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Old 02-08-2013, 02:06 PM   #1
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I posted photos in the member introduction page and a question. This is our new trailer and I think it's going to take a lot of work to get her the way we want her. Anyway, My husband will be driving almost 800 miles roundtrip to go get her and there is one large problem. The current owner inherited the airstream and knows nothing about it, except that when he plugged it in to tow it has zero power; no brakes and no lights. The lights are a quick fix, but with a 31' trailer I would really like the brakes to be operational and I'm not even sure if it would be legal to travel without them. Having said that, does anyone have any quick fix ideas of something that could be wrong? We would really like to get her home safe with no trouble so this will be our biggest hurdle. Also I paid $1500 for her. I'm hoping it ends up being a good deal. The interior is all original and needs to be replaced, but we want to take it down to the shell and totally redo it anyway so that is of no concern. Also does it look like there is any evidence of rear sag? These aren't the best pictures but they're all I have. That's my big fear. I know it can be corrected but I'm really hoping the frame is in decent shape. Would it be pretty visible from the outside or perhaps not until the floor is up?
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:18 PM   #2
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Congrats.

Your concerns are valid. Obviously the best thing to do before getting there is to have an inspector go by to see what exactly it needs to get back to you over 800 miles. That is a long way and on a trailer that might be limping back could take a couple days of carefully planned towing.

If they know nothing of the trailer you HAVE to assume new brakes, tires and possibly axles. The latter is not so much safety as it is the well being of the trailer but brakes and tires are a MUST. The picture shows a little bulge around the wheel wells but slight. It could indicate sag and separation and driving it with bad axles can only make the condition worse.

Dont worry too much about the interior if you're gonna remodel. The awnings will have to be taken off and it's not really a one person job although I did it but very carefully and with a lot of supports.

It would be a good idea to get the proper wiring schematic for the harness if the systems do work but depending on the year they aren't currently compatible with new towing harnesses and/or the fuses just might need to be changed out

This will take careful planning and patience. Make sure the WD hitch has all the parts and that the bars are properly rated. Good Luck and let us know how it goes
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:20 PM   #3
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I bet the reason the brakes don't work is the tow vehicle plug is wired different than the Airstream. In the 70s there was no industry standard and I know from experience your trailer 7 way connector as made by AS is wired different than the current standard. I can send you the wiring diagram, but what are you towing with? There are other posts on this subject.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:29 PM   #4
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I'll be towing with a rented F250. We don't own a tow vehicle yet, but that will be down the road. I figure 2 years easy to get her road worthy. I definitely think the tires need to be replaced along with brakes, I just need everything to work enough to get it safely back and onto our property. I jut downloaded the service manual for it, but I had heard someone else talking about the wiring needing to be changed. If you had the diagram handy, that would be very helpful. The trip is actually 800 miles roundtrip so the trailer only needs to go 400.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:52 PM   #5
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I have a 99 F250. The easiest way for me to send you the wiring diagrams is by fax. There are 2 ways to rewire. One is to switch around the wiring in the umilical which will require cutting and splicing the other is change the wiring in the 7 way connector box inside the trailer where the umbilical comes in.

You could change tires and brakes for the trip, especially tires if they are more than 5 years old. The brakes may be OK. It would not take long to pull a hub and look. Greasing the bearings is not a bad idea either.

I recommend you guys get a service manual. 1972 was the first year published.

On the other hand you have 4 wheels so if you blow a tire you could take it off and nurse it to the next tire place on 3 wheels. Not recommending it, but others have done it including yours truly.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:03 PM   #6
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This may be a silly question, but it never hurts to make sure. Does the rented F250 have a brake controller (either a built-in Ford one on the dashboard, or an aftermarket one somewhere else.) Even in current-year trucks I think it's an option on the base truck (XL) , and rentals are often base-equipment vehicles.

You'll need one form of brake controller or the other to activate the trailer brakes even if they're working.

