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Old 03-11-2006, 04:41 PM   #1
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2005 16' International CCD
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Increase Load Capability?

Does anyone have thoughts on how to increae the load capability on an Airstream? I have a 2005 16' CCD, with a GVWR of 3,500. I notice the 19' model has a 4,500 rating. What makes the 19'er capapable of the extra 1,000 pounds? Is it mostly the axle and wheels, and is it feasible to switch my axle to the one used on the 19'?

Any other thoughts on ways to increase load capacity? Another 500 pounds capacity would let me carry the Honda generator, 2nd battery, dutch oven & camping gear, etc, and not feel like I've maxed out the load rating.

The shorter length works better for me, but I could sure use some extra load capability.

Thanks for any thoughts and ideas.

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Old 03-11-2006, 05:14 PM   #2
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I think it has to do with the axle, but with a 16', I'd also be concerned about the a-frame and frame in general, depending on how much more weight you're thinking. It's a bit less robust I think than the 19'. 500lbs, so I would think would be just an axle upgrade and how you'd load it. I'd also make sure the tires are rated for the wet weight.

Also keep an eye out for brakes. If the 16' doesn't have it, and you start to break into the 2 ton range, brakes become a must not a option. Another thing to consider is the hitch weight and will you need to upgrade the sway and weight distrib bars, let alone will your tow vehicle be able to deal with added weights safely without exceeding the rating.

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Old 03-11-2006, 05:47 PM   #3
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I'm in pretty good shape with my TV and hitch, since we considered the possiblity of upgrading to a larger trailer in a few years (Dodge 2500 Cummins, and Eq-Qual-Izer hitchwith 600# bars, I believe). I carry the extra stuff right now in the back of the truck.

The 16' has brakes (10", I think), and the 19' has 12" brakes, plus a larger size tire.

It would be more convenient to just be able to keep & haul the gear in the trailer since I use the truck as my daily ride.

I think the issue about the frame may be the real question to answer. It doesn't seem like the Airstream factory would use different rails and coupler for the 16' vs. the 19', and when you look at them side-by-side on the lot they at least look the same, but there could always be differences in the thickness or alloy that you can't see. Considering the outlay for the trailer and the truck, paying the extra for a heavier axle would be worth it if I could be sure that it did the trick. I wish you could order these kinds of upgrades direct from the factory, probably not a great difference in price if incorporated up front.
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Old 03-11-2006, 07:30 PM   #4
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The best way to tell is to mic the frame. Get a dial caliper and actually measure the flange thickness. Measure the flange width and the height of the rails. It should probably be something like 0.125" thick flange with 1.5" wide flange and 5" deep rail. Get those measurements and then do the same on a 19' model. If they're the same, then your frame is just as strong as that of the 19. In fact, it's probably stronger due to being shorter means its stiffer.

You could probably telephone Airstream on this and talk to one of their service tech type guys. But, if you've got a dealer close by, it'd probably be just as easy and more direct to go measure the frame rails on a 19.

My money would be on them using the same frame, just different in length. That makes sense from a manufacturing standpoint. They'd stock one basic outrigger size and one basic frame rail, just vary the lengths.

If it does turn out that your frame is the same as that of the 19', only shorter, then the heavier axle should really be all you'd need. Just be sure not to change the balance of the trailer too much. 500lbs really isn't that much. I'd get the bigger brakes if I were changing the axle out. Wouldn't cost you that much more. Wiring should be the same as what you've got.

Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2006, 08:14 PM   #5
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Good advice - I'll head down to the dealer next weekend. I have micrometers I can use to take the measurements. I agree that it would be unusal from a mfg perspective to have any differences in material, just in the length, unless they buy their chasis in already built up. If anyone has taken the factory tour, did you get to see if Airstream welds up there own chasis from box frame stock, or do they order them in already assembled?

We started camping years ago as backpackers, so we're very weight conscious. When we brought the trailer home, I weighed every last item that went into it, right down to the paper plates and napkins. Everything adds up to not much reserve load capacity when there's only 300 to 400 pounds to work with. I suspect Airstream has some safety margin in the design, but without knowing the design details, I'd rather just have enough capacity to not have to worry about it.

