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Old 07-26-2006, 04:17 PM   #1
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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Seeking Help w/CUSTOM 1988 345

Newbie here - so I appologize in advance for likely asking a question that has probably been beat to death already...

I have an opportunity to buy a 1988 A/S "345" RV that was custom built (perhaps by the factory) for a business to use as a mobile teaching center.

This means it has 0 beds/tables/couches/plumbing/water tanks/closets, etc.

It also does not appear to have an onboard generator or even a storage compartment for an onboard generator. They used a huge towable generator for mobile power.

Another oddity includes virtually no side windows - only has front and rear.

What it does have: no leaks, 4 (yes I said 4) A/C units and only 30k miles on the original motor/chasis.

It has been well maintained mechanically. Never driven farther than 45 miles in any single trip. Never been driven with passangers onboard. Never sat without being started or driven for more than 30 days.

So, that leads me to the worn-out, impossible-to-answer question that comes from every ignorant newbie like me: If I were to buy this, what is a rough guess on what I might spend in parts and labor to do the following

1. Install the standard furniture for that floorplan (keep in mind, it is basically an empty shell inside with a few custom made computer tables).
2. Install the plumbing/fixtures/tanks/pumps, etc. (currently, there are no holes in the floor/body for routing the plumbing. There is, however, empty space under the frame of the coach where I would expect the tanks to normaly reside).
3. Rebuild the transmission/drivetrain if there happens to be a problem
4. Rebuild the engine if it happens to need it.

I know you hate these questions. But I'm stuck with an opportunity to buy this thing really cheap and fix it up enough for me to enjoy it (not necessarily back to vintage specs).

So, I thought someone might take pity on me and break out some ballpark costs for furniture, plumbing, drivetrain and motor. I assume that parts would equal about 50% of the cost and labor the other 50%?

Anyway, I have to figure out what to offer the company who owns it. There really are no comparables for this unique coach.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sincerely,

2young2rv?
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:08 PM   #2
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of course the fact that it has not gone anywhere makes the engine and trans somewhat suspect. I would want to check carefully for leaks, and be sure it runs out ok.
As for the plumbing, etc and inside furnishings, you have the advantage of being able to customize and then know exactly where everything is for later repairs.
The cost of all that can be offset by buying surplus RV furniture from sources you can find on the internet, and possibly locally.
Things like refridg, stove, etc will cost some bucks anywhere from say 600-1500 for the fridge alone. Then what about cabinets, water heater and furnace, a/c? You will need waste tanks, but that is not a problem to install.
Also a water tank if you plan to boondock. Add it all up and see if it makes sense compared to a ready to go 345 anywhere from 18000-26000 usually.
Or check out the 310 on Ebay now which could be a super deal and is ready to roll
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:26 PM   #3
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A clean start for sure.

Interesting find. Please document it with photos before doing anything.

If you are handy I would think this is a really good starting place. The lack of windows lets you do anything you want with the floor plan and add the windows where you need. Windows are available new so no problem there. If you are not handy and can't handle the cabinetry work and install the cabinetry and would have to pay somebody to do the work...Pass on it. To pay somebody to outfit an empty coach would exceed what you could buy a similar sized ready to go coach.

I would watch places like Craigslist.org and you might score a complete camper the cheap to get some of your sub system. I just missed a free camper that had a usable Reefer, A/C and water heater.

I might be coming into possession of a Onan 4500 with 4.5 hours on it in a couple months. Its not going to work well for my needs so I will probably sell it to get the funds to buy a quite, light portable. Keep an eye on the classifieds. I will offer it here first before going on E-Bay or Craig's.

Welcome to the forum
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:39 PM   #4
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I would think that because of the specialized nature of the work you should plan on spending a lot more on labor. If you could even buy cabinets that would fit your floor plan design they will be more expensive than quality kitchen cabinets. If you don't mind spending the time and money you would have a unique and custom Airstream. I't really is next to impossible to quote a cost without a lot more information, but having said that, I don't think it's unreasonable to spend 20-30 thousand. Cost add up fast, just ask Rich Luhr.
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Old 07-26-2006, 07:07 PM   #5
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Your intended use was not stated, are you a boondocker or an RV park type? If you look at most units you'll find lots of overhead cabinets invading the eye space of most coaches. I love my rig, a former funeral coach for it's lack of storage space in the main area.
The P30 Chevy chassis will last forever but you'll have to look close before pulling the trigger on this one. I bought a 16,500 mile Champion that was a bookmobile in a prior life. It's a little crusty underneath but worked well for me for forty thousand miles. Check compressions, change all fluids including the rear end. Look at all air bags and factor in changing them.
Windows are overrated... they are as much if not more of a passive solar collector than the bare aluminum.
All this said if the price is right you'd have something unique that you could make into your own.... your way.
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Old 07-27-2006, 02:22 PM   #6
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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Appreciate the feedback

Thanks for the quick replies!

