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Old 11-06-2017, 08:46 PM   #1
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Churubusco , Indiana
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New guy, price expectations

Hi all!
(This got long, pointed questions at the bottom)
Like many I've always thought airstreams are awesome, but figured owning one would be a decades out if ever sort of thing.
Looks like I will have a work opportunity next fall allowing temp relo for 6 months to senic northeastern Utah. (Overwinter, been reading the stickies, looks totally reasonable)

My wife and I (no kids) have both decided that we want to take the leap, and love (the idea) of living in an airstream. Last weekend we discovered the motorhomes, and my heart is currently set on a 345. (Wife is eyeing the 310)
It would give us a chance to get out of renting, and have some adventure.

I'm hoping to use those with experience as a sounding board here, to let me know if I'm sane or out of my mind with optimism as far as finance and schedule.

My plan here is

Save until April/May and buy a road ready one cash.

Fix it up with minor improvements until moving into it in July (no more rent at that point, if we have to we can live with family).

Attempt living in it close to home from July-September, where if we bail out of it or something happens we can crash with family until getting it fixed

October-spring 2019, road trip it from Indiana to Utah, will be mostly stationary at the nicest rv park we can find. If we bail at this point, we can park it in a hotel parking lot and live in a company funded hotel. Advantage to living in the RV is $50/day, which will cover a lot.

Spring 2019-???, If we are still enjoying it, keep rolling

Sorry to ramble, the pointed questions:
What should I be looking to pay for a mechanically sound, unrestored, liveable (if in need of updating) 345? I'm a handy gearhead, but would rather just get a compression test for confidence, do the basic maintenance, and call it good. No major drivetrain work, i know from experience that piles on fast in time and money. It really just needs to get cross country and back once. By renno I mean maybe recover couches/swap floor/touch up exterior, wanting to leave it as original as possible. Right now I'm thinking about 25k total to buy and get move in/road trip ready. If smaller expenses pop up after moving in in late june, as long as they are less than 1000/month average we're still coming out ahead as far as I'm concerned.

Is there a significant price swing seasonally? Is it like boats where price jumps significantly?

Is my "plan" outlined above hopelessly optimistic, or is 4-5 months plenty of time to get one liveable/road/winter worthy?

The huge upside I'm seeing is, other than sinking cash in, there's no huge hard commitment.


Sorry for the wall of text, excited to hopefully join the community!
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Old 11-07-2017, 12:20 AM   #2
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Time is on your side. Be picky and look for one thatís been run vs one thatís been sitting for years. The 310 from Reno that was just linked to in the classics for sale thread looks like a winner.
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Old 11-07-2017, 02:13 AM   #3
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Franklin Park , Illinois
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Sooo maybe $25000 might be doable
I spent $10000 on my 345 and Iíve probably put another $5000 in to it
BUT... my 345 is NOT pretty
It has got small dents and dings all over it the entry door is held closed with a hook latch and a bungee cord when going down the road both windshields have cracks in them 2 tires are new (one year old) the other 6 tires are old and have some dry rot on them also I have some ďissuesĒ with the tag (rear) axel
My conservative estimate to fix my remaining problems is...$10000 to fix everything but the cosmetics outside
Personally I could NEVER full time...
I need and want a house
Another thing to consider is you and your wife will probably need a car.
Are you going to tow it behind you, or will one of you drive it following the Airstream? (Chase vehicle)
Most of the time my wife chases me in our CR-V I have and can tow it (toad) but I really worry when doing that. really stresses the 34 year old RV (in my opinion)
I donít take long trips in my 345
I had to have it towed once $1500.00
Bottom line I think your total price of $25000 is a bit low
Iím the first one to ďbad mouthĒ Airstream and their motorhomes (mine included)
BUT I love camping in it, and when it does run and work I LOVE driving it
Iíd also like to add all of my storage trays out side and inside are full of parts and tools, I have a entire shelving unit in my garage dedicated to 345 parts
These things take a massive amount of space I have a 34í RV, I also have 17í of parts & essentials
I have a love / hate relationship with my 345 but if someone offered me my original purchase price for it... I think Iíd cut my losses take the money and never look back
Hope my reply will help you in your decision good luck, and happy travels
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Old 11-07-2017, 06:32 AM   #4
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Thanks both for the replies!
Kota, yes, i will definitely be watching that one to see what it ends up going for. Plan to watch the market a lot the next few months to get an idea of it.
So is there a sweet spot on mileage for these? Like, 50-80k means the engine has been regularly exercised and has life left, over 130k get ready to replace everything? (Making up the numbers, I'm used to old cars, where lower mileage is better)

Grosspoluter, thanks for the input and your numbers!
Re:car, yes, I'll have a company funded rental while away, we were hoping to tow her ford escape behind, which looks doable, i saw some threads on modifying the tow hitch for more strength that I haven't dug into yet, hopefully I can weld something up for that

It appears, like cars, the more you shell out in the beginning the less you pay in the long run. Builder takes the hit on value. I'm hoping 20-25 up front may be enough, but it might be worth saving a few more months and spending 30 up front...

