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Old 06-08-2015, 08:07 AM   #1
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1954 25' Cruiser
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Newbie Advice Needed

I have a 1954 Airstream Custom that I inherited from my mom who recently passed away. It is on the East coast and I am in california. The trailer is towable but I have never towed a trailer. I am considering heading cross country to bring it home. It will be myself and my adult daughter who has Down syndrome. I have never driven coast to coast. I need to know the best route and safe places to stay. Or advice on transport companies that would bring it here for me.
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Old 06-08-2015, 08:16 AM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us,

Being that you are talking about a cross country two trip, I would first look into having the trailer shipped. Your two way trip may well cost significantly more than having it shipped one way.

On the other hand, getting your Airstream could be a great adventure.

Do you have a suitable tow vehicle that is all set up for towing?

Do you know if the 1954 Airstream is currently ready for camping? If it has sat unused for any length of time, it will likely need some work and/or repairs before it can be used for camping. You may well need to replace tires and brakes before you set out,

Brian
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Old 06-08-2015, 09:03 AM   #3
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Welcome, we're gald you're here. If you aren't pressed for time, you can ask on the forum for an courtesy inspection by an Airstream Owner to evaluate its condition and roadworthiness. Someone will help you out. The big concerns are Tires, Wheel Bearings, and Brakes. (does your tow vehicle (TV) have a brake controller installed?)

If not, maybe you could commission a family member to take it to a reputable RV dealer and have it looked at and serviced.

Towing is easier than you might think. Confidence will come with experience. It really is a hoot when you get the hang of it. In other words, you will be fine. Just start out slow and give yourself plenty of room all around until you get it figured out.

Mirror extensions, available at RV dealers and some auto parts stores make seeing behind a bit easier. They clamp or strap on depending on the model.

The easiest, and most "level" route from coast to coast is Southerly. I-40 to I-30 to I-20 to I-10 to I-8 -or- I-20 to I-10, you get the idea. I would avoid the Rockies if possible , first time out.

My sincere condolences on the passing of your mother. There must be a lot of good memories with your Airstream.
Good luck, and welcome!
Clayton
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Old 06-08-2015, 10:11 AM   #4
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A long cross country trip may not be the ideal way to learn to tow.
I highly recommend uship.com. It is an online auction site that allows towing companies to bid on your job. If you find a truck deadheading home you can often get a very attractive price, particularly if your schedule is somewhat flexible.
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Old 06-08-2015, 05:08 PM   #5
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Thank you! It will indeed be an adventure if I can pull it off. I do not have a brake controller installed yet, but plan to when I get to VT. Does the trailer have to be with me when I get it done? I have more time before I leave than when I get back East. My brother is is putting new tires on for me and the bearings have been repacked (that's what he said)??? He is currently checking the water line, gas line, stove, heater etc.
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Old 06-08-2015, 06:01 PM   #6
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It would be a good idea to have the tow vehicle and the trailer together when the brake controller is installed. When I first bought a trailer, a few years ago, I had no idea how to adjust a brake controller. Once you see someone do it, you'll get the idea. Occasionally here you will find a post where someone's brake controller won't work with their trailer brakes. It would be nice to have someone who knows what they're doing on hand if that happens.


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Old 06-08-2015, 06:07 PM   #7
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For me, the most important lesson was not to drive somewhere with my trailer that I couldn't get back out of. It doesn't take too many times of driving up to a Starbucks where you're sure the road goes all the way around, only to find that it doesn't, with a line of cars behind you that have to get out of the way so you can back up, only you're not too good at backing up yet, before you learn to avoid those situations.


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Old 06-08-2015, 06:59 PM   #8
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Wow! this sounds like a great adventure! and one that would/could never be duplicated!! and should possibly not be overlooked.

I would advise to have the Wheel Bearings Serviced prior to departure. this should be done regularly and could help prevent getting stuck somewhere.
Great advice to have the Brakes Checked/Serviced and a Controller installed if appropriate! (best to make sure anything stops prior to starting movement.
I would consider Towing Insurance just in case needed.
I would also consider taking it to an RV Park somewhere close by for a few days to get the "learning curve" over with prior to learning it on the road (RV with Robin Williams, Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenoweth and the others!)


