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Old 02-16-2017, 11:07 AM   #1
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Vintage lighter than modern

No sure what forum to post this in but it mainly has to do with my tow vehicle. I've got a 07 Tacoma Access Cab Sport Model with the towing package. Looking to buy and AS of 23 feet. Of course is searching this forum I've found that my TV can tow an AS of this size with no problem. And I've also found that it is impossible to do so.
I've noticed the vintage models are considerably of less weight than the modern ones. Considering older due to this and the lower cost of entry.
Why are the vintage models of less weight? I would think they would have been built of heavier materials.

Thanks
Al
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:31 AM   #2
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Narrower bodies and not filled with as much of today's luxuries like microwaves, TV's, DVD players, etc. The materials going into building the trailers hasn't changed a lot over the years - steel frame, plywood floor and aluminum ribs and skins.
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:50 AM   #3
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I did see the width change from 96 to 102 inches in 1981. Most vintage for sale predate that change. Not a lot of models from 1981 to 2008 or so are listed for sale.
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:55 AM   #4
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Also, vintage trailers used real wood for cabinetry rather than laminated particle board. Hollow core doors in the older trailers are amazingly light weight. Also, most had less plumbing and wiring, smaller tanks, etc. The good news is you can further lighten them by replacing copper pipe with pex:-)
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:57 AM   #5
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I think width also changed in 1969.
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Old 02-16-2017, 12:16 PM   #6
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There was period in time around 2000 where some, if not all, trailers weighed less than their comparable newer twins. My 2001 Safari 25 had a GVWR of 6300#. Later models (2006,7, I think) were 7300#.

I believe the lighter weight was a marketing breakthrough (JK). My 2001 Safari, when I calculated the base weight by subtracting off the weight of all options and modifications was overweight by nearly 400#.

But if you are concerned about weight, there is a dip in the GVWR in the late 1990-early 2000 production.

Al
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Old 02-16-2017, 02:16 PM   #7
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Modern Wide bodies

There was an increase in width of the trailers in mid-year 1995 which added more weight.

There was a strengthening of the frames from 4 inches to 5 inch depth in 1984 which also added more weight.
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Old 02-16-2017, 03:55 PM   #8
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The vintage frames were also quite flimsy in comparison to modern frames as well. Much of the furniture/cabinetry was built of aluminum frames with 1/4" wood panels rather than the 3/4" hefty wooden stuff you see today.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:37 PM   #9
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Go to airstream.com >> Service >> Document Archive and look up the specs on some trailers that might be interesting to you. Easy enough to find the actual numbers (length, width, weight).
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Old 02-16-2017, 06:31 PM   #10
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On new Airstreams almost all options are standard and included in the brochure weight. On the vintage units everything was an option and not included in the brochure weight. Equipped the same the weights are similar.

The Tachoma will tow any year 23' though.

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Old 02-17-2017, 06:22 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies. You all have cleared up the weight question and I much prefer a modern AS rather than a vintage.
My thoughts were to buy a modern model of 23 feet and see how my Tacoma tows it. Andrew T, I have read my posts about your ability to set up tow vehicles to readily pull a camper. So I have confidence my truck will perfrom well, it may be a little slow uphill in the western mountains.
My plans are to retire in three years so I'm preparing and saving now. The Tacoma was paid for when I bought it and has 100,000 miles so it has a lot of life left in it. All maintence has been done according to the service plan and it is in great condition.

Al
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:10 PM   #12
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Al,

Another thing to consider in going vintage, is that you are then eligible to go to the vintage trailer rallies & camp-outs, etc. with your vintage. These are events where you'll generally get a good discount on the campground fees, group events & meals/potlucks, etc. & see the same group of folks at all of the events - so you'll build friendships - as compared to just going camping somewhere (which you can also do with a vintage).

I recco that you go out to some vintage rallies to see the different "Vintage Kin" & AS trailers, as well as the other types, talk with folks who have them, & see what you really want. Vintage Camper Trailer magazine has an online website with a section for upcoming events, where you can find one near you.

And you can find a better built vintage than most modern trailers (AS included), & fit it out with all the modern comforts, without adding significant weight.

You can also get the "Silver Beauties" CD from Vintage Trailer Supply (ads on here), which will have many/most of the "Vintage Kin" trailers, ads, brochures, specs. to get weights. They also sell a similar vintage AS's CD for that info, as well as specs on the Airstream main site's classic section. However, you'll still have to take the trailer to a scale to get an accurate as optioned, wet & loaded to go weight on any trailer - new or vintage.

Unless your Taco is one of the few with the V8 engine, expect to take it a tad slow on the steeper grades with their V6 motors.

