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Old 06-08-2005, 01:57 AM   #1
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1972 29' Ambassador
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I Need Advice....'72 Ambassador

Greettings to all. On Fri. (6/10/05) I fly to AZ to finalize my purchase of a 1972 Ambassador. I haven't seen it in person yet, just several pictures, it was enough to trap me.

It appears to be in excellent physical condition, and is being represented to be in excellent mechanical condition as well. It has been stored in the same RV Park now for almost 20 years. The owners would have it taken out of storage and placed on a site, several weeks a year. The only thing that I'm told needs help, are the awnings.

My question to all of you is, what should I be looking at/for, on this trailer? I think it would be safe for me to assume that the Tires/ running gear, will need a good once over, to say the least. I really know nothing about Airstreams, and I need advice, please!

It is a 1972 Ambassador, Rear Bath, Single (Double?) Center Berth model.

I would also like some advice on a Tow Vehicle. My current F150, 4.2 V6, I know will not pull it. I'm thinking F150 5.4 V8 w/ 3.7 rear. I'd like to be able to bring it back home to OH, sometime. Any advice please!

Thanks in advance for your input. I hope to join you as an official owner next week.
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:00 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamis
Greettings to all. On Fri. (6/10/05) I fly to AZ to finalize my purchase of a 1972 Ambassador. I haven't seen it in person yet, just several pictures, it was enough to trap me.

My question to all of you is, what should I be looking at/for, on this trailer? I think it would be safe for me to assume that the Tires/ running gear, will need a good once over, to say the least. I really know nothing about Airstreams, and I need advice, please!

I would also like some advice on a Tow Vehicle. My current F150, 4.2 V6, I know will not pull it. I'm thinking F150 5.4 V8 w/ 3.7 rear. I'd like to be able to bring it back home to OH, sometime. Any advice please!

Thanks in advance for your input. I hope to join you as an official owner next week.
The very first thing to do would be replace the tires (if they are more than three years old by the DOT numbers) and repack the wheel bearings. Chech the brakes while the brearings are being done.
As to the truck, I would recommend that you look into a F-20 Powerstroke, yes they cost more, but in the long run you will thank yourself for the dollars spent once instead of doing it twice like I did. I started witha 150 with a HO 5.0 3.73 rear end so ti had the same horsepower and set up you are talking about. It will pull the trailer in the flat land and out east, but I was never truly comfortable with the set up. Steped up to A 250 w/Powerstroke and I am very pleased with the setup.
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Old 06-08-2005, 07:45 AM   #3
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Tamis,
I agree with needing to get the running gear in order ASAP...also check your axle angle...if it is too bad you might want to consider trailering your new baby back.

FWIW I have towed my 31' with my V-6 F150... it is right at the upper limit of what that truck can do and I don't recomend it...I do have the factory trailering package on mine. I also tow all the time on flat land with my 4.6 V-8 F150 with the factory tow package. Both trucks have a 3.55ls rear end in them. The V8 does okay for me. I have also towed with a 5.4 with the 3.73 gears (not my truck) and for me it was plenty of truck. But I don't expect to tow at 80mph or top every hill at 60 mph either. I think that tow vehicle is a personal choice and if it is set up correctly and safely you tow with what you are comfortable with.
My small V8 F150 will move my unit down the road at 65 mph all day long with no problems and turn in around 12-14mpg. I don't tow in the mountains with that rig...I do understand it's limitations.

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Old 06-08-2005, 07:59 AM   #4
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Thanks, Mike.

I do like the F250 w/ 6.0 diesel. Don't like the money they get for them though. Also not quite as comfortable as the 150.......I need something to drive everyday. I supose I could get a third vehicle, just to pull it........ the wife will hurt me..............
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:10 AM   #5
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Thanks Aaron, The Ford specs say that the new 5.4 3V is rated to pull 8.5K w/ 3.7 rear. Unless I'm mistaken, the loaded weight on the trailer is about 6.5K. Am I right on the Trailer weight?

