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Old 02-22-2009, 07:55 PM   #15
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2008 23' International CCD
golden , Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 74
You probably want to make sure you have a weight distribution hitch (I think there are 3 popular brands, $1k-3K) and a break controller ($300-600?). The weight distribution hitch is pretty complex to configure for the first time on your own. See if you can find a dealer to install both the break controller and the weight distribution hitch.

I picked up my airstream after leaving the truck and they custom instealled fitted distribution hitch (an Equalizer) and the break controller (Prodigy). Due to liability reasons they would neither calibrate the break controller nor tell me how to do it. They would only point out the page in the manual that explained how it worked. Plan on a good 30 minutes to learn how the break controller works, about another 30 to finish calibrating it (sensitivity and boost), and a good 15-30 minutes testing it. It helps to have a big area to practice without the pressure of cars or traffic. It was 2 hours after I picked mine up before I was ready to head to get on the road with traffic, and I had my wife follow me home to make sure everything looked A-ok.

My pickup bounces a lot more with the trailer attached. I don't notice it much until I glance back at Whiskey (my dog) on the back seat. I assume if the rear seems to bounce I might have too much weight shifted to the front axle? Good Luck

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Old 02-22-2009, 08:40 PM   #16
1972 Travelux Princess 25
Cobourg , Ontario
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,042
You can get a good weight distributing hitch for way less than that. I ordered mine online from a dealer in Tennessee and paid under $200 for the hitch and under $100 for a Prodigy controller.

Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 02-23-2009, 05:58 AM   #17
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1974 27' Overlander
full time in canada/US , British Columbia
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well, thanks all, this is really helpful. Seems like i got a whole course in trailer driving skills over night! I love the walkie talkie idea, and all the other great tips. Feeling a lot more confident already.
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:11 AM   #18
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1973 27' Overlander
Sparks , Nevada
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Hey Khadley!
I am new at towing also... I got a lot of help from my dad, neighbors, strangers, etc. Everyone was sincere in trying to help but - the best assistance I received was from a guy who used to drive tractor trailers. What he did differently was actually get in my truck with me and guide. Wow - what a difference. The most valuable lessons I got from him were in regards to backing....some as mentioned here already:
  • Go SLOW. I thought I was going slow but he kept saying slower - seemed like a snails pace.
  • After you put some turn into it, straighten the wheels again.
  • If your turn is too extreme, don't continue backing & trying to correct. Just pull back out forward and try again.
  • Get Out and Look at the rig when not completely sure where it is situated (esp when backing between two things --- like a mailbox and a tree). \
  • Use the mirrors rather than twist around to look back. He said if I felt compelled to turn around, just get out. I quickly learned to use my mirrors to find my rear axles - that is a great benefit.
Unfortunately, I'm having trouble acquiring the optimal tow vehicle. Until then, I am very cautious pulling with my truck. I plan my trips in advance and travel at/below the posted speeds and at off-peak times. My biggest issue thus far was not planning re-fueling adequately. Found myself tooling down the highway, nearing empty and finding only stations with pumps that I could not maneuver into (pump approach was tight and facing perpendicular to the highway - no room to turn). I was seriously thinking I'd have to pull off the road, unhitch the trailer and go for gas.
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:42 AM   #19
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2004 25' Safari
. , Illinois
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I have to agree with Overlander64. There are two issues. First skill set and of course what proper gear to have.

I agree, getting a $40/day U-Haul will give you a great initial experience on towing, backing up and basic maneuvering. Get any additional insurance that they offer because the odds are you may damage it first go at it. Spend a few days with it. Highway driving, backing up (backing up could take a day in and of itself) and of course, driving around town, in and around tight areas and such.

From there, look at the trailer and tow vehicle you will use and suggestions can be provided, but first and foremost, get some "trigger" time behind the wheel with a trailer. Even though a U-Haul type trailer will be smaller, the physics and movement- action/reactions will be similar.
Computers manufactured by companies such as IBM, Compaq and millions of others are by far the most popular with about 70 million machines in use worldwide. Macintosh fans note that cockroaches are far more numerous than humans and that numbers alone do not denote a higher life form. -NY Times 11/91
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:48 AM   #20
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I disagree

I think that it is not a great idea to just jump in and go for it. And Backing up is the least of your concerns. I think that highway driving is the most
dangerous part of towing. Learn, read , ask all you can before you head out on a big trip. Learn about sway, brakeing, jack knifeing and roll overs.
Don't be scared, be smart and careful.
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:23 AM   #21
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1997 34' Limited
Oyster Bed Bridge , Prince Edward Island
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dont scare them

geez people, I think the suggustions here are a bit on the scary side..... I was 16 years old when my Father said it time for me to learn.... behind the wheel I got and away we went... The BIGGEST problem with people on the road is they are AFRAID! Relax behind the wheel dont speed and be careful and everything will be fine.....You need to enjoy the experience without constant worrying of "am I going to fit in that gas station? is everything OK.... should I stop and check? This will drive you nuts, always be aware of situations but dont worry about them. I have been towing from the time I was 16 and I am now 44 and yet to come accross a gas station I couldn't get into... I tow a 34ft Limited.

