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Old 12-23-2012, 12:28 PM   #1
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Hendersonville , North Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 88
Belle Rides Again!

Hi All,
We've been out of the A/S loop since we had to put our 1987 345 MH "Silver Belle" in storage in July, 2008. The planets and savings account finally aligned so we could bring her home to H'ville, NC from Cullman, AL. What a joy and a journey to finally get her (almost) back! Needless to say she needed LOTS of TLC to get her down the road... 6 new tires (thank you McGriff's Tire Center, they went to Belle and gave a her a full service tire upgrade, complete with new stems and balancing beads for only $1546!), plus new coach battery and wiper blades from O-Reilly's. That's all she needed to fire up and drive away after sitting for 4 and 1/2 years. Of course she was broken into, nothing was taken, but now we have a deadbolt with no door latch and the obligatory bent door. Had to clear out lots of beasties... one 5' snake skin, 4 dead mice, and enough sleeping wasps to fill a barn (they really liked the spare tire and water heater compartments). WD-40 is a GREAT wasp killer!
So after a short brake test in the parking lot and its out the gate we go! A quick 72 gallon fill-up ($240, ouch!) and we're off! The first 60 miles were great, she was just purring along happy to be finally kicking up her heels at a lovely 60 MPH, and then the fun started... kept losing power and misfiring, could barely get to 40 MPH, finally had to pull her over for night time roadside repairs on US 278 just past Gadsden, AL. My first thought was a fuel problem... filter blockage or pump failure. So back to Gadsden with Wifey (my faithful backup with a car and tools) for another $80 spending spree at O'Reilly's on fuel pumps (mechanical and electric) plus inline filter. Of course only the filter was the right part, the engine pump fit but had the wrong inlet, the electric was an in-tank unit and couldn't be used at all. Two hours after stopping we're back on the road with no significant improvement, finally stopped for the night in Piedmont, AL, 90 miles from where we started in Cullman, AL.
Day 2, leaving Piedmont and all seems well until she heats up and the power losses hit us again, this time with a vengeance! Coasted into a feed store parking lot with no power, engine temp was only 220 but no way was she going to start up again, wouldn't even fire, and she had a very bad sporadic grinding noise coming from the Carter electric fuel pump (next to the fuel tank). Back to Piedmont and AdvanceAuto, a Mr. Gasket 12S MicroElectric fuel pump to the rescue (that's all they had as an emergency replacement for the Carter P4070). Of course the clouds burst about the same time I started loosening fuel lines to change out the pump. I knew I was in trouble when the dripping gas started blowing into my face from two feet away and a small river meandered around my head. But I emerged victorious, soaking wet and covered in mud, but so happy to be done that I started dancing and singing in the rain! Wifey to the rescue again with dry clothes and food, and of course Belle fires right up anxious to go again. But like a lot of us old timers her spirit was greater than her heart, couldn't get her past 50 MPH but it was a smooth 50! Of course that won't do for the 300 miles we still have to go. So we cut our losses and put her back into storage until we can go back for her on New Year's week-end. This time with a new ignition coil (for the misfiring and peace of mind) and the proper Carter P4070 pump (thank you RockAuto!).
All in all, the first leg of this saga was an adventure and a total success, all we wanted was to get her out of Cullman storage and back home with us. She may not be home but she IS out of Cullman, much more road worthy with all her new parts, and best of all... we're Streamers again! Thank you Lord, merry Christmas to us!
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:09 PM   #2
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SWEET! and a very happy and prosperous New 2013 to Silver Belle & family!
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:31 PM   #3
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Belle Rides Again!

Greetings buckwheat!

Congratulations on awakening your sleeping beauty with comparatively minimal problems!

