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Old 10-03-2007, 10:36 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by munimula
I know of a guy in the NY Metro Unit who pulled his 34 footer to Alaska and back with a Safari minivan. The Safari is still his tow vehicle.

--dave
It's amazing what some people use to tow their Airstreams with. I just don't see how they have enough power to go up steep hills, or enough stopping power to be safe, or enough wheelbase and weight to keep the trailer from "wagging" the car. On the website for CAN-AM, they used to show a Dodge Intrepid doing a slolum course towing a 34 footer.

Sometime I think the laws of physics are different for other people. (And different in Canada where you can tow 34 footers with Jags and Mercedes)

If I tried using a car, I would surley end up like this :
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Old 10-03-2007, 11:45 AM   #58
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It takes homework

I think 2air's analysis is dead on. Times and tow vehicles have changed (for the better I think) and the de-facto standards need revisiting. My TV is by design 60-40% F/R empty and with a weekend camping load and the Airstream, sits perfectly level with almost a perfect 50-50% F/R balance - No Bars! I agree some form of sway control would be nice but IMO the bars are a band aid. Installing them to get the original stance of the truck takes a bar midway between 750 and 1000. At that point the front of the truck is 350 lbs heavier than the rear and is also within 310 lbs of the gross max front axle rating, the rear axle has almost 2,000 of capacity left over.
With a weeks worth of camping stuff, all my 'toys' and a loaded trailer I do instal some 500 lb bars simply to return the truck to level but the front end is very close to the max weight rating.

Based on some comments, it sounds like I should expect camper degredation from the evolution of TV's. I guess my other choice is to locate a 1977 460 cid Ford Estate Wagon with Factory towing package, a pendilum brake controller, a case of Freon R12 and start keeping my 8-tracks in the TV instead of the Airstream .
Too bad the owners of newer units are in the same 1960's boat
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:43 PM   #59
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When I first bought one of those aluminum toolboxes that mount across the pick-up truck bed the instruction said if you mount the toolbox with more than one fastener per side you void the warranty. The store owner said that aluminum is so brittle that more than one fastener per side and the box will work against itself and get damaged in a hurry. SO, since our AS are aluminum, does a lack of rivets really contribute to separation? Makes me wonder if where the frame is separating perhaps the factory should use steel or a different alloy better able to withstand the stress where the body and frame meet because steel in general is elastic (returns to original shape) compared to aluminum and then mount the aluminum skin away from the angle that is subjected to stresses that cause the body to separate. This is just an off the cuff idea. If I am wrong I'm open to hearing others thoughts.
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Old 10-05-2007, 06:37 AM   #60
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I think I can give some helpful information here.

Most of our customers tow with 1/2 tons, Sedans or front drive vans and those that do rarely if ever have the problem with the front end separating.

However in recent years we have had more customers purchase diesel trucks and they almost all have the front end problem in far fewer miles.

I ride in trailers once in a while when we are testing tires or suspension changes to see what effect it has on the Airstream. If you sit on the sofa in a tow vehicle with independent rear suspension the front of the Aristream floats along very smoothly, you could sit there and drink a cup of tea. With a 1/2 ton Sub it is not quite as smooth but still pretty good. However if you sit on the sofa with a 3/4 ton truck towing it is very jarring everything is moving. Sitting there you bottom out the sofa foam and feel the bars underneath.

We do use 1000 lb. Eaz-Lift bars or Hensleys on all the larger Airstreams with a 1/2 ton you cannot get enough weight transfer or precise enough handling with lighter bars. I choose the Eaz-Lift because the bars have more travel when going through deep dips which puts less strain on the A frame.

When we repair these units we do basically the same repair as a rear frame separation and add elephant ears to the front which we hide most of the repair behind stainless steel wraps.

This picture is of a limited where the factory cut the front rib for the battery boxes. We eliminate the battery boxes, splice the rib and switch to AGM's mounted inside the unit.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:10 AM   #61
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Hi Andrew T: You seem to know a lot about this, so my question is, what do you tow your 34' limited with? What hitch? In your post you state "If you sit on the sofa in a tow vehicle with independent rear suspension" What tow vehicle has a sofa? If you meant the sofa of the trailer what appropriate tow vehicle for a 34' has independent rear suspension? What about an Excursion, their settings are softer than most 3/4 tons?
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:59 PM   #62
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Hi Brad. If you would like to tow with a large SUV the Ford Expedition is a much better choice than the Excursion. The Expedition has 4 wheel independent suspension the Excursion has old fashioned straight axles front and rear.

