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Old 07-22-2008, 06:41 PM   #29
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Louisa,

A year ago I knew nothing about travel trailers. I bought books on RV's and one on how to repair them so I would have lots of information. Then I found this Forum and read all I could. I was very confused for a while (some would say I still am), but after a while it started to make sense. Making sure your truck can tow the Airstream you're in love with is an excellent first step. Also consider payload (also should be in the GM owner's manual) to take into consideration how much you cargo you can take in the truck, the trailer and the trailer's tongue weight. Many will advise you to not go over 80% of the various weight limits for safety—that includes payload, how much the truck can tow, gross combined vehicle weight (total of truck and trailer). Take into consideration water, coolant, gas, propane, spare tires, and lots of things that may or may not be included in all the numbers you'll have to deal with. Don't trust a salesman to tell the truth about weight—they are there to sell trailers. Some of this information is on the inside of the door to the wardrobe in the Airstream. A lot can be found on the Airstream website where you can compare all the yummy trailers.

It's easy to get confused about the term "hitch". It seems to be used to mean a variety of things. There's the tongue on the trailer and a weight distributing hitch attached to it which also prevents or lessens sway. I have an Equalizer and it has worked perfectly. You can back up with it and it sets up and comes off very easily. There's the weight distributing hitch on the truck—the receiver is the better word. A weight distributing receiver on the truck should be welded to the frame of the truck to distribute weight to the front axle so the back of the truck is not sagging and the front end isn't aiming toward the sky. The hitch on the trailer also distributes weight to all the axles as well as prevent sway. If the receiver on the truck is only welded or bolted to the bumper, it is for very light loads. Make sure there has been no recall on your truck and have someone who you trust check to make sure the receiver is ok. If the receiver fails, not only does the ball go bye bye, but the safety chains do too because they are all attached to the receiver and you have a problem.

If you have a tow package it should have a transmission cooler and tow mirrors. Tow mirrors can be installed later for a price and make it easier to see alongside the trailer. Mine have two mirrors—one standard and a smaller one below I can aim lower so I can see vehicles alongside me. Even those have some blind spots.

Don't stint on safety stuff. When you figure what all this will cost, add insurance, license plates, toys for the trailer, tire pressure monitors for the trailer tires, maybe a generator and/or solar panel, sheets for the bed, etc. It's like outfitting a house.

Gene
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:47 PM   #30
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Hitch rigging, a better term perhaps, is well-covered around here. One needs, from a public weigh scale, a set of numbers:

The TV (tow vehicle), solo, but with full fuel, passengers and items one carries while towing; a scale measures each axle weight and provides a total. CAT Scale is one well-known national chain.

Second, the weight of the TT (travel trailer), with the axles on one pad, and the trailer tongue on the other (unhitched from the TV; wheels chocked and level).

Third, the axle weights of the rig as hitched, where the TV front axle is on the first pad, the TV rear axle on the second, and the TT axle[s] on the third.

This is the most basic information to setting up correctly, the the hitch rigging is proper and weight-distribution is accurately done. It CANNOT be done otherwise, just guesstimates.

Along with this, pictures of the hitch rigging, and a farther shot or three of the rig when hitched.

There are many threads to read, here, and you will find that a list of questions from that reading can be answered as you are ready for them.

As to weight-distribution hitches there are okay, better and best when it comes to vehicle stability and tracking. 90% of the job is in working out the problems of any individual hitch rigging scenario of a particular TV and TT, the rest (an important margin, IMO) is in the design of the hitch itself.

Go with a good brake controller (Prodigy or P3, at least), as the ones cheaper than this are throw-aways in the quality of their performance. The best ones (Jordan, Brakesmart, TruControl) are more expensive, but are smoother in their actions (lending driver confidence) and are well-loved by their owners.

I recommend paying attention to Andy/Inland RV's advice about wheel/brake balancing on the Airstream to know what the issue is about. The same for tires, there are quite a few threads on these subjects. In short, the axles, tires, brakes all need 5,000-mile or annual service intervals, and there are some issues to be aware of in that service. These can be combined with the service on your TV.

RVing is great, but proper set up is paramount, and proper service intervals MUST be adhered to.

I look forward to your adventure.
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:50 PM   #31
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Welcome Louisa. There is indeed a wealth of knowledge here on these forums.

