1985) backed up by service records.

Does anyone know how many of each model were built per year? The unit is a 1985 325.

Also if any knows a good RV shop in the Yuma, AZ area that I could have check out the running gear?
Should I use an Airstream dealer? The closest one is in Phoenix

Would a GMC/Chevy truck dealer be able to do this?

Thanks for all your imput.

Jerry
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Old 01-31-2003, 11:14 AM   #8
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Jerry,

Keep in mind that these are (1) a truck and (2) an RV married together. My experience is that RV places like to install fans, toilets, and RV stuff. They don't like to touch the TRUCK part. Not too many places will service both the truck and the RV parts and even fewer seem to do both well.

No one knows how many were made. The annual production was probably between 12 and 300.

Check the fridge. That's a $1,000 item right there.

My biggest complaint with my 85 345 is the three speed transmission. It stinks to have the RPM's up so high at 65 mph and heating up the engine. I understand why they would want to switch it out.

My matrix is not 100% but my understanding is the 85's had the three speed transmission.

Pretty much all of the 325's and 345's have the aluminum 19.5 rims.

For what it's worth, I met a gentleman from Jacksonville that just loved his 325 and could not say enough great things about it.
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Old 01-31-2003, 10:40 PM   #9
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How far is Tucson? Oasis RV center in Tucson is one of the biggest and best Airstream dealers in the Southwest. I have found that a Chev. truck center is the best bet for chassis and running gear knowledge. We have a Chev heavy truck service center near us and they know these chassis backwards and forwards. If you have a Camping World near you you might try them. They probably see more coaches in any given day than other types of dealers. I have seen many older low milage units in my time, it is more common than you would think. Its hard to say though, buyer beware!
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Old 02-01-2003, 05:14 PM   #10
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Looks like it was sold. The owner called and left a message that a lady who had seen it earlier came back with a deposit.

Rats! But it may be a good thing, a smaller unit maybe more suited to hat I need.

Any nice 24ft to 28ft Airstreams or Argosy's out there (West Coast location) ?

Thanks for all the imput....this list is great and I'll be watching from the non-owner wings.

Jerry
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Old 02-01-2003, 05:33 PM   #11
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Jerry,

Something you never mentioned were your needs.

1) How many travelers? Height over 6'?

2) Kids?

3) Dogs?

4) Anyone have a need for a mid-day nap which makes a rear bedroom nice? (Something about the aluminum skin that makes mid-day naps more popular! )

5) Is sleeping on a sofa OK or do you insist on a bed? (or something that resembles a bed)

Depending on your answers, some models are better than others. As you have found out, these are hard to find and sell pretty quickly. It sounds like you have a good start with all your research.
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Old 02-01-2003, 09:54 PM   #12
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Jerry- I missed out on three that i attempted to buy, and all were last minute losses. The one i finally bought was in OHIO, I live in Georgia. I had to fly up and drive it back....the owners said if I didn't get there when i did, they had another buyer all ready to jump in. Usually that is a line, but in this case it wasn't.
Hang in there and the right unit will come along.
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Old 02-02-2003, 12:30 AM   #13
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Thumbs up the right unit

Ditto!!


Jerry,
I've seen some listed in www.rvtraderonline.com and Oasis RV east of
Tucson also has used units.

Check your PM

Happy Hunting !
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Old 02-02-2003, 10:05 AM   #14
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Those looking for units today have two advantages that Alan and I did not.

(1) A website showing all the models produced

and

(2) a great forum to learn and ask questions! AirstreamForums started up in March of 2002 just before our first motor home rally.

(My website started during my search and frustration. There was a 270 in Pensylvania that I was interested in but I had no clue what a 270 looked like or if it would fit our needs.)

Happy hunting!
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