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Old 07-28-2006, 05:06 PM   #1
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williamsport , Maryland
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need advice and information

Hi, we are looking at a 1986 345 with 96,000 miles. It needs a thorough cleaning, but seems to be in descent shape. We will test drive it next week. My question is - are there any problems associated with this model, what is it worth, and what are the differences in the 345 model? I have seen many with a queen size bed in the back. This one has 2 single beds. It does have the double axle in the back and is 34 ft. Can anyone give me any advice on what I should look for when we go to test drive it? This will be our first motorhome. Thanks!!!
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Old 07-28-2006, 05:19 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums. There are quite s few 345's on the forum so I am certain you'll get your share of opinions mostly good. You might also just start reading the threads in the classic motor home section since most of them deal with the 345. To understand the different trim levels visit Fred's motor home page at the link below. Good luck. I love my classic and would not trade it for anything.
http://www.airstreammotorhomes.com/
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Old 07-28-2006, 06:52 PM   #3
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1985 34.5' Airstream 345
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We have a 1985 345 and have had it for 1 1/2 yrs, it had about 80,000 on it when we bought it (odometer had been replaced so its a guess). We paid 18,500 and had the camera replaced $1000. all new tires 2200., generator replaced 6500., all new shocks, steering dampner etc , all fluids changed, new icemaker ( the old one broke on Baja roads and could not get replacment parts) 1000., new upholstery, new batteries all around. We are over $30K into it and love every minute of it. It is a great motorhome, easy to drive and park. The only challenge is the 2000# limit on tow vehicle but we pull a VW thing so it works out great. It helps to be handy and mechanically inclined.
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Old 07-28-2006, 07:27 PM   #4
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1991 35' Airstream 350
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345

Welcome aboard.........We bought a 90/91 350 (six inches longer than a 345) in November for 22K, purchased from a dealer in OH who had it on consignment. Drove it home to Port Republic without incident. We have travelled back and forth to other parts of Maryland and to PA several times, and to Virginia Beach, and I am happy with the purchase. We love the Zeppelin--and damn the price of fuel. It gets used regularly when we have houseguests, so they have their own space while visiting. I drive it about 25 miles every two weeks (to Solomons) to keep the seals and gaskets happy.

In MD, RV's are exempt from the emissions test, but to pass the state inspection, you may need to put gaskets in the exhaust headers--the engine had none from the factory. If you need exhaust gaskets, and you aren't doing it yourself, plan on $300-$500 in fees, parts, and labor for the work and inspection, new bulbs, fuses, etc, etc, etc. It's a rip off, but you have no choice.

Check the tires very carefully, including the spare. ANY cracking is a sign of dry rot, and replacement is a good idea. Most tires on RV's don't wear out--they rot, and need replacement every 3-7 years. We blew an inner rear drive axle tire coming back from Harrisburg in April--an exercise in sound and fury--and replaced 5 of our older tires the next weekend. Figure about $200.00 each. Always keep your BEST, NEWEST tires on the front.

Please feel free to call me if you have questions.

Rob
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Old 07-28-2006, 07:52 PM   #5
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I had an 82 280 ...same motor and chassis just a bit shorter and one axle in the rear. I had it five yrs, had NO major repairs ever needed, and enjoyed the heck out of it.
Moved to a trailer as my daily world required me to get a truck...made it easier to swap.
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Old 07-30-2006, 05:24 PM   #6
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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sarasmom,
Welcome to the forum. We own a 1986 345 with the rear queen layout. Although the rear queen can be more desirable for full timers the rear twins actually give you more room back there on shorter trips for things like getting dressed as well as some additional sofa possibilities while underway (if you have kids).

The biggest thing I would look for are cracks in or a "oil can" appear on the skin. If the "coach" is in good shape almost everything else can be replaced or repaired. Chassis and engine parts are chevy truck parts and are available and inexpensive. Obviously it's an older vehicle and if it's the original engine its approaching the end of it's useful life at about 100,000 miles. My 345 is approaching 200,000 miles so if you're willing to invest in power plant replacement they make a great RV.

