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Old 03-17-2009, 01:11 AM   #1
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1983 31' Airstream310
Santa Cruz , California
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1983 310 Vacuum Step relay?

The vacuum step on our new 1983 310 has stopped retracting. It worked for a while and then stopped. There is power to the door switch when the "ignition" is on, but in the past operating the door switch would make a click (probably the vacuum solenoid). Now, there is current through the door switch when the door is open, but no click. Next step is to see whether there is power to the vacuum valve, or whether there just isn't any vacuum from the pump behind the alternator. Question for the group: is there a relay between the door switch and the solenoid valve? The service manual does not show this wiring.
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:45 PM   #2
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Speedway , Indiana
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The vacuum step on our '86 345 became a problem for us as well.
I would find that my cruise control would not work sometimes. We would sometimes hear an odd sound that seemed to be in the area of the door while under way. Finally we had a guy come up beside us on the highway and said that our step was going up and down. Not long after that the alternator quit charging.
Well, all these problems were a result of the step solenoid valve messing up. The vacuum would be vented off by the step killing the cruise, and then the solenoid valve finally popped the fuse, which just happens to be the alternator field fuse.
I looked for a new solenoid valve, but I was not able to locate one. I just took the old step off and installed a 2 step electric unit.
Good luck, Rob
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by dljosephson View Post
The vacuum step on our new 1983 310 has stopped retracting. It worked for a while and then stopped. There is power to the door switch when the "ignition" is on, but in the past operating the door switch would make a click (probably the vacuum solenoid). Now, there is current through the door switch when the door is open, but no click. Next step is to see whether there is power to the vacuum valve, or whether there just isn't any vacuum from the pump behind the alternator. Question for the group: is there a relay between the door switch and the solenoid valve? The service manual does not show this wiring.
That part has not been available for several years.

The last time it was available, Airstream's price was just under $300.00.

Airstream says to "check with local" auto parts stores.

Andy
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Old 03-27-2009, 04:22 PM   #4
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Good luck, that lash-up was a piece of junk, ours self-trashed also. Let us know if you find anything. How's the rest of the coach doing?
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Old 03-31-2009, 06:19 PM   #5
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Come on, give Andy a break. Many of us would all sell a $20 valve for $300 if we thought we could get away with it. But that's what the forums are for, if we have more sense than dollars we can swap information to make Airstream owning not necessarily a millionaire proposition, isn't that right?

I have learned a bit about these valves. An almost identical replacement is made by Pollak (the same people who make trailer connectors) as part number 42-103. Pollak doesn't list or sell it in small quantities, however the same part is also known as a Niehoff UN50, available from Partsamerica for about $25, NAPA 2-2057 for about $60, Standard FV-1 or Borg Warner as FSV1. There is also apparently an AC Delco number for the same thing. Some of these were made with 5/16" hose barbs, some with 3/8", so you might need to adapt to the hoses in your unit or add some clamps.

They are intended as fuel selector valves. They draw about 0.6 amps from 12 volts and are operated by a continuous-duty solenoid. The current NAPA part looks a lot better made than the original.

Most modern fuel selector valves have six ports instead of three, so that the return fuel can be sent to the right tank. Most also are motor driven rather than solenoid; sending a pulse of 12V on one wire switches to one tank, another pulse on another wire to select the other tank (and logic and switches inside to shut off the motor once it has switched, more stuff to break). They also have an extra set of contacts so the gauge is switched automatically too, and a fancy multi-pole connector. If you are replacing the step vacuum solenoid you want the old 3-port one driven by a solenoid. To answer my own question of the thread, there *isn't* anything else in the circuit. +12 goes to the door jamb switch, which is closed when the door is open. This sends +12 to the solenoid when the engine is running and the door is open, which then sends vacuum to one side of the actuator, which extends the step. When the door is closed the solenoid switches and vacuum is sent to the other side of the actuator which pulls the step in. It's actually a simple and effective solution (at least the one on my 83 is) since there is already vacuum from a pump on the back of the alternator.

Mike Leary, the rest of the coach is doing fine -- if this is the worst mechanical problem I have to deal with! There is a rear end alignment issue and some messy wiring to clean up, but nothing major. Replacing the carpet this week.
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Old 06-05-2009, 12:36 AM   #6
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Interesting; I am just about - time permitting - to replace my vacuum step with an electric two step.
The first hold up is that, retracted, the step fouls the batteries fitted along the chassis rail, if I want to get the outside curve right that is. I am thinking of transferring the batteries to the rear D/S locker on a slide out tray. They will fit there but the tray needs fabricating to a lower level top allow for the height of the batteries (4 x Trojan 6V 225 A/hr).

The step is OK but we find "the climb" to the step when on uneven ground getting to the old bones!
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:19 PM   #7
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if you can

go for the 3 or 4 step electric step. We put in a 2 step electric and it seems higher above the ground than the original vacuum step. We still have to have a booster step on the ground for our gimpy basset to get into the moho.
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:33 PM   #8
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go for the 3 or 4 step electric step. We put in a 2 step electric and it seems higher above the ground than the original vacuum step. We still have to have a booster step on the ground for our gimpy basset to get into the moho.
Be careful installing 3 or 4 steps, as it may easily hit the ground, especially if your on an uneven surface.

Get some dimensions before you buy the step.

If it hits something when extending, it can burn up the motor.

Andy
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:46 AM   #9
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Pay attention to Andy - Been there::done that ): A curb in town will do the same thing. The 2-step can hit a curb as well.
Jamie
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:16 AM   #10
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The P.O. of our '89 345 had had the electric 'automatic' door switch removed)it's a two-step)...We had it re-installed, and it worked fine, as long as I did...I tried to remove a tree stump in a 'senior' moment, and really bent it badly...tried the reverse technology approach(didn't work), but DID successfully remove the tree root...had to grind out all the swivel rivets, do some serious anvil/sledge hammer straightening, and replaced the rivets with bolts/washers/nylon-lined nuts...it has survived one other minor engagement with a steep driveway, but still works fine(I had previous experience under my belt, tho' it does look a bit irregular)...the electric motor is apparently quite sturdy...
Ours is a Kwikee Lectromatic, and we have a couple of the manuals, specs and included diagrams, if you would like copies...? If so, PM us with your mailing address, and we'll fire them off to you...it will take a couple of weeks, as we're headed home, and we don't drive a lot per day...
mike
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