One of the biggest enemies of a smooth ride is unsprung weight which is the weight below the springs. This is the weight of the axle, wheels, brakes and tires which have to follow every bump in the road. With independent suspension the unsprung weight is a fraction of that of a live axle. Most conventional trucks have a 34" spacing between the frame rails and springs 38" apart so even though the tire track is 65" wide the suspension stance what the body pivots on is only 38". With independent suspenson the track is projected out to the track. This allows you to have more control with softer springs. This link explains if better. http://www.cars.com/carsapp/boston/?.../ic_popup.tmpl

The Expedition's 5.4 litre and 6 speed combination has plenty of power but if you like the idea of a diesel it will not be available for a couple of years. Rumor is that it will be a 4.5 litre V/6 with the power of the original 6.0 litre.

There is a wide variety of vehicles that will handle a 25 Safari very nicely. What are you driving now?

Andy
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Old 10-06-2007, 05:38 AM   #63
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I am using an AirSafe air-ride Class V hitch which isolates the harsh suspension of my F250 from the butter-soft ride of my Airstream. The two Firestone airbags in the hitch allow my trailer to operate on the rough Interstates without feeling the stiff jarring and jerking of the tow vehicle. I believe this hitch has stopped the rivet-popping and skin-tearing that I experienced when I started using the F250 in place of my boulevard-ride Custom 500. There is a recent discussion on this hitch in the "Hitch" section of this forum.
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Old 10-07-2007, 12:57 AM   #64
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Hi Andrew: I only have one vehicle. I really thought I had the perfect tow vehicle--1 ton dodge diesel dually. Guess I'll have to investigate the expedition--they have a six speed? Actually thought about an F250 w/ the 5.4. The responders all said it was a dog and wouldn't pull properly--though I did hypothesize perhaps owning a 34' at retirement.
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Old 10-07-2007, 07:14 AM   #65
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Hi Brad

When you consider the cost of trading vehicles it might be worth makeing the Dodge work. If you like the truck and have a use for the box then the cost of eventually repairing the front end of the Airstream is going to be far less than the cost of trading vehicles.

There are couple of things you can do to minimize the impact on the Airstream.
1) if you look at the rear suspension of your truck you will see that the springs are progressive. As you add more weight they drop onto the next set of helper springs. When you set your torsion bars you do not want the springs to be just on top of the next helper with no movement left. You can tell this by bouncing on the hitch when you are connected. If you can move the back of the truck up and down fairly easily then you have the correct torsion bar pressure. If it feels solid when you try and bounce on it then you need more tension on the bars.

Once that is set I would take it to a scale and weight all the axles individually they have these at flying "J"s etc. Once you know your axle weights go to Goodyear Tire || Page not Found and set the pressure on your tires as soft as you can for the weight they are carrying. This will likely be about 40 PSI in the duals. Should you decide to move a yard of sand in the back of the truck or carry a Harley back there make sure you boost the tire pressure back up.

On the airstream there are two ribs below the front window. Have your dealer put Olympic rivets in those two ribs 1.5" appart for the first 15" up from the bottom and 3" appart from there up. It does not hurt to crawl in under the front sofa and add a bunch to the inside skin as well. It is the sheer between the inside and outside skins that makes an Airstream strong if the inside skin does not have many rivits in it then it is just along for the ride.

I hope this helps but if you need more clarification let me know. Do you have a second vehicle as well as the truck?

Andy
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Old 10-07-2007, 07:16 AM   #66
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I don't know why the link did not post but it is there. Go to Goodyear.com and then to the RV section and click on load inflation tables.
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Old 10-08-2007, 01:36 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew T
I don't know why the link did not post but it is there. Go to Goodyear.com and then to the RV section and click on load inflation tables.
On The Wings of Goodyear | RV Tires - Tire Care: Proper Tire Inflation
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Old 10-08-2007, 09:38 PM   #68
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Thanks Andrew: I have copied the thread and will take it to the dealer. The dodge is my only vehicle. I have been hearing Toyota & others may come out with a 1/2 ton diesel. Actually don't need the box any longer just never needed a camper shell until I purchased the AS. I started out wanting an AS but a couple of friends spoke so highly of 5th wheels, ie. more room, slideouts and better pulling so I bought one without comparing it to an AS. I hated the d**n thing and it just wasn't my cup of tea. The only thing I missed was the storage. So I put a camper shell on to get some closed storage