I have a chance to buy this thing for about $2,500. I figured I could sell the parts more than that!

So far, it seems like most people on the forum are helping me understand the high cost associated with the cabinet work needed to restore it to original spec. Honestly, I am okay w/out having the built-in cabinets.

I guess it would have been important for me to explain how I intend to use the thing...

I would like to use it as a means of transportation and temporary sleeping for some family vacations. My wife and I have 2 boys under the age of 7. We are used to "roughing it", tent camping, etc. So, I thought I would like to accomplish the following objectives:

1. Install a passenger seat (currently it has a custom cabinet for computer gear).
2. Install a pull-sofa that can serve as a bed for the boys.
3. Install a basic bathroom - toilet, sink and shower
4. Install fresh/gray/holding tanks, hotwater heater and plumbing for bathroom
5. Use one of the existing computer tables as a food prep station - would be limited to electric skillet/crock pot, etc.
6. Put in a sink at food prep station

That's about all I would intend to do.

Why? Because I also love to cook BBQ competitively (these are all night/weekend events) and would want to keep most of the coach "open" so I can drag in the card tables and play poker with my buddies in the A/C!

When my family uses it for a roadtrip or a long weekend at the campground, I thought my wife and I could setup one of the inflatable mattresses w/integrated, expanding bed frame from Cabelas. We can keep the food in a cooler or an inexpensive "dorm-type" refrigerator.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that my expectations are pretty low when it comes to restoring this to factory original. However, as some of you have pointed out, if it's going to cost $10k to do the 6 items listed above (and address any mechanical/drivetrain issues) its going to be a waste of time for me.

Thanks again for all of the gracious support. I'll try to recap some of the expected costs that come from this group and what final sales price the company puts on the coach!
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Old 07-27-2006, 03:02 PM   #7
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Some where in the back of my mind I remember reading about this coach before and seeing its picture. I searched around looking for it but could not find it, sorry. What I do remember is that it has been for sale several or many or for a long time. Maybe one of the other members will recall the story about this one from Texas. The last picture I remember had it sitting along a city street. At any rate you are buying yourself a lot of work at great expense for minimal return. When you stand inside this large open interior note that it is rounded and remember that everything you install will also have to fit that contour. Add to the list a fresh water tank, a 12V system, seats for your family to sit on safely while you travel.
As Alan mentioned there is a 310 on eBay now that is known to several of the forum members. That coach will fill your needs for a lot less money and headaches.
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:45 PM   #8
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Tulsa , Oklahoma
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 27
Seeking Help w/CUSTOM 1988 "345"

Not sure where to post this. I posted it earlier in the “Trailer Values” forum – so forgive me for the re-post – just thought some of you who focus on this forum might have some wisdom to share.

Newbie here - so I apologize in advance for likely asking a question that has probably been beat to death already...

I have an opportunity to buy (for about $2,500) a 1988 A/S "345" RV that was custom built (perhaps by the factory) for a business to use as a mobile teaching center.

This means it has 0 beds/tables/couches/plumbing/water tanks/closets, etc.

It also does not appear to have an onboard generator or even a storage compartment for an onboard generator. They used a huge towable generator for mobile power.

Another oddity includes virtually no side windows - only has front and rear.

What it does have: no leaks, 4 (yes I said 4) A/C units and only 30k miles on the original motor/chassis.

It has been well maintained mechanically. Never driven farther than 45 miles in any single trip. Never been driven with passengers onboard. Never sat without being started or driven for more than 30 days.


I would like to use it as a means of transportation and temporary sleeping for some family vacations. My wife and I have 2 boys under the age of 7. We are used to "roughing it", tent camping, etc.