I don't think we'll have issues with the full time aspect, it's really only full time for 6months to a year, in college we lived in a much smaller space than a 345, showering at the gym. A lot of our stuff will go into storage for this trip.
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Old 11-07-2017, 07:15 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Magnet18 View Post
...It appears, like cars, the more you shell out in the beginning the less you pay in the long run. Builder takes the hit on value. I'm hoping 20-25 up front may be enough, but it might be worth saving a few more months and spending 30 up front...
No truer statement has ever been uttered by man.....

The old adage "you get what you pay for" is so true, especially when it comes to Airstream Classic motorhomes. If you do your due diligence up front you'll be so much better off in the long run.

Brad
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:43 AM   #6
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
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All good advice.
If you are looking at a 454 powered unit, it seems that the engines donít last like in a smaller vehicle. I have no data on if they fail early due to the weight, or due to lack of use and/or overheating. My coach had it motor replaced at about 70k miles, but I know the same motor in trucks in regular use go beyond 200k.
A diesel powered unit would be a different matter, and I know the prices reflect that.
I am sure prices will soften over the next few months.
We are all here to help you figure out the puzzle, so watch the for sale thread.
I think itís wise to use the PM system to consult any of us on particular units that you are looking at.
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkahler View Post
No truer statement has ever been uttered by man.....

The old adage "you get what you pay for" is so true, especially when it comes to Airstream Classic motorhomes. If you do your due diligence up front you'll be so much better off in the long run.

Brad
Yep, sure hope so. Looks like i need to spend the next couple months figuring out exactly what it is I'm paying for, and what I can get for my money. These things have a LOT of systems to learn about. I would like to fix as few of them as possible.
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Keyair View Post
All good advice.
If you are looking at a 454 powered unit, it seems that the engines donít last like in a smaller vehicle. I have no data on if they fail early due to the weight, or due to lack of use and/or overheating. My coach had it motor replaced at about 70k miles, but I know the same motor in trucks in regular use go beyond 200k.
A diesel powered unit would be a different matter, and I know the prices reflect that.
I am sure prices will soften over the next few months.
We are all here to help you figure out the puzzle, so watch the for sale thread.
I think itís wise to use the PM system to consult any of us on particular units that you are looking at.
Thanks, i definitely will!
I'm crossing my fingers that a diesel will be available when the time comes, especially since i plan to tow a car. I plan to be as picky as possible, but diesel units seem to be significantly harder to find.
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Old 11-07-2017, 09:28 AM   #9
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I've noticed a lot of selection in the last month compared to the previous 3. Don't buy site unseen obviously. I'd go 310 avoid the tag axle. Whatever you buy have 5g for extra stuff to fix? I'd also look for a diesel, my unit was/ is a piece of junk, but I love it. those motors are industrial( million mile motors with regular care) and way better mileage. In the fall/ winter more units go up for sale I feel. $25000 will give you a good budget to work with. If you can find one that was obviously someone's pride and joy. Spend the extra. ( where someone spent the extra time to fix side window seals ). Go for a unit that is apparently been used, not just the lipstick to make it look the part with lies of a daily runner.
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Old 11-07-2017, 09:34 AM   #10
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I bought my diesel spur of the moment in dec picked up in Jan. Since then I've been watching,( reactive��). 3-4 that have been here or on eBay. They are around. Heck go through last year worth of ads try contacting the sellers they might still be available? Unless the price is good the units don't move in my opinion.......
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Old 11-07-2017, 10:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swillv8 View Post
I've noticed a lot of selection in the last month compared to the previous 3. Don't buy site unseen obviously. I'd go 310 avoid the tag axle. Whatever you buy have 5g for extra stuff to fix? I'd also look for a diesel, my unit was/ is a piece of junk, but I love it. those motors are industrial( million mile motors with regular care) and way better mileage. In the fall/ winter more units go up for sale I feel. $25000 will give you a good budget to work with. If you can find one that was obviously someone's pride and joy. Spend the extra. ( where someone spent the extra time to fix side window seals ). Go for a unit that is apparently been used, not just the lipstick to make it look the part with lies of a daily runner.
That many issues with the tag axle? I thought it was just a dummy/load share.
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Old 11-07-2017, 10:37 AM   #12
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That many issues with the tag axle? I thought it was just a dummy/load share.
I might be wrong but I don't think the tag axles or brake parts are available anymore.
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Old 11-07-2017, 10:40 AM   #13
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I honestly don't know much about them I just see a lot of chatter about them as being unabtainable when the do go bad. Quite frankly my opinion is uninformed but I do know there's a red flag for research, and it's just one more issue I will never have with my single axle.

Another note on the diesels I mostly see 280's. 310's are out there also. Not sure of the other sizes if any exist someone here might chime in that's more knowledgeable. Oh I like the 280 size wise it's perfect for drivability,
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Old 11-07-2017, 11:25 AM   #14
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Franklin Park , Illinois
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkahler View Post
I might be wrong but I don't think the tag axles or brake parts are available anymore.


