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Old 10-19-2008, 08:02 AM   #1
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Heed the warnings of running HD trucks with heavy WD bars

Hi. Haven't contributed in awhile but just want to add to those warning about towing Airstreams with HD trucks and heavy WD bars. I tow my 22' International with a Chevy 3500 Classic (SRW). When I bought the trailer my dealer set me up with 1000# bars. I have now had my frame repaired twice. The first time (see link below), neither I nor Airstream had any idea what had caused the problem. Since I had just recently purchased the trailer I assumed it had been caused by the previous PO. At the time I was reassured by Airstream I was well within recommended limits with my towing setup and it should not be a cause for concern.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/bent-frame-on-2005-22-intl-how-bad-is-it-33396.html

A year and a few thousand miles later I was still dealing with the signs of a rough ride (replacing interior rivets, screws coming loose) when an undercarriage inspection revealed my frame was now cracked, just in front of the forward axle and just behind the repair Airstream had done a year ago. Pretty crushing blow for an owner of a $35K, 3 year old trailer! With nothing else to pin it on, I am firmly convinced the cause of this was the combination of HD truck and HD bars.

The good news is Airstream did cover the frame repairs a second time. Now I am in the process of resealing a significant number of leaks I am sure were also caused by my previous WD setup. At the same time I am still looking for additional damage I might have caused.

This is not meant to steer anyone away from a heavy duty truck. I love my 3500. It has a smooth ride, does everything I need it to do (I use it for more than just a TV) and tows my little 22' like it's not even there. For anyone who does, please heed the advise of many here on the site and run the lightest bars you can. Andy from Inland RV has been sounding the alarm on this for some time now and hopefully folks are starting to listen. I wish I had a year ago.
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:14 AM   #2
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We had a seminar on this issue at the PEI rally. The dealer gave us a heads up on the concerns your talking about with a great slide show. One thing that we can do to make sure we are not overstressing our setup is to check the leaf springs on your rear suspension. If they are flattened out under a full load w/ bars in place things must be adjusted to reduce the rough ride your trailer will endure resulting from a bad setup.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:16 AM   #3
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I may be wrong here, but I seem to recall there being a significant issue with the 22' design...so much so that the 23' unit was the replacement to the 22' and the "final answer" as to the root cause of the shortcomings of the 22'.

Keep in mind this is just what I heard....it by no means is law, but right after I started to hear about issues with the 22s, they vanished and along came the 23s.

I am not saying that rough rides don't contribute to issues with Airstreams, clearly I think rough rides do, but to have the frame consistently fail, seems to me like an engineering issue and why the factory is being so generous as to the repair. Popped rivets, etc, sure, but frame issues? I don't know, I'm no engineer, but frame breaks caused by a 1 tonner with 1000lb bars, I just don't know. Good warnings though. It'd be interesting if anyone else has a 22 that has issues and, what folks who have a 23 footer are towing with and what issues they have......
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Old 10-19-2008, 02:51 PM   #4
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I'm not sure what difference there is between the 22 and 23... I'm sure you'd find the frames are the same. My understanding with the 22 was the wet bath was a deal breaker... not so much anything wrong with the 22 ... do they still leave the belly open in the 23's?

I think they both use the same axle system, same 14" wheels, same length... not sure about frame thickness... .
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Old 10-19-2008, 03:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie View Post
It'd be interesting what folks who have a 23 footer are towing with and what issues they have......
Our 2500 HD GMC D-Max is the TV for our '23. 12,000 miles so far with no issues. Hitch is an Equalizer transferred from our X Bambi. This '05 pickup has a much softer ride and our old '00 GMC 2500 HD which was equiupped with the heavy duty off-road suspension. Unloaded, it was a kidney killer.
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Old 10-19-2008, 06:54 PM   #6
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I run no WD bars when I tow my Overlander with the 3500 dually Cheyy 4wd. With that much load capacity, you do not need them. The truck can easily take a little tongue weight without problem as it was designed to take 2,000 lbs on the box without having to add weights to the front bumper. I would say that frame damage in front of the wheels is the result of poor design at Airstream as was the frame breakage behind the rear wheel on the mid-70's rear bath rear tank longer trailers. Of course, the Red Ant bike carriers and people putting spare tires back there did not helpeither. Back then, Airstream admitted their engineering problem and installed a quick fix for most customers for free. They gave them frame strengthening plates and bolted the frame up onto the trailer shell so the shell held up the frame.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:23 PM   #7
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I am seriously considering getting one of those air hitches before the start of next season, even though I only have a 2500. It's been said these can help reduce the harshness of ride, but one of my concerns is that the hitch rides on an air bag. Though I believe these are heavy duty air bags, I question if the bag could ever blow or leak making the hitch unusable?
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie View Post
I may be wrong here, but I seem to recall there being a significant issue with the 22' design...so much so that the 23' unit was the replacement to the 22' and the "final answer" as to the root cause of the shortcomings of the 22'.
Definitely possible an inherent weakness in the frame also contributed to my problems. To fix, Airstream sent my dealer a "frame-stiffening kit", which beefed up the area of the frame where the crack occurred.