Maybe I'll call Airstream and suggest they offer an 'off road' option - heavier suspension, larger wheels, and diamond-plate rock guards.
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Old 03-11-2006, 09:09 PM   #6
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hi bob

as i recall the frames are made and delivered to airstream...forgotten the vendor...peerless? well that may just be the safety chain mfr...frame vendor escapes me but it's likely a search....

anyway there are basically 3 frames...1. the narrower versions, 2. the other safari and internationals, and 3. the classics.

it hard to get'em to admit the classic frame is stronger...since that implies the others are weaker...but the bracing and supports are different on the add strength....that's also why you cannot put the alloy steps from the classics on the safaris....

yes uprating the axle would increase carrying capacity....if the tires and wheels are rated high enough...but this would also cause the trailer to ride a little harsher....whatever that means.....and perhaps the added load would balance this issue...

i assume you are planing to carry the genset on the tongue? i wouldn't want this inside the trailer...bouncing around and stinking of gas....the are pics here of a couple of tongue/genset arrangements....a couple are really nice.

it would be wise to call the service center and discuss the options for increasing capacity...they can advise you, but it will not be cheap...

and if you are gonna pay for upgraded brakes....go with the discs....lots more stopping power....they are very nice....

and you have an 05? my guess is you would lose whatever warranty is left....

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Old 03-12-2006, 03:23 AM   #7
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It could just be the tires. Look at the load rating on them. Look at the load rating on the axles. I put new axles on mine, a couple of years ago, and they are 3500 lb axles. If that is the case, there is not much you can do, if anything. If you went to a 4500 lb axel on a unit that small, it would be too "bouncy" on the road, and probably be more prone to trailer sway.

Paying for disc trailer brakes on a unit that small is ridiculous, unless you are towing it with VW bug.
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Old 03-12-2006, 07:10 AM   #8
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Uh, Bob... a question... just where do you plan to carry all this 'stuff' in a 16' CCD? Carrying anything with fuel in it in the inside of the cabin is just not a good idea. Carrying lead-acid batteries inside isn't a good idea either unless they're bolted down in a vented battery box.

Frankly, I think you're better off, both from a safety AND resale standpoint to leave your 'stuff' in the back of your Dodge and not mod your 16'.

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Old 03-12-2006, 08:54 AM   #9
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Like Roger and having owned one I wonder where you plan to put this stuff. Even if this could be done and you transfer items from your truck to the trailer you have created another problem. As it is you only have to unload at the conclusion of a trip. If placed in the trailer you'll be steping over it or unloading it every time you want in the trailer not to mention the smell and dirt thats carred in. I experienced the same thing and solved it with a lid for my truck bed. A lid or a camper shell allows you to keep all that dirty, stinky, stuff in a secure place. When camping season comes I put all my camping gear in the truck and leave it there. The weight of the lid and those items actually makes my HD chev. ride better for every day use. This would be a less expensive solution by far.--Pieman
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Old 03-12-2006, 10:20 AM   #10
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Let me take another run at this...

When we talk about vehicle weight ratings, most folks seem to feel that for the tow vehcile it's wise to stay within 80% or so of the vehicles rated limit. I kind of agree with this, and I'm the type that probably keeps more to the 50 or 60% level - just to have plenty of margin and not have to worry about overloading.

The trailer also has a rated limit, and I would like to have the same feeling about being well within its ratings. But if you ever try weighing everything, and and I mean everything, that goes through the door, it adds up to several hundred pounds really quick - bedding & towels, clothes, food, some books, maybe a small TV, plates and some glasses, a small tool kit - you get the idea.

So, I was just wondering if increasing the load capabiity another 1,000 pounds could be as 'easy' as the different axle & wheels/brakes they use on the 19' - the brochure indicates a different axle rating, 15" vs 14" wheels, and bigger tires.

It's not so much that I'm wanting to load it up with a bunch of dirty stuff, but I'd like to feel like I can put in whatever a reasonable person might like to take, and not feel like I've maxed out the limits as I drive down the road.

An example would be adding a 2nd battery to the A frame. There's room to add a bigger shelf up there, but it would be another 60 pounds or so, and that's 15% of the total load I have left to work with and still stay within the listed limits.

I do appreciate the inputs - it's good to hear how others handle this problem.

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Old 03-12-2006, 10:59 AM   #11
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Hi Bob -- What are you towing with? And how new is it? You are correct on giving at least a 15% margin below tow vehicle load capacity (tow capacity will not be exceeded if you stay below load capacity!).

