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Old 12-07-2014, 03:00 AM   #1
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1965 26' Overlander
Fort Bragg , California
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What to look for when considering a 345?

Hi all - we just looked at a 1986 345 in fairly good condition. I would appreciate any advice, or pointers to advice, on what to look for. Everything seems to be in working condition, though well worn. A few dents on the outside - to me that is just character that brings the price down a bit.

Our main purpose right now is to have some spare living space on the property for the holidays. Secondary purpose is to take it on the road next spring & summer. We have been looking on and off for a trailer rather than a motorhome, but since this one is available we are rethinking.

(We do also have a 60s Overlander but it is completely stripped at the moment.)

Worry list for the motorhome:

- There is a leak of some kind in the rear - seller seemed to think that it was related to plumbing, as it didn't leak in the hard rain we just had.

- It is a big vehicle. I was a bus driver in my checkered past and feel confident about driving it, but 34.5 feet is more than my wife will want to handle. Is only one driver in the family a problem?

- Is it too big for national parks etc? Too much machine for a first-time RV owner? I worry that what seems perfect for a spare room around the house will be way too big to actually travel with.

- Do these boats hold their value well? Better or worse than a trailer? Meaning, if we decide to sell in a year in favor of something smaller, will we lose money?

- I understand the trailer concept - drive it to a vacation spot, unhook, and you have the tow vehicle to get you to the local bars. How does this work with a motor home if I don't also tow a small car?

I have a dozen other questions, and I'm sure I have forgotten important ones, but I hope these make sense in this context.

thanks for any advice
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaulike View Post
Hi all -.......

Worry list for the motorhome:

- There is a leak of some kind in the rear - seller seemed to think that it was related to plumbing, as it didn't leak in the hard rain we just had.

- It is a big vehicle. I was a bus driver in my checkered past and feel confident about driving it, but 34.5 feet is more than my wife will want to handle. Is only one driver in the family a problem?

- Is it too big for national parks etc? Too much machine for a first-time RV owner? I worry that what seems perfect for a spare room around the house will be way too big to actually travel with.

- Do these boats hold their value well? Better or worse than a trailer? Meaning, if we decide to sell in a year in favor of something smaller, will we lose money?

- I understand the trailer concept - drive it to a vacation spot, unhook, and you have the tow vehicle to get you to the local bars. How does this work with a motor home if I don't also tow a small car?

I have a dozen other questions, and I'm sure I have forgotten important ones, but I hope these make sense in this context.

thanks for any advice
Well I will take a stab at some of it.... But answers will vary. I am in no way an expert, have a 350 and haven't even camped in it yet! But I am 2 years into the restoration (5 year plan) and have 2800 miles in it between bringing it home, moving to another state, taking it to and from work at specialty shop, etc...

- There is a leak of some kind in the rear.....Well, don't rule out water intrusion since water can work it's way from outside to inside over a long distance. Had a leak up front by the passenger side window. Replaced all the gaskets, etc... Still wet after a rain, but not during.... Went through and resealed the roof...finally went away when I got to resealing the TV antenna mid coach!! The style of plumbing pipe that is in it is the grey polybutylene. used in late 70's through mid 90's. It gets old and brittle and can fail with out notice. There could have been a crack at one time or a bad fitting (made of same stuff). Who knows, but if the water isn't coming from outside, you will need to find the original source of the leak. The danger of the undetected leak is it will soften and deteriorate the particle board floor. It also will cause mold since wet particle board is basically a great petri dish!

- It is a big vehicle.... It really doesn't drive that bad... Actually once you get over the oh my gosh moments and realize it is easier to maneuver than a truck and medium size trailer, no issues. I have done all the driving up until now. I can do between 300 and 400 miles a day. day after day. More and just like a car it can be too much. Your wife should be able to operate it but you would still be the primary driver.

- Is it too big for national parks etc?..... Can't really speak to this, BUT you have a smaller profile (length, width and height) then the majority of the mohos out there and they aren't banned. But as with everything, there will definitely places you cant go. As far as too much machine.. Definately not with your bus driving experience...BUT machine maintenance will be a huge learning curve.

- Do these boats hold their value well? If you are even thinking of selling, this is not for you!!! The only things that keeps them going is folks dreaming about them and willing to do anything to keep them going down the road. This is a HUGE investment in time and money! The purchase price is just the down payment. The less skills you have the more $$$ will come out of your pocket.... These are not about having a motothome to camp in. These are about having a Classic Airstream motor home to camp in and the journey to get there!

