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Old 07-06-2015, 06:14 PM   #1
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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Prepping 345 for towing

After a great spring trip to Colorado for the motorhome get together, and another ten days of cruising that beautiful state. I arrived back in Az. With quite a list of projects needed to make it comfortable for me to tow my Small sports car with it.
The list included ,
find some more engine power for climbing hills and mountains. And for the load of towing.

Deal with the engine cooling, it was running hotter than I like even in cool spring conditions.

Do reinforcement on the frame at the back of the coach.

Locate and fix the source of fuel fumes at the back of the coach.

The toilet was also due for replacement. This ended up requiring replacing the cabinet it's mounted on as well. We all need a little side job to occupy ourselves with while waiting for parts, no?

So those were the goals, as well as deal with th inevitable things that would turn up while digging in to get the main issues dealt with.

Had great almost instant success with the search for more power.
I found a guy right in the park where I was staying, who had lots of R V repair experience, also with big block Chevy engines, as well as being a welder. And he was available to help at a fair rate of $s.
He checked the hand held monitor from the Holly TBFI system the PO had installed and found the the timing was out by 8 degrees, and the fuel settings were also way out of spec. Got those adjusted in short order.
Funny the engine has run well and started easily since I've had it , it was just gutless in power and would fall on its face once the secondaries were engaged.
there was no way to check out the results of these changes right away. Because the the radiator and fuel tank were now both out for repair.

As others here have found the only replacement radiator available has plastic tanks, a no go for me. So recore was the choice I went with, using a high efficiency core that offers 20% better cooling ability. This rebuild cost about $425 with the core cost.

While in there I replaced the water pump with a new gates pump. and the thermostat with a high flow one set to open at 180 degrees instead of 195 of the old one.a new hose at the bottom rounded out the Cooling upgrades.
One of the things I learned is that thermostats open gradually over a span of about ten degrees. Which would explain why my coach would warm right up to near 205 and rarely get below 200 degrees. And food for thought.

The fumes at the back of the coach. Were the reason the tank had to come out. There were weep lines on both sides of the tank, I thought these were from leaking hoses at the top of the tank.
Once I got it out and could really look it over it became clear that the seams were leaking. The tank was made by roll pressing the parts together.
After draining the tank it proved to be in good condition other than the seams.
So after venting the tank for a few days off it went for welding of all the seams at the same shop that did the radiator . It came back all welded up including the end plate seams. Another $400 into the project.

Then reinstalled the tank and since the radiator was by then back in, tried to test fire the engine. Only to have it not want to run. Splash of fuel in the TB, and it would fire but not keep running. After many attempts we got to looking back near the tank. No fuel from the pump. Could not even blow back into the tank thru the supply line. Dang the line was pinched between the tank and stringer clamps up to. Out with the tank to sort out the lines.
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:21 PM   #2
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1982 28' Airstream 280
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Sounds like you are having fun!!!
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Old 07-06-2015, 07:06 PM   #3
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Carriere , Mississippi
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Prepping 345 for towing

Tevake

Had the same problem with my fuel lines when I put the tank bank!

Glad to hear all the progress! I want to know how you are gonna beef up the frame for towing. That is on my list as well.

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Old 07-06-2015, 07:24 PM   #4
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Maybe his will get you started, 310 hitch upgrade.

Brad
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:25 PM   #5
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,174
Sorry guys had to go do something.
After the second install of the tank the fuel gauge did not work.
So back out with the tank to sort it out. It gets easier the third time you do it.
After lots of searching I went with a different sender unit that could bolt onto the existing pickup pipe. See pic for details. It's a clean fit but required a new gauge to work. I did notice they offer one with the same out put as our original so it could be used with the existing gauge. I just didn't have time to wait for one to be shipped in.

Meanwhile the head cabinet rebuild was completed and a new toilet installed.
Make sure you check the hight of any new short toilet you source. This one is 1.5 inches taller than the supposedly same one it replaced. But its working very well.
Now for the after action report. The repairs took me into the time I had planned to be heading for a meet up with family in California.
So on the road of an over night trip to So Cal.

The engine is so improved that it now accelerates faster and climbs better towing the Porsche than it did before the tune up with out the car in tow. Yeah!!!

The engine temps now Run at just over 190 degrees, and have yet to climb to 200 degrees even climbing with the car in tow and in summer temps!! YES!!

No fumes, and the gauge is working great.

The frame bracing was done by welding pieces angling out from the hitch forward to a corner of the frame and an existing cross brace piece. And doing some additional bolting of plates used to extend the frame in length for the longer body of the 345.
Quite an Iffy design originally . And I can see why they rated the towing capacity so low.

All in all a very satisfactory improvement in the coach, and I am really stoked to be traveling with the car in tow. Hardly know it's back there, can't see it in any of the mirrors. So have used the backup camera lots while driving just to check that it's still there.

Cheers Richard
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:28 PM   #6
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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Now for an ah ha moment.
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:35 PM   #7
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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This was a sweet one too.
I've got to dash for now, more later
Rich
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tevake View Post
Now for an ah ha moment.
awesome , Richard, you earned your stripes. What a nice looking Rig you have now!
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Old 07-07-2015, 01:10 AM   #9
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1991 30' Airstream 30
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Nice! I never thought about towing my 87 Carrera Cab behind my Airstream! Are you in San Francisco? Drop by...
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Old 07-07-2015, 01:44 AM   #10
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,174
I appreciate the invite Sebas, but I am up by Eureka now and heading north.
Since this trip is going to be of long duration, having the car along is making longer stays in an area much more interesting and convenient. Used to be confined to bike range. this really opens things up a lot.

PM me Sebas, if you are interested in details about rigging the car for towing.

