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Old 10-09-2004, 09:34 PM   #1
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Question Inherited Caravelli (?) - Need Advice

Hope this is the right forum/subforum for this post!
I recently inherited my first travel trailer! It is a 1970 18' Airstream so I assume it's a Caravelli?

In approx. 2 weeks I'll have just enough time off work to travel from E WA to SW Wyoming to bring it home. Once we get there, hopefully will need only one day to get it road worthy and "talking" to my Ford 250 4X4 pick-up. Used pick-up is recent purchase which I just finished setting up to pull my old 2 horse trailer. So it should be fine to pull the Caravelli - right?

Pick-up has a Reese heavy duty Class V receiver hitch (more than I needed but husband found used for good price), with 2" ball that is 20" from top of ball to ground. (thanks to Kevin for posting list with lengths, weights, hitch ball heights) List says 19" for 18' Caravelli. Will this set up be o.k. with out a drop stinger?

Truck has a new break contoller, new trailer-plug-in, (flat pins with round pin adapter.) Are there unusual plug arrangements or adapter needs for this model Airstream?

My step-dad lived in trailer off & on from mid 70's to mid 80's. It has just been sitting since. It was skirted so tires were protected from elements. Step-dad's friend owns the trailer park and says it's in good shape. However - trailer hasn't been moved in at least 10 years. Would a Les Schwab or similar tire store have correct tires if needed? Could I figure out what to purchase as a spare in advance without seeing the trailer first?

If turn signal lamps, tail lights or brake lights need replacing, would they be available at a NAPA store or farm supply?

What else should I anticipate and how should I prepare to "meet" my new Airstream and bring him/her home? If we can keep the the prep & hook up time to a minimum - maybe there will be time for a brief look at the Tetons on the way back home. As an avid "shutterbug," would be a shame to have to pass by.
Thanks for any advice,
Karen
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Old 10-09-2004, 09:44 PM   #2
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Hi Karen,
Congrats on your new find. It's actually a Caravel, if that's the size. A very nice trailer. You'll find many other happy Caravel owners around the forum, and here in WA.

Your F150 should be perfectly adequate to tow it home. You should consider running it by Les Schwab and having them put new tires on it (especially if they are 10+ years old), and they can also help you with the electrical hook up to the truck. The trailer may have an old style plug if it hadn't been updated already. You will want an adapter, or just have it changed to a plug to fit your truck. Blubs should be available at a Napa.

Sounds like you're ready to go. Another thing you might consider is the ball size and hitch height, so you can have that ready to go when you get there. I don't know if it's the same as mine, so I'll let a 70 owner pipe in with that info.

Oh yeah, and welcome to the forum!
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Old 10-09-2004, 09:57 PM   #3
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Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for reply and encouragement! I can't wait to see it and get it safely home!
Karen R
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Old 10-09-2004, 10:12 PM   #4
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karen

here is a link to airstream with hitch data and approximate weights.

http://www.airstream.com/airstream/p.../weights-1.pdf

you will need acrobat to view it.

also, you may need to double check the ball size, it may have a 2 5/16" ball.

good luck on your trip!

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Old 10-09-2004, 10:34 PM   #5
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Hi John,
Thanks for the Height - weight list. It says hitch ball hight should be 19" - The TOP of my hitch ball is 20." Is that close enough?

Where do I find out for sure which size ball I need?
Karen
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Old 10-09-2004, 10:37 PM   #6
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Greetings!

Hello there,
Welcome aboard.
You have inherited one of the more selective airstreams. I want to warn you on something that may not appear to be that important, but it is critical if you plan to tow such distance.
I purchased my 1969 Caravel in North Carolina, and had to bring her home to California. I prepped, and thought of all the details but one. The shocks.
Turns out, these trailers over the years have lost some solidity in their curved glass up front. The vibration of the road, shattered both my curved glass windows. To this day, I have only been able to find one replacement glass. I realize this may be just a sign of how unlucky I have been, and you may not need to worry about this, but I do not want you to underestimate the value of decent shocks.
Fabo
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Old 10-09-2004, 10:58 PM   #7
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Thanks Fabo,
My budget is extremely tight right now. Is there an easy way to tell if the shocks are adequate? Are the shocks specialized or are they something that a Les Schwab (assuming one is close to Lyman, WY) could do without special ordering?

