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Old 01-05-2015, 09:35 AM   #1
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2014 Summer Trip Recap

Waaayy overdue but better late than never.

Last summer we finally used the Interstate to execute a cross country trip I had been working on for 6 months. The purpose was largely nostalgic but also to show my wife and youngest child the sights I saw when I was younger. The trip was inspired by a family trip we took way back in 1985.

I went through a photo album that documented the 1985 journey and was able to identify some of the exact spots where certain memorable images were taken of my father and I and recreated them in part with my 11 year old daughter.

The trip really started before our planed departure date with our family tradition of attending the 6 hour race at Watkins Glen in late June. We camped at Watkins Glen State park for 2 nights, followed by 3 nights of infield parking at Watkins Glen International.

Came home for an overnight stay, re provision the Airstream, wash some clothes and we were off the next day to pick up my little cousin from Seattle at the airport followed by the immediate run west.That was 6/30/14.

Over the next 42 days we would travel though 18 states and visit sights such as the cadillac ranch, Adrian TX, Prerified Forrest, Meteor Crater, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Moab and Arches, Grand Teton and Yellowstone NP, Seattle, Deception Pass State Park, Glacier and many other places along the way.

The Interstate performed day after day with minimum fuss. The most notable issues were the following:

1) In TX the cab AC stopped blowing cold air. After shutting it off for a 30 minutes it would be back to normal blowing cold stuff. Suspect the system ices up under heavy use. Only happened twice during the trip.

2) By the time we got to Yellowstone, some 15 days after leaving NJ and having endured some crappy roads along the way, I noticed a wet spot under the coach. Closer inspection revealed that there was water leaking from a pipe coupler just past the electric dump valves and the macerator. Tightened the hose clamps and the issue was resolved.

3) Also as a result of some of the rough roads traveled on, I had to re-tighten nearly all of the screws that held the cabinet doors to the hinges. Two of the screws that fastens the door for the coach control panel stripped out of the wood. Tried to effect a quick fix in a Flagstaff Wal Mart parking lot with JB Weld to no avail and had to resort to using blue painters tape to hold everything together for a few days. After 3 days of camping at the south rim I was able to find an ACE hardware in Tuba City, procured some oversized screws and fixed the door.

4) The shade strings in two of the blinds failed.

5) After 17k total miles, the front tires are toast. Crappy factory alignment.

5) Got the first DEF low warning at about 8500 miles near Cardwell, MT Knowing it was going to warn me, I bought a 2.5 gallon jug at a truck stop a few days before.

Some trip statistics. I kept track of every fuel up from day 1 using an iphone app called Road Trip.

When looking at these figures keep in mind that I was towing a 5x10 tear drop trailer loaded with bicycles, camping gear and food in the trailers domestic fridge freezer. Approx weight about 1200 lbs.

Total Trip Length: 8664 mi.
Avg. Mpg: 15.84
Fuel qty. purchased: 567 gallons
Total fuel cost: $2237.20
Avg. price / Gallon: $3.947
Cost per mile: $0.249
Cost per day: $49.72
Total driving time: Approx. 190 hours

By the time I got to Seattle it was time for some service. Granted I was 800 miles short of 10k but I was able to get an appointment of Mercedes of Lynwood. The Mercedes part of the Airstream got a clean bill of health a DEF top off (2.5gallons) and a lot of attention from many individuals at the dealership who loved the Airstream.

All in all its an awesome rig and super comfortable to drive for long stints. Our longest day in the saddle was over 11 hours between St. Louis and Amarillo.

For most of our journey west we were 4 people. 2 adults and 2 kids. Enough room. In the evenings the kids would sleep in the coach and the adults in the teardrop. For one week of our journey, our party grew to 5 people. 3 adults and 2 kids. At that time my wife, daughter and I would sleep in the Airstream and my cousin and her dad in the teardrop.

Clutter wise, with 4 people is pushing it. With 5 its way too much but we managed. The little trailer helped a lot to keep me sane. Definitely pushed the envelope in human load with that trip, LOL.

I would consider the trip west and back east a total success. Already in the planning stages for the next trip out west this summer.
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:42 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing
An informative and entertaining read
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Old 01-05-2015, 10:46 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiato View Post
The purpose was largely nostalgic but also to show my wife and youngest child the sights I saw when I was younger. The trip was inspired by a family trip we took way back in 1985.