Whether it was the sole cause or not, I am fairly certain my towing setup at least contributed to the mishap.

I would be curious to hear from anyone else towing a 22' and whether or not they have the same issues. jk
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:34 PM   #9
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I also pull a 22' International with a one ton truck ( a Dodge Megacab) When I bought the trailer I also purchased an equlizer hitch with 1000 lb bars. After a year of having this set up I quit using the hitch setup. A one ton truck can pull a 5600 lb trailer without even knowing that it is there. I no longer find everything in my trailer tossed about and screws and rivets seem to stay put. I dont know why I would need, want, or use a WD hitch with a small trailer and a large truck.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:39 PM   #10
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I also pull a 22' International with a one ton truck ( a Dodge Megacab) When I bought the trailer I also purchased an equlizer hitch with 1000 lb bars. After a year of having this set up I quit using the hitch setup. A one ton truck can pull a 5600 lb trailer without even knowing that it is there. I no longer find everything in my trailer tossed about and screws and rivets seem to stay put. I dont know why I would need, want, or use a WD hitch with a small trailer and a large truck.
Agree. That is where I am at now as well.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:40 PM   #11
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I can't imagine 1,000 lb bars on a 22' trailer. My 30' Excella has a travel weight of 980 lbs on the hitch measured with a Sherline scale. Generally speaking, I thought that the rated bar strength should match the hitch weight as close as possible. With that said, I still set my 1,000 lb rated bars somewhat lightly since their main function for me, when towing with the 3500 dually is to act somewhat like a shock absorber. As others have said, the dually can, for all practical purposes, tow with little significant assist from the bars - or simply without the bars. Because I reduced the rear spring capacity of my dually, while bringing the axle a lot closer to the rubber bumper on the chassis, I still like to tension the bars somewhat - but not to their capacity. I've never seen any indication, or felt, that I was "bottoming out" - with the exception of extreme twisting maneuvers when running on rough terrain solo. Once again, I've yet to find any loose rivets with my setup. I also think that it bears saying that, by scale weights, the trailer tongue weight only unloads the front axle by about 200 lbs - and no amount of bar tensioning (---within reason) will restore that load on the front axle. The lever arm is simply too long, the distance from the rear axle to the hitch is too short, and the vehicle weighs too much. Frankly, the front end weight for a fully-outfitted crew-cab dually with 4wd, A/C, Duramax, and Allison Tranny can use a bit of "unloading!"
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:19 AM   #12
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If you believe the Reese literature and the self centering design of the twin cam, you need tension on the bars to give you the antisway performance to the hitch. All other hitch designs are only frictional dampeners and do not depend upon WD loading to effect their performance. I have own and have used Reese frictional, Reese Dual Cam, and Equalizer hitches. I like to dual cam with a moderately loaded WD when necessary but I do not need any anti-sway since I bought the dually. I have not owned a Hensley yet, but I would if I had a short wheelbase truck and a big trailer.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:16 AM   #13
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The AirSafe hitch was my answer to a harsh ride from a heavy-duty pickup. I can push down on the trailer tongue while the trailer is hooked up to the F250 and the trailer tongue will go up-and-down without affecting the truck. When towing on the road, the truck and the trailer suspensions act independently of each other. The effect is especially remarkable when no weight-transfer bars are used, but the AirSafe can be used with the bars.

Silvertwinkie, my Class V AirSafe hitch is equipped with two Firestone air bags, the same type used so successfully by truckers for decades now. They are noted for at least a 10-year (and usually much longer) life. If and when they go bad, they are available and easily replaced.
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:15 AM   #14
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A little Concerned!!

Now Im concerned...I just bought a 2008 International 28 and tow it with my 2008 F350 Long Bed Dually. Ive only towed it from the dealer in Eugene, OR to Palm Springs, CA and noticed that the ride was terrible (as were the roads!) I have a Equalizer hitch with 1000 bars. Can I use the AirSafe with the Equalizer? What are my other options? Im afraid that Im going to shake my new Airstream to pieces!!

While Im not new to towing travel trailers, I am a newly minted Airstream owner and want to protect my investment. Thanks in advance for any advice!
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