When I consider ANY repairs, should ALL of them be real "Airstream" parts to hold the value or can some of the mechanical things like shocks be "non-Airstream"?

I understand that this trailer was parked most of it's life and wasn't towed too much. Is that in my favor for shocks being in good condition or are do they "wear" also from just age and/or "habitation" time as opposed to "travel" time.
Karen
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Old 10-09-2004, 10:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen R
Hi John,
Thanks for the Height - weight list. It says hitch ball hight should be 19" - The TOP of my hitch ball is 20." Is that close enough?

Where do I find out for sure which size ball I need?
Karen
karen

you should be in the ball park as far has the hitch height, you may need to take a final measurement as all trailers are different. the tires you choose may affect the total height. and the condition of the axles will contribute as well.

the goal is to get the trailer level front to back when you are ready to travel. your hitch being one inch higher may work well. you really won't know untill you arrive. you may want to consider a weight distributing hitch for your trailer with sway control.

you can contact andy at inland rv http://www.inlandrv.com/ to determine the correct ball size. he is a good source for vintage parts and is very knowledgeable about airstreams in general.

john
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Old 10-10-2004, 06:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen R
Once we get there, hopefully will need only one day to get it road worthy and "talking" to my Ford 250 4X4 pick-up. Used pick-up is recent purchase which I just finished setting up to pull my old 2 horse trailer. So it should be fine to pull the Caravelli - right?

Pick-up has a Reese heavy duty Class V receiver hitch (more than I needed but husband found used for good price), with 2" ball that is 20" from top of ball to ground. Truck has a new break contoller, new trailer-plug-in, (flat pins with round pin adapter.) Are there unusual plug arrangements or adapter needs for this model Airstream?If turn signal lamps, tail lights or brake lights need replacing, would they be available at a NAPA store or farm supply? Thanks for any advice,
Karen
Karen, I think the Caravell has a 2 5/16" trailer ball, if it does, you would need to pick up the larger one at your friendly NAPA, and yes, they have most of the basics, like light bulbs, clearance light assemblies, and some towing accessories. You may have to invest in a temporary set of tail/brake lights to get home with.
Your "new" trailer may have the old style connector with the round pins, and it may well be wired a little different than your horse trailer. I ran into this when I bought my trailer, and didn't realize it 'till I tried towing another trailer, and nothing worked on the other trailer. I will put the new standard wire colors and pin #'s here so you can check them. This is clockwise, starting one pin left of the little indent at the bottom, as you are looking at the end that plugs into your truck:
#1- white- common ground
#2-blue- electric brake
#6-brown- stop and RH turn signal
#4-black-main battery feed from tow vehicle
#3-green-tail. license, and clearance lights
#5-red-stop and LH turn signal
#7(center) extra auxiliary circuit (back up lights, if equipped

I will strongly second the suggestion to get a new pair of tires. The opinion here on the forums, backed up by my experience in the tire industry says to replace the tires every 6-8 years, no matter how good they look. There are chemicals that hold the tire together that leech away over time, sunlight (UV) intensifies this effect.
Good luck with your new inheritance.
Terry
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Old 10-10-2004, 06:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen R
What else should I anticipate and how should I prepare to "meet" my new Airstream and bring him/her home?
Karen:

Please heed the advice of the previous posters, and be advised that more than a few members have recently lost NLA (No Longer Available) glass panels during "get it home" pulls. Since you have acquired a model much in demand I would take all possible precautions to insure the integrity of the unit.

Andy will steer you correctly with advice, but be aware that depending on a variety of things (axles, shocks, flooring, belly skin) things MAY get very time consuming, also, be prepared in advance with an estimate for an axle replacement (bad axle = lots of road vibration = interior falling apart and glass loss). The fact that the shocks are probably 35 years old should leave no question of their roadworthiness - replace them. Remember also that the shocks do nothing to "soften" the ride - that is done by the "rubber springs" internal to the axle - which is why, again after 35 years - it is PROBABLY time for an axle/suspension replacement.

One last thing - if it were mine - the VERY FIRST thing I would do would be to replace the tires. Most tire experts give advice to replace tires after 5 to seven years - any cracks more than 1/32" (Michelin website advice) should be changed out. Again, to repair the damage caused to your new Airstream by a thrown tread would cost many times the purchase price of a couple of tires.

