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Old 04-12-2005, 10:48 PM   #1
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Specs/Limitations, etc......

Well, alrighty then! I have been looking at GMC motorhomes for years... started serious shopping and ran into an ad for an AS 345... Dang it! I have devoured this site, Fred Hine's and several others. I thought the GMC folks were an army... Y'all have them beat all to heck!
Questions I have:

Approximate towing capacities on 345, 350, 360 classics? (mid eighties to early nineties)
I have about 7000lbs of toys to tow in a 24' boxtrailer.(brakes on both axles)

Are there any Common Defects that are inherent to these coaches? (like the bogie pins on a GMC) I understand the P30 chassis and its common parts. I am referring to the Coach itself, ie the bad frames on the Beatrice Foods trailers.

There is on eBay one of those "Family Funeral Coaches"
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...RK%3AMEWA%3AIT

With the damage and probable Generator replacement or repair and to come up with some sort of bathing option the price seems a bit high. The statement: "Where in the world can you find a Silver Bullett like this for $35,000?"

seems to point to a reserve of 35K.
In all the years and years of experience on here has anyone repaired comparable damage to the rear of a coach and what did it run? (either with or without "professional" help")

The only feasible option I could see for a bathing facility ruins that wonderful pass through storage. ( the coffin hole)
I would be grateful for some input on the ease (yes, I know that is a ludicrous word to use) on installing a tub by removing the top and back to the coffin hole and enlarging the doorway between the rear sofas/bed. I think it would still give (external access) storage from the rear and sides.

Also, where in the world would I put a stovetop?

Has anyone seen a "Hearse" with the tag axle before?
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Old 04-12-2005, 11:24 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums. Yours is the most enjoyable post i've read in a while...
I want to see the finished project - I promise to show up for the tour in black.
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Old 04-13-2005, 06:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boats13
...Approximate towing capacities on 345, 350, 360 classics? (mid eighties to early nineties)...I have about 7000lbs of toys to tow in a 24' box trailer. (brakes on both axles)

Are there any Common Defects that are inherent to these coaches? (like the bogie pins on a GMC) I understand the P30 chassis and its common parts. I am referring to the Coach itself, ie the bad frames on the Beatrice Foods trailers.

....With the damage and probable Generator replacement or repair and to come up with some sort of bathing option the price seems a bit high. ....In all the years and years of experience on here has anyone repaired comparable damage to the rear of a coach and what did it run? (either with or without "professional" help....I would be grateful for some input on the ease (yes, I know that is a ludicrous word to use) on installing a tub by removing the top and back to the coffin hole and enlarging the doorway between the rear sofas/bed. I think it would still give (external access) storage from the rear and sides
Boats13:

What a unique find and welcome to the Forum!

I believe it is safe to say that you have located a "one off" example of Airstream craftsmanship.

I will try to address some of your questions.

If you are seriously interested in this unit, you will probably have to leave your toys at home, or find someone else to tow them. Towing was limited to 2000 lbs total (with trailer brakes) on most all of the units. The main reason for the low tow limit (I think) is the huge overhang behind the drive axel. I strongly believe that the 2000 lb limit is reasonable and should NOT be exceeded by any appreciable amount.

Common defects - none that I am aware of - I think perhaps Beatrice Foods has become a scapegoat for what is an inferred poor design. You have to remember the time of their ownership…the public was demanding a “light” trailer, and something had to be sacrificed….keeping in mind that a new trailer (and cars, most people’s stay in houses, jobs, major appliances, etc.) manufactured in any given year had (and has) a normal “life span” of no more than ten years or so, I think the factory (remember, that as corporations go, Airstream is REALLY small) did a great job of compromising weight and durability. Also, Airstream is in the business of selling new trailers, the fact that they created the premier vintage mobile unit is truly a testimony to the design and work ethic of the company as a whole. Look around and tally how many cars, appliances, etc. purchased prior to 1990 are still around and in use….I know there will be many exceptions, but, in general, most of the used Airstreams on the market have outlived the useful live of their competitors – recognizing that (and the fact that they were not necessarily DESIGNED to last 20 plus years) I think that ALL the owners and workers of the Airstream Corporation have done a bang-up job.

But….with (relative) age comes problems…

Like the trailers, any persistent water leak in MoHo’s will cause problems with the wood floor, and the wood floor to skin issues common to trailers also exists with the MoHo design.

Tires – at 30,000 miles the tires may well be original…most people here on the forum agree that the tires should be replaced every 5 to 7 years – UV and weather degradation could cause tread separation – very expensive to replace side panels torn up by thrown tread ‘gators.

The interior panels are not structural, so you could pretty much do whatever you want with the rear wooden bulkhead…you need to find out the size of the tanks already installed if you are seriously thinking about camping with this unit….most of the freshwater tanks are mounted in the area of the coffin-hole. You may also want to increase the size of the gray and black water tanks.