The previous advice about the pinout on the trailer's 7-pin umbilicial connector is spot on. The previous owner of mine was towing with a modern vehicle, but had chosen to rewire his Suburban to match the Argosy rather than standardize the connector on the trailer, so that was an item I had to address when I got the trailer.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:09 PM   #7
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Make sure ALL holding tanks are empty!!!!! very important for the long haul. You might need to do a day or weekends worth of work to feel solid about bringing her home. If the fridge doesn't work or are gonna replace you can find a place there in KY to legally dispose of it and shave some weight. Maybe not a big deal but the more delicate you treat the trailer with bad axles the better the outcome can be. It took 95 miles of 50 mph towing my trailer home for the center wall to bust through the inner skin and the oven had dropped 3"...all this stuff is right above the axles and with seized torsion rods you can imagine what the smallest pothole can do to a trailer. Don't assume because she's rolling fine that all is fine. Stop every so often to check on things and possibly have a chase vehicle to alert you if things aren't looking good. of course its a long haul so finding someone to do that will be tough. BRING LOTS OF TOOLS for roadside repair. Everyone says duct tape but that stuff can leave really bad residue and can damage panels when trying to remove if you're not careful. Also make sure that the harness is there with the trailer. and make sure you know where all the tire shop/auto parts stores are along the way! just in case
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Does the rented F250 have a brake controller.
Good point.

A 250 does have some excellent 4 wheel disc brakes however. If brakes are an issue pick a slow flat route which avoids towns as much as possible. With an awareness of the potential problem of no trailer brakes you will probably be OK. Also definitely risking a ticket.

You could have the thing transported by flatbed.
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:19 PM   #9
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I considered the flatbed option and had real trouble finding anyone really willing to do it for me. I used UShip to see what would bite. Well the day I was going to make a phone call I saw a lowboy towing 3 cars and he hit series of the metal plates road construction crews use to cover the work and the amount of shock that was sent into the cars was unbelievable. To me at that point it was almost counterintuitive to use the lowboy if I wanted to save the trailer any further damage. Thing is most towing contractors care about the dollar not the cargo. Good luck trying to get them to stop and 'check' on your trailer...When it arrives...what you see is what you get...
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:35 PM   #10
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Greetings paulitee!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstreams!

As has been mentioned by other posters, your coach's Bargman connector wiring will not match the current industry standard nor will the wire color/function relationship match the current standard if the connector hasn't been rewired.

I am attaching a pdf file that contains information about the way that the original Airstream Bargman connector was wired from the factory.

Good luck with your Airstream!

Kevin
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:52 PM   #11
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Well the day I was going to make a phone call I saw a lowboy towing 3 cars and he hit series of the metal plates road construction crews use to cover the work and the amount of shock that was sent into the cars was unbelievable.
I think that was an episode of The Three Stooges
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:06 PM   #12
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Since it has been sitting for a while it looks like to tires are in real bad shape from the first picture. So when you are working on the tires you can check out the brake shoes and bearings.

It also looks like the Zip Dee awnings either have not been rolled up correctly are they have lost tension in the roller. These are top of the line awnings so make sure you try roll the awnings up and secure them to the side so they won't open up on the road. Parts are still available and new awning material is available if needed

As others have said the 7 pin connector on the AS is wired different that the standard 7 pin connectors today. So make the changes in the AS 7 pin connector to match the standard 7 pin connection on the TV and you should be ok. That is if the wiring, brakes and lights on the trailer or workable.

Good luck

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Old 02-08-2013, 06:07 PM   #13
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Greetings! We brought our '72 Sovereign (31 ft) home from Alabama (1300 miles). We prepared for the trip by bringing almost everything we could think of with us to make her road worthy. We did have one advantage in that the PO knew a mechanic that repacked the wheel bearing for us and checked the brakes before we got there. The one thing he was slightly off about was that two of the tires were bad but the other two were ok. We brought two new tires mounted on rims since we had no idea where we might find a place to mount new tires on the existing rims. One of the hindsight things we learned is we should have brought four new tires on rims, because the tires that were on the trailer were all passenger tires. We put the new tires on the rear axel, and hoped for the best, figuring that we’d have at least one blowout on the old tires. But lo and behold, they made it home ok.

