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Old 07-15-2009, 06:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by bob34787 View Post
do yourself a favor and buy and install the hitch yourself, mine was set up by one of equalizer's top dealers ( according to equalizer ) and it was all wrong.
So there isn't a single dealer out there that can install one correctly because you had a bad experience? BUT, it's so simple anyone can do it. Seriously?
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:15 PM   #16
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:36 PM   #17
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You have almost the same trailer as I do. Mine's a '71, 31' Sovereign... I'm a younger female, and I live in "Bullet" by myself. I've heard there's a cool Airstream park in Santa Barbara, CA that accepts long term stays from younger people so I'm thinking of heading there in the Spring. I'm looking for a good tow vehicle. I really don't need or want a truck unless it's the only thing that will do the job (TX to CA). If you don't mind me asking, what do you use?

Thanx,
J


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
That's really the first step: buy the dang trailer! Assuming you like having a trailer, chances are you will have several tow vehicles over the time period that you own the same trailer.

psst: and if you get an older one, you don't need some big honking truck.

Ask yourself if you would drive a truck by choice if you didn't need to?
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:39 PM   #18
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Everybody has an opinion. Mine: Altho I am using an 4WD F-150 extended cab, I would rather an 4WD F-250 or 350 with a huge Crew cab. The large back seat area for carrying clean stuff, and the bed, covered with a shell for the dirty stuff. Central to our needs is 2 Honda 2000 generators, and I wouldn't want them in the passenger compartment. 4WD is useless until you need it, then its worth every penny. I like the idea of a big vehicle loafing rather than a little vehicle struggling. Others disagree and have valid points, I never argue.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:19 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by jennthevexer View Post
You have almost the same trailer as I do. Mine's a '71, 31' Sovereign... I'm a younger female, and I live in "Bullet" by myself. I've heard there's a cool Airstream park in Santa Barbara, CA that accepts long term stays from younger people so I'm thinking of heading there in the Spring. I'm looking for a good tow vehicle. I really don't need or want a truck unless it's the only thing that will do the job (TX to CA). If you don't mind me asking, what do you use?

Thanx,
J
Hi Jenn, and welcome to Airforums! It's no secret, it's right in my profile. We pull Henri (our Airstream) with a 2007 Ford Freestar Sport, which has a 4.2L V6 engine. It was set up by CanAm RV in London, Ontario and is a joy to drive. I mention CanAm because with this rig, I wanted to be sure that what I was doing was carefully performed by an Airstream dealer that believed it was a good setup. It was actually CanAm's President, Andrew Thomson, that recommended the Freestar to me. Andy is a member here, by the way.

Anyway, we put over 4,000 miles on Henri the Sov in our first trip from home here in Canada to Georgia to see my brother, the Florida Panhandle to get some beach, then down to The Villages, FL to see my wife's sister and her husband.

The only thing that went wrong on that trip was the the water heater sprang a leak and had to be replaced. Boy, was that annoying!

The trip begins more or less with this post:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f221...tml#post834702

There are lots of photos of Henri and the Freestar in that story.

You may find that the choice of a TV (tow vehicle) is one that seems to engender strong reactions here. Don't be offended by folks' fervour in this regard, they do generally mean well, and we are all entitled to our opinions.

CanAm always has a number of actual setups of what they recommend in TVs with Airstreams on hand, ready for their customers to test drive. I don't know how many other dealers do this, but it sure helped my wife and I to make up our minds on what we wanted.

Good luck, and keep asking questions!
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:59 PM   #20
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Jenn

Welcome to the forum. Here are some thoughts for you.

If you don't want a truck maybe an older Suburban, even one with high mileage that has done lots of towing, would be good for you since it would not be very expensive. If you are not going to be towing much you don't need a high dollar, low mileage tow vehicle.

If you want something newer, a 2008 or newer Toyota Sequiah with the 5.7L motor is a very good TV.

I second Aage's recommendation about CanAm. They are the best people to talk to. They will steer you straight.

Maybe you don't need or want to buy a TV if you will be living long term in CA. Just hire a professional to tow your Airstream to California.