Also, what exactly should I look for on the trailer axle's?
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:15 AM   #6
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Give the trailer a good look. Confirm everything works, including the furnace. Follow the advice below about shocks, backing plates (this gives you all new break magnets), and tires. No matter how closely you check the trailer over, you will find more things over the next few years that you will want to update or fix.

There are differing opinions on the necessity of new axles. Many people swear by it, others have been working on these trailers (as an AS dealer) for more than 4 decades and have only replaced axles on trailers in accidents. What you choose to do is your choice.

Bottom line: you will enjoy the trailer, you will enjoy meeting new people, you will enjoy the comfort that comes with fixing things on the trailer - the more you fix - the more you know how to fix on an Airstream and the more comfortable you will be keeping this trailer for a long time. We have owned ours for almost a year now and are already talking about trailer number two. I might even start from scratch with a stripped trailer. The good news is that no matter how much you put into this 72, you won't get even close to the cost of a new trailer.

Most of all, enjoy the trip!
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:33 AM   #7
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Tamis - you must be getting excited....great find the Ambasador

A little confused on your post though - do you have a rear bath or a centre bath??

Things to look for The big one is floor rot caused by leaks - so wherever you can check below all the windows for signs of leaking. Check the Waterheater, Water tank, water filter and kitchen and bath areas all for signs of leaking - white or black mold - rotting wood smell. Take a screw driver with you and do not be affriad to poke at the floor.

Get the owner to start up all the systems - add water, hook up propane and plug her in to shore power as well as to a battery.

If you have never seen a 70's in person and only from pictures - and are not aware of the material used to give that "wood look" in the pictures - brace yourself - as your first impression may be wow - this is chincy!!!

But the rest of the trailer is fine - just remember it can be resurfaced or replaced with wood panels if that is your desire - and if you are one of the many here that really get off on that "composite" material then you have found your niche We are a mixed bag and each to their own and don't let anyone try to tell you different.

Based on Experience and if I had a chance to do it all over again - number one is change the wheels and tires (or at least ensure that the wheels are balanced and "round") to get you home - in your case enroute would put you right in Axis Products back door - the next big issue for the longevity of your trialer is Axles - be absolutely sure they are good and have lots of spring left in them - if not - it will be well worth the money to replace them FIRST! (expcept for tires)

All the usual running gear will need to be checked - lights, brakes, umbilical cord, set up your rig with load levelers/sway bar system -many to choose from out there etc.

Someone passed on a good rule of thumb re towing - no to exceed 75% of tow vehicle towing capacity along with the highest gear ratio you can go with - 3.73 - for the 29 and under/early 70's would be more than sufficient.

There are lots of threads here explaining everything you will need to know and if you can not find something - this is the place to ask. You will get lots of opinions based on personal experience - so it will be up to you to make your best decision based on your own research.

Not all of us are perfect here and we have all learned from our own experiences - in many cases there are not right and wrong ways of doing things - just safe and safer ways.

Something to keep in mind too - is that everyones towing variables on this forum is DIFFERENT - style of camping, load carrying - cargo and liquid amounts, tow vehicles, size of trailers, air pressures, load balancing, speed at which people travel and yes their driving skills too - anticipating the other guy well ahead or the last minute swurvers. Roads traveled, interstates or back roads and of course weather conditions, state of the individuals health and the health of their tow vehicles.

So many times I hear "she towed great" from those picking up their babies the first timers - that is because many were expecting something totally different - not sure what though. (we were lucky - boat haulers so we had an idea of towing our big thing was she is so fat) The sharp bow lets you see lots more than a wide trailer.

Lots of people go for the trucks - but we decided to go with the enclosed truck/SUV - dogs, still can load her up with all the seats down and makes for a nice "passanger" vehicle when not towing. GMC Yukon 99 she has done very well even managed to pull home that 99 Excella - but never again without a sway bar.

