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Old 11-25-2013, 11:14 AM   #1
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Hanalei, /Chino Valley , Hawaii / Arizona
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 958
First longish drive, impressions and a few questions

After lots of inspecting, learning systems and generally getting to know the new to me Classic 345. Then a bit waiting for bank wires to get uncrossed, the deal was finally done with my new friends Richard and Robin, the sellers and great hosts. I had my first delicious meal of rock crab with them at their house, where they took good care of me through out the time spent concluding the transaction. A big MAHALO goes out to them!

The first leg with the new ride was a short hop up to Melbourne area in central Fla. Just a two hour run, but done under time pressure with the need to arrive at the destination before dark (Park rules). And taking me thru lots of traffic.
The focus was mostly on traffic and the clock. But first impressions of the coach underway were quite positive of it as a road machine. Traveling in it is quite different than short test drives with the seller.
First is the realization is driving and manuerving is far easier that I had anticipated. I guess the shortish wheel base makes it more nimble that I had thought. And braking is reasonable.

A couple of days spent in Melbourne, including one holed up with heavy rain.thru out the day confirmed the impression of a very comfortable livable interior. One leak from under the dash will have to be tracked down and fixed.
But otherwise nice and snug and dry.

The pause in Melbourne was to wait for my Brother to return from a trip to the Philippine Islands for a family visit , which never really happened because of the storm there. He being stuck in Manila, and the family being unreachable in the Layte area where the cyclone hit.
At any rate, return he did, and A crack of dawn start found us heading for Mandivelle La. Quite a run that took us the better part of 13 hours to make.
This trip has built further on the impression of a very capable traveling machine.
But has also brought to light a few issues that need improvement.

First is steering control. There was a lot of play in the steering when I first drove it. The seller had developed the habit of sawing back and forth on the wheel to keep head down the road, there was at least 2.5 inches of free travel between steering inputs. I was able to adjust most of that out with the adjustment bolt on the side of the steering gear box. Now about one third of an inch soft travel. How ever in side winds or when trucks pass the wandering is not comfortable for me. The bell cranks have been replaced with the super steer ones. There is a little play visible at one end of the pitman arm, so I am looking into getting that replaced.
Are there any other components in the steering system that are likely to be causing this lack of positive control?

Another issue seems like wheel ballance being out, making for some vibration in the ride. But this is not constant, it comes and goes and is not directly related to speed or road surface. When it is happening it clearly seems to be a wheel ballance issue, but then it will clear up and run smoothly for some time.
Could this related to the spinning wheel weights mounted on the wheels?

Then there is an issue with engine exhaust getting into the coach while driving.
The exhaust pipe ends under the coach, and I think an extension out from under the bottom of the coach will be a big help with that.
Trying to reduce that I opened the dash vents only to realize that the air coming from the vents was even more loaded with exhaust fumes?
This is really puzzling to me as the banks headers seem tight on the engine and quiet, with no leaking sounds apparent.
So is there another source for these fumes? Any suggestions where to look for this problem

I do want to restate how happy I am with my new to me motorhome. And being familure with owning vintage machinery am not surprised or disappointed that there are a few bugs to work out. I will appreciate any tips as to how to sort out the few problems and make life on the road even more fun.

Cheers Richard
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Old 11-25-2013, 03:25 PM   #2
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1984 31' Airstream310
Honokaa , Hawaii
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Congrats on a successful maiden voyage!

Steering: some play is probably normal. However, when I took our 310 to a mechanic for brake work a couple of years ago, he wouldn't even test drive it until a dangerously worn steering coupler, aka rag joint, was replaced. I believe that the part connects the steering column to the box, and includes some tire-tread type material that reduces vibration, but wears out. We still have some play, but the beast drives much more predictably now.

Exhaust: our system ends with pipes that discharge to the side just in front of the rear wheels, never get any fumes. The dash fumes are a mystery.
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:54 AM   #3
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1991 35' Airstream 350
Carriere , Mississippi
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Congrats on the new ride and great run so far!

Don't forget about the classic forum with the sticky at the top. It has all the parts, manuals etc reference:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...ead-95034.html

Here is an article that covers the basics, but you seemed to have them all covered Since the bell cranks are new. Is there also a steering stabilizer on it as well?

The RV Doctor: Improving Motorhome Ride, Steering and Handling

Mine has the heavy external spring system that cuts down on front end wonder. Though there is still a bit of play. I have not replaced the bell cranks yet.

As far as exhaust, the exhaust pipe should curve out and terminate just in front of the back wheels as Waipio Rim stated. There is an air box in front of the passengers seat. There is an air "scoop" in back of and above the right front tire. If you had a crack in the manifold or a gasket leaking fumes cold get pulled in and then sent through the rest of the cabin.

Keep us posted on your adventure!
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:06 PM   #4
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1984 31' Airstream310
Honokaa , Hawaii
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I missed your vibration issue on the first read. Here is our recent experience, hope your issue is much simpler:

Our driveshaft is in three pieces, supported by two carrier bearings and connected by a bunch of u-joints. We could hear a rhythmic clicking in the driveline at low speeds, and had a vibration at 40-55mph that was getting steadily worse.

