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Old 07-07-2006, 06:49 PM   #1
JBK
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
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345 towing a trailer

I tried to post this but I must have screwed up cuz I can't find it, so here goes:

I want to pull a AS trailer around 24' behind a 345. The trailer will be fitted for photo printing at sporting events. It will be used about a dozen times a year and towed a max of 200 miles.
I would think a 454 would have the guts to pull this off, but there has been mention that the towing capacity is that of a Chevy Neon.

If it is a matter of a weak hitch, that can be fixed.

Advice is welcome and encouraged.

Thanks.
JB
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Old 07-07-2006, 09:22 PM   #2
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JB,
As you probably already know by now the 345 has a towing limit of 2000#s. Many here think that it's not the capability of the power plant to "pull" the load but rather the side loading from the long overhang behind the drive wheels (added by Airstream to the P30) which puts a lot of lateral force on the rear frame members when towing (or braking) through a turn. In fact one member has reported tearing their hitch off of the motorhome before.

I personally don't know what the previous owners of my 345 may have towed but I keep it below the limit. I've seen and heard of others successfully towing larger loads (4500# Jeeps, etc.) without incident...but I content that "without incident" includes never getting into an "at the limits" maneuver such as downhill emergency breaking, etc. That would not be the time to realize there was a real reason for the limit.

A few owners have mentioned that they had things beefed up to tow more, but to my knowledge no one has posted any details or pictures as to how this was done. I supposed it's possible to increase the limit, and almost all of us would love to know how to make this happen, but for now most of us just live with the limit.
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Old 07-07-2006, 10:21 PM   #3
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You might get by but you are taking a big chance. Even 200 miles on the relatively flat lands in Minnesota is taking a chance. I have read enough posts and heard enough stories to be wary of going over the limit. Think what you will be loosing and the harm you will be creating for other people on the highway if the trailer breaks loose. I have looked at how my hitch is welded on and would use it for nothing more than the utility trailer I tow.
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Old 07-08-2006, 07:32 AM   #4
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a past member here pulled a bambi sized trailer with a 310 motorhome. With the correctly beefed up hitch and no rear frame issues, you might be ok, but a 24 might not be sensible. 35 feet of moho and 24 feet of trailer is mighty long..
16-18' is somewhat better.
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Old 07-08-2006, 10:06 PM   #5
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O-K, you are convincing me. I probably could do it out of a 16 to 18 ft. trailer. Where do I go to get stats on the different models such as weights? If I do this I really want it to be an Airstream to match the Silver Bullet. (Not sure of the name. Overused?)

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Old 07-08-2006, 10:13 PM   #6
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JB,

My 1964 Bambi II 17' weighs 1950 lbs with a hitch weight of 250 lbs .

Mark
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Old 07-08-2006, 11:26 PM   #7
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There you go....
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Old 07-09-2006, 06:57 AM   #8
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JB, one thing not mentioned with all of the above information is the frame setup. Take a look under your coach at the frame.
If you have a P30 chassis you have a stitched together frame extension from about the drive axle back.
I think this too may have something to do with the low tow weights listed.
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Old 07-09-2006, 10:58 AM   #9
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Whatever you want to do there will be countless voices saying not to. I do tow a vehicle behind my 345 on a tow dolly and have for more than ten years now with no effect. The vehicles I tow are a Ford Explorer and now a VW Jedda Diesel. I am careful not to stress the system by turning to sharp or fast and I avoid deep swales. The two dolly puts little tongue weight on the hitch as would a trailer.
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Old 07-09-2006, 12:58 PM   #10
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I pulled a 5700 lb Z71 truck with both my 310 and 345 MH's without any trouble. Of course there was no tongue weight, for all practical purposes. And I had an toad brake setup. The 454's had plenty of power for the job.

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Old 07-09-2006, 07:57 PM   #11
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I have located a fellow here in Indy that has done many "beef up" jobs on class A motorhomes. He has looked at our 345 and his opinion is that the frame rails must be beefed up from just ahead of the chevy chassis junction to the back. The factory hitch is just a class 2. He would remove it and replace it with a class 5. The fuel tank must be dropped to do this.
After the work we should be able to tow our 24' enclosed race trailer. It has the weight distributing hitch with sway control, and 4-wheel electric brakes.
It will cost about $3000 to do all the work including the new hitch.
Rob
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Old 07-09-2006, 11:28 PM   #12
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Rob,
It sure would be great to know about a solution to this limitation. I suspect more than a few pass on AS MoHo's or even bail out of one because of the limit. I've gone as far as purchasing a TOAD specifically because it was under the weight limit (OK, that's not entirely true...it spoke to me and practically forced me to buy it)....and the VW was just a little less than your quote.

So...the $3000 question is...when are you getting your rig beefed up and when can I come up an see it?
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Old 07-10-2006, 07:23 AM   #13
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Steven,
The plan is to have the work done later this Summer. I will give you a heads-up when it starts. I will also be posting pictures and the story on our Forum.
This is my last full season racing, and it is really nuts until the end of September. I am planning on selling my enclosed trailer, and replacing it with a Trailex aluminum open one. They make one with two axels, and electric brakes that only weighs 680#. That is what we will be using with the Airstream.
Rob
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:14 PM   #14
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I am about to embark on setting up an AS to tow my '51 Royal Spartanette "toybox".

I had this idea years ago but now that I have a need I'm going to build a special hitch that takes most of the stress off of the MOHO chassis and transfers it directly to the rear axle.

The problem with any frame hitch is that the load needs to be transferred from the hitch to the frame to the spring shackles to the leaf springs and then to the actual work-horse, the rear axle.

My design uses an "A" frame that attaches to the plates that compress the leaf springs and holds them to the axles. This knuckeled swing arm would have truck sized rubber bushings to absorb some of the transferred load.

At the top of the "A" shape would be the 2" receiver, suspended from the rear of the frame on a shackle similar to a leaf spring shackle, but larger. This would allow the rear axle to move up and down and slightly in and out as needed. The shackle would also hold the receiver laterally, wanting to return to center because of the rubber bushings.

This design effectively bypasses the frame, shackles and springs from the chassis torque equation.

Any feedback on the idea?
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