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Old 07-06-2010, 11:13 PM   #29
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Santa Barbara , California
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@pdallas. Thanks. If you missed em.. here are some photos ... The more I look around, the more it does seem a little bit pricey, though lots of the interior is near original (pretty worn though).

@smartstream & srapirony2 Yeah. I'm feeling less-good about this mechanic guy. His reasoning was that the owners didn't want to get 2am phone calls about stuff once the rig has sold.. seemed like a weird line of logic as not very many people are bizarre enough to call previous owners at odd hours (unless they find a shipment of narcotics in a propane tank or something)..

In the meantime, I have found two more coaches (within 300 miles). Both are 1987's. One is a 36 footer for 16000, and another a 32 footer for $15,500. Both in seemingly better condition, but slightly more miles (110,000ish). Both have more goodies.. AC, newer tires, blah blah. It's too bad we're so attracted to the shorty's. I wish we could just find 20-30 footer (Argosy or Excella) somewhere close enough to actually inspect.

Here are pictures of the two we found:

The 1987 AIRSTREAM 325 32':




The 1987 325 35':

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Old 07-06-2010, 11:25 PM   #30
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And of course, this is a little closer to what we're hoping to find (though we don't mind doing some of the polishing/fixing/interior designing ourselves):

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Old 07-07-2010, 06:05 AM   #31
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Just a quess, but maybe the mechanic is afraid that you'll work a deal with the owner and beat him out of his commission, especially if his listing agreement with them is about to expire.
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Old 07-08-2010, 01:58 AM   #32
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The more I think about the 32'er (and stare at it and make photoshop sketches) the more I'm thinking it might work. It's a little long.. but it might do. Also checking out the Excella in NY on Ebay. sheesh. excited but a little directionless.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:37 AM   #33
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Old 07-08-2010, 07:42 PM   #34
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Warren: I understand your state of mind! Here are a couple of tips because you asked, plus I want to see you stay happily married.
Whatever you buy is going to cost you additional money as you prepare it for cross country travel. You actually have to change some parts that are not totally gone just to make sure you don't break down at the wrong place and time. There are so many systems on board for you to check. All the ones that don't work will keep you writing checks, so you have to go over the unit with a fine tooth comb. I bought an 84 310 with 72k miles for 12 K and have spent that plus some getting it road worthy. I am a better than average mechanic and have hours invested in mechanical issues. Additionally, I have redone most of the int, but have not sprung for ext. polish yet (another bundle of dough).
Don't get me wrong, Hi Ho Silver brings me great joy, but it is a pretty expensive endeavor.
Bottomline: Make the best deal you can when you buy! You will need the savings!
God Bless,
PD
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:09 PM   #35
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herez the deal warren'

and just to REINFORCE the message from pd'...

you are FOCUSED on the wrong end of this horse.

ignore the airstream bits, forget the shine or a few rivets.

it's the gm CHASSIS and driveline and suspension that matter most.

cuz IF the thang don't RUN or breaks down or needs LOTS of stuff...

like a tranny, engine, airbags, brakes, suspension, axles, Ujoints, tires and an DASH air conditioner...

you will 1. get stranded and 2. spend a WHOLE lotta dough without camping much.
________

that's not to suggest the a/s parts don't matter, they do.

but if the coach hasn't been burned/tree'd/rolled or SQUASHED...

the coach issues are all minor and do able...

of course the APPLIANCES matter and can get spendy (fridge/ac/furnace/water heater/charger/controller) ...

but that's another topic, since all rvs have these things.
_________

having had a classic moho for 25 years, i can confidently report...

when the mule breaks down or dies the WAGON can't be used for camping or fun.
_________

thankfully the chassis and drivelines used were EVERYWHERE and still are, so parts are plentiful and not too expensive.

but the LABOR charge to fix stuff will suck money like 20 toilets flushin' continuously...

the point is u need to stop looking at skin and rivet and start crawling UNDER these things...

cheers
2air'

(btw rivets any where in the BACK half that are loose or missing (check INTERIOR CEILING/BEDROOM)...

typically suggest the REAR AIR BAGS/lines/compressor/tank are not holding air....

since without AIR in those bags the rear end rides ON the frame without cushion.

fixin' rear AIR suspension leaks is

1. expensive and
2....(see #1)
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:37 PM   #36
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Warren
I don't own a MH, and I'm with 2 air and what he is tell ya. I would hang with the unit that you can reach out and touch. Go drive it. Git ur coveralls on an crawl under that baby with a flashlit and look at that there frame and suspension,exhaust system,air bags,tores and wiggle that driveline and check them there u joints.
But the best advise I can give ya I think is HANG WITH THE ONE You can reach out and touch.
Have fun and Enjoy
Roger
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:37 PM   #37
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Amen

