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Old 05-20-2013, 02:03 PM   #1
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Meet Ronald Lee - 1977 Argosy 24'

After months and months of searching my wife and I purchased "Ronald Lee", a 1977 24' Argosy Motorhome.

Ronald Lee is still sitting where he was when we bought him and waiting on someone to come tow him to the nearest mechanic. On that note, I am looking for recommendations for a mechanic in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area. Alternatively, I could have R.L. towed back to Jackson, Mississippi (200 miles) and have my regular mechanic get him running. The shipping quotes I have received are super expensive so it seems like the best thing to do is find someone in Tuscaloosa to do the work and then drive it home.

It has been over two years since RL was cranked. I am going to let a mechanic sort it out, but at a minimum I expect to change all fluids and filters, check and replace belts and hoses. I'll deal with the suspension as needed, and have the brakes checked out and repaired as well.

The tread on the tires is excellent. The tires have not had much use since new, but I'm not sure how old they are. I plan to replace all 6 tires, but I would rather get it home first because I feel like I can get them replaced more economically here. Any thoughts on replacing with 8.75 x 16.5 or sourcing some 16" rims and using more affordable and easier to locate 166" tires?

There are a whole lot of unknowns on this rig, but I am ready and willing to undertake a complete restoration. Once I clear the hurdle of getting the Argosy home I can do most of the work myself.

I'm interested in hearing any words of wisdom or suggestions.
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:40 PM   #2
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Charlee, welcome to Airstream ownership!

Be forewarned about radiator hoses. The formed OEM hoses are no longer available and you have to use flex hoses instead. I can probably come up with part numbers if you need them.

You can buy a set of four aluminum 16" wheels for about $720 off of eBay. See the following link.

American Eagle 16" aluminum wheels

There is a website called Yesterdays Tractors that has a section setup for people looking to have stuff hauled and haulers looking to haul something. I've had stuff hauled for me and I've hauled for people via their listing. Worth checking into. I would much rather have my regular known mechanic work on something for me rather than trust someone site unseen to work on it. There was a horror story on that subject here on Airforums not to long ago.

Hauling website

It sounds like you already know to look closely at the dates on the tires. It's always tempting to try and get a "few more miles" out of a set because they look good on the outside. Don't ask how I know this

Definitely keep us posted on how things are going and we love to see pictures here on Airforums!

Good luck!

Brad
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:59 AM   #3
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Excellent find. This is exactly like mine. It looks to be in pretty decent shape outside. I was checking out your blog and the inside pics don't look too bad either. I see that it's already got the Zip-Dee awning on the door side. If you get the other two (recommended) you're in for about $1300. It looks like you don't have a spare tire carrier at the rear. I thought these were factory...maybe not. Look at your rear bumper cover (brown plastic) and see if there's about a 6" wide slot in it. If there isn't, then it never had a tire carrier. It's going to suck to carry your spare inside the camper. Other than that, clean-up, the maintenance you've mentioned, and some paint and you'll be in good shape. BTW, the sticky walls that you / your wife mentioned on the blog...normal. It's that way in both of mine. If it's worth the elbow grease to you, go ahead and clean it. I've done it progressively so in other cleaning / repair projects.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:26 PM   #4
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The Ronald Lee has been towed without incident to a mechanic. They towed him with a wheel lift truck on Saturday. I'll talk to the shop on Tuesday and see what it will take to get it running. Hoping for the best, but ready for the worst. Send good vibes my way!
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Old 05-27-2013, 02:25 PM   #5
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Charles, that's good news!

Anyone take any pictures of it being towed?
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkahler View Post
Charles, that's good news!

Anyone take any pictures of it being towed?
I don't have any pictures of it being towed, but it arrived safe and sound at tithe mechanic. The initial inspection was good. He runs, but needs some TLC before I'm comfortable putting him on the road. Next week the process of changing all fluids, replacing all hoses and belts, plugs, carb, etc. begins. I'm willing to spend some money here so that I will have a mechanically safe and sound rig. I'm open to suggestions for mechanical upgrades, or items that should just go ahead and be replaced. I am putting six new tires on, but there are many options in the 8.75x16.5 tire. The only one I can find is the Firestone Transforce HT. this tire gets good reviews, and the price quotes aren't terrible. Should I go this route, or change to a different wheel? If so, what are my options?
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:13 PM   #7
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I just bought some of the 16.5 transforce tires last fall. I like them. no problems. I looked for some 16" wheels but did not have much luck. The wrecking yard that did have them wanted $90 each. That didn't make much sense to me. Now my dilemma is finding some nice 16.5" hub caps.
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:24 PM   #8
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I have the Transforces on mine. The PO had them put on and they aren't that old and are in good shape. I've got about 2000 miles of my own on them. I'm happy with them.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:38 PM   #9
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Progress

Ronald Lee is running strong. My mechanic replaced batteries, fluids, hoses, belts, plugs & wires, fuel pump, rebuilt the carb, replaced drive-shaft bolts and re-installed, and took it for a test drive.

I have not driven it yet, but the mechanic says the engine runs really strong.

