Greetings Bruce and Ronda!
Originally Posted by bebling
Thanks so much for all the kind remarks. Now here is my dilemma, the trailer is about 60 to 80 miles from the nearest town and 350 miles from
home. It is up in the snow and sitting in a field. It was last used around a year ago. The tires are 5 years old with no apparent checking. What is the minimum I should prepare for to get this gem home? I was thinking of bringing a weight distribution hitch, tons of tools, a jack, spare light bulbs...etc. If I could get it to town I could then have a tire place inspect bearings, tires and brakes. Any suggestion on how to prepare for the worst and get my trailer home in one piece?
Bruce and Ronda
Your planning is good, and should help you be prepared for the trip home. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for this site's sister site Airstream Central
that covers what I have found helpful in terms of preparation . . . you can find the article at this link
You have something around a 50% likelihood that you will find the Minuet's trailer connector (Bargman Plug) wired in a pattern that is not compatible with your tow vehicle. My suggestion would be to include a trailer end that matches your tow vehicle in your preparation kit as many of the Vintage Airstreams that I have encountered needed to have their plugs rewired to match the current industry standard. I am including a copy of the wiring schematic as used in 1979 . . . you will also notice that the color/function relationship is not the same as in the current industry standard.
I agree with you that the tires and bearings would be something of a concern for a 350 mile tow. You do have the lower ambient temperatures of this season in your favor. If you are not able to get the bearings serviced/re-packed, stopping every 50 to 75 miles and checking for hub/wheel that is hotter than the rest should catch a bearing that is failing as well as provide the opportunity to observe the tires for changes in the sidewalls/tread.
You may also need to be prepared to adjust the ball height on your hitch. Towing slightly out of level isn't a huge problem but significantly nose high or nose low causes weight distribution problems as well as can be a source of sway. I believe that the factory hitch height specification is 19", but factoring in the likely set that the DuraTorque axles have taken over the years, the height is likely between 16" and 18".
In addition to spare light bulbs for the trailer's exterior lights, I would also suggest carrying spares for any fuses/relays in your tow vehicle's towing circuits. There is often a relay/fuse that must be installed for the tow vehicle's factory installed charge line to be activated to the trailer connector at the rear bumper . . . sometime the part is included, but in some cases it must be purchased at a parts store. Another item that some tow vehicles need to have changed when first put into tow vehicle service is the turn signal flasher . . . a heavy duty turn signal flasher is needed for towing service on a number of tow vehicles. Given the distance that the Minuet is located from the nearest town, you might want to be prepared with temporary tow lights that you can utilize if the factory lights don't want to cooperate (I have been fortunate and haven't had to use my temporary lights with any of the retrieval trips that I have been through).
For dealing with potential tire situations, I would suggest four things for your preparation. First, I would suggest carrying a portable air compressor to air up the tires on the trailer to proper towing pressure. Second, I would suggest carrying a heavy-duty 4-way Tire Iron in the event that you need to remove a flat. Third, I would suggest a 4-ton or better bottle jack (makes jacking between axles easier). Fourth, I would suggest carrying a set of 2" X 8" boards consisting of 12", 16", 18", and 24" . . . 45-degree cuts on ends can improve their usefulness . . . these can take the place of a jack on a tandem axle trailer . . . on the side with a bad tire, pull-forward or back up onto the stack of boards with the good tire/wheel which will lift the coach to permit removal of the bad tire. It is permissible to tow an Airstream short distances at lowered speed (usually 45 MPH or less) on three wheels, and is one reason that you ocassionally find a tandem axle Airstream without a spare tire/wheel.
It sounds like you have a good plan for retrieval. Allow yourself as much extra time as you can as trying to rush can result in problems.
Good luck with your retrieval!
P.S.: You may want to carry some bubble wrap, card board, and duct/gorilla tape to fashion temporary rock guards for the front wrap windows. The clear deep-wrap wing windows are no longer available new. All of the new deep-wrap wing windows are Solar Gray Tinted -- not to mention, expensive . . . about $750 each.