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Old 04-02-2006, 09:56 PM   #1
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1988 34.5' Airstream 345
Jackson , Mississippi
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1
Question new owners and we are DUMB, OVERWHELMED, FEARFUL,

Hi, everyone. I hope you all are smarter than we are. We just bought a 1988 restored airtream 34.5. Had sense enough to have it checked out before purchase. It is in very good condition. We don't know anything about motorhoming and we may be too old to learn? HELP. Son says we must have, like a pilot, a CHECK LIST to drive off, a CHECK LIST to stop and stay in motor home without hookup running on generator, a CHECK LIST to stop and hook up, and a CHECK LIST to store it for several weeks. If you have such things please SEND.
How did you all learn to drive such a long thing? I have an owner's manual that is 5 inches thick! Did you take it to a truck driver training place and try it out? I do have hope in that I have learned to use the computer so I'm not brain dead, but this airstream may have the computer beat. We may just sit in it in the driveway! too afraid to drive away from home. Jay

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Old 04-02-2006, 10:15 PM   #2
Argosy/Airstream since 79
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1989 29' Excella
Newport , Oregon
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 97
Most of the people on this forum started out just like you!

Welcome to the forums and to airstream.

I'm sure you'll get lots of responses, and help.

Your son is right...a checklist is a good idea. We print one out in preparation for a trip. Then, as Karen or I finish a step, we can check it off. It saves duplication of efforts...and frustration.

For a first trip, I recommend something close, even in your hometown. If you forget something, everything you need is nearby.

Maybe some members of WBCCI and/or the forum are in your area, and can give you some on-site advice (maybe even a 'pre-flight' check!)

Good luck, and welcome.


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Old 04-02-2006, 10:21 PM   #3
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1987 29' Sovereign
Sparta , Tennessee
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 507
Send a message via Yahoo to wingfoot321

I don't have a motorhome but, your son is correct. It makes very good sense to have a checklist or checklists.

The folks with motorhomes must be busy today since you have had no replies since 4:00pm.

I started reading the manual on my trailer. Then started adding notes in the back as I read the various threads on this site. You have already found the best site on the internet for learning your rig.

Again, welcome
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:25 PM   #4
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1983 30' Airstream 300
Plantersville , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 238
Thumbs up Not Too Old

WE have a 83 345 MH and love it. We upgraded to a MH from a fifth wheel as it got to be too hard to set after we turned 70. We don't use a check list as such but until you get a routine in place to do all the things necessary to start rolling it would be a good idea to have guidelines. I never pulled the fifth wheel as my hubby was a retired trucker and I wasn't confident about that long trailer. I have driven the MH and it is not hard to get around if you just take care to remember you are bigger and allow for the length for traffic and turns. Take a couple of short trips to a local State Park and try it out for set up and relaxing. We try to travel during the week and avoid rush hour traffic if at all possible.

Welcome to the forums. I can only hope that you enjoy your MH as much as we are enjoying ours. This is a great wonderful country and it is very rewarding to be able to see all the different states. Travel the byways and stay off interstates to see the most fun things. WE hope to make Montana and Ohio this year.

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Old 04-03-2006, 04:50 AM   #5
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2003 22' International CCD
Kiln , Mississippi
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Welcome to the AS Forums where everyone was at one time in their life just like you - STARTING OUT WITH A NEW CAMPER. I agree with previous posts, start slow and close to home, there are some great places in Mississippi to camp and learn what to do. Go visit some family overnite nearby and bring the MC with you and set it up for them. They will be impressed and you will get the practice you need to "go it alone". For now, start with the manual and print out some of the chechk lists offered in other posts and build your own tailored to your equipment needs. By this fall when the leaves are turning and you ge the itch to hit the road - You'll be ready!!!

Michael & Tina with Layla and Preston BZ
The family has grown.
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Old 04-03-2006, 05:27 AM   #6
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1994 21' Sovereign
Down on the corner... , CT
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 994
Images: 9
Congratulations.....I'm in the same "silver" boat as you. I have the big thick manual that I have read back and forth but I find your brain gets mushy with so much info. I have been taking notes diligently and still find myself stumped by the simplest things as turning valves vs. pulling them, something the manual isn't to clear on.

Your computer printer is your best friend, I'm always cutting and pasting helpful stuff for future references. This forum is a great source of info but it does help to have and experienced steamer talk you through. Just take it one step at a time and you will gain your confidence....if not it is fun just sitting in it isn't it Happy trails!
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Old 04-03-2006, 07:45 AM   #7
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,861
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Welcome to the Airstreamforums and congradulations on your "new" 345. We've owned our 345 for about four years and love it. Read the manual and try to become familiar with the coach systems and their proper operation before you head out on your first trip. A night or to "camping" in the driveway is a good safe way to test everything out.

This way if you find that you're missing something you can just dart into the house and get it. It also helps to know how to run the generator, fridge, 12V/110V AC's, awning, etc when you don't have to be anywhere in particular or you're trying to setup camp and it's getting dark (ask me how I know this ).

As far a driving, the key is to stick to wide roads and go slow. Make wide right hand turns and keep in mind that just because you have come around the corner doesn't mean the rest of the coach has yet. I couple of practice runs up and down the freeway will help build your confidence and handling skills.

