Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 02-02-2012, 02:35 PM   #1
New Member
 
Valparaiso , Indiana
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3
Purchasing Dilemma - 22ft versus 31ft.

I recently retired and have been looking for a smaller, older Airstream to restore and travel in (up to 22 ft). I've focused on smaller units because the rehab part seems less imposing as does towing, something I have no prior experience with. So far, every trailer I have looked at either requires major rehab (beyond my skill level) or is already rehabbed and priced accordingly. Out of the blue, I discovered a 1973 31ft Sovereign for sale not too far from my house. It is in need of some TLC, but nothing I can't handle and is priced right. However, the thing is huge when compared to the others and I am somewhat afraid to pull the trigger. I am having a hard time picturing myself lugging this thing around the country. My tow vehicle is a 2008 Ford F-150 2-wheel drive with the bigger V8. I would be grateful for any feedback from anyone who has experience with larger trailers. Thanks to all in advance for considering my request....
__________________

__________________
ambrosemario is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:02 PM   #2
Rivet Master

 
1986 31' Sovereign
Miami , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,650
Blog Entries: 13
We ended up with a 31' for much the same reason -- the deal was right, the time was right. I had a (then)new Nissan Titan with a rated tow capacity of 9500# so was pretty comfortable with the big trailer (8600# max but we have never come close to that).

So, 45000 plus miles later I can report that the rig works just fine. We don't travel with a lot of stuff (we are half-timers) and there are just the two of us so the 1/2 ton works out. The 31 tows great - that length gives you great stability but can make for some interesting challenges backing into narrow campsites. Once you get some practice, it is actually pretty easy. We got some cardboard boxes, found a big empty lot on a Sunday morning and played "trailer jockey" school -- it really helped.

Would a big honkin' 3/4 or 1 ton with a zillion ft/lb of diesel torque work better? Probably. There are times, especially in the Rockies, where I am over in the "granny" lane doing 45 in third gear while those big duallys blow past me up the hill towing monster 5th wheels. If you collect antique safes or bowling balls or have a family of 9, this would be the way to go.

The 31' is very comfortable and has lots of storage. Also LARGE water, grey and black tanks (although yours is older and may have smaller tanks). I can comfortably boondock for quite a while before needing to dump.

Have fun, be safe and go camping -- nothing more demoralizing than having a camper that can't camp until it has had tons of work done.

mike
__________________

__________________
n2916s is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:02 PM   #3
Wise Elder
 
Jammer's Avatar
 
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,119
Hi

Welcome to the forum.

I have a 30' trailer.

The general wisdom of the forum is that tow vehicles come and go while trailers endure. Accordingly it is better to get the right trailer and adjust your tow vehicle as necessary rather than the other way around.

The newer 1/2 ton trucks are capable of towing a Sovereign but will not do so as comfortably as a 3/4 ton truck. Indiana being fairly flat you would do OK. The problem is not one of safety or handling but rather the fact that the truck will wear somewhat faster than it should particularly if towing in the mountains or other demanding conditions. So perhaps you might work with the truck you have for a while and then think about a 3/4 ton truck next time.

From a driver skill standpoint, a 30' trailer is not much harder to drive than a 22 foot trailer. When people get cold feet and sell their trailer because they can't drive it, the problem is almost always that they never figure out how to back up. Length makes little difference with this basic skill.

The main disadvantage, in my experience, of a 30'/31' trailer is that they are more difficult to park in ad hoc sorts of situations. With most tow vehicles a 22' trailer can be parked using two stalls at a grocery store or mall or whatever and can usually be parked on city streets without blocking driveways. With a 31' trailer I use up 6 or 7 parking places at a grocery store because I have to park across them. Similarly I can't fit into some driveways and have to look harder to park on residential streets.

They're not as cute as the little trailers either.

I like my 30' and consider it a good tradeoff. While I would like the extra space a 34' offers I would not want the cost and hassle of maintaining a 3rd axle.
__________________
Jammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:04 PM   #4
Rivet Master
 
Aviator's Avatar

 
1997 34' Limited
1970 27' Overlander
South of Atlanta , Georgia
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,655
Images: 2
We have a 34' triple axle Airstream. Ou tow vehicle is a 2009 F150 with a 5.4L V8. We have towed her around the Southeast and up through the Smokies with out any trouble. You will need to keep an eye on the total weight of the truck, but fine otherwise. I do recommend a really good hitch setup. We changed from a Reese weight distribution setup to a ProPride hitch and it may a huge difference in comfort level of towing for us.

