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Old 06-30-2013, 11:01 AM   #1
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1982 31' Airstream 310
champaign , Illinois
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rookie

howdy folks and good sunday morning to you. ok, heres the deal. i am the proud new owner of a 1983 turbo diesel 310. i acquired the beauty through a family estate and fits perfectly into my wife and i's retirement plans. im retired at 56 and she will be retired in 24 months. we plan on going south for several months each year in the airstream and it will be our home while on the road. so ive got some time here to become familiar with the unit but the problem is i know absolutely NOTHING about its operation. im handy, retired carpenter and nave decent mechanical skills. but as far as the day to day operation of the rig im a complete novice.i would like suggestions from you veterans of the airstream world on where i should start as far as getting familiar with the day to day operation of our new motorhome. are there books i can get and read, should i find a rv dealer and ask if i could pay them for a 4 hr tutoring session, i really dont know where to start. any suggestions will be welcomed you can rest assured. thanks for your patience with a rookie.
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:26 AM   #2
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I just bought my motorhome a year and a half ago. Before I bought mine, the only camping I'd ever done was in a tent, back when my joints didn't ache from sleeping on the ground. So I was in your shoes not that long ago, except in a smaller size (You could fit the living space of two Interstates into a 310, almost), and I'm all thumbs. Good thing mine was new, and not a fixer-upper!

Rent the move "RV" starring Robin Williams. Avoid all the mistakes he made. That is all you need to know. But seriously…

Unlike a trailer, a motorhome has a drivetrain. That's a good place to start. If it goes when you want it to go, stops when you want it to stop, and steers in the direction you turn the wheel, you've won half the battle; you can live with just about anything else for the time it takes to fix it, but if it isn't driveable, it's a lawn ornament.

Assuming it's safe to drive, take a long weekend and go to a campground close to home. Preferably one with full hookups and pull-through campsites. That will give you a chance to play with all of the motorhome's systems without getting in anyone else's way. A pull-through site means you don't have to back up to park it the first time (that can wait for a later trip), and full hookups means that you can figure out the waste dump systems without a long line of impatient people behind you at the dump station. And close to home means that, if you forgot something important, you don't have far to go back home to fetch it.

And take all of the manuals along when you go, so that you can read up.
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Old 06-30-2013, 01:20 PM   #3
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1982 31' Airstream 310
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thanks for the reply protaganist. much appreciated and will head your ideas. i am beginning to think that a great deal of the learning curve on this is going to be by actually getting it out and the the trial and error or in my world the poke and hope method of learning. glad and much gratitude for this forum though. im afraid i have the simplest of questions like: how do the stairs work and when they should retract or extend, does the fridge automatically switch from gas to electric when plugged in to city power, how the awning works, its a zip dee but looks a bit different from the one in the training vid, how to get the stove up and running and the oven, airconditioner operation, etc etc etc. remedial questions i know but those are the practical things that i have no knowledge of. thanks for your quick reply there buddy. i assume our paths will cross again! as always thankyou thankyou thankyou for all of you out there willing to share your wisdom and experience.
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Old 06-30-2013, 01:33 PM   #4
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Courtesy parking

You can always look for another Airstreamer who offers courtesy parking and go there for a visit.
We offer lessons for free! LOL!! And it is a great way to do a shake down campout to make sure all of the systems work. If something is not up to snuff you are still in a safe spot.
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayco View Post
i am beginning to think that a great deal of the learning curve on this is going to be by actually getting it out and the the trial and error or in my world the poke and hope method of learning.
I had a professor in college who was absolutely brilliant. About life, not just about his chosen field. He said, "In this class, and all other classes you ever take, you'll learn everything three times. Once when you read the book, once when we go over it in class, and once when you use it yourself."

So it is with Airstreaming. You'll learn everything three times. Once when you read the owner's manuals, once when you discuss it on the Forums or with fellow 'Streamers you meet along the way, and once when you try it for yourself.

If your owners manual collection has gaps, many of the manuals for the equipment installed in your unit should be available for download from the manufacturer's web pages. Even with my Interstate, purchased brand-new, I had go go hunting for downloadable manuals for my water heater, LPG detector, and a couple other items because those manuals weren't in the bundle I was given by the dealer.

