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Old 04-12-2012, 05:04 AM   #1
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1972 Argosy 26
Memphis , Tennessee
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New owner already in trouble

Hello folks, glad to be joining the ranks of the Airstream owners with my purchase of a '72 Argosy 26. I browsed the forums for information and discovered that my plan of towing it with (vehicle unnamed) was to be considered, mildly, absurd...

Also, the trailer has been painted in the past. Multiple times. Badly. After perusing the forums a goodly bit, I turned my hand to sanding the layers of orange-peel down to an acceptable level.

So far this is going fairly well, I believe, although I doubt my ability to actually lay the paint on well enough. Even so, if I can achieve an acceptable and usable paint job that lasts long enough to raise funds for something more elaborate in a few years, this will be fine.

But I ran into a new wrinkle today when I applied the orbital sander to the door. BIG MISTAKE! Something went weird in the latch and I can't get the door open. The latch may be a bit damaged to begin with, and furthermore I have no key for it. The rarity of these locks was not a piece of information I had prior to buying the trailer... I suspect this is going to be a big problem. I am not sure but I might have simply managed to turn the lock with vibration, or there could be something worse going on.

I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew here. The original purchase was motivated by a desire to save some rent money by roughing it (relatively) for a bit, but now I wonder if I'm not just going to eat myself alive trying to do it. I have no assurances on the propane system either, so I'm going to have to deal with that.

The seller had never bothered with locking it, but I can't play around like that. I know I'm going to need a locksmith for this, but the daunting arcane lock is giving me the willies. I suspect I will want to replace it with a different and more readily available lock, but again I'd be starting from square one.

If it seems a little backwards to start prepping it for paint before dealing with the propane and locks, it's only because the peeling paint is what drew complaints from my relatives who are currently keeping it on their land. I wanted to dispel that, but I managed to get myself in trouble.

Uh... so any thoughts on the door other than to call professional help? I don't quite know what I've done to it.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:20 AM   #2
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1972 Argosy 26
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Just some more general info about my Argosy:

New plumbing, according to seller, not used much since installation.
Electric fridge. Looks like a non-RV model but I'm not sure.
Interior in terrific shape except for upholstery on couch.
Twin bed model.
Propane, as stated, unknown. No tanks.
Slight sag in counter top causing cabinet doors to scrape on edge of counter.
Good floors. New carpet.
No leaks unless I've managed to make some with my sanding attempts.
Extra-tall toilet.

Will have to procure a tow vehicle. Or sell the trailer... but I'd really prefer to move into it for a while and maybe eventually renovate it altogether. I have plans to get a small parcel of land and live in the trailer until I can build there... solar power, windmill and what not. It's going to take a lot of doing, though, and I'm learning that there's never going to stop being more to learn...