The following is left to do before I can bring it home and get started with the interior.

Tires
I have ordered 7 new Firestone Transforce HTs that should arrive Wednesday to be installed by the mechanic. I have two spare wheels from the previous owner so I'll mount an identical spare to the best of the two wheels and put the other away in case I ever need it. There isn't anywhere to mount a spare tire so I am looking for suggestions. I was thinking about fabricating a spare tire mount that would fit in the receiver hitch kind of like a rear bike rack.

Brakes
The test drive revealed that the brakes worked good, but tended to stick. The mechanic said that they stuck less as the ride progressed and he thought it might work itself out after a good drive. I'm cheap, but I value the ability to stop so I have asked them to do a thorough inspection. They are going to replace the master cylinder and flush and replace the brake fluid. If necessary we will replace rotors, calipers, and brake lines.

Suspension
I am going to go ahead and replace all 4 airbags. They are all in pretty bad shape, and only 2 are holding any air. I'm certain that they will not hold anything close to adequate pressure. I don't believe my Argosy is equipped with an on-board compressor to adjust the airbags, but I would like this feature for a number of reasons. There are tons of options for this and I think i am going with an Airlift kit, but I'm not sure if I want an analog or digital control. If I have independent control of all 4 airbags can I use this to level the coach when camping?

Air-Conditioner
As expected, the dash A/C does not work. Should I just go ahead and replace the whole system or let the mechanic see if he can get it working? Alternatively, I can get them to get started on the generator and just rely on the roof A/C. I was told the roof A/C is less than 4 years old and works great. It looks new so hopefully it will work. It seems like A/C money would be better spent on the roof A/C than the dash A/C. Do I even need the dash A/C if I am going to run the generator and roof A/C 90% of the time while moving?

Other
I have found a competent mechanic who seems to know what they are doing and is interested in working on my project vehicle. Most importantly, best I can tell, they are not trying to rip me off, but are interested in saving me money. That said, I am interested in letting them do as much work as I can now instead of learning that something else should have been done later. I am interested in suggestions from those of you who have been down this road already. What suggestions do you have to get the best performance, drive-ability, and fuel economy out of this Argosy?

Unless I get them do do any other significant work I plan on picking up Ronald Lee this weekend and bringing him home. I'll have pictures then.


Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:15 AM   #10
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Hi Charles:

My opinions on above...

Airbags: Mine only has airbags in the front and those were factory (since replaced with aftermarket, but still inside the coils). Maybe the 28'er had them in the back as well from the factory? Mine are not adjustable from inside the moho. They made a huge help on the ride of the moho after replacing them. I paid a shop to change them for me. $200 well spent, I think, because it would have taken me at least a full day at home plus I would have needed to buy special tools that I do not currently have. I don't think you are going to get enough travel out of airbags to level the coach when camping, but I don't have evidence / experience to back that up.

Air conditioning: My dash A/C also does not work. If you leave it that way, remove the drive belt to the compressor so it doesn't shred and go flying like mine did! We often travel with the windows open and that is the cooling. We have run the overhead AC with the genny going as we roll down the road. This is good for the people in the coach, but the driver will still be very warm. There is little air circulation up there and the front windows make a great greenhouse. That being said, I'm still not going to spend the money to get the dash air fixed on mine. I figure it's a $1000 venture in a moho that I use 1-3 times per year and not always when it's hot; I can't justify it.

Mechanic: Having a good mechanic is good. I'm a handy guy but I can't do everything. There's a point where the facility and tools required outweighs what I can pay someone to do. I do all the work on the "camping" part of the moho as well as the engine / tune up / prev. maint. When it comes to the chassis and suspension, I have a local shop that specializes in old / commercial chassis repair. It's a mom & pop joint but they've been in town forever, the shop looks like a cave, but the work is good and reasonably priced. No one else in town even wants to work on something so old and specialized.

As for economy / performance improvements, the biggest things for me were a tune up of the engine, rebuild of the carb, and a cold air intake (via some foil dryer ducting :-)). I get 10mpg when driving on flat ground at max 60mph.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:47 AM   #11
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Just took a look at your blog. I've got no words of wisdom to add, just congratulations on a beautiful MH. I love the old Argosys. Also, and I might be the minority here, love the orange fabric on the sofas.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:20 AM   #12
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Also, and I might be the minority here, love the orange fabric on the sofas.
We love our orange interior (fabric and carpet). Our Argosy has a nice warm feel inside.
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Old 06-29-2013, 05:12 AM   #13
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The maiden voyage was a success. Just over 200 miles without incident. I'm happy to report that the Argosy drive very good, and as a side benefit the Dash AC started working after about two hours of driving.

Now the fun begins.
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Old 06-29-2013, 05:48 PM   #14
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Charles, I'm glad to hear your first trip was problem free!

On your dash AC, did you just flip the switch and it started running or had you left the switch on and all of a sudden you started getting cool air?

Makes me wonder if your expansion valve might have had a plug that finally cleared out or possibly a loose connection for the clutch. It will be interesting to see how long it stays working.

Brad
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