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Old 06-10-2009, 10:59 PM   #155
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Gene,

I'm probably at 50 ft lbs on the bolts now. I started with them somewhat looser that that and they slipped a little. After repositioning them, I tightened them a little more, being careful not to over tighten and bow the plates, and they haven't slipped since. Also, after the 15,000+ miles I have been towing now, the L-Brackets don't loosen anymore, just rock a little on the pin.

I don't have any chips or scratches on my hitch ball. I always clean the ball and hitch socket, and put a little grease on the top of the ball before starting out on any big trip.

Hadn't heard about not raising the hitch height. I followed their instructions and everything worked out well for me.

Randy
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Old 06-11-2009, 08:36 AM   #156
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Perhaps the word "chip" was ill advised. A small gouge might be more accurate along with pits, though not the pits associated with corrosion. Maybe to say it best: it looks beat up. I haven't gotten on my back under the coupler with a flashlight to see just how it works, just feeling around with my finger, so I'm not clear just what's up there and what it does to the ball. I certainly don't want to replace it and not sure if I have the mojo to remove it.

In between rain storms I was able to relocated the link plates at the proper distance and torqued three bolts to 50 lbs. The gas line was riveted to the frame on the curbside and not wanting to drill out the rivets, I put the bottom bolt below it. That means torquing that bolt to 50 lbs. is not possible without bending the plates, so I stopped when they seem to start bending.

I put the hitch head on the lowest holes on the shank, and the ball came out higher than even with the top inside of the coupler, but about the same place as Airstream recommended (around 19") and less than the Equalizer instructions recommended. I used 6 washers as this lowered the ball 3/8". Then I called Daniel and he said it sounded ok. What I've learned from talking to Daniel is that it's all an experiment and every truck and trailer combination is different.

I think I found a place on my land that is actually level enough (parallel to the truck and trailer actually) to do the next step—attaching the truck and trailer. But when it rains a lot here, the ground turns to clay mud, that is sloppy, slippery, sticks to everything, is impossible to get off of your boots and tires, and dries like concrete. It makes great adobe. I hope it dries out soon so I can finish this job. My intention is to set up the hitch, tow the trailer to a truly flat place somewhere and see if it's ok. Unfortunately a bicycle tour comes through the area Sunday and Monday and there's a lot of activity on Saturday in town (Pioneer Days), so it's Friday (today's shopping and dentist day and it's already rained once) or next week.

We usually complain about how dry it is here, now we're complaining because it's been raining almost every day for 3 weeks.

Gene
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Old 06-13-2009, 08:24 PM   #157
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Yesterday I spend many, many hours trying to get the hitch setup right. I had to load as much stuff as I could find into the truck and trailer to approximate normal traveling conditions. Then I filled the fresh water tank and the grey tank. Waiting for the tanks to fill gave my back a chance to rest after carrying 400-500 lbs. of cargo. The result was probably less than usual weight, but I was already wanting to quit. Before I started this, I walked more than 2 miles on the treadmill, so I was trying to be young.

Then I decided to leave the truck in the shop since I know it is level and a big part of this is measuring the height of the front and back of the truck. I created a spot to pull the trailer up to the shop (western Colorado for "big honking garage") by stacking up a bunch of scrap wood and hoping I got it to the same height as the shop floor. I pulled the trailer up to the door and went to work.

There are a lot of variables and getting the hitch correct for WD and trailer level means working all of them. This means repeatedly connecting everything and then taking it apart, constantly tweaking. These things are heavy and seem to gain weight as the day goes on and on and on. It gets tedious. I understand better why dealers don't do a good job—it takes too much time.

The height of the ball is a major determinant of the levelness of the trailer (I think how level the bars are also makes a difference, but less so). Instead of using the numbers in the instructions, it was suggested to me to go lower. The washers (more means more WD) and the L bracket (higher means more WD) are other variables. And then one is supposed to get the bars reasonably parallel to the tongue. The higher the back end of the bars, the more wear on the L brackets and the harder it is to get the bars onto the brackets.