Warren,
2Air and PDallas are right on the money. I just bought an '84 310 for $12,750. Clean, but not immaculate, and the clear coat is going away. I flew to Denver with the assurance that it was ready to hit the road and go camping. When I got there it turned out that the seller had been chasing a failing ignition coil for awhile. It would malfunction and mimic vapor lock when the engine got hot. He thought that he had fixed it by throwing a bunch of money in the wrong direction on fuel filters, fuel pumps, and getting the fuel tank removed and reconditioned. I bought the problem, and I am pretty sure that my hair got a lot grayer on the trip from Denver to San Diego. The coil would get balky after an hour or two on the road, and it finally failed completely in Vegas. Fortunately for me, the seller is an honorable guy and reimbursed me for most of my expenses per a verbal agreement. If I had it to do over, I would either look for a classic with mechanicals that I was reasonably confident in, or one that I could park and work/spend money on until I was confident in it.
With all this said, I'm keeping the 310. I like it.
Steve.
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:23 PM   #38
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WR: The 84 in particular did have some vapor lock problems that would occur when climbing hills. GM did an exhaustive study and it is on this forum somewhere, but I could not find it tonight. It recommended a Holly electric fuel pump. Clearly sounds like a different problem from your initial experience, but I think the study would be worth your time to read.

My first trip in my 310 was to Colo Springs last labor day. I barely made it over the pass at Raton going in and (then) did not on the way out. Vapor lock big time in a bad spot. I have since installed the efp as prescribed by the study and will make the trip back to the Springs with great confidence in September.

PD
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:47 PM   #39
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What everybody is saying does make sense. You must remember that you are looking a vehicle that is nearly 30 years old. Like I said before have an independent mechanic look at it. Brakes, tires, engines and transmissions all require service at one time or another. The GM chassis is very common and really isn't much different than a dually pick up with the exception of the air bags in the back. Once you understand how they work the air bags are no big deal.

There are a lot of mechanics who merely change parts and charge big time for their efforts. You say you are handy so my advice is look over the shoulder of you inspecting mechanic and learn what makes the coach work. If you run into a problem that you can fix great. If it is beyond your skills at least know what is going on so the shop you deal with doesn't take you for a ride to their bank.

I you were to spend $5000 on a new engine, $3000 on a trans, $1500 on the differential and $1500 on the suspension you have a mechanically new coach. You could put that much in a newer coach but at some time it will need the same work. This is worst case scenario and hopefully the coach won't need these components for some time and not all at once. These major components do last for many miles of service. I didn't mention brakes and tires because that is maintenance that every coach will need every few years. This is all just part of owning a motorhome.

Inside the coach you can spend some money too. We are looking at new driver and passenger chairs for $1200 each. We can reupholster the existing chairs for less but we are talking about 30 year old frames. The new chairs also have more features. Seat covers also extend the life of the existing chairs for less money yet. It's just another decision.

Ultimately you have to make the decision just do so armed with all the knowledge you can gather.

Cheers, Dan
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:47 AM   #40
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Wow.

You guys are amazing. It's humbling to see how much time and thoughtfulness you've all put into giving a complete stranger advice. Thank you!

And you're (all) right. I should be worried about the guts of the thing. Thanks for calling me out on that.

For those who are curious, here's our new game plan:

1. I am taking a little (350 mile) trip (or two) with my father, who is an experienced motorhomer (27 year 1988 Prevost owner/2 year 1986 Itasca owner) to look at two airstreams that are south of us (the two 1987's). He's also more mechanical than me.

2. I'm going to arrange for independent mechanics to meet us and climb around the two coaches (I'll be hanging out over his shoulder).

3. If one of them checks out, and feels right.. I'm going to drive her home and start customizing the interior.

4. If they both have bugs, or don't feel right, I may shell out for another independent mechanic to check out the Excella.

We're feeling pretty committed. But aren't going to rush it. Thanks to all for the great input.

We'll keep you updated!
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:53 AM   #41
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Sounds like a real good plan. 350 miles will take you to Mexico unless you are talking round trip.

Have fun and take lots of pictures.

Cheers, Dan
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Old 07-09-2010, 12:54 AM   #42
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yeah. Round trip for sure
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