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Old 06-24-2013, 07:20 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
Everton , Arkansas
Join Date: Jun 2013
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A few Questions and some help please...

To start off I have never really towed anything this long or heavy in my life until a week ago. I have always wanted a vintage airstream and found that the older models were lighter. So I sold my old 19ft canned ham which only weighed in just over 3000lbs and started saving to buy one...well they are not cheap unless you have the time to restore and I'm not handy..
So my luck would have it I found a auction that was selling a 1973 27ft international. Looked up the specs and found it was to be a easy tow for my truck. I went loved it and won the bid....It came with a equalizer hitch but being me and that no one could help me figure how to put it on I had to tow without it for the first 20 miles to the nearest tire shop. The trailer had been sitting since 2009 and needed some new rubber. Good thing the lights worked and my mother paced behind me in her car. That twenty miles was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. But the tire shop people helped me put on the hitch which stopped the bucking, leveled out the truck, and made for a smoother ride. Also they pointed out my hubs needed greasing bad since they would barely turn. So that made for a really long trip home because I had to stop and check the hubs often. Well 84 miles later I am home, safe and happy.

Sorry for the long story there but I do have some questions. Since my purchase I have got the deed and realized that the auction people have made a error. It is not a 27ft but a 31ft which ups my weight and length. I also noticed that when I towed it my truck did do better once the hitch was properly installed. It still struggled a bit but I feel it was dragging it because of the hubs being a bit locked up. I do not in no way want to pull the camper around after I get the hubs greased and tires aligned if it is to much for my truck to handle. I would like some honest answers so I have provided specs on the truck and camper below.

The Truck
2010 Ford F150 XLT 2x4 with the tow package
4.6L 3-valve V8
Axel Ratio: 3.55, GCRW 14,900
145" WB, Max Towing 9,500lbs

The Trailer
1973 31ft Sovereign
Weight: 5005 dry
Hitch: 485

Any other feedback is very welcome.. Thank you!
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:30 PM   #2
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1972 31' Sovereign
Longview , Washington
Join Date: Dec 2012
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All your spec's look o.k. My only question would be is how old are your axles? I bought a 72 Sovereign and guess what? My axles where 1972. Made me a little nervous, so I replaced them. Bolt holes on the new axles did not match up and the shock stud mounts where off ( had to replace with a stud kit from a national auto parts store) and it took 8 weeks to get them @ $1200.00. But I feel a lot better about towing a 5500lb trailer around the country. Hope this helps.
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:44 PM   #3
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1973 31' Sovereign
Everton , Arkansas
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They are more likely original. The original owner bought the trailer new. I talked to the neighbors at the auction and got as much info as I could. Everything in the trailer is original except for the couch. Last time it was on the road was in 2009. Everything works on the camper except for a few lights that are burned out. I don't mind putting some cash into because I got it super cheap. The only thing I noticed so far that it needs is the floor replaced in the bathroom. Kinda soft.... But I will have those axels looked at most definitely!
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:17 PM   #4
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Soft floors = water leak. Spend some time looking through AirForums on this issue as it's the precursor to other structural areas you'll want to deal with. Congrats on your "new" trailer and welcome to our Airstream family.
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:34 PM   #5
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Vernon , Texas
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Agree with the axles. We were lucky with our 75, the previous owner did most of 12 grand worth of "gut" work.
Honest answer on the TV, I personally would not attempt many of the passes in Colorado, a trip up thru Wyoming or Montana, or into Western Canada. We went last year for our last big trip in our 01 F350 Diesel (single axle, 7.2 liter) and passed many many many gas engines screaming up the mountains and burning brake pads on the way down. We have since bought a new 2013 F350 with the new 6.7 liter diesel. It is an amazing difference in power.
I know that I'll catch heck for the TV comments, but diesels are born to tow loads. Put 250 grand miles on the last one, original motor and tranny. Fully expect to do the same with this one. TV comments not meant to scare you in any way. The only way to know what your truck can handle is to load up and go (as per specs).
Do you have any pictures? Have fun!
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Old 06-24-2013, 08:40 PM   #6
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A few Questions and some help please...

