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Old 01-11-2011, 02:28 AM   #1
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Where should we take it?

I'll try to state my questions clearly with as much information as possible.

Our trailer seems to be in pretty good condition. We towed it 75 miles home. Stopped three times to feel for heat in bearings or brakes and there was none. Worried about axles, shock absorbers, etc., but there seemed to be no problems, and even on a bumpy road, we didn't see any jolting, banging, hard bumping, etc. It just rolled right along with the truck almost like one unit. When we got home, we again felt brakes, hub covers, and tires. No heat.

However, towing it over to the campground on our last warm day around here, we had some windows down and traveled very quiet areas. The brakes were making quite a bit of noise when applied. Then we noticed there was still some noise, not a lot, but a steady little squeal, even when the brakes were NOT applied. Keep in mind there is quite a lot of rust on the bottom of our trailer and on the backing plates on the inside of the wheels. Also, it sat on the lot 4 months that we know of, probably at least 6, and may have been parked a while before it was brought in to trade. The previous owner was a duck hunter and probably left it out in the bogs some - or a lot. We don't know.

We would love to have new brakes, shock absorbers, and whatever else is needed, put on the trailer. And we had planned to have new tires put on immediately, although the tires look fine and are holding steady pressure. A couple of them are dated 2006 so we want to change them.

But, we can't work on running gear ourselves (and don't want to) and our choices for work on it are scarce to non-existant here. Moix RV suggested Lucky B RV repair up in Quitman-Guy (Arkansas) area. But that's a bit over 50 miles. Has anyone used them?

We MUCH prefer to take it to an AS dealer, but the nearest one is the new one in Springfield, Mo., 150 curvy mountainous miles north of here. The next nearest dealers are in the Dallas, Texas area.

We agreed early on that the running gear is our first priority. We could use the trailer without a lot of things - but not running gear that we don't have to worry about.

Should we get the tires put on at our regular dealer, the brakes and bearings checked by our regular mechanic, and then get shocks and axles when we can get to a dealer? Or is it best to just leave it all alone and take it the extra distance to a dealer? What dangers are there in towing it another 150 miles or so to the nearest (and newest) dealer? What is the worst case scenario if we tow it carefully and slowly to a dealer?

I have a couple of other questions that fit in the sub forums, but this one I couldn't really categorize. It's running gear, but it's also who to use, how to proceed, what should we worry about, etc.?

I would just like to know what you would do if you were in this situation.
Thanks again! I hope I'm not being too much of a pest, but it's so good to be able to run questions like this by you who are experienced. All I've done the last few days is read and research on here and try to soak up as much of this knowledge base as possible.

Carol
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:43 AM   #2
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You get up early too! I have flight out of KC this morning and thank goodness I have 4 wd! You might look at the members list for AR and see who is around you and send them a PM if no one chimes in. Or call the new dealer, Lane and see if knows anyone in your area. Good luck and we hope to meet you at the rally.

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Old 01-11-2011, 04:24 AM   #3
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Is the Trailer Store still in business on 40 near Morrilton??? they could help you on axles brakes and tires....I know Bryant is a ways but Fred and Jacks Trailers works on a lot of Airstreams.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:26 AM   #4
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For brakes and bearings I would trust the mechanic that works on my personal vehicle. It is not rocket science. Sal.
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:38 AM   #5
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I agree, any trailer shop (read horse/stock trailer and equipment trailer) dealer can do just fine on your AS.

I would find one that looks busy and has several trailers in stock and approach them about installing an axle you supply. Have the correct axle drop shipped at their shop. Buy your new axle with brakes, hubs, and bearings. You will have new running gear and be ready to travel.
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:51 AM   #6
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Carol,

I agree with what Jeff just posted. I recently replaced all three axles on my trailer myself. If I can do it, certainly any trailer shop can as well. I purchased my axles complete with brake/hub assembly's through Andy at Inland RV. If you have all ready decided who you want to do the work, they can be shipped directly to the shop. I would guess they weigh around 170# each, and from experience I can state they are a real bear to move around by yourself!
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:50 AM   #7
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it's not necessary to go to an a/s dealer for most repairs or maintenance.

in fact i suspect you will be GREATLY disappointed,

by trekking to a dealer shop and SHOCKED by the labor rate.

this is a nearly 20 year old stream and the most motivated person to check it over is you the owners.

while parts are available it's 20 years old, so don't expect ANY dealer or service shop to have a lot of stuff at hand.

image u just purchased a 20 year old truck or car that needs 'work'.

start by cleaning, opening things, digging around and taking pics of stuff.

cleaning and simple lubrication will get u up close with the systems and parts.

be prepared to find crud and rust and problems.

if it's been parked in wet areas and not traveling, there will be issues.

but no shop is gonna go over it with the care or motivation of an owner.

as u find things make notes, take pics and read about those topics here.

ask questions too BUT keep in mind you are PRIME MEAT for folks selling stuff.

this means you will get pms and warnings about doom and offers of parts that U absolutely need.

so don't swallow it all or make buddies yet with online sales/parts shops.
_________

this trailer may have major issues, it's really hard to predict without careful inspections.

