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Old 05-03-2007, 12:03 AM   #1
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1968 30' Sovereign
Rockford , Illinois
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Still safe to tow with rear end separation?

I am new to the site and to Airstreams in general so any info would be greatly appreciated. I just bought a 1968 30' Sovereign from a scrap yard with the intentions of towing it 900 miles to Wyoming and living in it while I attend school for the next two years. I put new tires on it and got it dollied out of it's resting place for the last decade or so and really started looking it over. When I stood on the back bumper to try and remove what was left of the rear window I noticed the bumper moved very independantly from the shell. I see that the shell has seperated from the floor, and I have read several articles in the forums that address the repairs. My question after this long winded introduction is; is the AS still safe to tow the 900 miles? Do these ever come apart on the highway? Can it wait until I'm in Wyoming and have a place to park it to take it apart and make the repairs? Any opinions or advise would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Zac
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Old 05-03-2007, 12:20 AM   #2
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
Venice , California
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welcome to the forums.

i would rephrase the question and put it back on you to answer.

"is it okay to tow a 30' trailer 900 miles when the condition is unknown, it's been sitting for ten years, the shell is separated from the floor and in the rear of the coach, the bumper appears to be separated from the frame?"

and yes, these things do come apart on the highway, i'm still looking for my shell somewhere on the 405.

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Old 05-03-2007, 12:29 AM   #3
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1956 22' Safari
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Welcome to the forums...but,

the bigger question is...do you really wanna live in an Airstream in WYOMING for two years???? I think not!

Check out some of the winter-living threads ~

Shari
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:36 AM   #4
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1977 31' Sovereign
ORD , Nebraska
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Play it safe!

If you're hell bent on living in this thing prepare to do plenty of work, especially since it's been sitting a while! As with trailering it, I'd recommend you beg, borrow, or steal a lengthy flatbed trailer, winch the AS up onto it, and pull the flatbed instead. Strap it down really tight! If this is in really poor condition, you may consider parting it out or selling it to someone local. My .02. Erik
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Old 05-03-2007, 06:35 AM   #5
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First, find the spot in the frame that has come apart, and see if you can get a local weld shop to scab a piece of steel over the crack, then re-evaluate the tow. If it is still to "iffy" to tow, then you will be faced with finding a flatbed trailer long enough to tow a 30' trailer, fix on it some more, find a company to flatbed it for you, or sell it locally.
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:26 AM   #6
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1989 34' Excella
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You can not tell whether it is safe for 900 miles without cutting some frame examination ports in the belly pan. The place these units usually fail is just behind the rear axle mounting point. It is usually a fatique crack that starts at the top of the boxed frame. You need to crawl underneath with a drill and a small jig saw or a Zip rotary saw and cut two 6 in square holes in the belly pan. They can easily be fixed later with pop riveting a patch over them. The patch will never show unless you run over someone. If you find signifigant cracks they may fail catastrophically on the way home and you will lose the whole thing. If it is bad, you are in for a big bill to fix it properly. A quick welded patch might get you home, but is not good enough, if you intend to use the unit for touring.
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:11 AM   #7
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No, he's saying he has rear end separation, not frame cracks, which he COULD have, but he has not mentioned any symptoms of that. Here's what you're up against: Yes, you can tow it. Sounds like it's a pretty serious separation, what you are risking is with every bump that back end of the shell smacks down on the frame. That smacking will start to shear rivets, break windows and cause bulkheads to start to wear thru the inner skin. Also, that flexion will cause you to get the "bulge" over the wheel wells.

Soooo. If the frame is solid it is ok to tow, but you risk the damage I stated above. Remember, risk is a two-factor problem: Severity and occurence. I cannot predict the occurence of the above damage.

If the bath has already been pulled, then pull off the lower skin in the back. That gets you access to the bolts that hold down the shell back there. Take out the old bolts, get a piece of 5/8" thick plywood, or if you can find it or make it, Trex. Dig out the rotted plywood between the back of the shell and the frame. Jam that new wood between the two, ratchet down new bolts, through the new wood, to the frame, take it home and do a floor job when you get there. No warranty is given nor implied.
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Old 05-03-2007, 11:11 AM   #8
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1968 30' Sovereign
Rockford , Illinois
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Thanks for all of the input on this everworsening situation....Most of the belley pan is long gone so I was able to get under the coach and inspect the frame. The frame doesn't appear to have any major rot, only a few bad outriggers. This morning I pulled out most of the bathroom and had a great view of the ground when I was done. I guess I'm going to have to fix the floor in the rear of the coach before I move it since the back 6-8 feet of it is no longer attatched to the frame or shell. Thanks for all the help, I'm sure I'll need a lot more before this rig hits the road.
Zac
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AYRSTRM2
Here's what you're up against: Yes, you can tow it. Sounds like it's a pretty serious separation, what you are risking is with every bump that back end of the shell smacks down on the frame. That smacking will start to shear rivets, break windows and cause bulkheads to start to wear thru the inner skin. Also, that flexion will cause you to get the "bulge" over the wheel wells.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dwightdi
If you find signifigant cracks they may fail catastrophically on the way home and you will lose the whole thing. If it is bad, you are in for a big bill to fix it properly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
First, find the spot in the frame that has come apart, and see if you can get a local weld shop to scab a piece of steel over the crack, then re-evaluate the tow.
everything mentioned above is peanuts compared to the obvious and more relevant concern: pieces flying off the trailer going down the highway at 60MPH and causing serious injury or worse to innocent bystanders.

i wouldn't bother with a "scab a steel band aid hope i fixed it quick " kind of thing. you're talking about pulling a lot of steel and aluminum 900 miles. it's a no brainer in my book.

get a flatbed or sell it locally.
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