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Old 07-04-2011, 05:19 AM   #15
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Dont have a clue.

Dont feel bad. My kid brother is legally blind and cant work on the new stuff. But he can rebuilld an old flathead just by feel. Sal.

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Old 07-04-2011, 08:41 AM   #16
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Sacramento , California
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Unhappy Thanks, everyone

No, LOL, mechanics are not my thing. I've never worked on an engine.

But it didn't sound right to me either that it had no problem climbing the canyon, all was well, no smell of overheating, and then the next day it won't start. I might have left on the headlights but I KNOW I left on the leveler lights switch, although they didn't come on. I was interrupted and went outside and got involved with other business and then left to drive my non-toad toad driver home.

It took a few attempts earlier this season to get it to start even after battery was charged and reinstalled. It is not making much if any noise when turned on, just a faint "woo, woo." Certainly no serious attempts to turn over. I did try that glove box switch that is supposed to use the house batteries as a boost, but to no avail.

I'll try the dipstick trick and see if I can get it in.

I guess I am in panic mode because although there is a plea for no fireworks today, this area has a tradition of lots of home fire displays. As I said, the forest is closed including all the public campsites because of the nearby wildfires (the smoke is overwhelming when the wind shifts this way). This private one is open though.

I have Good Sam. Since I'm full timing, any suggestions where in NM or CO would be a good place to have it towed? (have to check to see if I have mileage restrictions). I assume Camping World is pretty expensive for repairs? There is one in Albuquerque.

I had the engine totally gone over before buying and all tested out well. Most of the 8k I put in was tires and axles.

IF it is the engine, what is the best replacement? I see suggestions. But I don't want to get taken by a bad mechanic.

Thanks again for reading.

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Old 07-04-2011, 09:10 AM   #17
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Good Sam, I think, will tow you to a garage nearby where you can get it fixed. They would probably want to take you to a Camping World if you are fairly close since it is the same company. When we heard of people getting towing by GS in northern Canada, they take them hundreds and hundreds of miles to a Ford dealer—both times we heard these stories, they were Ford trucks—so they'll take you where it is necessary. Those towing bills would have been thousands if they had to pay for it, but didn't. There is an Airstream dealer in Alb. and I don't know anything about them except I haven't seen any bad or good posts about them.

All I know about the CW in Alb. is that it is very large. There have been many posts over the years to avoid CW because either their mechanics aren't very good or they don't like Airstreams. That may or may not be true.

Sounds like you are in NM, possibly north of Alb. in the mountains. Given the fires around Santa Fe, I'd want to be out of there while I could git.

It is very hard to diagnose your problem from the information. My gut feeling is that you do not need an engine though it might need a minor overhaul. There are lots of things that could be wrong and some of them only cost a few dollars.

Where are you? It's hard for anyone to make any recommendations about mechanics if we don't know where you are. There are quite a few Forum members in NM and maybe one of them can give you recommendations.

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Old 07-04-2011, 09:13 AM   #18
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Somewhere , South Carolina
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Arm chair diagnostics are just that best guesses, mine included.

IMHO you have a long way to go before I'd start pricing engine replacements.

It should start with basic "it does not do this" approach and then weed thru typical engine diagnostic checklists.

Maybe as a thought to others buying used engines and looking for additional information about the engine, having a trusted tech perform an engine compression test and RECORD the results, get an oil sample analysis from one of several labs, and consider occasional retests. This shows contaminants as well as wear metal analysis. I think there are tests for the engine coolant to see if it has combustion gases present from a head gasket leak, please someone chime in on this last one, I've never done it.

Also I really think that many real electrical problems are worked on more by replace and hope rather than test and confirm, just my .02$.

Best of luck.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:26 AM   #19
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And, don't walk into a service dep't saying "I think I new a new engine". They will be glad to sell you one. Just tell them exactly what happened, suggest you think the mechanic who came out misdiagnosed, that you've gotten a lot of suggestions on a Forum that it may be something simple, and ask them what they plan to do. If you go to an Airstream dealer mention the AirForum—they don't want to be seen here if they mess up. Play your cards close to the vest when you don't know who you are dealing with. If you are in Colorado, PM me about the dealers here.

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Old 07-04-2011, 09:29 AM   #20
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If you have Good 'em and get to Albuquerque. From what you say about the location and fire threat....local lack of good mechanical help....Make it easy on yourself. Get out of there to a safe spot where competent mechanical help is available. Then, if its minor they can fix it. If its major...your already in a place of many choices. AND, on top of that its a great place to "remake" your trip or stay around. Give yourself peace of mind .
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:35 AM   #21
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Sacramento , California
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I am near Taos, NM. I already asked on mechanic in town if he worked on RVs and he said no, the closest RV repair is in Tesuque outside of Santa Fe. But not that far from CO either, and if there is a recommendation there it would be appreciated.