I am not all that familiar with the model you have in mind. We decided early on which model was right for us and didn't stray. If you are planning to full time I would like to offer one suggestion, don't get a wet bath model. There is nothing wrong with them, it is just a matter of convenience. You probably won't want to have to dry the bath down every day for the rest of your life so you can come back within an hour to tinkle without getting your unmentionables wet. Nuff said.

I, too, have the Equal-i-zer brand weight distribution hitch and am well pleased. Reese and Blue Ox are also equally good brands, but I don't have any experience using either. I would suggest going to a horse trailer dealer or even a utility trailer dealer to get your weight distribution system and brake controller. You will save a lot of money and probably get a lot better advise on what to get.

While you will find lots of threads on quality issues on these forums, I can assure you that not every unit comes off the line with a multitude of problems. We were blessed to get a trailer that had very few quality issues with the Airstream parts of our trailer and really only had issues with the products that were manufactured by other vendors. If you buy new, you might want to peruse the quality threads not get frightened out of purchasing an Airstream (trust me all brands have as many or more issues than Airstreams) but to become familiar with what to pay close attention to when you do your pre-delivery inspection. By the way, a term you need to learn real quick is SOB. On these forums that means Some Other Brand or Same Old Box or something similar since almost all other brands look the same compared to Airstreams.

There are a number of training seminars that are offered on towing camping trailers. They are often offered in conjunction with RV shows or through dealers or even through local colleges as continuing education courses. But if you can pull a boat, towing an Airstream isn't any more difficult. The only thing I have ever towed was my Dad's ski boat when I was a teen and I went straight to a 30' Safari after a 30 year hiatus.

Good luck and post some photos when you close the deal.

Tom, AKA Minnie's Mate
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:30 PM   #32
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Thanks Gene, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on - I too knew nothing about trailers a month ago. I went back to the local dealer last weekend and looked at the Safari 23 again and as I plan to make the A/S my only home I think it will give me cabin fever when I'm cooped up in it - with an 85 pound dog - in bad weather - which will surely happen at some point - although I intend to go where it's warmer year round. The one that would work best is the 27' - but I think it's more than I can or want to tow with my present truck. Although I really love this truck - If I decide to go with the 27 I can trade the truck and get a more suitable one. and the short bed may not have room enough for gear that will have to live in the truck - patio carpet - shovel and other tools, 40 pound bag of dog food, etc. The 25' might work as a compromise. I plan to do a lot of boondocking so solar panels are another must have - I don't want to fuss with a generator - and those puppies are noisy - I have one I've used during New England winters when the power went south and it's just one more pain in the neck to deal with. I'm trying to keep it simple. I also want to spend a lot of time in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado - and I want to be sure I can tow with ease in the mountains - I'm going to be out there alone and I want my traveling to be as stress-free as I can make it

I've spent a lot of time on boats - as crew and a delivery captain and the one thing I know I don't want to put up with is a bed that I can't get around to make it up!

I agree that safety is the number one consideration - I work for a railroad - and safety is our number one priority so I've been trained to think about that first.

Thanks for your thoughtful contribution to my education.

Louisa & Jasper Joy
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:46 PM   #33
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Hi Rednax.
And thanks for your input. It's very helpful.

When I was a kid my Dad was a general contractor - and I grew up driving dump trucks and other equipment on occasion. (At the age of eight I could drive a bulldozer!) I've always felt that the three most important things on a vehicle are tires, brakes and steering, and I've always paid attention to things like tire inflation and fluids and maintenance - consequently I've not had any serious problems and my vehicles have always lasted and served me well with minimal problems.

Having said that I do know that I don't yet know enough about towing an A/S to plunk down my money and hit the road. But thanks to you and others who have responded and the threads I've had time to read so far I'm getting an education and while It's a bit overwhelming because it's new - I think I can sort it out eventually and I've got time. I need to divest myself of three generations of accumulated "stuff" and sell my house - so it's not going to happen soon - which is probably a good thing.

Thanks so much for your contribution - I appreciate it.

Louisa & Jasper Joy
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:00 PM   #34
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Louisa, I can appreciate the bed issue—the 27 has the easy access bed, but ours isn't that difficult, especially since Barb usually does it. Since she isn't complaining, I guess she's ok with it. We have a 6 1/2' bed on our Tundra and it seems to be collecting things. I wish Toyota had made a 3/4 ton, but no such luck. As for generators, if you're going to full time, solar panels aren't always going to be enough—cloudy days give you about 70% solar radiation, snow covers the panels, short winter days even in the SW give you less sun. The Honda 1,000 watt one I have is pretty quiet, not at all like a commercial use generator. I have only used it once and at 10,000 feet not good enough for the microwave. I have to try it with a shorter cord, and lower elevation. For fulltiming, I think a 2,000 watt one might be better. You won't have to use it as much with the solar panels, but it is useful. When you order an Airstream, see if you can't get better batteries. Airstream installs the least good deep cycle ones.

