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Old 01-24-2003, 02:34 PM   #15
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No brakes Towing

I been towing for a long time. My tow vehicle is a Ford F350 one ton crew cab long wheel base, diesel powered. This is a great puller. I have towed all over the west into, up and down thru the Great Rocky mountains. The 6% grades are not a challenge. The 1979 Airstream is not a difficult towing task. The truck brakes are more than needed to tow. Brake lites are not connected to trailer brakes. I have the trailer breakaway switch connected to the house batteries. The most important task for any action is the plan. Basic survival skills dictate driving plans. It is necessary to know about trailer towing. Make lots of panic stops so as to know and understand what can happen.
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Old 02-14-2003, 10:23 AM   #16
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Question Just bought A/S: brakes, what brakes?

Hello, and thanks for so much information. This is my first post...as well as my first trailer.

I just bought a 1960 24' A/S and will be retreiving it in two weeks. I live in Illinois, and will be towing it back from the Gulf coast in MS. When I asked the seller about brakes, he said he didn't know anything about them, and even if they were on it, he didn't use them.

I have made plans to have the wheel bearings repacked (based on posts elsewhere), and to have the lighting and tires looked at. I asked if they did brakes, and yes they do, but I didn't (and still don't yet) know what is in the trailer.

The owner has converter the A/S to a weekend home: no water tank, no gas, no 12v system, no valve on the black water tank. So, I have some challenges to revert back to a self-contained unit. But that also means, no 12 volt system for break-away braking as I understand. Hmmm.

On another note, I will be looking for advice on towing the beast, with or without brakes! In addition to my first trailer (other than a pop-up in the 70's), I will be buying and driving a used pickup on that same trip: a '92 K2500 6.5 turbo diesel with 5 sp granny manual, 3.43 posi rear. Please point me to appropriate forums for help in that area! Thanks.
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Old 02-14-2003, 11:36 AM   #17
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Phil and/or Sue, (Or Pa/oS)

I can tell you about my experience and then I can tell you about the rules and/or the law.

First the legal aspect. No one would say or recommend towing with out brakes. In fact if you were involved in an accident you could be found liable even if the cause was not your fault if you were towing with out proper equipment. (Or in some states illegally)

With that said. I bought a heavier trailer (a Overlander) fully equipped with all of the systems intact. And towed it from Indiana to Arizona with out brakes. The tow vehicle was a full size 1/2 ton van. I was very careful in speed and following other vehicles. (based on results successful too) With that in mind, know that you are towing a vehicle that has not been towed in a while. Things like shocks, tires, and lights may not be up for the trip with out some attention. I towed my trailer with cracks in the sidewalls and planned on stopping to buy new tires if the emergency occurred. It did not however, I risked damage to the body of the trailer, should a blow out or tread seperation occur. In towing the load braking was my last concern. Vibration was the issue for me. And it did loosen up many things inside the trailer. Although it did make it there in one piece.

So you will be the owner. You will take the risks. And you will be the one responsible. Given your description of the towed load and tow vehicle, my opinion is you should not have an issue with braking given prudent operation.

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Old 02-14-2003, 08:34 PM   #18
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Smile Owners Have Responsibilities...

Action, thanks for your input. I am hoping that the A/S (or is AS ok?) has brakes, and that they can be made operable in one day by the repair shop. I already have plans to take it in for bearing repack, as well as tire and lighting checkout/repairs.

If the brakes are there but non-operable, I may not want that shop to fix them, but instead may need to take it to an A/S dealer. There is one in Illinois 3 hours from home, on the route that I am taking. So, I will talk with them once I know the status of the braking system on the trailer.

Regarding the device that brakes the trailer if the trailer breaks away from the tow vehicle (I cannot remember what it's called), my understanding is that it requires 12 volts from the trailer internal 12 volt supply. Since there is no 12 volt system in the trailer anymore, I cannot possibly get that to work without extensive work.

I will have a lot of work to do to rebuild the self-contained aspect of a travel trailer with this A/S (since there is no gas, no water system, no drain valve on the black water tank, and no 12 volt system), I will be spending lots of time reading and tracking others projects.

Thanks again for your input. I have been concerned about brakes (or lack thereof), but apparently can live without them for this trip if need be. I'll be taking possession Sunday, 3/2/03! (without the kids!!!)
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Old 02-14-2003, 09:27 PM   #19
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Brakes are easy....

They are not Airstream specific. If they are "Brand X" brakes there is a good chance that you can go to any trailer sales dealer that has a parts department and buy Dexter Brake Plates. They are around $80 each, and are most likely held on the axle with 5 bolts.
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Old 02-14-2003, 10:37 PM   #20
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You can get a small self contained breakaway system which will mount on the tongue and has it's own 12v battery. I have seen them used by the outfits that tote mobile homes.

I have got the Alco brake and backing plates on my Overlander. I got them at a local utility trailer supply for fifty dollars a piece and they bolted up with no problems. My brother turned the drums at his shop, he did both surfaces on each of them and said I owe him big time, took him half a day.

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Old 02-15-2003, 08:49 AM   #21
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Alco? What brakes? Where?

