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Old 08-24-2016, 07:21 PM   #1
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Macho Trailer: Upgrading to an Airstream Off Road Trailer

While on the 2016 Wyoming Adventure... each travel day required to open the door to our trailer and observe... what chaos occurred WITHIN, while traveling.

Discussions while sitting around a fire ring with no fire near the end of the Adventure devolved... into Jackson Center building an 'Airstream Off Road Trailer'. An Airstream but with 'real off road' construction.

(Pendleton Airstream observations)

No... not a Pendleton. I looked over one very closely and was invited to see this limited production. First thing I noticed... the 16" Michelin LTX AT2 tires. Nice... The interior components appeared exactly like our 2006 Safari and current 2014 International.

Yes... I did like the F350 Ford Diesel pulling the Pendleton. Now I have my own F350 Diesel... but after the Wyoming Adventure... am stripping down the 2014 International interior, also to similar 'upgrades' to those done to our 2006 Safari, during the second year of ownership.

Just minor hardware upgrades. Not a sledge hammer free for all...

So to jump start this thread, I will lean towards explaining myself by the liberal use of simple text and paragraphs.

I have a neighbor who is a very competent Engineer. I will be knocking on his door to squeeze any ideas on how to FIX my 'self imploding trailer' into a 'macho machine' that can handle a bump in the road, dust, mud and freshly bulldozed Forest Service access roads into the unknown.

In order of importance... at this moment, and to change when other catastrophic failures occur with our not so old Airstream:

(1) Closet door hinges in Airstreams, using those found at home... not on wheels.

This is the number ONE complaint. I am tired of the hardware vibrating loose the inadequate hardware bolts, screws and cheap plastic latching hardware to secure these doors.

(2) Drawers. The same 'cheap' latching hardware. If I had these in my home, the latches... I would be embarrassed! I heard the stock latches are 10# and there is a 20# available.

(3) Plumbing to dump grey and black water. Yes, I realize some systems need to be installed where they are at... just because. Having the 'flush' system in FRONT of the axles is BEST. Having them BEHIND the axles is just an invitation to leave them AT the last rest stop you departed... and with liquid Howdy DOO left as your trail out of town.

(4) Pop Rivets. The EXTERIOR rivets have never failed. Great!!!!

(5) Pop Rivets. The INTERIOR rivets on the curves and obvious stress points need to be improved. I had two more interior rivets pop during the last two weeks. This now makes SEVEN. My lath screw 'stone age' repairs are holding.

So... I do not time out on this 'short introduction' of my idea of a Macho Airstream Trailer in planning... are there some items you want to add on the list to solve? As I hammer or screw my way out of my problems... I will report how and especially WHY it was done.

If this flops around like a five inch trout on the end of your fly rod line... well so be it. I will keep all of this to myself and you are...

FOREVER ON YOUR OWN.
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Old 08-24-2016, 08:12 PM   #2
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I am going to have to rebuild the bed on the curb side that I was using as a pantry. It collapsed under the weight of the cans stored there. Shoddy stick and staple construction with no support to the floor. I understand the need to keep the weight down but shoddy should never be the solution.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:15 AM   #3
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Adding #6 to #14 ideas for a Macho Trailer

cont':

(6) Radio. Having one AM and three FM options is nice for those at a city RV Park. Boondocked in the mountains or distant places with no local stations is an issue. A Boondocker needs access to stations with weather reports and local area news. The Panasonic has great sound and the LED color show is really not needed for us. A better antenna would be a plus. AM, FM, Short Wave, Long Wave, Weather or some practical variations where reception is sparse. Like much of Wyoming. My weather reports at DuBois was Salt Lake City. Not even similar.

(7) Cabinet construction. Even 'cheap furniture' has dove tailed cabinets. Staple and maybe glued joints is beyond cheap. It is a poor choice for the price paid. Also not secure when moving and when they fall out... the cabinet will self disassemble itself. One member had his upper cabinet fall out, broke into pieces and was replaced by warranty (not on this trip). The drawer 'slides' were also being replaced.

(8) ALL Airstreams should have a minimum 15" wheel and 16" for Boondockers. Michelin 16" Load Range E's may be overkill... but dependable.