I have been thinking about this issue and it seems to me we have a 50's-60's trailer design that was suited to car engines of the day and at the time of the design the interstate system was in its infancy and I suspect the trailers were being pulled at 50-60 mph back then. Trucks in the 60's were work vehicles and not very comfortable. Well the reality now is the we have an interstate system and 65 mph is the old 55 mph. Problem is that extra 10 mph at least doubles the wind resisitance, compounds the road jar and the stiffer suspension of the tow vehicle takes its toll as well. Today, some of these modern quad cabs are the Cadillacs & Lincolns of yesteryear; they are plush, durable vehicles outfitted with every option and powerful longlasting engines. They pull 5th wheels, horse trailers and race cars with great effect. It should come as no surprise that some will use them to pull an AS. Just a thought but perhaps AS should build this fix into the trailers and just recognize the modern conditions their trailers are subjected to. Reality is "the times they are a changin" and I will happily make the fix to my 07' but perhaps by 09' or even 10' AS should have the issue solved right from the start.
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Old 10-08-2007, 10:45 PM   #69
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welcome aboard andrewT...

the info you are providing is fantastic!

really you should start another thread on 'dialing in the rig' combos.

there are loads of directions and approaces to preparing the vehicle, and your offerings are sound


reads like you have an understanding of the issues and help folks out.

none of that constant 'checking your running grear banter'

excluding collisions, how many issues lead to front end separation...

1.here are a few:
-hi frequency vibe continuously on smooth roads
-low frequency vibe like pot holes, speed bumps, road seams, uneven pavement and so on.

these can be dealt with using the air-ride hitch, the mor-ryde system, lowering tire pressures as much as the guide tables allow.
and so on...

2. shell issues:
-the shell resists (somewhat) compression, flexion, torsion and vertical/horizontal forces.

but the skin is thinner than ever before and the grade alum use has less resistant to fatigue.

ribs and rivets have been removed. a thermal brake tape is now used between the outer skin and the rib.

they buck the rivets through the 3 layers and one isn't metal.

they are using many fewer rivets and fasteners too.

front bracing has been removed, the floor channel is changed, the rib are now 3 pieces, not contiuous arcs.

they claim it is stronger...i don't accept that.

3.the frame:

virtually unchanged for years.

we complain it's not galvanized but really the issue is, is it beefy enough for a 8-11,000 trailer?

my unit has a 12-1400 lb tongue mass,

and with the w/d bars engaged and progressively tension to the scale derived setting...

the tongue flexes UP significantly and the front end cap bulges like a goiter from this flex.

the frame should NOT flex enough to harm the shell or junction, but it does.

everyone with a 800 lb tongue or more can see the tongue flex and the skin bulge IF they know what to look for.

a/s knows about this issue, yet they continue to build trailers with heavy noses and relalize we will tow with 3/4 tons or more...


it is quite likely that howiE's separation is as a result of the frame flex under tension issue.

and NOT vibrational, or made worse from vibration

mine absolutely has frame movement...
and after the tongue frame flexed up, the factory guys trimmed the skin and reattached the front in the new flexed position,

but added NO bracing, elephant ears or support ribs or extra tie downs..

so andrew you should start a thread on creative tweeking of tv to better mate with a/s....

cheers
2air'

brad, your comments are spot on...
i'd add that a/s is building 8-11.5 thousand pound trailers with 13-1400 lb tongues, on the same basic frame used for 6-7,000 pounders with 6-800 lb tongues.

they need to admit there is an issue and develop/authorize a proper repair for all these units instead of blaming it on running gear, too much hitch or too much truck!

cheers
2air'

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Old 10-22-2007, 06:07 PM   #70
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Frame Comparison

Just for comparison purposes....

My '77 Airstream had a 4" deep channel section for a frame, like a C.
It has a 4" deep box section for the A-frame, and there are two members making up the A.
The newer ones had a 5" deep channel section. That helped with the sag and separation.

My '87 Avion has an 8" deep box section frame. For about 12-14' over the axles, there is a separate 4" deep box section running gear frame that is welded to the 8" frame above. So in the area of highest bending, you have a 12" deep frame. It is very strong. The A-frame is 6" deep box section, and it has three members making it up; the two on the outside angled to come to a point and one right up the middle.

You will never hear of these problems with an Avion.

I looked at a '77 Avion, and it had its frame made the same way.

I do believe Airstream should build a better frame. As for weight, the current 34 footers weigh more than my 34' Avion does. They could put a decent frame under the coach and only add 150 pounds or so. Ditch the corian and replace it with formica if that 150lbs is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

I still like Airstreams, and have my eye on my grandpa's '58 Traveler. But I do believe that the longer ones need a heavier frame.

See ya on the road,
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