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckwheat View Post
Hi All,
We've been out of the A/S loop since we had to put our 1987 345 MH "Silver Belle" in storage in July, 2008. The planets and savings account finally aligned so we could bring her home to H'ville, NC from Cullman, AL. What a joy and a journey to finally get her (almost) back! Needless to say she needed LOTS of TLC to get her down the road... 6 new tires (thank you McGriff's Tire Center, they went to Belle and gave a her a full service tire upgrade, complete with new stems and balancing beads for only $1546!), plus new coach battery and wiper blades from O-Reilly's. That's all she needed to fire up and drive away after sitting for 4 and 1/2 years. Of course she was broken into, nothing was taken, but now we have a deadbolt with no door latch and the obligatory bent door. Had to clear out lots of beasties... one 5' snake skin, 4 dead mice, and enough sleeping wasps to fill a barn (they really liked the spare tire and water heater compartments). WD-40 is a GREAT wasp killer!
So after a short brake test in the parking lot and its out the gate we go! A quick 72 gallon fill-up ($240, ouch!) and we're off! The first 60 miles were great, she was just purring along happy to be finally kicking up her heels at a lovely 60 MPH, and then the fun started... kept losing power and misfiring, could barely get to 40 MPH, finally had to pull her over for night time roadside repairs on US 278 just past Gadsden, AL. My first thought was a fuel problem... filter blockage or pump failure. So back to Gadsden with Wifey (my faithful backup with a car and tools) for another $80 spending spree at O'Reilly's on fuel pumps (mechanical and electric) plus inline filter. Of course only the filter was the right part, the engine pump fit but had the wrong inlet, the electric was an in-tank unit and couldn't be used at all. Two hours after stopping we're back on the road with no significant improvement, finally stopped for the night in Piedmont, AL, 90 miles from where we started in Cullman, AL.
Day 2, leaving Piedmont and all seems well until she heats up and the power losses hit us again, this time with a vengeance! Coasted into a feed store parking lot with no power, engine temp was only 220 but no way was she going to start up again, wouldn't even fire, and she had a very bad sporadic grinding noise coming from the Carter electric fuel pump (next to the fuel tank). Back to Piedmont and AdvanceAuto, a Mr. Gasket 12S MicroElectric fuel pump to the rescue (that's all they had as an emergency replacement for the Carter P4070). Of course the clouds burst about the same time I started loosening fuel lines to change out the pump. I knew I was in trouble when the dripping gas started blowing into my face from two feet away and a small river meandered around my head. But I emerged victorious, soaking wet and covered in mud, but so happy to be done that I started dancing and singing in the rain! Wifey to the rescue again with dry clothes and food, and of course Belle fires right up anxious to go again. But like a lot of us old timers her spirit was greater than her heart, couldn't get her past 50 MPH but it was a smooth 50! Of course that won't do for the 300 miles we still have to go. So we cut our losses and put her back into storage until we can go back for her on New Year's week-end. This time with a new ignition coil (for the misfiring and peace of mind) and the proper Carter P4070 pump (thank you RockAuto!).
All in all, the first leg of this saga was an adventure and a total success, all we wanted was to get her out of Cullman storage and back home with us. She may not be home but she IS out of Cullman, much more road worthy with all her new parts, and best of all... we're Streamers again! Thank you Lord, merry Christmas to us!
What you are experiencing is quite familiar to me. It seems like I get to go through similar theatricts with both of my Cadillacs (1975 and 1984) any time that they are allowed to remain in storage for more than 12-months. The 1984 gets the award for being the most tempramental as its fuel injectors react very negatively to prolonged storage reacting with all of the symptoms that you describe plus running trmendously rich. The 1975 typically reacts with a frozen heat riser valve . . . almost always freezes in the closed position . . . . causes the firewall to get so hot that the brake fluid in the master cylinder vaporizes . . . and suddenly no brakes . . . with other symptoms paralleling those that you describe.

Good luck with your next retrieval process!

Happy Holidays!

Kevin
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Old 12-23-2012, 02:37 PM   #4
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Hendersonville , North Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 88
Thanks VM, and a Merry Christmas to you and yours! And Kevin, thanks for the sentiments and sharing your re-birthing pains, ya gotta love these old GMs, it's hard to knock 'em down for long! Good luck in keeping yours going and let's hope the parts stay plentiful for all of us!

So what does a neglected 345 look like after 4+ years in the sultry South? Here's a before and few after shots... she still looks hot going down the road!

For those in the know, how do I safely remove all the black mold without damaging the clearcoat and aluminum? I've read that bleach and/or vinegar solutions are the way to go except on these A/S finishes, so recommendations anyone?
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Old 12-30-2012, 12:02 AM   #5
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Hendersonville , North Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 88
Belle's Homecoming!

Quick note to wrap this up,
- Belle touched down in our driveway at 11:45 PM this evening, it was a dark and snowy night...
- 300 miles later, the right fuel pump got us home with no problems. Can't say the same for the electrical and cooling systems, the whole dash has gone a bit wonky... fuel gauge is hard over to the right, the tach routinely goes full circle and then hovers at random places, the voltmeter started out at a nice 13.5 volts but was 10.something at the end of the trip, warning lights galore popping in and out, all random, all wrong, except for the "HOT" light. That one was real, as was the overheating and roadside water refill. The main fan clutch quit working so no cooling there, the aux fans failed as well, so we had to hot wire them to keep them on full time, problem solved!
- The rest of the trip was a breeze except for the high wind gusts on I-85 and I-26, thought I was going to get blown right off the road! Between that and the night time driving, it was a wee bit stressful, but it all ended well.
- Can't wait to get her back in shape for all the rallies this year!
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:38 PM   #6
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Hendersonville , North Carolina
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View from the top...