One thing you can't train for is other drivers. It amazes me that people try the things they try when they see a motorhome. Darting out in front of you in traffic, passing on the right and about 400 other things you would not believe can and will be tried. The key is to let them just go by
Steven Webster
1986 Airstream 345 Classic Motorhome
AIR 1760
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Old 04-03-2006, 07:59 AM   #8
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1994 30' Excella
Currently Looking...
Milwaukee , Wisconsin
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,892
Welcome to the forums and congratulations on your new Motor Home. Relax, you have purchased a wonderful coach which you will find to be easy to drive. There are things to remember but that goes with anything you are driving. I am probably the most forgetful person behind the wheel and confess that there have been times I have pulled away from a camp site with my levelers down and the electricity still hooked up. I have left my headlights on so many times it has become legendary. Checklists for me are not useful since I forget to use them. What I have done is to post signs- large signs, on the windshield to remind me of simple tasks like- raise the levelers or turn off headlights, or fill the water tank. Fortunately we have big windshields with lots of room.
We bought Chummy in New Hampshire and the next day we drove it up the coast of Maine. We went to Kennebunkport and all the little towns along the coast. The streets were as wide as Chummy. I had no experience driving a motor home. Once in a while my friend sitting in the co-pilot's seat would say I got pretty close to a sign or wall or something but really there was no problem. You will find these coaches to be very easy to drive. We have since driven our motor home into downtown Ottawa, Louisville, Chicago, Toronto and other cities with very small streets or notorious traffic. My son and I took Chummy on the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky down roads so narrow the oncoming trucks seemed to blend into out front bumper, again with no problems. I would suggest a test run on some less travelled road and both you and your wife need to drive. I do most of the driving but in case of emergencies my wife is very capable of driving.
A good test run for you would be to join us on our Georgia Rally later this month. Can't be too far from LA to GA we are driving from WI. There will be many of us who will be more than happy to go over the systems and give suggestions to you for years of happy camping.
Chaplain Kent
1994 30' Excella 1000, Chummy III- Ford Excursion- 7.3 Turbo-diesel
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Old 04-03-2006, 08:20 AM   #9
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1973 27' Overlander
'Possum Holler , Georgia
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5,253
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Hi Jay and Company, welcome to the forums. If you're uncomfortable learning to drive such a large vehicle, take some lessons. My dad is a retired Teamster and gave me plenty of hints on towing the trailer. Do you know any truckers? Ask your friends. This may not be the best idea, but you might ask the local DMV if they have any suggestions. Check with your local RV place, maybe they can point you to someone.

Others above have given some good advice. Slow down, stay to the right and practice on "the road less traveled". You'll get the hang of it.

Good luck.


Air No. 6427
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:22 AM   #10
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1975 31' Sovereign
Oxford , Mississippi
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 870
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Another Mississippi person

Welcome aboard, we live in Oxford. A whole lot of great advice here just ask this forums is the best. We don't have a motor home but we do have a 31ft trailer. Take it to big parking lots when empty Sunday mornings and practice also we have found on parking issue's walkie talkie's are great we keep them in the glove compartment all the time. There should be some checklist in your owners book also a good idea just to keep a notebook in the glove compartment to write things down as they come up and they do. My husband does all the hitch work I make sure jacks are down or put up when we leave and the ant. is put down and elec cord un plugged and stored.
Always ask questions here and you will get great advice and meet some really nice folks.

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Old 04-03-2006, 01:04 PM   #11
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1968 26' Overlander
Wenatchee WA , Cape Cod
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 871
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Originally Posted by OreExcella
Your son is right...a checklist is a good idea. We print one out in preparation for a trip. Then, as Karen or I finish a step, we can check it off. It saves duplication of efforts...and frustration.
What does your list have on it? I would love to see a copy. Is it completely different for every trip? Or do you have a general checklist that stays the same and then add a few things per each trip?

This would save us time, but it seems we make a new list every time and each time we forget something.

Jim & Kathleen
1968 Overlander - WBCCI #5793
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Old 04-03-2006, 08:45 PM   #12
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Detroit , Michigan
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 150
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making the list your own

My best checklist started as a blank piece of paper which was placed on the table in the trailer as soon as I unhitched in the campground. After a few days of camping, I had written down everything which I had forgotten or had not thought of before I left the house.
86' 31' Sovereign
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Old 04-03-2006, 10:19 PM   #13
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1969 31' Sovereign
Elizabeth , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 76
To reduce the driving fear factor, take the MH to a very large empty parking lot and practice driving and parking on a particular yellow line. You wanr to learn how to place each tire in the right spot for parking. When you can back it up three MH lengths and place the right rear tire on a given line or mark you are ready. You use your rearview mirrors to determine if you are centered in a lane. look at the lane markers behind you, then place a small piece of tape on the front window in line of sight to the lane marker to help you stay centered in the lane. Practice placing each tire on a mark in the parking lot until you can place any wheel exactly where you want it, and you will never fear again that you can put it where you want it. Practice , practice practice. Good luck.
WBCCI #5345
62 Globe Trotter 19'
69 Sovereign 31'
04 E-350 Van 6.0 diesel
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Old 04-04-2006, 11:43 AM   #14
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Congratulations Jay. Like everybodt has said practice alot. I from the JAckson area originally, now I live Outside of Meridian. I'm glad people are finally joining the forum from MS, it's nice to know other airstreamers are close by. The first time I started pulling a trailer it was loading with horses. Everytime they would move I would panick, but it was good experience for me. Now I just wish I could back up better, sometimes I think the trees see me coming and they move. Just have a blast and those palms will quit being sweaty.

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