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Old 05-17-2009, 12:30 PM   #1
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'78 Argosy 28' MH Repair and Cost List

Well, after several weeks I finally got my comprehensive repair and cost list. Wow. I'm going to have to put some money into it to get it going. I expected this, but it looks like it will take me longer to get the money up and the repairs done. And I'll have to do a lot of the repairs myself to save on labor costs - like the refrig, air conditioner, heater, etc. Plus I think I can find a lot of the parts cheaper on the internet.

But the basic mechanics of the engine, suspension, transmission, brakes, and exhaust aren't something I can do myself - I'm unfortunately an office jockey with no training in mechanics and without all the right tools. So I think I'll need to spend the initial money (the little I have) on a mechanic to get these parts going. Then I'll start fixing the interior myself - with everyone's help and suggestions of course.

So, what do you think of the list? Comprehensive? Is it missing anything? What would you change or suggest or add?
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Old 05-17-2009, 02:04 PM   #2
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The best thing in the world for you to tackle would be a lot of the mechanical things you have listed. Unless you plan on your moho being yard art, a basic knowledge of simple mechanics and how it's all laid out could save you from a seriously expensive problem in the middle of a vacation. Buy yourself a good service manual for your engine and start working on the small things first. A basic tool set is all you'll really need for simple jobs. Don't be afraid of it. Things like replacing a transmission filter, fluid and pan can be done in an afternoon. Motor mounts are a really simple fix. Even brakes are a lot easier than most people realize. The biggest thing is to get over your fear of the unknown. There's also the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when you make those small repairs on your own.
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Old 05-17-2009, 02:34 PM   #3
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It seems to us that you are facing the same kind of job that we are currently into (we are rebuilding a 1974 Argosy moho), I realise you are not a pro mechanic but there are lots of suppliers out there where you can get a much better price on parts than you have been quoted for. Ok I know mechanics like to take a cut on the parts prices but most reasonable guys will fit your own parts for you if you ask nicely. Look on websites like Rockauto for stock parts, Jegs or Summit for the stuff like headers and electronic ignition. We are in the UK and can get most of our parts at a really good price if we shop around. If you are reasonably practical you can do a lot of the work yourself, we are always willing to help with advice on mechanical work, and even if you have to spend some money on tools (don't ever buy cheap tools!) it will save you money on future repairs too. I have taught many people basic mechanics and there aren't many people out there with no ability whatsoever. The main thing you need is observation and persistence, take a photo before you start anything like brake shoes or stuff that looks complicated where you might forget which way up things go. Just have a go, you might even enjoy it!
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Old 05-19-2009, 11:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Landis View Post
So, what do you think of the list? Comprehensive? Is it missing anything? What would you change or suggest or add?
It appears to be a good comprehensive list but I do have some suggetions and comments.

I would be real surprised if you have to replace the cam, lifters & timing chain. These motorhomes generally do not have enough miles on them to justify these sort of repairs. To get you on the road sooner I would ignore any of his suggestions for internal work on the engine and concentrate on getting rid of engine leaks, engine cooling issues and vacuum issues. Once the engine is running smoothly then you can worry about whether the lifters, cam and timing chain needs replacing. Even if they do you can most likely go a lot of miles before you HAVE to do something about them. You'll probably find that the rough idle is caused by vacuum leaks from all the dry rotted hoses.

Adding headers is definitely worth doing and if you need to replace the rest of your exhaust system then do the headers at the same time.

I would not do the HEI and rev limiter. Wait until you drive it some to see how it does. The stock ignition system is surprisingly robust. If something breaks on the stock ignition system while you're traveling parts are easy to come by. Just try and find parts for an aftermarket ignition system while you're stuck on the side of the road in the middle of no where.

I agree with rebuilding the complete front end. The only thing I would add would be to install front air bags in side the front springs when putting the springs on. I found it very difficult to replace the air bags with the springs on the vehicle. The air bags do improve the ride considerably.

I also question the need to replace the electric fuel pump. Ensure that its actually not working before spending money to replace it. Just because it looks rusty doesn't mean its bad.

Do all of the brake work he suggests. Brakes are all there is between you and disaster!

Replacing the fridge isn't all that difficult and I bet you could do it yourself. We did ours and it was relatively easy.

Also I think he oversized your furnace. Our 31' 310 motorhome had a 30k unit installed. I think 45k would probably roast you out of your motorhome!

When we got our 310 motorhome a few years ago we concentrated on the mechanical safety issues first. We wanted a safe ride. Cosmetics, etc came in second. As a matter of fact we're still working on the cosmetics!

Think of it this way, safety first and then creature comforts!

Brad
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Old 05-19-2009, 01:26 PM   #5
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Definitely a good list. I completely agree with Brad. There's much to be said for a "keep it simple" approach to these vehicles. I suspect those of us that travel substantial distances in our motorhomes have similarly prioritized our mechanical issues.