- I understand the trailer concept - some tow small cars others use it as the destination place. In other words they are driving to the place with the intention of never leaving their home away from home, except to hike and enjoy the great outdoors. Also some pre-planning to find nearby local attractions you can walk too works. Or finding shuttle buses or nearby public transportation if you are closer to civilization. It really depends on the style of camping you do. When we had a truck and trailer we camped in parks and rarely left to go into town. Maybe 1 out of every 5 trips. BUT now that you mentioned it, I am gonna take that sucker out to dinner one day just cause I can!

Hope that helps some. But remember; if it doesn't have good bones (frame, engine, transmission and shell) it is an incredibly hard up hill journey.
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Old 12-07-2014, 10:53 AM   #3
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1965 26' Overlander
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Those are really great comments, thanks! I will take them to heart as we decide on what to do.

We are very tempted because (a) we need some spare living space and this is clean & available right now, (b) the coolness factor is very high, and (c) I think we would feel somewhat redeemed for never finishing the Overlander. (we built a house instead.) I would not want to buy something this big and then burn out on it, though.

I guess another option is to put that money into the Overlander, but as you say, that requires a 5-year plan and isn't a way to get a spare bed or two right now.

Thanks again for the advice. Especially glad to know that driving isn't too difficult. The seats sure are comfortable!

One other question from a newbie - how do you park the thing in a city? Does one prearrange a parking spot somewhere, or park outside the city and take transit? Or just avoid cities altogether?
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Old 12-07-2014, 11:38 AM   #4
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On the size vs. campsites: we always try to stay at national park or state park campgrounds. At 31', we have only been questioned a couple of times at campgrounds with 30' length limits, and got to stay anyhow. The sites in those campgrounds were long enough for a 345. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well the 310 does getting in and out of tight spots with overhanging branches that would be a problem for a square sided motorhome.

On parking: just look for a space big enough for two or more cars that you don't have to back in to.

On a toad: you have a house full of stuff with you, why do you need to leave? If you really have to, for us breaking camp usually just means unhooking shore power if we have it.

On money: like the man said, it's just a down payment. If you buy it, you will spend money on it.
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Old 12-07-2014, 11:41 AM   #5
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Answering your transportation in town question.

I do not own a 345, but mine is close in size. At 36' I do not take her into town often. We drive with a toad if we need to go somewhere in town or confined we detach and go. Now we have done a couple of urban transits in her though, I will warn you though you will want to use google maps with satellite view and recon a parking area.

We visited the houston space center in our airstream, and parked at the rocket park public lot. If you click on the hyperlink, the parking area is to the SE of the large hangar there. That was a challenge. The entrance is large enough, but there is an immediate 45 degree angle turn to the right to for the one way loop to avoid parked cars. The parking spots are diagonal to allow for more parking and less traffic lane requirements. I took the gamble because it was empty while we were there, and we paused momentarily at the northern most corner of the lot to get this picture. If a car was parked in either spot of the middle section closest to the exit, I would not be able to negotiate the entrance. Then after that we went to Villa Capri for dinner, and took up six spots in the law office next door that happened to be closed. So, can it be done... yes. Does it limit your options... definitely. Would I do it again... of course!
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Old 12-07-2014, 11:47 AM   #6
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The seats are great. I have back issues and have no problem at all in them. Far better then the Honda Accord we own!

AS far as cities go.... Only passing through it if you have to on a major interstate. Other then that either park outside and take mass transit in of pre-plan everything!

Well if you are still considering it here is what I would do.
  • Go look at it. Preferibly with someone from the forums who own a classic
  • Take lots of pics of everything! Post them to flicker or some such site and post a link so others here on the forum can see them.
  • Shoot a movie of the engine running (so we can hear it)
  • Make sure you look at everything, top bottom and in between. Again take lots of pictures
  • PM me or others on the forum to be on standby (cell phone) when you go to look at it so we can answer any questions.
  • Only look at it after it has sat and NOT run for a few days so you can see if there are any issues (cranking, starter, airbags, etc.)
  • Take a volt meter to check voltages, alternator, converter. A digital thermometer to check A/C output, engine and exhaust temps.
  • check to see if it is OK to take to an independent mechanic.
  • CALIFORNIA: MAKE SURE IT WILL PASS SMOG!!! Or you have a lot of work and $$ in your future if you can even find the right parts. Remember it has to have the same carburetor it was accepted with when it came off the line or you will have to meet today's standards.
  • Look at your budget. How much you can spend now, how much to get it road worthy and how much to get it where you want it.
  • Read through some of our classic blogs to see what lies ahead. Not for the fient of heart, but IMHO totally worth it

If you still have questions and want to talk it out, pm me and set up a time we can talk on the phone. Have an adult beverage availible, you may need it! LOL!
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Old 12-07-2014, 11:53 AM   #7
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Oh and after all I have been through and am still going through, yes I would do it again. The cool factor is so totally worth it! Not to mention the constant grin on my face when I drive it!