I tried the head on the lowest holes of the shank, but it made all the other adjustments very difficult. I moved it up one hole and things improved. I kept adding washers and eventually got to 8 and stopped. I raised and lowered the L brackets and settled on 3 from the top. I had gotten the bars parallel to the tongue, but WD wasn't working right, the last adjustment was to the L brackets.

All this had meant many, many measurements at the front and rear wheels of the truck. The idea is make sure you are distributing sufficient weight to the front truck axle and the difference in compression is close on both axles. The tendency is to have more compression on the rear axle; getting them even is very hard. Meanwhile I kept checking the level of the trailer against the level of the boards on the ground (neither were perfect as to level to the planet, but they agreed with one another).

Eventually I knew I was getting close, it was getting late, I was getting hungry, and then the jack died. The fuse was blown. So I had to crank it down by hand after I found the instructions which fortunately came with an allen wrench (I couldn't find mine, probably a function of exhaustion). The front of the truck was compressed 3/8", the rear 7/8" and that was the best I could do. This was all much better than it had been.

I took it for a ride around the block—that's 2 or 3 miles here. Stopped a few times on places where the road seemed flat and everything looked level. When I got home and tried to unhitch, I couldn't get one bar off, probably a combination of exhaustion and having to crank it by hand. The place I park the Safari is level, but where truck sits is uphill which puts a lot of downward pressure on the L bracket. I finally got it off, stumbled up to the house and looked for food and drink. Barb was at the community auction for good causes, so I had to take care of myself. What a day!

You have to do this yourself to understand how this thing works. It's a dynamic process and trial and error is necessary. Explanations help, but in the end, you just gotta do it. What determined that it was set up right was exhaustion, not the best way to make decisions. I could raise the hitch head one more hole and the bars would be more parallel, not sure what effect on WD, and the bars would probably be more parallel. I'm not recovered enough to consider it now.

Next comes the cabinet/bookcase. We will probably pick it up Thursday and it'll take a few days to finish it, then install and another step towards making the trailer ours.

Today was a big day here—31st annual Pioneer Days. The longest parade in this town I remember followed by the melodrama, then the outhouse races. A sunny morning, temp around 70˚, so a perfect day and the rain has stopped. I came home to sleep some more after going to 4 stores looking for a fuse without success. Tonight fireworks over the reservoir. Tomorrow emptying the trailer and truck and putting the boards away.

I don't know why the fuse blew. The constant up and down may have been too much strain. It's rated at 3,500 lbs, but given the weight of both vehicles I think it is at capacity or above many times. Maybe it needed more grease. First I've got to get some fuses to see if it's recovered.

Gene
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Old 06-13-2009, 11:36 PM   #158
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Ugh, that sounds ugly. I guess I should wait until you're here before I try to relevel our hitch after the axle replacement.

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Old 06-14-2009, 11:13 AM   #159
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Lynn, I'll be glad to pontificate and direct your work.

The process was very interesting, though tedious. It may have been Randy or someone else who described it that way in the Equalizer thread cited in #152 and it's true. How all the parts operate together is quite a learning experience. As much as I tried to get it perfect, I don't know if there is such a thing with this. On the other hand, set up badly, it worked fine, so I guess that's reassuring. On my test drive, it felt fine, but now that the bars are arranged differently in relation to the L brackets, they make a lot of noise again.

The problem is I didn't have a muscular, tireless and obedient teenager to do the physical labor. I could have used a package of fuses too. I'd sure like to know if the jack is fried, but I'll have to wait until I get to the Grand Junction metroplex on Thursday and get fuses.

There's the larger question of RV QC. When motor vehicles improved to the point I didn't have to fix them or pay someone else to fix them, I was happy. More time for other things. Now I feel I'm back in the past—having to confront incompetent dealers, spend days waiting for things to be fixed, doing it myself. We love our Toyotas most of all because they are as bullet proof as any product we've ever seen. I wonder whether I would have gotten into this if I had known more when we bought this thing. If I had know about the RV reviews site (RV Rating - Customer Survey of RV Makes and Models) and seen how Airstream compares with other brands, I would have looked at those other brands. Would the style of an Airstream trumped the superior quality of other brands? I don't know.

