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Old 09-15-2004, 06:28 PM   #1
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How to move an Airstream?

I am brand new to this forum. Just signed up a few minutes ago!

I just inherited my father's two Airstreams -- a 1967 Caravel 17 foot and a 1968 Overlander 26 foot.

Dad loved these Airstreams and took good care of them. However we had to put him in a nurseing home for the last five years so the Airstreams just sat in his yard.

He understood how to mantain them and I am sure that he winterized them as well as whatever maintenance was needed, so at the time they were parked, they were in good, travel ready condition.

Now that I have inherited them I want to move them to my home, about 20 miles away, clean them up and use them. I have no experience with trailers though I do have an extended 2002 Astro van with a very heavy duty hitch that should be able to pull them.

What should I check before attempting to tow them? The tires look pretty good, there is nothing loose on the Airstreams except maybe the back compartment doors that hold the license plates. I am sure that I can secure those.

Sure would appreciate some advice. I livein Atlanta Georgia.

Thanks in advance,

Bill Marsh
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:04 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

Your Astro Van may be ok for the Caravel, but not the overlander. Tires at this point would be toast, even though they look good - although for 20 slow miles they may be ok - also I would repack bearings and chek brakes. Generally before you put them back on the road, a good clean up, check all systems, inspect running gear (new tires and repack bearings) and you should be good to go

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Old 09-15-2004, 07:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ken J
Welcome to the forum!

Your Astro Van may be ok for the Caravel, but not the overlander. Tires at this point would be toast, even though they look good - although for 20 slow miles they may be ok - also I would repack bearings and chek brakes. Generally before you put them back on the road, a good clean up, check all systems, inspect running gear (new tires and repack bearings) and you should be good to go

Ken
Thanks Ken,

I have a few more questions. What tires are recommended? I have seen truck 7 ply tires suggested. Not radials?

How do the brakes operate? Are they powered by the Van? Do I need a car battery somewhere in the Caravel?

Sorry to be asking such basic questions, but I do need help. To begin with I will just be doing a 20 mile pull over flat ground. I can travel at slow speeds. I do have mechanical ability. I can work on this, just need some direction.

My sister has the manuals that came with each trailer.

Thanks
Bill
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:43 PM   #4
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I second the opinion about the Astro. I just acquired one as a backup tow vehicle for my 20' Argosy.
Top end is about 55 mph, acceleration needs a calendar to measure. It rides well, doesn't sway around, it just won't go fast enough to keep out of traffic's way. I shudder to think about towing a bigger (heavier) trailer with it. I have a Dakota with a 5.2, I would hesitate to pull the bigger trailer with it, although it probably would do the job marginally.
Tires are usually good for about 6-8 years, depending on how and where they were stored. I would replace them to be on the cautious side. While you have the tires off, go ahead and repack the bearings, and make sure the brakes are in good shape. Check the running lights, and make sure all doors and windows are securely closed. This latter advice may sound a little dumb, but many people here on the forums have had outside doors pop open and windows disappear while towing their trailers. Good luck with them, and welcome to the Forums!
Terry
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woolygums
Thanks Ken,I have a few more questions. What tires are recommended? I have seen truck 7 ply tires suggested. Not radials?
How do the brakes operate? Are they powered by the Van? Do I need a car battery somewhere in the Caravel?
Sorry to be asking such basic questions, but I do need help. To begin with I will just be doing a 20 mile pull over flat ground. I can travel at slow speeds. I do have mechanical ability. I can work on this, just need some direction.
My sister has the manuals that came with each trailer.
Thanks
Bill
Bill, I can answer a couple of those questions.
I am not 100% sure about the tire size for the Caravel, I know it is smaller than the bigger trailers. The large trailer should take ST225/75R15 load range D tires, most people prefer Goodyear Marathons. Your brakes SHOULD be electric drum brakes. There needs to be a brake controller in the tow vehicle, which sends electric current to magnets inside the drums when the brakes are applied, pulling the magnets toward the outside edge of the durm. The drag of the magnets on the rotating drum forces the brake shoes against the friction surface of the drum, stopping the trailer. A battery is a very good idea to have in both trailers. If you have what is called a "breakaway switch" on the trailer, this will apply the trailer's brakes in the unlikely event that the trailer becomes separated from the tow vehicle.
This switch looks like a small can, with two wires on one end, and a cable on the other, mounted on the hitch of the trailer.
Also, I am sure you know to tow in the "D" position , not "O-D" on your van.
Terry
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Old 09-15-2004, 10:15 PM   #6
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Congrats on inheriting a couple of nice Airstreams, especially the Caravel (I'm a little biased). I'm sure your dad would be happy to know you are eager to take care of them and enjoy them as he did.

