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Old 07-25-2003, 06:53 PM   #1
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Question Considering Purchase on 1978 28' MH

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I have been looking for a classic motorhome for a few months. I have considered Cortez, FMC, GMC and now Airstream. One of the challenges for any of these is just finding good ones for sale within reasonable driving distance. I'm not interested in newer motorhomes due to the price and style . I have just found a 1978 Agosy 28' MH within 10 minutes of my house that I will be looking at this weekend. According to the owner, everything works, the interior has been updated and the tires and paint are good and it has 70K miles. The owner is asking $6K which seem like a good price. Is that a good price (no I'm not telling where it is) what kind of problems should I look for when doing my inspection. Is there ever any Galvanic corresion problems between the steel endcaps and the aluminum body. Any advice or information you can give me will be appreciated.

What I am I getting myself into? should i just seek counseling? would that be cheaper?
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Old 07-25-2003, 07:46 PM   #2
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Counciling is not less expensive

Let me make 1 thing clear...........

He is not coming to look at my 76 Argosy, I have not offered it up for sale yet!

If you have been looking for months you have the bug, counciling is only delaying the inevitable (sp).

There are many things to consider, but I will say 6K for a motorhome that everything works on is a good deal. If that is the starting price, you may be able to knock it down a bit depending on what you learn on inspection. I have 2

If you have been looking you have been getting an education, but I would check each system and if they check out and you like the floorplan/layout buy it. There is nothing regarding the major systems that are any different than any other RV.

The chassis is a Chevy P30 with a 454 Carb based engine and 3 speed transmission. The chassis can be completely replaced if you desire and parts are available everywhere.

78 Was the last year of Argosy production and the next year the quit using the steel ends and put Airstream badges on them. A 79 Airstream 28 Ft. motorhome in good condition will run 12-15 K at the low end. You need to bank some money for repair as things are going to fail on a 25 year old coach, you just have to expect it. You may need to put in new drapes, carpet, upholstery to make it to your liking. If you can do it yourself it runs about a grand, if you have it done??? I do my own, others have spent the money so they can tell you the costs.

As to the galvanic corrosion issue, the seams were sealed at the factory with a special sealant, vulcem. This sealant will limit the contact between the dissmillar metals. The steel was galvanized so paint adhesion is an issue, and the paint usally starts to fail at the edges. I do not know if it is galvanic, or just the edges starting to rust, but the metal is thick enough that rust will not compromise the structure unless it left to rot for many many years IMO. Paint and most parts are still available in one form or another.

Good luck and let us know what you do.
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Old 07-25-2003, 08:10 PM   #3
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Cost of ownership

Classic.....

I went the classic route with absolutely no regrets.

Your decision will probably depend on the real reasons and requirements for your purchase.

I've only had the 345 since Feb. 1, I'm near retirement, and wanted to check out this RV'ing thing.

I looked at several really nice bus conversions in the 30-40K range, and decided that was a bit much (for me) for just a look-see.

I found the 345 after some length of time (the good deals only stay around for a day or two, you have to act quick for a real deal).

My purchase was clean, all systems operational, and original (but close to 20 years old) interior. Thought that we would try it just like it was for a year or two......I was wrong.

My partner liked (surprise, surprise) the unit, and SHE recommended an interior upgrade.

I've kept track of my time and cost....so far over 10 grand and 300 hours invested. Practically none of it was necessary (real repairs only air compressor, fuel pump, plug wires, gas filters, and starter(s). All the rest were discretionary. But worth it?....You bet.

It has been an adiction.

With no signs of relief in sight.

JM.02W (Just my two cents worth.)
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Old 07-26-2003, 07:25 AM   #4
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In my opinion the Argosy is by far the best choice. I was looking for either an Argosy/Airstream or GMC when I found my Argosy. The GMC drive train hasn't been produced in 25 years and parts availability (and competition for the engines with the classis Oldsmobile crowd) was a concern with the GMC. Also the rear bogie suspension is unique and if it hasn't been rebuilt it should be, expensive and a lot of work.
The FMC and especially the Cortez have unique drive trains and haven't been produced for years. Again, parts availibility has to be low, not a good thing for a vehicle that will travel fairly long idstances.
Handling of the Argosy and GMC is very similar as the front end design is similar. Wind and trucks don't affect them as much as the flat front motorhomes, they are easier to drive and that is important after hours on the road.
Galvanic corrossion isn't a real concern on the roof/body line because of the shape. Water is a necessary component of the reaction and the roof dries quickly. I found the most corrosion where the lower body channel rests on the tube frame added by Airstream to the GM chassis.

John
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Old 07-26-2003, 09:12 AM   #5
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I have been carefully tracking pricing over the past 2-3 years, and yes 6K is a great price IF as Brett states the systems are in workable condition. If you end up with 10-12,ooo in it when all is said and done and ready to roll you would still be doing ok.
Appreciateion or at least steady maintainance of the value at that level should be no problem.
Be prepared for the inevitable, little and not so little things that break, and you will be fine.
The amazing thing is talking to owners of newer "box" motorhomes, that have more problems than we do with our 20+ year old classics.
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Old 07-26-2003, 01:06 PM   #6
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I ahve to second Alan on the observation of newer model owners. I lurk on the rvnet forum and the people that hav a 1-2 year old coach and are performing all kinds of suspension upgrades to make them ride better, replacing transmissions that have died, leak repairs that sound horrible. It makes me glad to own a basically sound unit!
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Old 07-26-2003, 05:37 PM   #7
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Well, what's the worst...