I am glad I didn't buy a restoration project. It seems like there are a number of threads started by people who buy an old Airstream and then ask what to do next—most of those threads disappear and I suppose another person, perhaps equally uninformed, buys that trailer. Maybe it's the same few trailers getting passed around and each new owner starts a thread.

Well, we're into it now, the bed is comfortable, the kitchen produces good food, the personalizing of the Safari continues and I'm not going to let this thing defeat me. I remain angry about QC. Since there are no good dealers for many, many miles, I have to be my own mechanic or drive ridiculous numbers of miles.

When I see you, Lynn, and we can talk hitches and axles. You can teach me the dynamics of axles and axle replacement and we can discuss brackets, washers and such.

Gene
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:28 AM   #160
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Oh, I hope to be done with the axles by the time you get here! I've finished the one and start the next this afternoon (if the weather holds). Now that I've done it once, the second should go many times faster. Just for starters, I'm not going to drag a heavy axle under the Airstream and back out again three times over just to learn what all needs to be done.


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Old 06-30-2009, 11:23 AM   #161
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I finished the microwave/printer cabinet last week, but have been too busy to document it. We got the cabinet, actually a small bookcase, from an unpainted furniture store. Since pine is lighter than oak, we ordered pine. The quality of the pine is low—the wood is exceptionally soft and different sides don't match well. I don't think I'll be ordering any more unpainted furniture. I drilled two 2" holes in the cabinet backing for wires. I resanded it, used one coat of natural color Danish oil, then 3 coats of polyurethane, each wet sanded with 400 paper. The 4 coats will toughen the surface a little bit. I used 2 strips of wood at the front of the bottom and the shelf to prevent the items from jumping out of the cabinet while we travel. And I used L braces to lock the shelf in place. Despite my complaints, it came out pretty well.

We removed the cushion closest to the TV wall and placed the cabinet next to the other cushion to hold it in place. The space to the right—between the cabinet and the wall is the right size for the Airstream bag and a few other items. I used three screws through the bottom of the cabinet into the plywood underneath to keep it in place.

Testing the final fit of the appliances—I had done it several times before I started finishing it—proved the printer wires were too close to the backing (which is the thinest piece of backing I have ever seen and so poorly stapled, most of them popped off), so I drilled two more holes so the wires would not press against the backing. Then both items fit perfectly. I threaded the USB cable—I needed a 6' and a 10' extension cable—through the back of the cabinet, under the cushions and then over the table supports to the curbside dinette seat where there'll be enough cable to plug it into my laptop. We put some of that nonslip rubbery stuff under each item—to keep it from moving and providing a little cushioning. All I need now is a surge protector for the microwave, printer and TV. There's now a small Navajo weaving on the top of the cabinet (it came after I took the photos) and that really makes it look good and matches the one we have on the sofa cushions.

The printer will enable us to print out weather reports, directions, RV park info, and the various things in life that continue regardless where we are. The microwave will be out of the way and open up counter space in the kitchen. We won't have to keep putting it on the floor for travel. We won't have to worry about whether we left it on the counter and whether it fell off the counter and crashed through the floor.

We also washed the trailer, cleaned off the bugs, polished the rock guard windows, washed the vinyl floor, vacuumed, and generally got it clean for the next trip. We've been airing it out for days to get rid of that chemical smell that persists even with the aluminum interior. I suspect it comes from the fiberboard partitions and this particular load of those boards was soaked more than usual with various chemicals.

We leave for Angel Fire, NM, Thursday for the several day celebration of Barb's grandmother's 100th birthday. I expect it to be chaotic and glad I'm not involved in trying to make this thing work. 200 or so people are expected and I'll be one of the people who married into this family trying to figure out what's going on. Today and tomorrow we have to load up and hope to get out of town early, something we are not very good at. I just found out I have a water company special board meeting tomorrow night, so I'm not too happy about that. But we'll soon be on the road and that's good. After the celebration, on to Santa Fe for a few days—we never go there during tourist season, so this will be different. And then back to Colorado for my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. Barb's family sure keeps me busy.

