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Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:59 am
by Campfiredan
Apparently the steering wasn't all that okay after all. One kingpin was shot and the other almost there. I just thought it steered like a big ole truck since it pretty much is one. Once again my inexperience in RVs is showing. Glad I got this one first to learn on instead of some $100,000 rig. I also decided to get a high quality adjustable air shock that the repair place said they put on lots of RVs to eliminate the rocking due to the hight and which will allow me to adjust for different loads. Probably overkill but I do use the van in a bunch of different ways (truck, camper, bus, grocery store runs) so I now should be able to optimize for each load type. Ought to drive better than new when I get it back! I'm a bit worried about investing in so many repairs though since the van is getting long in tooth - but it beats the cost of a new one I guess. especially if I like the way it drives when finished.

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:43 pm
by skater
I wouldn't worry too much about the investment. My feeling is that if they're maintained well, the value isn't going to drop much farther, if any. Plus reducing the chance of an accident is never a bad investment.

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:58 pm
by Alaskan

The 89/90/91 years did have kings pins with their twin I-beam front suspensions

In 1992 they retained the twin I-beam front suspension but re-designed it to have upper & lower ball-joints

We'll be waiting to hear how it drives when you get it back with new king pins and new shocks

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:58 pm
by Campfiredan
Wow - it drives great now and the air bag load leveler system isn't even adjusted perfectly! I also got new shocks so that might be part of the improvement too. The air bag system is an Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 (part number 57125) which can be adjusted from 5 psi to 100 psi. It is at 20 psi now (the shop set it at that and told me to add air as needed). I think it needs to be at least at 50 psi from what the manual says. But at 20 it definitely reduces the back and forth rocking when I get swooshed by a fast truck passing me or when gusts of wind hit me on a bridge (that is always *scary* to me - rocking back and forth on a bridge with nowhere to go except straight ahead or over the side!). It dampens the rocking within a couple of rocks back and forth unlike before when it just kept rock rock rocking for ages. Anyhow, the system cost a bunch ($575 installed) but I think it is worth it. It is especially nice that I can level the suspension when the load is uneven (three adult passengers on the left-hand sofa and the bath tub filled with luggage tends to make it a bit left side heavy).

The steering is also definitely better with the new king pins. It doesn't require me to over-correct now to get back on track if I have to make a sudden swerve. With swerves causing the van to rock and over-correcting back and forth due to the steering problem I was seriously considering a new vehicle - swerve/rock/swerve back/rock seasick time! Now it is pretty smooth.

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:05 pm
by Alaskan
Sounds like you're good to go now with all those improvements..!

so....where ya going ?

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:17 pm
by Campfiredan
Depending on circumstances -- Washington DC this Friday. Or maybe not - the underwater hockey folks I was planning to take up there for the tournament don't seem to want to leave early enough to get there at a legal (and doable) speed so they might be taking a little van that can bust along at 90. If so I might just make it a camping trip and go by myself then take a leisurely trip back next week. Still working out the details. If neither of those then maybe I'll just go up to the mountains in western South Carolina - that always seems a nice trip to me, not too crowded (unlike the Smokey Mountain area) but still very scenic. Or I can just stay home for a while...

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:41 pm
by Alaskan
Thanks Dan..... what ever ya do have a good time at it

Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:23 pm
by Campfiredan
Well, I went to DC then took the scenic route back to Florida - that is over to Front Royal then down the Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway then down the parkway to Cherokee in North Carolina (at the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountain National park). From there I followed my GPS to Table Rock State Park in South Carolina (big mistake trusting that GPS thing, see my other post in Campsites forum). Anyhoo, the drive was great. The new shocks and steering repair makes the world of difference. I'm not sure about the Air Lift Load Lifter system - at 70 psi it was like driving a wooden-wheeled wagon over every bump, things flew off the couch (including my passenger who was taking a nap). At 40 psi it is still a little stiff but at 20 it didn't seem to do much at all so I think I'm settling in on 30 psi. I should have read the forum post on Air Bag Systems before leaped into that but it seems to make at least a marginal difference in stability. I don't sway back and forth every time a truck goes by so something worked!

