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Old 03-29-2009, 10:10 AM   #1
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P-30 chassis suspension

We are learing about the Classic Motorhomes. Recently traveled to see a 1993 250 Classic, and we delightfully discovered the early 90's 250 motorhome had manual fill front airbag assisted coil springs. The rear had leaf springs, no airbags.. Can anyone tell me are there other models that DON'T have airbag suspension? Don't what the extra maintenance. Does the brake pedal nromally have a large travel distance before positive braking occurs. The one we drove, the owner told us this was a characteristic of the P-30 chassis?
We maybe heading to the EAST to view another early to mid 80's Classic, actually 2 differnce coaches. Much has been replaced, but it seems most of theses coaches the ODO has turned over and/or been replaced, or milesage ois unknown. We understand as long as these coaches have been around, finding one in pristine condition and needing nothing is impossible to find. But where do you draw the line when it comes to mechanical safety and the pocket book?
If a coach has over 100,000 miles on it, how tired is the chassis and house structure. Is it prudent to go to the extensive task replacing driveline, re-builidng the diff, all bearings, over hauling the tranny and engine. If this is so, then one would have to buy right to justify spending a bundle of money to create a new baseline for maintenance.

Any insight from all Classic owners would be super aprreciated. I just don't want to bite off more than we really want to chew. Rennovating our 1997 B-190, (SEE FORUMS CLASSIFIEDS), after misrepresentation, was alot of work, heartache, disappiontment and money. Now it"s a GREAT Vehicle But, we are finding it is too small with our growing family for what we want to do now.
Have found a good price on a 2005 shorty fiberglass coach, but it JUST isn't the same as aluminum..

Thanks
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:25 AM   #2
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I know the smaller 1970's era motorhomes had no air bags. Somewhat later models had manual fill rear and fronts.
The brake pedal does travel more than you would think it should. You can adjust the rear brakes to take up some of the travel, but it will still move more than, say, a modern car.
For a baseline, I would take it to a shop, and have them check the ball joints, control arm bushings, idler arm, steering gear, belts, hoses (and brake hoses), fluid levels and condition (including differential fluid level).
Things I would replace would be the belts and coolant hoses (all of them), brake pads and shoes, ALL fluids (coolant, oil, transmission, differential, power steering, brake fluid), all filters, PCV valve, repack front wheel bearings, replace the grease seals for the rear hubs (adjust the rear wheel bearings while you're there), all light bulbs, wiper blades, and tires (if the tires are more than 4 years old). I would also replace any battery that was more than 2 years old. I would also think hard about replacing the water pump and thermostat, especially if it has been sitting a while.
If it's a gas engine, I'd replace the spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor if it hasn't been done in the last two years.
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:54 AM   #3
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Classic that needs nothing

I have one posted on Fred's Airstream site.
Long travel soft pedal is normal for P series chassis. Front air bags in the coils are not a deal breaker, can be replaced with slightly heavier aftermarket coils, against OEM advise.
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:03 AM   #4
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Thanks Terry,

The one coach we are thinking about has had alot of what you mentioned replaced. With the exception of frontend stuff like ball joints and and tie rods. Stabilizer bushings have been replaced, as well as brakes, tires, air bags ( maual and auto fill) new brake lines, coolant, oil, batteries, radiator, water pump, all hoses, fluids, bearings, shocks, marker and headlights, Engine tune up not mentioned, but with all the other stuff, I would have to assume,, ahhh, I will ask, next phone call.

One question would be, can you replace the front airbags with heavier coils and eliminate that potential headache? Or would that change the nature of the front and how it would drive.? The owner of this coach told me if you don't keep a certain psi in the front airbags, it will affect the alignment.???
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:14 AM   #5
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Thanks Terry,

The one coach we are thinking about has had alot of what you mentioned replaced. With the exception of frontend stuff like ball joints and and tie rods. Stabilizer bushings have been replaced, as well as brakes, tires, air bags ( maual and auto fill) new brake lines, coolant, oil, batteries, radiator, water pump, all hoses, fluids, bearings, shocks, marker and headlights, Engine tune up not mentioned, but with all the other stuff, I would have to assume,, ahhh, I will ask, next phone call.

