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Old 07-27-2011, 12:15 PM   #1
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What to look for in an Argosy 24' (1978)?

A local guy is selling a '78 Argosy 24 with the 454 engine (quadrajet carb?).. He claims he's rebuilt or replaced everything. The photos look nice but I'm not sure what to look for in one of these or even which model (twins vs ??).. He's asking $7k for it and claims it gets about 10mpg with that engine (sounds OK -- my Chevy 350 p/u gets max of 12)..

Is there a list of stuff to look out for -- crawling under it,etc.. Anyone might clue me in on what model this is? It appears to have two couches and possibly rear bath? Does that make this the twins model?b Also, it doesn't appear to have any awning -- correct? I know in general, Airstreams when stored frequently have flooring/leaking issues causing floor rot so I'm assuming if I find a part of the flooring that has a bit of "give" to it, there may be issues there.. Anything else to specifically look for?

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Old 07-27-2011, 12:26 PM   #2
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You're right, the pictures do look great.

There's an inspection checklist that's immensely helpful at this link.

There's a MoHo tab in the spreadsheet, and lots of the general RV systems items on the trailer pages are applicable as well. It helped me eliminate some candidates and feel very confident about my decision to buy the one we eventually chose, I recommend it highly.
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:25 PM   #3
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What to look for in an Argosy 24' (1978)?

Greetings osx-addict!

Quote:
Originally Posted by osx-addict View Post
A local guy is selling a '78 Argosy 24 with the 454 engine (quadrajet carb?).. He claims he's rebuilt or replaced everything. The photos look nice but I'm not sure what to look for in one of these or even which model (twins vs ??).. He's asking $7k for it and claims it gets about 10mpg with that engine (sounds OK -- my Chevy 350 p/u gets max of 12)..
While I haven't owned any Argosy motorhome, I have owned a number of GM vehicles with the 454/455/501 cubic inch big block motors so do have some familiarity from that standpoint.
  • The original carburetor would have been a Quadrajet, and unlike many owners, I have had excellent experience with the Quadrajets in all of my big block GM Vehicles. Maintaining the vacuum lines in pristine condition as well as locating a rebuilder or remanufacturer who is noted for quality work helps to insure satisfaction -- my local Chevrolet dealer has been a great help and connected me with the remanufacturer whom they use for replacement Qudrajets.
  • With a motorhome in the 24 foot size, I would expect consistent fuel economy in the 10 MPG range if speed is held between 55 and 60 MPH - - probably around 8 MPG at 65 MPH.
  • In a motorhome, the 454 lives in a high stress environment -- lots of weight to move around along with long periods of inactivity. Frequent oil changes and fastidious attention to the little details of maintenance are a necessity. Some common problems that I have had with my big block GM V8s have included:
    • HEI Distributor . . . . both my '75 Eldorado (501) and '75 Oldsmobile (455) had erratic power problems and rebuilding the distributor helped to solve those issues
      • The vacuum advance module seems to last about 5 years on my Cadillac . . . it is one of those parts that I have in my emergency tow vehicle parts drawer.
      • HEI Module is another of the frequent failure items on my Cadillac . . . . it needs a new one about every other year so I carry a replacement in my tow vehicle parts drawer at all times.
    • After several issues with the thermostat, I now replace the thermostat at the beginning of each season as a cheap form of insurance.
    • The exhaust heat riser valve tends to freeze in position during its season of inactivity so part of my pre-startup routine is to free-up the exhaust heat riser valve and replace the thermostatic springs if necessary.
    • The mechanical fuel pump seems to last about three years on my Cadillac so it is another item that is in my tow vehicle spare parts drawer.
    • The timing gear and chain had to be replaced on my Cadiallac at 130,000 miles and on my Oldsmobile at 155,000 miles.
Other than the items mentioned, my big block V8s have been exceptionally reliable and the prformance has been wonderful. The 400/425 Turbohydramatic transmissions have been absolutely trouble-free, but I do have them on a 3-year maintenance plan that includes filter and fluid changes every third year.