The Caravel should have a battery, and electric brakes. The battery will power the break away switch for emergency braking if the trailer gets away from you. My battery is on the street side, ahead of the wheelwell, and accessed through an exterior door, or by pulling the cushions off the gaucho (couch) under the windows.
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Old 09-15-2004, 10:57 PM   #7
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How to move an Airstream?

Greetings Bill!

Welcome to the Forums!

One item that you may need to address prior to your first trip with one or both of the coaches is the Bargman connector on the umbilical cord. Airstream used a unique wiring pattern for the plug that typically does not match the industry standard that is now found on most tow vehicles - - the plug may not match either as Airstreams of this vintage often had round pin rather than the current "flat-pin" style connector. It is often easiest to purchase a trailer end that matches your tow vehicle and plan on rewiring the trailer end to match the current industry standard.

You will likely find that the trailer end is wired similar to the diagram in the link below. What is most important in the diagram is identifying the function assigned to each of the wires (the colors and related function of the wires do not always correspons to the color/function scheme used in the current industry standard).

1966-1981 Airstream Wiring Diagrams for Bargman Connector

The current industry standard for wiring the Bargman style connector can be found in the link below (this is likely the pattern for the wiring on your Astro if it already has the plug installed).

Bargman Trailer Connector - - tow vehicle Wiring Diagram - - current industry standard

You will also want to be sure that the ball mount on your weight distributing hitch is adjusted to the correct height. According to the Airstream Weights and Measures page, the 1967 Caravel will require a hitch height of 20.5" while the 1968 Overlander will require a hitch height of 19". For the short distance of your first tow, the height may not be extremely critical, but you want to avoid dragging the coach on dips - - having the front too high can result in dragging the rear which can cause damage to a number of components - - especially the dump valve (I thought 1.5" high would work for my short first tow on the Minuet would be acceptable, but ended up having to have nearly $200 in repairs to the blackwater tank and dump valve due to dragging on driveway incline. Too low in the front, and it would be possible to drag the LP plumbing causing equally expensive repairs.

As a caution about tires, you may find that clearances in the wheelwells may be a bit tight on either one or both coaches. The Caravel is most likely to have clearance issues in regard to fitting modern tires. What I did with both of my Airstreams was have my regular tire dealer inspect the coach and order the tires (my Good Year dealer didn't stock the Marathons at the time so they were special order) - - that way if a clearance problem were discovered after the tires were delivered his measurements would be the basis for the order and the problem would be his. It doesn't happen frequently with coaches after the 1960s, and is generally reported primarily on the single axle coaches.

Good luck with your projects!

Kevin
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Old 09-16-2004, 04:43 AM   #8
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Thanks Folks,


This is great information! I will be going to visit the airstreams today and will check out the things you al have mentioned.

The Adventure begins!

Will keep you all advised.

Regarding the Astro van. It seems marginal, but this is the later model (2002) with the 4.3 liter, 6 cylinder engine. Dad also was restoring a 1976 Lincoln Continental.

I will move the Caravel first. This will be our travel trailer. The Overlander may wind up being my "spare bedroom" for guests and company and have a more permenant location.

My wife, Anne and I live in a converted warehouse. But since the children are grown and gone (thank God) we built out new home as a one bedoom two bath.

We do have considerable room inside the warehouse and can park both trailers inside while we restore them.

If any of you are ever in Atlanta, let me know and we would love to give you a tour of our home.

Are there any Atlanta area Airstream groups?
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Old 09-16-2004, 06:14 AM   #9
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A towing suggestion

Hi Bill. If you are going to be using the Caravel as your camper and the Overlander as a guest house, You might want to just hire a towing service to move the Overlander for you rather than invest in new tires, etc. for that coach at this point. No point in investing in an adequate tow vehicle, new tires, brake inspection, running lights and all for a unit which is going to be in a permanent spot.
Just food for thought. Best of luck to you and your dad.
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Old 09-16-2004, 08:48 AM   #10
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BUNCH of us Atlanta metro folks.
There is a Meet planned Oct 22 at Cloudland Park Near Rome GA. Park is booked but it is closeenough that you could make it a day trip and visit. Our coach is still in restoration phase so we are just going to visit for the day.