Quality control seems to be spotty. We haven't had many problems, though I spent an hour on the phone today with Jackson Center to get some things resolved. So far they are being good about my issues, we'll see how it sorts out. From what I gather other brands have a lot of problems compared to Airstream.

Don't get scared off by all the advice you get. I still haven't weighed the trailer and I just weighed whole truck, not by axle. I keep promising myself I'll do it, but I keep putting it off. And we haven't gotten any kind of shelter for it either, though we toyed with the idea of building a pole barn. Now we're talked about selling our house in a year or so and fulltiming for a year or so. We'll save money doing so and see every part of the US and Canada that we've always said we'll go back to. Then we can find a house somewhere that's not so hot. With global warming, we may have to settle in the Yukon.

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Old 07-23-2008, 07:31 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Pudentane View Post
Hi Rednax.
And thanks for your input. It's very helpful.

When I was a kid my Dad was a general contractor - and I grew up driving dump trucks and other equipment on occasion. (At the age of eight I could drive a bulldozer!) I've always felt that the three most important things on a vehicle are tires, brakes and steering, and I've always paid attention to things like tire inflation and fluids and maintenance - consequently I've not had any serious problems and my vehicles have always lasted and served me well with minimal problems.

Having said that I do know that I don't yet know enough about towing an A/S to plunk down my money and hit the road. But thanks to you and others who have responded and the threads I've had time to read so far I'm getting an education and while It's a bit overwhelming because it's new - I think I can sort it out eventually and I've got time. I need to divest myself of three generations of accumulated "stuff" and sell my house - so it's not going to happen soon - which is probably a good thing.

Thanks so much for your contribution - I appreciate it.

Louisa & Jasper Joy
That experience is a relief. You won't find anything that is difficult in itself, just a matter of sorting out the details. I already know it will go well for you (once the possessions are dealt with, now THAT is the American disease that is hard to cure!). This site has been a big help to me, the knowledge level and discussions always bear fruit, even when the discussion is tangential.

My wife wanted a big trailer -- afraid of being cabin-bound -- and we were in full-time A/C mode for our seven months of full-timing. I'd have rather been in a 28' over our 34', and for someone single there is a lot to be said for models at or just above 25'. Weight is the big problem, of course.

In my mind, a trailer is best in those places one is rarely inside during waking hours. A big trailer is just more to clean. Alternately, when one is confined due to weather or circumstance, a comfortable place to read is all one really needs, and a comfortable seat to watch the Tube. We had a few days we closed all the curtains and watched movies on the TV we can swivel to see from any part of the trailer, staying in bed like kids faking sickness to stay home from school.

My parents and grandparents used cars to tow their 28' Silver Streak and Streamline, respectively, during their full-timing, neither of these trailers was all that heavy compared to today, probably near 7,000-lbs on the first, and the low 6,000's on the latter. They traveled the US, Canada and parts of Mexico for about 6-mos of each year, returning to Texas or Arizona for the winter.

Again, looking forward to how it goes for you. Choose the trailer, then the tow vehicle is the best advice I know. And to choose the trailer, one needs to know how one will use it. Maybe an idea of how to set up under the trailer awning will help: big table with several chairs and a lamp, on a big outdoor rug, with items at hand. A big screened porch, if you will, that is the "main living area". That is how I think of it.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:59 PM   #36
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Hi Tom, AKA Minnie's Mate,

Thanks for the vote of confidence regarding towing. The idea of towing a trailer doesn't give me undue concern - I'm sure I can handle it I just need to take my time and consider all the factors in any given situation - it's not unlike docking boats - you have to mind the current and what the wind is doing to set you off course and go slowly and if you don't like the way it's going back off and go around again. A similar attitude should serve with a trailer.

I looked at a 30' last Saturday and they really have it all in my opinion - but a new one is probably beyond my budget. Although there are advantages to buying a used trailer I think that as I'm going to be out there all alone with this baby - my dog isn't mechanically inclined - I'd do better to get a new one with all the warranties and then I have less to worry about if things aren't functioning properly. I can take it to the dealer and it's primarily their problem. I'm willing to pay more for peace of mind and a new one will give me the opportunity to learn how things are supposed to function so I'll know when they aren't operating properly. I also realized that in something as complex and sophisticated as an A/S with all the comforts of home everything may not be totally perfect on delivery. (I've delivered new 40' boats and it's the same sort of scenario.) I'm thinking that I need to be able to get my A/S and use it for some trial runs to get the quirks exposed and fixed before I hit the road full time.