Gene

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Old 06-30-2009, 11:58 AM   #162
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Gene,
The cabinet and your installation look like a great improvement to the AS. I always thought the long side couch on the FB models could be used better by being shorter and having more storage space.

Dennis
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:13 PM   #163
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I think it depends whether you have kids (or several wives) and want to use the sofa as a bed. Credit for the idea goes to Moosetags. Our is different, but the same idea. What seems obvious now was a complete blank until I saw the photo of their cabinet.

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Old 06-30-2009, 12:54 PM   #164
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Cabinet looks very nice, and kudos to you for being clever enough to do this on your own. (Washing and debugging is a good thing.) Have a safe trip.
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:40 PM   #165
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We set a record today by leaving shortly after 10. Yesterday was zombie day as we filled up the trailer. It's 150' from our front door to the trailer door. That means 17.6 round trips is a mile of walking and I'm sure I made more than 17.6 round trips. Packing the refrigerator must have been 6 or 7 alone. I like the big fridge except when we pack it with 11 days of food. Then there's clothes, other food, stuff and more stuff. Barb probably made almost as many trips, but also spent part of the day cooking food for the trip. She had a book group last night and I had a water company board meeting, so by the time we both got home last night, we were wasted. But we woke up really early, jazzed by the prospect of getting out of town and worrying about whether we would get going early enough.

So we kind of sleep walked through final packing and left at 10:07. An uneventful trip to Angel Fire, NM. The towing was smoother than ever with the Equalizer hitch adjusted correctly. The front end of the Tundra was lower than before and now weight is actually being transferred forward to the front axle. The trailer looks to be level; before it was nose down.

We arrived at Monte Verde campground close to 5:30, tired and glad to be here. Lynn was running after us as when he saw our Airstream. He helped exhausted me back into the space perfectly and we couldn't help ourselves from talking Airstream for a while. We haven't seen his trailer yet and a friend of theirs with a MH345 is here too. Lynn and Maria are very friendly, the grass is green and well kept and there are mountain views in every direction. The wifi works great.

Angel Fire is a ski town, but also busy for the summer and, of course, the 4th of July weekend. Because of paving between Taos and here (30-45 minute delays this week), we went through Red River instead. Red River also has a ski area and is much favored by Texans and there are nightly square dancing events there. The public and private campgrounds were packed everywhere. Lynn told me some people have stopped here without reservations and he has had to turn them away.

Tomorrow the 100th birthday celebration for Barb's grandmother begins with a trip to the family ranch near Wagon Mound. The name of the town comes from a big hill that looked like a wagon to travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. It just looks like a big hill to me, but I'm not in an un-air conditioned wagon and possibly drinking whisky because of the difficulty of finding water while crossing the high desert. It's someone's idea to climb the Wagon Mound tomorrow—not sure I will do that. It will be the second time I've been to the ranch. The first time was almost 20 years ago and it was the first time I'd ever been to a ranch. I remember driving down a two track road deep into nowhere. Barb's many time great-great grandfather bought it to supply beef to his butcher shop in mid-19th century Taos.

Gene
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Old 07-02-2009, 09:08 PM   #166
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Glad to hear you are out on the road again. Lynn is a wonderful host, I was hopping to stop by there again this year, but alas, things often don't go according to plan. If you are near Cimarron on the fourth, the rodeo is a hoot. I am a fan of the wild cow milking contest in particular. When I used to work out that way in the summers we would enter teams in that event. Happy travels.
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Old 07-02-2009, 09:48 PM   #167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
...The wifi works great.
...
Gene
Well, it did until Maria walked up to me and said that it was dead. Durned DSL modem had to be reset, but this is the second time in as many days. Methinks we have to call Qwest and yell at them for a while. (Gene, if you notice no signal, let me know as soon as you can so that we can reset again.)


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Old 07-02-2009, 10:48 PM   #168
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If it were dead, I wouldn't have read your post, so it is alive!

It sometimes cut out, but I think it was the crankiness of the Forum server.

Strange how Lynn and I are sending messages to each other when we're about 75 yards apart.

Rodney, I've been meaning to PM you to see how things are going for you. It must be rough.

Gene
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