...that can go wrong with it? The engine, right? You can get a GM big block crate motor pretty cheap, so that's handled. The transmission is probably a TH 400, and I had mine (in a car) rebuilt with a shift kit by the best guy in town for $450.

The GM motorhomes using the Toronado drivetrain are cool, but there's a BIG caveat with the front wheel bearings. Apparently, you have to do the bearings every 25,000 miles, and you better not try for 25,001 miles, either! There's a lot on this on the GM motorhome sites, and it looks like the front wheels basically fall off when the bearings die. It's also my guess is that the bearings are way, way overloaded in this application.

Check it out and see what I mean.

I'd go with the truck frame and 454. It'll be a lot cheaper in the long run, I betcha!
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Old 07-27-2003, 09:45 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies, the fact that it is a common, proven design with parts readily available is important. The front engine, front wheel drive or rear engine rear wheel drive may be a more elloquent design, but if they fail alot and parts are hard to get - so what.

I looked at the unit yesterday. I was not quite as clean as I had anticipated - but it is 25 years old. A couple of costly repairs may need to be made to it before any serious travel could be done. According to the owner, the transmission fluid needs to be changed because it got burned last time they used it when the tranny got hot. To me this means the tranny probably needs a rebuild. Also all of the tires had good tread but the sidewalls were rotted. The rest of the issues were cosmetic, pealing pain on the rocker panels, window trim etc

What about swapping the 3 speed auto for a 4 speed auto, it seems like it would benfit the MPG and engine life?

On the plus side I really liked the interior layout, it had the rear bedroom making for a nice open light and airy room upfront with a private bedroom in back. The interior had been updated with new carpet and fabrics.

I haven't decided if I will place an offer or not.

Peter
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Old 07-27-2003, 05:52 PM   #9
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Do it !

I just recently purchased my '81 Excella MH 28' for 13K. It was the cheapest price I ever saw for the condition it was in (good, almost excellent). Everything works as designed, as I'm finding out in the process of using it, although the previous owner showed me every before purchase.
Even if you have to rebuild the tranny, it would be a bargain. Search this site with the respective keywords of your question, and you will find links to threads about stuff.
I wouldn't wait too long. I lost a 1984 27' MH with a diesel in it one day before flying to get it. The owner wanted $9500. but it was in questionable condition. He didn't know if everything worked, and he had not driven it for two years. Someone looked at it and said that the interior needed TLC, a red flag to me along with the rest of the story. I had purchased a round trip ticket just in case. Now for my current MH, when i saw pics, I spoke with the owner, he was knowledgeable, honest, everything pointed to this being what I was looking for, I bought a one way ticket and drove it home! Tha's how sure I was about it.
6K is great even if need work. Oh wait, I forgot...it's just an Argosy (just kidding )
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Old 07-27-2003, 06:47 PM   #10
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If the transmission is a TH400...

...as I'd expect, it's one of the cheapest to rebuild. Like I said, mine was $450...

Whatever you do, DO NOT take it to one of the "chain" shops - they'll charge you probably double to triple that much.

You can probably also go to www.summitracing.com and get a superduty version of that tranny for about $750.... check out http://store.summitracing.com/defaul...+400&x=14&y=13

Personally, I'd jump on a vehicle with a problem TH400, because it will scare the heck out of everybody, but it's actually pretty cheap to fix.
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Old 07-27-2003, 06:48 PM   #11
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If it needs a tranny you are looking at less than a grand to replace it with a rebuilt turbo 400.

You could swap in the OD version, but it is a weak tranny and you will just be spending more money later. If you want to spend the money once you need to add a gear vendors, but it can come later.

Of course it all depends on if you buy it.
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Old 07-27-2003, 07:42 PM   #12
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Re: Do it !

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Astrodokk
[B]I just recently purchased my '81 Excella MH 28' for 13K. It was the cheapest price I ever saw for the condition it was in (good, almost excellent). [QUOTE]

sounds like a great price.....not too many appear on the market that are under 15,000, and most seems to fall 17-19000 range.
I know in my area - the Southeast, a nice 27-30 foot classic would be hard to find at any price. Thery are sure few and far between.
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Old 07-29-2003, 07:42 PM   #13
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Have you looked at this one?

http://www.infiniteweb.com/76argosy.html

I think they want $8,000.00 for it. I have seen it around a few times. Does anybody know the story on her?
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Old 07-30-2003, 09:49 AM   #14
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Boy, that sure looks clean to me. I've not looked at Argosy before. It seems that there is no storage in the living area, where it looks like there are skylight windows, which are cool. In my A/S, there are tamnbours there...lots of storage space. Still, very nice, unless the pics don't tell the true story. One must consider the mechanicals though. Can't judge a book by it's cover, although I'd be inclined to say that the owner probably kept it maintained.
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