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Old 05-02-2006, 01:00 PM   #1
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1988 34.5' Airstream 345
White Lake , Michigan
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Planning a trip out West

I'm currently getting my 345 '88 AS MH ready to travel out West. I have traveled extensively throughout the South East to Florida and North around Lake Superior. I now would like to retire with the knowledge that I am ready to travel anywhere. I need advice from those that have made the Western trips in these big rigs. I have done alot already, but want someone to share their experience and advice for getting prepared. Any and all advice will be appreciated...Mr. D.
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Old 05-02-2006, 03:51 PM   #2
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1984 31' Airstream310
Dunsmuir , California
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We have driven our 1984 310 Limited MH from Northern California across Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, etc. to Washington DC. Also from here to Arizona, Texas and Louisiana. I'd say that you need to know how your rig will do on long, steep, high, hill climbs in hot weather. And how comfortable you are with very strong cross winds.

You will encounter long stretches with little or no habitation so carry a cell phone and have a good road service policy.
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:16 PM   #3
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Make sure your generator is serviced and running well. You may need to run the roof air while under way to stay cool. Be aware that in the higher altitudes it can be very hot during the day and at or below freezing at night - so make sure the furnaces is in good working condition. Awnings and windshield/window coverings will help keep you cool while camping.

We use MS Streets and Trips with the GPS receiver. It has a pretty good database of RV parks and other vendors (Grocery, movies, auto repair, restaurants, etc.). The mapping capability is useful for planning your route and estimating travel time. The GPS is nice to validate whether you are where you think you are and can generate turn by turn instructions but the user interface is not something I'd want to use while driving, so your navigator needs to be real comfortable with it.

Trailer Life publishes a good guidebook to RV parks and facilities. http://rec.gov is a great reference site as are the Campsite and Boondocking forums here.
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:42 PM   #4
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I've made the trip between San Francisco and East Texas 3 times with only one incident (broken fan belt). The previous posters are right on regarding the grades, cross winds and long stretches without service. The small towns 50 miles from a large town in Ariz. and Calif. raise gas prices way higher than the Pilots, Loves etc. in the large towns. We much prefer to stay in State, National and other tyhpe parks. Many of there along the way. Try to gas up at these places. Good luck. You will love the trip. joe
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Old 05-03-2006, 12:19 PM   #5
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1988 34.5' Airstream 345
White Lake , Michigan
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Thanks to all for your good advice...were you all running your rigs with the 454, 3 speed trans, and typical Banks power pack system or did you do additional work to increase performance for the long grades. Did you have trans and engine oil cooler added on? Did the higher altitudes in the mountains effect your engines and if so how? Were you towing a vehicle? I have traveled out west before but never in my ASMH.... I want to do what I can before I leave...thanks again...Mr. D.
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Old 05-03-2006, 02:44 PM   #6
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Basic Stuff..

Others can answer questions about oil coolers and trans coolers etc.. Having an electric fan to blow air through radiator is another valuable add-on. Towing a vehicle can be done, but there are tradeoffs for manuevering and access to parking and some camping areas...

There are some more basic suggestions to make trip more relaxed.

1. Try to drive early in the day when it's cooler, winds are lighter and less stress.
2. Recognize long distances between towns and destinations, and don't try to average 500 to 600 miles a day.
3. I've seen as much excitement created by braking issues going down big hills as overheating going up... Realize that brakes aren't designed or capable of steady constant application down a 5 mile grade. Downshift and use intermittently to let them cool off, and enjoy smoke coming from others' as they lose braking capacity...
4. Beware of driving east in early morning or west at sunset, as air out here doesn't have helpful filtering properties (smog and humidity) so you can be blinded driving into sun. Even if you're going away from sun, drivers coming towards you are blind.
5. Watch mirrors A LOT to avoid bad surprises by trucks routinely traveling over 80mph. They may be unsafe and irresponsible and uninsured and impaired, and not care...
6. Carry a few of the critical spares with you, like fan or serpentine belts, fuel and oil filters, extra oil and water and coolant. Consider bringing a spare alternator from local discount shop v. cost in the desert...
7. Cell phone won't work off the Interstates, so consider CB radio as well, and maybe even renting satellite phone if you're planning to get way off the beaten path...
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Old 05-04-2006, 12:28 PM   #7
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1988 34.5' Airstream 345
White Lake , Michigan
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Good advice guys....thanks to all again....I have about a year to get my rig to a point where I will be comfortable asking it to perform in the deserts and mountains out West. This summer I plan to go through the entire cooling system...followed by the brakes, tires, and exhaust...My better half would rather I give more effort to the curtains and furniture but I think I have prevailed ....at least for the present....anyone with additional ideas for me to consider during my preparations ... feel free to make comments...essentially I want to beable to go where ever I can find(and afford)gas....thanks again...Mr. D.
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