(9) Interior cabinets have to be secured to one another... with real hardware. Same applies to the securing of the bases onto the floor. I can see where our bathroom fixture has 1/4" play on the floor that I need to figure out how to keep secure to prevent any separation of components.

(10) Sliding doors in the bathroom. They bounce out of the slots onto the floor and the contents come out and scatter. Again, inappropriate for Boondocking.

(11) All ceiling vents that open to fan venting, (2) Fantastic Fans on the 25 foot, should have permanent vent covers.

(12) Solar. This should be standard on ALL Airstreams. Take the television out of our bedroom and use that cost for adequate solar panels to maintain the battery charge. Make the television in the bedroom ... optional. Not the other way around.

(13) Sealed Batteries. AGM or other sealed batteries so not to 'leak' sulfuric acid into the battery box. The cost is minimal in the cost we pay.

(14) The models with the fan cooling system for the refrigerator is problematic. The snap switches do not preform as they should and the CHEAP fan is ready to fail with the loud grinding day and night. Never used the microwave in either tailer... my mistake... a second time. At least in the 23 footer, the exhaust fan was quiet and worked. No Microwave... you get the outside ceiling vent for the Dometic. With Microwave... you get the fan vent.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:34 AM   #4
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Our microwave is being pulled out before we move the Airstream. I will never purchase a trailer from a Dealer's Lot again, unless it is 95% or more useful in appliances and interior materials and floor coverings. Even getting a good price on this trailer on the lot, now has lost its luster. BUY only a trailer that has what you need and want. If you plan to keep the trailer for a long time... it is to your advantage.

These are not criticisms of our Airstream overall. The Engineers at Jackson Center are using decades old hinges and components. They seem to resist improvements over the status quo. If no one complains... you get what you deserve. A new trailer with twenty year old condo apartment hardware and cabinets. I leased apartments over Commercial Property built in the 1960's that were no different from those in our current trailer.... and maybe these apartments needed to be upgraded since we sold them.

The off white leatherette fabric when Boondocking is a bit... much. We paid to have seat covering made that can be zippered on and off to launder. Everything on the lot in 2015 has this stuff that a dog could be trashed quickly. Lucky for us... we trained our two Blue Heelers to stay on their own 'cushions' under the kitchen table and on the floor.

By next year OUR trailer will be outfitted for our uses. The same problems found in the 2006 Safari are in our 2014. Nothing changed. Even the screws vary in length from one cabinet to the next. Obviously being assembled at several places.

Check your hardware. You will find out when they vibrate out of the fixtures.

Our screws securing the microwave frame are backing out and the lower right corner is splitting. Our 2006 microwave was installed with a similar frame and the rear bottom was sitting on some wood. When traveling the microwave would move up and down to force the screws to back out and enlarge the holes that secure everything. Soon I will discover how the 2014 is secured to the fixture over the refrigerator.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:46 AM   #5
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One last comment and if there is no interest, why should I care?

I imagine there is MORE attention to the color scheme and fabrics used for the interior than the mechanical and function of hinges and securing fixtures to the floor, walls and ceilings.

Pretty... does not indicate quality. It is the surface that hides anything that should have more attention. Much like the rind of a watermelon looking firm and indicating a tasty interior... well, those who know their melons understand what I am saying.

Two weeks on Wyoming back roads does find weaknesses in the interior construction of ANY brand of trailer. Airstream needs to take half of their engineers away from their desks and computers... Boondocking. They will discover that they know nothing about what we find daily when traveling.

Those restoring older models of Airstreams are making these changes. One gal in Laramie, Wyoming was taking it upon herself to restore and improve her 1953 Airstream... when weather permits. I do hope she finds this thread and will help solve some of these issues.

OK... Maybe the Oliver or the Casita has potential. I am still trying to get an Oliver owner in the Denver area to permit me to examine the construction... with no success, yet. Even Oliver itself is reluctant to send any information concerning interiors and exterior construction. The web site is closed to NON Oliver participation and questioning.

