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Old 02-06-2004, 01:56 PM   #1
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Questions from the UK from a 1st timer!

Hi from England!

Sorry in advance for such a large post.

I have just bought my first Airstream RV! It is a 1984 310 limited. I got it of a great guy in The SF Bay Area through eBay, he has been helpful beyond expectation. The Unit is in great shape and all manuals are present.

Did you know that the (Airstream) caravans are illegal in europe? Too long and heavy. Only people of romany origin or with a special license can tow one. The good news is that there is no such problem with the Airstream RV! Anyone with a pre 1997 license can drive a vehicle up to 8.5 ton, of unlimited length! I cant believe there aren't loads of these RVs in the UK!

I have thrown some pictures up here www.thetreefamily.com/as/ I used to live in SF for a couple of years so have buddies there who went and checked it out and took some extra pics.

I am looking for various bits of advice. My situation is rather unique as I intend to export/import this from the US to the UK. But initially I would like to keep it for a year or 2 in California so I can come over with my family to enjoy this vehicle in its natural habitat!

Before I start asking I would first like to congratulate you on such a great list here. I have lurked and searched but not contributed. Fred's class A archives were a great source of information when starting to look, so, Thanks Fred for that site as well as the numerous posts here.

Onto some questions,

The first and most natural question is, is anyone on the list in the UK and in possession of an Airstream RV? I would love to make touch as I have many question specific to having such a vehicle in the UK that are not relevant to this list.

Storage - The vendor has a storage place that he has used North of SF that is 60 dollars a month, outdoors, and they can for a bit extra, turn the engine on occasionally. From my web searching this seems like quite a good price. Would you agree? Does anyone know anywhere in the SF Bay area that is similar in price? What about indoors? I have followed a lot of the posts on how often and how long to run the engine for, I am not looking for advice on this. Just on places and prices of storage (obviously running the engine is a very important part of storage and any suggestions that take this into account are welcomed ;-)

Export - What would you do? if you were to be away from the US and all its RV resources and Airstream expertise what would you take with you? What would be in your ultimate-Airstream-Emergency-Desert-Island pack? All parts, fittings and even your imperial nuts bolts and rivets will be hard/impossible to source in the UK. As It will be in the US for a while I will have a chance of stockpiling parts/tools.

Your opinion - The pictures are here www.thetreefamily.com/as/ and the eBay item no is 2455406090 anything catch your expert eyes?Picture of the engine here http://www.thetreefamily.com/as/20.html (sorry for the bad pictures, it was night and wet) Things I may need to start thinking about taking care of? Any early warning signs?

Recondition - Anyone know of a SF Bay area place that can give such a vehicle a complete overhaul? Taking care of any early rust, mechanical problems, all lubes, etc. A total check up. Replacing any parts that may need it, new clear coat. etc. I don't think I will be able to afford such luxury but the exchange rate is rather good at the moment! Are there Airstream specialists/dealships?

Engine - I have read a lot of very educated and informed posts on engine milage, care and lifetime. Mine having 119k it isn't in its youth. It seems that the engine this has is very common and thus parts readily available. Do you think it has a 5th (overdrive) gear? how long would you expect this to run for? I have heard 200k mentioned but that is probably with regular use. I am going to need to get a new engine before this beautiful machine falls apart, right? Can one buy a new/reconditioned 454 easily in the states? How much? With that desert island thought from above would you recommend I buy one and ship it back to the UK with the RV as a bit of insurance. (I have found people here familiar with Chevy RVs so swapping out an engine should be possible) I could always do it myself right? What about the transmission? Same deal?

Questions - Did I miss an obvious question? Is there something I should be worrying about?

I shall be sure to ask your advice on our first road trip, sites and destinations. But for now that is enough I think.

Many Thanks, john
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Old 02-06-2004, 02:14 PM   #2
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Congratulations!

First and foremost, Welcome!
You will find everything here!
I too have a 310 and love it. I travel extensively in it. Would love to catch an Arsenal game in the somber weather of England.
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Old 02-06-2004, 02:26 PM   #3
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John,

Congrats on yr purchase, it looks quite nice.