Here's a couple of shots of Belle's topside, she's looking pretty fair considering her unsheltered life. Her awnings need a good cleaning, her body a good wash and wax, and maybe one day a bit of polishing for that shiny look! On the repairs side, the list is quite long and extensive but nothing terribly difficult. My biggest challenge so far is figuring how to get the radiator out, especially disconnecting that top transmission line connection, to get it re-cored. More repair threads to follow in the Classic and Mechanics forums. Happy streaming!
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:23 PM   #7
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1995 34' Excella
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What an adventure you had getting "Belle" back home. I really admire your ability to trouble shoot and repair on the fly. Since you were able to get over all those hurdles to get Belle home, getting through the list of repairs should not be to bad for you.

Looking forward to meeting you at a rally if our paths should cross there.

You might try Borax to kill the mould, a solution of 1 cup per gallon of water. You can buy borax in the laundry section of a grocery store.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckwheat View Post
Quick note to wrap this up,
- Belle touched down in our driveway at 11:45 PM this evening, it was a dark and snowy night...
- 300 miles later, the right fuel pump got us home with no problems. Can't say the same for the electrical and cooling systems, the whole dash has gone a bit wonky... fuel gauge is hard over to the right, the tach routinely goes full circle and then hovers at random places, the voltmeter started out at a nice 13.5 volts but was 10.something at the end of the trip, warning lights galore popping in and out, all random, all wrong, except for the "HOT" light. That one was real, as was the overheating and roadside water refill. The main fan clutch quit working so no cooling there, the aux fans failed as well, so we had to hot wire them to keep them on full time, problem solved!
- The rest of the trip was a breeze except for the high wind gusts on I-85 and I-26, thought I was going to get blown right off the road! Between that and the night time driving, it was a wee bit stressful, but it all ended well.
- Can't wait to get her back in shape for all the rallies this year!
Fred, sounds like an exciting trip Somewhat similar to the maiden voyage in our 310 where I had to do some rewiring to get the heat to come on and the lights to work in the middle of January in Georgia.

Great write up by the way.

Your dash problems could very well turn out to be a bad ground issue. That would be the first thing I would check out when you start your troubleshooting efforts.

Brad
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckwheat View Post
Here's a couple of shots of Belle's topside, she's looking pretty fair considering her unsheltered life. Her awnings need a good cleaning, her body a good wash and wax, and maybe one day a bit of polishing for that shiny look! On the repairs side, the list is quite long and extensive but nothing terribly difficult. My biggest challenge so far is figuring how to get the radiator out, especially disconnecting that top transmission line connection, to get it re-cored. More repair threads to follow in the Classic and Mechanics forums. Happy streaming!
What a couple of great pix of the Classic Motorhome. Looks like Belle has her 'wings' spread and ready to fly with all of the awnings open.
Especially like the Airstream logo on the A/C units. Something else to be on the lookout for, huh?
Thanks, Derek
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:11 PM   #10
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The Airstream AC decals were still available a few years back, I picked up a couple at a dealer.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:21 PM   #11
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
Hendersonville , North Carolina
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Hi all, thanks for the great comments!

TouringDan, using Borax looks promising, I've not seen that solution for cleaning mold from the aluminum, and I've looked pretty extensively. Since I have so much to remove, I'll try all the suggestions from AirForums and post back which worked the best. As for doing repairs on the fly, it kind of goes along with owning these classics, by the time you get one running reliably you have added a LOT of experience and tools to your box. Maybe we'll see you and the other great forum members at a rally soon, we have three lined up after repairs are done... Alumilina in March (NC), SpringStream in April (GA), and the MoHo's in May (TN).

Bkahler, I'm sure you're spot on with the ground issues. Rust really takes its toll on what used to be a good connection, and after 25 years there's lots of rust. I'm pulling the dash tomorrow to get deep into it!

Crazeevw, I have to agree, she does look ready for take off! We saw her from our balcony and couldn't resist the cool topside shot, not many of those on the forums. As for the A/C decals, those are factory originals! We got lucky with Belle, all of the POs worked hard to keep her all original and in good running order, particularly Dr Joe ("Winner" on the forums). We still have the Lestek alternator and regulator, the Univolt, Sony cassette radio, and a factory electronic doorbell in the monitoring panel above the sink (does ANYONE else have that?). Also, I'm pretty sure this radiator has never been removed (until today!)...
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Old 02-17-2013, 06:18 PM   #12
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Speaking from 30+ years doing collision repair, mechanical and fixing busted a$$ race cars, always start diagnosing electrical gremlins with grounds. Next is corroded and sometimes just dirty connections. I had a 12 volt issue that popped up every 3rd outing. One of those, you can't fix it if it ain't broke things. Dirty connection on a 12 volt breaker. It's the little things that will get ya!
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