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Old 03-22-2007, 07:16 PM   #1
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Hi to Everyone

My wife and I have just started looking at RV's. I've wanted an Airstream for a good while but some how the kids always came first. We should be empty nesters in the near future ( woo hoo!!!) so it's time to start making our plans. I can't believe all I've learned so far on this forum, thank you to all the people that have taken their time to create it. I'm sure I'll be asking a lot of questions and hopefully I can help someone else also.

My first question is why so much concern about hitches? I have towed a 25'
cuddy cabin boat ( top up-10' tall) without a problem on interstates, back hoes and bobcats also. I've used 3/4 ton trucks, now with a diesel. I've never had a sway problem. What makes Airstreams different? The 31' and 34' length appeal to us the most.

Thanks,
Mike Baldwin
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Old 03-22-2007, 07:22 PM   #2
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It can be done

the classic motorhomes are great, look up Robfke and read his post on beefing up the receiver. He tows a porsche in a trailer, you just have to make the mounting points under the frame a lot sturdier. We have an 85 345 and love it, have not done the modification since we tow a VW thing, but will look into it. My husband would love to travel around the country with a car carrier!!! OOPs on re read are you talking about a trailer or Motorhome?
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Old 03-22-2007, 07:40 PM   #3
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We planned on a trailer.
Thanks,
Mike
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Old 03-22-2007, 08:45 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum Hammer. Like you, I've towed just about everything as a rancher from flat beds with tractors to goosenecks filled with cattle or horses to trailers loaded with hay. Unlike you, I can't say I've never experienced sway. I was a passenger one time when a trailer I owned loaded with my Toyota Landcruiser came entirely unhitched weight distribution, sway control and all. The trailer and Landcruiser broke free and passed us going down an Interstate backwards. How that happened, I'm still not sure, but it put a kink in our Colorado hunting plans for a few hours. When the bumper sucked together on my buddy's truck, the force of the trailer coming loose ruined the bed of his truck and the camper shell mounted on it pinching them together from the rear axle back. I also personally encountered sway a few times with various loads I was carrying. Usually, the sway was as a result of loading the trailer wrong or having a load shift such as can happen when pulling livestock. But, for the most part, like you, I put on miles and miles using one ton and 3/4 ton trucks with little thought of using any kind of hitch and I had no problems.

Now for the Airstream, I pull an older 31' that weighs only 7200# when loaded and ready to go someplace. Newer trailers of the same length would weigh a little heavier, perhaps 9000#. I've pulled that trailer all over the country, through the mountains of Colorado time and time again, on up to Yellowstone and beyond in just about every kind of condition. We've pulled in snow, blowing wind gusting above 50 mph, rain and sleet. Using a Reese type of hitch, we pulled pretty much sway free. I said pretty much. I'd experience my trailer being sucked over toward overtaking trucks when they'd pass and in windy conditions, gusts of wind would push me around such that I just didn't always feel in control of the trailer. I can't remember ever having actual sway, but being sucked around by passing trucks was not my cup of tea.

As a rule, the Airstream pulls better than any other trailer I've ever had, but I didn't have the wife or family members with me in the past when things went south. I do these days. In the past, when I pulled somewhere it was usually for less than 100 miles, not hundreds of miles a day as we do with the Airstream. In the past when I pulled, it was part of the job. With the Airstream I'm pulling from point A to point B for fun and relaxation and finally, I know for a fact that I rarely ever had a load behind me that cost what most Airstreams cost today.

Putting together all these facts and a few others that escape me at the moment, I bought a Hensley a few months ago after pulling the Airstream a few hundred miles down through the Hill Country of Texas on a particularly windy day. Every time a van bodied truck came by, I was being sucked over toward the passing truck. Once, I swear I watched the back bumper of my trailer almost touch the passing truck in my mirror. Now, I'm not worth the cost of a Hensley, but my wife is. It was worth it to me given the fact that we are going to leave for Alaska this summer and drive in all kinds of conditions to get the best and safest equipment possible on the trailer including the hitch. I also bought a new truck, put on a new set of trailer tires that I probably didn't yet need, installed new brakes and a set of Enkay rock guards along with perhaps a dozen other things to make our trip either safer and more comfortable.

