Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 11-02-2011, 09:56 PM   #1
Rivet Master
 
Roadrunner's Avatar
 
1978 29' Ambassador
1974 25' Tradewind
1974 27' Overlander
Indiana , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 669
Blog Entries: 7
Motorhome Advice?

Well I am looking at a "83" Model 310 with 454 Chevy engine. It appears to be in fairly good shape but hasn't been inspected and routinely used for over 3 years. The spedo doesn't work and it is on it's second engine. Having restored two trailers, I have no concern about working on the "Airstream" portion of this motorhome but I'm not comfortable diving into the engine. I'm looking for some sage wisdom from our MOHO friends. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

Bob
__________________

__________________
Roadrunner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2011, 10:31 PM   #2
Rivet Master
 
crazeevw's Avatar

 
1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Saint Petersburg , Florida
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,687
Images: 28
WOW! Tons of questions that I have, as well, I'm sure every other AS Motorhome owner would want to ask of you.
Without a working speedometer, it's going to be tough to get a good idea of engine condition.
Just remember one thing, the 454 is a solid engine, but like all engines, it's only as good as it's been maintained.
1st thing I'd do is get a compression test on all 8 cylinders. If there's a BIG variance between the cylinders, ummm, my best advice would be to walk away, or start haggling over asking price in the amount of what a replacement engine would cost.
2nd would be pull the engine oil dipstick. Milky looking? Clean, like oil has been recently changed? If older, I used to know of a place where you could send a 'sample' of engine oil, and by the metals found in the oil, could tell you based on the types of metals found in the engine oil if the bottom end of engine is in good condition.
3rd would be to pull transmission dipstick, look at tranny fluid. Nice and pink? Or is is a golden brown and smells like it's 'burned'.
4th, get under motorhome. Look at drivetrain components. Not too familiar with the setup for driveshaft for 310, start engine, putting transmission selector in Reverse, and back to Drive a few times, listening for the 'clank' that comes along with a bad U-joint.
5th, get back to the differential. Pull the drain plug. Check fluid level there, with no idea of mileage, hopefully, the fluid is good and clean, or at least recently changed.
6th, get a good look at suspension airbags at all corners. If rig has hydraulic levelers, check operation.
7th, check generator operation. Does it start, how many hours?
8th, get a GOOD look at the window channels. Being 28 years old, I bet they're gonna need replacing.
9th, and last suggestion from me. Go find the DOT markings on the tires. The last 4 digits will be the week and year tires were manufactured. Lots of debate on how long to use tires, how much mileage, tire condition etc. Everyone has their own opinion. But, looking at the last 4 digits of the DOT, say the tire has 3307 as the last 4 digits of DOT. 33 means the tires were manufactured the 33rd week of the year, and 07 means 2007. Tires are NOT cheap for motorhome. I'm looking at well over $2400 to replace all 9 of mine, which I WILL do, as all tires are at least 9 years old, with my tag axle having 11 year old tires.
More to look out for, but it's basically back to the 'Airstream' part. The Airstream motorhomes were built on a Chevy P30 motorhome chassis. Parts available, and just about all of them available at a decent cost factor.
One thing I've learned from reading this forum. When you call for parts, just say Chevy P30 chassis. Minute you mention P30 motorhome chassis, parts prices seem to go up......
If you can, look through the forum for members in your area. There may be a motorhome owner willing to help you look over the Airstream.
__________________

__________________
crazeevw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2011, 01:12 AM   #3
Rivet Master
 
Keyair's Avatar

 
1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3,941
Images: 1
Wow Derek....
LOL, and now you see how a year down the road, I learned a little bit!

I just went out for a Beer or 3 and look what happened...
I did warn you Bob! ROFL!
__________________
My name is Steve.... and I am an Alumaholic!
Working in my Garage is like playing TETRIS with Tools!
Keyair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2011, 10:11 AM   #4
Full Timers/Diesel power.
 
Mike Leary's Avatar
 
1983 31' Airstream310
Cactus Hug , Arizona
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,540
Images: 11
Besides what Crazee said, a good sense of humor is a must when working on these old dears. Here's my reaction (on the right) after my mechanic told me what a complete brake job, including bearings, was going to cost.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCN1130bill's.jpg
Views:	244
Size:	263.3 KB
ID:	144479  
__________________
"A settled wisdom, plus the itch to be elsewhere"
Mike Leary is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2011, 12:05 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
Keyair's Avatar

 
1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3,941
Images: 1
Roadrunner...
As you "Speak Airstream" already let me just try to hit the motorhome button.
My learning curve is still feels vertical, 18 months in!