I've been at the CW in ALB and was not impressed. I would rather avoid that. If I have the name of place to give Good Sam Roadside, perhaps they will tow me there.

The hard part, of course, is that I just started full timing and it is my "home".

Thanks again.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:46 AM   #22
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Call me...We can figure it out.

Originally Posted by silverdream2 View Post
The hard part, of course, is that I just started full timing and it is my "home".

I IM'ed you...
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:29 AM   #23
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I am fairly confident that the engine is fine based on what you say.
The dipstick IS tricky to push home sometimes.. I have to try mine several ways before it pushes home all the way... I have to pull it out and turn mine thru 180deg a few times sometimes.
The fact that you were having some starting issues before is a big clue.
There is a long history of the 454 motors frying its starters over time with the heat from the motor, so its not unreasonable to think it could be the issue.
My guess would be the starter is failing/failed, or a bad connection in the feed to it.
Just remember that whilst your engine IS sitting in a Motorhome, its exactly the same engine that is in a Pickup or Suburban of the same era, and the only difference is the Power supply to the starter has a few more wires and batteries upstream!
I am concerned for your campsite, and the fire risk, but you are the best judge of your own safety there. I think I saw you have a Toad escape vehicle if you need it.
Having Good Sam drag you out is an option, but maybe you can find a different local Mobile Mechanic to come to you?
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:33 AM   #24
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The Alb. Airstream dealer is

11810 Central SE
(Sales/New Units)
NM, 87123

Telephone: (505)294-8280
Website: Holiday Travel Trailer Sales - Albuquerque New Mexico RV Dealer - Airstream RV, Carriage, Skyline, Thor, Chalet and More

I don't know about them. They are located just south of I-40 east of the I-25 junction. But you have to get there and call them to make arrangements if you can. Taos is well known, but small and there are more options in Santa Fe and Alb. Tesuque is also small and not far north of Santa Fe. This really could be very simple—a weak starter as suggested above, a dead spot on the starter may have similar symptoms. Perhaps a small town mechanic can solve it, maybe not. Check with Good Sam to see where they will take you. it is possible they will take you one place to see it if can be fixed, then to another if it cannot. Going north to Colorado will only get you more small towns and few options.

I sent a PM to a Forum member near you and maybe he'll have a suggestion.

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Old 07-04-2011, 11:38 AM   #25
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second opinion

I vote for a better mobile mechanic if you can find one. When we were dead in the water in Vegas last year, a good mobile mechanic got us back on the road. Unless your guy found that the motor is frozen, no reason to say it needs a new one.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:55 AM   #26
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As previously stated, this is all just conjecture based on limited information... but the statement that the starter is just making whirring noises without turning the engine makes me think of the possibility of a bad bendix in the starter.

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Old 07-04-2011, 12:36 PM   #27
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More conjecture—worth what you paid for it. A starter has a gear which should engage the engine flywheel when you turn the key—the gear pops out into the flywheel and spins the flywheel and the engine starts if all is well. The gear may only pop out sometimes, therefore, whirring sometimes, and other times, hardly moving the flywheel causing what you describe as a "woo-woo" sound. This could mean a spring to move the gear outward (bad bendix) is bad, the gear is stripped, or not enough power is getting to the starter among other things. There are lots of reasons to not get enough power to the starter—battery charge, loose wires, dirty and corroded wires, solenoid going bad. A declining battery will not last long after repeated efforts to start the vehicle.

If you could roll the MH downhill, you might be able to start it without the starter, but you might not be able to stop if you do that if it has disc brakes and/or power brakes and the engine doesn't start. If a fire were coming, I'd try that though.

When you get this solved, get Woodall's book on how to repair RV things. It tells you how things work and it is on Amazon ( woodalls rv owners handbook ) and probably available at CW. Then look for a book on the basics of GM truck repairs so you'll have a better idea what to do or tell a mechanic. With a 27 year old MH, you will need repairs and you should know more about what to do.

At least you are home.

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Old 07-04-2011, 12:39 PM   #28
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Sacramento , California
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I'm in a cell dead spot so I can't make calls from here. Yes, having the non Toad Toad is a comfort although it is full of the stuff that wouldn't fit in my new home. But a fire is a fire and you don't stop to get the photos.

I had an idea. My intuition says it is the batteries. I tightened the contacts (the mechanic had not) and something happened because my step went up. Anyway, I ran the generator for an hour to hopefully charge the batteries. I tried to start with the glove box switch pulled.

All I am getting is click, click, click.

Thank goodness for this forum and a pox on mechanics who can't even tighten contacts and scare the **** out of a person.

It hasn't been moved except twice and stayed put a good long time each time. If it leaked that much oil I would think I would have seen a puddle.

Click..... battery or starter or?

Thanks again.

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batteries, new engine, oil dipstick

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