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Old 09-05-2011, 10:59 PM   #1
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1993 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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Question B-190 Owner with Questions...

My husband and I bought a used 1993 B-190 Airstream a year ago. We took it on several short overnight trips. We just got back from a 5 day trip up to Colorado...we live in New Mexico. We LOVE the van but....it seems very "top heavy" and it often sways back and forth if we hit windy weather or hit a bump in the road etc. I feel like if we ever "over corrected" just a little bit, we'd tip over. We bought the van so I could haul my horses to ride in the National Forest and have a place to camp out with them. But, I am leary about taking this van off the main road...even windy, mountain roads seem difficult. And we really "rock and roll" on dirt roads. The man we bought it from put big, oversized tires on it. I'm wondering if the original tires would be more stable. It seems like the newer models have smaller tops that are set back a bit and don't seem so "top heavy". Any ideas on modifications we could do to make the van more stable? It seems okay on the highway unless we hit a high wind and then the van sways back and forth from side to side. Any ideas on how to make this van more stable would be welcomed. We don't have a generator and were going to invest in one, but I'm not sure this particular van will meet our needs. Help!!
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Old 09-06-2011, 06:13 AM   #2
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Antisway bars ft and rr and better shocks, also stiffer tires . They are topheavy so some sway is normal. Make sure the stearing and suspension is tight. Sit closer to the stearing wheel also helps with control. jim
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:31 AM   #3
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Jim's got good advice. Tires and shocks are a good first place to start.

My B-190 does wallow a bit off-road but that is the nature of the beast. It isn't a sports car or 4x4 SUV. I just walk it along the rough stretches.

On the highway, I find the B-Van generally rather stable. I have Bilstein shocks and standard 16" all weather load rating E tires.

Pulling the 29' trailer does need some sway control as the ball to pumpkin distance is rather long. With a Lindon Equal-i-zer hitch I find the ride comfortable even on the Nevada secondary highways.

Driving a B-van is a different experience than your typical pickup or sedan or whatever. You do need to make adjustments in your thinking.
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:05 PM   #4
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1993 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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B-190 "Sway"

Thanks for the info...as I said the bigger wheels that came with the van have a maximum tire pressure of 50 psi and that is what we have put in the tires. Do you think this may be a reason ours rocks back and forth so much. On mountain roads our maximum (safe) speed is about 48 mph. My husband did get it up to 70mph on the highway yesterday but I am not comfortable going at those speeds myself. Do you think we'd do better and have less sway with the original tires? I know it is not a sports car but I am quite the "parade leader" when I am driving on 2 lane roads. We are going to check on the sway bars and shocks. Do you find you feel safer going at higher speeds with the original tires?
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Old 09-06-2011, 03:01 PM   #5
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A little more information would help.

How big are the "big oversize tires?" Did the PO jack the van up for clearance for these? (That would make it even more top heavy because it's taller.) If so, stock tires and ride height would definitely be better.

Stiffer anti-sway bars would help. They get my vote too.

How about some photos? With a little more info and photos, the advice would be better.
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:51 PM   #6
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1993 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
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The current tires are "Nitto Terra Grappler"; Size is 285/60 R-18 and they are NOT truck tires but passenger tires. The maximum PSI is 50 which is way lower than the PSI in the recommended tires (LT245/75 R16-E). Do you think that would make a big difference in the ride? We are going to look for some used tires and wheels b/c if we bought all four sets new, it would run $1,400 to $1,500. It will probably help with our "sway factor" but that is a lot of money to gamble on a "probably". We are also going to check out the "anti sway bars". I have a picture of the van but can't figure out how to attach it to this thread. We have a MAC computer with a great iPhoto program and I can e-mail pictures easily but don't know how to attach it here.
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Old 09-06-2011, 09:17 PM   #7
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1983 34' Excella
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Originally Posted by tlcinvest1 View Post
The current tires are "Nitto Terra Grappler"; Size is 285/60 R-18 and they are NOT truck tires but passenger tires. The maximum PSI is 50 which is way lower than the PSI in the recommended tires (LT245/75 R16-E). Do you think that would make a big difference in the ride? We are going to look for some used tires and wheels b/c if we bought all four sets new, it would run $1,400 to $1,500. It will probably help with our "sway factor" but that is a lot of money to gamble on a "probably". We are also going to check out the "anti sway bars". I have a picture of the van but can't figure out how to attach it to this thread. We have a MAC computer with a great iPhoto program and I can e-mail pictures easily but don't know how to attach it here.
They would be quite a bit larger in diameter than the stock wheel/tire combo. From what I could find, they are light truck tires though, which is not a surprise with a name like "Terra Grappler." I still wonder if they fit without raising the van.

