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Old 09-10-2015, 06:28 PM   #1
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1988 29' Airstream 290
St. Francisville , Louisiana
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Airstream 290, need suggestions

Hello all! I'm new to this site and a proud new owner of a new (to me) Airstream Motorhome. It's actually a 1988 290. I think it would be a limited version because of the interior (leather seats and fine oak cabinets) and loaded with other features, but not 100%. I have know this machine since new, it was given to my wife and I by ber parents. It has ALWAYS been stored inside and has only 34K miles and is in mint condition. The only major problem is the front driving A/C doesn't work. I had a mechanic charge with freon only for it to leak out in 2 days. Thank god he put the dye in it and was able to find the leak. It's leaking from a hose that connects the front coils to the compressor. So this is where I am now. While I try to find someone to do the work and pay the $$, is it worth converting from the R12 freon to something newer?? What has to be replaced or is this even possible. If I just decide to replace the hose and continue with the R12, do you think this hose might be available from GM (the engine is the 454) or do you think it would have to be custom made?? Any input/suggestions appreciated!!! Thanks!

Sorry - I keep getting upload failures when I try to attach pics. Any help here too would help.
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Old 09-10-2015, 06:54 PM   #2
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It is 27 years old, and all the hoses are prone to leak at that age. I would bite the bullet and take it to a good AC shop and have them replace ALL the hoses, receiver/dryer and associated parts and put refrigerant in it. They probably will want to put R134a in it rather than R12, as R12 is very expensive now, and hard to come by. Probably a good move too on your part as it is going to cost you less. The downside is a slightly reduced AC capacity, maybe 10 to 15%.

In LA you should have many good independent shops who deal with Auto AC units. It is not necessary to take it to a GM dealer. Ask around until you find some independent who seems to be well recommended and take it to talk to them. If you know anyone who has a street rod, or any club that deals with them, they will probably know good shops who do quality custom work.
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Old 09-10-2015, 10:15 PM   #3
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2008 23' International
1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
Pinson , Alabama
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I still waiting to pickup my '79 M/H from the shop. Idroba is correct . Replace the hoses. Usually shops can make up their own. Mine had to have new compressor, dryer bottle, hoses, and evaporator. Plus changed to R134a. Suppose to be finished tomorrow but have heard that before. Also replaced alternator, re-cored radiator, new calipers/pads, new hydro-boost, new front air bags, new water pump and thermostat, replaced valve cover and manifold gaskets. Once I get it back the fun begins with inside renovations. Adding 3 fantistic fans, new frig, new furnace, new water heater, fire suppression system, plus numerous other items. I may never finish but will enjoy the challange!!
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Old 09-11-2015, 07:28 AM   #4
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1988 29' Airstream 290
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Thanks guys! I will visit a couple of auto A/C shops in Baton Rouge today. I will post on my progress.
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Old 09-11-2015, 12:08 PM   #5
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Chances are, the hose was specially made just for your coach at the time it was built. As a result, the replacement will need to be fabricated. This is no big deal. Basically, they use the old fittings and replace the rubber hose.

This would be a good time to convert to R134A Freon. It's much cheaper than R12 and much more readily available. Besides, R12 is damaging to the earth's ozone layer.

Tom
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Old 09-11-2015, 12:48 PM   #6
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1979 24' Airstream Excella 24
Tipp City , Ohio
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Wow! A 290 that has been basically stored away in a time capsule. I hope you realize how lucky you are to come by such a treasure. Many of us on the forum have spent years trying to restore a MH that has been neglected over the years.
I too need to replace my dash air. I have been looking into upgrading to a modern compressor design to achieve a more efficient more dependable system. There are several companies that specialize in modern A/C systems for muscle cars that have the 454. A search on vintage air-conditioning should provide several sources.
Please keep us posted on how you proceed, and how the new system works. We can all help each other that way.
PS. To post pictures click on reply to thread , then scroll down to attach files , then click on manage attachments.
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Old 09-11-2015, 12:57 PM   #7
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I have a totally new system in my little 20ft.....write up to follow soon on the rebuild thread!
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Old 09-11-2015, 02:03 PM   #8
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1975 29' Ambassador
1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Grefrath/ Germany , NRW
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Airco

First of all, congrates to the 290!
I tried to buy one via EBAY, but misses it out.
I am from Germany, i have a 345 from 1986 and have also AC trouble now.
Ma clutch or compressor is noisy, but still working.
The formal owner converted the system to R134a, this helps me know, because the old "freeon" is prohibited now in Europe.
I definitivly recomend to convert the entire system to R134a!!!
A second ootion is, you ignore the dash AC, because uf it is really warm, the dash AC us not strong enough and if you let it "fully-blow" you get a cold from the stream.
We run the Generator and use the roof AC's. The Generator take's just 1 gallon if gas per hour ("full load", thank you Peter&#128540 and it is very comfortable al inside.
You will get better gas mileage if you NOT tun the dash AC!!!
Once you want to sell your 290, let me know...😃!
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Old 09-12-2015, 09:24 AM   #9
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With our mild prairie climate, I seldom use the roof AC except when we are driving in hot weather, when like Roquefort I will run generator and front roof AC........ funnily enough this does not seem to change my fuel economy at all!.... plus it does a really great job when combined with the little fans behind the front seats. It must be said that although our dash AC works well and blows cold, it will only keep the front of you cool in hot driving conditions, and you need the roof AC to keep the main compartment cool. I don't think I would fix the dash AC if it quit working, except to sell the MH, when of course it would be expected.

Starlord: THREE Fantastic Fans! Does that mean that you are replacing the roof AC with fans? I have always been impressed by how effective the Fantastic Fans are at cooling, although of course you cannot use them when in motion.
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Old 09-12-2015, 01:45 PM   #10
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I'm curious what a fantastic fan is. Can someone post a picture?
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Old 09-12-2015, 02:59 PM   #11
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Google brings in a lot of links. I don't know what models would be correct for a Classic, but these people give a good idea of fitting one.

Installing the Fantastic Vent Fan into our RV

You can switch them to suck or blow, they work on a thermostat, and when it rains, the vent closes automatically, but will reopen when the rain stops, so you can leave the fan on all day, making leaving your pet in the RV much safer.
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Old 09-13-2015, 12:49 PM   #12
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1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
Pinson , Alabama
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Punch, I've three vent holes in my M/H, center one has power and other two don't. So I thought go big or go home. Two to pull, one to push or whatever !! Also got a good deal as well.
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Old 09-13-2015, 01:57 PM   #13
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1982 31' Airstream 310
champaign , Illinois
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The Maxxair deluxe fan allows you to run the fan in motion and when its raining out. No additional cover to buy like the Fantastic fan. IMHO a much better designed fan and much better looking on an Airstream. Great customer support also from what Ive heard, Ive never had any problems with mine. I believe about the same price as the Fantastic fan.

Mike
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Old 09-13-2015, 02:02 PM   #14
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1982 31' Airstream 310
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Maxxair vent fan (this is not my rig but the same make and model)


Sent from my iPad using Airstream Forums
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