1) In TX the cab AC stopped blowing cold air. After shutting it off for a 30 minutes it would be back to normal blowing cold stuff. Suspect the system ices up under heavy use. Only happened twice during the trip.

5) After 17k total miles, the front tires are toast. Crappy factory alignment.
I agree, this makes interesting reading, Tiato. But you're still a youngster: I remember taking a similar roadtrip with my parents cross country - my first visit to the US - in 1964!

My local Mercedes dealer told me to never set the cab thermostat to the lowest setting to avoid freezing; just set it to a standard comfortable room temperature and no lower.

I'd be interested to know if the new tire alignment was any different from the factory settings in view of it being an RV. If so, what.

Peter
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:11 PM   #4
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Great report!

If the outer edge of the front tires was worn excessively, try having the camber set as close to 0* as the spec allows. This may require special MB camber bolts.

My theory is that the specs are for the Sprinter and don't account for all of the extra weight of the conversion thereby causing the rear to squat a little and increasing the positive camber.
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:16 PM   #5
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Hi Mario,
Thanks for sharing - sounds like a great adventure. I've now got over 45,000 miles on my Interstate. I have had to fix several of those shade strings -- a real weak spot in the Interstate design. I also fixed all loose hinge screws before our trip to Alaska last summer and have no further problems. I often fix stripped wood screws with a wood match stick and some wood glue.

I had same experience with front tires. I replaced my tires at 30,000 miles with new Michelins and a front end alignment. No uneven wear after another 15,000 miles.
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Old 01-05-2015, 02:48 PM   #6
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Great report!

If the outer edge of the front tires was worn excessively, try having the camber set as close to 0* as the spec allows. This may require special MB camber bolts.

My theory is that the specs are for the Sprinter and don't account for all of the extra weight of the conversion thereby causing the rear to squat a little and increasing the positive camber.

Your theory is correct. When I took mine into MB dealer they said to bring it in loaded like I normally drive it. They said weight does effect alignment settings. They installed the MB camber bolts ($15) to get alignment correct.


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Old 01-05-2015, 02:53 PM   #7
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Then it seems like Airstream should develop some alignment specs that reflect the weight of the conversion.
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:01 PM   #8
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Great to hear!

Time for the next adventure.


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Old 01-05-2015, 03:12 PM   #9
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My pleasure to share my experiences. Interestingly enough, I only saw one other Interstate during the trip and that was in Yellowstone. Silver One.

Airstream, should have re-aligned the chassis after they were done with it. Unless they took inspiration from a vintage Bugatti.



Currently mulling over whether to upgrade the front OEM struts to Koni or just do the crash bolts. Ive mentioned previously that with only the Konis in the rear there is a distinct chassis roll differential rear to front.
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Old 01-05-2015, 04:12 PM   #10
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Two more things came to mind which were minor issues:

1) Pyle Mirror.

Flickers, then reverts to the blue screen of death. 3 remedies...turn off/on and pray, wait (sometimes it resurects by itself) or rap on it with with finger tips. Finger rapping worked real well to bring it back to life.

2) Bathroom soap dispenser.

Bathroom is used for non full body personal hygiene and relief of bodily functions. We dont use the shower at all. As such the soap dispenser was always in the way of our shoulders. Needless to say, I removed and it made a huge difference in space. Granted now I have 4 holes in the fiberglass for which I have to find some white vinyl disks or a few dabs of white silicone to seal the holes. Maybe a self stick picture. Would have been much better if the unit was double side taped to the wall than screwed.
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Old 01-06-2015, 03:15 PM   #11
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Tiato,

It sounds like your trip was a great success. I'm planning a similar trip with my 2 girls (ages 12 and 8) for summer 2015. As a Stay at home Dad I have the freedom to be gone all Summer with them and my wife will "drop" in from time to time as her work schedule allows. I'd love to pick your brain about the planning process if you'd be willing. I live just up the 202 from you in Bridgewater.
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:46 PM   #12
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Scarlet,

Pm me your email address. Be happy to discuss my planning.
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Old 01-09-2015, 12:36 PM   #13
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Few more pix from my trip.

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Yellowstone bear jam. Crowd goes nuts over a black bear and her two cubs 40 feet from the road site.

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Colter Bay RV Park. Grand Teton NP.

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Fellow Airstreamer out of PA.

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Moab, UT

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Petrified forest NP.
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Old 01-09-2015, 05:01 PM   #14
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Great pics! Good to see that I'm not the only one that uses the dash cupholder.
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