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Old 10-31-2012, 07:14 PM   #1
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Argosy MH double entry step addition

One of the many repairs and improvements that I'm making to my Argosy 20' MH is the addition of a Kiwkee electric double step. In various other threads I've posted pictures of what the old steps look like but since this is going to take some extensive rework of the step area I thought I would document it here.

Here are a few pictures of what I'm starting with:

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The motorhome sat for a long time with the bottom half of the door bent outwards about 1". The wood in the entry footwell was pretty much pulp. Even the aluminum sheet that was under it was corroded and partially rotted away. The door has now been replaced with the door from our 310 motorhome and is a much better fit.

The goal is to repair the entry footwell and fabricate and modify as necessary to install the new steps.

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What I have to do is cut out a portion of the existing footwell framework to make it the same dimensions as a 345 entry footwell. Probably the first major decision I have to deal with is why is the entry footwell open as shown in the photo below? Airstream fills this area with a thin sheet of aluminum and then a piece of plywood. I can't think of any reason why that area shouldn't have a piece of 1/8" plate steel to fill the entire area and then a piece of plywood laid on top. I would think this would be stronger and give better support when you're stepping into or out of the motorhome.

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Some of the rework that will be taking place is the removal of part of the steel frame that supported the wood floor, removal of the old step, widening of the aluminum shell to provide clearance for the new step assembly, adding a piece of sheet steel to create a new footwell floor and as support for the new steps and then the addition of new plywood to recreate the entry well. I saw some pictures in the forums of someone who removed the plastic footwell and reworked the area with wood. It looked so much better than the brown plastic that was originally installed.

On the 20' Argosy motorhomes the propane tank is right behind the steps. I did extensive measuring before I felt comfortable with the idea that I could actually fit the new steps in place. I might have to slightly rework the propane piping slightly but I don't think it will be to extensive and I'm going to avoid doing so if I can.

I'll be adding to this thread as I make progress (or is that if I make progress?!)

Brad
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Old 10-31-2012, 08:21 PM   #2
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This is great information! We added a Kiwkee electric single step to my '20 Argosy MH. I understand your concern about the propane tank location. I'm looking forward to this project and more photos!
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlander & Sea View Post
This is great information! We added a Kiwkee electric single step to my '20 Argosy MH. I understand your concern about the propane tank location. I'm looking forward to this project and more photos!
Hi Rick,

I've read through posts where you described the redo of your 20' Argosy, very impressive

I also read where you tried the double steps and ended up removing them to put in a single step. When I read that I had already ordered my double step. Needless to say that got me worried! I have done a lot of measuring since then of the step area and as near as I can tell the steps shouldn't interfere with the tank. It will be close in a couple of spots and I figured worst case is I have to change pipe routing or something like that.

I guess as I get into this project a little more I'll see just how close things really are. Who knows I might just have a new Kwikee double step to sell

Brad
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Old 11-03-2012, 10:35 AM   #4
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Help!

I've been trying to find a picture of 345/310/etc that has a double step with the steps RETRACTED. I've got tons of pictures but they all have the steps extended which makes sense since the steps always extend when you turn the motorhome off.

Anyway if someone could take a couple of pictures from different angles with their steps retracted that would really help!

Thanks!

Brad
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:43 PM   #5
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Made a little more progress today on the double step installation.

Using a cutoff wheel in the electric grinder I made cuts on the entryway floor as far as I could. Unfortunately the body of the grinder meant I could only cut so far before I had to stop. I used a cutting torch to finish up the areas I couldn't get to.

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The picture below shows the poor job done by Airstream in finishing this area of the shell. Not a pretty sight. You can see where they twisted the original step frame to reach over to the aluminum shell. I was able to remove this section of shell and I have plenty of material to work with form the 345 that I dismantled. When I'm done replacing that piece I hope it looks like it should have originally The angle iron running along the bottom supports the compartment door and now that I've removed the original step frame from that side I will need to do some support work on the angle iron to keep it rigid.

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I used the cutoff wheel to widen the shell opening to make room for the electric step which is about 2" wider than the original step.

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Pictures of the opening ready for the new steps to located and fastened in place.

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Old 11-10-2012, 05:06 PM   #6
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Now that I have the new Kwikee steps mounted on the 310 I have a reference point to work from for fitting the new steps to the Argosy. I'm hoping sometime this coming week I can find the time to mount the new Kwikee steps to the Argosy. I'm keeping my fingers crossed
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:18 PM   #7
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Where did you get your steps? We are gonna have to get together sometime. I have a 24' Rear Bath with 6100 original miles on it. Unfortunatly I ripped the steps off a couple of weekends ago. (Don't ask)..

Jon
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Old 11-15-2012, 05:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Where did you get your steps? We are gonna have to get together sometime. I have a 24' Rear Bath with 6100 original miles on it. Unfortunatly I ripped the steps off a couple of weekends ago. (Don't ask)..

Jon
Jon,

I won't ask because I've been there and done that

The steps were purchased from PPL Motorhomes. You can see them at the following link. We bought one for each of our motorhomes and they were free shipping. If you do order online make sure it states free shipping before placing the order. If it doesn't give them a call and they should make it happen.

44-1662 KWIKEE DBL ELEC STEP-BLK $355.99

If your original steps are like those in the pictures (which are the same steps used on Airstream trailers of the mid 70s) above then you'll have to go through the same process I'm dealing with to get them to fit. If your steps are held on by four bolts then you will have less work to do overall.

Actually it's not turning out as bad as I thought it would be there is still some tear out work and then some fabrication work that is required. Plus you will need a large 29" by about a 15" piece of 1/8" flat steel plate. I can provide specifics if needed.

I plan on getting the Argosy steps mounted over the Thanksgiving holiday and will be adding more pictures and dimensions to this thread.