A couple of other things worth sharing of my project are the new straps my helper suggested we make up for hanging the tank. These have hinges welded on the side opposite the fastening bolts. This proved really helpful on subsequent drops of the tank. Probably would not have been a big deal if working on a hoist. But for the tight confines of working at ground level this made it much easier to get the straps out of the way to allow the tank to drop down closer to the ground. And getting clearance to get at the top of the tank was tight. Once the tank is on the floor jacks and the bolts loosened the hinge pins could then be removed, freeing the straps to be cleared away.

I also ran a new fuel line all the way to the engine, and to the gen. While in there with access. The return line is just a couple of years old from when the P O installed the TBFI. Also new filler hose and vent line really tied up things in the fuel system nicely.
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Old 07-07-2015, 02:02 AM   #11
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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Thanks Peter for the kind words, I really do feel like I'm learning more about the care and feeding of the beast. Thanks to you for helping me get started.

Next is to put on my big boy pants, grab a multimeter. And try to get the charging systems working better. I replaced the elec. converter not too long ago, yet am still not getting full charging of the house batts while plugged into shore power. Nor while driving either. So solving that would open up the ability to enjoy camping in the rough much more.
I also pulled the alternator and had it checked out, and found that it is working to spec.
I have suspicions about that batt. Isolator. For one thing. But there must be something between the converter and the batts. Amiss also.
So the quest continues.

Cheers Richard
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Old 07-07-2015, 02:09 AM   #12
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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Oh I also made a new air dam for the front of the engine room while at it.

And repainted the colored part of grill and light buckets while I had them off the coach. That and sanding the bare metal parts down to 600 grit, really cleaned up the look of the front once reinstalled
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Old 07-07-2015, 02:12 AM   #13
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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A look at the air dam in the making.
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Old 07-07-2015, 05:36 AM   #14
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1982 31' Airstream 310
champaign , Illinois
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Hey there Richard,
Youve been busy! What great improvements! One suggestion on your charging of the house batteries. (I just ran into this problem with the chassis battery). If you have "battery disconnect switches" check out those connections. My chassis battery was acting up and affecting my amp meter on the dash. Intermitent. So when we got home from our trip over the fourth I started checking all connections. I also thought it might have been the battery isolator. Ended up being the connections at the battery disconnect. Pulled the wires and cleaned everything up. Woohoo, everything back to normal. Any easy fix. Might be the same thing for you if youve got those switches on the 345.

Looks like youre having a ball on the road. Good on ya!

Mike
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:10 AM   #15
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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Aloha Mike, Good suggestion, I will check out the disconnect switches in the morning. I have been checking in and behind the battery drawer and doing some cleaning of ground points and connections there. What a mess of a layout that area is. The post about Mickey Mouse having done the wiring comes to mind. Quite a challenge tho having to allow for the travel of the drawer.

I really enjoyed our time hanging at Colorado Springs. Thanks for the tip, if it could only be that easy, I'll be stoked.

Cheers Richard
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Old 07-07-2015, 09:14 AM   #16
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1982 31' Airstream 310
champaign , Illinois
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My "coach battery disconnect" on the 310 only disconnects the converter from the battery. I thought originally it was supposed to disconnect all the 12volt devices. After working on those switches yesterday I found that it just disconnects the converter from the battery. I guess to prevent over charging for the old single stage converters. ??????? Anyway, it's worth a look at those connections.

Lynn n I had a real good time getting to meet up with you and the others at the rally. So nice to put a face with the forum tags. You sound like you're off for more adventures in northern CA. Way cool. Your P looks awful good behind the 345.

Aloha,

Mike


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Old 07-07-2015, 10:44 AM   #17
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1982 28' Airstream 280
Redwood City , California
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Hi Richard, what is the material you used for the air dam? I like the clear clearance light in the compartment!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tevake View Post
Oh I also made a new air dam for the front of the engine room while at it.

And repainted the colored part of grill and light buckets while I had them off the coach. That and sanding the bare metal parts down to 600 grit, really cleaned up the look of the front once reinstalled
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Old 07-07-2015, 11:24 AM   #18
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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I had to improvise a bit to get the stiffness in the material I was looking for the air dam.
I had a sheet of two ply rubber used for doing roof coatings on old fiberglass R Vs. Which was very playable . So I laminated a layer of that material on each side of a piece of the excess flooring material. A linoleum/ vinyl sort of more stiffer material . This resulted in a still somewhat flexible and heat, oil, chemi resistant material, that suited the job nicely.
If you look closely you can see the light colored flooring material showing where the cuts are.
If I had been able to find some thicker , less flexible. Rubber sheet material I would have used that.
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Old 07-07-2015, 12:56 PM   #19
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Portland , Oregon
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Battery isolators are always a roadblock to an efficient charging system for deep-cycle house batteries. Even the best quality diodes will create a voltage drop of about 750mV. Consider replacing the isolator with a battery "combiner" that senses charge voltage and connects the batteries using a relay. When the engine isn't running and the voltage drops below about 13.8V, the relay isolates the batteries.

Here's one from Victron:

Victron Energy CYR010120010 (R) Cyrix-ct 12/24V-120A Battery Combiner

And here's the Blue Sea Systems line of combiners:

https://www.bluesea.com/products/cat...harging_Relays
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Old 07-08-2015, 04:54 PM   #20
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Ebro , Fla Panhandle
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Thanks Gnorts, I hadn't heard of a battery combiner. Good info going forward into getting this charging stuff corrected.
I don't have deep cycle batts. Yet didn't want to splash out them till things are working properly
I've been in touch with Lewster in hood river and hope he can find time in his busy schedule to do some diagnostics work for me.
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