IF the subfloor is rotted or soft in many places that will need to be addressed.

you may THINK it's ok and it might be, but most people simply MISS finding the rot...

until they start TAKING THE INTERIOR apart.

((simply removing a few bits of cabinetry or the sofa and bed))

it's like peeling an onion and the deeper layers are tricky to inspect.

here is a great example of a 90s unit like that...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...oor-54952.html

(and this happens to be a GREAT trailer, and looks awesome now)

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f205...num-54749.html
__________

so unless u are planning a 5000 mile trip immediately, start simply.

yes the "running gear" may need attention, but one can quickly spend $1000s on running gear parts....

only to find other stuff needs to be done to the subfloor or frame or plumbing or electrical...

one can easily spend 5-10,000 $ getting a 20 year old trailer ship-shape,

and that figure goes UP if someone else does the work.

labor rates are expensive and eat most budgets.
_________

do you have a BUDGET for repairs/upgrades?

how much are u willing to spend to get the trailer road worthy?

this is boring but essential detail and needs to be decided BEFORE opening the can o'worms.

IF it needs a new fridge or AC in 4 months, are u ready for that 500-1000$ item?

this is an older house, on wheels, so any of the 'housing systems' might need attention.

DIY vs paying a shop can mean DOUBLE the cost for any one thing.
_________

folks not handy with tools either need to GET HANDY or expect to spend a lot.

yes it's nice to have a good/honest/reliable mechanic nearby and those are hard to find in the rv world...

most dealer/service shops aren't gonna be equipped or interested in doing extensive inspections and preparing 'bids'...

and honestly they won't KNOW how much work needs to be done without taking stuff apart.

much better to do that yourself.
_________

start by cleaning and taking simple steps to explore ALL the hidden interior and exterior bits.

clean/lubricate/tighten and tweak while peeling away the layers of inactivity and crud.
_________

best case scenario is that MOST of the structure is solid and no subfloor is rotted.

if that is the case, and ALL of the systems work reliably...

THEN start on the running gear.

i don't know what the worst case is, but peel the onion.
_________

this comment is NOT directed at you specifically but,

a lot of folks NEW to rvn or streamn buy what they can afford...

only to find out they can't afford the repairs...

then need to decide IF they wanna learn HOW to make the repairs themselves.

so tread slowly and learn as you go along, now that u own it.

the idea the u can "take it" someplace and have it all gone over and fixed and ready to use...

well that generally doesn't happen without a lotta $$$ involved.
________

this isn't a gloom and doom reply,

simply a suggestion to go slow, make a budget, find any hidden issues and so on...

THEN sort out what to fix, in what order and where or by whom.

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post
it's not necessary to go to an a/s dealer for most repairs or maintenance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post

in fact i suspect you will be GREATLY disappointed,

by trekking to a dealer shop and SHOCKED by the labor rate.

this is a nearly 20 year old stream and the most motivated person to check it over is you the owners.

while parts are available it's 20 years old, so don't expect ANY dealer or service shop to have a lot of stuff at hand.

image u just purchased a 20 year old truck or car that needs 'work'.

start by cleaning, opening things, digging around and taking pics of stuff.

cleaning and simple lubrication will get u up close with the systems and parts.

be prepared to find crud and rust and problems.

if it's been parked in wet areas and not traveling, there will be issues.

but no shop is gonna go over it with the care or motivation of an owner.

as u find things make notes, take pics and read about those topics here.

ask questions too BUT keep in mind you are PRIME MEAT for folks selling stuff.

this means you will get pms and warnings about doom and offers of parts that U absolutely need.

so don't swallow it all or make buddies yet with online sales/parts shops.
_________

this trailer may have major issues, it's really hard to predict without careful inspections.

IF the subfloor is rotted or soft in many places that will need to be addressed.

you may THINK it's ok and it might be, but most people simply MISS finding the rot...

until they start TAKING THE INTERIOR apart.