I guess I could sell the trailer and get another one later. I'm really not sure.
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:13 AM   #3
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Hi Spacejack, I was raised up in the Tupelo area and ran around Memphis learning about the blues and having way too much fun.
Take all your fixes and do one at a time and don't let your trailer take over your mind. Fix one thing at a time.
Once you DO get back inside your house - look at the bottom of the fridge and pull open the door and see if there is a toggle switch that is electric and also propane. You can try the propane by maybe borrowing some ones ten gallon tank -or buy one for about seventy bucks...costs about twenty bucks to fill it. Do you have a manual book that hopefully came with your trailer? Do you have any pictures you can show us? Are you parked out in the country also. Once you get some propane going...reach inside the oven for a few minutes and see if the pilot will light...and also the stove pilot. I hope the others will chime in and give you tips too. I purchased mine for the same reasons you did (sort of) and have full timed for about six years now.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:39 AM   #4
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I believe the vibration from the sander caused the door to lock itself. Just below the inside handle there is a bolt (a small handle) that moves vertically to lock and unlock the door.
If you don't have a key for the lock cylinder to unlock the door you can screw a sheetmetal screw into the lock cylinder the just pull it out of the handle assembly. Once it is removed access to the lock mechanism is available.
I had similar problems and didn't want to get locked out unexpectedly so I installed a dead bolt lock. I don't use the lock on the door handle at all.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:51 AM   #5
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Meant to say that the door handle assembly itself is repairable. In most cases it's just a broken roll pin. It is the locking mechanism that causes most of the problems.
After repairing the assembly in our Argosy, I hold the handle out when closing the door, then release it so the bolt will hold it closed. Slamming the door will cause extreme shear forces on the aforementioned roll pin and it will eventually break.
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:09 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses, guys. I wound up going in through a window and jimmying the latch assembly around a bit with it unscrewed, got the door open. It was just stuck. Photos and more later today.
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Old 04-17-2012, 01:55 PM   #7
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OK, no photos yet... I shot some video but have yet to cap it onto the drive here. Sanding has continued on the steel endcaps and I'm ready to prime up the rear one after spraying rust converter yesterday.
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Old 04-17-2012, 02:06 PM   #8
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Glad to hear you found a way in and got the door open... Having a Plan B is good strategy for most of your new projects...

Not sure what original tow vehicle plan was, but you really don't need to spend a cubic ton of cash on fancy tow vehicle.. If you want to zoom up and down hills and local mountain ranges, a 1996 or newer Chevy/GMC Tahoe or Suburban or pickup (1/2 ton version) would do it OK, or the Ford Expeditions/F150 trucks.. Thanks to gas prices, you can find them pretty cheap in a number of places, and high mileage may not be disqualifier... Pre-'96 versions of GM trucks didn't have Vortec V-8's, and they were kind of gutless, but we managed to pull our 25' Airstream with a '94 Suburban 1500 for several years, and the only real issues were going over the Grapevine hill into southern Calif... An early 90's Suburban is even cheaper....
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:28 PM   #9
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Greetings Spacejack!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Argosy ownership!

Your Argosy is from the first year of production which means that it may have features that deviate from factory descriptors as it seems that running changes were frequent during that first year of production. The published factory figures for 1972 indicate that your Argosy 26 had a dry/empty weight of 3,830 pounds (Twin) or 3,850 pounds (Double) with a dry/empty hitch weight of 525 pounds (Twin) or 550 pounds (Double). The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the coach is listed as 6,200 pounds for either floorplan.

I tow a very similar 1964 Overlander, and my experience has been that a big block V8 makes towing a much more enjoyable experience with a coach of this ready to travel weight. I have towed with two small block V8s, and one was very acceptable while the other was a nightmare with marginal power/torque. I was very pleased with my 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (pre-downsize model) that had the 360 cubic inch AMC V8 with Chrysler Torqueflyte Automatic and 3.90 Differential gearing . . . it would be my second choice in comparison to my K2500 Suburban with the 454 cubic inch V8 and 4.10 Differential Gearing. The AMC powertrain was powerful, and towed my Overlander wherever I wanted to go with no problems on grades or in any other circumstances (it was a gas hog both solo and when towing and that was its downfall as its towing range was less than 150 miles with its stock fuel tank). My only other experience towing with a small block V8 was my Chevrolet K1500 Z71 Club Cab with the 350 cubic inch V8 it was truely a gutless wonder with 3.73 differentials and a heavy duty trailer towing package . . . it couldn't even adequately handle our hills in Southwest Wisconsin or Southern Illinois . . . it was a nightmare when I tried towing through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Montana.

If you don't mind towing with an older vehicle, vintage or antique as some might prefer . . . the 1972 through 1975 Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillacs with the 455 cubic inch or 501 cubic inch V8s would have been among the tow vehicles of choice when our coaches were new or late model. I utilize my 1975 Cadillac as a tow vehicle for both of my coaches, and while it is satisfactory on all but the steepest mountain grades with either coach . . . one of the similar era GM vehicles with rear wheel drive would make a much easier to manage tow vehicle that would lend itself to beneficial towing modifications that aren't possible on the 1970s eran full-size GM cars with front wheel drive.