While the coach was in Minneapolis last summer, we had this driveline rebuilt. The shop replaced all of the bearings and joints, cut off and replaced a worn splined slip joint, and balanced the whole works. Cost was $1k. Clicking is gone, vibration is greatly reduced but still noticeable.
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:51 PM   #5
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Try squirting. Some Marvel Mystery oil into the carb intake. It will smoke! The smoke will come out of all the "leaks" in exhaust. One thing I did was push enough rag into the exhaust outlet to give a bit of back pressure.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:30 AM   #6
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1997 30' Excella
1983 31' Airstream310
Austin , Texas
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Besides the obvious complete inspection of the steering components, there is one product on the market that will vastly improve the handling of these long rigs:
Steer Safe Unit | SteerSafe.com
After haven driven with it on my last 345, I can highly recommend it and probably would never drive one of these old P-30 without it.
Their place of business is in New Mexico, maybe you can get it installed on the way to AZ
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Old 11-27-2013, 04:23 PM   #7
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1991 35' Airstream 350
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterH-Airstreamer View Post
Besides the obvious complete inspection of the steering components, there is one product on the market that will vastly improve the handling of these long rigs:
Steer Safe Unit | SteerSafe.com
After haven driven with it on my last 345, I can highly recommend it and probably would never drive one of these old P-30 without it.
Their place of business is in New Mexico, maybe you can get it installed on the way to AZ
That's what I was talking about but my fricken brain could only come up with "heavy external spring system" So what he said
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Old 11-28-2013, 10:56 AM   #8
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Hanalei, /Chino Valley , Hawaii / Arizona
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Good suggestions and links guys, thanks for the tips.
I'm sure they will help when time and circumstance allow me to dig into solving these issues. It is tough while on the road in winter weather.

Seems the consencess is that the Safersteer device is a good addition to these P 30 rigs. I do wonder if they add unplanned for loads to spindle bushings or other parts of the system, any thoughts on long term wear?

I like the Mystery oil suggestion on finding the exhaust leak, thanks.

I've got to wrap this up to head out for Texas.

Thanks again for the support!

Cheers Richard
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Old 11-28-2013, 08:09 PM   #9
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Richard pulled in right at sunset for his Austin Pitstop. Nice looking 345.
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Old 11-28-2013, 10:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterH-Airstreamer View Post
Richard pulled in right at sunset for his Austin Pitstop. Nice looking 345.
You sure picked a great place to stop for the night! Peter is a great guy!
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Old 11-29-2013, 10:29 PM   #11
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Hanalei, /Chino Valley , Hawaii / Arizona
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 958
Hi Channing, you are so right about that.
First it was great getting off of the interstate grind and driving thru the hilly country side up to Austin.
And a better greeting and more helpful visit is hard to imagine.
Peter has been so creative in coming up with fixes for some of the little nagging issues that needed attention. We made up a clamp and used foam rubber washers cut from a paint roller to secure a floppiy side view mirror.
We cut to length an exhaust tip and fitted it to get the exhaust out from under the bottom of the coach. Plus he has taught me much more about the systems and helped trouble shoot the electric drain of the start battery.

Truly knowledgeable and enthused to share his insight.

His wife Cindy , a very talented artist gave me a wonderful piece she painted with an airstream and western landscape filled with hot air balloons. A precursor of a future get together in New Mexico, I hope.

As you said, a wonderful pits stop, and the start of a new phase of my journey. Now I will be wandering more back roads as I continue west. A slower pace maybe, but more in touch with the country I'm cruising thru.

I'm loving this airstream community. :-)

Cheers Richard
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Old 12-01-2013, 08:54 PM   #12
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Richard,
we truly enjoyed your company and your good, loving spirit.
We hope the last leg of your journey will be easy and enjoyable.
Here you are pulling out of my driveway:
Aloha, friend
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:23 AM   #13
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Hanalei, /Chino Valley , Hawaii / Arizona
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 958
There can be little bumps in the road, and why do they seem to turn up in the middle of nowhere?
Following my plan of getting off the interstate I cruised up thru northern Tx. Into N M. To visit Carlsbad Caverns, what a fascinating place and cave complex.
Definitely worth checking out. Like most of this area, its quite a distance between towns ( and auto parts stores ).

One of the little mysteries of my new coach is that the LOW COOLANT LIGHT
Goes on and off spuraticly as there is a ground fault or something other than low coolant causing it to light occasionally. This has caused my to drive with a constant eye on the temp gauge and to check the water level frenquintly.

Well yesterday morning as I was preparing to head up the mountain to visit the caverns it did actually need a bit of water in the radiator. So I filled it and a gallon jug just to have handy. But didn't see any dripping. After making most of the five mile climb up to thr park I stopped at a view point, and found a lot of dripping from the back of the engine compartment area. Still not overheating, so refilled and left the cap loose. And drove on up the last mile to the park.

After moving a bundle of wires so I could see back there I found that one of the long hoses that run back thru the interior of the coach to the water heater had been sagging down and chafing on the top of the hydrolic fluid tank. It had become soaked with the fluid and was quite weakened and soft. That was where the leak was.
I decided to go into check out the caverns while it cooled, and think about how to repair it. Was thinking of using a clamp and large Bolt to plug the hose off till I could replace it. The I thought with the right sized piece of pipe I could cut and splice it back together. But where to find this right sized piece of pipe?
While digging thru the coach looking, it dawned on me that The long sockets in my new tool set offered a full selection oh diameters to choose from.


Soon the repair was done

And I was back on the road
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:25 AM   #14
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
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I can't seem to get more than one pic to download to the post. Any suggestions?
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