It's not likely that I'm going to get turned off from getting an A/S. I've looked at a lot of RV's - started out interested in Roadtreks - but they are not big enough - especially with a big dog - and what I disliked about all the Class C's is that they are IMHO not the kind of decor I like and the construction in some of them was "quick and dirty" in that there was rough particle board under the mattresses as an example and the general overall quality of construction - when I looked beyond the first impression of cabinet fronts and such - was not quality. I checked out smaller Class A's but just couldn't see myself driving one of those big boxes in windy conditions and I don't want to tow a toad - I don't have one - don't like little cars and having a rig I can't back up presents another set of problems - especially as my dog doesn't drive - so he can't help jockey a second vehicle. I've been looking and looking and looking and would come home discouraged because what I saw just wasn't "me" - but I really wanted an RV and the freedom to roam and see all the places I've always wanted to see. What I kept telling myself was that while some of them might serve - I wasn't in love - and as this was going to be my home I needed to love it. This was based on experience of buying houses - in my case it's the same. Then at a dealer's where I was checking out some Class C's I poked my head in an A/S in the show room and was instantly smitten. While I would like the sense of security of knowing that I could drive off if I didn't like the scene - without going outside the coach - there are always compromises and having an RV that I love is numero uno.

Louisa & Jasper Joy
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:30 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post

My wife wanted a big trailer -- afraid of being cabin-bound -- and we were in full-time A/C mode for our seven months of full-timing. I'd have rather been in a 28' over our 34', and for someone single there is a lot to be said for models at or just above 25'. Weight is the big problem, of course.

In my mind, a trailer is best in those places one is rarely inside during waking hours. A big trailer is just more to clean. Alternately, when one is confined due to weather or circumstance, a comfortable place to read is all one really needs, and a comfortable seat to watch the Tube.

Maybe an idea of how to set up under the trailer awning will help: big table with several chairs and a lamp, on a big outdoor rug, with items at hand. A big screened porch, if you will, that is the "main living area". That is how I think of it.
My decisions about what I want/need are based on what I do: I make handmade books and jewelry and need a place to do that sort of thing when the weather isn't nice or it's windy - which means a dinette is really a necessity - it needs to be high enough to avoid a wagging tail - and stable so all the little parts aren't bumped onto the floor - I don't watch TV - but am an avid reader - and will miss my weekly fix of a half dozen books from the library. Drawing and painting will be primarily out doors and maybe not where the trailer is parked- but writing and creative journals are also most comfortably and productively done at a table Neither I nor my friends are 20 something any more - so I want a sofa that makes into a decent bed for guests. I'm not fond of A/C - and deal better with being hot than with being cold - so I'll only run it when it's unbearable. (I only turn it on in the truck for about 5 min. to cool it off when it's been sitting in the sun - then I shut it off and ride with the windows open - I don't like being hermetically sealed in! Maybe I'm weird - nahh.)

As I'm a solo traveler - I'm not sure I need a lot of what people who travel as duo's need - but a rug a folding table and a couple of chairs - which I already have - should work for starters.

Louisa & Jasper Joy
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:06 PM   #38
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Great thread

This thread has opened my eyes, just when I thought I had enough hitch and weight dist. system I'm finding out I may be under gunned.

I too have a 1/2 ton chevy 5300 V8, with a 4.10 rear end. I've just bought a 97, 28' Excella. My owners manual rates the 1/2 ton chevy (with the 4.10 rear end) at Max trailer weight of 8700 lbs. I've talked to a couple of other Airstream owners and they say the truck should pull the 28 footer OK. I just bought a 12000 lb Equalizer, but have yet to pull the trailer with the new set up.

I have never given a thought about the Hitch on the truck, as I figured GM would put on the best and largest hitch for the upper rating. I just checked the factory hitch on my truck, and where the plug is it says "V5 Northern Stamping", but below this it says "Max Trailer Weight 5000 lbs?
I'm assuming this is a V5 hitch but only rated to pull a 5000 lb trailer?