Good luck with your coach and tow vehicle investigation!

Kevin

P.S.: 1972 through 1978 MOPAR full-size cars with the 440 cubic inch V8 or 1972 through 1978 FoMoCo cars with the 460 cubic inch V8 would also be considered contemporary era tow vehicles for our coaches.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:42 PM   #10
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1972 Argosy 26
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Wow... so much to learn! One of the plans here was/is to use the trailer as lodging at some land i own in colorado (south fork/alpine)... however, based on my recent investigation of said land (earlier today) i will not be able to do this without a semi-serious off road package. still contemplating and investigating.
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:12 PM   #11
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Greetings Spacejack!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacejack View Post
Wow... so much to learn! One of the plans here was/is to use the trailer as lodging at some land i own in colorado (south fork/alpine)... however, based on my recent investigation of said land (earlier today) i will not be able to do this without a semi-serious off road package. still contemplating and investigating.
Almost anything is possible with an Airstream, but something to keep in mind with both Argosy and Airstream coaches is that they were made for highway travel. Their low center of gravity design means that they have much lower road clearances than some other RVs designed for off-road use. It is possible to increase clearance when specifying new axles, but typically the maximum down angle is suggested as 22 degrees which might, at best, give you three inches more clearance than stock. Beyond specifying the maximum down angle on the axle arms about all you can do to increase the clearance for off-road or rough-road use is to modifying the axle mounting plates . . . the down-side is that as you increase the ground/road clearance you are tampering with the desired low center of gravity and good towin manners. What you propose in preparing your coach to access your remote property isn't impossible, but it does involve compromises. The length of the overhang on a 26' coach will also come into play when short steep grades are encountered as in stock form it isn't unusual to encounter difficulties with the rear scraping when entering/exiting some fuel station facilities.

Good luck with your investigation and coach/tow vehicle decisions.

Kevin
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:43 PM   #12
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1972 Argosy 26
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Hrm. That all does sound like a pretty distinct problem as concerns my hilly little plot. (it's also at like 8752 feet, which is well over a mile up from what I'm used to here in Memphis. Nearly passed out from hoofing it to the plot.)

Plans have changed considerably, for other reasons than the logistics involving the land and trailer. I'm almost certain to need to sell the trailer off, which makes me sad... I had high hopes for it. But I'm just biting off too much at once here to be able to handle it, and am moving to an environment which will be a much greater challenge to the A/C (Austin, TX). There's still a possibility of mothballing it for a while as I get it into shape, but it seems kind of remote. Will likely be listing it for sale here in the next few days. One day, though.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:07 AM   #13
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1972 Argosy 26
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Revised plan: Going to store the trailer for a few months until returning to town for Thanksgiving... then tote it down to Austin with a rental and either sell it there or fix it up and keep it... god, I'm in such limbo with this right now. Things have changed massively. I now have serious life plans and have also learned that I can't count on my folks the way I thought I could.

I don't know whether I'm going to try to sell the trailer or not. I guess if anyone wants to make an offer, I'm listening. I needed to put up some pics anyway, so I'll go ahead and do that. I've futzed with the paint a lot since the pics were taken, though. the steel endcaps have been sanded and re-primed, and a lot of the paint on the body has been pared down. Otherwise it's the same.

I really wasn't expecting the kind of behavior I've been experiencing with regard to this. But it's been a little ugly.

My life in general right now is better than it ever was. I'm trying to chase off the last of those dark clouds. The trailer isn't one of them, inherently, but it forces me into a situation that involves them, at least at present.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:39 AM   #14
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Er... maybe I'm dumb, but the site is telling me not to use remote images and I see no provisions for uploading directly. I'm clearly missing something...
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