One item I might add is an aftermarket transmission cooler.

One item I might dream about is a Gear Vendor.
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Old 05-19-2009, 02:54 PM   #6
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I am with Brad on this one too. He is doing an Argy now too.

I also gotta worry about the difference between Rod Out RAD Core (removing the tanks and physically running rods through the core to remove obstructions) and "Rot Out or Replace RAD Core." (Whatever Rot Out means, it doesn't sound good)

Leaks, all hoses, brakes, and suspension are high priority. Then you can enjoy it while you do the rest.
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:09 PM   #7
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I hear you and I really appreciate everyone's advice. I wonder about the cam, lifters, and timing chain. The mechanic, though, thought he heard or felt a slipping timing chain, and while he was in there.....

I'm also interested in the ignition issue you discussed. I thought I read hear that having electronic ignition was the way to go and my prior experience with a 70 Chrysler Newport taught me the same. I really want to improve the gas mileage as much as possible (everyone can stop laughing now), and make the engine run smoother, start up easier, and run cleaner. Isn't it worth putting on an electronic ignition system now?

Finally, having talked with a few of you privately and what I've read here in the forum, I really think I'm just going to go with heavier springs up front instead of front air bags. I know this is quite controversial, but I think it's the way to go in the long run for less maintenance.

I really want to concentrate on the engine, suspension, transmission, and exhaust with the initial money I have, and then spend years and years fixing the rest interiorwise. I also think I can replace the fridge and other items. Although I'm a little concerned with the heater and anything relating to propane to ensure I don't miss an obvious trick of the trade that results in my little kids' poisoning.

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Old 05-19-2009, 07:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Landis View Post
I hear you and I really appreciate everyone's advice. I wonder about the cam, lifters, and timing chain. The mechanic, though, thought he heard or felt a slipping timing chain, and while he was in there.....
That's just it, I wouldn't want him "inside" the engine if there is no real reason to be in there. I'm not saying he is trying to drum up business but my thoughts are until you know just how well the engine runs or doesn't run after fixing things like vacuum lines, ignition, etc then I'd leave well enough alone.

The timing chain either works or it doesn't. It won't slip, however if it is loose enough it could skip a tooth. If it did do that the running performance would probably be pretty bad and quite noticeable. What it can do is stretch over time (and miles) which causes a little less precision in ignition performance. However I'm still of the mind that these motorhomes don't get enough miles on them for the timing chains to be a real problem.

Quote:
I'm also interested in the ignition issue you discussed. I thought I read hear that having electronic ignition was the way to go and my prior experience with a 70 Chrysler Newport taught me the same. I really want to improve the gas mileage as much as possible (everyone can stop laughing now), and make the engine run smoother, start up easier, and run cleaner. Isn't it worth putting on an electronic ignition system now?
That's just it. The original ignition on these motorhomes is an electronic ignition. I don't know if its considered an HEI system but it doesn't use points and as long as you carry a few inexpensive spare parts with you you'll never have to worry about getting to where you want to be. If you install an aftermarket ignition then you'll need to buy some pretty expensive spare parts and I'll guarantee you you won't be able to find them at your local auto parts store.



Case in point, several years ago Susan's race car failed to start after getting tech inspected prior to the start of the race weekend. I ended up replacing the aftermarket HEI distributor, HEI ignition module and high performance coil with a stock distributor and coil. That was the only way I could get the car to run again. That ignition system failure almost cost us $600 in fees that were prepaid for the race weekend.

I'm now in the process of switching Susan's race car ignition from HEI back to a Mallory dual point distributor just for the ability to make easy repairs at the track if need be. When an electronic or HEI ignition fails trouble shooting is nothing more than swapping parts until it works again. Easy to do with a stock Chevy ignition, but not so easy with an aftermarket ignition.

The KISS principle is an important one to remember .

Quote:
Finally, having talked with a few of you privately and what I've read here in the forum, I really think I'm just going to go with heavier springs up front instead of front air bags. I know this is quite controversial, but I think it's the way to go in the long run for less maintenance.
The worst you'll have with heavier front springs is a stiffer ride up front. That's not necessarily bad, I just like the smoother ride you get with air bags with less banging around.

Quote:
I really want to concentrate on the engine, suspension, transmission, and exhaust with the initial money I have, and then spend years and years fixing the rest interior wise. I also think I can replace the fridge and other items. Although I'm a little concerned with the heater and anything relating to propane to ensure I don't miss an obvious trick of the trade that results in my little kids' poisoning.
It sounds like you're getting a reasonable game plan together.

Working on the propane system is no big deal. Just make sure the tank shutoff valve is closed before you open any lines. Also once you've got all of the lines reinstalled you just pressurize the system and check for leaks with soapy water. Not hard to do at all. You can also get a propane gas sensor to monitor for leaks if you're concerned about it. Right now our motorhome has enough air leaks I'm not to concerned about it .

