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Old 05-07-2008, 09:44 PM   #1
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Fallston , Maryland
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towing with a chevy 1500

Hello all, I am an airstream virgin. I have been looking for just the right vintage model airstream for a couple of years now. I have looked at a few in person, a whole bunch online, and have picked my friend's brain who restored a 1965 Caravel. I had settled on looking for a 1970 Tradewind or Ambassador. On a whim I low balled a bid on ebay on a 1970 Sovereign, and guess what? I am driving out to pick her up this weekend. Now I am in a panic. I am not sure whether to dance for joy or cry. I either have a huge dream AS or a BIG pain in the ..... I have never towed anything in my life!!!! I have, two potential V8 tow vehicles. One is a 2006 Ford Explorer. I am pretty certain it is not heavy enough to do the job despite what the tow specs say. I also have a 1995 Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71 extended cab 4x4. Can I tow a 1970 Sovereign safely from Ohio to northern Maryland with this truck? I will be on the PA turnpike. There are some hills but nothing extremely steep. What do I need to do to get her home? What gear should I drive in? I am already having a brake assist put on and the Chevy does have the factory installed tow package. I know the weight for a 70 Sovereign is supposed to be around 4960 empty, but am not sure of the tongue weight. The GVW inside the door of the truck say 6200lbs. Do I need a sway bar and if so what kind? Please, no lectures about how I have lost my mind, I am already well aware of that fact.

Thanks for any advice y'all can give me

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Old 05-07-2008, 10:23 PM   #2
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1987 23' Sovereign
Tucson , Arizona
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Posts: 48
You should do fine with the Chevy as a tow vehicle. I checked the A/S website and it lists the '70 31ft Sovereign with double bed @ 4960lbs. It has a tongue weight of 490lbs. The hitch ball height is 19in.
A suggestion, if you have never hooked up or towed before would be to find a good RV dealer in the trailers area and have them sell you a hitch and set it up for you. Perhaps the seller would deliver the A/S to the dealer for you.
Have them look over the "running" gear, tires, brakes, etc. They'll know what to look for. You will need at least an equalizing hitch. You might also want some sway control. Be prepared to spend a few bucks. Good Luck be safe.

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Old 05-08-2008, 06:04 AM   #3
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Welcome to the Forums from the Florida Panhandle

We're glad to have you with us. Congratulations on you new baby.

I agree with campaz. The Silverado should be able to handle the job, but you will definitely need an anti-sway weight distributing hitch system when you tow that airstream cross country. If you make that long tow without one, you will very likely never want to tow anything again, turning your new Airstream into a very expensive piece of yard art.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2011 Silverado 3500 (Fred) with Outfitter Truck Camper (Ethel)
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Old 05-08-2008, 06:11 AM   #4
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1967 26' Overlander
1968 30' Sovereign
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A competent dealer can install an equalizing hitch, sway control, repack wheel bearings, and the like. Best of luck to you and welcome to the FORUMS.
Kevin with Baity the Lab/Pointer
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Old 05-08-2008, 01:06 PM   #5
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Common Sense , Texas
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I agree with everyone above. Get yourself a good WD hitch, get some help with the setup of the hitch, and have the running gear of the trailer serviced.

Welcome to the forum.
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Old 05-08-2008, 01:25 PM   #6

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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Thumbs up Welcome Aboard.

Yes, the 1500 is your best option, and ditto on what the others have


Probably the BEST thing you could do...Take your Airstream friend with you!!