The life expectancy of the running gear is difficult to pin down – engines and trannies could crater anywhere between 15,000 and 150,000 miles – any attempt to determine a mileage lifespan truly requires a Monte Carlo program generated number. The “Hearse” usage could very well put the numbers at the upper end of the limit, but, then again, maybe not.

Many pieces of the Chassis are common to most other era motor homes, light trucks, and delivery vans (think brown), and I am not aware of any chassis related item that could not be replaced (frame excepted – the rear overhang was factory fabricated by Airstream). Coach and exterior items (especially glass and some panels) are, unfortunately, another matter.

I don’t know if the panels are still available – but if the unit is already painted, it may be a no issue – the dents COULD be pushed out and the remaining creases filled in and painted over – but a proper repair (elimination of all dents and creases) would require panel replacement.

The Honda generator may or may not be an issue – many members sing highly the praises of the Honda generators – I would say that a lot depends on the model and the mounting integrity.

Finally – pricing – it does seem a bit high –

One bit of advice that I may offer – purchase the best condition MoHo (or trailer) you can afford – in hindsight, reviewing the bucks and time I have invested in “redoing” the both the ’87 345 and the ’78 Sovereign, (not taking into account the “therapy” factor), I would have been much better off purchasing newer units.

All things are cyclical – there have been relatively few ‘80’s MoHo’s on the market lately – it may well be that a real influx is due – with choices available the purchaser gains bargaining power.

Luck – keep the Forum posted.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:09 AM   #4
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I would agree that the reserve if 35 is high. There are a number of nice 345's on the market at any time for that price or less. The tow capacity is not going to allow it to handle your 700 pounds. Unfortunately these rigs are set up to tow 2000 or so. My experience is that there are folks towing SUVs and such that weigh a lot more than that, but the specs are not that high. I tow a Saturn which weighs about 2500 and is not issue to pull or stop for that matter.
The funeral coach design may allow you to customize a lot, but also what about the need for a bathroom? Tanks have to be added to accomodate that.
A newer model Airstream motorhome would tow a lot more.
If you are interested the winter issue of Airstream life has an article on the history of the AS Motorhome Classic ...its still available through the magazine's home page.
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:53 PM   #5
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I seem to remember seeing this on auction about a month ago. I wonder if a buyer did not take it or if the reserve was not met. It might be worth asking the seller. $35,000 is way to high unless you are willing to pay for the originality of the unit and in that case you would not want to change it at all. The best advice I was ever given when thinkng of buying my classic is that the purchase price is only the down payment.
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Old 04-14-2005, 06:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boats13
.... not taking into full account the probable 22000lbs plus of MoHo. A pipe dream fueled by the sight of modern Boxes towing their cute matches huge trailers @80 down the pike.
C.T.

Sorry, Dude, but there is a HUGE difference between the modern W chassis from Workhorse and the old P-3X chassis from Chevy.

As far as I know, all of the 345's have max weights of 16,500 lbs.

The unloaded tare of most 345's with full fuel and no water will be around 15,000 lbs. Mine was almost 15,200 lbs. If you purchase one, make sure you get and record a good scale reading to establish a base line weight.

Outside access storage is also limited when compared to the SOB boxes.

Despite all of the shortcomings, many of us are still delighted to pour time and money at our projects - they are truely unique and distinct modes of transportation - on almost every trip someone will bestow a "thumbs up" on the vehicle - mostly from younger people - older people will tend to come up an talk to you about it.....lots of payback for the blood, sweat, and tears invested.
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Old 04-14-2005, 06:54 AM   #7
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Dennis said it well. Most of us love and enjoy our older Classics, in spite of the lack of storage and tow capacity and power and hard to repair items, and hard to find parts that sometimes cost too much, and so on. It is still rewarding to own one and use it as we do.
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Old 04-15-2005, 09:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boats13
Sorry, Dude, but there is a HUGE difference between the modern W chassis from Workhorse and the old P-3X chassis from Chevy.

Do you mean the frame itself?
I understand that AS fabricated the tail frame (and tag axle mounts etc) The spring rates are very different for any given application... How are the tag axles sprung? air bag or torsion or leaf or coil?????????
I can just see the wrinkles in the aluminum and cracking frame with that lonnnnnnnnnng moment arm behind the tag axle.

The steering components should be the same.. We have customers that purchase tie rod ends etc ..... all keyed to the p30 chassis...454/t400/corporate or Dana 70/80 rear ends?
What is the drive ratio in most? Has anyone experimented with sticking in a Modern Vortec/Allison with attendant computers for repower? Sometimes wrecks can be had cheeeeeeeeeeeeap.
C.T.

You had mentioned a MoHO weight of 22,000 lbs. I was merelly pointing out that the MAX total weight of the '80's 345 model is 16,500 lbs. The tag is a torsion (live torqued rubber) design, the main axle is an Airstream installed air supported design with no metal spring action at all in the rear.