I also knew the running lights and brakes lights did not work. We brought running lights and brake lights with us, and a new umbilical cord as well. I figured that would be faster than trying to figure out what was wrong with the wiring. We used gorilla tape to mount the temp running lights to the side of the trailer, and a combination of tape and big hose clamps to mount the brake lights to the rear bumper. We ran the wiring on the exterior of the trailer, again using gorilla tape to hold it in place. From the umbilical cord, I also ran new brake wires to the axels. The brakes ended up being fair for the trip home, and its mostly flat between Alabama and Minnesota. Our TV was a 2001 Excursion, equivalent to an F350. We never felt out of control or in need of more stopping power.

We planned on gutting the interior, so we were not too terribly concerned about running her on bad axels. Even with bad axels, she towed much nicer than any other SOB trailer we ever owned. We did find 2 popped rivets on the roof on a rib by the a/c while we were rebuilding her, but that was it. Not sure if we caused those two rivets to pop on our trip, or if they were already popped.

The pictures below shows the rear brake lights we put on the bumper and some of the running lights. The gorilla tape held everything on through more than a half day of rain the first day and the rest of the trip home.

Chris

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Old 02-08-2013, 06:19 PM   #14
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Greetings paulitee!


I am attaching a pdf file that contains information about the way that the original Airstream Bargman connector was wired from the factory.

Kevin
As you will see in the pdf from Kevin the wires are in a different pin placement and the holes are different from the current 7 pin standard.

Here is a pdf file of how the current 7 pin connector is wired. You will need a new 7 pin connector to go on the line from the AS in order to connect to the TV. You can pick one of these up at a RV parts store. Then open up the 7 pin connector on the AS and match the wire colors to the proper pin position on the new 7 pin connect at the current standard.

Don

7wayplug1982-84-1989-02[1].pdf
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:30 PM   #15
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Just to make sure I stating this correctly you have to mach the function of the wire from the old AS 7 pin connection to the function in the new 7 pin connection. Some of the wire colors are different. Example the old AS 7 pin the yellow wire is the brake lights in the new 7 pin blue is the brake lights. so match the yellow AS wire to the connection on the new 7 pin to where the blue wire is to power the brakes.

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Old 02-08-2013, 07:30 PM   #16
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I suggest being prepared with temporary lights. Even if you luck out and get the trailer lights to work there could be shorts in the wiring that will only make themselves known when the trailer starts to move down the road.
When I brought our Spartan home I took a set of magnetic lights from Harbor Freight with me. I extended the length of the wire so it would reach. I also took 12 gauge wire which I used to bypass the trailer wiring to connect to the brakes. The brakes actually worked even though the trailer was 65 years old. I plugged the lights into the four-connector plug and connected the brake wires to the trailer end of a standard seven-connector RV plug.
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Old 02-08-2013, 08:58 PM   #17
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Okay these are all great suggestions and very helpful. Can anyone tell me what size tires I need or you would recommend or where I can get that information? It's not in the service manual and I won't have the owners manual for a few weeks. Also would it make sense to buy new rims and tires or if that's extremely expensive or to buy new tires and try to locate a place there where I can bring it to have the new tires out on the old rims.

I'm going to get some temporary lights to throw on and right now were researching packing the wheel bearings and what it might entail. Were trying to do the least amount possible to make it 400 miles. While the tires are off being changed and were checking the wheel bearings is there anything else we should look out for? any small parts that are typically warn out? Quick fixes? Anything you can think of at all?

Also thanks to everyone for the heads up on the wiring. I printed the diagrams and hopefully once were there we can make some sense of what's going on.

You guys are great for the help!
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:39 PM   #18
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Greetings paulitee!