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Old 02-23-2009, 03:09 PM   #22
1972 Travelux Princess 25
Cobourg , Ontario
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"I have been towing from the time I was 16 and I am now 44 and yet to come accross a gas station I couldn't get into... I tow a 34ft Limited."

Getting in is easy... getting out can be a little tricky LOL.
Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 02-23-2009, 04:31 PM   #23
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Greetings Kim!

Welcome to the Forums!

I will make a suggestion that may be a bit unconventional, but might help. To get some practice towing a trailer prior to taking the plunge with your Airstream, have you thought about renting a tandem axle U-Haul for a weekend to practice? While it would only be 1/2 the length of your Overlander (27'), it would give you the chance to practice turns, backing, etc. Local rental of a U-Haul trailer is quite reasonable, and if you can master backing the tandem U-Haul, your Overlander shouldn't prove a problem as it will be less abrupt in its reactions.

Good luck with your venture!


And if you muck up a u-haul, it's less expensive than an Airstream.
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:25 PM   #24
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Seriously Now

I started Airstreaming 3 years ago - and I went fulltime on day 2. That is also the first time I towed (Thank you again 53FlyingCloud for not soiling yourself or my upholstery while teaching me!).

Having someone CALM who respects your basic intelligence and wants to help you hone your skills really helps. Vacant lot practice also helps.

You shouldn't be frightened but it is important to know WHAT hazards you may face and HOW to react. Here were my priorities:
  1. Knowing what a brake controller is and how to adjust it is key. Your brake controller should be checked frequently - because your tow vehicle's breaks wear and it's important to keep the trailer/tow vehicle's brake performance working to compliment each other. Generally your trailer's brakes should be a bit "grabbier" then your tow vehicle's. If you have to do a panic stop, the trailer can work like an anchor. If the tow vehicle stops first, the trailer's inertia starts pushing the tow vehicle, or the trailer could jacknife.
  2. Knowing everything about hitching up that you can possibly learn, and know how to maintain your hitch - is possibly more important than the brake controller. Just this weekend I embarassed a camper parking across the lane from me. I approached him carrying two huge wrenches and I gently said, "HI, I want to play with your nuts"... Of course it took him a few minutes to see that his hitch ball was so loose that the lock washer was'nt even compressed. He'd never checked the hitch to notice that his hitch ball was tight, or that he had the hitch angled correctly, or that his WD bar tensioners were fast to his A-Frame. After I was through I greased his ball. He'll never be the same.
  3. Taking it SLOW and avoiding heavy traffic especially the first few times out cannot be overstated. If you're on a two-lane and there is a good parking lot or rest stop to pull into and let the nuts pass you.. do that frequently.
  4. NEVER tow agressively. Be super courteous and pay ATTENTION. Leave the cell phone alone. Don't even turn on the radio the first few times you tow.
  5. Study the forums (repeat step 4 at least weekly).
Learn "best practices" and mentally practice for when something goes wrong. There are always more than one solution to a problem - but one usually stands out as clearly the most effective. Our business is a telephone answering service, so teaching staff how to think about handling common household emergencies is important. There was a recent thread about propane fires that prompted me to do a test of my staff's knowledge. I asked - "How do you put out a grease fire on a skillet on your stove top?" Several said "throw salt on it" or "throw flour on it" - and a few real dumbrowskis said "put it in the sink and pour water on it" (OMG). Then I said how about "PUT A LID ON IT and turn off the heat".

I actually had one of my senior people say that her mother had picked up a burning skillet and tried to carry it outside. She was the "throw flour on it responder". Even she instantly agreed that putting a lid over it would work faster and with less danger of splash burns. Shows you that everyone can learn something new.

Learn baby Learn - then get out and have some fun in your new rig.

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:33 AM   #25

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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The previous 24 post's have pretty well covered it...

Don't worry, be happy!

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AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:38 AM   #26
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1969 25' Tradewind
Irmo , South Carolina
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Originally Posted by WBCCI9898 View Post
I have been towing from the time I was 16 and I am now 44 and yet to come accross a gas station I couldn't get into... I tow a 34ft Limited.

If you're ever in the Carolinas, look me up. I can show you a whole ton of gas stations that you won't be pulling any Airstream larger than a 16' Bambi into, and some that even a 16 footer won't fit. A couple of years ago, I had to back an SOB out of a station for an older couple that misjudged one of the local Hess stations. It involved making a really tight s-turn and backing out into one of the busiest stretches of 4-lane road in the entire city. That particular station's fuel delivery truck has to use the restaurant parking lot next door to fill their tanks.

AIR #8891
Unrestored 1969 25' Tradewind
Overkill Tow Vehicle of the Year Award:
1997 Chevy C3500 Crew Cab Dually 6.5L Turbo Diesel
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