I believe the axles and the brake drum itself Is no longer made
I was able to buy entire backing plate, with shoes magnets the whole Assembly they are just like the trailer brakes, bearings and seals are also available.
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Old 11-07-2017, 12:23 PM   #15
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
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Do not discount the 325 and 345... they are more common, and therefor maybe more affordable, as well as teh extra length maybe important.

It is my understanding that the OEM tag axle is NLA, but the actual axle unit is the same as on some trailers. There are just some extra brackets added, that could theoretically be removed from the old one, or copied. I saw mention that you need to be careful welding them on tho, for heat damaging the torsion rubber, and strength obviously. Probably a job for a pro.
On the tag axle brakes, all of the parts, and indeed upgraded self adjusting units fit on no problem... what is not available is the 10 lug drum, but I believe the 5 lug is, and as the front wheel is only 5 lug, and far heavier loaded than the tag, I think its fine.

Thread here with good info on the Tag axle issue.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...nt-138344.html

And here, a great writeup on replacing the tag axle brakes, but the pics are gone.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f159...ics-94448.html
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Old 11-07-2017, 12:31 PM   #16
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Hi

A couple of cautions:

1) We just went through storm season. There *will* be RV's showing up on the market that have been under water. Some will be carefully dressed up to hide this fact. Be careful !!!!

2) Fall is the "low price time" for most RV's and as you head into spring / summer prices climb a bit. That's not to suggest you run out and buy today. Just understand that your "best price" in July on a road ready RV is going to be a bit higher than the exact same unit right now. (in most of the country).

3) Keep some money in the bank and don't throw away all your tools A ten year old MH will take some work to keep running. One that is 3X that old inevitably will have "stuff happen". I'm in a trailer made in 2017 and ...errr .... have done two fixes in the last two days.

Please don't take any of this as a reason not to execute your plan. Just go into it with the right expectations.

Bob
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Old 11-07-2017, 02:40 PM   #17
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Thanks for the tag axle info. I'll keep it in mind, but I'm not ready to rule out the bigger ones. The 280 and 310 look great for weekend trips, but I think the large open area at the front of the 345 will be good for my sanity full-timing it.

From an engineering standpoint, especially on the 325, I'd be willing to bet the tag axle isn't even needed. The extra 2.5 feet is not that significant. Experience with Navistar trucks, they would throw tag axles on things all the time, most of the time it was just to meet legal requirements, they would happily sell them without tag axles in Mexico.

It looks like these frames were designed for industrial trucks, not aluminum tin cans, so the tag axle probably came along for the ride.

A couple idler wheels that look the part would probably be fine. Not that i would recommend anyone do that, just speculation. My old man designed severe service air ride suspensions for Navistar, might pick his brain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

A couple of cautions:

1) We just went through storm season. There *will* be RV's showing up on the market that have been under water. Some will be carefully dressed up to hide this fact. Be careful !!!!

2) Fall is the "low price time" for most RV's and as you head into spring / summer prices climb a bit. That's not to suggest you run out and buy today. Just understand that your "best price" in July on a road ready RV is going to be a bit higher than the exact same unit right now. (in most of the country).

3) Keep some money in the bank and don't throw away all your tools A ten year old MH will take some work to keep running. One that is 3X that old inevitably will have "stuff happen". I'm in a trailer made in 2017 and ...errr .... have done two fixes in the last two days.

Please don't take any of this as a reason not to execute your plan. Just go into it with the right expectations.

Bob
1. Good warning, good thought!
2. I was afraid of that, hopefully the change isn't too steep, but it looks like I'll just have to suck it up.
3. I plan on buying more tools, if anything
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Old 11-07-2017, 03:35 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Magnet18 View Post
It looks like these frames were designed for industrial trucks, not aluminum tin cans, so the tag axle probably came along for the ride.
I be wrong but I thought Airstream installed the tag axles at their factory. Of course you can't believe everything you read on the internet, right?!

Brad
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Old 11-07-2017, 03:48 PM   #19
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One tool, that for me, has paid its way so far, and I suggest, would be a Powerprobe 3($70 ish) or 4($140) and the short finder like the ECT2000($100)... or its newer version... both are available in a combo kit that saves $.
I bought the PP3 to start with, then bought the 4 and handed the 3 down to my son, who is new to it, and amazed at its abilities on diagnosing electrical issues.
Add to that a Multimeter, and you are well on the way.
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Old 11-07-2017, 04:13 PM   #20
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Brad- you're probably right, i must have misread something somewhere

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keyair View Post
One tool, that for me, has paid its way so far, and I suggest, would be a Powerprobe 3($70 ish) or 4($140) and the short finder like the ECT2000($100)... or its newer version... both are available in a combo kit that saves $.
I bought the PP3 to start with, then bought the 4 and handed the 3 down to my son, who is new to it, and amazed at its abilities on diagnosing electrical issues.
Add to that a Multimeter, and you are well on the way.
Ooh, that ect2000 looks neat, might have to get me one of those
I'm an electrical engineer (which looks like it might be helpful with one of these...)
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