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Old 09-24-2008, 12:45 PM   #1
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1957 Overlander towing after 12 years sitting on the same site. HELP!

I am just now getting my first Airstream to renovate and make mine and I couldn't be more excited!

She is a 1957 Custom (tandem axle with two wheels on each side!) 26 foot CA Overlander.

My question is this: She has been sitting on the same lot, lakeside, for 12 years, and has not been moved since towing there back in the day. Back then everything worked perfectly fine-or so I am told. hehe.

However, I am concerned about the tires, the running gear in general, and what I need to do to prep for about a 50 mile tow from where she is to where she is destined to go (my yard!). What do I need to look for and prep before a tow, or should I just plan on loading her onto a flatbed trailer and tow her that way?

I have photos and the tires look like they are in good shape. I didn't do the kick test or anything, but the tread looks to be decent (if not great!). I am just worried about everything else working after 12 years of sitting. I know I get creaky just sitting for a couple hours watching a movie.

Any help would be greatly appreciated before I embark on this adventure!!
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:45 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forums! Sounds like you have a neat old trailer there...I can sense your excitement to get her home and start tinkering. The first thing would be definately to get new tires. Most suggest replacing tires that are over 4 or 5 years old. The tread may still look good, but they will be rotted and fall apart once on the road. You can decode their age by the little numbers on the sidewall...threre's a thread here somewhere that says what the numbers mean or someone will chime in.

Your axle, assuming it's a leaf spring type, like on our '56, should be fine to get you 50 miles home, but have it checked out before many more trips "just in case" something could be damaged or weakened. I would also check to make sure your lights & brakes are in working order. Besides that, make sure the tongue and coupler are the right size and securely fastened to your tow vehicle. You didn't mention what that is...

One more thing, make sure all the cabinets, doors & drawers are secured...especially your entry door.

When towing a new trailer, we will hook it up, then pull away about a mile or so and then stop, get out and recheck everything - then proceed on our way. You should bring along duct tape and a tool box with "one of everything" just in case you need to make a fix while on the road.

Enjoy your adventure!

Shari
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Old 09-24-2008, 03:35 PM   #3
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For the tires...Tires manufactured before 2000 have a 3 digit date code, showing the 2 digit week, and single-digit year they were made. For example, a date code of "124" would have been made during the 12th week of 1994.
Tires made year 2000 or later have a 4 digit date code, which is he same, but different.
First 2 digits are still week, second two digits are year. A tire with a date code of "1204" would have been made during the 12th week of 2004. The date code should be stamped on the sidewall of the tire, near the edge of the tire where it meets the wheel.
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:34 PM   #4
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You are going to have to buy new tires before you are ready to go on the road for real so why not consider taking the wheels off and getting the tires before you tow her home.
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:36 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses, guys! I am excited to start this project...I think I'll be really good at it, I love tinkering and building. I was prolly the only chick in high school who took home ec AND shop. I already have ideas on what I want to do with it (purpleheart veneer for the cabs while keeping them intact is a possibility!)....so many ideas! My S.O (or boyfriend) is a classically trained painter, loves the tiki asthetic, so he is planning on custom painting scenes on each one of the overhead storage units above the kitchen and above the sleeping compartment. I think we can make it modern and retro all at the same time! You guys will be hearing lots from me I am sure! Thanks again! I am so happy so many people actually responded...I wasn't sure what to expect but figured it was worth a try. And am I happy I did!
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:20 PM   #6
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Can you say MOLD! This looks to be a complete gut job. Oh fun!
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Old 09-26-2008, 03:07 PM   #7
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Put new tires on it. The $300 or $400 it will cost you is nothing compared to the potential headache and damage of getting it home after the tread starts to separate due to dry rot.

I would also knock the grease caps off the wheels and see if it looks decent, or if it's all dried and crusty. Just spinning the wheels can sometimes make the grease turn back into grease again, but if it's so dry it just flakes out and breaks down you'll want to repack those puppies before you go any more than a few miles.

Sway control and trailer brakes are a luxury, but if you take it slow and careful you don't need to worry about them.

Also make sure the tanks are empty if the owners have used it recently. Little less weight to deal with.

The flat bed option is obviously the least worrisome, however I'd personally put the money into the tires
.
>>One more thing, make sure all the cabinets, doors & drawers are secured...especially your entry door.<<

I second that!
What is your tow vehicle?
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Old 09-27-2008, 10:16 AM   #8
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OR, you could just say "Gosh, what do I want with this silly old trailer that is in need of tires, has to be towed home, will need some work and then I'll have people pestering me all the time to have a tour and comment on how nice it looks when all I want to do is sit back and camp. I think I'll just email that Safari57 guy and tell him he can have it because he is old like the trailer and I am not". Or not.

On a less serious note - tires are critical if you are going to tow it home. You should seriously consider getting it past a local shop like a Les Schwab tires or someone who can pack the bearings if that is not something you want to tackle, and do your best to get the brakes functioning if they are not. The trailer has been sitting for a long time so who knows what may have deteriorated to a point where it could cause you grief on the way home. Even with that having something happen on the road, if it is mechanical, isn't horrible, but having something more serious happen where either the trailer is wrecked, or you and innocent travelers, is absolutely not an option.

Hey, I'm guilty of towing/driving home many a car and trailer without doing much of the above, but I have always ensured I had brakes where applicable, adequate lighting easily seen, and done what I could before heading out to avoid roadside repairs.

12 years isn't that long a time to be sitting if it was in a fairly dry area, but it is still no surprise to find significant deterioration on some of the trailers in particular that we've found.