Please... Airstream Engineers. Integrity of the interior is important. Accessories needed for Boondockers are different from main stream Airstream owners. Although a small number use their trailers for things other than WBCCI events and Rallies... but improvements to all Airstreams is good for everyone and not damaging the Airstream Legend... and keep it FACT that there is quality for the price.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:54 AM   #6
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There needs to be a whole new model line. The Byam Boondocker. It's not just Airstream, most of the RV industry is not geared to make a trailer that really goes places.

For years, I thought Cabela's should get into the game and have a licensed edition of a trailer that was outfitted for the back country.

It really must be a demand issue. Most people I know who drag a trailer over horrendous roads usually do so on a limited bases for elk or deer season and they just run their old box trailers until the wheels come off be then go buy a new one.
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:21 AM   #7
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Thiss... Byam Boondocker... that is a great idea!

The African 'Adventure' started with a group of 'wide eyed' travelers, who quickly discovered Boondocking over unimproved roads was more than their soft constitutions could handle. At the end of the African Adventure... only a tiny fraction were left to claim it possible.

Insulation of the interior walls.

We keep an outside and inside temperature monitoring system. I have not been noting interior and exterior temperatures during the day... but at times the exterior and interior temperatures are close to one another. Too close.

At Sawmill Creek just west of Lander, Wyoming we had FROST several evenings on the tops of our trailer. The interior was in the low 40's, the temperature unit sitting on the battery cover indicate mid 30's and the frost on the roof... maybe in the mid to upper 20's.

Maybe fill the outer and inner spaces with an injected insulating foam at Jackson Center and not fiber glass? I understand that currently it is some kind of fiber glass stuffing. If it works for homes in Canada using spray foam in the attics... it would work for our trailers. Once the interior wiring is checked out it sure would keep those from oscillating between the walls, as well.

The 'furnace' is a battery drainer. We will be getting a 'Little Buddy' propane unit that several on the Wyoming Adventure had.

Air Conditioning? Have not needed AC in the Rockies... ever. We are fortunate with low humidity and even 90 degrees is comfortable. Try it... you will then understand.

When camped with cool evenings, orientate the trailer at an angle so the sunrise heats the long side of the trailer and open the door as your... furnace. When camped with hot evenings, orientate your trailer's front or rear end into sunrise, so not to heat up the aluminum skin.

I would have to believe that one could purchase a UHaul truck, build your interior to your needs, have a mechanical engine to rear end inspection before purchase... and have the ultimate Macho RV... Not a Byam Boondocker, but built up from nothing.
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:31 AM   #8
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Australia has off-road trailers that are really built

If you want to see some trailers that are truly built for off roading check out Australia's camper trailers. Here is an article that lists the 12 best but it is a couple of years old:
http://www.campertraileraustralia.co...mper-trailers/

I'm sure there are newer ones. Campers (human and vehicular) really have to be tough to off road down under.
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:43 AM   #9
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Traileritus... I tried the website, but when posted some of the website details must have been omitted.

I watched in Australia, the procession of all kinds of trailers being towed onto ferries going to Tasmania. Even the Toyota tow vehicles were models not seen in the USA, that had high clearances and appeared to be upgraded for real Boondocking.

No Ford F Series. No GMC's. No Dodges. The tow vehicles were nothing I had seen before, with exhausts and intakes for dust and high clearances. These people were serious about camping.

In New Zealand the campsites were packed with all sorts of smaller trailers and lots of canvas to extend living spaces. Everyone seemed content that it was a large grassy field and ignored the closeness of everyone. A common site was the 'bathing in their shorts' in close quarters and no one gave it a second thought...

The units were smaller. I am sure on the ferry the length determines the cost.

Since we were on a Cruise... I would have liked to seen more established campsites. Those I did see were on the coasts and pay sites, not Off the Grid.

The Australian options would be much more remote once in the interior. We think of our remote locations as... remote. Australia is real 'Out Back'. Never saw one Airstream or those large US fifth wheels in use. Just anything on wheels and a canvas tent seemed the number one choice. I would expect the Oliver and Casita sized trailers would fit the Australian Boondocker's experience. If I have the opportunity to Boondock Australia... I want to dig through the entire set up... We are wuzzies compare to the Aussies!
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:47 AM   #10
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For sure! I have been intrigued by their pop up, "urban escape" vehicles for a a while too.

https://youtu.be/SpKGm3TC5jc

There are certainly some things to learn, and I think an Airstream could oncorporate many features.