I agree with the above folks that the vintage trailers were lighter due to the lighter weight materials used in the cabinetry & interior - often using marine plywood which is lighter weight (due to interspersed plies of Basswood which is light, etc.), & more moisture resistant than standard plywood (even exterior rated BCX, CDX etc.).

The new trailers using cheaper particleboard & OSB strand-board are much heavier building materials, adding a lot of weight to modern trailers, while saving lotsa cost for Thor to make lesser quality AS trailers in modern times.

It was this extra weight, loads of bigger capacity tanks to go months on them, etc., which was the reason for the deeper frame rails - NOT a lack of strength in vintage trailers. Those rails were sized for the loads of the lighter vintage trailers, & many makes did have 4" rails back then - such as Avion (& they were wider, taller, roomier, & better made than contemporary ASs in general).

I disagree that the use of aluminum framing for walls & some cabinetry on vintage trailers was less strong, it's just that aluminum of equivalent structural rating is far more expensive than steel.

Good Luck!
Tom
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew T View Post
On new Airstreams almost all options are standard and included in the brochure weight. On the vintage units everything was an option and not included in the brochure weight. Equipped the same the weights are similar.

The Tachoma will tow any year 23' though.

Andrew T
Andrew T's answer is most correct. The weight differences are generally illusory because the specifications and brochures from vintage years understate the actual weight of typical trailers as delivered to the retail buyer.

Weights have increased slightly due to the cumulative effect of: wider and more square bodies, heavier running gear, and the addition of greywater holding tanks.
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:23 PM   #14
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I had both a 2005 Taco and a 2009 before my current Tundra. Watch your tongue weights carefully. My 2009 had a 650 pound rating (it was a double cab 4x4 off road model with the tow package). I towed a lot with it, although not Airstreams. In my experience, Toyotas tow up to their gross trailer weight ratings well, but do not do well when the tongue weight ratings are exceeded. That's based on three trucks and about 100,000 miles with trailers in tow on every type of terrain from below sea level to 11,000 feet. Andy may have thoughts on the best weight distribution hitches and even air bags for any combination of truck and trailer. Even with that guidance I'd watch all the specs (axle loads, tongue weight, gross trailer weight and combined vehicle weight) to know whether any specific trailer is asking more of your truck than the folks who designed it intended it to handle.
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:57 PM   #15
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My 66 24' Tradewind weighs about 4,200 lbs. I am sure that I have lowered the weight by at least 100 lbs by removing the large air conditioner on top (replaced with a 5,000 but/hr window unit), replaced the heavy converter with a 3 stage lightweight converter, replaced the original China toilet with a plastic "Curve" toilet and replaced four steel wheels with aluminum wheels. I will reduce the weight by another 100 lbs when I replace the two golf cart batteries with a lithium ion battery.

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Old 02-18-2017, 02:48 PM   #16
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Quote:
"Originally Posted by Andrew T View Post
On new Airstreams almost all options are standard and included in the brochure weight. On the vintage units everything was an option and not included in the brochure weight. Equipped the same the weights are similar.

The Tachoma will tow any year 23' though.

Andrew T"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
Andrew T's answer is most correct. The weight differences are generally illusory because the specifications and brochures from vintage years understate the actual weight of typical trailers as delivered to the retail buyer.

Weights have increased slightly due to the cumulative effect of: wider and more square bodies, heavier running gear, and the addition of greywater holding tanks.
Well NO Jammer & Andrew - that is certainly NOT "most correct".

AS had wide bodies back in the day, as well as fresh, black & grey holding tanks & had the weight ratings with options. If you make the mistake of looking at the "Park Model" weights, then you will be too low for a camping version.

Also, most of the Avion, Curtis, Silverstreak, & other Vintage Kin of the day were likewise bigger & better made, with most of the options of today, but they still weighed in at less than modern ASs - even when you put them both on a scale today wet & fully loaded.

However, to some extent you both are correct -

But NOT for 1000-2000 lbs & more differences. The major weight increases were changes in materials which I mentioned in my post above. Also, many of the updates made to vintage AS & other vintage kin trailers has reduced the weight of some options, such as the water heaters, AC & heaters, TVs (compare a modern flat screen to an old school tupe TV sometime), etc.

For example, our 1960 Avion T20 - which is 21'-6" L x 8'-6" W & 8'-9" H - bigger than a 19' AS is all respects - was rated by the factory at 2680 lbs., but today with a 27 gal poly fresh tank & elec. water pump vs. the OE 20 gal alum. air pressure tank & pump, increased black tank from 10 to 13 gal with lighter poly tank, modern AC & plumbing to modern lighter weight PEX & Poly materials, all resulting in a wet & loaded weight today of about 3000 lbs & maybe 3500 adding bikes & other extra camp stuff in/on trailer (instead of in the TV truck bed).

