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Old 06-21-2009, 03:12 AM   #1
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Del Mar , California
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Greetings...

We are contemplating buying an A/S Classic, probably a 345. This would be our fourth RV, the previous three being a Bounder 34, a Forest
River 38 diesel pusher, and our current; Weekend Warrior 32' fifth-wheel toyhauler. Since my wife recently severely injured her back/neck riding dirt bikes, we're somewhat getting out of the desert scene, to do a bit more conventional RV'ing. We'll still keep a half dozen dirt bikes, and make a few desert trips each season. Most of our trips will be around California, long weekends, etc. This time around, we don't want to spend $100k+ on a rig that sits in the side yard 95% of the time. We started looking at GMC motorhomes, which we think are pretty nice, but too small. It looks like we can get a 345 or similar for between $12k-25k pretty easily. I'm torn between buying the best example we can find, versus one that needs a bit of work for half the price, and redo it the way we want it. Certainly it's financially smarter to let someone else pour a ton of cash into a rig, as you don't get near an equal return on investment doing repairs, restoration, etc. My guess is that it would probably take a good $16-18k to make a $12k motorhome equal a $25k coach. Then again, in most cases I've seen, coaches of this vintage are very often not kept up impeccably, as they have filtered down to folks who can't afford to do it properly. Many coaches out there with mismatched tires, poorly done interior "renovations", inoperative appliances, etc. One of my biggest hesitations about getting an Airstream, is the exterior. I love the look (when it's nice...) but don't want to spend $5k getting it stripped / polished, and then have a lot of continuous maintanance. I saw on another thread, a dealer "Andy" said you need to wash and wax a polished A/S at least once a month. I've got way too much going on in life to do that. What's the situation with the 80's motorhomes? Are most still clear coated? When folks strip and polish, do they also re-clear coat? What type of regular exterior maintanance is realistic on these? Also, many coaches have the ugly plastic "woodgrain" stripe. If that is removed, do you polish the space, or paint it? I think the painted lower panels look good, but fake woodgrain, on an aluminum body? What were they thinking... finally, it looks like lots of coaches have corrosion around the mid level "rub rail". Is that a big deal to clean up?

Still undecided, but hopefully I'll get some good straight scoop.


Ed
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:59 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Automobilist View Post
Greetings...

We are contemplating buying an A/S Classic, probably a 345. This would be our fourth RV, the previous three being a Bounder 34, a Forest
River 38 diesel pusher, and our current; Weekend Warrior 32' fifth-wheel toyhauler. Since my wife recently severely injured her back/neck riding dirt bikes, we're somewhat getting out of the desert scene, to do a bit more conventional RV'ing. We'll still keep a half dozen dirt bikes, and make a few desert trips each season. Most of our trips will be around California, long weekends, etc. This time around, we don't want to spend $100k+ on a rig that sits in the side yard 95% of the time. We started looking at GMC motorhomes, which we think are pretty nice, but too small. It looks like we can get a 345 or similar for between $12k-25k pretty easily. I'm torn between buying the best example we can find, versus one that needs a bit of work for half the price, and redo it the way we want it. Certainly it's financially smarter to let someone else pour a ton of cash into a rig, as you don't get near an equal return on investment doing repairs, restoration, etc. My guess is that it would probably take a good $16-18k to make a $12k motorhome equal a $25k coach. Then again, in most cases I've seen, coaches of this vintage are very often not kept up impeccably, as they have filtered down to folks who can't afford to do it properly. Many coaches out there with mismatched tires, poorly done interior "renovations", inoperative appliances, etc. One of my biggest hesitations about getting an Airstream, is the exterior. I love the look (when it's nice...) but don't want to spend $5k getting it stripped / polished, and then have a lot of continuous maintanance. I saw on another thread, a dealer "Andy" said you need to wash and wax a polished A/S at least once a month. I've got way too much going on in life to do that. What's the situation with the 80's motorhomes? Are most still clear coated? When folks strip and polish, do they also re-clear coat? What type of regular exterior maintanance is realistic on these? Also, many coaches have the ugly plastic "woodgrain" stripe. If that is removed, do you polish the space, or paint it? I think the painted lower panels look good, but fake woodgrain, on an aluminum body? What were they thinking... finally, it looks like lots of coaches have corrosion around the mid level "rub rail". Is that a big deal to clean up?