Brad
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Old 06-26-2009, 12:54 AM   #9
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Ok. I got a second opinion and a second quote. Still quite shocking, but comprehensive. So what do you think? Is this repair shop more comprehensive, more realistic, and/or more reasonable about the true costs?
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:38 AM   #10
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What do I repair first - engine, brakes, transmission, exhaust, suspension?
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:32 AM   #11
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Here's the must do list by the Mechanic. Are they?

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Old 06-29-2009, 12:35 PM   #12
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You are going to need a motorhome person to check in on this, but I am curious about the details for some of the procedures. For example, what do $457 of trans service and $206 of diff service get you exactly?

The total I get adding these estimates up is $7,468.75, and there are still question marks by some of the items.
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:38 PM   #13
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The Fox bid to panels up has the detail of the parts and labor costs of each service. Thanks for responding. But Fox Bid and Fox2 Report together and you'll see what I'm talking about.

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Old 06-30-2009, 06:02 AM   #14
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Don,

I would run away from this Fox Auto Service as fast as I could. To me his prices are way off in left field. $97.50 (plus the cost of thermostat) to replace the thermostat is rediculous. $3418.50 to repair your dash A/C is also another example of price gouging. $292.50 to replace the valve cover gaskets is amazing.

If I had the time I'd say bring the motorhome to me and I'll do the work for those prices . Unfortunatelly I don't have the time.

As far as what to repair or replace first, I would do the brakes, suspension, exhaust (including headers), transmission, and then the engine in that order. I'm still not convinced you have any real internal engine problems that you need to worry about.

I would also question the need to replace both front brake rotors. I just had the two front rotors on our 74 Argosy motorhome checked and while I thought they looked horrible and felt they probably needed to be replaced. The shop I took them to took one look and said that'll be $17.50 to turn both of them. Once they were done he said they could be turned at least one or two more times. So take your rotors to a "good" brake shop and see what they say. I think you'll be surprised.

I still stand by my comments in my first my first reply to this thread.

Brad
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Old 06-30-2009, 06:48 AM   #15
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Thanks Brad,

I've been sitting on my hands about some of those prices. $193 to replace the oil pressure sender and $175 for the lower radiator hose come to mind.

I also agree with your general assessments and the priority of repairs.
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:30 PM   #16
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When I first got my mh took it to rv -mechanic shop. Thier price to Remove and replace engine and tranny with rebuilts was 8 to 10 thousand dollars. When I could breath again I told them to get my mh ready to go I put it in storage I had to wait a year but I found someplace I can work on it.Not sure how it will all happen but If I pay myself half of that money and use the other half for parts I think that is a better way to go and when you are done you know what you've got.
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Old 06-30-2009, 09:35 PM   #17
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I think you need at least one other shop to have a look, but I would agree that safety issues come first, and a lot of the engine and a/c stuff is over the top until you have a good idea that the rest of the coach is what you want. I have recently taken on an Airstream 310 and will be having some brake and cooling system work done this week not too far from Monterey (in Santa Cruz.) This shop was recommended to me, but we'll see if they have the right stuff. You might want to break things into phases and have one part of the work done first, then regroup and decide what of the next phase needs to be done. Rough idle won't kill you, bad brakes or leaking exhaust might.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:45 PM   #18
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Brad, thank you for your honest opinion. I also have to say that things just cost more around here in California, and especially Monterey. Also, I've got more than a full gov job - I ain't getting the big bucks, but I don't have all the time in the world. Finally, mechanics aren't my field and I with my two little boys in the MH I want to make sure the job is done right - at least the first time. I can learn to repair it once I know we're at least at square one.

Mr. Josephson, please give me your report of the Santa Cruz shop. You're right, it's only a 40 minute drive and I think I can make it up there. I probably will have the brakes done here and regroup. Then slowly fix everything else with at least another quote.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:30 AM   #19
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Hi Don,

Brad is a straight shooter. He and Susan (Alumatube) lived very close to me untill recently and they are both good friends. He also knows CA, having spent time there recently before Richmond.

My mechanical experience was as a rebuilder of larger engines, (about 800 CID, natural gas and diesel), but it has been a few years. I just would like you to get the most for your money so you and your family can enjoy yourselves.

Once you have addressed the safety issues, why don't you do some short camping trips in your area to give yourself a better idea of the issues? You will then have some first hand experience.

Good luck, and keep us informed.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:36 PM   #20
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Yes, Brad is a straight shooter and has given me great advice since I bought the beast some months ago. There's as many problems inside as there are outside. I'd like to gut it and rebuild the interior how I think it should be. There's also no seats for the kids to sit on as we travel. So camping in it will have to wait until next year. I'm thinking of just getting the brakes done and then pulling back and work from the inside out. That way I can build up some money to get the mechanics finished. Maybe by then I'll have my confidence to tackle the mechanics on the beast. I want to thank everyone's input and support.
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