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Old 02-14-2003, 08:54 PM   #1
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1959 22' Caravanner
Atlanta , Georgia
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Need HITCH help on a 59

Well I hope this doesn't sound to crazy but I need to know "what hitch size a 1959 22' would have?"
My wifes Father passed a week ago and his 59 is at a campground and we need to move it. I have never layed eyes on this camper. Or problem is, while we have the van he towed the trailer with we don't know if we have the hitch. I found the sway control in the van and that tells me he was using a weight distribution hitch. One of the step brothers has confirmed this but the rest of the hitch was not in the van nor could we find it at his home. To complicate things further he has a second camper about 150 miles from here, that nobody in the family has seen, on a peice of hunting property. It's quite possible the hitch is with the other camper. What to do with that one has not been decided and it's nothing special. He had told me a little about that one a couple years ago when he purchaced it. Paid $250 for it and had to replace the floor and fix it up some.

Don't even bother to ask....The 59 is not for sale
When I was a kid my family did a lot of camping. It's something I wish too do with my two kids and this will give us the oprotunity to do so. Well as soon as I buy a sutiable tow vehicle. The Van is going with one of my wifes brothers. I have my eye on a Suburban already. Wish I still had my 70 Burb project. They would look good together.

Here is what I know about the camper so far for those interested. My Brother-in-laws (three of them) say it's a 58. I did quite a bit of looking on vintageairstream.com's archive and I think it's a 59. My wife came up with a few pitcures with the camper in it. It has the peaked center wheel well openings. I also read that the windows changed for the 59 model year and lost the vertical divider bar that was in the 58's. This camper does not have the dividers. I also read that Airstream did it's model years like cars and if it was manufactured after Septemeber it would be the next model year. I think that's where the confusion has come in and it proably is registered as a 58. My guess is it was built late 58 so it's a 59 model. These campers always reminded me of the old 50's "toastmaster" toaster my mom has in her basement ( still works too and maybe comendeared for the 59). SO that'swhy I chose "59 Toaster" as my nick.
The camper is supose to be in good shape. It was bought in the late 60's by my wifes family (they should be the second owner) and has been used ever since. It's sitting in a campground that he had a year round membership at in their storage lot. Typical call and let them know your coming and they set it on a site deal. It's been there for 10 years or more so I need to get new tires for it. He did some repairs in the last two years and fixed a soft section of floor and the leak that caused it. He also replaced some of the plumbing. Unfortunatly I am told the original fridge is gone and the replacement may not even be a 2 way. It does have the original stove though. So If you have a working 2 way to sell that would fit I may be interested. I may also need the cabinet for it. My wife remebers it was the shelf top style (another clue to it being a 59).

Great site and forums. Hope you folks will put up with a few novice questions from me for a little while till I learn more about this camper. Maybe I can make one of the Rally's one day when there is one in the SouthEast.
Thanks
Eric
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Old 02-14-2003, 10:05 PM   #2
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
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Need HITCH help on a 59

Greetings Eric!

Unless the hitch has been modified, it likely has a 2" Marvel coupler and will require a 2" ball. My suggestion would be to search out one of the "heavy duty" 2" balls with the 6,000 pound weight carrying rating - - they usually must be purchased from a trailer specialty store or RV outlet as the ones typically handled by Wal Mart/K-Mart, etc usually do not have a weight carrying rating much in excess of 2,000 pounds. So far as hitch height is concerned, Airstream coaches of that era typically had a hitch height between 17.75" and 18.25" - - I checked the Airstream site, but they have only spotty coverage of such information for trailers of the 1950s.

Airstream Trailer Weights, Hitch Heights

The main idea with the hitch height is to provide a near level towing stance for the trailer - - it is extremely important for tandem axles to keep tire wear and loading uniform - - even with a single axle it is important to help insure that rear bumper and black tank valve aren't unnecessarily exposed to dragging on uneven pavement as well as to maintain proper balance for safe towing.

Quite honestly, even if you have the spring bars, it will likely be easier to buy a matched set that includes the adjustable ball mount, spring bars, and snap-up brackets - - there will likely be far fewer frustrations setting up something with all parts accounted for rather than trying to piece together the vintage pieces. This would also give you the opportunity to consider a Reese Dual Cam system which combines a weight distributing hitch along with quality sway control.

You mention needing to purchase tires. You might want to prepare yourself for the probability that you will also need to buy new wheels as well. Given the recent history of the trailer, it may very well have its original "split-rim" wheels that most tire dealers refuse to service. New trailer wheels aren't particularly exensive (the wheels that I purchased for my Overlander were $40 each when purchased with tires at my Good Year dealer). One caution is that the wheel wells on the Vintage single axle trailers can be quite tight so it is very desirable, if at all possible, to take the trailer to the tire dealer and allow him/her to measure and fit the tires/wheels - - that way, if the tires/wheels don't fit the dealer will be more likely to handle the situation without hassles.

Good luck with your new Vintage!

Kevin
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1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 02-14-2003, 10:34 PM   #3
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1959 22' Caravanner
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Thanks Kevin
Yeah I read about the 2 peice rims and I hope They have already been replaced. My wife has a side shot that is about circa 1978 or so and I think it has some stamps steel wheels. I dont' see anything around the outside edge that looks like a locking ring. I think I can just make out a wheel weight in fact. It's white rims with a cap and my understanding is the split rims were black.

Yeah the hitch hight was a major concern. The only truck I have with a hitch on it right now is a big nasty 4x4 with 35 inch tires and it stands 7ft tall. The trailer I pull with it I had to lift 3 inches and go up a couple tire sizes and it's still not level with a 6 inch drop draw bar. I'm thinking of fliping the axle under the springs to level it out. I wasn't about to even try to move the A/S with it till I work out getting the right tounge hight. Unfortunaly I just sold (heck it hasn't even been picked up yet but no reicieer on it)) another truck that would have been a good ride hight for this LOL. I think a Burb would work well for my needs over all. I have been wanting something to move the big pig 4x4 and a 3/4 ton Burb would do it.

Well I hope to luck out and the hitch gear is in the trailer. I did find a friend that has a 2 inch weight distribuiting hitch and he's actually pretty close to where the camper is. Close enough that if the hitch isn't in the trailer I can get to his house in about 15 minutes from where the trailer is. I have a good 2 inch normal draw bar here at the house. I'll bring it with me. Might be fine without the weight distributing for the 30 miles I need to go.

Just out of curiocity what is the lug pattern on these? Is it the same 6 on 5.5 as GM's run?
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Old 02-14-2003, 11:13 PM   #4
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
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Need HITCH help on a 59

Greetings Eric!

I am not certain where the division point was, but at one point during the 1940s/1950s the bolt pattern was similar to that on Chrysler products while the later 1950s/1960s used a similar pattern to that used by GM. It IS NOT, however, safe to use automotive/light truck wheels on an Airstream - - you need a wheel with a weight carrying rating of at least 2,600 pounds. To see what can happen when such rims are used, check out Inland RVs web site. Quality new trailer wheels are actually quite reasonably priced from a number of sources, and can substantially increase peace of mind knowing that the wheel is actually designed for its intended use.

If your luck runs like mine, you will need a 12" drop bar with most any modern 4 X 4 vehicle. My '99 K2500 Suburban requires a 12" drop bar and it is still almost .75" too high for my Minuet - - it is almost perfect for my '64 Overlander, however.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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