Glad to read your thread Ray. I will certainly appreciate the ideas for my own trailer.
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:27 PM   #11
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The best way to prepare for off road adventures in your 'stream is to take a 3 month tour to Fairbanks, AK and back. Then stop by The Airstream Service Center and have them fix and beef up all the things that came loose. Now you have an off road capable Airstream. If you do this before the 2 year warranty expires this service will be on Airstream's nickel. Besides, they will look over your trailer and make notes on future production improvements needed. Warranty work really is a delayed form of QC. Problems are never eliminated entirely by QC during initial assembly. The factory closely monitors the Service Center's warranty service costs. I was really impressed with what they fixed and strengthened when they went through mine after my AK trip. I had only one rivet to replace, but several furnishing repairs. No appliance repairs either. Overall, I was glad I made the shake down trip. Great peace of mind for long term ownership. You might investigate a 2-4 inch lift kit for more ground clearance on the longer trailers. Ask Colin Hyde about this modification.
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:32 PM   #12
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I have had some of the same thoughts as you. I have had 4 Airstreams, and am getting tired of the pore construction methods they are using. From the paper then aluminum to the sub floor material that fall apart once it gets wet. I have had two Avion, and they have a lot thicker aluminum then Airstream.
So what I am going to do is take all of the experience that I have gained working on Airstream and build the RV that I want out of an all aluminum horse trailer. It comes with truck wheels, and heavy duty axles. All aluminum flooring and a roof that so strong one can store hay up there. Hope to see you in the Boonies some time.
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Old 08-25-2016, 02:02 PM   #13
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Most of your suggestions would help for just driving on paved roads especially making the rounds of National Parks. For the price of these trailers, they could take it up a notch on quality.
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Old 08-25-2016, 03:00 PM   #14
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Horse Trailers are more versatile than you think!

Melissa Lee... the 'horse trailer' can be checked out at any Rodeo in the USA... not a bad idea when you are hauling an ATV. Hmmm.... And money can be made hauling horses to cover your investment. Bring a coal shovel...

The Ranch we purchased our two Blue Heelers was making extra cash with liters of pups. It was for their new 'horse trailer' that also had a living quarters up front. I would suspect that finding a used horse trailer would be difficult, as no ranch is going to part with theirs unless... their current trailer is at the End of the Trail in use and needs to be replaced.

When you and I say 'horse trailer'... many think of the small trailers towing one, two or four horses. Nope, not close at all. Some are for their Arabian, Peruvian or specialty horses to haul to a Rodeo and living quarters in the front.

Thinking about your idea... it might serve me well to look over some Ranch trailer equipment. The hardware I need might be just down the road from me. Having a full sized horse trailer I could also toss a couple of kayaks onto the roof for Nancy, me and the two Blue Heelers at Lake Mead, Nevada.

I drove an Arabian horse from the Shalimar Ranch north of Harrison, Nebraska to DuBois, Wyoming in 1975. Just a two horse trailer and a ranch pickup that had more than enough use. The Arabian horse and owner flew in from the United Kingdom and wanted to ride 'across the Rocky Mountains' to somewhere. She was stuck in western Nebraska and the rancher wanted to 'help her get further west' than their ranch. I was collecting fossil mammals in their Badlands and was offered a deal I could not refuse... take her, her horse and Go West... far west.

It was a hard earned $100, but this woman was a bit surprised at the lack of towns in western Nebraska and Wyoming! Received a Post Card from the UK several months later, saying she finished the trip. Another tough gal to have the courage to do what had not been tested or requiring a guided tour. As anyone should know, an Arabian horse is like a high performance car and makes any long trip difficult to plan ahead.

There are many 'hobby horse owners' in my area. One has their four donkeys hauled each winter, down south and back in the spring.

Sometimes it is good some think outside the confines of one's experience. A post like yours is a welcome relief to the Cow Patty and Horse Nuggets stuck to my boots. Keep hunting. You may have found a trailer and a part time occupation!
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