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Cheryl 06-08-2002 12:14 PM

Help for new member...
Well, I brought her home, my new toy and my intended home on the road for the next year or so, starting in September. She's a 31' 1978 Excella 500, rear bath, center twins. I bought her for $5500 from Millie, who is a doll, and Norwegian like me. Millie and Steve used her only to live in while their house was being built and don't know much about her history. The tires are good. The refrigerator and heater work. Everything looks in great shape except the skin which needs help and I would love to strip and polish it, but don't know if I have the strength or time. I guess I just really want to do something to shine it up and protect it for right now. It has those little squirrely lines of oxidation or whatever it is in a lot of places. Millie never did anything but hose it down.
The guy who towed it home for me said it towed like a dream. He said I should get a 4wd diesel truck with a 7.3 liter, Ford or GMC. I just kept looking back and exclaiming with delight that it was still following us. Any advice about tow vehicles would be great. I need a truck with a bed long enough to put my motorcycle in and I'd rather have more power than I need so I don't have to worry and I'd rather not spend more than 15,000. (I know, I ask a lot.)
So now everywhere I look as I delve deeper I am of course finding more problems and mysteries. (I think I'll name her the Silver Enigma.) There is some rust where the tongue connects to the body of the trailer and that has me worried. I will try and scrape deeper today and see how far it goes, and then treat it... with something, I don't know what yet. The levelers are really rusted badly, hard to move. I want to grease them up liberally with , like a barrel of pork fat or something. Should I be careful about what I use that might damage the underskin? Are stabilizers just stabilizers, or with power attached can I actually level the thing with them?
I can't get the antenna to go up and I can't find the switch for the built-in vacuum system. Somebody carpeted this thing in plush WHITE carpet and it's lovely but with all the neighbors having to come over and see it...! It has the front visor still, and the casing around the propane tanks, missing its lid though. It still has lots of the original things, like the tubs in the compartments and light fixtures are in good shape. I wish the built-in blender worked, but it is gone and the control seems to be rusted away to nothing. There are no leaks or mildew and it feels sometimes like time froze back in 1978. The plumbing and waste stuff has me worried, not because there seems to be any problems but because if there are I sure don't want to deal with them, and messing around on the floor of the bathroom looking for the vacuum switch it doesn't smell very good sometimes. (I think I'll name her Stinky.) The waste tank is still about a quarter full so I guess I'm going to have to drive it off to a campground somewhere and dump it unless somebody has a great idea. Millie said there's a problem with the streetside awning but we haven't gotten it to come down yet.
You know, writing all this is making me want to go out and play with it some more, so I guess I'll just wait for a reply to this and go out and make a list of the questions I forgot to ask. You guys are sure going to regret the day you found me. (Most guys do.) Thanks so much, I appreciate any and all help I can get. -Cheryl "Loopy Chenille"

Andy R 06-08-2002 12:54 PM

You may want to take some time to browse through the various forums and perform a few searchs. Many of the questions you have are answered or partially answered in other threads. If you still have a question, please post it in the proper forum to aid in keeping the forums organized!

Congrats on your new find! Sounds like a great trailer. With an owner who really care, I am sure the trailer will be in even more super shape soon!

maznblu 06-08-2002 06:36 PM

right forum
My impression is that Cheryl DID post to the right forum, her particular model of A/S. I've noticed that not many people take advantage of the model-spcific forums, so it is nice to see someone jumping in.

Cheryl, I tow with a '94 Ford F-350 turbo-diesel. This is probably more truck than you need, even with a motorcycle in the back, but you certainly can't go wrong with extra power. I got it to pull a horsetrailer after being unhappy with a Jeep Cherokee Laredo as a tow vehicle.

Good luck with exploring your new home-to-be. I hope not too much is wrong with it. It seems the area most likely to have problems is the plumbing since a lot of people aren't careful about correct winterizing.


eraffety 06-08-2002 06:45 PM


The rivets are awarded based upon the number of posts a member has. I believe since you have made at least 5 posts, you received one rivet. The next rivet is after 25 posts (?) and so forth.