The rear overhang frame was also installed by Airstream - they had to build it light, so now I consider it to be a "weak link" in the overall design. The primary weak link, in my opinion, is the P-32 front coil suspension with the air bag insert secondary support. It simply is not robust enough to support any increased weight a body or drive train modification may impose on it. While the modern 8.1 liter Vortec is close to the weight of the 454, the Allison mated to it (by computer) is heavier than the TH-475 installed in most stock 345's.

The rears are Dana 70's with the 10.54 ring gear at a 4:56 ratio.

Highest weight rating of a modern P-30 series chassis is 18,000 lbs. Tow capacity is not much to brag about.
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Old 04-15-2005, 04:22 PM   #9
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I must thank all of you for all your info!

Sorry about the formatting faux pas.
I actually miscommunicated with the 22k figure I should have said MoHo GCVW of 22k ... probably something I read on some workhorse w chassis that stuck in my head.
LOL, Dennis, that makes sense about the front end being a weak link, we sell lots of parts for the repair of front ends...
I am suprised at the ratio being that high. I figured they had deeper gears... the wheel/tire combo must be a bit smaller than I had thought. If I remember correctly, this translates to around 3k rpm around 60-65?
I must find one nearby to crawl under/over/around/through...
Are most of them hydroboosted or that big dbl vac?
C.T.
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Old 04-15-2005, 07:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boats13
...If I remember correctly, this translates to around 3k rpm around 60-65?... Are most of them hydroboosted or that big dbl vac?
C.T.

You're dead on on the cruise speeds, at 3000 RPM I do 25 in first, 40 in second, and 63 in third. As far as I know, they are all hydroboosted.

Don't try to stop or make a tight turn when the engine stops - had an engine problem due to the rear electric fuel pump - it neither stops NOR turns without the hydroboost.

For specific questions the Forum has a pretty good search function - just put in one or two words at a time specific to your question....such as "hydroboost" or "replace front air bags"...sometimes you may have to modify the search for spelling or synonyms (hydro-boost or power steering).

Luck on your search.
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Old 04-15-2005, 08:17 PM   #11
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More info from the sellers of the Hearse...

They might not be regular Airstreamers......


Hi,
This is C.T. Woods, I have asked a couple of question that automatically replied to an old email addy of mine.
Through further (intense) study of your pictures. I came to some conclusions. Please correct me if I am wrong.
The restroom compartment is opposite the fridge/microwave stack?

CORRECT

I had previously thought it was aft of the fridge/microwave stack on the driver's side.
Just aft of the fridge/microwave are those doors storage?

STORAGE CABINETS/CLOSETS TO LEFT OF MICRO

When you referred to a "grey water" tank did you mean the one the comode dumps into?

YES
I believe we may have been miscommunicating there.

Is there any frame damage under the right rear?

NONE THAT I AM AWARE OF

Is the Honda a watercooled genset?

I DON'T BELIEVE SO, BUT NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT A GENSET IS.

Does the rear back up camera still work?

THE BACK CAMERA IS NOT DAMAGED TO MY KNOWLEDGE, AND THE MONITOR LIGHTS UP WITH NO PICTURE. I WOULD THINK THAT IT WOULDN'T TAKE MUCH TO GET THE SYSTEM WORKING, BUT HAVEN'T TAKEN THE TIME TO CHECK IT OUT.

How old (timewise, not miles) are the tires? NOT SURE - 3 YEARS MAYBE - I

DON'T SEE WEATHERCHECKING ON THEM AND THEY HAVE AT LEAST 1/2" TREAD.

Do you have the maintence records on the coach?

WE WOULD HAVE TO DO SOME DIGGING. THE COACH HASN'T BEEN USED THIS PAST YEAR.

Is it wired (with controller) for electric brakes on a trailer?
NO

I am currently attempting to find parts for the damaged section to get an idea of repair cost. -

YOU MIGHT CHECK WITH (email address witheld until the person confirms this and does not mind it being posted on an open forum). I BELIEVE HE FIXES AIRSTREAMS.

Does it have the standard "heat exchanger" hot water heater? (hot water from the engine while underway)

NOT SURE WILL HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT

Are the letters painted on or decals? YES

GREAT QUESTIONS

Curiously,

C.T. Woods
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Old 04-15-2005, 08:33 PM   #12
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Are the letters painted on or decals? YES
Thats awsome
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Old 04-15-2005, 10:40 PM   #13
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paint or decal.........

Quote:
Originally Posted by richardt
Thats awsome
LOL, well at least I know now that I did not hallucinate their existence.....
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Old 04-18-2005, 06:36 PM   #14
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The hearse went cheap!

High bidder was 16,200.... estimate I got on repairs to the shell were 5600 to 7100...

C.T.
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