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Old 02-26-2015, 04:40 AM   #1
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1981 28' Airstream 280
Kitchener , Ontario
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Question Random shaking/ghost in the machine

Our '81 28' Excella has a strange way of getting our attention, she shakes and quivers like she is in a 6.5 earthquake.
Seriously for no apparent reason she starts shaking, from steering wheel to bathroom it starts fairly suddenly without warning and becomes quite violent. It usually happens at speeds over 45 mph and the only thing that seems to help is to steadily accelerate until it passes this takes some nerve but we learned very quickly last summer that slowing down makes it worse and that speeding up will help it pass. We can drive for hours without any issue and all of a sudden it happens and then will go away and not return or may happen again 10 min later. I've checked the driveline from front to back and cannot see any obvious problems.
Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 02-26-2015, 05:55 AM   #2
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First two things that come to mind are:
  1. brakes
  2. bearings
You might have something wrong with one bad brake. Immediately after it happens simply feel each hub and wheel. Any overheating on one indicates a problem that is there.... whether it's a loose or badly adjusted brake or a set of wheel bearings that is faulty or has too little grease requires tearing the thing apart to analyze, but either are easy fixes.

A tire out of round, or getting ready to fail due to tread separation could also be at fault.

But other than that, it's going to go back to the drive train, and that is where I admit total ignorance and find a great mechanic.


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Old 02-26-2015, 06:07 AM   #3
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I agree with Paula, check all your running gear--bearings, brakes, bent wheel, bad tire, etc. Also include a good check of your steering mechanisms.

Consider it a safety issue until all that is done.

Drive line might have a bearing going bad or something. You need someone with much more experience in that area than I have. Back to Paula's suggestion of a great mechanic.
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Old 02-26-2015, 06:50 AM   #4
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5 bucks says it's an imbalanced wheel.
You have more than likely lost a wheel weight. Most wheel weights these days use glue as opposed to the traditional ones that are "clamped" to the edge of your rim. In cold weather, that glue loses its "sticking" power, and can get thrown from the rim.
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Old 02-26-2015, 07:05 AM   #5
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It could also be the start of a belt separation or a bent wheel
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Old 02-26-2015, 07:38 AM   #6
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While you have each wheel off checking the bearing, take them in to do a spin balance, last thing I would want is increased speed on a tire separation. While your weight is off the ground check the shocks.
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Old 02-26-2015, 09:06 AM   #7
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Bent axle?
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Old 02-26-2015, 09:22 AM   #8
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1981 28' Airstream 280
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Thanks for your input folks. The trick is it does not happen on a consistent or predictable basis. It will be fine and then go "shake and bake" for no rhyme or reason, if it was a predictable problem where every time I went over 50 mph it started it would be much easier to identify. I have not been able to locate or identify a bad tire or rim or brake thats what has me scratching my head. The problem is completely random as to when it happens.
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Old 02-26-2015, 02:11 PM   #9
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u-joints or drive shaft?
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Old 02-26-2015, 02:27 PM   #10
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A failing carrier bearing in the drive shaft gets my vote. The material surrounding the bearing within the carrier bracket failing can allow the shafts to get out of alignment Then sort of spring back into position the supporting material on mine is ribbed and you could some of the ribs distorting a bit..

Good luck sorting it out!

Cheers Richard
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Old 02-26-2015, 03:20 PM   #11
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How is your steering damper? I had a similar issue with my old Excella 28, really scared me. A new damper fixed the problem, and I would recommend replacing them with a new Bilstien in all cases if they are old or looking crappy.

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Old 02-26-2015, 04:13 PM   #12
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As stated above, check the carrier bearing as well as u-joints. Replace if there's any play. I had the same problem on a 1970 GMC 3/4 p.u. it was the carrier bearing.
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Old 02-26-2015, 04:44 PM   #13
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Ever heard of the "Death Wobble "...Google it, common problem on Chrysler/Jeeps. My guess is the steering stabilizer is shot.
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Old 02-26-2015, 04:46 PM   #14
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P.S. A complete check of the other front end components is in order as well.

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