((simply removing a few bits of cabinetry or the sofa and bed))

it's like peeling an onion and the deeper layers are tricky to inspect.

here is a great example of a 90s unit like that...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...oor-54952.html

(and this happens to be a GREAT trailer, and looks awesome now)

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f205...num-54749.html
__________

so unless u are planning a 5000 mile trip immediately, start simply.

yes the "running gear" may need attention, but one can quickly spend $1000s on running gear parts....

only to find other stuff needs to be done to the subfloor or frame or plumbing or electrical...

one can easily spend 5-10,000 $ getting a 20 year old trailer ship-shape,

and that figure goes UP if someone else does the work.

labor rates are expensive and eat most budgets.
_________

do you have a BUDGET for repairs/upgrades?

how much are u willing to spend to get the trailer road worthy?

this is boring but essential detail and needs to be decided BEFORE opening the can o'worms.

IF it needs a new fridge or AC in 4 months, are u ready for that 500-1000$ item?

this is an older house, on wheels, so any of the 'housing systems' might need attention.

DIY vs paying a shop can mean DOUBLE the cost for any one thing.
_________

folks not handy with tools either need to GET HANDY or expect to spend a lot.

yes it's nice to have a good/honest/reliable mechanic nearby and those are hard to find in the rv world...

most dealer/service shops aren't gonna be equipped or interested in doing extensive inspections and preparing 'bids'...

and honestly they won't KNOW how much work needs to be done without taking stuff apart.

much better to do that yourself.
_________

start by cleaning and taking simple steps to explore ALL the hidden interior and exterior bits.

clean/lubricate/tighten and tweak while peeling away the layers of inactivity and crud.
_________

best case scenario is that MOST of the structure is solid and no subfloor is rotted.

if that is the case, and ALL of the systems work reliably...

THEN start on the running gear.

i don't know what the worst case is, but peel the onion.
_________

this comment is NOT directed at you specifically but,

a lot of folks NEW to rvn or streamn buy what they can afford...

only to find out they can't afford the repairs...

then need to decide IF they wanna learn HOW to make the repairs themselves.

so tread slowly and learn as you go along, now that u own it.

the idea the u can "take it" someplace and have it all gone over and fixed and ready to use...

well that generally doesn't happen without a lotta $$$ involved.
________

this isn't a gloom and doom reply,

simply a suggestion to go slow, make a budget, find any hidden issues and so on...

THEN sort out what to fix, in what order and where or by whom.

cheers
2air'


Every person who thinks they would like to buy an RV should print this off and read it many times before leaving home!!!

Dave
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:34 AM   #9
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The second year I owned my trailer I heard something dragging and squeaking in one of the brakes during a weekend out. By having my wife drive slowly while I walked beside the trailer I was able to determine the problem wheel. I pulled that drum off later and found one of the springs that retracts the brake shoes had broken due to heavy rust.

I've worked on drum brakes before and the spring was an inexpensive off the shelf item from an RV parts store. An easy repair if you do this sort of thing.

I'd say anyone who has experience in drum brakes could repair yours and the problem is just something that broke loose like mine.

Personally I wouldn't bother replacing the entire brakes unless the shoes are worn out or the whole system is a lump of rust. You should be able to replace any broken parts, clean things up, repack bearings and be good to go.

There are many threads covering axles so check those to determine if yours are bad before considering replacing them.

Christopher
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:14 PM   #10
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Open Road , USA
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What 2air said is right on. There are so many good bits in that one single post it's scary, but especially the part about finding out everything that's wrong with it (if you haven't already) and making a big list of what you have to address, and maybe another list for what you want to address and find out what its all going to cost you. Will help you prioritize, and see if the investment is worth it for that particular trailer.

Ex: I had bought a 70's Trade Wind for cheap. Immediately I started fixing things, more like a local shop started fixing things for me. When I bought it I was too excited about the price of the Airstream and the mostly very straight exterior to care about anything else. "If I have to, I can gut it and start over" but that wasn't realistic for my skills and budget.

I wish I would have had that list before shopping for it! Overall I didn't do much due diligence. I spent a few grand doing misc things to it. The inside was still wonderful 70's decor and dingy looking no matter how much I cleaned. At least I made sure there wasn't any rot or leaks and the belly pan were good, so I was only about 98% noob at this point.

It had a layout I wasn't crazy about. Then I decided one day (after some prodding from the better half) that I wasn't going to tacle that big of a project. It needed a lot of money put in to bring it to our (her) standards and even more with someone else doing it. This model isn't sought after much, so it could be a waste of $. I reasearched more and more, and the more I researched the more I was convinced I should sell so we did. I got my money back out, and the new buyer a fair deal too.

Then I started looking for a 60's model with the real wood interior instead of the 70's junk. I personally like the 60's a lot more and think they are worth the money invested if you're doing it right and not going overboard. But then I was convinced that I'm a small project person and I'm not good at doing maintenance items myself and the older stuff is going to have more of it. We got what we think was a fair deal on our current 2004 and we love the interior a lot so we're happy.

