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Old 09-20-2017, 06:43 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 40
78 or 79 Excella 28 ft.

I am considering looking at an Excella 28 ft. 78 or 79. Needs some exterior loving What scares me is the chassis. I have owned 2 P30 units but they were newer. Fleetwoods. One was an 87 and the other a 04. The front ends on these units are horrible. Often in less than 50,000 miles the ball joints, steering arms, upper shafts and even the drag links are shot. At one time they were cheap to fix. But since the Chev/ Workhorse, Navistar fiasco if the parts are available they are expensive . Hard to find. They also need about $5000 in aftermarket suspension upgrades: Usually from Henderson's, HD front coils, ball bearing steering arm. some type of front end handling add on, rear track bar And more. Both of my units also had the infamous Auto Park Brake. Most parts for them are obsolete and the ones you can buy are darn expensive. SO, I am wondering how the 70's chassis hold up. I think most of the front end is the same as later models but they did not have the auto park brake. Can an owner help me with some expert insight? Thanks
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Old 09-20-2017, 07:17 PM   #2
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1983 31' Airstream310
Hillsburgh , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3,805
Okay, twice bitten, totally P30 shy; I get it.

I have a 83 turbo diesel and have yet to find any individual part over $100.00. Ball joints, callipers, pads, front end springs and shocks are still available at Moog, NAPA or your local auto store for very reasonable prices.

For example I just bought a set of Blistein shocks for the rear, front and steering damper for $442.00 US. Master cylinders are less than $100.00 CAN. Wheel bearings and seals for front hub were $75.00 CAN. I can purchase new front springs from NAPA for less than $250.00.

Yes, you can buy Henderson this and that for $$$$, but in the case of steering cranks bells $425.00, they are well worth it and make a huge difference. I just won't buy everything they sell. You can go overboard trying to make them handle like your Porsche 911.

The secret with these old rigs is trying to do as much of the maintenance as you can yourself and fixing small problems BEFORE they turn into big ones.

With my coach it was the mechanical that scared me, not the interior, which I have since completely renovated. Slowly but surely the mechanical doesn't scare as much anymore.

The other secret is, to adapt or be willing to change things that don't work to a newer item as opposed to just replacing parts that barely work. I for example changed my single cylinder air compressor to a twin, added two five gallon air tanks instead of one, and moved the compressor closer to the batteries so I could use the original power wire to just power a relay, to allow the compressor to run off the batteries directly. No more blown air compressor fuses.

I spent more on my interior and exterior than I'll ever spend on my mechanical.

Per Mare, Per Terram and may all your campaigns be successful.

Its a recession when your neighbor loses his job; its a depression when you lose your own. "Harry S Truman"
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Old 09-21-2017, 04:47 AM   #3
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1991 25' Airstream 250
Oxford , Oxfordshire
Join Date: Jun 2007
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I reckon parts pretty easily available, cheap if you shop around and use eBay. As Tony says, you can do quite a bit yourself. I've grown to rather like that side of it...
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:50 AM   #4
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1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,552
As Tony mentioned the bell cranks are the only really expensive front end items. In the U.S. they run about $3er per side. The important thing is the new bell cranks are a buy once and forget about them item.

After having totally rebuilt the front and rear suspension on my Argosy I found that it was fairly straight forward to work on. Just greasy......

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1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
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