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Old 06-08-2009, 11:59 PM   #1
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
Dallas , Texas
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 169
Pickup of 1956 Flying Cloud

I am about to join the ranks of Airstreamers, as I soon will be picking up a 56 Flying Cloud that I have purchased. It will be my first coach and my first real towing (other than some rental trailer towing), so I have lots to learn.

The FC is generally in good shape, but it has been sitting for the last two years. I will tow the coach 550 miles to its new home, my garage, where I will be working on it. The tow vehicle is a ½ ton Suburban, 4WD, towing package, with radial tires.

Before I arrive for pickup, I will have the seller tow the FC from the seller’s farm into town and have it serviced. I am trying to prepare a checklist for the pickup (and pre-pickup service on the FC), and I would appreciate any input any of you would care to contribute. I am cross-posting this to both the FC forum and the towing forum.

Here is my working checklist:

1. Wheels. When I inspected the coach, I forgot to examine the wheels to determine if they are the old split-rims, but the attached photo from the seller indicates to me that the wheels are not split-rim; am I correct? I understand that I would need 15" x 6", zero offset, 6 lug pattern on 5.5" spacing, rated at 2600 pounds. A properly rated Chevy truck wheel would work, correct?
2. Tires. What advice as to tire size and specifications? I found a thread at http://www.airforums.com/forums/f438/common-tire-size-for-50s-vintage-rigs-51971.html , and one person chose 225/75 Marathons on a 1955 (it had 7.00 X 15's), another person reported that 1954 Airstreams used 700-15 6 ply tires and chose Michelin 700-15 radial tires on his 1951 Clipper, and another reported that the closest radial tire size to the bias ply 7.00 x 15" is the ST 225R 75 x 15" load range D. I expect that the tires I purchase will be little used, as the coach will be jacked up for several years, because I will be able to work on it only in the summers. On the tow home, most of the route will be Interstate, and virtually all on pavement (except the last ½ mile at low speed to the garage). If I purchase new tires, I will need to get them balanced.
3. Springs. Examine the leaf springs, and grease the shackle bolts. Now that I think of it, I should I have the shackle bolts removed to examine the bolts, links, and bushings. Anyone have sources and part numbers for the bolts, links, and bushings?
4. Wheel bearings. Replace the wheel bearings (the coach has been stationary for 2 years). Does anyone have part number/s or a more detailed description of the components of the bearings that I need to get ordered? As far as I know, the coach has the original (Hadco?) axle.
5. Shocks. Replace the shock absorbers. Does anyone have a description or part number for what I need? Monroe 33033 per http://www.vintageairstream.com/floyd/restoration/brakes/brakes.html.
6. Brakes. I admit that I really do not know much about brake systems and the brakes on the FC I am buying. I think that the current owner towed the coach without brakes on the FC. I eventually want to replace the axle, brakes, etc. (see http://www.vintageairstream.com/floyd/restoration/axle/axle.html ), but first I need to get the coach home. I expect that the coach has the original hydraulic brakes, but I am unsure of their condition (can anyone point me to a good discussion of hydraulic brake systems on 1950s Airstreams?). What are my choices to get the coach home (particularly if I expect eventually to replace the axle and brakes)? What is required on the tow vehicle regarding the brakes on the coach? If I drive slowly (50 mph) and carefully (through Wyoming and Montana) on the Interstate, can I tow the coach home without brakes and deal with the axle and brakes later on?
7. Running lights. I need to confirm that the running lights operate (and, if not, get temporary lights to use on the tow home). Do I need to have the side clearance lights operating to be legal? If the rear lights operate as turning lights, running lights, and brake lights, is that enough to be legal? I checked the Airstream website, which has some wiring diagrams for the connector between the tow vehicle and the coach, but the information does not go back to 1956. I now have a flat, 4 prong connector on my Suburban, which I used to tow a rental trailer several years ago. How should my tow vehicle be wired (and what connector will I need to match the connector on the coach)? I plan eventually on rewiring the running lights on the FC, so I do not want to waste money on a connector that I will not continue to use. If I could purchase a set of 4-prong connector temporary lights, maybe that would be best.
8. Hitch ball. I have a 2" ball on my receiver; does that match the size of the coupler? My vertical height to the top of the ball is 18 1/2”; does that need adjustment to tow the FC home?
9. I need a jack to remove a wheel in the event of a flat on the way home. Any advice as to what I should have? Is there a consensus as to where a jack should be placed under the coach in the event of a flat tire?
10. I need a torque wrench with a deep socket to match the lug nuts. Any suggestions as to a wrench that would serve?
11. Several of the coach window latches are absent or not working. Any suggestions on how to secure those windows for the tow home? I am wondering if a variety of bungee cords might be useful for this.
12. I assume that I will need tow vehicle extension mirrors.

Any other issues I should consider?

Many thanks.
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