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Old 02-05-2005, 11:19 AM   #1
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Airstream 34' Load Capacity

We're considering a used Airstream 34 ('96+ widebody) for full timing but have reservations about the load capacity. Based on general consensus from a number of RV forums and a number of books on the subject, the average fulltiming couple will have 1500 - 2500 lbs of added equipment, personal effects and food in addition to water & LPG, when loaded and on the road. We recently weighed our current 28 ft "white box" TT heading south for the winter and it was just about 2000 lbs over the sticker "wet weight" so that seems to fit.

The 05 spec table on the Airstream website shows the 34 w/o options has UBW (UVW) 7990 lbs & NCC 3510 lbs = (calculated) GVWR 11,500 lbs. This load capacity less 54 gal water tank + 6 gal water heater and Limited package and other common options (from options price list weights) totals about 1400 lbs, leaving a usable load capacity of about 2100 lbs. So far so good.

HOWEVER, the weights on the downloaded pdf brochure and the 05 price list seem more in line with those on the NADA specs and the RV Consumer Group ratings, which show, for 1996 thru 2004, a base weight of about 8000 lbs, a "curb" weight (all popular options plus fluids) of 8500 lbs+ and GVWR of 9500 - 9800 lbs, leaving a usable load capacity of about 1000 lbs or less.

All of this would indicate that most owners are running with an inevitable overloading of 500 - 1500 lbs. Obviously Airstream has recognized there has been a less than adequate rated (as opposed to capable) payload capacity by increasing the GVWR 1700 lbs.

Our question to 34 owners is: What is your actual loaded weight and have there been any problems caused by loading over the 9800 lb GVWR?
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Old 02-05-2005, 05:49 PM   #2
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My 94 limited narrow body ready for the road, water tank filled, clothing, food and all the other goodies that we took for 71 days in the Southwest weighed in at just under 10,000 lbs. 800 of that was on the ball the other 9200 on 3 axels. We had no problems pulling 7500 miles up and down and across the Rockies and the east coast mountains as well as the plains. My pick-up weighs 6400 lbs empty and weighed 7700 ready for the trip with me in it but not my wife.
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Old 02-05-2005, 07:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidSilver
Our question to 34 owners is: What is your actual loaded weight and have there been any problems caused by loading over the 9800 lb GVWR?
I took our truck and trailer to a CAT scale twice last year just to make sure we weren't gaining too much weight. Here's my procedure and my findings:

In April of '04 I did a weigh-in in Bakersfield, CA on the way to the Spring Escapade in Lancaster. First, the truck was weighed with all of our gear, passengers and full tank of diesel.
Front Axle = 4,860
Rear Axle = 3,760
Total = 8,620

Then we hitched up the AS and did a re-weigh.
Front Axle = 4,860
Rear Axle = 4,660
Trailer Axles = 8,900
Total = 18,420

Subtract the first total from the second total for a trailer weight of 9,800. Wow! ... we're already at the max weight level ... and we still have stuff to add later for our fulltime journey in May.

Wait a minute .... we were travelling with a full tank of fresh water because we had to supply our own at the rally. Figure 61 gallons (54 for tank, 6 for water heater, 1 for the water lines) at 8.3 pounds per gallon ... that equals 506 pounds of water! (Grey and black were empty.)

OK .. so now we feel better ... because we know that since we will be fulltiming with hookups all the time ... there will not be a need to travel with a full water tank. We usually travel with about 14 gallons of fresh water (116 pounds) and empty grey and black tanks.

September '04 ... our second weigh-in after being on the road for a time ... and observing Petunia hauling more into the AS than she takes out. Eeek!

Same drill as last time ... fully loaded truck first:
Front Axle = 4,840
Rear Axle = 3,760
Total = 8,600 ... Hey ... we lost 20 pounds!

Now with Baby Huey attached:
Front Axle = 4,860
Rear Axle = 4,700
Trailer Axles = 8,640
Total = 18,200

Subtract the first total from the second total for a trailer weight of 9,600 pounds. Wow .. it seems that we lost weight! How did this happen?

Let's go back to the first weigh-in and subtract the fresh water weight from the total trailer weight.
9,800 minus 506 = 9,294 pounds.

Now let's do that with the second weigh-in:
9,600 minus 116 = 9,484 pounds.

I knew it! Carrying less water masked the fact that we had actually added 190 pounds to the AS during our travels. However, by carrying less water .. we were able to do this while remaining within limits. Bottom line: It's all Petunia's fault!

Seriously ... weigh your trailer at least once per year, travel with as little water as possible, if something goes into the trailer ... something has to come out.
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Old 02-05-2005, 08:04 PM   #4
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I really don't see the point in travelling dry. We stop at dry sites when in transit (Walmarts et al) and I am a bear without my morning shower. We do, and intend to continue, use dry camp sites or those with limited hook-ups extensively. Again, travelling dry is not an option

The point I am making is that with full water, any reasonable amount of added gear, personal effects for fulltiming and food for a couple of weeks, there seems to be no way around being overloaded with a 34, or a 30/31 for that matter.

I have put a inquiry into the technobods at Airstream to determine if the 2005 increase in NCC/GVWR is simply a re-rating with the same post '96 chassis and axle specs or if there has actually been an upgrade in those areas and, if so, what exactly the upgrades are. However, I really do suspect, considering the number of Airstreams that must have been running over the GVWR for many years, that chassis and axles are capabable of handling it and therefore the increased ratings are a rubber stamp exercise. I hope I'm right as that will make our decision on a used unit much simpler.

