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Old 05-19-2008, 12:15 PM   #1
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Towing with a Jeep Wrangler

Howdy,

I want to drive up to Inuvik in Yukon.

Would 600km of Dempster "Highway" cause a Bambi to fall apart?
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Old 05-19-2008, 12:55 PM   #2
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Depends

How good is the axle?
How balanced is your running gear?
Is your hitch set up "properly?"
Do you drive like a "foo?"
Hint: Have you ever seen any pictures of the stuff Wally Byam put a bunch of Airstreamers through on one of his Caravans?

I wanted a Wrangler but bought a diesel Liberty for towing.

I say go for it, as long as you consider, it depends.
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Old 05-19-2008, 02:16 PM   #3
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Well, the TV is a 2008 Wrangler Sahara: 3.8 liter V6, auto, factory fitted class II hitch with appropriate axle. I know this is not ideal for towing a caravan of any size, since the wheel base is a bit short - though much longer than they used to be. The new breed of Jeeps are bigger, heavier and longer, so a lot more stable. I'm not worried about the Jeep - it will survive and it is not going to be a high speed race and I understand that kinetic energy is related to the square of the speed.

I haven't bought a trailer yet. I am worried about getting a trailer that will be physically strong enough to take the pounding of hundreds of kilometers of gravel roads and not have all the cabinets and things come falling down. I don't think a conventional square box will do, but I really don't have experience in arctic gravel towing.

So if anyone has done crazy trips like this, then I'd like to exchange some ideas first.
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Old 05-19-2008, 08:06 PM   #4
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It would be a good idea to look at a small two axle trailer. Not for sway or stability issues, but in case you have a problem, like a flat tire or bad wheel bearing. You can limp into the next populated area for repairs using one wheel on one side. If you lose one on a single axle trailer, you're sunk. This is the main reason Wally strongly encouraged two axle trailers on his caravans.
Probably a 21-22' trailer would be all you would want, and your Jeep would be able to handle. The older trailers of the same length were quite a bit lighter, maybe you could find one in good shape for your trip. Also, the class II receiver doesn't have the weight rating for a larger trailer, in fact the smallest Airstream would probably exceed the rating.
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Old 05-19-2008, 11:16 PM   #5
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Hmm, a Wrangler is rated at up to 3500 lb with a WD hitch which means a 17 footer, single axle. However it is all about speed and the ratings are typically for 60 mph highway towing. At 50 mph, the kinetic energy is 70% of 60 mph, so one can tow a 30% heavier trailer just by slowing down a little bit, which means 5000 lb.

Why are the older Airstreams lighter? I thought that advances in composites would make the newer ones lighter.
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Old 05-20-2008, 12:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper
Why are the older Airstreams lighter? I thought that advances in composites would make the newer ones lighter.
Glue weighs a lot.

Given your tow vehicle specs, I wouldn't tow any thing that weighs more than 2500 lbs. After you load gear and some water - you are maxed out.

I have towed my Minuet (2400 lbs dry) with an Explorer that has similar capacity and wheel base. It's not fun. The trailer is in charge and while it may be legal and within vehicle specs I wouldn't want to take a grueling trip under these conditions.