I'm totally confused now

Henry
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:52 PM   #39
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Louisa, my 30' is a Safari. The whole Safari line is lighter in weight than either the International or Classic lines. I'm not sure what is different. Unfortunately, Airstream no longer makes the 30' Safari. Even so, the 30' Safari was a family camper not set up for singles. It is the only two bedroom Airstream ever made and they only made 78 of them. We have a master cabin at the front and a smaller rear cabin with bunk beds for our two boys. With our sleeper sofa and dinette, we can sleep up to 8, but with all that in a 30' floor plan, there isn't much actual floor space so it gets tight with our cocker spaniel along.

You have given a lot of analogies of boats that are true with RVs and travel trailers. Class A's are like large sails in the wind to some extent and backing a trailer in a camp site can be like docking a boat. There may not be a current to fight, but there sure have been a lot of times I have pulled forward and started over to get into tight camp sites! I believe Wally Byam (founder of Airstream) loved ships and the ocean as much as he loved camping. Many of the models produced during his lifetime were named after ships: Trade Wind, Flying Cloud (the name has been resurrected), Wee Wind, Clipper, etc., and the Land Yacht series.

Speaking of Flying Cloud. Airstream has renamed the Safari model line as the Flying Cloud (the name speaks to you doesn't it). Unless they up the price to go with the new name, this model line is very affordable (did I say that about a new Airstream! ) and they are also good on weight. The two most popular models are the 25 and 27 foot front bedroom plans. Your 1/2 truck should handle either very well. You would know one of them is behind you in the mountains, but the truck would do fine most every where you go and might be a good place to start. Later you can trade for a 3/4 ton if you are dissatisfied with your towing experience.

I know a lady that started her Airstream career in her mid-60's as a solo camper. She had never towed anything before she bought her Airstream but she backs in by herself and hitches up her weight distribution system without any help (she isn't as big as a minute as we would say in the South). She has her cats for company and drives a 3/4 ton Suburban and loves her new lifestyle. She, too, is living large out west now work camping in her beloved 1997 28' Airstream.

The advise about picking your Airstream first and your tow vehicle second is sound advise. You will have the Airstream way longer than you will have any tow vehicle. As I said earlier, your truck should do fine with the 25' or 27' Flying Cloud/Safari as a start. If you really feel under powered you can look at a different truck then. As long as fuel prices are what they are, you will be able to find good deals on large trucks. If you decide to go 3/4 ton, you won't have to go diesel. You would be fine with one of the larger gasers. I am totally unfamiliar with GM products because I haven't had one in more than 20 years (literally) but I do know Fords for example and Ford's 5.4L V-8 in the Expedition (what my wife has) or F-150 would handle our 30' Safari and would handle anything in the Safari/Flying Cloud line. If you go 3/4 ton, Ford offers the same V-8 and a V-10. The V-10 would give you pretty much the same tow capacity and as good or maybe a slightly better fuel economy as the diesel at a less expensive per gallon cost and at a less expensive purchase price. I'm sure GM has the equivalent in its line up, I just don't know the details, but I'm sure someone on this thread does and can help you if you prefer the GM product line.

If price is a concern ask your Airstream dealer about model carry overs. There are usually some on their lots and a 2008 or even a 2007 carry over is going to have the same 2 years of warranty from date of purchase as a 2009 and you will get a better deal on the carry over. Also, shop more than your local dealer. Colonial Airstream in N.J. might seem far, but they have a reputation for giving good deals and I have read about folks traveling from much farther away than N.H. to buy from them so they must make it worth the trip. They usually have an add in the banner at the top of the page with lots of photos of their inventory on their website. NeatStream is their representative on this site.

Hope things go well with your decision and your search for the perfect Airstream for you.
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:59 PM   #40
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Henry, I can't help you on the truck part, but I think you have more Equal-i-zer hitch than you need. Have you called the factory and discussed it with them? Ask for Jason.
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Old 07-24-2008, 01:54 PM   #41
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towing the airstream

I am seeking the right truck to pull a 25 to 31 ft airstream. I have been looking at the Nissan Titan v8 with tow pkg. Does anyone out there have expiernce on this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Phil
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Old 07-24-2008, 02:11 PM   #42
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It's hard to say with the parameters you gave. We need a little more information on the trailer, branch54. What year trailer are we talking about. The vintage models are a lot lighter than the newer units. If you are talking vintage, say early to late 70's, there shouldn't be any problems as these trailers were light. As you get closer to the turn of the century and get longer, the heavier the trailer will be and the closer you will be on the tow limits.
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