Lets start with the bodywork, and lets cover what is different...

The Banana wraps between the bumpers and body front and rear are ABS and very brittle with age... Inland RV has replacements in Fiberglass, but they are not cheap, so inspect them. Bumpers are available.

Cockpit area... Winshield will set you back about $2000/$2500 for both glasses and seals. The word is if you have one side done, there is a good chance you will break the other side...
The forward fixed side window are made of Unobtainium....
The side glass sliders have seals that leak, and factor about $100 for replacements.
I hear the curved section of the rear bedroom windows is also NLA.

The same as trailers, Sewer vents, A/C units and seams are favorites for leaks so check your floors for rot, soft spots and stains.

Check the condition and age of the furnaces, and water heater...
If the water heater has "Motor Assist" check the coolant lines from it to the Engine... and check if you have the "Auxilary Heater" under the couch, as that has coolant lines, and a heater Core that rots too.

Oh, not sure of the 310 layout, but check the Freshwater tank, and pipes... and smell for Gasoline smell inside the rear... on mine its under the bed..signifies old gas filler pipes that need replacing.

Check the function of the Info center... tank and lpg levels, and battery condition.

Speedometers fail, and that could be a cable, but if not you can have it repaired at any good repair place I hear... my gut feeling is that if the whole speedo failed, I bet the milage is pretty close to what it says... a failed Odometer is a different matter.
Check the function of all the gauges, and make sure they all work as you would expect... Another common failure is the low Coolant/washer lights..
Check that all of the dash switches, power seats, interior, compartment/docking lights work etc... there are a lot!
Rear view Camera?

Moving outside, check the batteries, and their condition...should be 1 chassis battery and 2 Coach batteries.
Check the floor of the battery compartment for holes/rot... common failure!
Check all of the exterior storage drawers for leaks and rot!


With a genset onboard, you have other stuff to check, as Derek already covered, so check for function, Output, mufflers, fuel lines, oil leaks, and my favorite... Compartment insulation disintigration!
Check to see if the genset starts and is able to run the A/C units etc.

Moving on to Chassis and running gear..

The 454/TH475 a tough rugged combo, but worked hard to pull the M/H.
How many miles are recorded?
I suggest you take a friend with you or hire a Mechanic that is familiar with the 454.

I would want to see a service history, and a stack of bills... but failing that, look closely and smell all fluids... If the motor has been sitting it is not unusual for the oil to smell of gas...
Look close at Coolant color, and inspect the radiator and all hoses for age and leaks... dont forget the front heater hoses and core.

Pull off the dog house.
I would want to hear it start from cold... listen for noises, and if possible get a compression and or leakdown test done..
Note Oil pressure from cold, and when hot... Coolant temperature too.
Look at the Engine fan... is it spinning correctly and moving air?
Check for oil and coolant leaks, exhaust manfold leaks and muffler integrety.
has any emissions equipment been removed?
Not critcal if you have no smog test, but was it done properly?

If the Banks Power kit is fitted... You scored!

More to come, but that will get you started on a checklist!
__________________
My name is Steve.... and I am an Alumaholic!
Working in my Garage is like playing TETRIS with Tools!
Keyair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 10:51 AM   #6
Rivet Master
 
Roadrunner's Avatar
 
1978 29' Ambassador
1974 25' Tradewind
1974 27' Overlander
Indiana , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 669
Blog Entries: 7
Great advice! Thanks! This certainly requires more diligent inspection than I'm typically used to. Out of curiosity, what would an engine replacement run for a 454 ? Good suggestion about having a mechanic along. And I would guess that there is a reason it hasn't been inspected for 3 years. Much more investigation warranted!

Bob
__________________
Roadrunner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 11:15 AM   #7
Rivet Master
 
crazeevw's Avatar

 
1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Saint Petersburg , Florida
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,687
Images: 28
A Chevy 454 short block can vary in price. Basic short block can start as low as $2000.00. Rebuilt, from a junker, hi-performance, all variances that will reflect in price. You could go to Summit Racing and spend lots more.
All depends on how deep your pockets are......
__________________
crazeevw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 11:22 AM   #8
Rivet Master
 
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591
Having owned both an Argosy 24' motorhome and an Airstream 310 motorhome, and having traveled extensively with a friend who had a 28' AS motorhome, all the advice given above, in detail, is excellent. The posters have listed most of the trouble areas (I didn't see anything on the rear air suspension though) and are dead on correct in their comments.

