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Old 04-14-2006, 01:10 PM   #1
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High-clearance Airstreams?

Complete Newbie here (both to RVing AND AS). Never been RVing or in an AS.

Big-time primitive camper and thinking about getting my wife outdoors with an AS (they are quite iconic).
Here in AZ, there are quite a few completely remote, beautiful car camping spots where you won't see another person for DAYS (I know, just spent 3 days in the Galiuros Wilderness).
Problem is, some (most) of the good, remote spots require a 'high-clearance' vehicle to reach. I'm not talking really off-roading it, but just roads that are unimproved, poorly braided, whatever.

Are there any AS (trailers I would assume) that can manage these types roads? This would be for the purposes of 'dry-camping' in the most extreme sense.
If not, is it possible to modify exsisting AS trailers to make them able to handle these roads? Has anyone even heard of someone doing this?

Although portions of the "RV-Lifestyle" don't attract me (I have no interest in RV parks, or super-developed campgrounds with hordes of people), I have to say that I am interested in having a AS for dry-camping.

Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2006, 02:11 PM   #2
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Safari?

Ravialdo,
I think for the newer AS trailers the Safari's are the best suited for what you're talking about. I would also stick to a smaller one like a 19' to 23'. In general from what I've seen a lot of SOBs have much higher clearance. I think the AS is more designed for smooth highway towing. Here's what I always thought would make a great second RV: http://www.earthroamer.com/. I think after miles of washboard towing in your AS you might open the tralier door to a real mess.
K & L
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Old 04-14-2006, 02:37 PM   #3
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High-clearance Airstreams?

Greetings Ravialdo!

Welcome to the Forums!

If you are considering the possibility of something other than a new or late-model Airstream, there are some options available. Prior to the across-the-board adoption of the Henschen Duratorque Axles in 1960/1961, Airstreams were equipped with either straight or dropped axles with leaf springs. With a leaf sprung coach, it is possible to gain clearance through changing the axle, having new springs fabricated, modifying shackles/mounts. During this era, pre-1960, it was not uncommon to hear of coaches being modified to gain ground clearance for the International Caravans (Capetown to Cairo, etc.). A good friend who has a 1960 Overlander has modified his coach's spring/axle to gain clearance with a net addition of some 2+ inches of clearance.

With the more recent Duratorque Axle equipped coaches, the only option to gain additional clearance is through axle replacement with an axle having modified departure angles. An expensive proposition, and one that is typically not recommended.

Even with the Vintage coaches, changing the ride hight can be expected to make some change in the towing characteristics.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 04-14-2006, 03:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverback
Ravialdo,
I think for the newer AS trailers the Safari's are the best suited for what you're talking about. I would also stick to a smaller one like a 19' to 23'. In general from what I've seen a lot of SOBs have much higher clearance. I think the AS is more designed for smooth highway towing. Here's what I always thought would make a great second RV: http://www.earthroamer.com/. I think after miles of washboard towing in your AS you might open the tralier door to a real mess.
K & L
Oh yes, I would think that only sub-22' trailers would be suited.

Pardon my ignorance, but what does SOB stand for (other than the obvious one....which doesnt seem to fit the context)?
Is the fact that all of your stuff might bounce around the big concern?
Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2006, 03:15 PM   #5
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disclaimer...

After reading Kevin's post I want to clarify that I was not suggesting that a new Safari is a good choice for ride height or off road modification. I think AS is positioning the Safari more for those interested in boondocking and dry camping. One of the reasons we're switching. Just how rough are the roads you're talking about? We've towed over forest roads without any problems.
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Old 04-14-2006, 03:17 PM   #6
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forum acronyms

SOB is some other brand and I was precisely referring to things that can open, work loose and fly around.
-KL
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Old 04-14-2006, 03:34 PM   #7
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Clarification

I guess I should clarify things here. I really am not looking for anything more than the normal clearance a stock SUV from the factory would have.

None of the roads I am talking about (random Forest Service Roads in National Forest areas) would require more than that, I think.
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Old 04-14-2006, 03:36 PM   #8
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverback
After reading Kevin's post I want to clarify that I was not suggesting that a new Safari is a good choice for ride height or off road modification. I think AS is positioning the Safari more for those interested in boondocking and dry camping. One of the reasons we're switching. Just how rough are the roads you're talking about? We've towed over forest roads without any problems.
-KL
THAT is what I am talking about! If you talk to the Forest Service, they will state that alot of these roads they consider 'high-clearance'. When you ask them what that means, I've had some say "Its just means no sedans, SUV's are fine".

So you haven't had any problems, eh? Which forests have you towed over, if you don't mind?
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Old 04-14-2006, 04:09 PM   #9
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Rivialdo,

Check out the new Airstream BaseCamp that is hitting the dealers right now. It's a light weight and simple futuristic design with modular interior and can be expanded with a Kelty add-on tent. It's also a toy-hauler, if you like ATVs, dirt bikes, or such. Price is about $20K, considerably less than a full size AS. With a single axle, it might be able to be modified for higher clearances.
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Old 04-14-2006, 04:18 PM   #10
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Our Safari has limited clearance in the rear because the plumbing hangs down (rear departure angle). In addition, the long distance between the tow vehicle rear axle and the trailer axles means the combination will have a poor breakover angle. Also, the 8-1/2' width and 10 ' height will be limiting. Normal Forest Service gravel roads are not a problem, however many logging roads will not work. Going slow is important to prevent any trailer from shaking itself to pieces.

I had a friend in Germany who towed their older SOB on an extended vacation through Poland. The very rough roads virtually destroyed their trailer.
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Old 04-14-2006, 04:53 PM   #11
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Apache Sitgreaves NF roads

Ravialdo,
In AZ I was referring to the roads around Big Lake in the White mountains. I have to admit we've towed on some paved roads that are pretty bad too.
-KL
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Old 04-15-2006, 11:38 AM   #12
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We just returned from a three month tour of the southwest. Got into several backroad situations with our 29 foot Ambassador. We bought new axles last year, I think Andy said they had an extra clearance angle. Worst places for clearance were driving through washes, but we got to some beautiful, remote places. Recommend unhitching and scouting with the tow vehicle, because I didn't. Had to back up a half mile one time. Figure out where you're going to turn around before you're commited. Had a great time though.
Jada
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Old 04-15-2006, 11:49 AM   #13
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Newer Safaris have some mighty impressive tank capacities, but it comes at a price. The plastic box insulated enclosures hang a significant amout below the belly wrap. The axles are truly the lowest hanging part of the trailer but the tanks are scarcely an inch above them.
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Old 04-15-2006, 11:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravialdo
I guess I should clarify things here. I really am not looking for anything more than the normal clearance a stock SUV from the factory would have.

None of the roads I am talking about (random Forest Service Roads in National Forest areas) would require more than that, I think.
I have 05 25' Safari which I tow on desert dirt roads with F250. The truck/trailer combination has usably as much clearance as a low slung car; places I can take it are about the same as a Camry or such. Don't expect as much clearance as a standard SUV. That said, it is surprising where you can take a standard low slung car if you're careful.

The shorter units are probably better in this regard, and narrower. Second the idea of going slow to avoid shaking it to pieces. This also kicks up a lot less dust.
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