It is not the speed at which you travel is the speed and type of vehicle passing you - I was amazed to see a large square horse trailer pass Peter on the left of a two lane road at 90klm, Peter was doing about 70klm the horse trailer just pushed the back end of that excella off to the right like butter. I saw it from behind as I was following as the safety vehicle with four ways on - towing a wreck is a bit different than a good trailer - you never know what is going to fall off

Well good luck with your travels and hope that she is everything you are looking for. Be sure to check in here before you pick her up - to make sure you have everything you need.
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Old 06-08-2005, 08:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamis
Also, what exactly should I look for on the trailer axle's?
Axle inspections and condition have been covered extensively here on the forums. A search with the word "axles" will give you more info than you could possibly want. Inland RV also has an axle inspection spot on his website, if you want even more to look at. It is at www.inlandrv.com
As far as a tow vehicle, why not get a slightly used F250 with the 7.3 PSD? They get a little less MPG, but they have been around for all the "teething problems" to have been worked out. IIRC, 2003 was the last year for the 7.3, the next year had the 6.0 modular diesel. The 7.3 can usually be counted on to go up to, and beyond, 300,000 miles with little problems. Not that it matters, but the 7.3 is really the Navistar Medium duty T444E engine, in a pickup. You can count on it getting 15 MPG just driving it around without the trailer, and it will probably do even better, depending on how you drive.
Oh, yes, one biggie no one has yet clued you in on: ST tires (the tires your trailer should have on it) are speed rated for 65 mph, exceed that limit at your peril.
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Old 06-08-2005, 12:05 PM   #9
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1975 31' Sovereign
1980 31' Excella II
Sprung Leak , North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamis
Thanks Aaron, The Ford specs say that the new 5.4 3V is rated to pull 8.5K w/ 3.7 rear. Unless I'm mistaken, the loaded weight on the trailer is about 6.5K. Am I right on the Trailer weight?

Also, what exactly should I look for on the trailer axle's?
Tamis,
IIRC your GVW on the trailer is 7200#...mine usually weighs in under 6.5k ready for a week's outing. But I also watch what goes in and weigh it on a truck scales just to make sure. I have used mine for short term living quarters and even loaded at that I was hard pressed to hit that mark. Empty with no supplies dishes etc on board the trailer weighed in at just shy of 5700#.

Aaron
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Old 06-08-2005, 12:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
... I also ... weigh it on a truck scales ...
Aaron
Can you share the process for accomplishing this? I have seen scales at truck stops, but would be interested in the subtleties of the process. Is there a charge? Do you have to pay in a different location in most stops than in the main building? etc.
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Old 06-08-2005, 05:56 PM   #11
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sovereignrwe
Can you share the process for accomplishing this? I have seen scales at truck stops, but would be interested in the subtleties of the process. Is there a charge? Do you have to pay in a different location in most stops than in the main building? etc.
Mark and Kimber,
I cheat...there is a salvage yard just down the road from where I live and a buddy of mine works there and lets me use the scales for free well a six pack placed in the back of his truck...

You can use the scales at somewhere like a grain elevator, moving and storage company or truck stop. Typically there will be a fee and you pay in the main building. For the CAT Scales, you pull onto the scales and try to line your wheels up on seperate pads, then punch the button and tell them you want axle weights, I usually carry a short piece of broom stick so I can reach the button without getting out of the truck. Then when the light turns green you drive off the scales and go get your ticket. If you want to do seperate weights with and without the trailer you can drive around drop your trailer and go back for a reweigh and they will put it all on one ticket for you. Somewhere on here Moe of RoadKingMoe posted a whole thread on weighing and what to look for. Me I just want to make sure I am under GCVWR

Aaron
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Old 06-08-2005, 06:24 PM   #12
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Another good place to go for a free or cheap weigh is a sand, concrete and gravel dealer - many of them have scales.
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Old 06-08-2005, 09:19 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the info, to everyone! The axle info was very useful, gives me something else to look for. On top of everything else. I'd like to buy everyone a drink, just make sure I dont't leave before the bill gets paid

T
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Old 06-09-2005, 04:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamis
Thanks for all the info, to everyone! The axle info was very useful, gives me something else to look for. On top of everything else. I'd like to buy everyone a drink, just make sure I dont't leave before the bill gets paid

T
I can save you some money on that one...just join us on Tuesday nights for chat ...the last time I looked the price on Cyberbeers was still free

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