Any motorhome, Airstream included, is a much more expensive and difficult vehicle to maintain than a trailer. Although I never had many problems with my motorhomes, when I did the issue of finding someone capable to work on them was always a pain. Parts for older units is another issue. I went back to trailers and TV's that can be replaced in total, when they get technically out of date. It is also much easier to take a TV to a shop for repair, than a motorhome, and usually much lest costly.

An Airstream motorhome is a beautiful sight to behold, but you can bet the owner has spent a bit to keep it that way. Just the nature of the beast.
__________________
idroba is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 11:28 AM   #9
Rivet Master
 
Keyair's Avatar

 
1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3,941
Images: 1
Hi Bob,
The motor is not that expensive... unless you get into 502's etc...
Mine has a Jasper remanufactored motor, and they have a good reputation I hear. I can tell you it pulls like a train.

I think its a good idea to have plenty of "what if's" in mind.

As Derek said, tires are a big expense, altho without a Tag axle, you are getting away a little cheaper! If you budget for $300 per tire, you should be close. I personally would put "Traction" tires on the Dually axle if you plan to do any winter traveling. They will also help you off wet grass or mud! The stock size is 8R 19.5, but many of us have swapped over to 225/70 R19.5, which is a little smaller but wider, and supposedly have better handling and grip. There has been talk of them being too wide for the dually axle, but some of the members(Robfike is one) are using them without issues.
__________________
My name is Steve.... and I am an Alumaholic!
Working in my Garage is like playing TETRIS with Tools!
Keyair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 04:24 PM   #10
Rivet Master
 
1982 28' Airstream 280
Redwood City , California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,735
Sounds very daunting!

Most of my advice is to do the typical that you should already know about from owning and driving a car. One thing we all seem to be guilty of (and that includes me!) is to do too much or go too far with our fixes. The problem with that is you will never get out on the road and enjoy the MH. For example, I've spent unnecessary time polishing my silly front bumper when that time was really needed in replacing my fan clutch for my Yosemite trip starting on Sunday! Is it a money pit? Yes, but you can do things over time. My '82 280 was owned by my mom and dad for about twenty years until they passed and it has been mine for the last four years. I now know why when I was wrapping up the estate, my brother told me "you don't want that thing, trust me!".

My dad took very good care of the MH over the years and they did many trips in it including many long distance trips. I have had the opportunity over the last six months to sort of do everything I wanted to do all at once, but this certainly was not mandatory. I have spent about $16K so far and that is with me doing all the labor, but again it wasn't all necessary to get the MH on the road.

I have learned that there is a difference between doing something perfect and doing it right. We tend to want to do things perfect. There have been times in the past that I questioned why my dad did what he did. The plain answer is to get the MH on the road and enjoy it. Do what you need to do to maintain the rig and make it safe. Depending on time and BUDGET, the perfect can come along later.

This last summer I was heading out on a month long trip with my truck and ATV trailer. I had it up north and was underneath starting to do all kinds of work on it. Next to me was a retired Ford mechanic. He asked me what I was doing. I said the check engine light comes on when I go over the mountain passes. He shook his head and said they RARELY ever needed to replace the O2 sensors and all you need to do was replace the fuel filter. Well, he was right. The two main problems you will experience with your MH engine are plug wires and fuel delivery (from the filter through the carb). Replace the main filter back on the frame rail and the one in the Q-Jet. If you have any other filters, remove them. Now for that piece of crap Q-Jet, replace it with the SAME, but with one rebuilt by a company that REALLY knows what they are doing with Q-Jets. Don't try to rebuild it yourself...you want the MH on the road right? If it was a Holley, I would say rebuild it yourself. A couple of problems with Q-Jets among many others, is they are made out of pot metal and eventually leak gas where plugs have been installed In the carb body. Also the throttle shaft wears out and it will leak air. Problem with plug wires is they get burned up by the heat produced by both stock exhaust manifolds and headers. Don't waste your money on the most expensive wire set you can find but don't get a cheap set either. One other thing I want to mention is the alternator. You will eventually be replacing it because it will burn out. This is due to too much amperage draw from it. Don't replace now if it is working, but reduce your 12 volt power consumption if you can. When it needs to be replaced, replace with a higher amperage unit or you will just burn out the new one as well.