Thanks Pick and Chas. I have no idea what is on the trailer yet, but I am glad that I have options once I get it into a shop.

Regarding a breakaway system, I was told in a separate email that that year (1960) did not have a factory one, but one may have been added over the years. I am not terribly worried about it yet, but will also keep that in mind as an option to add when it is in the shop.

Any knowledge of whether breakaway system is a legal requirement in Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, or Illinois? I'll be in all of these states. I expect that as a vintage model that did not have one factory installed, I would not be required to retro-fit it onto the trailer, but I would like to know.
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Old 02-15-2003, 09:24 AM   #22
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Here is a Link to an overview. Most states require brakes over 3000 LBS, Breakaway is optional up to a specified weight.
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Old 02-15-2003, 11:41 AM   #23
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Towing without the basics

Here is a story written by an Airstream dealer that I found in a RV mag.

We had a small 22' Argosy that had to be delivered to the paint shop. Since it was only 5 kilometers and I was going to take it myself and it was only a 22' I just dropped it on the ball on our pickup. The front sofa had been removed for upholstery while the unit was being painted, there was no battery in it and the LP tanks had been removed. Bottom line was that there was very little hitch weight. To make matters worse, the 7-way plug had been taken off for the paint job and two wires were connected for signals.

I went around a curve in the road and that 3000 lb. Argosy started pushing a 6000 lb. pickup around like it was a toy. So much for the old tale "the tow vehicle has to be heavier". I grabbed the brake control and nothing happened, so again with a determined effort I held the wheel straight and the trailer straightened out after a couple of swings. I don't know if I would have done that if I had not had the practice on the track the year before, but then again, if I had not been so lazy and had taken the two minutes to throw on a sway bar and torsion bars, it would never have happened in the first place.
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Old 02-15-2003, 02:23 PM   #24
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Exclamation

Yikes! Thanks, I think. Maybe I'll go to the repair shop without the trailer first, if I don't have the sway bar or stabilizer...Unfortunately, I won't know what I'll have until I get there. I am just gathering as much preliminary information as I can.

As a side note to complicate matters more, the pickup truck (tow vehicle) is new to me also. I think I'll spend some time practicing in the campground where I'm picking up the trailer! Then, maybe I can find a large parking lot and practice stopping, turning and backing.

I am getting weight distribution "stuff" with the trailer, but as noted on another post, I may be out of luck with the height of the ball since I am putting it on a 4x4 3/4 ton Chevy.

I'll see.
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Old 02-20-2003, 12:27 AM   #25
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Hi. Just to impress me with the necessity of having both the tow vehicle brakes and the brakes on the AirStream throughly checked and in good order the fellow who sold me my Soveriegn told me a hair raising story. He was headed down a steep grade in Mexico on a caravaning trip when his brakes failed. The trailer commenced to shove his very substantial tow vehicle like it was a box of matches in a kids game. He had no choice but to ride it out. There was no gearing down according to the story since he was going too fast by the time he thought of it. He recalls literally flying down the road with one hand on the CB yelling at everything ahead of him to get outatheway. Of course he was yelling in English and they all spoke Spanish. Fortunately, a trucker ahead of him understood his plight and called back that there was a runout a quarter of a mile farther down the incline. He, his wife and their AirStream came to a crunching stop knee deep in gravel. He said they just sat stunned in the front seat and breathed for a looooong time, glad to be alive and in one piece. Needless to say, he impressed me. No Brakes, No move is my motto.

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Old 02-20-2003, 06:28 AM   #26
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Unhappy Brakies? Brakies? We Don't Need no Stinking Brakies!

Thanks for the post (I think). I talked with the seller, and asked once again about brakes. He doesn't know anything about them and never used them.

He has towed it with various vehicles, including a 4 cylinder Dodge Caravan ! The last long (200+ miles) trip they made was with a Isuzu Rodeo, which I still think is also kinda' small. Maybe the trailer's smaller than I think!

If he hasn't used brakes in the 10 years he has owned it, I don't thnk 4 hours in a shop is going to get brakes working correctly. My schedule provides one day in the shop to resolve bearing, wheels, tires and lighting issues. I wanted brakes too, and the shop has done repairs on electric ones, but I don't think he will be able to get the mechanics, the electronics, and the wiring done. I'll try though. I will have a controller in the truck, but I know even less about that.

Of course, there is a chance that the trailer has no brakes. The electrical connector to the car is more like a boat harness, and is not a "plug-in" according to the seller. I think he said there is only 4 wires... To complicate my retreival trip, I don't know what connector is on the truck.

Once I get there, I'll see what I can do. I'll post details of what I found, what I did, and take the heat if people disagree!
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Old 02-20-2003, 07:40 AM   #27
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If you have an accident, injure or kill someone, and some lawyer comes accross these posts, kiss all of your money that you have today and will get tomorrow, GOODBYE!

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Old 02-20-2003, 08:08 AM   #28
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Question Tongue weight?

Phil,

Since you don't have 2 LPG tanks on the front of our trailer, you're losing about 60#'s towards your 10% to 15% of the trailers tongue weight.

Something else to think about !!

John
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