Cheryl 06-09-2002 12:17 AM

Thanks Eugenie, for your truck advice. The F-350 diesel seems to be the choice I'm advised of the most, so my eyes are open wide for one to fall into my lap... not literally, of course. I also appreciate the advice about posting to more specific forums, but like you said, nobody seems to be using this one much, and I can't imagine why.
I found more problems today, but not with the plumbing. I had that checked out before I bought it and it looks good. I just wish I'd been smarter about the axles. I'm afraid they might have to be replaced. Well, life goes on. I never expected this to be easy.. but I had hoped. I do feel better now that I've hung up my little cheap string of palm tree and pineapple lights in the window and fixed the screen door latch. - Cheryl

davidz71 06-09-2002 10:32 AM

Vehicle: Stay away from the older Chevy diesel engines. The new Duramax diesel engine in the Chevy/GMC is awesome but you want to stay under $15,000 so that knocks that out for now. I'm not a Ford fan but you might find a Ford F250 3/4 ton truck with a Power Stroke Diesel engine that might fill your needs. Do not get one without the turbo charger unit because non-turbocharged units are dogs. If you are looking for gas engines, try the Chevy Suburban with a 454 engine and either 3.73 or 4.11 rear end ratio. If you do not travel in the mountains the 3.73 rear will be fine. A 2500 Chevy/GMC 3/4 ton pickup would be preferred over the 1/2 ton 1500 truck. Believe me, I towed my '77 Excella 500 with a '92 1500 4X4 with 350 V8 and 3.42 rear and 5 speed transmission. It was not a pleasurable experience.

BAL stabilizers: I used anti-seize grease on my stabilizers and it has worked great. Stabilizers are used to prevent movement of the coach while walking inside or from windy days. Do not level the coach with them or use them to change a tire. You drive onto 2X6 boards or plastic blocks which look like large lego blocks to level the trailer. They are available through

Antenna: Check the fuse to see if it is blown. Also, these units had a tendency to stick so use a lubricant to spray on the gears before trying again. My Excella had a manual crank up unit.

Vacuum: I think I just answered this question on another thread but the switch should be located in the rear bath, under the counter to the right of the wash basin and left of the 110 circuit breaker box. These are located behind the tambour sliding door.

Nutone Food Service Processing Unit: Find one off for $150 or so used. Blenders run $40-50.

Waste tanks: You have a grey water tank which collects water from your shower and sink and then you have a black water tank which collects toilet water. Buy some chemicals from Walmart such as Camco TST for the black water tank and lemon smelling grey water control for the grey tank. Follow directions and add a few gallons of water before letting both tanks sit for a few days. Drive around awhile and then head for a campground. Dump the blackwater tank first, the left T-handle in the rear compartment, shut it, then pull the right T-handle. The grey water will wash the sewer hose of excrement still left in the hose. I also bought a trailer with stuff left in both tanks and it is a mess to clean up. Fill the tanks up again and flush in the same order as before. I usually leave a few gallons of treated water in each tank when I am not using my unit.

Awning: Go to the ZipDee web site and they have directions on setting up your awnings as well as maintenance/care.

As you come up with different questions, post them in the other areas of the forum where more people are looking. We would be glad to help. Craig

83Excella 06-09-2002 11:51 AM

Welcome Cheryl
Hi Cheryl and welcome to our community we thank you for joining us and look forward to your participation. Some of your questions have already been answered and feel free to ask away and we will do our best to share what we know or point you where you can find answers. Feel free to post any pictures you have of your new toy.
FYI I will be moving this thread to the Excella 500 area as soon as the webmaster adds your year 1978.


Rog0525 06-09-2002 02:51 PM

polish or walbernize?
Hi Cheryl and good luck with your Airstream experience. I found the below quote from Bobby W very helpful in deciding how to shine the skin on my '60 Overlander. I bought a gallon of Cleaner, Polish and Glaze from, tried it on a few problem areas and am happy with the result. I'm saving the full application as the finishing touch.


Are you sure you need to polish it? It takes a couple hundred hours to give it the Aircraft Polish treatment as it is a multistep process. It is a tremendous amount of work and usually the very last thing done during a restoration. Kind of like painting a restored car is the last step. Have you tried Walbernize'ing it. Not trying to discourage you, just giving you my thoughts.

davidz71 06-12-2002 06:17 PM

Look up for info on NuTone. There is a 1(800)463-2358 or (206)283-5459 for parts through Industrial Electronics Service Co. 1300 West Nickerson St., Seattle, WA. 98119. I emailed them and asked for a price quote for a switch, a new knob kit and a blender. Those prices on 6/2/01 were $63.82, $11.95 and $68 respectively. They take MC and VISA.

