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Old 12-18-2014, 07:56 PM   #1
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1970 27' Overlander
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Towing a 1966 Airstream Tradewind w/o brakes

Hi there,

After months of researching and searching for the right camper, I think I've found the one. It is located about 5 hours from my house, so if I end up buying it, I'll be towing it home the same day. However, I've never towed anything on the highway (I've towed ranch trailers on back country roads, but nothing too serious). The Tradewind that I am looking at does not come equipped with brakes - I'm a bit nervous about that in the case that I have to stop short. I would be towing it with a Ford F250 or a Chevy Silverado, depending on who's truck I can borrow! Does anyone have any towing advice?

Thanks!!
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Old 12-18-2014, 08:44 PM   #2
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My advise is fix the brakes, or have them fix before you tow it home. I don't think anyone here will tell you it's a good idea to tow without trailer brakes. It can be done, and I've done it, but wouldn't advise doing it, especially since you have no experience towing a travel trailer.
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Old 12-19-2014, 01:13 AM   #3
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5 hours is an awful long ways, lots of stuff can happen in that amount of time. Any decent tire shop that deals with trailers should be able to get your brakes working and make sure your tires are good for the trip, and that your wiring is all hooked up right for the 7-pin connector. Make sure your borrowed truck has a brake controller in it. A friction sway control would probably be a good idea too.

It's a bit of a hassle to figure out the details, but you have to figure the trailer has made it this long, and you took so long to find the perfect one, it's worth the extra work to make sure it gets home safe!
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Old 12-19-2014, 05:59 AM   #4
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Hello and welcome to Air Forums! I see a lot of Airstreamers from Texas and the Houston area. I'll bet there is an active Airstream group there somewhere.

I have a 66 Trade Wind also. I've had it about 15 months and have enjoyed "fixing up" the thing so it is safe and convenient for traveling. I have found it a well built Airstream, in many ways better than my 86 Limited.

I believe all 66 Trade Winds came with 4 12" drum brakes. Plenty, plenty for a 4000 pound trailer. The complete replacement of drums, bearings, and brakes is about $250 a wheel. A complete new axle with bearings and brakes is about $700 an axle delivered.

I can not recommend towing your new Trade Wind home without working lights, brakes and safe tires, and a safe hitch. There may be a RV shop near the current location of the Trade Wind that can get your new trailer ready for the trip home. Any RV tech can work on the running gear of your trailer.

Here is my Trade Wind "as found" 15 months ago. It came with missing appliances, rotted subfloor, shot plumbing, many leaks, bad axles all at no extra cost to me! I've had a lot of fun with it, and I've spent too much money on it!

We hope to see your new Trade Wind soon and hope to read about your adventures with it here.

David
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Old 12-19-2014, 06:22 AM   #5
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I would try and get the old brakes working and not spend a lot of money on them as you will most likely need axles and new axles come complete with all new brakes. If you do tow without brakes I would use the bigger truck. I would make sure it was a dry day. Also, try and miss rush hour in whatever city you are in. Better, get someone who has experience drive. You can get a towing mirror at Wal Mart that suction cups to the regular mirror, well worth it if you will be in much traffic.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:44 AM   #6
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I'm not sure about Texas law (I do believe that there still are a couple of laws in Texas, correct?), but in most states towing a trailer of that weight without brakes is illegal. If you got into any kind of problem while towing illegally, the consequences could be severe.

Now that was just the legal disclaimer:

Towing a trailer of that weight without working brakes on a public road IS JUST PLAIN STUPID!

Start your Airstream career off safely and get those brakes working!

You asked...
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:07 AM   #7
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why are there no brakes? Are they disconnected or? Maybe it is an easy fix...like running a new cable.
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:52 AM   #8
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if the path home is fairly flat, and if you can take back roads, you could try it. But as one whose 20ft FC connection separated from a 2012 Tahoe on a downhill stretch in PA, I can tell you its a totally helpless feeling smelling your truck brakes burn up and STILL not being able to stop. I said a prayer afterwards. So look at the topography of your trip, and for back roads. If not, spend the money and get them fixed. Its worth your peace of mind. jon
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Old 12-19-2014, 02:27 PM   #9
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being there are absolutely any steep grades within 5 hrs of Houston , you will be towing an empty trailer , and ya said your using a 3/4 ton truck to pull it , and you have pulled other farm , machinery etc trailers , I'm sure with and without brakes .
As someone who has towed trailers with and without brakes all over the north American continent , I would "and have" hook on it and head for Houston . keep the speed down to 55 or so and don't head into Houston during the RUSH . and especially Sunday earnings. You can get a trip permit from wherever you buy your plates. The last one I bought was 5 bucks . Just need the serial # .

I have pulled our 66 AS all over the place with the stock truck mirrors with no problem. If the old beast comes with a WD hitch , go ahead and use it , and the sway control bar as well . If the pigtail is completely toast , a towing light kit with magnet mount lights can be had from Harbor Freight for a cheap price.

Ya should at least jack the wheels of the ground and check for any bad wheel bearings. And if the tires are old nylon 700/15s air em up to max pressure and they will most likely get it home , especially in the cooler winter temps .

