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Old 08-20-2006, 10:47 PM   #1
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'76 Argosy Motor Home Expertise

I have a chance to acquire a 26 foot 1976 Argosy motor home for free. It's owned by a relative who lives about 4500 miles away, and at the moment doesn't run all that well, but does run. I need to bring it that 4500 miles to work on it, but it has 150,000 miles on it at the moment, and I wonder how much is left on that motor. Does this sound like a good deal or a money pit to you who are experienced at such things? Would you just drive it or would it be better to ship it by train or truck?

The exterior needs some limited body work; the interior has some non-standard parts such as the driver's and passenger's seats, table, etc. But it appears in pretty good shape for a 30-year-old coach.

Most important to me is what this unit will pull? It has the typical 454 Chevy engine. Will it tow a car? Will it pull a Bambi International?

Economically, is it better to restore or modernize?

These are just the basic questions to decide to go get it or leave it alone. I've experienced other "free" things, like my free dog whom I dearly love, but who cost about $2400 in leg operations once we were lost in love. While he's a great dog now, I could do without another free deal like that!

What can you advise?
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Old 08-20-2006, 11:17 PM   #2
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Hi bhunt. Be careful with this project, you may fall in love like you did with your dog. It happened to me with my 79 Airstream motorhome. I bought it in the Pittsburg Pa area and drove it to Texas. I had 4 breakdowns on the way, fuel filter, oil line break, fan belt broke and broke a fuel line. I love this motorhome even if it has broken down twice more (airbag suspension). It takes a while to get all the glitches fixed but everything is repairable and not on the expensive side. I would urge caution for such a long trip, get a mechanic to check the motorhome out and count on changing the belts, hoses and such. Also, the tires should be checked for age cracks, and rot.. Check the forum threads about towing. I believe that these motorhomes can be beefed up to haul a pretty good load. The motor can do it. Good luck with this adventure. joe
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Old 08-20-2006, 11:31 PM   #3
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bhunt,
Free is always a good deal...but be honest about giving this dog a good home. In other words, if you're mechanically inclined and know your way around engines and suspensions and brakes; bringing one back can be rewarding.

I would speculate that you won't make it home without a few setbacks. At 150K miles all I can say is that I hope that is not the original engine. If so will need to be replaced along with the tranny before or after your trip. Tires and brakes are another consideration for any long journey. Of course there's cooling systems, belts, pumps, etc.

Other than the big items previously mentioned, as rvlover pointed out, most parts are cheap (brakes, bearings, etc.) but mechanics are not. This is a project you need to feel comfortable taking in the DIY category otherwise it will quickly become a money pit.

The restoration/rennovation question is a personal choice...but I think chasing down older parts is for some people and not for others. We chose rennovation for our MoHo and haven't looked back. Part of the apeal in our purchase was that it was enought of a basket case when we bought it that we didn't feel bad about ripping things out.

On towing, many are limited to a 200 pound receiver. However recently one of the forum members has had his hitch upgraded to tow 10,000 lbs.

Good luck and let us know what you end up doing.
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
On towing, many are limited to a 200 pound receiver.
Correction - 2,000 lb receiver.
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Old 08-21-2006, 02:30 PM   #5
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check out Brett's great adventure thread, he brought an Argosy home from the North West to Florida....quite a trip to say the least....might give you some insight.
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Old 08-21-2006, 06:15 PM   #6
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Hello BHunt,what do you mean it doesn't run all that well? motor or tranny or both?those 454 are real good pulling vechiles just put on a better hitch.I bought a 77 argosy with 100,00 miles on it. I put all new belts,hoses, antifreese.brake lines master cyl , hydro boost.tranny flush& filter.all new shocks.had it done at the garage that takes care of all my other car truck and van. was well worth it to me.the engine has very good compresion no knocks or rapsI( checked it with a stethoscope)If it needs to be rebuilt It will be worth it.The price is right..Even if you put $5000.00 in it you will be well ahead of the game,seen oter people buy one for 7 grand and have to replace motor and tranny $5500.00......
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Old 08-24-2006, 11:28 AM   #7
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Thanks to all you Argosy folks for your answers. This leaves me solidly on the fence! But that's not your fault. My relative seems to think that the carb has a sticky float, that's all. The rest of the engine/transmission seems to work fine. This coach has almost new tires. But I will have to get serious and do a compression test, check hoses and belts, brakes, etc. See, I'm learning. Thanks again for the help.
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Old 08-24-2006, 11:46 AM   #8
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Yes those old rochester carbs are known to develop sticky floats.I put on a new edelbrock #1407 carb and it runs better gas mileage went up1 1/2mpg power went up alot purrs like a kitten..
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:56 PM   #9
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I am seriously looking at purchasing a 1975 26' Argosy, but am nervous about a couple of points that I would appreciate your guys' input on, namely:

1. The model we're looking at has recently been recarpeted everywhere, except the 'cockpit' where there is a lot of kind of rough looking plywood covering the engine and around the passenger footwell and seat - is this normal, I kind of expect something a little 'higher quality' looking from Airstream? Should I be check under the new carpeting for anything obvious?

