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Old 06-25-2002, 01:32 AM   #1
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Talking Motorhome purchase

I am a recent trailer buyer who has the motorhome bug. I'm interested in 1980's classic. I'd like to know the major problem areas to watch for. Are the longer (30'+) units
underpowered? Are the air bags a problem? Any hints would be appreciated.
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Old 07-04-2002, 11:41 PM   #2
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Who can help Larry?

bumping the thread back up...
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Old 07-05-2002, 12:15 AM   #3
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Larry,
lenght is more determined by your needs than power. The 454's can handle a big load, when properly maintained and a few extra's added as banks exhaust and a Jacob's Electronic system.
Sleeping capacity and living space are in my opinion the first considerations.
I have a 79 28' which happens to fit my needs perfectly. But, if you ask Fred (1985air345), he would never settle for less than his 34.5 ', even if you would offer him to carry his dead body of in an Airstream hearse.
Properly maintained Airbags are no problem. The rear ones are known to last in excess of ten years. Periodic maintenance and inspection of the airbag system is part of ownership.
Good luck on your endeavor and keep us posted!
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Old 07-05-2002, 06:46 AM   #4
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Doc Joe (Winner) is doing a pretty good job of selling the 345's these days!

Actually I was originally looking for something shorter than 34.5' but when it came up for sale in Altanta at that price, I couldn't resist. We really liked Doc Joe's 270 but they are hard to find. If I had seen his 270, I might have gone the PA (from FL) and bought the 270 for $16,000 that was on RV-Trader Online at the time. You have to like sleeping on a couch and be a close family (which we are) to be happy with the 270.

I was really surprised how easy the 345 was to drive (another story) and how much power it has (even without Banks or Jacobs). I drove it back from Atanta doing 75-80 (for which I was reprimanded by the group when I brough up engine temp!). I can easily out-run any pre-90's RV on the road. I'd have trouble with the SOME of the newer units (Workhorse 8.1 or Diesels).

Seriously Larry, If you are going to be driving in the mountains, I'd make sure to budget for the Banks and Jacobs systems (if the unit doesn't already have them). Hill climbing is not a strong suit of the Chevy P30's.
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Old 07-05-2002, 09:58 PM   #5
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Smile Thanks

Thanks for the info, this is a great site. Where can I get more info on the Banks and Jacob mods?
There is a 1989 37ft for sale in my area, asking $45k. It was so big, it scared me. I can look up the ph# if any one is interested.
Thank you again.
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Old 07-05-2002, 10:35 PM   #6
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San Diego 1983 300
http://adcache.rvtraderonline.com/3/0/8/29056908.htm

HESPERIA, CA
(1980-1981) 'AIRSTREAM EXCELLA 28', Class A, classic, 6.5 gen, 2 roof ac, awn, exc cond, loaded, looks & drives, smogged, ready for immed delivery, sharp, Vin #313376, Range RV Center, www.rangerv.com, dlr, 800-429-6199
http://www.rvtraderonline.com/caddet...0/28605990.htm
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Old 07-05-2002, 10:40 PM   #7
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Jacobs Electronics:
http://www.jacobselectronics.com/pro...rgypaks/rv.htm
Banks power:
http://www.bankspower.com/index.cfm
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Old 07-06-2002, 03:36 PM   #8
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Diesel

Thanks again for the help. I will be following up the leads.
Also, a 1982 31' "tubo diesel" is being offered. Does anyone have any particular info about these? I assume they are rare.
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Old 07-06-2002, 06:41 PM   #9
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I have a 280, 1982 model which my family of 4 enjoys quite a bit.
We are in the midst of a 2 1/2 week road trip now, and so far other than a minor electrical repair, it has been very smooth. Travelled up mountains in NC,VA and further...
We like the smaller size, as it has been very practical for us, although I think the bigger 310, which is only 3 feet onger but has a rear bedroom, would be a great choice. The 280 and 270 hav either no bedroom, or like mine, a twin with rear bath.
As for the Isuzu diesel, it is a terrific engine, made a long time, and quite reliable. Also gets 14-16 mpg, where the 454 chevy gets only 7-9 on a good day. The Isuzu would be a bit more to repair if it does break, but they don't do that very often. I tried hard to find a 310 turbo diesel, but they are rare as hounds teeth as they say. I was able to locate over a three month search- 345's, three different 280's, and one 290 diesel, which I could not buy fast enough...and missed out. Good luck in your quest! These rigs are worth every bit of effort you put in.
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Old 07-06-2002, 09:14 PM   #10
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The feedback is wonderful. There is an '82 31' tubodiesel forsale in the Sacramento area. It has a very rough,worn interior(some loose panels, missing parts,etc.) It was outside in Texas and New Mex.
and the exterior shows it. Seems to run pretty well. Asking price is $19500. Tel #(916) 276-7907 if anyone is interested.
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Old 07-07-2002, 12:15 PM   #11
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Motorhome Bug Bitten

I guess this thread is a good place for me to jump in and introduce myself and explain my interest. I'm in my third Airstream trailer since the mid-70s -- this time a vintage coach, a ' 68 Tradewind which I have restored except for polishing the skin which is next. Having enjoyed that project it's time to look forward to the next and I've developed an interest in the classic Airstream motorhomes. I spent several months exploring the GMC classic motor homes after a whirlwind trip to Orlando to Jim Bound's GMC Coop to look at a ' 75 Argosy motorhome with only 4,600 miles on the clock -- but that's another story. I've decided I'm not smart enough or rich enough to own a classic GMC with their unending and expensive maintenance and repair problems I read about on their discussion list. Besides that, the two GMC coaches I road tested had sloppy steering and did not drive well. That's my excuse for running off the road onto the shoulder twice in both coaches. Thus ended my GMC motorhome interests.

