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Old 09-03-2004, 11:15 AM   #1
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Cool 290 & 345

in the next few months i'm looking to buy an airstream mh - i'm looking (on the internet) at silver bullet 290's as it seems just the right size to handle on the road and to live in but they seem rare (the 280's as well). however i see lots of 345's and i'm wondering why so many 345's.
also i'm curious about what i should budget yearly for standard repair - not counting a new engine. fk
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Old 09-03-2004, 03:23 PM   #2
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fk,
Welcome to the forums. 290's are indeed hard to find. 280s and 310's are more common but also more popular for the very reasons you are interested in the smaller, single rear axle units. 325's and 345's are certainly more available on the market most of the time. Not sure why - none of us knows how many were made but the general assumption around here is that there were more 345's made than the others.

A few things to consider regarding size and floorplan. You didn't mention how you will be using the MH. As a 345 owner I'm amazed that we began our search looking at 280's. With three kids and two dogs and a couple of yearly trips in the 2000 mile round trip range, I can't imaging a smaller floorplan.

It's always easier to change a floorplan slightly to meet your needs but you can't "add two feet on" later if your 280 seems too small for your lifestyle. On the other hand you don't need much or travel light then a 280 might be perfect. If you haven't already found it a great resource for floorplan comparisons can be found at Fred's Class A Airstream website:
http://www.airstreammotorhomes.com/

As far as maintenance goes: this depends more on the condition of the MH than anything else. Obviously the longer untis has more systems to deal with (2 roof airs, larger refers, two furnaces...etc.)....which to will require more maintenance but also affers redundancy IMHO.

It also has a lot to do with what you are planning to take on yourself. If you are handy and can work on the rig yourself you can save a lot of money. Chassis parts are pretty cheap and plentiful. Coach parts are pretty much off the shelf from Camping World or you local RV dealership. Things like AC units, generators, etc all require repair/replacement and if they fail at once can easily exceed the cost of a rebuild on your 454.

Good luck with your search. I can tell you they are a blast to own and get a lot of attention.
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Old 09-03-2004, 04:39 PM   #3
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Cool

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Good luck with your search. I can tell you they are a blast to own and get a lot of attention.
thanks for your comprehensive reply steven.

my intention is to semi-retire.

there's be one to two people in rhe rig. so a 280- 290 would be plenty.

i do graphic design and increasingly i don't need to "meet" with my clients- we do everything on the interney, fed ex and phone. i literally can be thousands of miles from the project - in fact the writer might be in washington, the client in toronto and the orchestra in minneapolis. so my plan is to supplement my income by doing graphics on the road.

how does a 345 handle on the road. seems like a lot of rig.

fk
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Old 09-03-2004, 04:54 PM   #4
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fk,

My 345 drove very well. I had no problems. I only got concerned when I looked at the profile for too long. After a while, you forget how long it is.

As for MPG. Budget for 7mpg. Most owners get between 7-9.

I agree with Steven. Lifestyle is key. Twins vs double? Corner bed vs walk around? Rear bedroom? Dinette? Boondocking? Grandkids? Dog? Would you need a dinette to work on? How about a satellite internet? The 345's have more storage.

We had 2 adults, 2 kids, and two dogs in a 345. We did OK.

The 290's are pretty rare. I don'thave many pictures on my site.

Will you be pulling a car (TOAD)?
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Old 09-03-2004, 05:12 PM   #5
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I agree on the rarity, I have never seen one except an occasional photo, very ocassional.
We have a 280, rear bath, enjoy the heck out of it. Two kids, us and the dog.
I would have preferred a 310 rear bedroom, as it also still has the single rear axle.
However, I was happy to find the one I got, as in general the under 32 footers are harder to find.
The Argosy of the late 70's with 28 length and rear bedroom would be a nice find. 280 came in rear bath center twin beds,and center one bed with a dresser opposite it.
The dresser model limits sleeping area and you gain a few drawers.
In any event--get educated as much as you can here on this forum, and start looking when ready.
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Old 09-03-2004, 11:14 PM   #6
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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how does a 345 handle on the road. seems like a lot of rig.
After bringing the suspension back up to stock, she handles very well. I've had the opportunity to drive other units on the P30 and even some big $500K diesels. While the 345 is not as nice as a big heavy 45' Bluebird its also much nicer than a same size "white box" on a P30 chassis.

To be honest once you are moving forward it's pretty easy to drive. Hard 90 degree right turns, backing up and turning in parking lots just take a little more planning and patience. One thing I do recommend if you are planning to "live" onboard for extended period would be to go for the rear bedroom floorplans. It's very nice to have two "zones" to live/work in.

We ended up with the 345 after deciding to buy a 310. We felt like the 310 could've worked for us but I just kept finding 345's for less money than the 310's. Then we got a really good deal on our unit and went for it. Again...now we can't imagine anything smaller for our needs.

I use mine for work as well but to visit customers around the US. It makes a great platform for working on the road....even when I'm by myself. I use the forward are for a "living room"...the dinette for my laptop and work and the bedroom as well a bedroom. It's larger than a few NYC apartments I've seen but completely portable
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Old 09-04-2004, 12:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by frisco kid
in the next few months i'm looking to buy an airstream mh - i'm looking (on the internet) at silver bullet 290's as it seems just the right size to handle on the road and to live in but they seem rare (the 280's as well). however i see lots of 345's and i'm wondering why so many 345's.
also i'm curious about what i should budget yearly for standard repair - not counting a new engine. fk

Not that I'm biased or anything, but I think a 310 is exactly what you need.
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