While we're on tires - make sure the proper valve stem gets installed. There have been a couple of recent tire failures on trailers that have pointed to the stem as the culprit, I have recently lost a pair of brand new dually tires on my Ford E-350 due to what was (I am sure) valve stem failure.

Good luck in towing your jewel home - remember that your F-250 will squat just a little with the weight of the Caravel on the hitch, and with a single axle trailer you will not be transferring weight from or to either the front or rear axle of the trailer, so an "absolutely level" trailer measurement is not nearly as important with a single axle as with a dual axle. With the F-250 4X4, while a weight distributing hitch would be nice, I would not make it a high priority purchase. If you do find you need sway control - go with a combo weight distributing/sway control hitch. Many think the Reese combination is a great value for the price, but there are many good manufacturers out there. I do think you will need to find an appropriate sized ball to match the AS trailer hitch.

Please give some thought to delaying your trip until you would be able to devote an appropriate amount of time in properly preparing the running gear and towing in daylight only. I would hate to see something happen to your trailer, and you would be kicking yourself in the butt for not taking the time to "do it right".
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Old 10-10-2004, 08:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen R
......Thanks for any advice.....

Karen:

You might want to look into borrowing or renting a car hauler or a true flatbed trailer (a modified hay trailer?). At 18', your Caravel could easily be winched onto a cargo trailer and then hauled to your place.

This would give you time to evaluate the running gear and look for floor rot and leaks while it is in your "back yard", as opposed to attempting to do a "fix" just to get it home.
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Old 10-10-2004, 08:31 AM   #12
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Karen,

Don't let the glass concern you too much. Your windows are not made from unobtainum like some other coaches. You have a 1970. The windows that fabo is looking for were ONLY used in 1969. The glass in your coach was used through the 70's and into the 80's.

I would take the time to do it right. I speak from experience. A little over a year ago I purchased a Motorhome in WA state and drove it home to FL. There was a 6 week layover in Dallas while a new engine got installed .

I took all the tools, and parts I could find, bought spares on arrival, and knew where every camping world and major parts store was along the route. I still had to be towed 3 times.

The one thing to take that no one has mentioned is your credit card, and be sure to stock up on Patience. Hurrying only makes something that has gone wrong worse in the end.

Good luck and keep the shiny side up on your new to you Caravelle
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Old 10-10-2004, 11:15 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=87MH]Karen:

You might want to look into borrowing or renting a car hauler or a true flatbed trailer (a modified hay trailer?).


Good idea! I thought of borrowing a flatbed but thought I was being a little over cautious. I'll give it some strong consideration!
Thanks to all for the GREAT advice!
Karen R.
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Old 10-10-2004, 11:35 PM   #14
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Dennis,
Thanks for all the detailed advice!! The group members have been a GREAT help!
Wish I could delay or get a larger block of time. This is the first opportunity since I found out the Caravell was left to me, that my husband is free (hopefully) at a time that I can get away. If we wait any later, the mountain pass could get interesting. Also, the trailer park owner moves to Utah in the winter! He's already been nice enough to let me leave it there rent-free since last July!

Any idea how I can find out if there are reputable RV or Les Schwab or other professionals near Lyman, WY?
Karen R.
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Old 10-10-2004, 11:45 PM   #15
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Inherited Caravelli (?) - Need Advice

Greetings Karen R!

If you decide to tow the coach yourself, you will likely find it easier to rewire the trailer umbilical cord Bargman Connector to match the modern tow vehicle wiring schematic as Airstream did not use the current wiring schematic nor observe the current color code relationships. The link below will take you to the Airstream corporate website where there is a document with the original wiring diagram for 1966-81 Airstreams - - the main reason for checking this diagram is to get a feel for the wiring colors used so that they may be "functionally" matched to the current standard:

1966-1981 Airstream Bargman Plug Wiring Diagram

The typical wiring or near industry standard for modern tow vehicles can be found at:

Tow Vehicle Bargman Connector Wiring Diagram - - Current Industry Standard

It is fairly easy to rewire the trailer end if you have a new end to match the one on your tow vehicle. I carried a garden tractor battery along with a set of alligator clamps on 24" of wire to test the function of each of the coach's wires (as it turned out they matched the above Airstream information on my '78 Minuet).