I could have pulled the trailer to Alaska just as it was and I might not have had any problems, but it only takes ONE time be it a blow out or a sway condition to make a fellow wish he'd done what he could to prevent problems. Think about it, when something happens as it did with my friend driving, we all have about the same amount of experience and about the same chance of coming out of it unscathed. My wife and I have been married now for 38 years and I'd like for both of us to have the option of remaining that way for a long time to come. To answer your question, I don't know that Airstreams are any different to any other trailer except that they probably pull a little better than most, but my argument for a quality hitch has nothing to do with what trailer I am pulling. It has more to do with me wanting my wife to remain safe and with me being at an age where I am tired of feeling slap dab worn out after only a 100 miles of towing. I've now put some serious miles on the Hensley in various conditions and with the Hensley I arrive fresh no matter how far I've pulled by the end of the day. It has completely eliminated the occaisional problems I was experiencing. Other than buying the Airstream, I'm convinced it has been the best money I have spent. I'm not saying you need to buy a Hensley. I don't know how much traveling you plan to do, but you should take seriously the fact that you need to have a good hitch between you and your trailer to minimize as much as possible any problems from ever occuring. Get yourself an Airstream and enjoy this great country of ours and its people that you meet along the way.
GStephens
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Old 03-22-2007, 09:11 PM   #5
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Welcome!

Wow, starting with a 34'! I hope you enjoy it for many many years. I agree with everything the previous poster said. You already know you'll need a 1 ton to tow it right. By all means get something with a long wheel base, like a Suburban or Ford F-350 King Cab.

I've towed one SOB without any weight distribution system (friend's husband had wrecked their truck). Good thing I already dye my hair because a few more gray ones don't matter that much. It was bloody awful for someone who has always towed an Airstream with a Reese.

A weight distributing hitch stiffens the connection between the trailer so that on bumpy roads or in windy conditions your trailer's weight won't pound down on your tow vehicles rear wheels reducing your steering control, or lift up reducing you drive wheel's contact with the pavement. Additionally and just as importantly it reduces side to side sway when the big semi passes you. A SOB (square old box) is much worse on the side to side sway just because of it's unaerodynamic shape. I was in a hurry one time and just moving my trailer 4 miles between campgrounds so I said what the heck, ball and chains will do..... well it was a good lesson in how different it feels to not have a WD hitch, and it was the only time I've ever towed my 25' without one. It does really feel safer and more "under control" with one.

As the prior poster said, you're going to be towing 300-400 miles daily when you go Airstreaming. Fatigue is a real factor in whether you really enjoy Airstreaming. I agree with his post in the strongest terms. Have your load properly balanced, make sure your tires are inflated correctly, have your hitch pin height right: all help giving you a trailer that "barely feels like it's back there". Add a good weight distributing hitch (I would pop for the Hensley on a 31' or 34') and you'll never regret it.

Good hunting for your first Airstream, and see you down the road.

Paula Ford
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Old 03-22-2007, 09:54 PM   #6
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You're correct Mr. Stephens, most of the time I'm towing for less than 100 miles. I understand where you're coming from.I have been reading about the Hensley, Equalizer,Pullrite and Reese.Thank you for your input.

Paula, I have enjoyed reading several of your posts. I use a 3/4 ton Dodge 4x4 with a diesel engine. It's a quad cab with a long bed. Do you think this is too small for a 31' or 34' trailer? It's my understanding a one ton has a different rear helper spring than mine, front suspension is the same.
Thanks,
Mike
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Old 03-22-2007, 10:24 PM   #7
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Like your boat, I pulled antique cars for years without any significant sway problems. Some of these car/trailwer combos weighed in the 6,000 pound range. A 25' loaded Airstream goes 7,000 pounds and has a relatively flat sail area the size of the state of North Dakota. That's why I bought a Hensley when I got the Airstream. I wanted to drive 70 mph without being scared to death all the time. The Hensley has provided that for me. I have pulled our Airstream 12,000 miles in the last eight months, and have never for a moment regretted our Hensley purchase.
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Old 03-22-2007, 10:57 PM   #8
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Hammer, you'll be fine with a 3/4 ton PROVIDED you get AND ,as Foiled Again suggested, adjust your hitch properly. Actually, the 34' generally has a lighter hitch weight than the 31' due to the presence of the extra axle. The only difference is that they generally weigh more depending upon floor plan and whether or not a slide is present. I was surprised at how little more they weigh across the board than the 31'ers. You'll find that the longer trailers are actually easier to back into camp sites, though their longer lengths will inhibit you staying in some of the state parks in some states such as California where their camp sites were developed before longer lengths were as common. Other than that, you'll love the longer length trailers and will find you can pull them easily with your rig. I'm pulling with a 3/4 ton Ford diesel 4x4. Having said that, I used to pull with a one ton Ford dually and with that truck I never felt the problems I described in my earlier post. I went to a 3/4 ton because some suggested that the stresses of the one ton suspension could and would eventually cause structural problems to the front end of Airstreams over time. The 3/4 ton suspensions are a little softer.

If you are considering the Hensley Arrow hitch, read The Ultimate Ha Ha User's Guide thread on this site. Do a search at the top this page. Look for the first blue bar, then click on search and type in the words I italicised above.

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