Good luck, Dan
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Old 02-17-2013, 06:38 PM   #21
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We tow our 1976 31' Sovereign with an older Suburban. Works great. I've read that burbs are good because they have a longer wheelbase than some tow vehicles.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:02 PM   #22
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Hey all -

Thanks for the nice words and advice. Yes, basically - I think I'm leaning toward purchasing my own TV, even though my long-term goal is to find a place to park the trailer and then stay there. I'd like to find a place I enjoy in a community of folks in a similar age and interest range, and plant some roots there.

That said, one of the main reasons a gal like me might want to live in a trailer is so that if "she doesn't like it, she can leave." That access to freedom is important to me, so I'll probably want to buy my own.

Does anyone know if any classic cars can do the job? Like say, a 57 Chevy, or an older American car with a heavy frame....? I'm really curious to see what all of the options are in regard to a good TV.

There are a lot of leads here. I'm going to do some research on the vehicles everyone mentioned. I'm also going to contact CanAm and see what they think of this whole thing.

You are all so helpful!
Thank you,
Jenn
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:33 PM   #23
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Greetings Jenn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennthevexer View Post
Hey all -

Thanks for the nice words and advice. Yes, basically - I think I'm leaning toward purchasing my own TV, even though my long-term goal is to find a place to park the trailer and then stay there. I'd like to find a place I enjoy in a community of folks in a similar age and interest range, and plant some roots there.

That said, one of the main reasons a gal like me might want to live in a trailer is so that if "she doesn't like it, she can leave." That access to freedom is important to me, so I'll probably want to buy my own.

Does anyone know if any classic cars can do the job? Like say, a 57 Chevy, or an older American car with a heavy frame....? I'm really curious to see what all of the options are in regard to a good TV.

There are a lot of leads here. I'm going to do some research on the vehicles everyone mentioned. I'm also going to contact CanAm and see what they think of this whole thing.

You are all so helpful!
Thank you,
Jenn
There are a number of "Vintage" automobiles that can tow your Sovereign . . . in fact they would have been the tow vehicle of choice when your Sovereign was new. Among those that would be possibilities:
  • Pre-1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic/Impala with 454 V8
  • Pre-1975 Pontiac Grandville Brougham/Bommeville with 455 V8
  • Pre-1975 Buick LeSabre/Electra 225 with 455 V8
  • Pre-1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88/98 with 455 V8
  • Pre-1975 Cadillac DeVille/Fleetwood Brougham with 501 V8
  • Pre-1998 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser (LT1 -- 5.7 liter V8), Buick Roadmaster/Roadmaster Estate (LT1 -- 5.7 Liter V8), Cadillac Brougham D'Elegance (LT1 -- 5.7 Liter V8), Chevrolet Caprice Classic Estate (LT 1 -- 5.7 Liter V8)
  • Pre-1978 Ford Crown Victoria/LTD with 460 V8 -- Mercury Grand Marquis vith 460 V8 -- Lincoln Continental Towncar with 460 V8
  • Pre-1975 Chrsler New Yorker/Newport/Town and Country with 440 V8 -- Dodge Royal Monaco with 440 V8 -- Plymouth Grand Fury with 440 V8.
I am not certain of the last season for the 440 V8 in the full size MOPARs, but believe that it was around 1985 and most of those full size cars like Chryser New Yorker/New Port, Dodge Royal Monaco, and Plymouth Grand Fury would have been capable of towing. I am also not absolutely certain of the last year for the 460 V8 in the Lincoln Continental Towncar/Mercury Grand Marquis/Ford Crown Victoria LTD but when equipped with the 460 V8 they were often used as tow vehicles for Airstreams of similar vintage.

I utilize a 1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible as a tow vehicle for both my Minuet and Overlander, but it isn't ideally suited to tow vheicle service as it is limited to a maximum of 6,000 pounds and with a 2.70 final drive that rating is a bit optimistic for towing in the mountains. I had no problems towing the Minuet with the Cadillac anywhere I wanted to go in the Rocky Mountains, but I wouldn't attempt the grades that I towed the Minuet on with the Overlander behind the Cadillac. With the GM cars mentioned above that have rear wheel drive, you have the ability to change the differential gearing rather easily so that they may be better prepared to tow anywhere in the continental US . . . or North America for that matter.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin

P.S.: A down-side to utilizing a pre-1972 automobile for towing is that the OEM heads on the motors wouldn't have the hardened valve seats that are necessary to safely run unleaded fuels - - without hardened valve seats, a motor utilized for heavy duty service such as towing is going to quickly develop valve seat recision requiring major head machining (this machining can be done as part of a rebuild, but this is a process that must be requested by the customer in many machine shops). Having hardened valve seat inserts machined into the heads of my 1965 Dodge 383 cubic inch V8 cost in the vicinty of $1,500 in 1980. You will also find that convertibles and station wagons of the period were often chosen as they were often factory equipped with heavier frames.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:59 PM   #24
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Kevin -

Wow. Thank you so much. That is exactly the kind of information I'm looking for.

