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Old 06-19-2006, 11:21 AM   #1
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Thumbs up 1st Trip...

My family and a good friend of mine went camping this past weekend at Julian in a private campground named Pinezanita (review to follow under "campgrounds") to use my new trailer for the first time.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1)Hitch up-So far, I've yet to put on my hitch/equalizer bars without getting grease all over myself. The equipment is so heavy and cumbersome. Although the equalizer bars "seem" to work I would think there would be a better design where all the equipment could stay on the trailer. Although, by the time I had gotten home to unhook, I had myself some gloves and a lot of rags and I think I came away from that clean.
Question: What grease/lube do you guys use for the ball and load stabilizing equipment?

2)Towing-I thought it towed just fine. I was a little worried with my 5.3l suburban but really I have no complaints. I may go to the 4.11 eventually but definately don't need to. The only thing I noticed when I was in the campground (which was quite hilly) my equalizer bars were making some demonic noises. Is that normal? Also, is it true you should unhook your equalizer bars to back in?

3)Setting up/break down- Ok, I'll start by saying...leveling a trailer sucks. While I was putting my truck in forward/reverse/park a half million times I see a motorhome pull-up, presumably press a switch and these four hydraulic rams level the rig instantaneously. I truly believe AS should have these. Being the ultimate in luxury travel trailers, why not?
Other than that, which I know will get easier the more I do, the set up and break down went fine. Except the awning, I forgot how to do it. As a result our awning was only a little more than 1/2 way out. That's my fault though. I'll have to get another demonstration.

4)Camping-Camping was deluxe. Just sitting outside and looking at my trailer was so much fun in itself. It's such a beautiful piece of machinery to gaze at. Everything seemed to work as it should. The hot water was piping hot. Trailer was really quiet in the evenings and was real easy to control temp. with windows opening and closing. Bed was quite comfortable.
I will be taking it in for a few warranty items, nothing big. The screen door is VERY hard to close. It looks like the rubber seal along the door is all messed. Should be an easy fix. Also, the 1/4 round door under the bed opens up during travel. That should fix easy also.
A couple other notes. I wish the bed were bigger. I may eventually rip out the "desk" area and closet and just put in a whopping bed. I'm a bigger guy and need at least queen, maybe even an Eastern King
Also, I didn't notice that there was a wheel well under the dinette when I purchased the trailer.. It kind of sucks because it's not comfortable for more than two adults. Ohh well. I guess the majority of the time you should be eating outside.


Overall it was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again.

I'll have a few pictures up shortly.
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Old 06-19-2006, 12:05 PM   #2
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Congradulations on your first camping experience. We've had two so far.

1) Hitches are greasy and I use a pair of Craftsman mechanics gloves when installing and uninstalling mine.

2) I have an Equal-i-zer brand hitch and it makes a heck of a noise in tight turns and going over dips in the road (slow of course). I have been lucky enough to get pull-throughs on both trips so far and haven't taken the spring bars off the hitch when backing into the driveway at home. Maybe I should but it makes a a lot of popping noise. Makes me think I have hit something,

3) We use those bright orange plastic square blocks that stack and interlock to level our trailer when we need them. I put a level in the floor cross wise and raise the low end to estimate how much the trailer needs to be raised to know how many blocks I need to put under the wheels then its LEGO time! I turn the level lengthwise after the wheels are leveled and raise or lower the tongue until my wife says the bubble is centered between the lines. It takes about 5-10 minutes for both directions. I agree, it would be nice to have an automatic leveling system.

4) You can't beat camping in an Airstream. We have an island queen in our 30' Safari. It basically is a 30' Front Bedroom, if you will. It seems like it might be a little short for a queen, but it is big enough for my wife and me. We have a king at home so size mattered to us.

I'm glad you had great experiences on your first trip. I couldn't wait to get out in ours on our second trip and we leave in two weeks for our next trip over the July 4th week end. Can't wait.

Enjoy your summer, Tom
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Old 06-19-2006, 12:39 PM   #3
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Alan,
Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I use Reese Hitch ball grease purchased at camping world. We also have an Equal-i-zer hitch, lube the ball and all friction points this will eliminate most of the noise. You don't need to remove the Equal-i-zer spring bars to back the AS. I've taken it to full jack knife to back into some pretty tight spaces.
I also use mechanics gloves when hitching and I cover the hitch with an old paper grocery bag when camping so the dog or kid does not rub on the hitch when it is unhooked.
Set-up and teardown gets easier with each camp. You will establish your own set-up and teardown check list there are several posted in the forums.
Happy camping,
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Old 06-19-2006, 12:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killo1
1)Hitch up-So far, I've yet to put on my hitch/equalizer bars without getting grease all over myself. The equipment is so heavy and cumbersome. Although the equalizer bars "seem" to work I would think there would be a better design where all the equipment could stay on the trailer.
Question: What grease/lube do you guys use for the ball and load stabilizing equipment?
I like to use a synthetic grease because it doesn't turn "milky" when it gets wet. Caution, being waterproof it's really hard to wash off. I like the Reese style bars better than the old EA-Z-Lift ones I used previously. They go in from the side which means I don't have to have as much ground clearance to get them on and off. When they come off I wrap them in an old kids play rug. I'm going to get a Rubbermaid bin to put the hitch and bars in since we end up swapping out the hitch for a bike rack most of the time after we park.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Killo1
The only thing I noticed when I was in the campground (which was quite hilly) my equalizer bars were making some demonic noises. Is that normal? Also, is it true you should unhook your equalizer bars to back in?
Don't know about Equalizer brand hitches. Their set-up is a little different than EA-Z-Lift or Reese. That would be a major pain in the rear if you had to remove them to back up. A little noise isn't uncommon but I've never noticed anything constant or excessive. No more than after making a really sharp turn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Killo1
3)Setting up/break down- Ok, I'll start by saying...leveling a trailer sucks.
I saw someone with the orange Legos this weekend. I'm going to have to get a set. There's only so much you can do with the "jacks". I don't think the trailer is designed to be lifted by them and if you don't bring wood pads they leave a nice divot in the asphalt