Do a search on the forum for "motorhome checklist". It'll give you a lot of good things to look for.

Have a mechanic check out the drivetrain (not the dealership) if you can arrange it. Turn on an test every system; generator, fridge, AC, heaters, water heater, micrwave, etc. Be sure you know what you're buying.

Prices on 345s range from mid teens to mid thirties. It's all about condition. Understand what up front systems will need replacement or repair and negotiate it with the seller.

Lastly, remember that purchasing a classic motorhome has it's rewards and it's challenges. Our first year of ownership was a mecahnical challenge with more than a few breakdowns. Now, four years later (hard to believe) we have a reliable motorhome that I've driven from Maine to Florida and Las Vegas and it turns heads wherever it goes!

If you have more questions ask away.
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Old 08-06-2006, 12:24 AM   #7
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Temecula , California
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1986 345

Steve, you mentioned that you have this same year and model. Did this Motorhome come with a Diesel too. I know the 280 had an Isuzu motor in them besides the gas Chevy ones. I too am considering getting a Motorhome instead of a travel trailer. My wifes idea. I would like the MotorHome to look like the trailers. (Aluminum) I know the newer ones don't. Not sure when they stopped making them.
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Old 08-06-2006, 06:57 AM   #8
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Unless there is some special production or owner modification I do not believe the 345 ever came with a diesel. The 280, 310 and the 360 come with a diesel. With the 360 being a pusher. The 360 was also the end of the classic in 1996. All of the diesels used were from Isuzu except the 360 which used a Cummins.
Good luck with your search.
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Old 08-07-2006, 08:13 PM   #9
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RealityQuest,
There were only a few built from the factory with a Cummins diesel in them. One was for sale in TX last year. Almost all of the longer units came with 454 gas engines (like mine).

Airstream stopped making the 345 in 1994 and started making a new body style (still aluminum curved bodies) called the 360 in 1995 and 1996. The Classic was discontinued after 1996. Some 360's came on a Spartan chassis with a diesel pusher configuration.

You can find out more about floorplans, options, etc on a members site: www.airstreammotorhomes.com

Keep us posted.

sarasmom - did you buy it?
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swebster
RealtyQuest,
There were only a few built from the factory with a Cummins diesel in them. One was for sale in TX last year. Almost all of the longer units came with 454 gas engines (like mine).

Airstream stopped making the 345 in 1994 and started making a new body style (still aluminum curved bodies) called the 360 in 1995 and 1996. The Classic was discontinued after 1996. Some 360's came on a Spartan chassis with a diesel pusher configuration.

You can find out more about floorplans, options, etc on a members site: www.airstreammotorhomes.com

Keep us posted.

sarasmom - did you buy it?
I did look at a 1986 325 today, but it had 142,000 miles on it and hadn't been used since 2001. The lady doesn't know if the engine or trans had ever had work done on them before. Her husband is overseas and wil not be back for another two weeks. It was priced at $15990 which I thought was a little high too.
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Old 08-08-2006, 09:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealtyQuest
I did look at a 1986 325 today, but it had 142,000 miles on it and hadn't been used since 2001. The lady doesn't know if the engine or trans had ever had work done on them before. Her husband is overseas and wil not be back for another two weeks. It was priced at $15990 which I thought was a little high too.
IMHO your issue here is the lack of use for 5 years. The 370 I've owned this year was more the victim of lack of use than anything else. Lots of seals, gaskets, etc. don't like to sit for long periods of time. The price doesn't seem out-of-line (to me), assuming you know what you're getting. Of course, I haven't seen it. Always goes back to knowing whatever you buy there will be work ($) to do. Longer it has sat, the more you will have to get back into running condition. That is a lot of miles, but even that isn't always bad. In my case I had only 15K over 16 years, and that turned out to be the good news/bad news scenario. No wear on the inside, but lots of "little" things that needed attention in order to function correctly. Took more time and patience than money, but at 142,000 miles you could also be looking at some major repairs ($). Again, depends on your resources and willingness to work and restore. Keep us posted. There is no "right" answer that fits everyone .

Best,
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