The 454 is a great engine. If the oil has been changed on schedule and it has not been "overheated", it should last you a long time. Mine has 130k miles on it and 150 psi compression in all cylinders. It leaks some oil, but what the heck! The 454 runs at what some consider hot. They can run up to 220 degrees. They overheat when they boil over. Don't waste money on trying to improve your gas mileage. It is what it is. My dad put a Banks system on mine a long time ago. I doubt he ever recouped the cost...he should have spent that money on my mother instead!

Check all the vacuum hoses on the engine. With its age, many are probably cracked or have fallen off. This can affect your smog emissions as well.

Speaking of smog...I STRONGLY suggest that you leave your smog equipment on! Someday you will resell your Airstream or pass it down to your children. Buyers come from all over and may want to take the MH back to a state that requires the smog equipment. Believe me, you will not see much of a difference in mileage or performance with working smog equipment or without. I brought my MH into Calif from Oregon. It is a federal model so no cats and no evap. My dad took the air pump off and it is costly to replace which I had to do. If you have the pump, make such the pump is not burned out (from bad check values), same goes for the relief valve (which for some reason is very expensive) and for the check valves. Make sure those check valves are good, you will just burn out your pump in short order from exhaust if they are not. So please, please, please, leave the smog equipment on

Personally, I wouldn't even consider dropping the gas tank unless you have actual evidence of gas leaks and/or rust in the tank.

Not only check your brakes, but check not just that the master cylinder has fluid, but the condition of the master cylinder. When I brought the MH to calif from my dad's house in Eugene OR, four years ago, I check that I had fluid. All looked good and the brakes were strong. The MH has sat a lot since then until recently now that it is smogged, registered and I'm taking it on trips. The brakes seem to be very solid as well. But one day I decided to see if there was any fluid in the master cylinder...expecting all to be well of course. Not only did I find about a quarter inch of fluid only but the master cylinder had a quarter inch of gunk in the bottom of it. That is what sitting will do...see attached photo. MH would not have made it down the mountain a couple months later when I took it in the get it smogged.

Absolutely replace the tires and the SHOCKS! Your shocks are shot I would bet after all these years. Replace steering stabilizer as well. I just installed a SteerSafe and I can't wait to see how it performs come Monday. Make sure the rear airbags and air system are working. You would be amazed at the difference in handling and the ride with this system working. The same goes for the front air bags. I was completely amazed recently when I changed mine. There is a lot of talk about replacing the front air bags with heavier springs. In fact I was ready to do the same. I thought the lower A arms had to be dropped to replace the bags so same amount of labor. Wrong! The air bags are installed through the holes in the lower A arm. It was a chore, but I got it done. My deciding factor in replacing the front air bags instead of replacing the springs, was the savings in just the bags, paid for my new roof air conditioner! Or it paid for the DMV fines I had to pay for not registering the MH for 3 years!

Well I'm exhausted and I'm sure you are too from reading all this. Have fun! I'll be heading down I5 to highway 120 and into Yosemite Valley with my shiny bumper starting Monday!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	image-2213105451.png
Views:	97
Size:	1,010.4 KB
ID:	144528  
__________________
http://projectupdraft.com/airstream

"We are free to go where we wish and to be what we are"
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagall
dadstoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 06:32 PM   #11
2 Rivet Member
 
woodja's Avatar
 
1982 31' Airstream 310
Dayton , Tennessee
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 81
Well Roadrunner, how's that for a check list. That's a lot of good info but I'm almost glad I didn't read that before I bought our MoHo. I would have been a liittle apprehensive of all the things that need to be done.
We bought our '82' 310 a year ago last August w/68000 miles in southern Louisiana. I must be the luckiest guy in the village because not only did I have buyers remorse for several weeks but I made the 750 mi trip home without a problem & my experience this past year has been more than great
& totally satisfying. I've serviced the engine & transmission (& polished the bumpers) but my air bags on all 4 corners seem to be fine, I hardly ever hear the pump cycle. We did replace the old gas (& filters). Our Onan is propane which I didn't like at 1st but have learned to love. Starts easily & because of our huge tank isn't likely to run out. But of course we never use it much.
I just couldn't be happier with our MoHo. It's what I do and I guess I must be a bit retro. Plan to waterproof the original awnings this weekend and we're getting ready for the CanOpener.
Oh, and one more important thing that nobody mentioned. Don't leave the driveway without a good road insurance policy. If you need to be towed, leave that to somebody that knows where to take you.
Enjoy, Pete
__________________
woodja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 09:04 PM   #12
Rivet Master
 
Roadrunner's Avatar
 
1978 29' Ambassador
1974 25' Tradewind
1974 27' Overlander
Indiana , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 669
Blog Entries: 7
Well you know Dean...after polishing 2 Airstreams...you really do need a polished bumper! Bet everyone can see you coming. Sounds like all are very glad they made the investment in their Airstream motorhomes. I'll be taking a second look...and based upon the suggestions here...may follow in your footsteps. Thanks for the advice!