Quote:
Originally Posted by Killo1
set up and break down went fine. Except the awning, I forgot how to do it.
Still struggling with that. Ours is an old Zip-Dee. Some silicon lube helped except now the thing "skys" on us when we're not looking. The bars that hinge out from the top and are suppose to hold the main supports out don't appear to have holes for the little pins to drop into? Maybe lubing these slides was a mistake? The end of our strap has rotted from being left exposed all these years and needs a piece of webbing sewed on. The rest of the awning is in great shape and I assume its the original from 1978. We also have an issue with some of the rivets/screws attatching the mounting pads to the trailer. Going to have to have that fixed ASAP.
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Old 06-19-2006, 12:49 PM   #5
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We have an Equal-i-zer with 1,000 pound capacity and it is certainly a load when removing it and stowing it in the back of our SUV where it resides when not in use. Messy too.

So, to solve some of these issues, I made a simple pine box to hold all three major parts of the hitch: the ball assembly and the two leveler/anti-sway bars. The bars are easily removed with that single pin on each. Now, broken down into three parts it is easy to lift them one-by-one into the box. The length of the box is just a bit longer than the bars, which is quite a bit shorter than the parts put together. This makes for a nice, fairly compact container that frees up space in the rear of our SUV and spares me a likely hernia.
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Old 06-19-2006, 01:02 PM   #6
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[quote=Killo1]...the awning, I forgot how to do it. As a result our awning was only a little more than 1/2 way out. That's my fault though. I'll have to get another demonstration....[\quote]

I would think it's one of two things -

First - did you have the hooks on the supports arms (hinged at the bottom of the trailer) in the bar next to the awning (the uppermost position) or were they in the snap locks that permit your awning arm extension (common Newbie mistake - AMHIK - Ask Me How I Know)?

Second - You have to actually PULL the the "snap locks" to permit extension. Again, AMHIK.

Zip-Dee has excellent instructions ready for downloading at their website if you did not get a hard copy with your trailer.

Hit just about any rally - WallyBubbas or other - most anyone will be glad to help.
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Old 06-19-2006, 01:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
I would think it's one of two things -

First - did you have the hooks on the supports arms (hinged at the bottom of the trailer) in the bar next to the awning (the uppermost position) or were they in the snap locks that permit your awning arm extension (common Newbie mistake - AMHIK - Ask Me How I Know)?

Second - You have to actually PULL the the "snap locks" to permit extension. Again, AMHIK.

.
I'm probably doing it wrong. We have the instructions, cira 1970's. Not at all clear. When the awning is rolled up the main support arms (hinged at the bottom) and the locking arms (hinged at the top) are side by side and a spring load hook on the end of the locking arms secures nicely on an angled pin that sticks out close to the bottom of the support arms.

To unroll there are sping loaded pins you pull out and drop into holes in the support arms at various lengths of extension. We go back and forth until the arms and awing are fully extended with the pins "locked" into the last hole on each arm (I read you can leave one a hole short to help water drain).

So far so good. Now comes using the locking arms (hinged at the top). They have a spring loaded pin you pull to slide out but it doesn't seem to drop into any holes to lock in position like the support arms? The claw which works so well when stowed for travel doesn't seem to work as well in the extended postion. We're trying to hook it on the sping loaded lock pin of the support arm. Sounds like this is our big mistake. Where the heck are they supposed to attach? I"ve looked at other threads and the Zip Dee instructions and I'm just not "getting it".