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulitee View Post
Okay these are all great suggestions and very helpful. Can anyone tell me what size tires I need or you would recommend or where I can get that information? It's not in the service manual and I won't have the owners manual for a few weeks. Also would it make sense to buy new rims and tires or if that's extremely expensive or to buy new tires and try to locate a place there where I can bring it to have the new tires out on the old rims.
The specifications for Airstream wheels was fairly consistent from the 1960s through at least the 1990s. The standard wheel rim was typically:
  • 15"x6"
  • zero offset
  • 6 lug pattern
  • 5.5" spacing
  • center bore measuring 4.245 inches
  • rated at 2,600 pounds
The wheel is a comparatively common trailer applications. My local Good Year tire dealer stocked new rims having the correct specifications as did a horse trailer dealer and an agricultural trailer dealer. New rims from either of the three sources that I tried were less than $15.00 per wheel more for a brand new known quality wheel compared to a salvage yard wheels that could be in less than optimum condition. The center bore diameter can also pose problems as many otherwise compatible salvage yard wheels will have center bores that are too small and prove problematic when trying to mount the wheels/tires. The usual tire size recommended today is an ST or LT 225 75 R 15 in at least load range C or no more than load range D on a Vintage coach.


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Originally Posted by paulitee View Post
I'm going to get some temporary lights to throw on and right now were researching packing the wheel bearings and what it might entail. Were trying to do the least amount possible to make it 400 miles. While the tires are off being changed and were checking the wheel bearings is there anything else we should look out for? any small parts that are typically warn out? Quick fixes? Anything you can think of at all?
Depending upon how long it has been since the coach has had a brake overhaul, you may find that some of the springs and/or hold down parts need to be replaced. Be cautious when looking at repair estimates for brakes as it doesn't take long to build up a bill equal to or greater than the cost of new fully loaded backing plates that include all new wear parts. When I purchased both of my Vintage coaches, I had tows of between 300 and 400 miles, and was fortunate to need only bearing repacks with brakes in good to very good condition.

As others have mentioned, be prepared with duct tape or gorilla tape to secure hatches, trim, windows, doors, etc. that may be loose or have the potential to vibrate open unexpectedly. There is a thread here on the Forums that describes making a device from a small piece of wood that slips into the grab handle next to the door making a wedge against the entrance door so that it won't fly open unexpectedly (when this happens, the door/hinges can be sprung and the door's frame can be sprung or broken). Also, as others have mentioned, you will want to do your best to get those awnings securely rolled up and secured against the side of the coach . . . on two separate ocassions, my A & E curbside awning was caught by wind while one the road and it became a big sail on the side of the coach that has the potential doing damage to both the Airstream and vehicles traveling in the next lane (one of the reasons that I now have Zip Dess on my Overlander).

I don't believe that anyone has mentioned the trailer hitch on your tow vehicle. Ideally, an adjustable hitch head is valuable when retrieving a Vintage Airstream as you want the coach to tow as near level as is possible (reduces possibility of sway and avoids the possibility of overloading one of the trailer's axles/tires). While you will find that the literature lists the hitch height of the trailer when it was new, the axles on a Vintage coach have likely settled and this may reduce the hitch height by as much as three inches. Getting a hitch head with enough drop can sometimes be a problem with four wheel drive pickups and some sport utilities . . . I had particular problems getting enough drop when I had a 1995 Chevrolet K1500 Z71 club cab pickup . . . . my 1999 K2500 GMC Suburban requires less drop than the pickup (both were purchased new with trailer towing packages). You may also want to consider extended towing mirrors . . . I always suggest McKesh . . . my set is over 30 years old, and the factory supports their products with repair parts much like Zip Dee.

Good luck with your retrieval!

Kevin
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:53 PM   #19
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Be cautious when looking at repair estimates for brakes as it doesn't take long to build up a bill equal to or greater than the cost of new fully loaded backing plates that include all new wear parts.
Also keep in mind that there's a good chance your trailer will need the axles replaced (after you get it home) and they often come with brakes as part of the package.
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:10 PM   #20
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It's not in the service manual and I won't have the owners manual for a few weeks.
The owners manual is very basic stuff. The service manual is much more comprehensive.
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