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Old 11-15-2006, 10:46 AM   #1
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advice on inspection 1983 310 diesel

Hi, I am going to be doing a prepurchase inspection on a 1983 310 airstream diesel motor home with about 85000 miles on it. Can anyone suggest any particular areas of concern with this model, or this vintage motorhome. This will be our first motorhome and first airstream.
Thanks in advance
Rick West

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Old 11-15-2006, 11:29 AM   #2
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1984 31' Airstream310
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If you do a search in the motorhome forums you should be able to find one or more check lists.

With my 1984 310 Limited gasser, the most expensive items have been suspension related. I have pretty much gone through the suspension, front and rear including new springs in the front and new air bags in the rear. Several thousand dollars.

The other large expense has been interior work. Replacing some rotted sub floor in the bedroom because the the PO hadn't dealt with plumbing leaks. Complete redo of interior for esthetic reasons.

Appliance replacements can be expensive.

See a thread by Chaplain Kent of replacement of his diesel power plant brought about by mechanic's error.

With these classics, the purchase price is just a down payment. But once you complete the rehab, you will have a durable classic.
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Courtesy Parking (W/S/E/Wi-Fi) on I-5 in Northern California, 70 miles from Oregon border
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Old 11-15-2006, 01:02 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums. Check the MH over as if it were a house you are going to purchase. Plumbing, electrical wiring, appliances, all need to be checked. Then check the mechanics as if you were going to purchase a vintage 23 year old car.
Best advice is that whatever you pay for the unit is only your down payment.
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Old 11-15-2006, 02:12 PM   #4
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Go to the main Classic Motorhomes page the check list is there at the top of the posts
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Old 11-16-2006, 08:44 PM   #5
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1991 35' Airstream 350
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83 310 diesel checkout

With regard to the engine, your diesel, if it has only 83K on it--it is just getting broken in. If it starts and runs well, it is probably OK.

Check the following:
1. If starting for the first time, (cold engine, even in TX), use the glo plugs. After letting the glo plugs warm up the cylenders, the engine should start and run (high idle) immediately.
2. After a few minutes, it should kick down and run at low idle.
3. Watch the exhaust. The color of your exhaust can indicate engine condition.
a. A white exhaust can indicate water/antifreeze in the cylinders on ignition. Not good.
b. A black exhaust can indicate lots of unburned fuel. Not good.
c. A grey(ish) exhaust is best. Clearer is better.
4. If shut down after the engine is thoroughly warm--engine should stop immediately. If it runs on (called dieseling) there may be a problem.

5. If the current owner will let you, take an oil sample and send to a lab. It can tell you a lot about the engine.

6. If all looks good and you purchase, plan on replacing ALL filters in the oil and fuel system regularly. Consider using an oil analysis lab to keep track of the internal condition of your engine. Use a fuel stabilizer and treatment, because diesel fuel tends to grow algae (which grows in the water generated by condensation), that clogs up the works when it sits for extended periods.

My concern would be the low miles on the engine and the possibility of contaminated fuel--even though I said low miles were good. This engine has about 4K per year for its 20+ year history. Diesels most often die because of water and other contaminants in the fuel, which gum up supply lines and clog up filters. Water in the fuel can destroy your injectors (not a cheap fix) and cause rust and other corrosion because of contaminants in the water itself. If the PO has been fanatical about clean fuel, you may have a good engine.

Good luck, & let us know how it turns out.


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