My suggestion would be to have the drivetrain checked by a trusted mechanic paying particular attention to:
  • Compression Test
  • Cylinder Leak-Down Test
  • Check of timing and spark advance
  • Check of fuel pump flow/pressure
  • Check of water pump operation/radiator flow
  • Check of exhaust for evidence of over-rich or over-lean fuel mixtures
  • Check of fluids for level as well as cleanliness
  • Check brake pads and shoes for condition, and rotors and drums for thickness/condition
  • Check transmission for evidence of slippage, operation of kick-down, and general shifting characteristics
  • Check condition of steering box, power steering pump, and steering joints/components
  • Check condition of universal joints
  • Check pressure and flow of electric auxilliary fuel pump(s)
  • Check cleanliness and level of differential grease (probably one of the most overlooked maintenance items)
  • Check condition of alternator and voltage regulator
  • Check condition of starter and solenoid - - particularly look for in-tact heat shielding as these motors tend to be very hard on starters/solenoids as the exhaust manifold can nearly cook these components
  • Check condition of tires and wheels
My Cadillac and Oldsmobile are both seldom used collector cars so I know the brakes need special attention as would those on a motorhome. The fluid is changed every other year to avoid moisture contamination, and brake shoes and drums are inspected every year for parts damages by rust and/or inactivity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by osx-addict View Post
Is there a list of stuff to look out for -- crawling under it,etc.. Anyone might clue me in on what model this is? It appears to have two couches and possibly rear bath? Does that make this the twins model?b Also, it doesn't appear to have any awning -- correct? I know in general, Airstreams when stored frequently have flooring/leaking issues causing floor rot so I'm assuming if I find a part of the flooring that has a bit of "give" to it, there may be issues there.. Anything else to specifically look for?
While I am not as familiar with the Argosy motorhomes as I am with the Argosy trailers, I believe that this coach was likely referred to as a double as I suspect that the lounge nearest the bathroom opens out to make a double bed. The lounge toward the front probably opens out to make something closer to a 3/4 bed rather than a double, but this is a guess on my part.

When it comes to the coach, I would concentrate on answering the following questions:
  • Check all of the glass for evidence of chips, cracks, and/or separation/fogging. While many pieces of the safety glass are still available, some may not be so condition of the glass is very important. You can almost expect to need to replace seals and gaskets on the windows but they are readily available.
  • If the coach is equipped with the optional generator, it would be a very good idea to have an RV technician check it over for mechanical condition as well as the condition of the gnerator itself. Generator repair or replacement tends to be quite expensive.
  • On-board components should be checked for operation as well as performance
    • Dash and roof air conditioners
    • Water pump
    • Water heater
    • Furnace
    • Refrigerator (it should be a 3-way Dometic so function should be checked with all three fuels)
    • Univolt/Power Converter
  • Check water supply system for leaks tank and pipes
  • Check waste drains for leaks - - particularly gray and black water drain valves and tanks
  • Check perimeter of floor with awl for evidence of rot or soft spots that man need attention
  • Check roof penetrations (drain vents, bath vent, roof vents, air conditioner, TV Antenna, range vent, etc.)
  • Check exterior storage compartments for evidence of excessive rust/rot.
  • Check operation of cabinet latches and hinges
  • Check operation of electric lights and fans
  • Check operation of television antenna and booster
  • Check for presence and condition of coach batteries
  • Check condition of main door hinges and lockset.
Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin

Quote:
Originally Posted by osx-addict View Post
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Old 07-27-2011, 01:38 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick reply guys! The guy told me where he's got it parked so I'll see about dropping by probably on Friday to check it out at least by looking around outside for starters. If it looks OK on the initial inspection I'll give him a call to go inside it.. We've got a trusted family mechanic that is VERY well versed on Chevy/Ford engines as he builds & runs Chevy based race cars in his spare time so I'm sure he'd be able to tell the state of the engine/trans without issue. I'll checkout the checklist posted also to see what I can glean from looking it over as well. I'll keep you posted!
I forgot to ask the owner about how many miles he's got on it since it was rebuilt (or not).. My father used to rebuild the 454's in an old Buick Estate Wagon (1971) that we had a LONG time ago and they probably don't look all that much different (aside from vacuum lines + carb) compared to our '96 Chevy p/u with 350 engine..
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:36 PM   #5
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Ok.. Called back today to get more info.. Here we go (still haven't seen it yet -- that will be for tomorrow!) :