If your coming through Bastrop , stop in and have some Coffee .
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Old 12-19-2014, 02:42 PM   #10
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People have already said most of it. Your trailer has brakes, unless someone took them apart. When I picked up my 1961 that had been sitting for a decade, I plugged in the brakes, they worked a bit, and I brought it home across Illinois. I had to use temp lights as bulbs did not work etc. But as has been said, keep the speed down, keep lots of distance and avoid urban settings. You also need to be concerned about tires, wheels and bearings. If the trailer has been sitting, you will at least need new tires and to pack the bearings. Five hours, no matter how flat and easy to tow, is a long way on bad tires and bearings.
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Old 12-19-2014, 04:00 PM   #11
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The thing to remember when pulling without trailer brakes is that if the TV stops faster than the trailer, the trailer can pass you by, (Jacknife).
My Airstream is the best trailer I have ever towed. Yours will too.
Take your time, allow extra distance for easy braking, double your usual safe interval distance behind the vehicle in front of you. Make sure your tires are in good condition (check the DOT date code >6 years old are more prone to failure due to chemistry changes in the rubber over time.)
Now, with that out of the way, rest well the day before your journey, make sure to go over your TV, checking all your fluids, tire pressures, etc.
On the BIG DAY, take your time hitching everything up, then, walk away for a while.
Go back over everything, checking it over again.
Always remember, pulling your Airstream is AWESOME FUN. Relax, and enjoy the drive home. If something goes wrong while you are rolling, let what you have learned in training take over. (Just drive the truck)
Towing without trailer brakes is a compromise. You just have to adjust (no pun intended) how you drive to keep it safe'
Have fun, and welcome to Airstream Forums.
There are a gazillion years of experience here, and a lot of helpful folks.
Merry Christmas!!
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Old 12-19-2014, 05:02 PM   #12
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Texas law is that 2500-lbs must have brakes.
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Old 12-20-2014, 12:59 AM   #13
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Texas Trailer Laws & Trailer Regulations

Texas's laws and regulations for trailers are listed below:


Texas Trailer Brake Laws
A trailer or pole trailer is required to have brakes if its gross weight exceeds 4,500 lbs. A trailer with a gross weight between 4,500 lbs. and 15,000 lbs. is not required to have brakes if it is towed at a speed of not more than 30 mph.
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Old 12-20-2014, 05:13 AM   #14
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Okay I will probably catch hell for this but I have hauled trailers that (not airstreams) cars trucks loads of beef amongst other things and some of those loads were rather hairy but I was doing recovery hauling which normally meant trailer was in bad shape and most of those times I had a state trooper escort! My advice if you cannot get the brakes working then put on a very colorful shirt or coat roll your windows up both hands on the steering wheel head and eyes to the front flashers on and do the slow and easy all the way home! You will get lots of encouragement with people driving past you signaling that you are number one or you have one more mile till the next exit or there IQ as they drive buy! They will never know how you helped to keep them safe buy taking your time.
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Old 12-21-2014, 07:31 AM   #15
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there's your answer: SLOW..pack a lunch and bring audio

is not required to have brakes if it is towed at a speed of not more than 30 mph.
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Old 12-21-2014, 03:28 PM   #16
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Great Idea!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RM66caravel View Post
Okay I will probably catch hell for this but I have hauled trailers that (not airstreams) cars trucks loads of beef amongst other things and some of those loads were rather hairy but I was doing recovery hauling which normally meant trailer was in bad shape and most of those times I had a state trooper escort! My advice if you cannot get the brakes working then put on a very colorful shirt or coat roll your windows up both hands on the steering wheel head and eyes to the front flashers on and do the slow and easy all the way home! You will get lots of encouragement with people driving past you signaling that you are number one or you have one more mile till the next exit or there IQ as they drive buy! They will never know how you helped to keep them safe buy taking your time.
Cliff
In Texas, EVERYBODY loves a Rodeo Clown, especially if you can blow up balloon animals at the same time....(I am presently enrolled in the balloon academy, having difficulty getting in the barrel fast enough, ouch), anyways, the hair and hat would be a dead giveaway that something isn't quite right. There has to be a Law on the books. Somewhere.
I could almost guarantee an escort with this one. State, County and City Police, and maybe a Game Warden...
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Old 12-21-2014, 04:35 PM   #17
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In Texas if you run down the highway with four ways on its a giveaway you're from south of the border. Not legal, strictly speaking. It's to get you to next exit with any service whatsoever.
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Old 12-21-2014, 06:30 PM   #18
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Improvisions are necessary almost everyday and most would say anybody that drove a car without a seatbelt was just begging for a hospital visit! Well I grew up (and survived) before many vehicles had seat belts and towing a trailer without brakes can be done safely (maybe even n Texas ) and no driving at 30 is not the solution. But good luck and thanks for the feed back! Here in North Carolina we find illegals they will be working asap !
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:26 PM   #19
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Inquiring minds what to know ....

Did you buy it ?

Did you drag it home ?

With or without brakes ?
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:25 PM   #20
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Update

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenritas View Post
Inquiring minds what to know ....

Did you buy it ?

Did you drag it home ?

With or without brakes ?

Glenritas and all those great people who responded!

Thank you for the tremendous advice. I read each and every one of your responses and took plenty of notes. Unfortunately the seller began to play some hardball with the pricing. As I was about to pack up and head to purchase the trailer, he began increasing the price in arbitrary increments every few minutes. I gave him my final offer, which he eventually agreed to a couple of days later, but it was too late - I had already shipped off for vacation. Once I'm back, I will try once more to make the trip (barring any random price increases), and I'll be renting a 3/4 ton F 250. I'll be getting the brakes fixed in Abilene, and will make the 5 hour trek to Houston afterwards.

Again, thank you all for the advice and I hope to be updating you all with pictures of the beaut soon!

- Andre
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