For yr info Airstream trailers are not illegal in Europe or the UK & are not only for Romani Gypsies
You may try the best UK site :

www.airstream-caravans.com

Good luck & enjoy your new toy!


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Old 02-06-2004, 02:36 PM   #4
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thanks

Hey thanks for such a fast welcome!

I stand corrected by qqq, I based this asertio on a discussion with the owner of eurostream.com. maby only the longer ones were a problem....

Eurostream.com has vanished. as has the link that Airstream.com had for a while, Unles I have recalled the URL correctly.

I would be shocked to dicover that I could tow a 31ft Airstream in the UK, Which I thought was on a par with Europe.

Sorry.
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Old 02-06-2004, 03:09 PM   #5
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I don't think that A/S trailors are ilegal in europe
in the UK you have a problem that you are only alowed 2,30 meter wide max
here in the netherlands we do not have that problem
wide max 2,55 meter
trailor max 12 meters long
trailor and tow car max 18 meters long
max weight trailor 3500 KG
germany requires diverend brake system
As far as I know here in the netherlands electrick brakes are OK
I know for sure in three weeks than I must get the license for my A/S

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Old 02-06-2004, 03:20 PM   #6
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Airstreams in Europe

Before this gets out of hand can I withdraw all my origional comments about the Aistream Caravan in Europe and its legality.

I have been shot down allready!

They were meant to be anecdotal and are incidental to my main points.
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Old 02-06-2004, 04:43 PM   #7
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Congrats on your motorhome, was looking at your photos and noticed what looked to be rust under the carraige etc. If you are going to keep it stored in the SF Bay area for a yr. or 2 you might consider indoor storage as the rust will only get worse and also might consider having someone address that problem noe before it eats away at the metal and then you will have a real problem, there are undercoatings you can get that you can spray on yourself from a can after you remove the rust with a solvent and will solve you alot of future problems...Good Luck and enjoy !
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Old 02-06-2004, 06:55 PM   #8
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something to think about

Low octane fuel in England could be a problem without some modifications.

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Old 02-10-2004, 08:14 AM   #9
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Bay area Rv service recomendation

Does anyone have a recommendation for an RV Mechanic/Service centre in the SF Bay area. I may be in the States in a week or two and plan to spend some time having this 310 checkedout and any work needed possibly done at the same time.

Re the Fuel octane. What is the Octane of Gas in the US usually? I wasnt aware that the Uk had inferior Gas!

Thanks, John
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Old 02-10-2004, 08:52 AM   #10
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120,000 miles is getting up there for this age vehicle. Most likely it is a 3 speed transmission, no overdrive, so you don't have the benefits of the lower rpm and fewer revolutions per mile of the od trans. 200,000 happens but is by far not the norm even with excellent maintenance. Having it checked out here is a very good idea, also check and see what the cost would be for an engine and transmission here and the time frame and cost near you. 454's are common in the US, but parts availability might be a problem in England.

I would ship a starter, water pump, alternator, and fuel pump back with it at a minimum. Check your local availability for filters, plugs, pcv valves, distributor caps, rotors, etc., It might pay to ship a case of oil and air filters, some plugs and other maintenance parts back when you do ship it. Fuel filters are pretty flexible, you could probably adapt a local inline one to fit. Go to your local garage and ask them about the difficulty in getting parts for this chassis, it will help you decide what you need from here.

John
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:02 AM   #11
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Thanks John

I intend to find out the cost of an engine and transmission replacement.

What about the drive train and suspension lifetime?

Has anyone had experience with Inland RV?

www.inlandrv.com

Many thanks for your list of parts.

John
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:16 AM   #12
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Rear axles will last practically forever if you keep lube in them; except for the pinion gear they only turn about 1/4 speed of the engine.

Brakes should be checked (you might as well get a set or two of front and rear pads to ship back), along with the moving parts of the front end, upper and lower ball joints, tie rod ends, etc. They will last a long time also if lubed. Springs should be OK unless overloaded, air bags might be a different story but are available over the internet (as will be most parts, just shipping cost and time). The plus side of the miles on this is someone did use it and maintained it for it to make it this far. The biggest thing I would do is check locally and see what you can get and how long it will take. Chassis should be a P32 Chevrolet.