  • rear bath model
  • 3rd owner -- current owner has owned it since '85
  • 2 couches that convert to double beds as expected (one of the kids can sleep on the floor if the chair is put outside at night) -- there are 5 of us.
  • Onan 4KW genset (unknown hours), runs great
  • Chassis has 129K miles overall since built
  • Engine has 45K miles on it since rebuilt
  • Engine has RV CAM & other engine upgrades (don't recall off the top of my head)
  • Transmission : Turbo 400 -- rebuilt a few years ago
  • Tires are brand-new
  • Roof AC works
  • Dash AC works
  • Replaced springs, sway bars, etc in the not too distant past
  • Claims no flooring issues -- indicated that there was once a water leak but it was stopped/fixed quickly resulting in little if any damage
  • current owner liked to be diligent about maintenance
I'll take some more photos tomorrow when I see it -- I've got my cheat sheet in hand that was posted earlier. Let me know if you think of anything not obvious I should be looking for. Seems like it ought to be a great rig if it looks as good as it sounds! I know my wife would be happier to get it closer to $5k but don't know if he'd go that low on the price -- perhaps somewhere in the mid to high $6k range if we see anything odd.. I've still got to get rid of our '01 trailer (non AS) which is in a storage place with lot-rot.. This unit, if bought, would be in our driveway so I can keep an eye on it, maintain it, drive it, etc..

P.S. There's a local Bluebird '31 footer that I *could* get for just a little more than this guy is asking BUT it needs a new set of tires ($$$), Refridg, roof AC, water heater,etc) -- sounds like minimum of $3-5K after purchase to fix it up! No thanks!
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Old 07-30-2011, 12:11 AM   #6
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Just a quick followup.. We did take a brief peek at the Argosy today (not in the presence of the owner) and it looked good overall -- a bunch of small cosmetic things -- flaking paint, some trim needing fixing, window weatherstripping in need of replacement, cracks in non-aluminum panels near rear bumper (common I believe). We decided in the end to wait and get rid of our current trailer (01 Nash) first before getting something new (to us).. This particular model did have a regular stove+oven (magic chef) so perhaps the oven is not typical on these. I think the main thing I dislike (on this model?) is the lack of a proper table for eating -- the fold-down table is just not very big. I realize I could mount up a new table somehow but perhaps a different model would work better for us -- I really like the models with bunk setups.. We'll keep our eyes open in the future for a more suitable model for our family of 5.
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Old 07-30-2011, 07:53 AM   #7
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We just bought the same model, ours is a 77, though. Ours is considerably more original. 100k miles, well maintained, needed a few small things but nothing that prevented me from driving it 7 hours to home. Ours has bunk brackets installed over the rear couch/bed, but no bunk frame. We are a family of 4, not 5 so out works well for us. The larger moho's don't have more bed space, but may have more space for an extra sleeping bag on the floor. We paid $3500, but consider ourselves lucky that we got that deal.
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:14 AM   #8
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So the rear couch (across from the kitchen) can possibly have a bunk setup there? Hmm.. I might make the guy an offer if its still listed several weeks from now..
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:00 AM   #9
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A bunk can be placed pretty much anywhere over a couch / bed. You could put one over the front couch in the Argosy 24, too. I was excited to see the bunk brackets there when I bought my moho, was somewhat disappointed to find that he no longer had the "frame". That will be tough to find an original one.

There are a few people on the forums here that have made their own bunks. I took some notes on one that I saw recently at a rally and I plan to use that to make a bunk in my Airstream trailer since it does not have any original bunk hardware. The Argy 24 could be turned into sleeping for 6 and none of those on the floor.
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