Susan and I and our 11 year old daughter, Phoebe, live in Atlanta in a restricted neighborhood that frowns on RVs in general and requires that they be parked where they can't be seen from the street. I had to take down several trees and do other landscaping (also put in a concrete pad) in order to get my 24' trailer behind the house using a front hitch on my truck. That means that a 28' Airstream will be the largest coach that I could accommodate. I'm here to learn about motorhomes, floor plans, maintenance, upgrades, features, prices, values, etc. I'm sure I will benefit from the collective wisdom of the group.

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Old 07-07-2002, 04:25 PM   #12
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Hi Jim,
Welcome aboard! I am sure the members of this forum will also benefit from your years of experience.
Kept in proper working condition, the Airstream Motorhomes handle real well and are pleasure to drive.
My only concern and attention goes to avoiding certain bumps and pulling out of driveways and gas stations, so I will not bottom out on the receiver hitch.
Driving the coach is always fun, people always stare, point and wave. I became to understand that
it is not me they wave at, but instead it is their own dream.
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Old 07-07-2002, 09:11 PM   #13
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Jim,

Welcome! I just added a matrix with the year and lengths made. That may help you. There was a 25' unit for sale not long ago. Only a few were made from 90-92. I have some photos of a 1992 250 on my site.

I'm on my second restricted neighborhood. I keep it in storage.

"Many are those that can drive a short motorhome, but only a few brave individuals have the guts to drive a 345!"
-anonymous quote from an Airstream internal memo as a reason for cutting back production of the "big dogs". (just kidding )
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Old 07-07-2002, 11:05 PM   #14
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Steering

Glad to see other new guys come on board. The 81 that I just drove seem to have very vague (loose) steering. Without a lot of
RV experience, I can't really evauluate it. Is this common?
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Old 07-07-2002, 11:16 PM   #15
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There are many mods/upgrades that can be done to the P30 chassis that the classic Airstream motor home is built on. There are steering stablilzers as well as tighter aftermarket steering gearboxes that can be installed. Remember that this chassis was originally designed as a step van/bread truck. If you are looking for handling like a car, you will not find it. But you can be comfortable even with standard hardware. I have only an upgraded steering stabilizer and I have no complaints. I see room for improvement but I belive we all have a slight amount of "wander" in the way we go down the road. The normal things still apply, Alingment, inflation, tire wear, air bag pressure, etc. All can make the steering feel weird. So I would advise to look for the common front end issues. Worn tires, loose ball joints, etc. If the rest of the motorhome passes muster steering can be fixed.
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Old 07-08-2002, 01:08 PM   #16
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Thanks for the welcome, gentlemen. Glad to be here and soaking up all the classic Airstream motorhome information I can. Thanks also for posting the model year/length matrix. That is a help in sorting out the options.

I'd like to have a separate bedroom but I'm getting the impression that didn't happen until the 31' length (which is longer than I can park at home). Did any of the shorter models have a separate (rear) bedroom floor plan? We can manage a couch that converts into a bed if necessary but a real bed would be nice.

What was the earliest year and the latest year that the classic aluminum Airstreams were made? I believe there was some production overlap between the painted Argosy and the aluminum Airstream and the classic Airstream production continued for a while after the fiberglass motorhomes were added to the Thor line of RVs. I just don't know the relevant years.
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Old 07-08-2002, 03:50 PM   #17
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The aluminum motorhomes were made from 1974 to 1996.

The overlap is in 1978 between Argosy and Airstream Excella models.

1978 28' (A) has a rear bedroom.
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Old 08-20-2003, 11:29 PM   #18
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buyer searching and learning

Hi all -

I'm digging into all of the resources you have mentioned above, and don't see any reference to price levels for the MH (Argosy's specifically). Does anyone know of an online resource to ballpark a resonable purchase price for an AS MH? I'm really impressed by vintageairstream's guide - but didn't see any specific price list for the motoring species! Any help would be appreciated. In the mean time I'll be watching ebay and the various listings like a hawk! Thanks.

Chris
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Old 08-21-2003, 02:30 AM   #19
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Chris,

Welcome to the forum!

Pricing tends to run all over the map. There is a 20 foot Argosy on Ebay right now for 14K. A month ago a 20 foot 74 in lesser condition went for less than 6K. 28 footers seem to run from 8K to 12K depending on condition. You ned to look at the market and see what coaches are going for to get a feel for the deal factor. It is good to do your research ahead of time.

One thing I will say is usally when you find one you want you have to move quick. Most do not stay up for sale long.
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Old 08-21-2003, 10:20 AM   #20
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ask/sell price excel spdsheet

Brett, thanks for the good advice.

All - I'm going to start a ask/sell tracking spreadsheet for a few months, tracking year, mileage, mileage on engine and tranny since rebuild, etc. If anyone has something like this that they did before their purchase I sure would appreciate a copy. Let me know if you want a copy of mine.

The places I know to look are:

www.rvtraderonline.com
www.ebaymotors.com
www.airstream.net
www.airstreamcentral.com
www.SellAirstreams.com
www.Airstream.net
www.vintagecampers.com


Any other ideas? Thanks a lot!
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