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Old 12-19-2014, 12:17 PM   #1
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Getting OUT of TIGHT SPOTS...

Well... first point. Don't get into a tight spot towing your trailer.

If a turn off looks "iffy" stop, put on your emergency flashers and step out to look it over. For those of you shaking your eyes back and forth... not on an Interstate Highway, entrance to a highway, in the middle of a parade... come on, common sense here. This would be a gravel road turning to an access to a camping spot, or pulled off to the side of the two lane highway on a straight away.

Second. Experience will be your best guide. If it looks like you are going to drag your bumper... you are probably right. There are two skids attached to help, but not to support the weight of an entire Airstream Trailer.

Third. I have said this before when going up a steep incline. Going up is easier than getting back down. The angles are different. You may end up backing down to prevent dragging the RB... rear bumper.

Those who know how to navigate the non Airstream Traditional Roads have plenty of ways to "clear" by using some easy to do options. I sure did not find any of these techniques on the Airstream Forum... they were self taught and at times... had to be learned at the worst times. Much like driving a Nevada county road which is 80 miles from A to B. About 50 miles into the drive a dip in the gravel road from a recent wash out... OOPS. The first instinct is to look directly at the GAS GAUGE... and calculate how big of a "pinch" do you find yourself. You have two options. Detach the trailer and find the nearest gasoline station OR improvise. That is what this thread is meant to do... help you visualize how to improvise getting out of a Tight Spot.

(1) Carry at least 10, if not 20 leveling blocks for Rockdocking. Even ONE or TWO three foot 2" x 12" are handy as well. Too much weight to carry one or two 2x12's... leave them home if you know the area and expect not to need it. It costs to haul two pieces of lumber... a Tow Truck is a much better OPTION??

(2) Carry at least one shovel. I carry an extra in case someone drives by and wants to get past me while I am navigating the obstacle(s). Or my wife insists that the driver needs to show some enthusiasm on the working end of a shovel...

(3) Most County roads and Forest Service roads are not maintained on a regular basis. Always a fund shortage, but never much of a shortage of rock and dirt that could be used to fill the wash out to build it up, or remove debris that has washed onto a tight curve in the road.

(4) Leveling blocks can be stacked like railroad rails that the Airstream's tires can track over the wash out. If not severe, of course, then you go back to checking fuel and deciding which way to go, where would you want to detach the trailer if you expect to be running on fumes... and much like a pilot in a fixed wing aircraft, unexpected head wind and have enough fuel to get "most of the way" to the rural runway. You have to be thinking this even before you go wandering off into the sunset...

(5) As you slowly progress across this problem, the leveling blocks and 2x12 board(s) can be moved into the forward direction. Your wife/husband/stranded Rainbow Family members can give hand signals to the driver. If you, the driver, is not confident that things are going right... step out and take a look. Piling flat rocks work too, but only if stacked and supported so they are stable. (That is what the shovels are for.)

(6) Blow down trees crossing a road. One year in New Mexico I took my Stihl Chainsaw to cut out fallen timber blocking the road to our favorite campsite in that area. Brush clips with the long handle are great. Even a hand operated wood saw that is not dull from sawing concrete or never sharpened since 1936. Hunters usually chainsaw only enough to get through... why, it beats me. They do not even bother to pick the logs up... just drive over them and off they go.

I was reading a Thread about getting up a steep driveway and concerned that the Airstream could not do it. I am sorry... the Airstream CAN DO IT. It is the driver who cannot. Again, leveling blocks and since it is a home's driveway, you can make a portable ramp to clear the "drag point" which is your rear bumper and also if your hitch has low clearance. Anything is possible if you want to put out the effort. Or just get a shorter trailer.

We are looking for a second home in Nevada. Having a garage that is TALL and LONG enough to fit our trailer is a really big plus. Second option is an outside along the garage sheltered area to park. BUT there are plenty of homes for sale... but we are taking our time in finding the right house... first. Sure narrows down the options, but we are in no hurry. The 2015 Airstreams are taller now... so beware all of us with PRE 2015's. That is why we bought a new 2014, rather than the taller 2015 for not much more money.

I am sure there are two or three of you that have some good tricks to add. Turning a narrow right or left turn also has it tricks... or you and the curb will be constant companions...

This is not a "Help, I cannot change a flat tire and where is the spare?" thread which will get two hundred posts to help. There ARE situations that put you into a Tight Spot. Some could become very expensive to get out of if done with no options but hit the gas and see what is left behind...

What kind of pinch or tight spot have you found a cure? If someone needs to pinch you to wake up after finishing this introduction... you obviously are the one who carries a chainsaw, a hydraulic lift to get over those low dips... and left your bumper somewhere in Idaho or Wyoming...

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Old 12-19-2014, 01:06 PM   #2
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OK, to get this Titanic moving across the Atlantic....

You are traveling at 65mph on Interstate 80 west of Salt Lake City, Utah and heading to West Wendover, Nevada as the next stop for fuel. Flat grade, lots of traffic, no space on the medians to park... those of you who have done this stretch of road know it can be really... boring for drive and passengers with a trailer in tow.