I have a list of the should fix and wanna-do's. We'll see what they cost to do with others, and what I can do myself. So far I have learned how to seal windows and I think halfway decently aka no vulkem all over the place, etc. I've fixed small issues all around, leaking shower due to very poor design, toilet sprayer, 12v plug that melted, maintenance items, etc. It's all of fun and rewarding and not so much fun at the same time.

The best part of wrenching on things yourself is you learn your rig. A lot of offroad and racer folks I used to hang with would tell new people that over and over. If you get yourself at least familiar, you will be able to identify problems when they happen much faster, and resolve them yourself. Very handy if you're out camping and its a small fix. Or you're way boondocked and getting in is hard or inconvenient or you have to fix something that could turn out catastrophic if not dealt with immediately.

Another thing that might be helpful is to find a close/local Airstream friend who is handy. Hang out with them and help them on their trailer. Hold tools, learn wrenching on it if they let you and want you to help. Bring them beers, coffee, etc. You'll can learn by watching and asking questions and it's less intimidating that doing something on your own that you don't yet have any confidence for. This has been very helpful for me with cars in the past, but for Airstreams I don't have one yet, so if anyone needs someone to help, PM me!

I have a warranty on the trailer and we'll be having some things looked at by reputable folks and the warranty can pay for the big stuff. They could have paid for some of the other stuff too, but I want to give the small stuff a stab and improve my handy-ness on low cost items to build my confidence and familiarity with this rig. Will I ever pack wheel bearings? I've done them before long time ago, but probably not gonna again because I don't see the need for doing it myself. Do I want to know the basics of how to do it if, absolutely! I'll change brakes though, they're way less messy.

I'm still and constantly evaluating whether all the 'to do' list items will be worth spending the money on this new rig - will I get it out of it when I sell?

Same with the tow vehicle recently. And I thought I was escaping the troubles of life. Sigh. Not so happy with Government Motors right now, and a Cummins is starting to look mighty good. Anyone know a very friendly Chevy dealer who'll go to bat against GM's warranty blocks to change my mind? I really like their trucks, the company is just starting to suck IMO.

Seriously though, just don't get discouraged and be willing to tinker and take it slow! (Not that my brief moment of weakness as indicated vent above helps)

Airstreams need maintenance and maybe more than some of the fiberglass ones, but they are awesome! Nothing like camping in them compared to anything else. Every time we look at something bigger/better/newer/with slides or a motor we come away disappointed because the interior is no where like what we have, many of them for 2-3x more than we paid.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:22 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone. You confirmed what we were planning to do - take it to our regular mechanic for safety check and any needed repairs - brakes and bearings - and then see about axles.

We'd been studying the forums a while before we bought our trailer and knew we'd have to spend some money. Also, I probably didn't explain - we will do most of the work ourselves - just not running gear work.

I, too, think your post, 2Air, is a great post for people considering buying or any newbies. I think we'll print it out and hand it over when people tell us they want to get an older Airstream - or just direct them here. Thanks so much.

I'll tell ya'll one thing - I'm not sure we would have ever bought our 1992 if we weren't able to find this forum and study, study, before we ever even found our trailer!

As soon as there isn't a dangerous wind chill (In ARKANSAS, no less) we'll be heading to the mechanic for the brake and bearing insurance. LOL

Thanks!
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:28 PM   #12
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Sticky

So much practical counseling and information here maybe it should be a sticky.
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:08 PM   #13
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Yes! A sticky. A classic response.
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawChick View Post
Thanks everyone. You confirmed what we were planning to do - take it to our regular mechanic for safety check and any needed repairs - brakes and bearings - and then see about axles.

We'd been studying the forums a while before we bought our trailer and knew we'd have to spend some money. Also, I probably didn't explain - we will do most of the work ourselves - just not running gear work.

I, too, think your post, 2Air, is a great post for people considering buying or any newbies. I think we'll print it out and hand it over when people tell us they want to get an older Airstream - or just direct them here. Thanks so much.

I'll tell ya'll one thing - I'm not sure we would have ever bought our 1992 if we weren't able to find this forum and study, study, before we ever even found our trailer!

As soon as there isn't a dangerous wind chill (In ARKANSAS, no less) we'll be heading to the mechanic for the brake and bearing insurance. LOL

Thanks!
Surprisingly, brakes, bearings & axle replacement was a fairly simple and straightforward task (esp using Henchen axles). Yes, moving the weight was a wee bit challenging - but with a floor jack, it's not much more difficult than loading my dog crates into my truck. A little huff-n-puff and a few curse words. My father did help me but he is not the most "agile" when working on the ground. Strength is not a requirement for this job.

I take that back - strength was needed to lift the axles on/off the truck. But the guys at the shop (who allowed me to use their shipping address to reduce the cost of shipping) helped with loading!

Laura
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