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Old 09-23-2007, 03:25 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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'83 310 Motorhome Question

I will toss this out in hopes that someone in the Airstream Brain Trust will have an answer for me.

I have a 1983 310 motorhome. Two, in fact, also a 1983 Winnebago Chieftain with the same Chevy P-30 chassis and 454 motor as the Airstreams. The Chieftain has always run nice and cool, with the temp usually at about 1/4 on the gauge, unless it is a hot day or she is working hard. One of the Airstreams is recently overhauled, and always seemed to run hot. I asked the mechanic that did the overhaul about it, and he said it had a new 180 degree thermostat, and the higher temp was normal.

My current problem is, Airstream #2 is now being overhauled in Santa Ana, CA, while I live in Santa Cruz, about 400 miles away. The mechanic is worried because he says it is running hot after the overhaul. He also put a new 180 degree thermostat in. It doesn't boil the coolant out, just runs hotter than he likes.

Do I tell him to not worry about it, or let him put in a new $500 radiator, which is what he wants to do? It isn't the money so much as the likelihood that it will be the same after the replacement radiator as it was before.

Can any of you Airstream motorhome owners out there shed some light on my problem? Thanks in advance.

Best regards,

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Old 09-23-2007, 08:44 AM   #2
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1984 31' Airstream310
Dunsmuir , California
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,336
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First thing to do on both units is to verify the temp gage reading. I spent a lot of money on my cooling system and still had high readings - until I replaced the temp gage and sending unit.

Have them read the temp on the thermostat housing with an infrared thermometer you may find this reading much lower than the dash gage. At one point the shop working on mine put in a new temp sensor that they THOUGHT was the right one - bad idea gave the highest readings ever. Finally got the correct sensor from these guys:

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They were helpful and reasonable. My gage now varies from 180 to 200 based on the ambient temp and load.
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1984 310 Limited Motorhome
Courtesy Parking (W/S/E/Wi-Fi) on I-5 in Northern California, 70 miles from Oregon border
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Old 09-23-2007, 09:20 AM   #3
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1977 24' Argosy 24
Inverness , Florida
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 264
new rebuilt motors run a few degrees warmer due to the engine compression being a lot higher. how is your fan clutch? I replaced mine and the motor ran cooler also put in a temp gauge in the head to see the temp the gauge works better than sending units.I first checked the gauge by putting it in hot water checking it with a therometer then put the gauge unit in and both were the same reading .I then installed the temp gauge in the motor.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:37 AM   #4
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1983 31' Airstream310
Iwerne Minster , Dorset. UK
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 274
My 310 also ran hot during summer months, YES UK Summer!

First; The history and bills that came with the MH showed two recent major services to the cooling system within the previous two years, including fan clutch, water pump, thermostat, radiator and hoses.

My initial approach was the radiator cap. Sure signs of weeping here as every time I stopped and parked up the overflow was dripping. New cap stopped that.
Second, and probably not the answer in the USA, I removed the AirCon Condenser. that did make a difference.

It would appear that the dash AC has never worked since a major rebuild in 1987 - the controls were never connected! Sooooo out it came. Now the temp struggles to reach quarter of the gauge.

This left me with two dilemmas. Is the thermostat stuck open or was it always the condenser that stopped air flow through the rad. I favour the 'stat, as it takes ages to reach any sensible working temperature. - Is the 'stat and gasket the same as any other engine? Over here I am struggling to find a replacement.

My next project when I get into my new new workshop (Concrete floor and dry!!!) is to remove the cowl and viscose fan from behind the radiator. I have already fitted an electric fan in front where the condenser was, and that can push more air than the viscose ever did, however I am wondering about engine bay cooling now, after all the viscose fan ALWAYS was pushing air over the engine no matter what temperature. I would like to fit the cooling vents found on the later Classics if they are still available. Any thoughts Chaps?

My last concern is the engine oil cooler. It is the big heat exchanger in the front, whilst the auto box cooler is in the bottom of the rad - is that correct? I would have thought it should be the other way round.
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Old 11-28-2007, 08:54 PM   #5
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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The motorhome P30 manual shows these running at 195 for full combustion. We're all chasing high temps. That said, guy's point about gauge accuracy is a really good one. I don't really believe any of my gauges as more than a guide anymore.

Also, in my book, a rebuilt engine demands a rebuilt cooling system. It would be a shame to loose an engine over a 25 year old radiator
Steven Webster
1986 Airstream 345 Classic Motorhome
AIR 1760
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Old 11-29-2007, 05:19 AM   #6
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1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
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Originally Posted by swebster
The motorhome P30 manual shows these running at 195 for full combustion. We're all chasing high temps. That said, guy's point about gauge accuracy is a really good one. I don't really believe any of my gauges as more than a guide anymore.

Also, in my book, a rebuilt engine demands a rebuilt cooling system. It would be a shame to loose an engine over a 25 year old radiator

Great advice!

I couldn't agree more about replacing the radiator. Spending all that money to put in a nice fresh engine and then to not touch the cooling system makes no sense to me.

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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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