Good luck with your coach!

Kevin
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Old 10-11-2004, 11:53 AM   #16
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Wyoming Caravel

Hello, congratulations on your Caravel. I just towed home our newly purchased 68 Caravel from Wyoming to Spokane WA. one week ago. 1000 mi trip to the lowest S.E. corner of the state.

One word of caution, go before the weather changes, and travel during daylight ! We saw hundreds if not thousands of antilope throughout eastern Wyoming and quite a few deer as well. Most very close to the highway so travel with your eyes wide open.

Enjoy the trip ..........Jesse
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Old 10-12-2004, 02:31 AM   #17
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Smile

Hello, congratulations on your Caravel. I just towed home our newly purchased 68 Caravel from Wyoming to Spokane WA. one week ago. 1000 mi trip to the lowest S.E. corner of the state.

One word of caution, go before the weather changes, and travel during daylight ! We saw hundreds if not thousands of antilope throughout eastern Wyoming and quite a few deer as well. Most very close to the highway so travel with your eyes wide open.

Enjoy the trip ..........Jesse[/QUOTE]
Jesse,
What a small world! I live in Harrington, approx SW of Spokane! Thanks for the Antelope warning!! The Caravel is near Lyman - bottom South WEST corner of Wyomong.
Karen
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Old 10-12-2004, 03:07 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64
Greetings Karen R!

If you decide to tow the coach yourself, you will likely find it easier to rewire the trailer umbilical cord Bargman Connector . . .
1966-1981 Airstream Bargman Plug Wiring Diagram

The typical wiring or near industry standard for modern tow vehicles can be found at:

Tow Vehicle Bargman Connector Wiring Diagram - - Current Industry Standard

Kevin
Kevin,
Thanks for details of wiring plug ends! Much appreciated!
Karen R.

P.S. Everyone is so helpful! What is considered correct ettiquette for this group when it comes to replies? Should I respond to each person who provides advice or is a general "Thanks to all for all your help" o.k.?
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Old 10-12-2004, 05:46 AM   #19
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Hi, Karen... I believe that a group reply is satisfactory here. You're among friends.

My '70 Safari had a 2 5/16 ball. I'd expect your Caravel to have the same. Brett was also correct about the front wing windows. '69 used side-specific glass with a square bottom corner. By '70 they changed to a "D" shaped pane so the same pane could be used on both sides.

I favor the car trailer/flatbed option. Given your limited resources (read dollars here) and your limited time, I think that were I in your shoes, I'd find a nice tandem axle car trailer, and trailer it home. You won't have to be immediately concerned about any of the things that you should/MUST do to trailer it safely. Rewiring the pigtail isn't necessarily difficult, but it alone can take from just a few minutes to several hours if you end up having to troubleshoot and repair problems. (BTW, a small battery charger plugged into 110v is a great way to figure out your trailer lights). It can take even longer if you have to learn what you're doing before you do it. Failures at speed on the road are waaaay more problematic than failures at home, are generally far more costly, do more damage, and can take lots more time to repair.

The wheel bearings should be greased before it's moved more than a couple of blocks, and the tires replaced, and even then you don't have any guarantees about the condition of the axle, shocks, the LP system, etc. etc. etc. Sitting kills systems. Any trailer that's sat for more than one season without use potentially needs more TLC (read maintenance and systems checks here). The longer they sit, the more they're likely to need. And, of course, you don't know what condition things were in before it was left to sit!

Trailering it home on a flatbed keeps you inside your time and dollar limits initially, and then allows you the luxury of spending the time and money necessary (as you have it) to make it roadworthy once you get it home. You don't have to worry about failures on the road.

Just my $.02... take it for what it's worth!

Roger

p.s. oh... and for tires... many of us swear by Goodyear Marathon ST trailer tires... search on the forums for threads about tires. Whatever you choose, make sure they're ST rated and not merely car tires. You'll be happy you did!
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Old 10-12-2004, 09:43 AM   #20
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Concerning towing a Caravel with a F250 4x4; I also have a F250 4x4 and a Caravel. Is the rear suspension of this type of truck too stiff for the Caravel? The rear of the truck doesn't settle but maybe an inch at the most when hitched up. Would carrying some sandbags for weight in the rear help? I'm afraid of damaging the shell after some of the posts I've read.
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