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Old 06-30-2002, 09:18 AM   #1
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I finally got it home....

the trailer ('73 safari 23') I bought a couple of weeks ago finally got its plumbing leaks repaired, and I picked it up yesterday and drove it home. I've never towed anything w/ my '00 ram 1500 (318/auto/4x4), but I've seen many comments that it should be "just fine" for towing such a trailer. In fact, the maximum towing weight is double what this trailer should weigh empty (3500lbs; max towing is 7200 for the ram). And I've seen many people use similar 1/2 tons to pull much larger trailers. But I was really surprised at just how much impact the trailer had. The truck pulled it "ok"...no major problems or anything, but accelleration on the highway was significantly impacted.....most surprising was the engine/auto-trans behavior....the shifting and engine rpm's were just so "different" than I am used to. Rpm's would rev up very high before shifting to the next gear, and so forth. On the highway, I found that what seemed like slight hills would make the tranny downshift easily. Playing with the overdrive switch (electronic on this model) yeilded unexpected results, too. perhaps it'll just take some time to get used to this behavior, but it isn't just a way to shut-off 4th gear; it obvioulsy changes the shift-points of all the other gears, too. I suspect that all of this may very well be "normal", and will just take some getting used to. My "feel" for the truck is based on it almost always being empty, and in that configuration, it is very "spry"...accelerating briskly and effortlessly, and a light touch on the accellerator pedal throws one back in the seat. RPMs seldom top 2500. Not so with a trailer attached.

anyway, i'm thinking that I should probably just jack up the trailer and see that the wheels spin freely. The brakes seem to work fine, in fact I had to adjust the brake controller downward several times to keep the wheels from locking up. They weren't abnormally hot when I got home, so they're probably fine....but it just seems that an empty trailer should pull easier.

One good thing was that I didn't notice any sway at all, as several 18-wheelers passed me. no problem at all, there.
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:19 AM   #2
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Hi Chuck,

I had the same concerns when I pulled a trailer the first time. Everything behaved strangely, shifts were unusually late, the engine revved more, like it was a different vehicle.
I think a 318 is ok, but not great for towing a 3000+ lbs trailer. My van has a 360, and that's actually not strong enough for my taste. But it is otherwise so stable and safe, that I just take my time, after all, it's not a race, but a vacation, no?
Once your trailer is outfitted with water and food, propane and the essentals, your performance will drp another few notches.
My mechanic strongly recommends leaving hte overdrive off in hilly conditions, and using the lower gears on steeper roads to keep the transmission from shifting back and forth alot, which is very damaging to the clutches. I followed his advice with very good results. He also recommends instaling a heavy duty transmission cooler for towing to keep the transmission alive longer.I will do this before my next long trip.
( 100 mls or more)
Also, if your truck is a 4x4, as stated, then often larger tires come into the picture, which throw off your overall axle ratio and make the truck sluggish in take-off. I don't know the exact relationship in numbers, but I know it makes a HUGE difference at the end. If you have bigger than standard tires, then probably you want the ring and pinions changed to accomodate the larger tires, or switch back to the originals.
You might consider an axle ratio change even if you do have the original tires. Many 1/2 ton trucks were set up for economy and comfort, not towing heavy stuff. ( Even though the ratings say differently)
Do not be afaid of RPM, as long as it's reasonable. Most state's trailering speed limits won't make your engine throw a rod if you leave it out of overdrive.
In my case, I shift out of overdrive even in headwinds and just slow down about 5mph.
( anemic Dodge Ram B350 Extended van)
Good luck to you
Uwe
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Old 06-30-2002, 11:13 AM   #3
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Truck is all "stock"...doesn't have oversized tires, and it does have the factory tow package, which includes a tranny cooler. So that should be just fire.

I think its just like I said...I'm not used to hearing that engine "roar" like that....but the rpms were not unreasonable...maybe as high as 3500 max when accellerating from 0. But now that I think of it, this "impression" could also be rooted in my general dislike for automatic transmissions, and perhaps an inaccurate understanding of how they work. If this were a stick, I'd have probably shifted in exactly the same places, and I guess I'm just a tad surprised that the tranny has as much intelligence as it does. Also, my previous truck was an '87 dakota, and when I loaded that sucker up, its change in performance was hardly noticeable. (which also surprised me at first, only in the opposite direction). Then again, I never towed anything heavy with it, and its max payload wasn't nearly as much as this trailer weighs. but that little truck would plow snow like nobody's business!! I think it may have actually had a bigger rear-end than my current truck.

