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Old 03-26-2010, 04:49 PM   #1
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1990 34.5' Airstream 345
Lewiston , Maine
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What kind of condition to expect in a 86 MH?

I'm looking at a '86 Airstream 345. I just had a tech do an exhaustive checkup on it and several issues came up: radiator leaking, spring hitting rear axle, transmission leaking, battery tray rusted out, alternator weak, battery cables poor condition, rear brakes need complete redo, dasch a/c and heat not working, several lights out, tag axle worn, coolant leaking...

The good news is the engine has good compression.

What kind of condition would one expect a MH of this age to be in (oh 91k miles). Would it take 10k to get it road-worthy and would it all have to be done at once? I expected that any vehicle of this vintage would have a lot of what a mechanic would perceive as problems, but that maybe could be worked on over time???

Thanks for any insight... from those who have bought vintage motorhomes!
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:51 PM   #2
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Smile What kind of Condition in 86 M/H?

Since I'm in the middle of a Bauxite refurb, my .02 cents worth. Leaking radiator is first on the list as it could cause overheat and ruin engine at the same time a good radiator shop could address all the coolant leaks.
Leaking transmission would be next. I hate leaks. Rusted out battery tray might be temporarily fixed with plywood until tray can be rebuilt. Weak alternator might be as simple as a belt adjustment or as bad as needing a replacement. Battery cables are definitely a DIY project and pretty easy, but just nasty. Brake Redo is a must, also because stopping is paramount. Replacing lights is not too difficult as a general rule, but lights are very necessary. The dash a/c and heat might be involved with the radiator problem so that might be addressed by those folks. The tag axle and spring info I'm sure someone onthe forum can address those for you. Like George Harrison's song says" its gonna take money, a whole lot of spending money" The more you can do yourself the better, so be handy. Lots of luck!
Mike
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:58 PM   #3
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It looks like the owners have not taken good care of it in recent years and that may be a concern. If you can do repairs yourself, you'll save a lot and with that type of condition, the price should be low.

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Old 03-26-2010, 11:41 PM   #4
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Shops around here charge 100 per hour, if they are good they will do it in less time than you. They will know where the invisible screw is located, they probably have done the job before. Those are the plus side. Minus side is they can screw it up by shortcutting, use the wrong stuff, replace stuff that only needed lubrication, Take a lot of breaks looking up the head mechanic, will have to put job on hold until the part is located etc, etc.
If you do it yourself, you will save money, know how it works, have a better idea about how it is put together.
Good luck, if your mechanic found that many things, check prices and double cost and time to fix.
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Old 03-27-2010, 10:35 AM   #5
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Cool What kind of Condition in 86 M/H?

Start WAAAAY cheap going in. With what youv'e listed repairs really add up faster than you think. I started cheap on our 310, and I have done much of the work myself, but let me assure you, parts aren't cheap. Even with all I have done, we are fast approaching the 6K mark in repairs and refurbs. That includes chassis and coach repairs thus far. You had listed many repairs to the chassis, so I am assuming the coach portion may need many repairs also. I will say this, I have really enjoyed our 1984 310 even though I have worked like a dog on it. See some of the story at South Plains Star > Front click on "Motorhoming with MIke" and you will get the jist of what fixing up a Vintage is all about. Still, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Mike
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Old 03-27-2010, 02:19 PM   #6
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Lewiston , Maine
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Thank you for the information

Thank you all for the information.

Obviously, if I weren't a little crazy, I would walk away from this... money pit.

The interior is great, BTW. As for mechanical systems for the coach they haven't been checked out... just have the seller's word.

I'm wondering if I can get away with 6k in repairs to make it roadworthy enough to drive home, then have work done as needed. But obviously with a radiator and possible transmission and that rear brake job... that's a lot to hope for.

I guess I am assuming that most MHs of this age have some problems. The good news is that the seller was willing to have the whole thing checked out, so I feel that at least he's honest.
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Old 03-27-2010, 04:41 PM   #7
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A coach of this age can require alot of time and money, but I would think for 6k you could get it roadworthy. Get some estimates for these major items that need attention and work that cost back into asking price of owner. After the major repairs for safety purposes are done and its driveable, other repairs can be done as time and money are available. But as others have mentioned each repair tends to leads to another, and another, and another, therefore the money pit. But if their something special about this coach to you, the cost and time to restore and own a vintage AirStream my be worth it, aren't we all just a little crazy?
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