A 16 footer doesn't demand that much from a tow vehicle. You couldn't be any lighter. It might be just as easy to compromise on gear you wish to carry until you would phase into a different TV.

The winter '06 Airstream Life has good tips for boondocking (p47). Forums also has a good thread about LP generator conversion (Honda EU2000i) -- I'm considering that to avoid the ballistic gas can problem in any accident...

Interesting to note that the Airstream-Europe models have nudged the axles forward to lessen tongue weight but I don't think you'll see that anytime soon on this side of the pond. It sure could help at the gas pump if lighter models like that were available here!

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Old 03-12-2006, 11:39 AM   #12
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Hello Canoe Stream:
We're actually better off with our tow vehicle - it's a Dodge 2500 with the Cummin turbo diesel.

We carry the heavy stuff in the back of the truck - added a fiberglass lid over the bed, so things stay dry & secure. I was mostly just wondering how much to worry about running the trailer right at it's rated limits. The wet weight is a little over 3,100 pounds, and the limit is 3,500. So food, clothes, bedding, and personal stuff puts us right at the limit. If you apply the 15 or 20 percent safety limit on the trailer, the way we do for the TV, there's not much capacity for stuff in the trailer.

I'm going to contact Airstream and ask the question about switching the axles, just because I'm curious. I suspect there is a hefty price tag, and I don't think the factory would OK a change like this because of product liability concerns, and they likely haven't done the engineering to make such a recommendation. But I might be suprised.

I think there's a lot of real-world knowledge on this forum about how close you can get to the rated limits, and would you get into trouble if you ended up a couple hundred pounds over the rating. If the trailer rating is driven mostly by the axle/wheel/brake ratings, there might be some safety margin built in. It's probably not designed so close that it's 'OK at 3,499 pounds, but try 3,501 pounds and you die...'. I was just thinking I might find someone who had already figured this out when replacing old or damaged axles, and decided to upgrade to a heavier capacity, who could share some thoughts. On other forums people talk about new axles and brakes in the range of 100s of dollars, not 1,000 of dollars. So, another $1,000 on top of the new truck and the new Airstream wouldn't be a cost driver

Thanks for the reply!
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Old 03-12-2006, 11:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Pick
Paying for disc trailer brakes on a unit that small is ridiculous, unless you are towing it with VW bug.
hi pick
one man's ridiculous is another man's sensibility....

since some of the folks towing the 16s are using touaregs, cayennes, hondas, pathfinders and so on...
and without sway control...this trailer braking issue deserves consideration....

these high performance suvs usually have 4 wheel discs and pretty good stopping systems...with short distances...

so getting the trailer to stop as quick...or a hair quicker....isn't automatic...
especially with drums....
not doubt a seasoned towhead could adjust the brake controller correctly to provide adequate drag...

but we aren't all that experienced....

while at the factory i met a couple pulling a 16 with a porsche...
and during a moderately forceful brake/slowdown on i-70 near st louie....the the trailer used 3 lanes....
so they were upgrading to the discs...factory guys noted that was probably a good idea with these hi performance suvs...and some other folks had done the same.....

since the original poster for this thread is considering stiffer axles and bigger tires/wheels....which will require new brakes anyway....doing disc during these other the least the conversion will ever cost...which is why i mentioned it....

personally i'm for carrying all the extra stuff and heavy items in the 3/4 truck...but knowing we'd all suggest that the first post removed the t.v. as an option.... have the lpgas injection setup correct? i am really interested in doing that as a way to extend my travel far every tuner shops i've inquired about the issue...looks at me funny.......any really good sites to get the pro/con? the banks tuner folks were the most cautioning...i think they said it was a ridiculous idea....sure seems like a pretty simple install...any negs?

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Old 03-12-2006, 12:03 PM   #14
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What is the tire size and tire maximum carrying capacity rating of the tires now on your 2005 16' CCD? How do those numbers compare to the tire size and max. carrying capacity of the tires on a 19' Airstream? Are the wheel wells and bolt circle diameter (such a 6 lugs on a 5-1/2" dia. circle) the same size in both trailers? If not, do you have enough room in your wheelwell, and the identical bolt circle diameter, to use the tires and wheel combination from the 19 footer? If not, could you get a higher rated capacity tire in your current tire size (like the 6 ply vs. 8 ply ratings of years past)? These are some alternatives to consider.

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