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Old 07-17-2011, 08:17 PM   #1
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Noob with tons of questions!


So, I'm getting hitched this summer, and I have a full time telecommuting gig (I must have an internet connection, but that's all I need to work).... My fiance and I have decided that we want to hit the road and travel around full time until we get tired of it (which may be never)....

I've started looking into trailers, and that's where my questions start.

My assumption is that we'd probably want to get a 27+ foot trailer. We'll have nieces and other folks coming to visit and travel with us from time to time....

I've been looking at excellas 500s from the mid 70s to mid 80s. I've read to to stay away from the rear bath (which is fine, we'd want a rear queen anyway) with the late 70s models. My instinct is that "more room = more comfort", but I'm certainly open to the idea that bigger isn't necessarily better. Can anyone offer any advice on the subject?

I cannot possibly understand the level of newbie we are. I've towed stuff before, but never previously owned an RV. I have lots and lots of questions (of course!), but I don't want to post too much at once....

So, TL;DR? Never owned a trailer, thinking for full timing bigoger = better, any thoughts, ideas and or suggestions on the subject appreciated!


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Old 07-17-2011, 08:26 PM   #2
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I've never lived in an RV full time. Sounds like fun.


Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 07-17-2011, 08:29 PM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. we're glad to have you with us.

As to what you are proposing. It is possible. You can actually be happy living in a super small place.

Our dear Lucy is a 25 foot front bedroom. In the last five years we have spent 900 nights in her and have towed her 80,000 miles.

Take your time. Choose carefully.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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Old 07-17-2011, 09:38 PM   #4
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Been there, done that and still doing it after five years! Much like you, we had a million questions and still find ourselves relying on so many wonderful people here when things pop up. Welcome to the forums. I encourage you to ask as many questions as you like. The people who enjoy answering them won't mind it a bit.

As for space, we have an '07 27FB and have only recently felt like another 4 feet might be more comfortable (which is why we're renovating one!). The biggest downside (or upside depending on how you look at it) is that when you disagree, there's no place to run or hide. As long as you are great friends and fairly even keeled, you'll enjoy the simplicity. It forces you to economize clothes, dishes, music, movies, books ... which means you have more time to collect things that really matter. Friends, memories, good conversation ... it's not for everyone, but the thought of a house gives both of us the heebie jeebies.

Good luck and let us know how things turn out.
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Old 07-17-2011, 09:41 PM   #5
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Welcome to the Airforums neighbor! Let me know what you find... would love to come see it as I pass through your town twice a day. Lots of info here and dont be afraid to ask questions! Oh and one more thing.. we love pictures..

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Old 07-18-2011, 02:21 AM   #6
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If you're getting hitched this summer, be sure to use a proper weight-distribution hitch ... unless you have a very light fiance'.

Would you rather have a mansion full of money or a trailer full of love?
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:52 AM   #7
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Leave her sway bars alone though. Some things cannot be improved by man.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:07 AM   #8
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8string - sounds like a nice position to be in... wish I could swing something like that (along with a couple hundred other folks). There are so many threads on this site which will be helpful to you that you should learn to use the "Search" function on the site. I searched "vintage and new" and got some nice threads for you to read through...
You can also Search a few more key words (as follows) for further reading:
  • Tow Vehicle (TV)
  • Rear End Sag or Rear Separation
  • Axles
  • Sealing
  • Converter
  • Furnace
  • Tires
  • Floor Rot
  • Hitches, weight distribution hitches
and the list goes on-and-on-and-on. There are some unique issues to the older/vintage units that you should be versed in before buying - unless you do like many of us and just *pull the trigger* and take your chances. There is another block on the front page of this site, lower right corner, that allows you to search for an Inspector. These are site members who volunteer to help you inspect a trailer - a very good idea!

I had never owned an RV, boat, etc and had never towed. Using this forum gave me the confidence, list of appropriate equipment and skill box to drag my Silver Olive around the state and make numerous repairs. I am thankful that the PO gave me a demonstration on how to use everything but some things didn't *stick* and I was able to come here and ask all kinds of questions. And find that some of the info the PO gave me wasn't *exactly* correct.

As for size, go look at a few and spend some time inside to get a feel for the layout and use of space. Bigger may be nicer for a family (especially if it's not overly nice outside) but it means a bigger TV and some more manipulating in small parks/roadways. Some say bigger is easier to back-up. I know my 2-axle is much easier to back than a single axle U-Haul trailer. It seems size/length is pretty much personal preference. Again, there are some lengthy threads on this site about such (length) and those replies might help you with your decision.

Have fun!

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Old 07-18-2011, 10:28 AM   #9
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Man, I was thinking I'd get 1 or 2 replies.... I can already tell this is a great community...

Laura, thanks for the heads up! Great info! I'm pretty comfortable using the search function (I'm a software engineer... ), but the inspectors is a GREAT thing to know about! It's actually one of my larger concerns.

I have a 95 Yukon (gas, v8) that I'm hoping to use as a tow vehicle. I know I'll need to add a transmission oil cooler, tow brakes and an engine oil cooler probably. I also have learned that there's a pretty big difference in weight between a 198x and a 197x trailer.... I was worried that the yukon couldn't handle a 31 footer, but I'm thinking it should be about right if it's a 70s model.