You have lots of 18 wheeler traffic on this road. Probably heading to drop supplies off to Casinos on the way to Las Vegas and Reno. In the summer it can be hot... and humid because of the Salt Lake. There should be signs along this stretch of Interstate Highway... ROAD GATORS.

The tire companies in this area must make a killing selling replacement tires. The 18 wheelers lose five feet of tread and it rolls up in the one or both lanes. For tail gating drivers... you could be getting what you have deserved for the last twenty years or six hours of riding the vacuum of the vehicle in front of them... and then... the vehicle in front swerves and there is a five foot, 29 pound strip of tire tread to attack your "under belly". $500 of exhaust system twisted like a noodle.

Those day dreaming Trailer Towers... listen closely. These Road Gators will remove anything that it can catch an edge. You trailer fender wells are potential targets of this massive road debris... BUT... visualize in your mind right now, WHAT is the lowest target on your trailer?

For an Airstream... you Grey and Black Water plumbing.

Usually an alert driver SEES the gator(s) a half mile ahead, with vehicles dodging around it like there is a parked concrete truck in the way. Take notice. This is not an exercise... this is the real thing coming. Even a small section of tread rubber can do significant damage at 65mph and 35mph. Be always mentally aware OF the possibility and be able to instantly take precautions to:

-Avoid without broadsiding the 18 wheeler next to you.
-Slow down without getting rear ended
-Is there enough room to avoid the gator by moving out of that lane with room changing lanes, OR catch the narrow median to avoid the gator
-At the worst... making contact with the gator with the tow vehicle and trailer braking for the worst

We met a couple with a NEW 16 foot Bambi moving from Illinois to California, using the Bambi as a motel room and to use for camping in California. They hit a gator. The trailer had dents but nothing that would have disabled the vehicle or trailer. The Bambi was being towed behind a UHaul, if you recall that story I told several years ago.

Road Gators can seriously damage a low clearance Airstream. The faster you engage with one of these massive critters of the highway... the damage can be severe.

Just be mentally prepared at all times. These occur at random, but are common along Interstates with high 18 wheeler traffic. I see them way too often. The Highway crews are out tossing them into a dump truck with the ladders, couch cushions and bags of leaves/clothes/cash from the Federal Reserve....

The sun is now out and I have no other excuse to take your time... unless you are in Buffalo, NY where my wife's brother seems to enjoy the overcast skies, snow and cold weather.

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Old 12-19-2014, 01:14 PM   #3
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Oops a cloud just blocked the sunlight. One other boat sinking in sight.

Flagstaff, Arizona... the pull off for gasoline can cost you thousands of dollars for saving a cent per gallon.

Stop for fuel at the truck stop WEST of Flagstaff. This town is designed to rip off your Airstream's bumper, drag your lowest part of your trailer hitch or just get high centered going into or out of a service station along the "business route" through town.

IF you see gouges in the asphalt at an entrance to a Service Station... DON'T THINK THAT YOU ARE BETTER THAN THOSE 50 OR 60 OTHERS DRAGGING.

This stop will give you more grey hair than I currently have... Even after refueling... getting down off the drainage system meant for flash flooding is going to GET YOU GOOD. Then try to find your way BACK onto the Interstate.

My point. If you see deep or even shallow drag marks on a turn... think twice, maybe just once... and do not believe you have that special touch. These are trailers with a HIGHER clearance than an Airstream. By inches, maybe half a foot more.

But... if you insist. We are eagerly awaiting to hear your remarks of getting off in Flagstaff and how you did. Hopefully better than those dragging parts off of THEIR trailers, otherwise you would NOT be posting what a wonderful experience it was to be high centered blocking the "business route in Flagstaff".
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Old 12-19-2014, 05:09 PM   #4
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Driving in hot climates it is a good idea to keep the fuel tank on the high side of 1/2 full. The fuel pump is inside the tank and depends on being cooled by the fuel around it. We burned out a brand new pump in Nebraska trying to go just a little farther between fill ups.
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Old 12-20-2014, 02:28 PM   #5
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Nice read, thanks Ray!
Out for coffee!
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Old 12-20-2014, 06:02 PM   #6
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Very nice post. There is a little McGyver in all of us...
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Old 12-21-2014, 05:14 AM   #7
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Ray your experience and knowledge is almost overwhelming. Great to have someone like you to tell your stories. Lots of good advice, most of all that come from years of trailering and camping. Please don't be reluctant to chime in on any thread, your perspective is invaluable. Thanks for the words. Jim
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Old 12-21-2014, 10:43 PM   #8
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So just today got gas at the truck stop west of Flagstaff you mention. Not towing today but used my Good Sam card at Pilot to get 3 more cents per gallon off the price (2.42/gallon). This would be a good fueling station when I return later. Good points you make about gas in downtown Flagstaff. Being an old town its tight and cramped. Not a trailer friendly environment.
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Old 12-22-2014, 12:31 AM   #9
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Flagstaff has never been
my favorite place to visit. For many reasons I avoid the area--smoking all 8 TV and AS tires in a full-on panic stop to avoid traffic is just one reason. Dunno why the locals drive so badly there...

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