And this includes adding 2x 30 lb LP steel tanks (over the 10 or 20 lb. options), a Tekonsha RF brake controller on a 12"x18"x1/8" steel mounting plate, & a 162 lb. Hensley Cub hitch on the tongue!

Even when I add a 16 gal. poly grey water tank (optional back then), that only adds about 130 lbs of water & 50-100 lbs for the tank, fittings, mounts, etc. - so at most adding say 180-230 lbs. at most, & that assumes that one runs with all 3 fresh, grey & black tanks full - which is highly unlikely!

By comparison, a modern 19' Bambi is lucky to weigh in at 6500 lbs dry & empty. There is NO WAY the smaller Bambi is twice the weight of my bigger Avion, at 3000-3500 heavier, just due to options.

When Thor bought Airstream, they went thru & changed many things to lower cost, which had the side effect of both increasing weights & lowering quality - the latter is evidenced by the large numbers of complaints on quality by members on here, which you didn't see as much prior to the ownership change.

The new Airstreams are just made with heavier materials - the same as on any of the other Thor & others' box trailers of today, & have somewhat lost their way as being lightweight & easy to tow. Compare the AS weights of today, with any other SOB of like size, & you'll see what I mean. They're pretty close to what used to be the heavier trailers back in the 1950's - 1980's!

All y'all are kidding yourselves, if you think that your modern ASs are the same weights as the vintage AS's & contemporary "Silver Twinkies" even adding on options, wet & loaded!

Cheers!
Tom
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Old 02-18-2017, 02:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
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My 66 24' Tradewind weighs about 4,200 lbs. I am sure that I have lowered the weight by at least 100 lbs by removing the large air conditioner on top (replaced with a 5,000 but/hr window unit), replaced the heavy converter with a 3 stage lightweight converter, replaced the original China toilet with a plastic "Curve" toilet and replaced four steel wheels with aluminum wheels. I will reduce the weight by another 100 lbs when I replace the two golf cart batteries with a lithium ion battery.

Dan
Dan, that window unit is probably heavier than a low profile Pengin or Coleman AV roof-top unit, & those are built to withstand the vibration on the road - which a household window AC is definitely not!

My guess is that you also placed the window unit it the rear window - which is actually the 2nd egress emergency escape hatch on trailers, so you've now blocked the only other way out, should a fire or accident block the door!

You might reconsider that change on your vintage AS!

JMHO!
Tom
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Old 02-19-2017, 09:58 PM   #18
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Tom

Thanks for your comments, but I don't agree. The Penguin 13.5k at 100 lbs is considerably heavier than the Frigidaire 5k at 45 lbs which you would expect since it is a much larger air conditioner. We only use the air conditioner about 5% of the time, so this system works fine for us. We usually camp where we don't need A/C. Most of the time it sits in the bottom of the cabinet. BTW, we typically boondock and so we operate the a/c using our 1000 watt Honda generator (the a/c only requires 465 watts). We mount it in a side window so the large bathroom window is available for egress.

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Old 02-20-2017, 11:44 AM   #19
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Tom

Thanks for your comments, but I don't agree. The Penguin 13.5k at 100 lbs is considerably heavier than the Frigidaire 5k at 45 lbs which you would expect since it is a much larger air conditioner. We only use the air conditioner about 5% of the time, so this system works fine for us. We usually camp where we don't need A/C. Most of the time it sits in the bottom of the cabinet. BTW, we typically boondock and so we operate the a/c using our 1000 watt Honda generator (the a/c only requires 465 watts). We mount it in a side window so the large bathroom window is available for egress.

Dan
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Dan, it sounds like it works for you.

I was thinking you had an 8-10-12K BTU window model, which are about the same or heavier. Even at 45#, be careful with window mounting, cuz the AS restorers I know say that the walls/windows framing are not especially strong. The 45# may not be too much, but you're adding vibration too, so you may get some window seal &/or skin seam sealant separation from the shaking when running in that position.

For me, I'll stick with an RV one in the intended top vent position, & when it's time to replace our current Coleman, I'll probably look into the heat pump ones, since the 6K BTU heat strip in ours is pretty useless, & sucks a lot of juice!

PS - IIRC, the smaller 8K & 10K Penguin or similar low profile units are only 65 & 75 -ish lbs, but still more than yours.

Cheers!
Tom
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