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...-le-99706.html
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:34 PM   #8
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Just a comment on your wife not driving it. That's what my wife said when I purchased our 33', now she does most of the driving. I have to fight for a turn. So never say never.
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:20 PM   #9
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When considering the purchase of one of these classics you might as well forget about resale value. Who knows? Its a love/hate relationship with a VEHICLE! Kinda sick eh? But once youve dug in and start to understand them, busted some knuckles, totally freaked out more than once, and tapped into your retirement savings a few times, for some reason the love usually wins out.

If you plan to put it on the road next spring obviously youre gonna have to make sure the running gear is up to snuff and AT LEAST safe to drive with your loved ones
in tow. Check the DOT date stamps on the tires, if they are more than 7-8 yrs old then you should get them replaced before any road trips. Thats over $2000 just for your 8 new tires. That may be your largest initial expense but $$ add up pretty quick even if you are doing some or most of the labor.

Would i do it again?.............in a heart beat. Are we all nuts? ...........Probably.
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:38 PM   #10
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You guys are being very nice about this.....I'm a big believer in tough love.

Join date Aug 2006....31 posts.....a stripped out Overlander.....using the 345 as secondary resisdence.....damage equals good deal.....worried about resale value.....doesn't want to burn out working on it?

It all adds up to most likely a supply of fresh parts for us Classic owners. I can see the ad now

"All stripped and ready for your interior dreams to be installed. The tough work has been done."

Don't kid yourself. If you haven't had time to restore your Overlander a Classic motorhome is not for you.

Tough love but someone has to do it and if a mod has a problem with this post...so be it.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:43 PM   #11
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Tony,

Where were you 2 years ago?!?!?!

You have an excellent points! Very sage advice!
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:46 PM   #12
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Tony, you make me laugh and that's a good thing...I'm in the "hate" mode with my "classic" right now. Too pissed to even post about it right now. And its all the rain's fault, darn it! LOL


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Old 12-07-2014, 07:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaulike View Post
- There is a leak of some kind in the rear - seller seemed to think that it was related to plumbing, as it didn't leak in the hard rain we just had.
I would suggest that you plan on finding someone with a Sealtech machine to check it for leaks. That's not 100% effective but it will find many problems. Whether related to plumbing or not, leaks require time and effort to find and fix.

Quote:
- It is a big vehicle. I was a bus driver in my checkered past and feel confident about driving it, but 34.5 feet is more than my wife will want to handle. Is only one driver in the family a problem?
It is the reality for about 80% of RVers; of the 20% of spouses who will drive few are truly comfortable with e.g. backing, turns, heavy traffic.

Quote:
- Is it too big for national parks etc? Too much machine for a first-time RV owner? I worry that what seems perfect for a spare room around the house will be way too big to actually travel with.
That would not be a major concern. Most truck+trailer combinations are larger.

Quote:
- Do these boats hold their value well?
No.

Quote:
Better or worse than a trailer?
Worse, because of the smaller market and the uncertainty of the condition of the chassis.

Quote:

Meaning, if we decide to sell in a year in favor of something smaller, will we lose money?
You will loose money.

Quote:
- I understand the trailer concept - drive it to a vacation spot, unhook, and you have the tow vehicle to get you to the local bars. How does this work with a motor home if I don't also tow a small car?
In reality, most people who travel in midsize and larger motorhomes eventually end up bringing a second vehicle of some kind, at least on some trips. Yes, you can tow a small car, and many do, or you can have a spouse or other traveling companion drive it, or travel in a group of friends some of whom have cars, or bring motorcycles or scooters, or leave a car more or less permanently at your favorite destination, etc etc.

Quote:
thanks for any advice
So the thing with 345s is that they are older motorhomes built on a chassis that is now out of date. There are a few critical parts, like brake drums for the tag axles, that are no longer made and almost impossible to find. Then there is just the maintenance of tires, wheels, brakes, steering, suspension, belts, hoses, heat, air conditioning, and the chassis electrical system. With the right attitude, skills, and budget, yes, you can keep them on the road.
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Old 12-07-2014, 10:05 PM   #14
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Tony, you make me laugh and that's a good thing...I'm in the "hate" mode with my "classic" right now. Too pissed to even post about it right now. And its all the rain's fault, darn it! LOL


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You take yours out into the rain??? You crazy son-nov-a-gun.....I've learn't to drive between the drops, thank God for Supersteers.

It's why I named her my "Mistress". It's a love hate relationship. Got the T-shirt on that one mate.

I especially enjoyed your Utube video, especially the sped up part, very cool.

Cheers
Tony
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