I found some info on the classic car dot com forum - basically a person was looking for advice on how to pull an Airstream with a 1950s Hornet.

It seemed like the general consensus was that in the original era, they used an extended hitch with a long trailer tongue that went all the way under the car and fastened to the center of the rear axel housing, which reduced the load due to the long arm lever, and also served to keep the load off of the chassis and springs, (though I believe it did attach to the chassis somewhere). Braces attached to the hitch bar to keep it firmly in place. I'm going to add a picture of a sketch (if I can figure out how.)

The main problem with the system was drift, epecially from passing semi trucks. I understand there was some kind of an attachment made later on that was meant to stop this kind of sway, but I don't know much about that.

Do you have any thoughts? Also - know anything about the 1959 AMC Rambler Americans?

The information you've given me is fantastic. You cut my research time down considerably.

Thanks,
Jenn
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:13 AM   #25
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Jenn

I like vintage Airstreams. There is really not much difference between a new Airstream and a vintage Airstream, except that the new Airstreams are new. Particularly, in terms of towing them they are the same- same suspension and same brakes.

The same can not be said about tow vehicles. There is a world of difference between a 70's TV and a new TV- safety, reliability, handling, comfort, economy. The only advantage to the 70's vehicles is that they are easier to work on. Vintage TV are only for a select few. If you drive a modern car, then I don't believe you would be happy with a vintage TV. If your car is vintage, then you may actually prefer a vintage TV.

I tow my 66 Tradewind with a 2008 Tundra and am quite happy with the combo; each to his own though.

Good luck, Dan
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:11 PM   #26
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Hey Dan,

Yes, I'm a bit of a vintage enthusiast.... and I have the Victory Rolls to show for it. My goal is ultimately earth friendly, though - once I get my Airstream to where I want it to be, I'll look into converting the classic car into a grease car. I had some old roommates in Philly who did this with varying degrees of success. I've been really interested in a new project I've been hearing a lot about - converting a 1950s Lincoln Continental into a hybrid.

But either way, if I have to buy a modern truck or SUV to tow the Airstream, I'll do what needs to be done, of course. I'm just looking for other options. If I can ultimately do what I WANT to do, (which is tow it with a classic car), I will.

I think the next step is trying to figure out if there are any vintage mechanics and fabricators around who are doing or have done the same thing I have in mind, or know how I should go about doing it, and which exact cars are best suited for the job and the easiest to work with or modify.

Know anyone?

Thanks!
Jenn
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:26 PM   #27
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Greetings Jenn!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennthevexer View Post
It seemed like the general consensus was that in the original era, they used an extended hitch with a long trailer tongue that went all the way under the car and fastened to the center of the rear axel housing, which reduced the load due to the long arm lever, and also served to keep the load off of the chassis and springs, (though I believe it did attach to the chassis somewhere). Braces attached to the hitch bar to keep it firmly in place. I'm going to add a picture of a sketch (if I can figure out how.)