If the 31' is a trailer you like I encourag you to grab it before someone else does.
__________________
Craig and Carol
1997 34' Excella 1000
1970 27' Overlander, International
2009 Ford F150 5.4L
ProPride hitch with 1400# bars

AIR 41028
TAC GA-8
WBCCI 10199
Past President Southeastern Camping Unit (12)
Aviator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:07 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
Zeppelinium's Avatar

 
1975 31' Sovereign
1973 27' Overlander
1977 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,908
Send a message via Skype™ to Zeppelinium
I don't see much difference when towing an 18' Caravel or 31' Sovereign, except for turn radius and dragging the inside wheels over a curb, but I tow with a 3/4 diesel. The number one issue is two axles, which I think is a big plus, especially when you hit a major pothole. The number two issue is "rear end droop," which you will eventually see in the longer trailers. The number three issue is camping spot length--many parks are limited to 25' or 28'.

Longer is great if you go someplace that you're familiar with and intend to plant yourself and stay awhile. Shorter is better if you move on every day or two, or wind up in unfamliar places.

If you find an inexpensive 31', you can work with it and then sell it for about the same $$, if you don't like it. Inexpensive Sovereigns are very available these days. Inexpensive Safaris and Tradewinds are not.

Zep
Zeppelinium is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:09 PM   #6
Rivet Master
 
arodriguez60's Avatar
 
1959 22' Flying Cloud
1969 25' Tradewind
1983 34' Limited
fairview , New Mexico
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 574
Images: 85
A 31 ft AS is very easy to pull You would hardly now its there. The longer the trailer the easier it is to back up. The thing I can think about is that a 73 doesn't have a grey tank they were put into the 74 or 75 years. I own a 22 ft and a 34 ft and I enjoy pulling my longer trailer a lot more.
__________________



Avion C11
1959 Flying Cloud
1969 Tradewind
1973 Safari
1983 34 ft Limited
2004 F250 superduty ext cab
2014 F350 longbed superduty crewcab
arodriguez60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:25 PM   #7
Rivets?
 
nvestysly's Avatar

 
1992 29' Excella
2010 22' Interstate
Van By The River , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,522
Don't buy a certain trailer just because it's a good deal. Similarly, don't shy away from a trailer because it's not exactly what you had in mind.

In our original window shopping days we considered pop-ups and small trailers - probably nothing bigger than 22 ft. because of the intimidation factor. We ended up with a 29 ft. for a variety of reasons and we've found it to be a comfortable size and I would not want to go with anything much less than 27 ft.

Of course, all that is my opinion. To each his own regarding size.

In the end, don't let what you think is a large size deter you from your purchase. Look at the floor plan - kitchen, bath, beds, living room, etc. - do they suit your needs? Think about using the trailer as you plan to use it - long weekends, extended travel - will it be suitable.

There are very few campgrounds where we find our 29 ft. to be a limitation. Keep in mind many campgrounds can handle 45 ft. motorhomes. Boondocking and other remote forms of camping may necessitate a smaller trailer but 31 ft. is not really that big in this day and age.

Lucius
__________________
nvestysly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:39 PM   #8
Addicted
 
exthemius's Avatar
 
1971 27' Overlander
Currently In: Skowhegan , ME
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 703
Images: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambrosemario View Post
I recently retired and have been looking for a smaller, older Airstream to restore and travel in (up to 22 ft). I've focused on smaller units because the rehab part seems less imposing as does towing, something I have no prior experience with. So far, every trailer I have looked at either requires major rehab (beyond my skill level) or is already rehabbed and priced accordingly. Out of the blue, I discovered a 1973 31ft Sovereign for sale not too far from my house. It is in need of some TLC, but nothing I can't handle and is priced right. However, the thing is huge when compared to the others and I am somewhat afraid to pull the trigger. I am having a hard time picturing myself lugging this thing around the country. My tow vehicle is a 2008 Ford F-150 2-wheel drive with the bigger V8. I would be grateful for any feedback from anyone who has experience with larger trailers. Thanks to all in advance for considering my request....
We have a 1971 27' that we've towed over half the country so far, and will be doing the other half once it warms up a bit. We have an '09 F150 with the medium V8 (the 3V) and we didn't have any issues at all, no issues in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming...anywhere. There's really not that much difference in that extra 4 feet (at least from a towing perspective anyway), and if you're really "lugging this thing around the country", then you're going to likely appreciate the extra space.
__________________
-Shawn
------------------
TAC OK-42

Visit our crazy full-timing blog (us,kids and dogs living the dream): http://www.airstreamingdreaming.com/