So, that leads me to the worn-out, impossible-to-answer question that comes from every ignorant newbie like me: If I were to buy this, what is a rough guess on what I might spend in parts and labor to do the following
So, I thought I would like to accomplish the following objectives:

1. Install a passenger seat (currently it has a custom cabinet for computer gear).
2. Install a pull-out sofa that can serve as a bed for the boys.
3. Install a basic bathroom - toilet, sink and shower
4. Install fresh/gray/holding tanks, hotwater heater and plumbing for bathroom
5. Use one of the existing computer tables as a food prep station - would be limited to electric skillet/crock pot, etc.
6. Put in a sink at food prep station
* If required rebuild the transmission/drivetrain if there happens to be a problem
** If required, rebuild the engine if it happens to need it.

That's about all I would intend to do.

Why? Because I also love to cook BBQ competitively (these are all night/weekend events) and would want to keep most of the coach "open" so I can drag in the card tables and play poker with my buddies in the A/C!

When my family uses it for a roadtrip or a long weekend at the campground, I thought my wife and I could setup one of the inflatable mattresses w/integrated, expanding bed frame from Cabelas. We can keep the food in a cooler or an inexpensive "dorm-type" refrigerator.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that my expectations are pretty low when it comes to restoring this to factory original. However, as some of you have pointed out, if it's going to cost $10k to do the 6 items listed above (and address any mechanical/drivetrain issues) its going to be a waste of time for me.

I know you hate these questions. But I'm stuck with an opportunity to buy this thing really cheap and fix it up enough for me to enjoy it (not necessarily back to vintage specs).

So, I thought someone might take pity on me and break out some ballpark costs. I assume that parts would equal about 50% of the cost and labor the other 50%?

Anyway, I have to figure out what to offer the company who owns it. There really are no comparables for this unique coach.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sincerely,

2young2rv?
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:26 PM   #9
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Hello 2young2rv? and welcome to the Forums! That an interesting sounding Argosy -- though I don't have any answers for you. See if this thread gets any responses. It has been posted fairly late on a Thursday night. In summer I notice a flurry of Saturday morning activity and then the members are out and about for the weekend. I'll bet a lot more eyes would see this if you came back to this thread and added a further question or clarification later Sunday afternoon or later Monday afternoon. Best of luck!
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:53 PM   #10
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This is a bit of a tough one. Having just done some of the things you mention to a 1963 trailer, I am continually amazed on how fast $$$ add up.
If you're not able, or willing to spend at least $ 5k, likely more, on upgrades to make it into a camper, instead of a cargo van, then you might be better off taking the money and buying something that is more or less ready to go. I am not including mechanical costs in to the "guesstimate". Engine or trans work might easily double this amount.
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Old 07-28-2006, 01:23 PM   #11
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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I hear what you are saying!

The allure of buying this thing for $2,500 may not look so good if I have to put $5k into the interior make-over, $3,500 in plumbing and wiring, and $5k in drivetrain and engine...

I do, however, know that it has been very well maintained mechanically.

I'll keep checking back. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I've never owned an RV before, so all of this is new to me...
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Old 07-28-2006, 02:38 PM   #12
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Buy in Haste, Regret in Leisure

I bought the first one I looked at. Still have it. Love it. It is still unfinished.

What skills do you have? Metal working, mechanical, HVAC, woodworking, electrical, plumbing?
Ask yourself, how much can I spend? Does $10,000 more scare you?
Do you have time to work on it?
Storage space to put the parts you have to store until they are needed?
I figure at least twice the volume of the unit itself.
Do you have a supportive wife? Dee-vorce is more expensive than an Airstream.
Do you hunt for low prices like a bloodhound?

R
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Old 07-28-2006, 03:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2young2rv?
The allure of buying this thing for $2,500 may not look so good if I have to put $5k into the interior make-over, $3,500 in plumbing and wiring, and $5k in drivetrain and engine...

I do, however, know that it has been very well maintained mechanically.

I'll keep checking back. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I've never owned an RV before, so all of this is new to me...
I would definitely buy it in the shape you're describing, you can get more for it, for sure.
The body parts and segments alone are worth more than that. I'd hate to suggest parting it out, but who knows, you might be able to sell it fora profit and then buy another Classic motor home with the proceeds and some extra cash. Lots of opportunity there.
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