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Old 11-19-2014, 01:16 PM   #1
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How do you know if you are safe to tow?

We are looking at buying an 1966 International about a 3 1/2 hour drive from where we plan to keep it for restoration.
When we got to take a look at it I need to know if it is safe to tow home.
The seller said he recently towed it about 60 miles.

From the pictures it looks like the axles need replaced but might be safe for one last trip.
But what about if there is a rusty trailer frame?

Like I said, we have a few days before we go to look at it but I'm having a hard time finding information on what is/isn't safe to tow. Hoping you guys can help me out.

This picture isn't a lot to go on, but you can see what sort of condition it is in and how it is sitting over the tires.


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Old 11-19-2014, 02:01 PM   #2
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Hi Toriander

Many people would see that as a judgment call.

I would be reluctant to tow for such a lengthy distance unless safety-related equipment has been recently replaced or inspected.

Tires - less than 10 years old, balanced, no uneven wear, no bulges, no deterioration of sidewall

Brakes - working well enough that all 4 wheels lock up on gravel or dirt

Bearings - repacked in the last 5 years and no visible sign of water when hub cap is removed

Breakaway - operational, with enough battery capacity available to ensure safe operation

Coupler - no broken, stuck, bent, or missing pieces

Safety chains - both present and undamaged

Lights - all working

Torsion axles aren't a safety item but as bad as those are the trailer will be pretty badly shaken up by the road.
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Old 11-19-2014, 02:15 PM   #3
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Ditto Jammer on this one.

Tire age/condition is the number 1 overlooked item in my experience and I would not tow a vintage rig that has not been towed for a long period without pulling the hubs and checking the bearings.

Here's a thread about my bearing "Catch". http://www.airforums.com/forums/f437...eck-57131.html

Also suggest that you be prepared to attach temporary tow lighting if needed and bring along a couple of cheap 8'x 10' tarps, rope, and duct tape just in case there are loose items that need to be secured before or during transit.

Hope all goes well,

Kevin
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Old 11-19-2014, 02:30 PM   #4
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Jammer has a great list there. You can haul it directly to a nearby RV shop or Tire shop that deals with towing where you are buying it at and have those items inspected/replaced. If lights aren't working that is trickier but you could hook up temporary lighting. Then go slow and get it home.

I think the odds of hidden frame problems being bad enough to cause trouble are slim. I've never heard of anyone's trailer actually falling apart on the road. because the floor/frame/shell all support each other.
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Old 11-19-2014, 06:04 PM   #5
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Wow! Thank you Jammer, Kevin245 and Stefrobrts.

The idea of the frame being too far gone was my main concern but it is relieving to know that wont be a towing issue.

I had not even thought about the bearings at all.

We are looking at it Sunday, in all likely hood paying for it, and will come back with necessary gear. I called an RV place no more than 20 miles away that said they would replace the tires, as I believe those are in no way safe to tow. If the bearings were a problem would that be an easy fix for them? The man at the RV place very kindly hinted that I couldn't leave my hideous trailer with them for any length of time, but they would happily replace the tires.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:01 PM   #6
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Nice...I'm in Victoria BC and we had just recently purchased a 24' 1963 tradewind single axle from up island. It is a 525km drive with elevation changes. Luckily for me my other half is a mechanic, a real one not the back yard variety (not that lots of them aren't awesome to) The tradewind is original everything. We went up to visit it before purchase to assess it, tires were sooo old. Mike had brought one of those skinny flexible cameras along to look in the under belly and decided she looked ok frame wise, and had a look at how the axles sat and it looked ok, the next concern were the tires, obviously we couldn't tow with the ones that were on her. Now being that I seem to be a airstream hoarder it was easy enough to deal with the tire issues, we just jacked up the argosy at home and stole a pair from its dual axles. After re-packing the bearings and throwing the new tires on her Mike made the call to not even look at whether the lighting system (and therefore the brakes) worked... His concern was the brakes may work for a bit but he didn't want to risk them locking up so we brought a temporary light bar, bungy cords, zap straps and tape along to attach the wiring to the outside of the trailer for the ride home. He did a test drive in the neighbourhood around where we bought her and she towed great, couldn't even tell we were towing a trailer, like an airstream should tow. We drove her home the scenic route in clear weather relying on the F150's brakes. All went well.

Good luck
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:03 PM   #7
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Here is Andy's, how to check an axle guide

Dura Torque Axle
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toriander View Post
If the bearings were a problem would that be an easy fix for them? The man at the RV place very kindly hinted that I couldn't leave my hideous trailer with them for any length of time, but they would happily replace the tires.
I don't know if there's any particular difference, but I had no problem finding the bearings for my '68 at the local auto parts store. But you never know when you are looking at something that old. You might be able to find out what the bearings should be and grab a set of them before you get there just so you are ready.
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:02 PM   #9
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Thank you all so much for the help!
I think we have formulated a plan that should work well.

We are going to jack it and take the rims and tires to the local RV place to get new tires put on the rims. While the rims are off we can check the brakes and check and grease the bearings. We will be taking some external break lights along for the trip back and stopping in increments along the way to check that nothing is falling apart.

I learned that we have an acquaintance very nearby and if anything goes wrong we can leave it there for a few days.

Obviously if we get there are something is horribly wrong we will have to reconsider if it is even worth buying. I'm prepared to go full-monte on this classic beauty, but I have my limits.
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:46 PM   #10
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For general information, every city has industrial bearing supply shops in the yellow pages, and they can supply bearings for ANYTHING. But, they need a good part number to work from, they have no way of looking up a "1954 Airstream bearing" even if they have them in stock.

Luckily, every bearing and grease seal is marked with a part number, or if not, they can measure and match it up. Just take the old bearing or seal along with you.
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