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Old 04-12-2011, 07:59 PM   #1
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Towing a gutted Airstream

Hey folks,

I wanted to ask to see if anyone has towed a gutted A/S before and what precautions did you take? My A/S is nothing but an exterior wall (with bracing) and the frame. No interior what so ever. I plan to put a temporary floor in to reduce the "kite" effect from the wind, but other than that, is there anything else you suppose I can do to have a successful trip. I'm going from Mississippi to Michigan and will have a tail vehicle for spotting any problems

What about strapping down the exterior with tow straps? I'm thinking that this would not be necessary, as the interior is completely braced with two 4x4s running down both sides with 2x4s crisscrossing throughout and then attached to every rib on the inside

Your thoughts and ideas are appreciated.

Brian
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:15 PM   #2
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Depends on how crazy you really are.
How is the shell connected to the chassis?
How far do you have to tow it?
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:32 PM   #3
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Are you saying that there's no floor at all?
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielB
Depends on how crazy you really are.
How is the shell connected to the chassis?
How far do you have to tow it?
Well, the only connection is the front and rear brackets. I'm also going to use steel ribbons to tie down the bracing throughout. I'm going to be dragging it about 1000 miles

I've been called crazy before, but this might take me over the top. I already know that I'm going to be traveling well below the posted speed limits, as I don't expect that it's going to travel like it did when it had all it's pieces in it
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverfoxrae
Are you saying that there's no floor at all?
No floor, just exterior shell and frame. I will put in a temp floor for the trip, though
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:46 PM   #6
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Is it the 74 31' trailer or another one?
What is your tow vehicle?
I think that the running gear of the trailer.. axles, shocks and the condition of the frame might be the the things that would concern me most.

Does the interior have any the panels still in place?
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:38 PM   #7
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Do not throw tie down straps over the shell as a hold down. You will ruin the structure...chafe it to death.
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Old 04-12-2011, 11:05 PM   #8
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"What about strapping down the exterior with tow straps? I'm thinking that this would not be necessary, as the interior is completely braced with two 4x4s running down both sides with 2x4s crisscrossing throughout and then attached to every rib on the inside"


Definately no to the exterior straps.. but it sounds like its well supported inside. How about a picture for us? The experienced guys would have a better idea. There will be lots of movement and those inner walls also give the shell strength..

Good luck and take it slow.

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Old 04-12-2011, 11:06 PM   #9
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If the C channel is still in place, use that to fasten the trailer to the temp floor. If you're removed the C channel already, use the same rivet holes to fasten the shell to wooden bracing that's bolted to the frame. Pan head screws w/ washers would work well for this.

You want to tie the frame and shell together; that attachment needs to be distributed all along the perimeter of the shell.

Other's advice about not strapping over the trailer and checking the running gear carefully is worth heeding...

- Bart
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:03 AM   #10
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Well folks, I'm happy to report that the Airstream survived the 1000 mile journey from Mississippi to Michigan. This thing amazes me all the time. I took a chance with the old running gear, but it held up to the test. I did remove and repack all the bearings, but used the old tires that were in place, as I couldn't afford new tires at this time. They did just fine and being that they were Goodyear, it gave me a bit of confidence.

I did put in a temp floor, but attached it to the bracing that I had installed earlier, then put some more plywood along the walls at about a 45 degree angle. I was very concerned about the wind drag coming up through the bottom, as it wasn't completely sealed, so I took out the rear window and lower compartment door. That helped out tremendously!

As far as the inner walls, I left them out. I did have a little concern about the whole thing collapsing, but, again, it did fine.

I'll have to take some pictures of what I did to help out any others that have to tow a torn apart Airstream.

Probably going to be a while before I get started back at rebuilding, but learned a lot from just putting in the temp floor, especially at how much the walls flex and getting the c channel lined back up on the outriggers.

Until next time, thanks for all the advice!
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:53 PM   #11
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Outstanding. I'm sure it was an adventure.
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:43 AM   #12
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Thanks, Dan. It sure was.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:17 AM   #13
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I really cannot think that an Airstream shell minus its closets/walls, etc would be a collapse concern. So long as it is attached securely to its floor, I would not worry at all. The monocoque structure will hold up.

I recently tore apart a 1970's pickup camper slide in shell. I got the most useable parts off of it, then was left with the actual shell and I started tearing out closets, etc. Well, the mail wooden corner supports were rotted and gone on the street side, so when I tore out just the right closet wall, the whole roof started to cave in. I had to brace it then figure out how to go at it with my Sawzall to dismantle it safely. It was an adventure...but I kept thinking to myself: "It's not an Airstream, that is for sure!" The closets do not form the structure in an AS!

I am still working on burning what was left of the wooden frame and getting ready to scrap a bunch of the metal siding and plumbing. It was an adventure to be sure!

Ben
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Old 07-22-2011, 01:13 AM   #14
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I'm about to have to tow an Airstream without the interior walls. It has a new floor and the outer walls and C-channel are in place and attached. Is there anything I should know before I do damage or cause an accident? Any suggestions so it's safe?
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