Quote:
im afraid i have the simplest of questions like: how do the stairs work and when they should retract or extend, does the fridge automatically switch from gas to electric when plugged in to city power, how the awning works, its a zip dee but looks a bit different from the one in the training vid, how to get the stove up and running and the oven, airconditioner operation, etc etc etc.
The answer to all of your questions is, "It's magic. Don't look behind the curtain."

Seriously, there's a switch attached to the doorframe that tells the stairs if the door is open or closed, and whenever the door is open, the stairs should be extended. EXCEPT, with a motorhome, there may also be a switch wired into the ignition circuit, so that when the engine starts the steps automatically retract even if the door is open. At least it's that way on my Interstate. If so, get in the habit of looking for the stairs before stepping down. "How did you break your leg? In three easy steps." Old, old joke, but so true!

Stove and oven should be just like the ones you have at home, except on propane rather than compressed natural gas.

Air conditioner very similar to a home model, too, except roof-mounted. All the familiar controls— fan, thermostat, etc. EXCEPT, don't run it unless you're on generator power or hooked up to city power. If you try to run it off the inverter, there won't be enough juice to make it go, and your batteries will be stony dead in a heartbeat.

I'll have to defer the awning and refrigerator questions to other astute Forums members; my awning is a Fiamma, not a Zip-Dee, and my refrigerator is 12v/120v only, no propane.
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Old 06-30-2013, 04:00 PM   #6
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Start with the tires and work up. Check the tire age it will be on one side of the tire next to DOT. Motorhome tires rarely were out since they are not driven that often so old tire may look good but stand a good chance to be dry rotted and subject failure. Check the brakes, brake lines and brake fluid should be changed. I fact all fluids should be changed unless you have a maintenance record that shows they were just recently changed. Check radiator and clean the fins. Check all the belts and everything that is mechanical on the chassis. I had some one tell me before I bought my motor home to treat it just line an airplane. When you take off you don't want a problem in the air that will cause you to crash. The same applies to a motor home. These are big vehicles and you don't want to worry about mechanical, engine and tire failure once you take off and hit the highway. Check around in your area for a shop or shops in that have experienced mechanics and techs that can assure that all systems are go. Then move on to the fun stuff like traveling. There are a good number of forum members that have Airstreams similar to yours and they can offer specific details on the coach systems. Good luck, post some pictures we like pictures.
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Old 06-30-2013, 04:53 PM   #7
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1982 31' Airstream 310
champaign , Illinois
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my gosh folks, thanks so much for all the input. you all sound like a friendly helpful bunch indeed. im soooo looking forward to diving in and getting familiar with the new airstream. i havent officially taken posession so when i get it home i will be able to spent a great deal more time with it. well thanks for the info and i will heed your words of wisdom. im sure you will be hearing from me in the future. ill get some pix up and loaded to give ya all a peek. shes in really good shape, original except for a new laminate floor. runs like a champ, bebuilt diesel just 2 years ago here locally by a reputable truck company. all systems were checked last fall and everything worked as it was supposed to but still need for ME to be the one doing the checking. so thanks again. happy trails. mayco
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Old 07-01-2013, 12:10 PM   #8
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Port Angeles , Washington
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Welcome to the madness. It leads to an addiction referred to by many as aluminites. I would suggest contacting a RV driving school. You can get private lessons that will give you good driving techniques and introduce you to the operation of the systems on your coach.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:37 PM   #9
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1984 31' Airstream310
Honokaa , Hawaii
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Steps: On our 1984 310, there is a small black on/off switch on the wall just inside the door on the left side. If I remember correctly, in the "off" position, the steps will go down when the door is opened, and stay down until both the door is closed and the ignition is turned on. That way, the steps stay down while you are parked for a period of time. In the "on" position, the steps go down every time the door is opened, and go back up every time it is closed. When I left it in storage last month, I turned the switch to this position so that the steps would retract when the door was closed and stay that way.
Refrigerator: Our Dometic does automatically switch to ac when plugged in to shore power, and back to gas when unplugged.
Awning: Can't help you, ours got torn off by a high wind before I ever got it figured out. Be careful driving in high winds. And, welcome!
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Old 07-02-2013, 06:18 AM   #10
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you folks are the BEST!!
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