What ever you do, pictures of the trip home would be much appreciated, and congratulations on acquiring a nifty trailer. I looked for a long time and never found a '57 to match my car.

Take care and have fun getting it home.

Barry
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Old 09-27-2008, 11:00 AM   #9
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Congratulations. Looks like a fun project for you. The trailer doesn'tk look all that bad inside. Just take one step at a time once you get it home. Working on them is half the fun. Camping is the other half. Of course that "working on" half continues as long as you continue to "camp".
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Old 09-27-2008, 05:05 PM   #10
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Seattle! My hometown! How far are you going? Yes, you'll need a 2" ball for that puppy.. love that model, btw. Great shell. Is it missing some side windows, or is that just the way the photo is? I'm probably local, so if you need some more tips, pm me.

Post more when you get a chance. There are some good threads in here with your vintage trailer.. more questions later I'm sure.
Have fun on the recovery!
Marc
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Old 09-27-2008, 07:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safari57 View Post
OR, you could just say "Gosh, what do I want with this silly old trailer that is in need of tires, has to be towed home, will need some work and then I'll have people pestering me all the time to have a tour and comment on how nice it looks when all I want to do is sit back and camp. I think I'll just email that Safari57 guy and tell him he can have it because he is old like the trailer and I am not". Or not.

On a less serious note - tires are critical if you are going to tow it home. You should seriously consider getting it past a local shop like a Les Schwab tires or someone who can pack the bearings if that is not something you want to tackle, and do your best to get the brakes functioning if they are not. The trailer has been sitting for a long time so who knows what may have deteriorated to a point where it could cause you grief on the way home. Even with that having something happen on the road, if it is mechanical, isn't horrible, but having something more serious happen where either the trailer is wrecked, or you and innocent travelers, is absolutely not an option.

Hey, I'm guilty of towing/driving home many a car and trailer without doing much of the above, but I have always ensured I had brakes where applicable, adequate lighting easily seen, and done what I could before heading out to avoid roadside repairs.

12 years isn't that long a time to be sitting if it was in a fairly dry area, but it is still no surprise to find significant deterioration on some of the trailers in particular that we've found.

What ever you do, pictures of the trip home would be much appreciated, and congratulations on acquiring a nifty trailer. I looked for a long time and never found a '57 to match my car.

Take care and have fun getting it home.

Barry
Safari57: That IS MY DREAM CAR!!! My boyfriend is a Lego builder, and is well known for the vehicles that he builds; he built me a 1957 Pontiac Safari wagon in black and red. It had a special seat in the back of the wagon with a little "bar" to entertain....it's about the size of a shoebox. I'll have to post some pics of it to show you...wow! I never thought anyone else liked Pontiacs as much as I did and now someone in BC who likes Pontiacs *AND* Airstreams! I am only in Seattle so once we get her roadworthy perhaps another jaunt to BC will be in order.
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Old 09-27-2008, 07:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3Ms75Argosy View Post
Seattle! My hometown! How far are you going? Yes, you'll need a 2" ball for that puppy.. love that model, btw. Great shell. Is it missing some side windows, or is that just the way the photo is? I'm probably local, so if you need some more tips, pm me.

Post more when you get a chance. There are some good threads in here with your vintage trailer.. more questions later I'm sure.
Have fun on the recovery!
Marc
I can see that! And so happy to find someone local! I will be towing her from Elma to Auburn with a 2007 Toyota Tundra (courtesy of a friend who is in the automotive industry). Said friend also has experience with campers/trailers and towing...and will be helping me check all of the running gear, including packing, greasing, running lights, and all that fun stuff. The electrical work is about the only thing I POSITIVELY do not know how to do. I have found lots of things I want to use and build into her-keep her as original as possible but still have a modern/vintage feel. And I am technically in Auburn, where Lino (boyfriend) is in Capitol Hill. She is not missing any windows, it's just the way the photography is. She has been sitting on the same site under very dense trees. It was pouring the day we went to go see her for the second time and you barely felt any drops, so I think she's been pretty well protected.

I absolutely need all the help I can get. I'm totally a newbie, but want to remember what I learned in shop and learn all that I can on top of it. I love projects and road trips Good to hear from you!!!
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Old 09-27-2008, 08:04 PM   #13
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1957 26' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airbassador View Post
Put new tires on it. The $300 or $400 it will cost you is nothing compared to the potential headache and damage of getting it home after the tread starts to separate due to dry rot.

I would also knock the grease caps off the wheels and see if it looks decent, or if it's all dried and crusty. Just spinning the wheels can sometimes make the grease turn back into grease again, but if it's so dry it just flakes out and breaks down you'll want to repack those puppies before you go any more than a few miles.

Sway control and trailer brakes are a luxury, but if you take it slow and careful you don't need to worry about them.

Also make sure the tanks are empty if the owners have used it recently. Little less weight to deal with.

The flat bed option is obviously the least worrisome, however I'd personally put the money into the tires
.
>>One more thing, make sure all the cabinets, doors & drawers are secured...especially your entry door.<<

I second that!
What is your tow vehicle?
Tow vehicle is courtesy of a friend for a weekend-2007 Toyota Tundra. I currently own a G6 but will either be getting an older car (like a 57 Pontiac Safari...) or a newer old truck. Haven't decided yet. I will figure that out closer to when she's roadworthy. I lean towards GM vehicles because of my alligence to Pontiacs, but researching a Toyota Tacoma or Tundra has shown that they should at least be considered...
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Old 09-27-2008, 08:07 PM   #14
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you are in for a adventure.
Congrats on the find and good luck
Jerry
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