John
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:25 AM   #13
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Gasoline Grades

Most cars are designed to burn regular unleaded fuels with an octane rating of 87 (U.S. "regular" grade). Some vehicles need a higher octane rating of 89-93 (U.S. "Premium or Premium+).

The Octane rating is probably more important in a carbureted engine, as compared to a computer controlled fuel injection engine, 'cause the computer will (usually) detect violent explosion (knock) and compensate with changes in timing and air/fuel ratio.

One of the old (mid '80's) problems in Europe was the somewhat different formulation of gasoline (than here in the US), that realized a wide spread in the RON and MON methods of octane rating determination. Simply put, octane measurements, as reported at the dispensing pump, are the average of the two.

Wide swings in ratios and crude feedstock could result in two sales point gasolines that, while "averaging" the same octane rating, were, in fact, different enough to cause problems in turbocharged and high compression engines.

Having worked in the Petroleum Industry pretty much all of my life, I run the cheapest gasoline I can find that does not cause my engine to "knock".

Knock can be controlled, to a certain extent, by timing changes, but of course, the trade off is lower mpg.

My thoughts only....might not work for you....can't be responsible for your engine.....don't drink and drive....yadda, yadda, yadda.
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:25 AM   #14
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"Minimum" octane in the US is 87.
May not be an issue but if I remember it is lower over there.

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Old 02-10-2004, 09:36 AM   #15
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There are people that import motor homes and have experience in the UK.

I will need to form a relationship with one of them.

But as you said the cost of imported parts and there (relitave) special skills would be expensive over here.

I would like to take care of as much as possible in the US before bringing it over.

An new engine and transmission would alow me to start a clean sheet and keep things regularly checked.

As you say this has been looked after, the guy was the second owner and has a full service history aparently.

Is there any resource on the web to find RV Mechanics/Service centres with Airstream experience? Or is that not necessary. Is this chassis so common that I could take it anywhere?
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Old 02-10-2004, 09:45 AM   #16
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Thanks for the advice on Ocatane ratings. Pumps in the UK have a RON rating I think.

There is usually regular and premium unleaded and an old style "4 star" which i san old leaded fuel.

Which leads me to ask..... what about unleaded fuel? Will it run on that?
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:08 AM   #17
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Unleaded Fuel.....

That's all we have here in the States -- even Av Gas.

Been that way for the last 15 years or so.

The 454 will run on both leaded or unleaded. Just watch for knock. (I don't think you have a catalytic converter on your 310.)

Your 454 is probably speced for 4 degrees BTDC. Some mechanics will argue that, but that's what I am running (for now, anyway).

If, for any reason, you have to pull the radiator, replace ALL of the belts and jewelry on the front of the engine (Water Pump, Slave Belts and Idlers, Alternator, etc.). These should all be considered consumable items, and not replacing them when you have easy access to them is just plain reverse economics.

If I were you, I'd change out the plugs and ignition wires with a "racing grade" ignition system. The 454 in motor homes produces a huge amount of heat, and normal "automotive" grade ignition parts are often not up to the higher heat requirement.
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:28 AM   #18
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"racing grade" I like the sound of that!

Although being very technically minded, and great with my hands, Bikes, Building, computers, cameras. All the usuall stuff....

Have never had a vehicle to get absorbed in..... Untill now!

If I still lived in the US I would love to do all this myself and learn as I went.

However as I am on the other side of the planet and have a family that wants to do some travelling in this thing (as opposed to having it in parts!)

I need to find someone in the Bay area who I can trust to perform a check up and a few upgrades. Then I get it to the UK and it should run for a few years before I can get oil under my nails.

Cheers, John
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:39 AM   #19
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The chassis is a P32 Chevrolet, probably the most common RV chassis around. Any truck or RV shop should be familiar with them, some don't want to work on older ones but there are plenty that will.

John
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:57 AM   #20
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Just my schillings worth.

The list of spares mentioned above will make little difference in the actual weight imported and would allow you to have the parts in hand that could take a while to get on your side of the pond. Belts are not too much different, but Alternators, water pumps, fuel pumps, etc will be something that you will sorely wish you had when it comes time to replace it. Heck some of us on this forum carry much of that with us on the road.
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