Greetings Falling_Leaf!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstream ownership!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Falling_Leaf View Post
They are more likely original. The original owner bought the trailer new. I talked to the neighbors at the auction and got as much info as I could. Everything in the trailer is original except for the couch. Last time it was on the road was in 2009. Everything works on the camper except for a few lights that are burned out. I don't mind putting some cash into because I got it super cheap. The only thing I noticed so far that it needs is the floor replaced in the bathroom. Kinda soft.... But I will have those axels looked at most definitely!
It sounds like you have found a good starting point for your first Airstream. I second the advice to check the axles as they are an item that does wear out. The Henschen DuraTorque axles have rubber rods inside the axle housings that act as springs/suspension, and they wear out or age out. A comparatively easy technique of checking your axles can be found in this link. Since you are also new to towing Airstreams, you may find this article about selection of hitch torsion bars to be helpful since you are towing with a truck. Two things to keep in mind if you find that you need new axles are that you may have to specify shock absorber mounts depending upon your vendor, and you will have the option of specifying axles with new brakes (either electric drum or hydraulic disc).

You mention that the bathroom floor is soft. This could be an indicator of other issues. The floor of the Airstream is a part of its overall structural integrity so it is important that any repairs be approached with this knowledge. It is particularly important to examine the walls along the perimeter of the trailer where they can be accessed . . . you are looking for evidence of rot (an awl or ice pick can be handy for investigation). Small areas can be repaired with wood consolidants (epoxy products) or patched if the area isn't large. Should you find evidence of widespread rot in the rear of the coach you may find that you have rear end separation. You can identify rear end separation rather easily by having someone step on the rear bumper while you observe the spot where the body and bumper support meet . . . if a gap opens up when someone stands on the bumper there is some degree of separation present. There are threads here on the Forums regarding repair of rear end separation.

The Equal-I-zer trailer hitch has a number of fans here on the Forums. It provides both weight distribution and sway control. You might find that it will need some "dialing-in" for best performance. You can find both installation instructions and parts lists at this link. Once you have your axle/bearing issues resolved, some minor hitch adjustments should make your Sovereign tow wonderfully.

Enjoy getting to know your Sovereign!

Kevin
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:04 PM   #7
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1976 27' Overlander
Missoula , Montana
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Your Ford 150 is a top-notch towing machine. You can tow just about anywhere with it and your Sovereign. The length doesn't change the towing capacity - but you'll have - obviously - another 4 feet back there you hadn't figured on. But you can do well in 90% of circumstances. (And I'm a Sube - GM guy - not a Ford guy!)

Best of all, you've found a great resource. I studied up on the Forums here, and with a friend successfully changed out my axles with Dexters at less than $900 for both, doing our own work. Colin Hyde will sell you axles that will bolt into your existing set up - costs a little more with shipping but might be worth the hassle factor.

Welcome aboard! My wife just this weekend said buying her "playhouse" was the best thing we'd done in ages!
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:38 PM   #8
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1973 31' Sovereign
Everton , Arkansas
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Ok, on the soft spot in the bathroom got me to run out side and jump on the bumper and it did move a bit down. But that is good to know so I can get it fixed properly. I want it to be in tip top shape when I move to Washington state. It is going to be my dwelling until I get all set up to live there.
Right now I am making a list of things that need to be done. As of getting them done is going to be a bit hard because of the location of where I live now. The only thing as of now that I can get done locally is the hubs packed. It seems everything else I will have to take it out of state to get done. That's my biggest problem.

And thanks for complementing my truck. I got called a stupid girl at the auction by a fellow. He told me I would have to get a wrecker to get it out of the freakishly steep drive. I liked the fact I proved him wrong by pulling out in the rain without squeaking a tire!

I do have pictures of it and will post them. Yay..
(Oh yeah that one is at the tire shop and my rear of the truck is really down)

Thanks for the feedback!
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