Still undecided, but hopefully I'll get some good straight scoop.


Ed
Ed.

You already have a good start by having the right questions.

The wood grain can be removed, and a nice, but proper paint job within the belt line, does wonders.

A few owners went with Duponts "Chromalusion" paint. That's the paint that changes colors as you walk by it, or as you look at it from one end to the other, while standing still.

Sort of expensive, but outstanding results.

Plasticoat is good for about 5 years. Keep that in mind when your looking at a possible purchase.

How the coach was maintained, is another good question. Paying later to make a decent coach, is ok, as long as you have something reasonably good to start with.

Metal damages, gasket replacements, air bags front and rear, engine, transmission, windshields, all must be considered as well.

Andy
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Old 06-21-2009, 03:59 PM   #3
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Andy, thank you for your input. If we do choose to buy an AS coach, I'm sure we'll be doing some business... Would you care to give a ballpark idea of what a strip / re-Plasticoat job would typically run on a 34'? I'm guessing a refinish job would be more expensive than rebuilding the engine & transmission... We are not interested in a mirror finish. If you are aware of any coaches for sale in our region, I would be interested as well.

Anyone ever put a Duramax / Allison powertrain in one of these?
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Old 06-21-2009, 05:19 PM   #4
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Maybe i can help decide between a perfect coach & a fixer upper. We found a well taken care of coach. At first I felt wrong about tearing out some stuff to make it mine. I felt better after a few alterations. Are you capable of mechanical & cosmetic alterations? I'm considering a paint job after striiping. This will last longer than clearcoating & be easier to maintain. I will customize my coach with color along the bottom while keeping the top silver. Also making the roof white for cooling purposes.

Ricky
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:44 AM   #5
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Speedway , Indiana
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We have a 1986 345, and we LOVE it!
I have flown too many airplanes that need polishing so that route was never considered.
The clear was going bad on our unit, so we went the paint route. The main silver area is Mercedes iridium silver metalic. The dark areas are painted a gray that is a little darker, and a bit browner than original. With this we should get more life between repaints. From 15 feet away, you would never know it is paint rather than aluminum and clear.
Good luck, Rob
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Old 06-24-2009, 02:30 PM   #6
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Your coach looks great Rob. Really very nice. I also like the choice of "towd"...

Funny, I'm early (very early) retired from the airline which flies all polished planes. I flew 737-800, 757, 767... I remember being in TUL watching them polish a 767. Rather big job. I guess that turned me off to the whole polishing concept...

Your paint job cost around $10k I'm guessing?

Ed
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Old 07-20-2009, 03:52 PM   #7
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This is funny. I like Airstream's also and I fly too. If I polish it will be an airplane.
Russell
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:20 PM   #8
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Heart of Dixie , Alabama
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Coach Classic

The Airstream MH in the years your thinking about are low maintenance compaired to others, but even the best example is going to need attention somewhere, sometime.

If you get a fixer, you can customize it as you make repair.

If you get one closer to ready, you will be happier.

Very few MH are polished.
The best part about the Airstreams to me are the body.
I spend very little time doing anything there.
I did replace my stripes with tape and just wash it before each trip.

But inside, there are always new ideas to try, and small items to repair.
As with any MH, you will be making repairs, but with the Airstream, your results are more pleasing and longer lasting.
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klattu View Post
The Airstream MH in the years your thinking about are low maintenance compaired to others, but even the best example is going to need attention somewhere, sometime.

If you get a fixer, you can customize it as you make repair.

If you get one closer to ready, you will be happier.

Very few MH are polished.
The best part about the Airstreams to me are the body.
I spend very little time doing anything there.
I did replace my stripes with tape and just wash it before each trip.

But inside, there are always new ideas to try, and small items to repair.
As with any MH, you will be making repairs, but with the Airstream, your results are more pleasing and longer lasting.
What you said..........
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