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Old 08-20-2014, 09:22 AM   #1
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1959 26' Overlander
Westminster , Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2014
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more than dry weight

I am looking for a trailer that I can partially gut, and use for my clothing store. I know that my SUV can tow 3500 pounds, but if it's mostly gutted, I realize that the weight is changed.
So my question is, how do I find out what a gutted weight is for a trailer? My clothes don't weigh all that much, and the fixtures are fairly light as well.
I plan on leaving the kitchen, removing the dinette, beds, and perhaps leave the bathroom (we'd like to use the trailer when it's not being used for shows)

Thank you SO much!!!

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Old 08-20-2014, 10:03 AM   #2
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Weigh it on public scales after it's gutted. You can find public scales by consulting your local Yellow Pages. Remember Yellow Pages? From back in the days when telephone directories were printed on real paper? Well, if not, you can look up "Public Scales" on Google Maps to find one near you.

No one can accurately estimate your trailer's gutted weight well enough to advise you on whether you can safely tow it. Even if they gutted their own— and they started with the same model, size, and year— they may have done it to a different degree of gutted-ness.

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Old 08-22-2014, 09:48 AM   #3
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I agree with the Pro. However, I'll try to take a SWAG for you.

Assuming that your vehicle can safely tow 3,500 lbs. and safely support at least 400 lbs. of tongue weight...

It doesn't sound like you're going to "gut" the trailer very much. You're really leaving most of the trailer intact. I think you would be lucky if you removed 350 - 400 lbs. based on your description. You could remove substantially more weight by removing overhead cabinets, removing the AC and furnace, get rid of any aluminum or stainless steel covers on the front end, etc.

Your only safe option that MIGHT work would be to get a 16' AS for your donor trailer as they have a GVWR of 3,500 lbs. I'm guessing the older the better because some of the newer models are nearly at the edge of your towing capacity.

Once you weigh everything I think you'll find that you won't be able to carry much inside the trailer, and you might not be able to keep the fresh water tank filled because you won't have available payload left over. You'll also probably disturb the front to rear and side to side balance which could make the trailer unsafe for towing.

What you really need is a bigger tow vehicle with greater towing capabilities paired with a good weight-distributing hitch with anti-sway capability.

Good luck!
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:13 AM   #4
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Looking at the 2015 Airstream Catalog in the "Sport" model section, one sees that the 16' Bambi has a literature empty weight of 2,850 pounds with a GVW of 3,500 pounds. Your existing tow vehicle lacks the towing capacity needed to tow a unit that would make a proper store. Most "commercial" units I have seen overseas and in the states are in the 20' to 22' length which pushes the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) closer to 4,500 to 5,000 pounds.

Note that the listed empty weight in the Airstream literature is usually very optimistic and the actual empty weight is higher.

Trying to make a unit dual purpose - retail store and camping - means that the unit could not be completely gutted if plumbing is to be retained as well as heating and cooling and a refrigerator and a stove top/oven.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:30 PM   #5
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Don't want to burst your bubble, but I think you need a more adequate tow vehicle if you are going to seriously consider getting an Airstream. Number one is you must be safe on the road...

The towing capacity of 3500 lbs for your SUV is under ideal conditions, when it's a brand new test vehicle, perfectly tuned up at sea level. Living in Colorado, you will not likely get the same performance towing at altitude in the mountains.

When we started out, we had a tow vehicle that was "rated" to tow 5,000 lbs and our first trailer weighed in at about 3200. The tow vehicle could move the trailer fine, even on the highways when it was flat. But the minute we hit any grades it slowed down to a speed that was less than safe on the highway, it would get overheated at with the slightest grade. Not to mention the other issues with towing with an undersized vehicle i.e. braking, wheel base-to-trailer ratio, etc. It last one (very frustrating & miserable!) trip from Denver to Cheyenne before we got a new tow vehicle.

Also, "dry weight" is without water in tanks, propane or propane tanks, awnings, anything you put in the trailer or any options it comes with like A/C, TV, etc. You'd be surprised how quickly everything adds up...

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Old 08-22-2014, 05:56 PM   #6
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MY rule of thumb is not to tow anything over 75% of the rating on the tow vehicle. However that is only my starting point to eliminate anything that is going to be too heavy from the get go. Then I can start the fine figuring. I also use the max GVW of the trailer as a starting point. It is easier to work backwards from that.

I doubt you will find an AS that can be stripped down to the point you need and still fulfill your wish list.

Larger, properly set up tow vehicle is highly recommended.


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