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Old 11-20-2018, 10:50 AM   #1
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1983 31' Airstream310
Cranbrook , British Columbia
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What am I about to get into?

I have just been offered a 1983 Airstream 310 Motorhome (diesel) from my wife's uncle. It has been sitting for almost 10 years, and the storage facility it is at in Southern California is closing. Before sitting, he spent quite a bit to have it fully referbished, only to use it once or twice. I only have a couple days to decide if I want this, or need to pass. I am located up in Canada, and this is way down in California. I have limited information, and only the Google Earth photo of the unit in the storage yard. Any thoughts?
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Old 11-20-2018, 11:01 AM   #2
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If he is just giving it to you, hell......take it....you could always flip it later after you get it to its destination.

It certainly will be a lifestyle change if you're not a "glamper/camper" person now.....LOL.

Flatbedding it might be the way to go, just have to deal with customs and transferring ownership I'd imagine between countries. Never done it, so that would require some research on your end.

Be interesting to see it and then what you end up doing.

Good luck!

Chris
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Old 11-20-2018, 11:10 AM   #3
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1983 31' Airstream310
Cranbrook , British Columbia
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I'm into "tinkering" and love projects like this, but all the unknowns are killing me. I have a bunch of buddies that say we fly down, do some maintenance (one guy is quite mechanical) and try to drive it back. It would make quite a road trip...
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Old 11-20-2018, 11:40 AM   #4
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From what I know of Diesel engines, they are best driven rather than sitting, so I would recommend proceeding with caution.

Then, you have all the RV inner workings which could be damaged or deteriorated or whatever from sitting so long.

Our first RV in 2002 was a 1977 Barth.

We had a lot of fun with it, and put 20,000 miles on it, but it was a real money pit.

Just my two cents.

Maggie
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Old 11-20-2018, 11:40 AM   #5
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To even start: is it properly registered, insured?

Some concerns I see is if it will need tires, not leaking oil, good battery and no other issues with any other fluids or mech assuming it is road worthy......ten years of sitting is a LONG time.....I have a car similar to that ......spends lots of time in the garage....longest was 4 years.....and it was like resurrecting the dead between leaking oil, flat battery and other things like gelled fuel lines and/or clog injector screens....

If you're adventurous, sounds like a great segway into something to keep the tinkering bug active!

Treat it like a BOAT > Break Out Another Thousand.........

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Old 11-20-2018, 02:17 PM   #6
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Just a thought: Get someone to do an inspection of it in California before you make a big trip. There are people that do that. Don’t get a dealer however. Might be able to find someon on this forum.
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Old 11-20-2018, 02:21 PM   #7
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1984 31' Airstream310
Honokaa , Hawaii
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Since you like to tinker, yes, you should take it. It will take at least $3k to make it safe to drive home (6 tires at $300+, three batteries at $100+, fuel filters, maybe belts, brake fluid flush, coolant flush, probably more). If it has actually not run for ten years the fuel in the tank may need to go, the diesel guys can tell you about that. But, it’s worth a lot more than that and it is, imho, a very desirable model as it has the rear bedroom layout and Diesel engine. Anyhow, consider yourself conditionally welcomed to the group.
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Old 11-20-2018, 05:09 PM   #8
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Hillsburgh , Ontario
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Geez, I wish I'd had been offered my 1983 310 turbo diesel for free.......

First: Ever heard of that saying, "never look a gift horse in its mouth"? If there was ever an apropos saying for this situation, this is it.

I spent $19,300 CAN to buy my 310 five years ago; and I've sunk another $8,000 or so into her over those years in renovations. In other words, you have something that is worth while getting for free, especially a 310, which is a very desirable length, and no tag axle.

These coaches are going for some pretty real money and don't suffer depreciation.

First of all, the chassis is the very easily worked on GM P30 chassis. Parts are cheap and easily obtainable for the chassis. A master cylinder is maybe $90.00 CAN.

What items you will need to get worked done is as follows.

