1976 24' Argosy 24
Join Date: Aug 2010
My 1976 Argosy Adventure
August 2, 2009 I purchased a 1976 Airstream Argosy, 24-foot twin rear bed, from a man in Portland who said ďitís in good enough shape to be driven from Portland all the way to New York.Ē Wow I said, Iíll send you a 500-dollar deposit and Iíll fly up from Los Angeles and drive it home. The price was 3,200. The pictures on line werenít forth coming. Just two photos showing odd side angles. Needless to say I flew up with my cousin/ co-pilot and my adventure began. The gentleman picked us up at the airport and drove us to within a stoneís through of Washington to where the Argosy was resting. He said that he and his wife had taken it out on a couple of trips and everything worked. It just needed some TLC and money. Well I immediately looked at it and said to my cousin ďwell, this is a wasted trip,Ē but as I started looking under the carriage and at the overhead compartments everything was there. No rust anywhere, it had lived most of its life in San Diego, two cracked windshields, the upholstering was in bad shape, 52,000 original miles and it started right up. I said well maybe. Let me look at this again. I talked it over with my cousin and we agreed that the price was right for its condition and we bit. So now we find out as Iím filling out the paper work that it was donated to a charity, it had been sitting for 17 years, he had purchased it from an auction and it end up in Portland. No wonder the tires look like rocks! Well, we get in and he says ďif you have any trouble feel free to call ok.Ē Together we drive to the gas station to fill up and this is where it all starts to happen. Rule #1 always take your tools with you. I left mine at home because I didnít want to check any luggage. Shame on me! Well, we are filling up and gas starts to spill all over the place. The over fill house had popped off and now Iím MacGyvering to fix it and I get it done. Now I smell like gas, but itís done. Now did I mention that this day is on record for being the hottest day in Portland in 100 years. I was pouring sweat in my jeans, I thought it would be mild temp so I dressed accordingly, mistake! So now we disembark and head down to catch the I5. The windows now are rattling so hard it feels like the whole cabin is going to implode, the vessel is lurching and then bam! Just out side of Portland we blow a tire. Lesson #2 before you buy a motorhome get the AAA RV plus card. I didnít have that, just the normal, so no tow, no curbside assistance, but they did help me find a tire company that came out and threw a tire on for me so I could limp back a couple of exits to their shop and get two new front tires. Lee Schwab in Wilsonville, Thank you. Next, I had the previous owner come down pay for the service call, pay for one tire and look into my carburetor problem, after he paid the 300, I was at 2900 for my purchase. That number felt better. Well, now we fuel up at Dennyís, they give us a green light on the carb and we are off 30mph 40mph 50mph sputter sputter sputter back to 45mph thatís where she feels good, 45mph it is. Now Iím thinking, wondering, thinking could this be no well, yes it was BAD GAS! Probably been in there for years! Trips with the wife yeah right! So now Iím pumping nothing but premium and as I get to Eureka its stops sputtering and starts running pretty well. What a surprise! Iím totally optimistic about the rest of the journey. My cousin assumes the helm and we are off. Outside of Sacramento we hear a bit of a noise then BAM! Smoke from under the dash and we pull over on the side of the road, again. We pop the engine cover as well as the front cover no more belts and we blew a hose. Well what to do, as we ponder our situation a local law man pays us a visit and is nice enough to give me a 3 mile ride into town. Arbuckle is the town, Judy and Ray at the Napa/Boydís auto parts where very nice. Turns out 454 is a popular motor in these parts so I pick up hose, belts, antifreeze some tools and start back walking with all this stuff at 7:00am. 3 miles doesnít sound far but Iíll tell you what, everything gets heavy after mile 1, I felt like I was back in the Corp humpin my gear on a forced march. I get back, wake my napping co-pilot, slap everything in, pour in the anti freeze, limp to the exit I just came from, throw some water in the radiator and head back to the Napa store. Now I buy all the hoses, another set of belts, some more tools, motor oil, more antifreeze, brake fluid, and just in case a water pump. Well we are now feeling pretty good and we are off. Back on the I5 traveling south one exit two exits three exits then guess what we blow the water pump! My cousin limps it off the free way into a gas station and now we have to play mechanic as the day gets hotter and hotter. We disassemble what we need to but there is one bolt for the water pump that butts right up to the power steering bracket that was a bear. We must have lost 5-6 pounds of just sheer sweat changing that pump out with limited tools no jack and dealing with seized bolts and screws on the clamps, fun, fun, fun. 8 hours later we are back on the road and headed back to the City of the Angeles. Dehydrated, haggard and hungry. We made it back home safe and sound. It felt like we were Jason and the Argonauts. But home we were and I now had 24 days to whip the Argosy into shape and captain her to Burning Man and at this moment, I realize, I am now the proud owner of an Airstream Argosy. Yes!
Here now is a list, of the people I used for my restoration, for anyone in the Los Angeles area looking to find parts or some services. Keep in mind I am in Hollywood. I used the carequest in Van Nuys 818 786-8080 for most of my parts. The have a library of books and knowledgeable folks who located two exhaust manifolds for me, mine were warped and cracked, plugs, wiper bladeís, shocks, transmission filter, all my gaskets, oilís. rotorís Etc. I use the local Napaís as well. Greg at Inland RV installed my windows: Schledgle Channel, trim seal, virt lip seal, fin seal, screen seal, door seal, and rear window gasket. It was a bit pricey, but as the saying goes, ďWhen you buy quality you only cry once,Ē and Greg did a great job. I have purchased most of my nick knacks from Inland RV 800 877-7311. I use Oliphant Equipment in North Hollywood for my Generator parts and repair, they are nice folks as well, ask for Larry 818 759-7081. Cummings Cal Pacific 949 253 6000 for other Onan generator parts. Best RV and Truck supply 888 828-1893 for my Iota 45 amp converter. Harbor Chevrolet for any brake work 562 426-3341, Ask for Sam. Southern California Truck, Van for my wheel rings and hard to find chassis parts 323 587 3145 as well as Pacific trucks parts 818 767-0203. Lodgemobile for refrigerator and furnace work 818 563-2072. Renteria floor Specialists 213 422-2060 did my subfloor and linoleum install. While doing the interior on my Argosy, I found an empty space under the dinning area which is a raised area where the two benches are that turn into a bed. I installed two long drawers that I use for storage, great space saver. Woodman Carburetor 818 895-0211 for my Quadra jet. All my suspension Simpson Frame 323 464-0572 ask for Jim. Jim also did my steering box and steering dampener if you have ever tried to change them out you probably know you have to cut through the frame to get to some of the bolts and weld them closed again, tough work for a simple job. He also did my front springs and airbags. Very good craftsman highly recommended fair price. I also used the Dupli-color truck, van paint, Dover white, for touch ups thanks to Balrgn for the knowledge; it matched up very well with my Argosy. Last but not lest, if your motorhome has been sitting for a while, replace all your rubber parts, especially plumbing and brakes. Iím posting all this to give back to the Airstream community for all the knowledge and stories they have given me. I hope some one finds this post helpful. Cheers. MarioKK