Still want to hear from those that will admit to running over the GVWR, and by how much, and if they have had any problems that can be directly related to that.
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Old 02-05-2005, 10:14 PM   #5
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hello solidsilver

i posted 2 threads recently on this same issue and have talked with the factory folks....
the 10,000 and 11,500 gvwr are correct for new 30/31 and 34 built in jan 05 and after. they are using an axle with increased capacity...
5000lbs x2 or 3500lbs x3 i think.

the previous year ratings are as you've noted.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ad.php?t=15300

and the other thread is also under the 2005 classic list.

by the way there is a table on the airstream company site with ratings for all models back to the beginning of time.

it would be possible to replace the axles on an older unit to up the rating but wheels and tires would need upgrading also. then there is the issue of frame capacity to consider.

i think your estimate of load per person seems reasonable but some of that could be placed in the tow vehicle. i expect to have 1000-1500lbs of my stuff in the truck bed/shell.

airstreams are not great pack animals.

cheers
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Old 02-06-2005, 07:50 AM   #6
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There's no reason gear and food for two people full-timing couldn't be kept to less than 1,000 lbs. As any good geek would, I made a list of where everything would go, and was in the process of weighing it, eventually to calculate weight and balance for everything. I got a real chuckle out of Porky's post blaming Petunia for the weight.

Yesterday, we went to clean out the 34 in order to sell it. We filled up the Supercab and the 8' truck bed. 80% of the stuff wasn't on my list, but was cute stuff or stuff we've never used even in the house, but might be nice to have some day. That included the stainless flatware service for 16 (we're empty nesters). This is what will put you overweight.

As a side note, being in it again broke our hearts to think of selling it, so we've decided to keep it. While we may not be able to take off and tour, we've recommited ourselves to full-timing in it, even if locally, and even if in Ohio winters... at least one anyway.
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Old 02-06-2005, 08:26 AM   #7
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We try to limit ourselves to service for 4. I have pared down on the cooking pots and pans even though I insist on carrying my 12 cast iron frying pan. We usually strip the trailer when we come home from a major trip and reload before the next one. We carry way too much food. I have never been anywhere that I could not find something to eat. The same for canned drinks, I don't really need to carry 3 cases of them. I was surprized at the weight of our hanging clothes and the quantity of them. I have traveled with others that carry as much or more in their units as we do and I have never heard of a structural problem resulting from overload. It just makes sense to look at what you carry and if you didn't need it last time out chances are you won't need it this time and if you do you can certainly improvise. Now my tool box is another story, a complete set of 1/4", 3/8" 1/2" 3/4" drive sockets, torque wrench, propane torch, combination wrenches, screw drivers, pipe wrenches, two ball pien hammers, hack saw and blades, tubing cutter, brake tools, multi meters (3) 3 bottle jacks, one floor jack, spare tire for trailer plus one on the trailer, extra brake including backing plate, battery charger, gallon of motor oil, two gallons of antifreeze, road emergency kit, tow lines, extra 1 7/8" ball just in case I want to pull a small trailer somewhere. 3000 watt honda generator. These are just a few of the things that most of which I will never need that I won't leave home without. I could easily loose 750 lbs and never miss it, but then you never know.
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Old 02-06-2005, 12:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadKingMoe
Yesterday, we went to clean out the 34 in order to sell it. ....

As a side note, being in it again broke our hearts to think of selling it, so we've decided to keep it. While we may not be able to take off and tour, we've recommited ourselves to full-timing in it, even if locally, and even if in Ohio winters... at least one anyway.
Yes Virginia, Airstreaming is an addiction not a hobby! Good for you. Move it to Arizona or Texas and use it as your "Winter Home" if nothing else.

Keep on Streamin'
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Old 02-06-2005, 02:25 PM   #9
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Moe,
I think that it's great that you've decided not to sell your 34. I think we all would have missed you on the forum.
Jack
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Old 02-06-2005, 08:59 PM   #10
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Found that extra weight

Moe -

In reviewing your pics I think I found the extra weight......It's the liquor. Either drink more on the road or let others.... Just kidding... "Friends don't let friends...."

We don't even have Moby off the blocks and I'm already putting stuff in it. We'll eventually be snow birds and "summer birds" (to Minnesota). I'm trying to be selective in finding light weight stuff. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 02-06-2005, 09:40 PM   #11
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Moe,

Oh thank heaven your not going to sell. You have to stay an Airstreamer. It would be a big loss if you stopped frequenting these parts. I owe much of my tow weight knowledge to your patient posts about my rig and how to weigh it at CAT scale.

And I too chuckled at Porky's delima after Petunia's shopping trips.
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Old 02-07-2005, 04:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadKingMoe

As a side note, being in it again broke our hearts to think of selling it, so we've decided to keep it. While we may not be able to take off and tour, we've recommited ourselves to full-timing in it, even if locally, and even if in Ohio winters... at least one anyway.
Maurice -

I had seen on the classifieds that you were selling your trailer, and I can tell you that I was also heartbroken, but now I feel better!

I've always tried to read your wonderful posts here - and I miss when you're not around.

John
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Old 02-07-2005, 06:17 AM   #13
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Moe we keep ours plugged in and use it as a guest house. When we have too many guest, family, for the house we run to the trailer and sleep.
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Old 02-07-2005, 08:40 AM   #14
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It's interesting how things add up. For a while our travel trailers became the repository of what was replaced in the house. After a while all of those things too good to pitch, but lets put it in the trailer, added up. I think we realized this when we ordered the Safari and had to put all the stuff from my SOB in the garage while we waited for delivery. At this point the countless drinking items have been pared down to a minimum. The silverware is enough for us and another couple. Pots, pans, dishes all went through the reduction routine also.

Jack
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