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Old 03-01-2019, 09:19 PM   #15
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Thanks, Al. We were thinking about doing just that, so itís good to know weíre on the right track.
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Old 03-01-2019, 09:29 PM   #16
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Welcome Aboard!! 🥂👍

Video all interaction with the dealer during orientation, take notes also if so inclined, don't be shy with your questions.
There is no such thing as a stupid question...especially about an Airstream.

Don't rush anything.

Bob
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Old 03-01-2019, 09:43 PM   #17
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Your F150 likely comes with backup assist which is god’s gift to backing up. You’ll need to attach a sticker to your trailer’s frame. There are threads about that process on this forum. I had to attach the sticker on a separate piece of metal as shown. That was just taped on for testing obviously. It’s on there for real now.

Have the dealer install a good weight distribution hitch, not just a sway bar.

F150s come in a lot of different payloads depending on options. Your trailer will put a thousand pounds or so onto the truck. Make sure you have enough payload capacity for that and passengers. That’s on the door sticker of the truck. Mine is right at capacity with a 25’.

Before you get far, you’ll want to practice backing up in a empty parking lot. Walkie talkies area good idea. Lots of threads and Youtube videos on that’s well.
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Old 03-01-2019, 11:02 PM   #18
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Before I picked up my trailer (I had a 600 mile trip home) i used Google Earth to find a large empty parking lot where I could practice. leaving the dealership was nerve-racking, but after a few blocks in traffic I was able to relax. I spent a few hours in the parking lot, getting used to backing, and using the mirrors and camera, figuring out how far to turn the wheel to obtain the desired effect. My one take away from that was, go slow.....
The first campground was a pull through, and no problems, I can do this, right? The second campground, I missed the turn, and after miles down this 2-lane road, had to commit to turning around in someone's driveway. Let me tell you the anxiety of doing a K-turn in a driveway with traffic in both directions. I just thought about the parking lot, and did it in one try.
After that event, I am a kick-ass tow vehicle driver, and can do anything. (But I do use Google Earth to scope out gas stations along my route.)
good luck.
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Old 03-02-2019, 02:23 AM   #19
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Hey there Runtime,

If you’d like, contact me and we can get together and do some practice towing or at least you can watch my steps for hitching up and towing. I have several trailers that we could try out. I live near the the Tony Berger Center and there is a very large parking lot there. I’m talking about utility and cargo trailers, 16’ and up. It’ll definitely help you get your feet wet.

Also, I-10, while a straight shot can be daunting at times with potential cross winds and speeding semi trucks so don’t underestimate it. Depending where you live in Austin you’ll likely think to come in via 290 through Fredericksburg, yes? While not a horrible drive, there are a crazy amount of deer as well as weekend traffic in the hill country.

So much of towing is a learned behavior so it’s hard to say what you should do but a couple things I’ve ingrained in myself while towing throughout the years:
- fill up at 1/2 tank, especially in West Texas.
- do a walk around and physically touch components every fill up (doors, awning arms, wheel hubs, coupler etc...)

There is much much more, but it’s a start.

You coming from Phoenix or somewhere? 1000 miles you said. There are several cool spots to stop and stay along the way. Take your time and enjoy the trip because that’s what travel trailers are for, right?

Ian
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Old 03-02-2019, 05:49 AM   #20
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I had the luxury of working on a farm when younger, giving me some towing experience with farm equipment, but never towed a trailer on the road.

My simple recommendations are these.

Use your mirrors when making right and left hand turns, watch the trailer as it comes around behind you.

Find a place that is safe to back that puppy up. Backing up is great fun if you have a wide open space to learn.

For the most part, your tow mirrors will likely be as wide as the trailer. Check 'em and see. If they are, then it stands to reason, when going straight, if your mirror didn't hit anything, the trailer ain't gonna hit anything.

Going around right turns on narrow roads, I often hug the center line. Remember the trailer tracks inside/tighter than the truck's path.

Go real slow through toll booths, real slow.