One problem I had on this trip was with the brakes smoking going down too many steep switchbacks. But I solved that with driving in first gear at 15 mph and stopping a lot to let the brakes cool. Local people are not very happy with slow RVs in front of them... so I had to pull over a lot anyhow Going uphill in second gear the engine smelled hot but the gauge showed it right in the center of normal. I lost some coolant on the way back though, about a quart every 100 miles - it was dripping out of the overflow at the radiator cap. Not sure why that would be if the engine wasn't hot but I'm going to have the cooling system checked before my next trip. Lost a whole gallon of coolant before I saw it was losing it - maybe I shouldn't have trusted the dashboard gauge about the engine temp. Anyhow, I'm not sure what was going on but from Table Rock back home I stopped every 100 to 200 miles and topped it off. Maybe I was topping it off too much and overfilling... but along the last 400 miles of the Blue Ridge I didn't top it off at all and it went down that gallon so it was dripping from something even more than just from over filling.

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 2:11 pm
by skater
For the coolant, since there's no reservoir, if you fill the system while the engine is cool, it's going to leak out once it warms up - and it sounds like you got it to the point where it was pretty hot.

A gallon sounds a bit excessive, but I know when I open my radiator cap and look in, the fluid level is down a couple inches in the radiator.

JC Whitney and the like sell recovery bottles for about $10 that I'd like to get and add to the system so the system has more capacity, but I have no idea where I'd mount it in the engine bay. I was looking around a couple days ago for potential locations and nothing is coming to me. Also I think it has to be set up so that the max line is even with the top of the radiator, which makes it more complicated to fit in.

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:57 pm
by Campfiredan
I *think* that maybe the reason I lost that gallon of coolant was I didn't put the cap back on with a full twist to close it and it leaked out (is that possible?). Then I was neurotic about it and kept filling it almost to the top so it kept losing the extra I was putting in. Maybe? I have never had the B190 overheat before. The temp gauge always stays way lower than mid level and it never smelled hot even when I drove it in the heat of summer. In fact, when I drove it up north through Scanton PA (mountainous) this past January the engine stayed so cool that the heater wasn't warm enough to heat up the cab (but it was *really* cold outside then). Anyhow, it seemed strange to me that it got so hot smelling and lost water while the gauge stayed in the middle of the range. Won't hurt to take it back in and have it checked since I drove it enough to already need another oil change.

By the way - my brother tells me the van isn't worth more than a couple thousand at most (he showed me a bunch of newer other model B vans for sale that were not much over that. I'm getting worried I am putting a lot of repair money into it that I'll never get out in terms of either use (considering gas cost now) or resale. Some of those newer vans have much better gas mileage. --- Then again, I know most of what is wrong with this one and those other ones could be just other peoples" headaches they want to unload on me. But the gas expense was so horrid this trip that I really am concerned I only got the usual 10 MPG (for about 2000 miles). I could survive a smaller conversion van with no toilet or shower since I almost never use the toilet and the shower is just a stowage place. So I am waffling. Next trip this year is likely to be back to my jeep with a tent and a pee jar. Or no more big trips for at least a year. Oh well.

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:44 am
by skater
For the first thing, if the heat never got hot, that's a sign that either the thermostat is stuck open (which does happen) or there's insufficient coolant in the system (i.e., there was an air bubble in the system). Either way get it checked.

As for the resale value, right now I see three on RV Trader that range from $14,000 to $16,000, and that seems to be what they usually go for when they're in good condition. Yours might be worth a little less than those, perhaps down to $12,000, depending on its condition of course. Even KBB lists them around that, and they're the experts in the used-vehicle field.