Craig 08-06-2002 06:41 PM

New member too
I just bought a 78 Excella 500 too. I'm also completely new to the RV scene. I'd really like to find someone who checks email often that I could send really simple and stupid questions to as they arise.

thenewkid64 08-06-2002 07:35 PM

Just post your questions here, someone will jump in and offer advice. Remember the stupid questions are the ones you don't ask!:D

davidz71 08-06-2002 07:35 PM

Glad to see you on the forum. There is a wealth of knowledge on this forum so all you have to do is ask. I've asked plenty of questions and most if not all have been answered. My Excella 500 TT is one year older than yours so I would be happy to help if I can.

Craig 08-07-2002 06:04 AM

First Question:
The owners manual says to be sure only to connect to 120 volt city power. My house has a 220/110(?) volt system. Is there a way I can safely run power to the trailer to charge the battery/test the systems?
Second Question:
The double pane windows are all a mess in between the panes - the vista views, door window, and front corner windows. I've read some postings about cleaning them (ie, breaking the inner pane of the vista views!), but not sure the approach to take, or if it's a lost cause.


74Argosy24MH 08-07-2002 06:36 AM

As long long as you use a standard 110 volt outlet, you will be ok. There are adapters available at rv stores to convert your trailer cord to a regular plug. Just remember the amp rating of the house circuit you are using is most likely less than what the trailer will use when you start cranking several things up at once and will trip the breaker or blow the fuse. Also get an extension cord rated at or above the rating for that circuit.


Craig 08-07-2002 06:51 AM

Thanks John. The electricity thing scared me. An adapter came in the trailer, so I should be good to go. I brought it home two days ago and haven't been able to test a thing. Now I can't wait to get home and hook up some juice... Do I need to be carefull that it's a standard 110 volt outlet?

uwe 08-07-2002 09:20 AM

Hi Craig,

You can safely test things by plugging into a standard household 110V outlet, providing your outlet is properly grounded and that you are usig a quality adapter in good condition. Mine is a sealed one piece type adapter, it looks like a 1ft extension cord, and it has the standard 3-prong male connector on one end and an RV type 30amp female connector on the other end.
If you are planning to do this often, and have a place to put the trailer, then it might be worth having an electrician run a dedicated 30amp line to a convenient place at your home, so you can plug in like you would in a campground, and use the full 30 power rating. Unless your trailer has a 50 amp setup. It is nice to have the a/c available if you are working inside the trailer, and use the full charging potential etc.
Most household plugs are fused by a 15 or 20 amp breaker. This will sometimes trip if you turn on the a/c, but will be fine to turn on lights and the water pump etc.. Also, make sure you get a sufficiently long RVtype extension cord, 10gauge is preferred.
The more adapters and converters you use, the more trouble spots can sneak into your power supply.

74Argosy24MH 08-07-2002 09:39 AM

220 outlets are much larger than 110, sometimes have the prongs at right angles to each other, sometimes parallel. They are usually for a dryer, range, etc. that draws a lot of current and you won't find them in very many places in the house.

If it looks like one you plug a light or tv in, it is 110.


davidz71 08-07-2002 12:22 PM

Connected to 110 v. city power will allow you to run everything in your trailer with one exception. Your AC fan will run and have enough power to start the AC compressor but be aware that you should not run it for longer than a couple of minutes. If you use an outdoor 8-12 amp extension cord from the wall to the plug adapter and then connect to your 30 amp power cord, you will find that it starts to heat up and then trip the breaker. I have heard that it is bad on the fan motor of the AC as well. I had a bad 14 volt transformer in my Armstrong AC so I kept the fan running for only a minute at a time during testing. After I replaced the transformer and got the thermostat to work, the AC put out cold air. I let it run for a little over 5 minutes one time, the extension cord was getting warm and the breaker at the house kicked off.

Craig 08-08-2002 11:10 AM


I was just checking out your photes and loved them. Have you done any work on any of the double pane windows in your AS. They look very clean. Mine have all kinds of "gunk" inside them.


davidz71 08-08-2002 01:11 PM

Two of my vista view windows are starting to cloud up. I haven't done anything to them since picking the trailer up in May '01. I've been watching them closely because one seems to be getting worse with some type of white stuff oozing out between the panes. Did you visit the site put on here previously showing how to correct vista view windows?

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