The main problem with the system was drift, epecially from passing semi trucks. I understand there was some kind of an attachment made later on that was meant to stop this kind of sway, but I don't know much about that.
Drift and/or sway weren't the only problems with the early axle mount trailer hitches . . . they also over-stressed the axle resulting in fractured housings and broken axles with damaged differential gears. The outgrowth of these problems was the modern frame mounted weight distributing hitches and eventually products like the Reese Dual Cam Sway Control. Today, most of us who to with Vintage automobiles utilize something like the Reese Strait-Line Hitch that includes the Reese Dual Cam Sway Control . . . this hitch provides the needed weight distribution to the tow vehicle's front and rear suspension as well as transferring some of the hitch weight back to the trailer's axles. I am attaching a pdf of a diagram that illustrates a weld-up Reese-type hitch designed for 1960s era Chrysler Product automobiles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennthevexer View Post
Do you have any thoughts? Also - know anything about the 1959 AMC Rambler Americans?
While some would object to the Rambler Americans due to the unit body construction, I have not encountered any issues with utilizing my 1960s era Chrysler products with unit bodies as tow vehicles. My concern with the Rambler Americans from the late 1950s through the 1960s would be with their modest horsepower and torque -- most were six cylinders that would not be capable of handling and Airstream the size of a Sovereign . . . and even when equipped with a V8, the largest was typically 327 cubic inches which would be very underpowered for duty towing a Sovereign. The wheelbase on the American series would also be much too short for a large Airstream. An Ambassador would come closer to meeting requirements but would still be somewhat short on wheelbase and horsepower/torque.

With a Vintage automobile for a tow vehicle, you need to focus on what would have been considered full-sized vehicles with big-block V8s and in most cases a heavy duty 3-speed Automatic such as the GM Turbohydramatic 400 series transmission, Ford C-6 Automatic Transmission, or the MOPAR TorqueFlight 727 series automatic transmission. In many cases, the rear differential gearing also needs to be changed to something between 3.73 and 4.10 for towing duty . . . my 1965 Dodge with 383 cubic inch V8 had 3.90 differential gears.

To give you an idea of what may need to be done to prepare a Vintage automobile for trailer towing duty, this is what was required on my 1975 Cadillac Eldorado:
  • Custom dual exhaust including dual low-restriction catalytic converters and dual low restriction mufflers.
  • Custom four-row-core radiator with auxilliary transmission fluid, motor oil, and power steering fluid coolers.
  • Heavy duty alternator with heavy duty voltage regulator.
  • Rebuilt 4-barrel carbuertor with RV performance enhancement kit.
  • New heavy-duty Cargo Coil rear springs.
  • Complete Major Service and Tuneup on Automatic Transmission including RV-shift improvement kit.
  • Complete Major Service and Tune-Up on motor including compression test and cylinder leak-down tests to determine health of motor. A new timing gear and chain set may be suggested with some motors depending upon mileage and/or performance indicators.
  • New heavy duty electronic ignition distributor with spark advance module.
  • New heavy duty shock absorbers at all four corners.
  • Rebuilt front suspension including heavy duty uppper ball joints, heavy duty lower ball joints, heavy duty pitman arm, heavy duty drag links, heavy duty sway bar links, heavy duty bushings, new springs or properly adjusted torsion bars.
  • Differential serviced with fresh synthetic grease (for greater resistance to high operating temperatures).
  • Custom fabricated class III/IV receiver type trailer hitch.
  • Electronic trailer brake controller and Bargman trailer connector installation with heavy duty turn signal flasher.
  • Clamp-on trailer towing mirrors (McKesh or something similar)
  • Heavy Duty tires . . . often something in the range of P235 75 R 15, and some go so far as to utilize light truck tires rather than passenger car tires. It is also wise to be aware that some of the option factory styled wheels as well as some of the aftermarket wheels that may be found on some Vintage automobiles are not suitable for use when towing a trailer due to weight carrying limitations.
My longest trip with my 1975 Cadillac Eldorad as tow vehicle was in 2008. My vacation in 2008 included 8,000 miles towing my 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre (3,100 pounds). The only mechanical issue that I had was the failure of a remanufactured heavy duty alternator that failed 200 miles from the start of the trip. Beyond that one parts related issue the trip was trouble-free. The Cadillac averaged 8.5 MPG for the entire trip (170 miles per tank of premium fuel). Overall, the trip was every bit as relaxing as when my Suburban is the tow vehicle, but the Suburban achieves better fuel economy when towing the Minuet at 10.5 to 12.0 MPG with at least 450 miles per tank of premium fuel.

Good luck with your research and investigation!

Kevin

P.S.: Something else to keep in mind is that parts availability while traveling can also be a concern. GM and Ford products hold some advantage in this respect closely followed by MOPAR.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:58 PM   #28
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If I were to tow with a vintage TV. I would pick one of the 9 passenger station wagons. They were equipped with heavier suspension, both front and rear.
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