-Bernie
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Old 06-19-2006, 02:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhayden
I'm probably doing it wrong..... Now comes using the locking arms (hinged at the top). They have a spring loaded pin you pull to slide out but it doesn't seem to drop into any holes to lock in position like the support arms? The claw which works so well when stowed for travel doesn't seem to work as well in the extended postion. We're trying to hook it on the sping loaded lock pin of the support arm. Sounds like this is our big mistake. Where the heck are they supposed to attach? I"ve looked at other threads and the Zip Dee instructions and I'm just not "getting it".
-Bernie
Bernie,

I am assuming you have Zip Dees on your trailer

Let's use the nomenclature from the following website to eliminate (maybe) some confusion.

http://www.zipdeeinc.com/RV%20Produc...-operatio.html

On step 5 of "To Open the Awning" it shows the man locking the "rafter arm" into position - on both of my big awnings the "ratchet stud" is located about 6" from the end of the "larger" aluminum tube (the smaller tube disappears up into the larger one). One problem I encountered early on was that the smaller tube (the inner one) had come out entirely, and the larger one (the outer one) had been inserted 90 degrees out....the "ratchet stud" needs to be on the INSIDE of the trailer when in the "travel position (this was on the "Center" support - just a pin so the outer tube [spring extention] which inserts in the awning roller could go in on any of the four sides). The inner tube - the one without the "hook" on it only has about 6" of "ratchet stops" cut on it. Another possible problem area - IF the outer tube came all of the way out, or if the "stud ratchet" broke (one of mine did) or was reinserted the wrong way (180 degrees out) the ratchet assembly simply will not work correctly. There is an angle cut on the bottom of the locking stud that must correspond to the angle of the grooves cut in the inner aluminum tube. If you feel yours is not working correctly you may want to take the outer arm all of the way off and ensure the angle on the stud is facing the correct way.

One thing the Zip Dee instructions do not say...it takes a pretty hefty push on the rafter arms to seat the stud into the groove when you attempt to latch the "click-stop". Do not be afraid to put more muscle into this than you think is necessary - another problem I had when first using my awnings.

If your still confused the best advise will come from someone who could actually show you how to do it - ask any Airstream owner - talk a little AS BS and he will likely buy the beer to boot.
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Old 06-19-2006, 02:26 PM   #9
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Order is the key to success

Step 1, pull the strap to extend the awning.

Step 2, unhook the upper arms from the studs on the arms and, without extending them, hook them on the axle of the awning. They will ONLY snap onto the awning axle with the awning in this position. Once the awning is raised, they are locked into place. They will not snap into place once the awning is raised.

Step 3, grab the upper arms and, with a snapping motion, shove them outward. They should latch under spring tension without any action on your part. The pin does not have to drop into any hole; there is a sawtooth and the pin will latch at the furthest extension.

Step 3A, if your awning has a center arm, now is the time to insert it into the hole in the awning roll and shove the arm outward as in step 3.

Step 4, extend the lower arms to raise the awning to the final position. Yes, it is good to keep one end a hole lower to shed rain. Even several holes if heavy rain is expected.
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Old 06-19-2006, 03:19 PM   #10
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In awe of awning knowledge

OK, now I can't wait for our next trip to try this. The wife will be amazed, I of course will tell her I figured this all out on my own after extensive engineering study of the system

Big mistake #1 is not hooking the rafter arm on the roller axle.

Mistake #2 is trying to attach the rafter supports after raising the awning to it's final position.

Too bad the trailer is parked against the house so that I can't unroll the awning

Have any of you experts managed or seen all this done solo? It seems hard to fathom that no one has come up with a good system that can be done unassisted.
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Old 06-19-2006, 03:33 PM   #11
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With respect to the towbar assembly - most of the old time Airstreamers take the towbar off of the vehicle and re-hang it from the ball onto the trailer hitch - locking it in place if you wish. The towbar will then swivel back towards the trailer, virtually out of the way and still handy when it comes time to hook up again. I think that the other factor that influenced this procedure is the number of people who have walked into the towbar while mounted on the TV in a crowded campground! You don't want to do that more than once because it hurts like h---!!! As for the equalizer bars, many bars have a hole in the head forging that will permit standing the bars on the vertical pin of the chain attachment assembly - neatly storing the bars out of the way behind the propane tanks. I always rotate the bars until they don't touch the aluminum skin - to prevent corrosion.
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Old 06-19-2006, 03:49 PM   #12
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Easy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhayden
Have any of you experts managed or seen all this done solo? It seems hard to fathom that no one has come up with a good system that can be done unassisted.
I have never needed a second person to raise the awning on any of my 3 Airstreams. If the spring tension is set correctly, the awning will stay in the pulled-out position all by itself while you walk to the end to attach the rafter arm.

When you stow the awning, it should stay pulled out until you hook the awning rod in the loop and give it a shove toward the stowed position.
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Old 06-19-2006, 05:29 PM   #13
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Forgot to mention---
An older couple stopped me on my drive back with "the" question-

"Is that new?" followed with "I didn't know they were in business any longer"

I thought it was humorous.
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Old 06-20-2006, 08:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhayden
Have any of you experts managed or seen all this done solo? It seems hard to fathom that no one has come up with a good system that can be done unassisted.
I always do this unassisted. My wife would be of little help and in the way more than anything else. But I follow the procedure outlined by Pahaska. It was the procedure demonstrated to me by the dealership. I video taped it just to make sure, but I haven't needed the video.
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