Up near Helen is a Airstream only park as well.


Where is the Overlander and where does it have to go?


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Old 09-16-2004, 10:28 AM   #11
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Bill

We all started with basic questions, so please feel free to ask away, as you see, there is lots of help here on the ol forum.

Coverted warehouse - that sounds cool - an can keep the trailers inside - thats extra cool

Ken
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Old 09-16-2004, 03:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken J
Bill

We all started with basic questions, so please feel free to ask away, as you see, there is lots of help here on the ol forum.

Coverted warehouse - that sounds cool - an can keep the trailers inside - thats extra cool

Ken
Ken,

I will be 61 this year and my wife and I have always wanted a warehouse home. We found it about two years ago and worked on it steadily. Moved in two months ago.

We built a house inside it and have the rest for parking, storage and workshop for me and crafts for my wife Anne. The basic building is 100 feet wide and 160 feet long. Three semi sized roll up doors.

Huge yard, about three acres. We had one hellacious battle killing back the kdzu! It is a daily war to keep it at bay. We will never kill it.

Not the best area of Atlanta, but we feel secure with a big chain link fence and our building is brick with concrete block walls. Two feet thick!

It sounds expensive, but it was less than a house in this nieghborhood. Guess we were at the right place at the right time.

For about thirty years we have been buyng, renovating and renting out houses. Been a good, but tough business. Takes about all you have to make it work. Recently we hired a full-time manager/maintenance man and our time is freeing up.

The longest we have ever been away has been one week. So now we are really looking forward to traveling, some in the Southeast, then exploring our wonderful country. I would love to take our little Caravel out West. See all the tourist sights, just chill along and try to relax.

I wish I had it here in the warehouse now, but we are experiencing quite a blow from Hurricane Ivan. It would be a very bad idea to try to move it from Dad's farm today. But MAYBE Saturday??

Shine up the skin, the wood, get some new tires. Maybe white walls? Are they even being made now? Repack the wheel bearings? Get the wiring and the brakes working..... ALL RIGHT! Well, maybe a little more....

Don't mean to go on and on, but we are very happy here. The chlidren are grown and gone. They have their own lives and that is ok. our health is good and we are ready!

Looking forward to meeting you and some of the fine people on the forum at one of the Airstream gatherings!
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Old 09-16-2004, 08:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woolygums
Shine up the skin, the wood, get some new tires. Maybe white walls? Are they even being made now? Repack the wheel bearings? Get the wiring and the brakes working..... ALL RIGHT! Well, maybe a little more....
As far as I know, trailer tires are not currently available in whitewalls. If you want white walls, you can ask at a couple of independent auto dealerships in your area, they may have a vendor that still comes out and "makes" your own tires whitewalls. Used to cost maybe $10/tire, back when I was in the biz. As far as moving the trailers, I would definitely wait until the bad weather passes. If you don't want to invest in a larger tow vehicle for a one-time move, maybe a friend, or even a towing company would move your big trailer for you. Last time I had it done, it was around$65.00 to come out and hook up to the trailer, and $1.50/mile. You could get it towed where you want it for less than a new hitch would cost. If you go that route, make sure the wheel bearings are packed, and the tires are inflated, and the trailer is otherwise ready to go, so they can just hook and go.
Good luck getting them to their new indoor storage location.
Terry
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Old 09-16-2004, 11:42 PM   #14
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I had a '91 Astro van & used it to tow a couple of smaller sailboats, 2-4K lbs. I had a tranny cooler added. I'm not sure if Chevy still uses the '1/2 ton' chassis as it did then, but that is O.K. IMHO the sm. V-6 would be able to get the both A/S 20 miles over the mild terrain you mentioned, but I wouldn't try to tow the 26'er more than that. At least you could begin your 'projects' at home (sounds like a great set-up!) & keep your options open (on the 26'er) for another T/V. I do believe with a tranny cooler & chassis mounted hitch receiver (not forgetting much of the advice in other posts here; tires, brake cntlr, bearings, etc.) you can begin to take your smaller trailer on some adventures!
BTW: Congrats on your newbees, hope to meet you "down the road"!
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