Bob
__________________
Roadrunner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2011, 02:34 PM   #13
Rivet Master
 
Keyair's Avatar

 
1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3,941
Images: 1
Roadrunner,
As a trailer owner, I am sure you are already deep into the joy of having your own space and home away from home, that they bring.
My personal belief is that the Airstream Classic Motorhome is the pinnicle of this...

I have had trailers, and workamped in Europe in mine for years...

Here was my rig, parked on an Olive Grove is Tuscany for 2 years.. I never failed to enjoy every second of it!


Or here parked in a meadow under the shadow of Mt Blanc on the Italian side...


Or the return Trip home in December, where the snow tires and chains paid for themselves...


And I was roughing it compared with what you guys have here! A 15lb Propane tank and 4A electrical load max on one 12v battery taught me to be frugal!

Now, here is the thing...
I want and love to travel in the USA.
I also want my GF and dogs close to hand, and for my family and friends traveling with me to relax, sleep, party, drink wine or coffee, make a sandwich, or use the bathroom while we put down the miles.
Or simply watch the world pass by the windows...
In my minds eye, we take turns to drive, while making the journey TO the destination as bigger part of the fun as the destination.

You just can't do that in a Truck and trailer combo to the same level.
That is why I decided on a Motorhome.... and as I always wanted an Airstream, once I found out that Airstream built Classics, the choice was easy!

Yes, they have issues, but I would rather replace a dinged Aluminum sheet, that deal with a side delamination issue, and the parts are now not available!
I was talking to a neighbor of mine at storage... he was telling me he just had a cracked Turbo houseing and manifold on his 2006 Diesel Pusher... the complete repair, cost over $10k...
These big motorhomes are sweet, but those here will tell you that when on the road, nobody even notices you or your tens or hundreds of thousands of $$$ investment..
I can handle 8mpg, and being able to find a part for the drivetrain at any Autoparts store in any backwoods town!
Ask any little backstreet/backwoods mechanic if he can replace a waterpump in a Chevy 454 for you, and you know he will say yes... Just dont tell him what the 454 is living under!
__________________
My name is Steve.... and I am an Alumaholic!
Working in my Garage is like playing TETRIS with Tools!
Keyair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2011, 03:25 PM   #14
Rivet Master

 
Currently Looking...
1995 36' Classic 36
Ludington , Michigan
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1,305
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keyair View Post
I was talking to a neighbor of mine at storage... he was telling me he just had a cracked Turbo houseing and manifold on his 2006 Diesel Pusher... the complete repair, cost over $10k...
These big motorhomes are sweet, but those here will tell you that when on the road, nobody even notices you or your tens or hundreds of thousands of $$$ investment..
Cool pictures and I couldn't agree more with your take on motorhomes.

Don't sell the diesels too short. As a shade tree mechanic I'm finding the cummins quite easy to work on. Parts have been surprizingly inexpensive at places like Rocky Mountain Truck. A cracked exhaust manifold and a new high performance turbo housing was less than a grand and took a day to replace.

Properly cared for those drivetrains should go half a million miles and the miles per gallon are a big plus. I pitty the guy that has to rely on the RV service centers for repairs on anything.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Banks 033 (Large).jpg
Views:	112
Size:	114.2 KB
ID:	145118  
__________________

__________________
Kota is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Classic Airstream motorhome crazeevw Classic Motorhomes 60 12-12-2011 01:25 PM
Motorhome floor repair advice needed. Keyair Repairing/Replacing Floor &/or Frame 0 10-06-2011 11:44 AM
What's the best and worst advice you've received? MrUKToad On The Road... 4 09-01-2011 06:39 AM
More First Timer advice: 20FC, 23FBFC, 23 Int? Supercharge Buyer Guidelines 28 05-14-2011 12:36 AM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:37 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.