Airslip, I'll PM you. I've found what appear to be pretty good deals within a few hundred mile radius, some quite close.... I also have 2 friends that are general contractors so we'll probably do some customizing and fixing up ourselves.

I've been thinking that we might find more trailers available after burning man.... Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Thanks again everyone!!!!!

Oh, I found this site: Map of Airstream travel trailers for sale in the West

I think it's pretty cool, but you guys are probably already hip to it.

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Old 07-18-2011, 08:37 PM   #10
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Welcome to the forums. This forum are great for all things Airstream.

For all things fulltimng go to the Escapees forum Escapees Discussion Forum. Escapess is an organization formed by fulltimers to support fulltimers.

I read both forums as I have an Airstream but want to fulltime when we retire.

Have fun doing your research.

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Old 07-18-2011, 08:59 PM   #11
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Noob with tons of questions!

Greetings Joe!

Originally Posted by 8string View Post
I have a 95 Yukon (gas, v8) that I'm hoping to use as a tow vehicle. I know I'll need to add a transmission oil cooler, tow brakes and an engine oil cooler probably. I also have learned that there's a pretty big difference in weight between a 198x and a 197x trailer.... I was worried that the yukon couldn't handle a 31 footer, but I'm thinking it should be about right if it's a 70s model.

I would encourage you to give some thought to your tow vehicle capabilities when it comes to trailer size. If you check the factory tow ratings, you will find that your 1995 Yukon with the 5.7 Liter V8 has a maximum trailer tow rating of 6,000 pounds if it has the 3.73 gears. I purchased my first new tow vehicle in 1995 and it was a K1500 Z71 Club Cab pickup with the 5.7 Liter and 3.73 gears and it was not up to the task of hauling my '64 Overlander with a loaded weight of 6,100 pounds. Your loaded weight with a 31-foot Sovereign or Excella is likely to approach 7,000 pounds -- if not slightly in excess of 7,000 pounds, particularly when full-timing. The 1995 was pre-VORTEC which doesn't help in the peformance department either. Some might also express concern with the ratio of tow vehicle wheelbase compared to trailer length when considering a Yukon to tow a 31-foot Airstream of late 1970s or later.

Good luck with your investigation!


P.S.: My personal rule of thumb is to remain under 80% of the factory tow rating as I like to visit the Rocky Mountains on a regular basis. My Suburban is overkill even by this standard as it is towing 61% of its factory trailer tow rating with the Overlander.
Kevin D. Allen
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:28 PM   #12
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We are on the same path. Never owned a RV or towed anything. Wedding is in less than three weeks and we are planning to hit the road next spring.

We think a 25 footer will work best for us. Big enough that it has a separate bedroom, but small enough to fit in out of the way campgrounds. Found a late 90's Safari, price was right and the sellers were able to deliver. 82Smugglers - Airstream

A tow vehicle still has to be purchased. That will probably come this winter and we are thinking of going with a 2007 and up Tundra. (Our trailer would be 6300 fully loaded)
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Old 07-19-2011, 08:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Greetings Joe!

I would encourage you to give some thought to your tow vehicle capabilities... .

I would encourage you to become educated on weight ratings before making any decision on tow vehicle. There are three ratings that you should take into consideration:

1) The RV GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) This is the total weight of the RV including water, propane, belongings, etc.

2) The tow vehicle GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). This is the total weight rating of the tow vehicle itself including people, gear, and truck payload. Thus the tow vehicle can weight up to this amount.

3) The tow vehicle's GCVWR (gross combined vehicle weight rating). This is the amount that the RV weight plus the tow vehicle weight should not exceed. The vehicle (truck, SUV) manufacturer can provide the gross vehicle combined weight rating if it is not listed in the owner's manual.

As an example my Airsteam 34 has a GVWR of 11,500 lbs and my truck has a GVWR of 9,000 lbs for a total of 20,500 lbs. However my tow vehicle GVCWR is only 20,000 lbs. So if I were to load the Airstream to it max rating and my truck to its max rating I would be over my tow vehicles gross combined rating. I don't expect to exceed my GVCWR.

Many will say don't worry about the weights. It's not the pulling the RV that is the issue as most anything can pull; it's the stopping that is critical especially in dicy situations.

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Old 07-20-2011, 12:50 AM   #14
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Hey guys....

I really appreciate the info on towing... It's something I've been thinking about quite a bit, and safety is the most important thing. Being a professional geek I understand that when the engineers say "don't exceed this weight" then you don't exceed that weight.

I found a list of widths and weights for most models going back to the 50s... Maybe it'll be useful for someone else.

I was thinking that if the trailer gross weight is about 4700 lbs we'd probably be far enough under the 6500 lbs (even with gear, food, water, and propane) that it would be safe... If I have to get another tow vehicle I will, but I've had the yukon for a long while and it's a known quantity.... Is my weight logic flawed? It appears there is sometimes a *vast* difference in the weights of a given model from year to year (ie: a 1980 Excella is about 4800 lbs, but a mid or late 80s is sometimes + 1000 lbs which would be too much for the yukon).

They don't list the GCVWR so obviously that's a number I'll need clarity on, but ultimately if my logic is flawed it's irrelevant.



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