Obey speed signs, especially on road curves and exit ramps. I've found if the sign say 45, and I do 45, it's pretty comfy going around. Slower is always better when new to towing.

You've seen that placard on the back of tractor trailers? "this vehicle makes wide turns"?

Swing it wide! Yep, some times you have to use the other lane to make that turn.
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Old 03-02-2019, 06:55 AM   #21
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Getting your trailer brake controller adjusted correctly will be one of the biggest challenges. If not set high enough the trailer will seem to be pushing your TV when stopping and if set too high the trailer brakes may lock and skid the tires. Here is an article which may help. https://www.rvtravel.com/adjusting-t...e-controllers/
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Old 03-02-2019, 09:10 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runtime View Post
Thanks for replying. We're buying from an AS dealership. The trailer is in great shape, road ready. Have a 2018 Ford F-150 with Max tow package we bought in anticipation of buying this size trailer. Brake controller is already installed. Thinking we'd purchase the hitch from the dealership and have them help with initial setup. We're wondering how many others out there learned with a trial by fire approach while towing home their first trailer.
Lots of great advice here. I think you'll be fine with a new tow rig and new airstream! Hopefully the dealership will get you nicely setup in regards to the hitch. Perhaps call them ahead of time and see what they will be setting you up with and we can give you some specific pointers on the hitch?

Brake controller. At its most basic, there a "gain" setting that you turn up or down. If you feel the trailer pushing you, turn the "knob" up. If you feel it braking too much, dial it down. It should feel about the same effort to brake as without towing. Many make the mistake to never turn it up sufficiently and believe they need a 3/4 truck or larger.

Backing up will likely be the biggest challenge. Be aware that backing up too sharply can cause the trailer and tow vehicle to jackknife and touch corners. Go slow and have a spotter guide you. Take your time. We were all new to this once. Best "hack" is to place your hand at 6 o'clock on the steering wheel. You'll instinctively turn the right way.

Tire pressure. Rarely talked about, but I would inflate your tires 4-6 psi higher than recommended in the door jamb. This will give you more general stability under tow.
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Old 03-02-2019, 09:40 AM   #23
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There are a million Youtube videos giving advice on backing up a trailer. This one from Long Long Honneymoon is a place to start. https://youtu.be/lzlOfBGr1i4

They donít have backup assist but a lot of this will still apply.
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Old 03-02-2019, 09:41 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by AlinCal View Post
If time permits go to rental yard or whatever and rent the longest flatbed trailer they have and spend a day dragging it around as well as backing it up.

A flatbed gives a good veiw of what is happening 20 feet back while maneuvering.


Agreed!!! I would personally never attempt to take a new trailer out having never towed. The interstate may be fine but everything else would be a nightmare for me. Go to a lonely, lonely place and practice, practice, practice. Your blood pressure, sanity and partner will be happy you did.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:01 AM   #25
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Just do it!
The Airstream tows great. Much easier than driving a large vehicle.
Have the dealer adjust the hitch for your truck, mine charged me one hour labor, but only because I supplied the hitch.

The hard part will be buying gas, look for stations where the pumps are parallel to the store, not perpendicular. That way you can pull in and out without backing or getting trapped. Go slow, swing wide, watch your mirrors. (and, yes, you will block two pumps. It's okay. More people will be admiring your trailer than mad you took so much space.) Avoid stations that have a big hump to get in or out, you could drag the hitch or trailer bumper.
If in doubt, keep going.
Be aware you can't turn as short as you'd like, since you could crunch the tank cover. Although I find I'm not as close as I think.
I've stopped and momentarily put it in "R" so I could see the hitch in the BU camera.
Don't be shy about going out of your way to make a U-turn. I've driven miles out of my way to find a suitable place to turn.
There may not be any backing until you get home. Then take your time.