I don't know what your friend was looking at, but if he was looking at other brands, there is a reason those are cheaper - they're not Airstream quality and probably haven't weathered as well as the Airstreams do. I bet if you go and look at those you'll be surprised how good your van is compared to them. But in the end it's your decision. :)

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:30 am
by Campfiredan
That is good to know. Appearance-wise mine has some paint issues (the paint seems to be just peeling off in quite a few places) and I need to replace the rubber around the windows. Unfortunately the last owner let an acid spill from the coach battery eat through the wheel well so there is some pretty bad corrosion damage in the left front well, not enough steel there left to adequately support the battery - which is why I moved the battery to the compartment under the stove. The paint job and window rubber are pretty simple to "fix" if the vehicle has some good value yet but for the wheel well I could only rivet on some sheet over the hole and spray it with rust stop. But there is still obvious damage - not sure how much that would deteriorate the resale price though since everything is still functional but it sure looks horrid and looks seems mostly what what people buy. The sofa needs new cloth and the carpet I intend to replace with something non-carpety some day. Both simple things to do or have done. Other than that it seems in pretty pretty good shape for a vehicle with 108,000 miles and 18 years. So the only things I can't fix are the acid damage and the 10 mpg mileage. I think the 10 mpg is the worse problem for me. Then I get to the rough decision - if I'm only going to use it very rarely due to gas costs should I really keep it or get something I might use more frequently. Then I have that battle about gas cost and how much a newer vehicle higher mileage vehicle might cost and is the offset worth the cost. That is a bit of an even more painful decision.

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:42 am
by skater
Heh - about two years ago I went to an Airstream dealer to look at the new Sprinters. The guy was bragging about the great gas mileage I'd get - 22 MPG versus my 10 MPG. "You'll save so much money," he said. I had to laugh.

Let's say I pay a net of $80,000 for the new camper (figuring trade in and taxes and whatnot). That means I'd need to save $80,000 in gas to have actually broken even on the purchase. Out of curiosity, I did the math and figured out that I'd break even in about 200 years, given my usage patterns of a couple thousand miles a year and the cost of gas at the time. And that didn't take the increased insurance or the financing costs into account...

Don't get me wrong; they're very nice campers (though ours have a touch more headroom, I noticed, since I bumped my head on the A/C in that one and never have in mine). But to claim that I'd save money by buying one is silly.

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:48 am
by Campfiredan
I figured I'd have to find something used that gets 20 mpg at no more than $20,000 to get near even. Say 5000 miles a year at a difference of 10 mpg and that is 500 gallons a year. At (lets be conservative) $4 per gallon that means the difference per year is $2000. So that gives me $20,000 over ten years. Although I didn't offset for the time value of money I also didn't offset for the probable increase in gas. So I think it is in the ballpark without going into too many economic hoops. So my new $20,000 used vehicle not only has to get 20 mpg it has to last another ten years at 5000 miles a year usage. Maybe possible - I'm still considering it. But, unless I get a good deal from some widow who can't drive her late husband"s B van, I think the quality and reliability factors might get in the way.

On the other hand I think I probably can get a 20 mpg conversion van with that calculus or better. Not as much space and such but better than my jeep and a tent.

On the third hand (!) That Sprinter Westfalia looks really attractive if I were willing to borrow to buy (and at current interest rates I'm tempted). Not an economical decision at all though. Also, I don't see that one listed in Airstream's 2008 lineup ( , just the "Interstate" which certainly isn't in the same class. Is Airstream out of the B-van business or did I just miss it at their site?

On the fourth hand (!!) - if gas goes much over $6 a gallon in the next few years, which I expect might be the case, then all bets are off and maybe I just start camping in a new hybrid-electric with a tent (at least they come with a built-in 12 volt generator!). Or maybe I just give up on traveling altogether. Sigh.

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:15 am
by skater
Campfiredan wrote:( , just the "Interstate" which certainly isn't in the same class. Is Airstream out of the B-van business or did I just miss it at their site?
They only have the Interstate now. In fact that's the ONLY motorhome Airstream makes now.
On the fourth hand (!!) - if gas goes much over $6 a gallon in the next few years...
Yeah, that's a depressing thought. :(