The other thing is that most of my "big truck" experience involves 1-ton trucks and heavier. I've towed big tractors on flat-bed trailers, and found the performance impact to be minimal.....but that's what those trucks were built for. in a previous occupation, I drove around all day in a chevy 1 ton and later, a "super duty" that had a 16,000lb gvw, carrying a 600 gallon tank full of fertilizer, plus other equipment....in the morning when it was full, it was just "a little pokey"...that's all. BUT...it still "looked" like a pickup truck, and was the same size as a pickup-truck.....so I think in my subconscious, I was seeing that "I can put "this enormous amount" in my work truck, so I should be able to pull "this small trailer" in my personal truck, with similar performance"....
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Old 06-30-2002, 12:02 PM   #4
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So very glad to see you arrived home safely with your "New-Airstream 73 safari 23". Now the fun really begins. Be sure to share your Discoveries and any post any photos in your AirstreamForums PhotoGallery with us. We expect to see lots of posts.

I have an often overlooked suggestion for you. In your Dodge trucks Owner Manual, you will find a section on Towing. I would advise you to read through it. It will tell you about using your overdrive while towing and any other requirements that the truck will have.

You should also conduct a running gear inspection. Pull the wheels and repack the bearings. It is a really very simple must do PM (preventive maintenance) item and will prevent major problems while traveling. You will then know when it was last done and it will also give you a chance to inspect the brake system.

Have fun and welcome to the "New Owners Club"

Best Regards;
-BobbyWright
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Old 06-30-2002, 12:26 PM   #5
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Yep, I've read through the o.m....and I'm going to do it again and again....;-).

wheel bearings: never done this before...any links on a "how-to"? I do know that the brakes and tires were new 3 years ago.

gotta go out now and get some replacement bulbs......
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Old 06-30-2002, 12:31 PM   #6
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Just to make sure, I was refering to your Dodge Truck Owner's Manual.

Disregard this Post if that is the manual that you meant.

-BobbyWright
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Old 07-01-2002, 11:43 AM   #7
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Towing....

Ever look at the specs for the engines in your vehicles? It might say something like "275 HP @ 4800 RPM". Look at the horsepower and torque curves for the engine you have, and you will see that most peak well over 3000 rpm, in gasoline engines. Granted, most folk keep the RPM's down under 2500 or less during "normal" day to day driving. The different shifting points and the higher RPM's are nothing to be concerned about. Your vehicles on board computer senses the difference in load and tells the automatic transmission to shift at different points to compensate for the additional load. Nothing to worry about, higher revs can be good for the engine, blows the carbon out! The big thing to consider is the torque rating on the engine. Torque gets you up the hill not horsepower. You would see a big difference between a 250 hp @ 1000 ft lbs of torque, versus a 300 hp @ 400 ft lbs of torque engine. The 250@ 1000 engine would blow the doors off the other engine on a hill.
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Old 07-02-2002, 02:28 PM   #8
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Chuck,

It's so good to hear you got your beauty home. I'm the guy who has the same year/model you have out here in Wash. state. My dad pulled my Safari for years with his 1979 Chevy shortbed 1/2 ton and a 300CI six cylinder engine with 4spd stick. In fact, one summer he towed the trailer back to your side of the world and back and had no problems with his truck. He even towed it to Death Valley for the 49ers round-up every summer for years. He did say he was slower on the hills than most but he has always been loyal to his truck. I'm pulling that same trailer now with an 1984 Dodge 1 ton and a 360 engine. The size of the engine is fine but the 1 ton part is alot stiffer than I should have for this small of trailer. I couldn't pass up the truck, however, as it looks like new and had only 106K miles on it. I'm busy now glueing new canvas on my tambour doors and installing my new 55 amp Intellpower power converter in place of the old Univolt humming machine. It's so great to have peace and quiet again. The fun part has been transfering the old fuse panel from inside the Univolt to my new converter. I wanted to use the old panel because it has the adjustable resistor on it to calibrate the amp meter at the control panel above the front window. Good Luck and have fun.
Larry
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Old 07-02-2002, 03:25 PM   #9
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Oh, yes, I remember you Larry. I think we're the only 2 here w/ 73-23's. Wasn't it you that told me that the tv antenna connections should be over the 'fridge? couldn't find it.....