2. What is the situation with old propane tanks? I know when I take an old cylinder in they tell you that you need to get it inspected, does this hold true for tanks built in to a vehicle? Can I easily remove it to inspect?

3. When I drove the RV, it appeard fine except the steering kind of 'snatched' when I applied a lot of lock, again, is this to be expected or symptomatic of something?

4. The generator is an old Onan 4KW unit (250+ hours) that apparently runs, but does not output any juice, is it possible to 'easily' switch it out for a newer model? It was also a major pain to slide it back in place and the rear bedroom has a weird cabinet that when opened reveals a 'wall' of aluminum shielding the genny, is this typical or a sign of some home engineering?

5. The in dash AC is inoperative, this appears to be a common complaint, is there a common solution?

6. I hear rumnors of suspect AC wiring on the Argosy, does anyone have any opinions on this?

I hope that this is not too many questions for a single posting, I really appreciate any advice anyone can provide.

Thanks and regards,

Andrew
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Old 08-27-2006, 01:57 PM   #10
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Andrew,
These are great questions. Hopefully someone with an Argosy will chime in on a few.

I few generic notes:

1. All of them have plywood floors. Check for soft spats near th door and windows, bath, etc. Signs of floor rot. Carpeting the "cockpit" is something many owners tacke themselves and is doable as a DIY project. Most recommened installing sound/heat proffing before installing new carpet. We opted to laminate wood flooring instead of carpet in the coach...truely, anything from the hom center will work for this application

2. Propan tanks on motorhomes are large and bolted to the frame. I visualy inspection might show surface rust but the regulator is something you might consider upgrading.

3. What do you mean "lock"? Do you mean turning all of the way to one side or the other?

4. Generators are replacable components. A few people have replaced old Onans with water cooled Honda's. Space for installation seems to be the only limitation.

5. - Yes, no dash AC is common. These are all Chevy P30 parts so any auto parts store can sell you what you need.

6. Never heard AC wiring rumors. Perhaps an Argosy owner can help with this one.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 08-27-2006, 02:22 PM   #11
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Thanks Steve:

I really appreciate such a knowledgeable, and prompt, response. You are correct by my use of the term 'lock', really I just cranked down hard left and there was a clunking sensation (cannot recall any accompanying noise), might possibly be due to an ageing power steering pump?

My comment about the wiring was more generic as I have read reports of the 110 V wiring being 'dodgey' (another expression revealing me as an ex-pat Brit. it means potentially dangerous!)

Thanks to the help of dedicated people like yourself, I think we're going to take the plunge and (hopefully) join the many happy Airstream users out there.

Cheers,

Andrew
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Old 08-27-2006, 06:42 PM   #12
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Hello abridge01,I have a 77 Argosy 24 ft. my dash ac is gone but if you have a ac on the roof run it while driving works fine for me..also the engine runs cooler with out the dash ac on.I would have the generator checked first be fore replacing, saves a few $$$.oops I jumped the gun here ... Ihave my gen running then put on the roof ac..
hope this helps..
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Old 08-27-2006, 09:08 PM   #13
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Andrew,
The "clunking" could be something simple like lower ball joints, loose wheel bearings. tie rod ends, etc. The PS pumps on these are hydroboost units which provide hydraulic pressure to both the steering and brakes. If it's in the pump you might feel it in both the wheel and the pedal.

Like Bob, my dash air does not work and we use the roof air if it's really hot outside. In fact my condensor and dryer were completely missing when we bought the motorhome. I got lucky and found a free replacement from a tired donor moho on the same year P30 chassis - but again part of the benefit to owning one of these units are the relatively inexpensive and widely available parts supply.

Love the word "dodgey" - sort of sums up classic motorhome ownership!

Good luck on your purchase. These can be very rewarding motorhomes to own. Use this forum as much as you can for answers. We all end up learning something along the way.
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