Honestly - I would want a more robust tow vehicle to do what you are proposing, regardless of the weight of the trailer. Unfortunatley, I think you may be underpowered for this trip even with one of the lighter weight Airstreams.
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:45 PM   #7
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Hmm, I also heard that it would be better to get a fibreglass trailer, since they are also immensely strong and half the weight of an Airstream.
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Old 05-21-2008, 05:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper
Hmm, I also heard that it would be better to get a fibreglass trailer, since they are also immensely strong and half the weight of an Airstream.
I have to agree with Janet that you will be way under powered with the Jeep. A class II won't hold up at all. Also, the jeep is going to have a hard time stopping if you ever got into one of those "OS" situations. You can get all caught up in numbers and formulas but the truth of the matter is search the forum for folks who have tried but failed. Fiberglass stronger than aluminum? Well it all depends on what it put on. Have you ever looked at the frame of one of those SOB's? Nor there is something that won't last more than a few trips over gravel and washboard. Come to think of it my last airplane was aluminum, not fiberglass. We wish you luck in your search and on your trip. The best trips are thos that are well planned.
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:11 AM   #9
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Regarding the weight, unfortunately Airstream has not invested in better-and-lighter construction materials as they have been developed by the market over the years, as one might expect from such a premium brand. Instead, they got fatter and heavier and the quality has not increased either...in fact, some feel it has actually fallen. Too bad.
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:27 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Airstreamer67
Regarding the weight, unfortunately Airstream has not invested in better-and-lighter construction materials as they have been developed by the market over the years, as one might expect from such a premium brand. Instead, they got fatter and heavier and the quality has not increased either...in fact, some feel it has actually fallen. Too bad.
Though this is partly true, Airstream has come out with the Sport versions that are lighter and have less luxo items. Same as a Burro? Not really, but it's not a bad second step (Argosy was the first). With the industry in a major slump and fuel prices hitting the stratosphere, you will most likely see an expansion of the Sport line and/or further weight/size reductions.

As for the quality of the newer units in general, I'd have to agree 110%.
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:57 AM   #11
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Suggestion !!

Buy a tent and a porta potty and arrive alive.
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Old 05-21-2008, 08:45 AM   #12
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Dempster Hwy = flat tires...

We went up the road almost all the way to Inuvik several years ago, but the bridge was out on the big river (MacKenzie?) a ways south of Inuvik so we did not actually get all the way there. We were in a pickup camper at the time and not with an Airstream.

The Dempster Hwy though, is made of the sharpest crushed rock I have ever seen anywhere. We had 7 flats on that road, including 3 within about a 15 mile stretch... All the flats were on the rear axle, none on the front. Sort of like the rock is laying on the road and the front tires would flip the rock up into the air and then if the rear tire hit it while the rock was still on edge it would just puncture the tire. Our tires were so cut to ribbons that we weren't sure we would actually make it back out of there (we had our own tire patching stuff with us so we repaired our own flats by the side of the road).

We then got a set of Michelin steel-belted and had no more troubles. Something about the Michelins and those gravel roads and that is about all everybody uses up there I think.

You are going to get a medium amount of rock hits though. When you meet an on-coming truck (one of the big Hayes trucks with a moose-gooser front end) you are going to be pelted with everything from sand to 1/2 inchers. Not sure I would want to take my Bambi up that road just because of the rocks when meeting vehicles. If you were going up to stay in Inuvik for some expended period of time then no problem, but if I was just going up there for a couple days or something I personally would leave my Bambi in Dawson and just run up and back to Inuvik with my tow vehicle and sleep in the seat (I would be leary of a tent because I don't like bears...).

It is a really beautiful run though, one that is worth doing. As far as the trailer holding up, I would have no worries about taking my Bambi (19') and I think it would hold up just fine, use common sense and don't beat it to pieces trying to run 60 when you ought to be going 30... My only worry would be the cosmetic aspects of what the rock hits would do. Of course I have also seen people tarp-strap a mattress or a heavy quilt to the front of their trailer and that seems to work. You wouldn't be the only one to do that.

At any rate, it is a trip worth doing so I would encourage you to go for it.

regards, Dave
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:47 AM   #13
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I would suggest a Casita, all one piece fiberglass and light weight for the tow vehicle suggested. Single axle, the tire situation will be your challenge. Bearings usually hold out on a newer unit. Any airstream will be destroyed and resale will be, well painful. I know you also have a similar mfg in canada that builds all one piece fiberglass single axle trailers. Can not think of the name, possibly big foot?? Good luck.
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:28 PM   #14
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Hmm, Escape Trailers in Chillywack, eh?
The Escape Trailer

I can see that rocks and Airstreams won't mix well. Parking it in Dawson City would probably be a wise move.

I do find it curious that the Airstream build quality degenerated over the years, but the new Sport 17 footers do look really nice and may cause a bit of a rebound in popularity, if only they were not so over priced.
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