Join us at the TAC Walt Disney World Rally, November 4th - 10th, 2012: http://www.theairstreamersclub.org/rallies/tac-fw-wdw
exthemius is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 03:47 PM   #9
Moderator
 
Kevin245's Avatar

 
Vintage Kin Owner
... , ...
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,390
Images: 9
We have 31' and 25' rigs. The 31' is easier to tow and back up. Being "too big for the site" has not been an issue for us. We pull with an F-150 and the only time we struggle is with 8% or greater grades.
__________________

"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Kevin245 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 04:10 PM   #10
Rivet Master
 
c_lewis77's Avatar
 
1982 34' Limited
Brunswick , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,084
Images: 22
I prefer the extra room of the longer trailers. I originally looked at the 31' but ended up finding a terrific deal on a 34' triple axle. Towing has never been a problem. The third axle drags on tight turns, and you have to be aware of the amount of rear overhang beyond the rear axle (tail swing and abrupt elevation changes at driveways/ entries, etc.). I have only heard of tail sag/droop on the rear bath models.
In regards to size, I have never been in a situation where the length has been an issue. In most cases I have been dwarfed by SOB's. It looks very big in the driveway, but smaller in relation to many other Class A's/5th wheels, etc.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	376352_2507712087315_1088441517_2840960_1312273399_n.jpg
Views:	125
Size:	62.7 KB
ID:	150161  
__________________
1982 34' Limited
2000 Excursion V10 4x4
WBCCI #3321
TAC #GA-24
c_lewis77 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 04:27 PM   #11
Rivet Master
 
InsideOut's Avatar

 
1956 22' Safari
Vintage Kin Owner
Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 11,793
Images: 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambrosemario View Post
I recently retired and have been looking for a smaller, older Airstream to restore and travel in (up to 22 ft).

<SNIP>

Out of the blue, I discovered a 1973 31ft Sovereign for sale...
You don't say what your intended use for your "soon-to-be-new-to you" Airstream is...are you thinking of 1/2 or full-timing or mostly shorter trips? For you alone or with others or pets? Both these would play into answering the how big is "big enough" or "too big" question in my mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
The 31' is very comfortable and has lots of storage.
This is true, the longer trailers are going to give you lots more elbow room & storage options which would come in handy on longer trips or with more than just a single person. However, we are just fine in our 22' for 2-3 weeks with 2 adults, 2 small dogs & our kitty. Just depends on your lifestyle...we spend most of our days outside - so the 22' is plenty for us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
Also LARGE water, grey and black tanks (although yours is older and may have smaller tanks). I can comfortably boondock for quite a while before needing to dump.
Watch out here, a 1973 most likely does NOT have a grey water tank - unless this trailer was a very late model '73 (or retro-fit in by a previous owner), as they did not become standard until 1974. Adding a grey tank can be done (we did in our '56) but it is a pretty big project which could lead to a major rehab, Airstream renos can turn into a slippery slope pretty quickly! If you don't have a grey tank, your camping options may be more limited or you will need to cary along a "blue tank" for boondocking or capturing your grey water when you aren't at a full-hook-up campsite as most places do not allow wash water to be run on the ground. This may or may not be a big deal to you - but just some food for thought.

Good luck during your search for the perfect trailer for you!

Shari
__________________
Vintage Airstream Club - Past President 2007/2008
WBCCI #1824 - DenCO Unit Past President (2005)
AIR #30 - Join Date: 2-25-2002

RMVAC | WBCCI DenCO Unit | Sisters on the Fly | Tin Can Tourists
BIRDY - our 1956 Safari | 1964 Serro Scotty
InsideOut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2012, 05:18 PM   #12
2 Rivet Member
 
1974 Argosy 22
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 51
I have had a 24', 28' and now a 22'. Lot's of good posts here! My 22' I have completly redone, and I am very happy with the reuslts. I loved the 28' because it did have lots of room, a bigger fridge/freezer, and bigger shower. Towing any of them is fine. Out here in CA there are some of the older state parks that have limits. I am happy to hear that F-150's are towing the bigger guys just fine. I have a 250 that makes a big sucking sound going down the road, and have considered a 150 for a replacement. I'm more comfortalbe in that decision now! You will have a ball with whatever you end up with!
__________________

__________________
twilder is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Adding Larger Windows 1974 31ft ?? YohnYoe Windows & Screens 4 11-27-2011 12:42 PM
NEWBIE asking for your help IN PURCHASING A 'ONLINE' TRAILER Lady Bird Our Community 0 09-20-2011 08:59 PM
considering purchasing an Airstream SamMacTed General Interior Topics 4 09-19-2011 11:37 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:07 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.