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Old 08-12-2008, 12:41 AM   #1
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1957 16' Bubble
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What if anything do I need to replace?

I just bought a 1957 Bubble. I'm a total trailer novice and first and foremost I want to be able to tow this thing safely. It has been sitting unused for the past ten years. Seems to be in great shape. I know the split rims and tires will need to be replaced. What else will need to be replaced as far as axel, springs, drums, etc.? I just don't want to get ripped off taking this to a trailer shop. I don't mind replacing everything if necessary, just want it to be safe. Are these parts pretty standard or did airstream use unique proprietary parts? Do I need to update anything on the tongue or should it be good to tow? Thanks in advance. Love this forum
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Old 08-12-2008, 01:54 AM   #2
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What if anything do I need to replace?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RWinward View Post
I just bought a 1957 Bubble. I'm a total trailer novice and first and foremost I want to be able to tow this thing safely. It has been sitting unused for the past ten years. Seems to be in great shape. I know the split rims and tires will need to be replaced. What else will need to be replaced as far as axel, springs, drums, etc.? I just don't want to get ripped off taking this to a trailer shop. I don't mind replacing everything if necessary, just want it to be safe. Are these parts pretty standard or did airstream use unique proprietary parts? Do I need to update anything on the tongue or should it be good to tow? Thanks in advance. Love this forum
For safe towing and operation, I would suggest the following:
  • Check axle for signs of physical damage -- stress cracking, etc.
    • Inspect spindles for signs of damage or excessive wear from lack of lubrication.
    • Check springs, and consider having them rebuilt or purchase replacements -- the bushings will almost certainly need to be replaced.
    • Brakes will likely need complete service including repacking the wheel bearings.
    • If brakes happen to be original hydraulics, they will need to be converted to more modern operation as the original hydraulics were directly tapped into the tow vehicles brake lines.
  • Inspect frame for signs of rust or other physical damage.
  • On the hitch, the following should be checked:
    • A break-away switch will likely need to be added to meet the safety requirements in many states.
    • It would be advisable to replace the safety chains and tow vehicle connectors.
    • A new umbilical cord may be a wise investment to insure good electrical connection with the tow vehicle.
    • The coupler should be inspected for proper operation -- many of the older couplers used on Airstreams can still be rebuilt using rebuild kits available from dealers.
  • The LP gas system will need close inspection including:
    • LP Tanks will likely need to be inspected for recertification including new OPD valves (new tanks may be called for if the tanks are not aluminum).
    • The regulator should be tested for correct operation.
    • Each of the LP gas appliances should be tested for proper operation.
  • As you mention, the split rims will need to be replaced and the tires would be a part of that operation as well.
  • Plumbing will need to be inspected and tested for leaks, and the fresh water system will need to be sanitized once its soundness has been established. If the original pressure tank system is in place, you may want to consider replacing the metal tank with a modern plastic tank with demand pump as the metal tanks are often riddled with pinholes along the bottoms contributing to floor rot.
Good luck with your inspection and refurbishments!

Kevin
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:42 AM   #3
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1957 16' Bubble
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Thanks Kevin. Great comprehensive reply. I'm very impressed with the quality and kindness of the airforums subscribers. God bless!
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