1) Drain the tank and add new fuel, and new fuel filter.
2) I would have the coolant drained, block flushed, radiator checked for corrosion and blockages, and new coolant, (grease water pump).
3 Change engine drive belts ( two of them; make sure to use metric belts, not Gates belts)
4) Change engine oil and filter; (making sure to fill oil filter bucket BEFORE putting it back on)
5) I would buy new tires; if they have been sitting in one spot, they will be dry rotted, checked and flat spotted, especially in California sun and heat.
6) Probably need three batteries; two coach batteries, and one starter.
7) Replace brake master cylinder, rubber brake hoses (cheap) and refill with new fluid.
8) Have all callipers, rotors and pads serviced; (these have rear disc brakes)
9) Lubricate all suspension grease fittings, including driveshaft; (you may want to check lower ball joint condition).
10 Replace transmission filter and fluid; (GM turbo 475, so parts are cheap)
11) I'd replace rear differential fluid while your at it, but you don't have too.
12) Check lights and wipers

Get in her and drive her back to B.C; she'll make it.

Knowing then what I now know......I'd be down there in a heartbeat.

The unknowns will make a man out of you.

Cheers
Sidekick Tony
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Old 11-20-2018, 05:27 PM   #9
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There’s that phrase again “No Tag Axle”.....I think you really have a case of tag axle envy.....just saying ! Regards, Bob
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Old 11-20-2018, 05:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmiller1 View Post
There’s that phrase again “No Tag Axle”.....I think you really have a case of tag axle envy.....just saying ! Regards, Bob
Absolutely no tag axle envy....other than the lower turning circle, maybe. Two less tires, less weight, not having to spend $5K+ to replace it...........

Bob, did I leave anything out in my list?

Cheers
Sidekick Tony
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Old 11-20-2018, 07:05 PM   #11
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Yes Tony (sidekick).......The COOL factor....Regards, Bob
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Old 11-21-2018, 09:12 AM   #12
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They say you always regret what you didn’t do, not what you did.
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Old 11-21-2018, 09:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by And401 View Post
I have just been offered a 1983 Airstream 310 Motorhome (diesel) from my wife's uncle. It has been sitting for almost 10 years, and the storage facility it is at in Southern California is closing. Before sitting, he spent quite a bit to have it fully referbished, only to use it once or twice. I only have a couple days to decide if I want this, or need to pass. I am located up in Canada, and this is way down in California. I have limited information, and only the Google Earth photo of the unit in the storage yard. Any thoughts?
.....Go for it..you only live once...
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Old 11-21-2018, 10:12 AM   #14
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Are you on your way?
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Old 11-21-2018, 10:29 AM   #15
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almena , Wisconsin
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Take it!

It will cost about $3.00 a mile to have trucked to you. Probably a little more depending on what it takes to load it. If it starts and moves a bit it can be driven onto a stepdeck with ramps. If not you will have to hire a local tow truck to push it on. It could also be hauled on a standard high deck flatbed if it’s not more than 8 feet tall. You will need the tow truck to bring it to a loading ramp somewhere in the area. If you go this route, find a trucking company in your area that runs stepdecks or flatbeds to California to get a quote and they should be able to arrange everything for you. Good Luck!!!
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Old 11-21-2018, 02:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mykytiukr View Post
It will cost about $3.00 a mile to have trucked to you. Probably a little more depending on what it takes to load it. If it starts and moves a bit it can be driven onto a stepdeck with ramps. If not you will have to hire a local tow truck to push it on. It could also be hauled on a standard high deck flatbed if it’s not more than 8 feet tall. You will need the tow truck to bring it to a loading ramp somewhere in the area. If you go this route, find a trucking company in your area that runs stepdecks or flatbeds to California to get a quote and they should be able to arrange everything for you. Good Luck!!!
Actually, another good reason not to have a tag axle.....the 310 can be towed from the front, driveshaft removed, without damage; it doesn't need a low-boy trailer.

No way are you towing a 32.5' long, 10'6" high motorhome on a high deck tow vehicle.

Cheers
Sidekick Tony
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Old 11-21-2018, 03:29 PM   #17
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You might be able to if you remove the air conditioner ! Regards, Bob
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Old 11-21-2018, 03:55 PM   #18
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Hi

I'd suggest that you plan on replacing any and all "mission critical" chunks of rubber on the vehicle. One would *assume* that they were in good shape, but likely used for a while before storage started 10 years ago. Water hoses, belts, tires, and anything else that if it blows out stops you dead ..... replace them up front.