I did post a couple of pictures on airstreamforums.com.....

so that ampmeter...is it accurate? what do you do, adjust it so that it matches whatever your multi-meter says?

Have you found a source for replacement tambour doors, or are you just "fixing" the one's you have? most of mine were removed and replaced with functional, but lousy looking home-made sliding doors. they're made from a simple cut piece of that "fake-panneling" that was popular in the '70's. I'd like to someday get tambors back in there, just for the sake of authenticity.....at the very least, I'll get a 4x8 sheet of "fake panneling" that matches the cabinets.....
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Old 07-02-2002, 03:59 PM   #10
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Chuck,
Yes that was me. My advise about the TV connection location was from memory. I'll recheck it tonight and get back to you. As far as the amp meter, I am making some assumptions as I don't have a service manual yet. (I plan on buying one) I believe, however, that the front amp meter is calibrated by the large copper variable resistor on the fuse panel inside the Univolt. I can't think of anything else up front that would be adjusted at the converter. I am going to pull out the meter and see if the wire is the same color as the one at the resistor. I wouldn't suggest that the amp meter is accurate but mostly I want to have everything work close to the original. It's biggest use would be to see if I left anything on (a functional devise). I saw your pictures and your trailer looks great. I'm sure you're going to enjoy it. I'll get back to you about the antenna connection soon.
Larry
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Old 07-02-2002, 05:38 PM   #11
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Chuck,

Have you seen the the photo archives at Vintageairstream.com? They have pictures of a 73, 23' Safari. It close to the same condition as mine. It also appears to have the double bed like mine. I recently met a local couple near here who have a 73, 25' A/S. It looks alot like the 23 but has longer twin beds. I want to get back and talk to them. The guy said he made some change to his waste tank to accomidate some sort of gray water system. I don't know what he was refering to as I had to leave. He also has an original 73 service manual and I want to see what one looks like.

http://www.vintageairstream.com/index.html

Larry
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Old 07-02-2002, 08:02 PM   #12
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yeah, that looks alot like mine....I think the exterior finish looks better on mine, but the interior on the "vintage" site one looks great..much better than mine. But mine has the same color counters, and woodwork. (something tells me its not really "wood", but anyway...). It looks great w/ all the original tambour. I wish I could get mine replaced.

Oh, and I have the twin beds.
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Old 07-03-2002, 10:50 AM   #13
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Chuck,

I took a closer look at my TV antenna connections last night. My memory was correct. My antenna cables run through the roof, across the ceiling and through a hole in the rear of the overhead storage bin directly above the refrigerator (that's the one with the tambour doors). Inside the bin is a cream colored plastic box (about 8" square) that protects all the connections. On the underside of the storage bin hangs another wedge shaped plastic box (same color) that has a 12V cigarette lighter socket and an old style three hole antenna socket. Next to this plastic box is a standard AC outlet mounted flush to the bottom surface of the storage bin. All of this looks like it was factory installed. One other thing to consider since we are on opposite sides of the country. Your trailer was was probably built in Ohio while mine was constucted in California. It is quite possible the two factories did some things differently. Also, did you get an owners manual with your trailer? I have my original and could make a copy if you needed one.

Larry
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Old 07-03-2002, 11:06 AM   #14
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thanks again, larry

yes, mine was made in ohio. I saw the 12v and 110 outlets right where you describe, but I didn't notice an antenna recepticle...is it right there on the same plate as the 12v? I'll look again. You have to tilt your head at an awkward angle to see that...I probably just took a quick glance, saw the round 12v hole, and moved on.... I didn't look closely.

I do have the original owner's manual; it makes no mention of the location of antenna connection. It only describes how to use the antenna. It does show on a diagram the location of all the outlets, though, and "over the fridge" is one of them.

Which reminds me: just forward of the door are 2 switches on the wall. one of them is for the light that is outside, above the doorway. What is the other one for??? There's another switch just forward of the curb-side window which also doesn't seem to do anything, but I suspect that one is for the other outside light...the one that looks like a tail-light. (probably just a bad bulb, but I haven't checked it yet.).
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