One question would be, can you replace the front airbags with heavier coils and eliminate that potential headache? Or would that change the nature of the front and how it would drive.? The owner of this coach told me if you don't keep a certain psi in the front airbags, it will affect the alignment.???
The air front bags add front end support without stiffness, and are a part of the alignment as well.

They also help with front end stability.

If you remove them, and add stiffer springs, you will make one trip, and it will be a short one at that.

You will also stiffen the ride that will cause structual damages.

There is a one word answer. Don't.

The proper air pressure for the front bags is 55 psi, nor more and no less.

Andy
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:27 AM   #6
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Jim---Re: Coil springs
Replacement coil springs are built by "Super Steer" and are available at various load carrying capacities. They are made to use WITHOUT air bags.
They are avaliable at Camping World (for about $355.00) and other places. Probably most spring shops can custom build springs for less money. It just might be worth looking around a little.


Bob
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:43 AM   #7
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Jim---NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY!

When I bought our motorhome, the front air bags were shot.

I did what Andy said---replaced front air bags (both cheap and easy) and run 55 lbs.psi., that was 5 years ago and about 20,000 miles-----WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS.

Happy Bob
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Old 03-29-2009, 01:38 PM   #8
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Andy, Terry, Wascobob, M horhnstein Thanks for insight. I was just trying the eliminate potential trouble down the road for maintenance and simplicity sake. seems changing out to just springs may increase trouble..

Now, for towing a car behind. I have read yea'ss and nea's. WE are talking about a 5000 lbs car. LX-470 SUV. I have read about adding a more substantial hitch receiver to the main frame, not attaching to the sub-frame that extends the house's overhang beyond the rear axle. Would a shorter coach, like a 250 (rare) or 270,280, 290, or maybe a 310 be better to withstand the stress of towing.?

Or would we be better off with a newer coach like an 2005 fiberglass job?
thanks
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Old 03-29-2009, 01:44 PM   #9
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Jim---Re: Coil springs
Replacement coil springs are built by "Super Steer" and are available at various load carrying capacities. They are made to use WITHOUT air bags.
We've got those, work great!
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:13 PM   #10
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I have replaced both the front and rear bags in mine, the rears were a little tricky as there is limited work space, but the front inner coil helpers are no big and can be bought around $100 bucks if they go out, and they tend to hold air decent as well. There are some posts about people using the supersteer coils if you can find them, I have an 89 345LE, I actually just returned tonight from the Martinsville nascar race, was there all weekend. Mine has 118k on the engine, and still runs strong. I replaced the plugs/wires and gave it a good tune up very easily. Do the 250's have a vacuum booster on the brakes?? If so you should be able to watch the gauge for that and tell if it is working properly. No mention of a generator?? But you seem quite an accomplished AS owner so as far everything else goes im sure you know what to look for.
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:58 AM   #11
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If you're looking at a diesel engine model, have a competent mechanic check the front ball joints carefully. When these left the factory they were at or over front suspension specs for weight, and ball joint failures are common until the OEM suspension is replaced with heavier weight spec parts, especially ball joints. You don't want to know how I know this.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:48 AM   #12
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If you bring the motorhome to ANY KNOWLEDGABLE ALLIGNMENT SHOP without airbags they wont even touch it peroid

Even with heavy duty springs and no bags they will not touch it

Tried recently without knowledge of a suspension on a motorhome and was told it MUST be OEM because of allignment issues
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:51 AM   #13
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air bags

What is done to a car, truck, bus, etc, has nothing to do with the front end of an Airstream or Argosy motorhome.

They must have the front air bags and they must be set to 55 psi, as per the engineers.

If not, then you must be willing to share the bouncey ride, that's guaranteed.

The air bags also provide some "snubbing" in addition to the shocks.

Really, as long as an individual owns it, you can do anything you wish to it.

You can cut the top off and make a convertible out of the motorhome, if you wish.

It's not recommended, since a fold down top is not yet available.

Andy
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:59 PM   #14
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Really, as long as an individual owns it, you can do anything you wish to it.

You can cut the top off and make a convertible out of the motorhome, if you wish.

It's not recommended, since a fold down top is not yet available.

Andy
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one could also strengthen the ribs and convert a classic to a skydeck
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