Brad
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:52 AM   #9
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I'm curious how wide those steps are at the mounting surface. Basically I have the upright mounting pieces still in place and it looks like they are welded to some 1/2" box tubing and only a couple of bolts. Needless to say they don't look like they are going to be easy to get off. Thing is, the mounting surfaces are 22 1/4" appart. So my opening on the side of the MH is the same 22 1/4". Most of the steps I am seeing are 24" or 20" wide. I am more interested in doing another set of manual steps, but the dimensions seem to be the same.

We are gonna have to get together sometime. We aren't far from each other. I plan on taking mine around the state for Thanksgiving. Hopefully by then I can find a wiper pivot pin by then... any ideas on one of those?
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Totty View Post
I'm curious how wide those steps are at the mounting surface. Basically I have the upright mounting pieces still in place and it looks like they are welded to some 1/2" box tubing and only a couple of bolts. Needless to say they don't look like they are going to be easy to get off. Thing is, the mounting surfaces are 22 1/4" appart. So my opening on the side of the MH is the same 22 1/4". Most of the steps I am seeing are 24" or 20" wide. I am more interested in doing another set of manual steps, but the dimensions seem to be the same.
I'm pretty sure the Kwikee steps are 24" wide. I don't remember the exact depth but I think it's something like 10" to 11". I can measure when I get home tonight.

If your original steps were bolted in place then Airstream/Chevrolet made a change at some point after that and went to bolt in steps. The step assembly on my 74 Argosy was welded in place which is why I had to cut them out with a cutoff wheel and a torch. The structure that is holding the bottom part of the shell (lower part of the curved sheet metal) was welded to the step frame. I have to add supports back in to take care of the lower shell support. Fortunately it won't be to hard to do. I've already figured out how to do it, just need a nice day and time off.

The main reason I wanted to get away from the manual step is it is to easy to leave them down and then drive off, well that and I like electric steps

Had the same problem with a Winnebago MH that we had. Had it parked by the shop and as I was getting ready for a long trip I moved the MH and hit a stump and bent the heck out of the steps

Quote:
We are gonna have to get together sometime. We aren't far from each other. I plan on taking mine around the state for Thanksgiving.
Definitely! The only thing I'll be doing with mine at Thanksgiving is working on it

Quote:
Hopefully by then I can find a wiper pivot pin by then... any ideas on one of those?
Mill supply is supposed to be a good source for wiper motor parts as found on the Airstream motorhomes. One of these should help you find the right parts.

mill supply univwiper.pdf
mill supply utilwiper.pdf
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:29 PM   #11
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Made a little more progress today in reworking the entryway. Added some bracing to the left side to provide support for the lower shell. Originally the support frame was welded to the old step framework. Since the framework was cutout to make room for the new steps I had to add a vertical brace and then a cross brace. Got the left side done and prepped the right side and should be able to finish the right side bracing tomorrow.

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Also lifted the new steps up into place to check for interference with the propane system. Sure enough the main propane line coming from the tank just touches the arms of the step when it's retracted. So I headed off to the hardware store and bought some copper tubing and fittings. I plan on removing the 90 degree fitting, replacing it with a straight fitting and then routing the copper line accordingly. Hopefully it won't be to difficult of a job.

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I also trial fit the new metal floor plate and then removed it for painting. Tomorrow with luck I'll be able to bolt everything back into place permanently. If not tomorrow then over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Brad
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:35 AM   #12
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Those are looking good. I am anxious to see how they turn out.
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:10 AM   #13
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I've decided to replace the propane two-stage regulator and re-plumb that area so that should resolve any interference issues for the steps. I painted a bunch of parts this weekend and should have the steps installed next weekend. Of course the coach wiring is a mess so there won't be any electricity to power them for a while

Brad
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:15 PM   #14
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Yesterday I got the mechanical installation pretty much completed. There are a couple of minor details to finish up but the steps (if wired!) are totally functional.

Part of the final prep work was to paint the original rusty step support framework. I chose a product called Miracle Paint by Bill Hirsch. It is a product similar to POR-15 but has UV inhibitors in it's mix. I've been using this paint since 1996 and have been very pleased with it. Once the framework was painted I bolted the new metal floor in place. In order for the Kwikee steps to fit properly I had to add a filler plate which you can see in the 2nd picture. The reason for the plate was to provide clearance for the step pivot arms. I also felt it would provide more support for the door where it bolts to the floor.

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The next four pictures show the actual install process. Lifting the steps into place was almost anti-climactic

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One of my original worries was potential interference with the propane tank that sits right behind the steps. I did a LOT of measuring to ensure that it would fit. In the end I will have to reroute the pipe that runs from the 2-stage regulator to the manifold. Since I have to reroute the pipe I took the liberty of installing the regulator that I removed from the 345. This shortened the overall assembly that connects to the propane tank and will make it easier to route the tubing to the manifold. I hope to have the propane line reworked next week. The step actuator arms stop about 3/8" from the tank. For a while I was afraid I would have to stick them outboard a little more but I'm happy to report the steps ended up being in the same physical location as they are on our 310.

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And finally some finished views of the mounted steps.

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I have a little cleanup work to do on the outer shell on the left side and I need to apply some more Miracle Paint. I'll do that as time permits.

The amount of work I had to go through to get the steps installed was a lot due to the way the original steps were installed. From what I've been able to gather from talking with other Argosy owners, Airstream may have changed the way the steps are installed on later Argosy motorhomes. Mine is an early 74 model (first year of production) and it is possible the 75 and later models have direct bolt in steps like later the later Airstream models have. My steps were welded in place and looked more like trailer steps only made of steel instead of aluminum. Anyway, if your Argosy has four bolts holding the steps in place you shouldn't have to go through all the hassle that I had to.

Brad
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