I predict that five minutes into towing you'll say, "Hey, this tows great!"
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:04 AM   #26
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Lots of good advice here. You may want to consider renting a Uhaul trailer before you go and practice driving around town. Taking turns wider, backing up, and getting the feeling of having something attached to your truck will be helpful. Don't be too ambitious with distances. I don't think I would go very far on my first day. Maybe a couple hundred miles at most. On a stretch like I10 we wouldn't do anymore than 350 miles. I have to do all the driving so its just not worth being fatigued. When fueling, you may want to consider using truck stops like Flying J.(youtube videos on this) Some have RV only lanes and it is much easier than navigating regular gas stations. Hitching up was a big deal to us when we got the trailer. Take a video when they show you how to hitch and you may want to have a checklist to make sure you remember everything.
Check out YouTube and search for Loloho. They have tons of good videos on just about everything imaginable for your Airstream. I also recommend this video on backing up and maneuvering a trailer. https://youtu.be/p1B5d_K2__4 The only thing I do different is put my hand at the six o'clock vs 12. At six you move your had to the left at the trailer goes left etc. Made backing much easier for me.
If you have half the fun that Lisa and I have had with your trailer, your in for a real treat.
good luck,
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Old 03-02-2019, 09:39 PM   #27
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I hadn’t had much tow experience when I picked up my 28’. I did have experience towing UHauls a number of times. And also I had backed up trailers before, so I had the basics down.

But I had to tow out of the Twin Cities metro in a down pour. It was horrible. Here is my advise:
1). Stay off the freeways as much as possible so you can go slow without tons of traffic. It may mean taking more time, but you can go slower and get the feel of things better.
2). Drive IN TOW HAUL MODE!!
3). I measure the distance between the tires and the rim on my F150 to make sure I’m fairly level. Good place to start.
4). I also put a level in the AS to see trailer is fairly level. I should be slightly tongue down, but pretty level.
5). I set my gain to about 8 with my F150. Since I have an 2017 F150 and a 28’ that may be about where you should be (7 to 8).
6). Make sure your first drive is a short drive. We didn’t drive much more than 3 hours. It was pretty stressful, and the next day I felt better about starting out.
7). Look for gas stations that are easy to get in and out. Download the allstays app on your phone and look for truck stops. They tend to have more room to maneuver in and out.
8). Do you have a back up camera? If you do make sure you can see out the back and watch traffic coming up behind you. Helps immensely.
9). Make sure all bolts etc on the hitch are tight.
10). Have a glass of wine, beer, etc after the first day. You’ll need to relax.

You’ll do fine.

PS. Put some fresh water in the tank. You will want to stop and go to the bathroom a few more times since your nerves will be a bit on edge\

Also when in TOW HAUL mode when you step on the brakes the transmission will shift down and the RPMS will go up significantly. Don’t worry about it. Normal. It’s a way of slowing down the truck and the engine can take the RPMs.
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Old 03-02-2019, 11:39 PM   #28
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In addition to all the good advice above

Just take it slow and youíll be fine.

Donít be pushed into travelling too fast by other traffic, especially on multi lane highways. A trailer hauling slower than the rest of the traffic will delay them by about 30 seconds, but if you go too fast and turn it upside down youíll shut the highway

When it comes to any confined spaces I try to figure out how Iím getting out before I get in..
Might be worth google satellite viewing some gas stations on the way so you can pick some easy ones.

Iíve never used the backup assist on my F150, so I canít speak about that. Just pick a way of visualising whatís happening with the trailer that works for you and stick with it. (Mine is that I throw the front of the truck the same way as I want the back of the trailer to go). Donít get too focussed on where the trailer is going and forget to keep an eye out for what the front of the truck is swinging into..
If you are unsure of whatís going on behind you, donít be embarrassed to get out and look.
Donít be afraid to pull forward and try again - if things are starting to get out of shape this is the quickest way to fix it.
People will try to give you help and advice while youíre doing it - theyíre trying to help, but it could well get you confused, so if youíre new to it stick to what makes sense to you.
Go slow, nothing good happens fast backing up a trailer.
Finally donít be embarrassed if you make a pigs ear of it, we all remember the first times *we* backed trailers up and if weíre honest it was a gong show.

Above all, keep calm and Airstream on..
Rob.
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