As far as posting photos, take a look at post 7 on the Forums 101 thread. One thing to remember is that the maximum dimension for photos on the forum is 1600 pixels, so you probably will have to reduce the size depending on how large your images are to begin with. There should be a way to re-size photos in iPhoto, but I can't help you with iPhoto, I never use it. I also have Aperture (good deal from the App Store), but rarely use it either. I'm pretty much a dyed in the wool Photoshop man. Pricy, but the industry standard. Besides, I know where to find everything by now in Photoshop.

Anyway, a photo of the van and how the tires fit would help to see how they fit.

Besides, you are going to be hounded for photos anyway. Inside and out. Everyone here loves photos. By the way, welcome to the forums!
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:14 PM   #8
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All vehicles have ride height specs measured from specified points on the body to the ground. See if you can find the specs for your van - a dealership or collision repair shop should have them. The springs on your van have likely sagged over the last 18 years if they haven't been replaced, and weak, sagged springs affect suspension geometry and body roll resistance. Replacing the springs or installing supplemental air bags front and rear will restore the correct ride height and may help with your problem. The advantage of air bags is that they can be tuned for load changes by varying air pressure.
If the previous owner didn't recalibrate the speedometer for the larger tires, you are actually going faster than you think - the larger tires have a 3.3% longer rolling circumference, so the speedometer may be reading 3.3% low.
No matter what you do, your B van will always sway more than a regular van or pickup in crosswinds or on uneven roads.
Hope this helps!
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:38 PM   #9
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Okay, I am going to attempt to attach a picture of our B-190 and hope I did it right. Trisha
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:43 PM   #10
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1993 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
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Now that I know how to download photos, I will take a close-up photo of the tires tomorrow and post them. Thanks for all your feedback, everyone! Trisha
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:53 PM   #11
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1993 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
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Originally Posted by vswingfield View Post
They would be quite a bit larger in diameter than the stock wheel/tire combo. From what I could find, they are light truck tires though, which is not a surprise with a name like "Terra Grappler." I still wonder if they fit without raising the van.
Where did you see that they are light truck tires? Because the maximum tire pressure is only 50 PSI + the fact that there is no LT in the size, a local tire shop said that they were passenger tires, not truck tires. We are confused!
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:17 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by tlcinvest1 View Post
Where did you see that they are light truck tires? Because the maximum tire pressure is only 50 PSI + the fact that there is no LT in the size, a local tire shop said that they were passenger tires, not truck tires. We are confused!
Click on the link in this sentence, "From what I could find, they are light truck tires though, which is not a surprise with a name like "Terra Grappler." (the "I could find" part). It takes you to an Amazon page that has them for sale.

50 psi is not that low for a LT (Light Truck) tire. I have a set of Goodyear Fortera tires on my F150 that say max is 44.
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:31 PM   #13
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1993 19' "B" Van Airstream 190
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Thanks...I did find the website and the tires are rated for "heavy load" which would make sense for our van. We are just going from the B-190 ratings that Airstream has. I am now thinking that we need to look at the anti sway bars, shocks, airbags...some of the other recommended things to look at. We hope to take the van to a couple of different suspension shops to get a couple of different opinions. We are not even sure what the van is now equipped with...so maybe the tires are NOT the problem but we should upgrade in other areas to solve our sway issue. Will keep you posted...
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:42 PM   #14
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Looking at the photos, the van doesn't appear to be "jacked up" for more clearance. The tire/wheel combo, while larger than stock, is not huge and fits into the wheel-wells. That is good.

The options I would investigate from here are (in order)

1. Overall suspension condition (No worn parts)
2. Shocks
3. Heavy-duty anti-sway bars (Reduce body roll without harsher response to bumps)
4. Stiffer springs or air bag addition.

I will be watching to see how this works out for you.

Good looking B-190!
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