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Old 05-11-2009, 06:46 PM   #1
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1965 26' Overlander
1990 34' Excella
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1975 20' Argosy 20
Upper Black Eddy , PA
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1975 20' Argosy MH--need some advice

I plan on starting to do some work on the MH. Went down to look at it yesterday. Aside from the obvious interior and appliance work that needs to be done, I'm really worried about the rear-end. I did a cursory look underneath yesterday and--it was a little (alot) scary!! There seemed to be alot of rust through all over the place.

After purchasing the MH last year, I was able to drive it about three hours to where it resides now. It hasn't been moved since. The ride was really rough and the whole thing shook like crazy. The engine (a 350) stalled 3x times when stopping at tolls. I know I need engine and dash work, but right now I'm focused on the rear-end.

Now, I will be hiring out this work--it is completely beyond my skill set (I'm really good with interiors and that's where my talent stops). My question: when is the degree of rust so bad that one should consider a donor chassis? What kind of vehicle would be good candidate for a donor?

Kathleen
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:23 PM   #2
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Kathleen,

One thing that would really help would be if you could post some good detailed photos of the underside. Sometimes things can look worse than they really are (then again sometimes they can be worse than they look as well ).

Several things to think about as far as the rough ride goes. The early 20' Argosy motorhomes (like yours and mine) did not have the later air bag rear suspension, instead they rely on the rear springs for the cushioning effect. The spring leaves are supposed to slide on top of each other as you hit a bump. As the motorhome gets older, corrosion sets in and the individual leaves slide less and less until they reach a point where there is almost no movement at all. This is one of the major causes of rough rides.

There are at least two things you can do to fix things. One would be to buy new replacement leaf springs. Yes they are available and I will likely be doing the same thing, and install them. The other would be to install helper airbags which we will be doing as well.

For a point of reference, on a lot of the older vehicles there were leather "sleeves" that you could buy that are wrapped around the leaf springs to protect them from water and dirt. You were expected to apply grease to the leaves and them wrap them. This allowed the springs to be lubricated which made them slide easier and the sleeves kept the grease clean. There are companies that make these sleeves or if you know how to work with leather you could make your own. Somewhere I have some information on what they would look like.

For the front suspension just figure on rebuilding the entire front end. Replace all the tie rod ends, ball joints, coil springs, drag link and bell cranks. Also install the airbags that go inside the front springs, they really help the ride. The difference in our 310 without and then with bags is like the difference between night and day.

The thought of installing a "donor" chassis is not for the faint of heart and would likely be cost prohibitive. Something to consider only as a very last resort. And that would only work if you had LOTS of money to spend.

I would consider the engine problems minor at this point and wouldn't spend a whole lot of time or money on them until you're 100% certain the rest of the motorhome is worth repairing.

Looking forward to pictures.

Brad
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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1965 26' Overlander
1990 34' Excella
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1975 20' Argosy 20
Upper Black Eddy , PA
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 100
Images: 1
Pics of the MH chassis

Bkahler,
OK-I think i figured out how to post pics!!
So, this is the good, the bad, and a lot of UGLY!!
What do you think?
Kathleen




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Old 05-15-2009, 07:27 PM   #4
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Kathleen, I just got back from a business trip and haven't really taken the time to look your pictures over. However at first glance it looks like the Airstream portion of the framework does need a lot of repair work. My first impression is you wouldn't need need to replace the Chevy chassis, just a bunch of repair work to the additional Airstream framework.

I'll look the pictures over in more detail and give you any further ideas or suggestions.

Hopefully someone else will chime in with some ideas as well.

Hang in there!

Brad
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:21 AM   #5
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Kathleen,

Ok, finally took the time to look the pictures over in more detail. From what I see it sure looks like you've got a lot of metal repair to do. I don't think trying to pull the body and placing it on a different chassis is the answer. The metal that needs repair is part of the body built by Airstream so putting it on a replacement chassis means you're still going to have to repair all of the metal.

I would be surprised if the P-30 chassis is in need of any real repairs. I would find a good welder, someone who makes house calls (yes they do exist!) and have them give you an estimate as to what it would take to do the repairs.

Or you could learn to weld yourself and take care of the repairs. If this was my motorhome that's what I would be doing but then again I enjoy welding .

Good luck!

Brad
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Old 06-11-2009, 08:44 AM   #6
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1965 26' Overlander
1990 34' Excella
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Upper Black Eddy , PA
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Images: 1
Brad,
Thank you for the info. I'm definitely willing to learn how to weld. I have a friend who does do some welding with an arc welder. Not knowing the difference btwn an arc welder and a mig welder--would an arc welder be sufficient for this type of work? I could probably talk my friend into teaching me--is it difficult?
Also, would you cut out the damaged areas or just weld new outriggers in?
Kathleen
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdenault View Post
Brad,
Thank you for the info. I'm definitely willing to learn how to weld. I have a friend who does do some welding with an arc welder. Not knowing the difference btwn an arc welder and a mig welder--would an arc welder be sufficient for this type of work? I could probably talk my friend into teaching me--is it difficult?
Also, would you cut out the damaged areas or just weld new outriggers in?
Kathleen
Kathleen,

Welding is not overly difficult, if you have good attention to detail and are not afraid to get hot and sweaty (and possibly burned a time or two!) then you shouldn't have to much trouble learning.

I might be splitting hairs here but arc welding pretty much covers mig, stick and tig welding.

There are 4 basic types of metal welding processes, gas, mig, tig and stick. Of those mig and stick are probably the ones you would want to consider using. My preferences in welding are mig over stick when possible BUT (there's always a but) I'm not a good enough mig welder to be able to weld overhead and at times vertically. I have better luck with a stick welder when I'm working overhead or vertically. The problem with stick welding is its more difficult to weld properly when dealing with thin metals. However stick does a better job of welding rusty metal than mig does (at least in my limited experience). Based on your photos I'm guessing stick should be your first choice but if your friend has a mig only then its definitely something that would work. Most of your chassis work is going to be welding metal thick enough for stick to be appropriate.

From looking at the pictures it looks like you might be able to fabricate some things ahead of time and then cut out the old rusty sections and weld in your newly fabricated parts.

I'd start by cutting out one section, fabricating a replacement section and then welding it in place. It's going to be a time consuming process but in the end you'll end up with a motorhome in pretty good shape.

Hope this helps.

Brad
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