The trip itself may be the adventure! but only if you don't get in a hurry.
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Old 06-08-2015, 07:48 PM   #9
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This is not something that you want to undertake with strict time lines but soak up slowly with care and attention to detail. This would have the best potential for being an extremely pleasing adventure. You have received some excellent advice from folks who know what they are talking about. Take it all in and ask questions about any detail that you do not understand. Every body on this forum has been a novice and most are happy to help and share. If it proves to be too scary or you don't have the necessary time, have the Airstream shipped, but you just might be missing out on one of life's gifts. Jim


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Old 06-08-2015, 07:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimpossible View Post
Thank you! It will indeed be an adventure if I can pull it off. I do not have a brake controller installed yet, but plan to when I get to VT. Does the trailer have to be with me when I get it done? I have more time before I leave than when I get back East. My brother is is putting new tires on for me and the bearings have been repacked (that's what he said)??? He is currently checking the water line, gas line, stove, heater etc.
Awesome. There are many great brake controllers. Two that I have used are the Dexter Predator, and the Tekonsha P3. The Tekonsha is awesome and has some very nice features. It is a plug and play if your TV has the 7wire towing harness installed. No you don't need to be there when it is installed, but be familiar with the instructions before you hook up. When you arrive, hook it up and try it at different settings. The amount of brake effort to the Airstream can be adjusted from the controller, or if needed can be manually controlled with the thumb lever. If this sounds confusing, it's not. The P3 is fairly intuitive.
There are some that are of the opinion that you must be nuts pulling a trailer from VT to CA. I disagree. It sounds like the adventure of a lifetime, and there is no single reason that you cant have a safe and fun trip.
Take a few days at point A to get familiar with the coach, and towing it. Someone up there can teach you how to back up (one hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, eyes on the mirror, turn the wheel where you want the rear of the Airstream to be. As time goes on you can look over your shoulder, but mirror backing is best with the AS blocking your view.)

If this adventure were mine, VT to Niagara Falls, through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois southerly to St Louis and Route 66 all the way to Cali. Tons of fun, Interstate and good secondary roads all the way home.

Keep us updated....
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Old 06-09-2015, 12:18 AM   #11
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I would love to have much more time but I only have 9 days to return home as I will be attending my mom's memorial service and wheels up right after. I will have several days to finish getting it ready before leaving. My mom's death was very unexpected and I was not prepared to have to go get the trailer. Total time there and back will be three weeks. Yep, call me crazy!
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Old 06-09-2015, 12:19 AM   #12
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How many days would the Route 66 take?
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:22 AM   #13
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I did some rough estimating on rand McNally. Montpelier VT to Sacramento is 2999 miles. St Louis to Santa Barbra is 1700,
Driving time with no stops, at the speed limit is VT to MO 19 hours, MO to CA 25 hours.
The general consensus for distance per day that you will get here ranges 300 - 500 miles per day. Given 7 days for a 3000 mi trip will be 430 miles per day. That's do-able.
Now the variables. Stop and stretch, fuel ups and safety checks, roadside attractions and distractions.
I would allow 9 hours drive time per day, 8 hours down time/sleep, and the remaining 5 hours per day can be used for sight seeing or whatever.
This will put your overall average speed at 48mph per day, which will mean driving at or near the speed limit for the trip.
So my best guess on a schedule for Route 66, with optimal everything is 4 days from St Louis to Santa Barbara.
I know you are on a schedule with this trip, but the things you like and didn't have time to explore on the first pass will be a great excuse to come back for.
I would count it a blessing just to have my daughter along for the ride. The Airstream is a bonus.
I really hope you have a fun and safe trip!
Clayton
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Old 06-10-2015, 09:28 AM   #14
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One other little thing I haven't seen mentioned. Older trailers were wired to a different standard than we see today. Along with the brake controller you may find you need to rewire the trailer to meet todays wiring standards. Not difficult but a bit time consuming. Just something else that may need to be done
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