GOOD LUCK and Stream Safe.
AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 05-08-2008, 01:49 PM   #7
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Willoughby , Ohio
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Hello!We've ALL had our first towing experiences and yours need not be frightening.We also tow with a C-1500 (although not a 4X4) and have not had problems.We use Overdrive (automatic transmission) on flat stretches and let the transmission tell us when that is not sufficient.I agree with everyone who says you need a weight distributing / anti-sway hitch set-up. We use Equal-I-Zer and have had no problems with it.Since you have not towed before..Just remember, that's gonna be an additional 2.5 to 3 TONS behind you - take off slower, give yourself LOTS more stopping room, make your turns wider and keep it at 60 mph. Also, get some towing mirrors - that TT behind you will obscure your vision with your regular mirrors. Changing lanes/passing requires that you know where the AS end of your AS is - towing mirrors will help. Let the truck down-shift on those long uphill grades on the PA Pike if it needs to - there's nothing wrong with climbing those babies at 50mph instead of 60 mph. And let the engine compression keep you at 60 on the downhills - resist the temptation to fly down them - even with anti-sway, bad things can happen very quickly if you get above 65 mph.Make sure your AS lug nuts are tightened correctly before you start out and then stop at a rest stop after about 50 miles to re-check them. Also make sure your tires are inflated correctly all the way around.Make sure your umbillical cord doesn't drag on the ground behind your TV, or your chains for that matter.You'll also need a brake controller if your AS has electric brakes so that your TV is not doing all the work. I don't know what the braking system on your AS is - you should check into that.Finally, make sure all of your AS lights work when connected to your TV - flashers, turn signals, brake lights and running lights. Best of luck - maybe take a few digital pictures of your rig at a rest-stop and post them for ust to see! BTW - with that set-up, you'll be running with the BIG DOGS on the highways and you'll need to park with the 18-wheelers at the rest stops.
Steve & Susan
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AIR# 6511
2005 28' CCD, 2011 Sierra 5.3L, Equal-I-Zer
Empty Nesters - spending our money on OURSELVES for a change!
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Old 05-08-2008, 02:25 PM   #8
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There are a lot of opinions but I believe the Chevy is the only choise in this situation. I would find a competant RV Dealer and purchase a Reese TwinCam Straight line hitch. We have a dual cam Reese that we tow with and we have met every high profile vehicle there is on two lane roads with no sway problems. Just take it low and slow to start with, let no one pressure you and you will be fine. Remember Safety is the key ,give yourself lots of room to stop,never follow to close.Always give yourself some place to go in case . Have the dealer help you choose a hitch that makes the trailer tongue level when hooked up.
THE BEST of Luck to U and your new adventure
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Old 05-08-2008, 06:05 PM   #9
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1972 25' Tradewind
Madison , Wisconsin
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I tow my 1972 25' Tradewind with a GMC Sierra 1/2 ton....the same truck different trim! I have the 5.7 engine and it is adequate. I did use a 1500 with a 4.8 to move it once, the 4.8 was okay for a short hall but did struggle a bit on a steep hill.

Don't forget towing mirrors! You will do fine.

Make sure the tires are in good shape and not something 7-8 years old that may blow out.

Before I even moved my TW for the first time I repacked the bearings then replaced the tires.

Give yourself some room for wide turns until you are used to how the trailer tracks when making turns...the rest, you will figure out prety quickly, it is not that hard.

Check out the brake & turn signals, make sure your brake controller sycronizesllllI am sure there are a few other important things you can pick up from reading a few of the threads. Welcome to the cult....I mean club .
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:12 PM   #10
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Fallston , Maryland
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Thanks for all the good advice, I do appreciate it. I have spent the day looking for a weight distributing hitch and sway control, problem is I need the AS to fit it propperly, which is sitting in Ohio. Hope to get measurements from current owner so I can at least get my big puppy to a good RV dealer to adjust the hitch before I hit any serious hills.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:32 PM   #11
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You may be able to talk the seller out of his W/D hitch .

I did on all 3 of my A/S purchases. Make sure before you spend the money for new.
AIR #15800

"Wimpy" 1/2 ton 2002 GMC Sierra 4X4 Z-71 Gasser
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Old 05-09-2008, 04:07 AM   #12
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Where in Ohio are you picking up your new baby?

Steve & Susan
WBCCI# 03876
AIR# 6511
2005 28' CCD, 2011 Sierra 5.3L, Equal-I-Zer
Empty Nesters - spending our money on OURSELVES for a change!
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