Any fluid that has been sitting for 10 years is ready for retirement. You can debate about this or that, but it's way easier (and not that much more expensive) to just drain / flush / refill everything.

Batteries will need replacing and the electrical system will need to be checked. First priority would be the stuff that stops you dead. After that I'd bet the converter and a few other bits and pieces have made it past their use by dates.

One question that *could* be asked - how many miles are on this beast? If it's a lot, how long since things (engine / transmission / ....) were rebuilt?

Next question to ask - is it still water tight? Is there any obvious damage? Sitting in storage does not alway mean "still doing fine". It may never rain in California, but a cracked window can let a lot of this and that in over a number of years ....

Checking out various sub-systems can wait for a while. The stove / fridge / AC working is not real high up on the list in terms of simply getting it going. Yes, eventually there will be a nice long list of things to tinker with.

If you are going to take it on the road, figure on a short hop / break in kind of start followed by some time to address whatever is found. You also need to get it looked at carefully by somebody who *knows* what they are looking at. That's not in any way to diss the skills of your buddies. You want to be as sure as you can be that it's safe to drive.

Final issue - do you have someplace to put this beast? Is there enough room to tear this or that apart and have it apart for a while? Working on something like an old motorcycle in the garage is one thing, this is a whole different category of project

Bob
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Old 11-22-2018, 07:57 AM   #19
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1981 31' Excella Limited
1964 22' Safari
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

I'd suggest that you plan on replacing any and all "mission critical" chunks of rubber on the vehicle. One would *assume* that they were in good shape, but likely used for a while before storage started 10 years ago. Water hoses, belts, tires, and anything else that if it blows out stops you dead ..... replace them up front.

Any fluid that has been sitting for 10 years is ready for retirement. You can debate about this or that, but it's way easier (and not that much more expensive) to just drain / flush / refill everything.

Batteries will need replacing and the electrical system will need to be checked. First priority would be the stuff that stops you dead. After that I'd bet the converter and a few other bits and pieces have made it past their use by dates.

One question that *could* be asked - how many miles are on this beast? If it's a lot, how long since things (engine / transmission / ....) were rebuilt?

Next question to ask - is it still water tight? Is there any obvious damage? Sitting in storage does not alway mean "still doing fine". It may never rain in California, but a cracked window can let a lot of this and that in over a number of years ....

Checking out various sub-systems can wait for a while. The stove / fridge / AC working is not real high up on the list in terms of simply getting it going. Yes, eventually there will be a nice long list of things to tinker with.

If you are going to take it on the road, figure on a short hop / break in kind of start followed by some time to address whatever is found. You also need to get it looked at carefully by somebody who *knows* what they are looking at. That's not in any way to diss the skills of your buddies. You want to be as sure as you can be that it's safe to drive.

Final issue - do you have someplace to put this beast? Is there enough room to tear this or that apart and have it apart for a while? Working on something like an old motorcycle in the garage is one thing, this is a whole different category of project

Bob
I live in San Diego. Never owned an airstream motor home but was up to 4 airstream vintage trailers but recently now diwn to only 2. I live on 12 acres so plenty of room. I would be happy to assust if the MH is not too far away. I can give it an inspection to assess the situation. I could try to drive it after replacing tires and if it seems safe. Could get it towed here if not drivable. Then could have it
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Old 11-22-2018, 08:03 AM   #20
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1981 31' Excella Limited
1964 22' Safari
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Originally Posted by kenfconnor View Post
I live in San Diego. Never owned an airstream motor home but was up to 4 airstream vintage trailers but recently now diwn to only 2. I live on 12 acres so plenty of room. I would be happy to assust if the MH is not too far away. I can give it an inspection to assess the situation. I could try to drive it after replacing tires and if it seems safe. Could get it towed here if not drivable. Then could have it
Sorry msg was cut off. Was about to say that you could then have more time to decide how you want to proceed. If you decide not to keep it I am sure it couldbe sold. Heck I might even make an offer. I live to see older airstreams preserved and I enjoy interesting projects like this. Other than whatever costs are involved such as tires I am not looking to get paid. But would appreciate right of first refusual if you decide to opt out if trying to get it to canada. Send me a private message ir look me up on linked in and we can connect via phone.
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