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Old 03-10-2004, 11:36 PM   #1
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Our first "big" trip with our Airstream!

Hello Everyone,

My parents gave us their 1993 25' Excella Classic last June when they upgraded to a 2001 Airstream Motorhome. Since then we have done a few weekend trips with "The Tube" and we've begun an indepth upgrade/repair program to insure she is road ready and will meet our needs for years to come. Now we are ready to begin our first BIG adventure with her. We will leave Massachusetts this Friday morning heading down to Miami, Florida, we plan to arrive there sometime this Sunday afternoon. We will be hooking up with my parents who have traveled from Apache Junction, Arizona in "The Blimp" (that's what they call their Airstream Motorhome). My parents are "birders" or as I call them "bird nerds" so we will be getting up early everyday and looking for all the LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) that can be found in Florida to add them to our bird life lists
As for the trip I'm excited and a little bit scared as we have never towed such a large (for us) trailer a long distance before. We've done this trip with our beloved 1977 Apache Popup (also an American classic, check out apachepopups.net) but at under 3000 lbs you don't even know it's there. Hopefully all will go well with the Airstream. We did get the truck checked out at our local auto shop and we installed an air lift system to help level the truck and trailer. I'm being very uptight about adding weight to the trailer (and truck)
so we should be well within our weight limits. I've created my arrival/departure checklists and I'
ve also created my truck/trailer equipment checklists. Everything is already packed or waiting in our Den to be moved to the Airstream. Fellow Airsteamers, what would you suggest to make our trip down (and back) safer and more fun?

Thanks,
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Old 03-11-2004, 04:49 AM   #2
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Hey, I used to live in Lowell! went to school there.

and I'm going to FL on Friday, too. but alas, I'm flying this time... Oh, well. airplane rides are fun, too.

what kind of truck? you don't want to use airbags to level the truck. that can be dangerous. you should have a weight distributing hitch that transfers tounge weight to the truck's and the trailer's axles equally. airbags will raise up the rear end of the truck, but they do not transfer any weight, so there can be too much on the rear axle, not enough on the front, and then steering/braking will be adversly affected.
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Old 03-11-2004, 06:39 AM   #3
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Lowell... I work right near there in Billerica.. I don't have any sage advice as we are just starting out ourselves this year. We have taken one short trip and are planning another this weekend (maybe we will see you on Route 95 !) We are planning on doing a Florida trip later this year and would love to hear how your first trip went and what advice you can pass along. Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 03-11-2004, 08:33 AM   #4
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Hi Chuck,

Yep, we have a weight distributing hitch along with the air bags on the truck
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Old 03-11-2004, 08:56 AM   #5
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Tools, tools, tools

You didn't mention tools, did you?

Your trailer isn't exactly vintage, but nonetheless things can happen. Consider bringing:

-- basic screwdrivers
-- adjustable wrench
-- fuses and light bulbs to replace whatever you use
-- duct tape
-- pliers
-- pop rivet gun & rivets
-- little zip-lock baggie of grease for the hitch
-- rubber hose washers
-- Vulkem and caulk gun (for those unexpected leaks)
-- a little block of wood for tapping things
-- rags
-- Swiss army knife
-- quick links
-- bungee cord
-- allen wrenches
-- manuals for brake controller and hitch
-- a headlamp
-- wire cutter/strippers and electrical tape
-- spare cotter pins for hitch parts
-- wire ties and wraps
-- misc. screws

All of the above fits into one medium tool bag that weighs about 15 lbs.

Make sure you have a lug nut wrench that fits your lug nuts! Check them before departing for tightness.

Good luck and enjoy! I'll be headed the opposite direction (*sigh*) on Sunday ... flash your lights if you see me
-- RL
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Old 03-11-2004, 09:08 AM   #6
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Hello rluhr,

I've got most of the things you've listed in our truck toolbox but I forgot the duct tape! Running down into the cellar now to retrieve it....

Thanks!
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Old 03-11-2004, 09:58 AM   #7
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Ford F150

There are some things that need to be checked to safely tow the 25' Airstream.

1 The Max towing GVW of your truck. Does your trailer exceed or near it?

2. Tires. Make sure your tires are up to the job. I have an Excursion with load range 'D' tires and they are not strong enough to carry the weight. Firestone is replacing them with Load Range 'E' tires.

Be sure the tires are at their max inflation. A blowout or a tread separation will ruin your trip and could be fatal.

3. Check the hitch weight of your trailer. Make sure your hitch and hitch ball are up to the job. You have been towing a 3000lb popup. The hitch ball may not be rated for the 5-6000lbs of your trailer.

4 check the axle capacity of the Ford. Can they handle the added weight of the heavier hitch.

I am concerned that you need to add air lift system to level your rig. The equalizing hitch should do that nicely. That may be indicitive of too much weight for the truck to handle.

I guess what I am trying to say is check all of the load carrying specifications of the combined unit and satisfy yourself that they are not exceeded. A little safety buffer should be added to the weights too. Don't forget to add the weight of your 'stuff' to be carried in the bed of the truck.

Happy camping and welcome to the crowd. You'll love the Airstream.

Vic
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:01 AM   #8
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Hello startrekker2001,

We purchased our F150 with the towing package and it's max towing GVW is 8000 lbs. Per my Airstream owners manual the dry weight of the my Excella is 5100 lbs, the hitch weight is 700 lbs (I don't understand this part) and the additional allowable weight is 1700 lbs. We are packing light and we will not have any water in our tanks so I don't think we'll be anywhere near the additional allowable of 1700 lbs. Our hitch is heavy duty, I can't remember what it's rated for but my husband checked it out and tells me it will handle the Airstream. My Father gave us the weight distributing hitch he used with the Airsteam, it's this black box like thing that inserts into our hitch receiver that has a heavy duty hitch ball attached. He also recommended we install the air bags in the truck, I don't know why, I'd have to ask my husband. We own and tow lots of trailers (boat, snowmobile, popup, landscaping, utility, etc) but the Airstream is the biggest of the bunch and I want to insure we've done all we can to have a safe trip.

Thanks for all the advice!
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:20 AM   #9
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Great list, RL. What are quick links?
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:46 AM   #10
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Michelle, the "GVW" is the gross vehicle weight. that's the most that the truck can weigh with all its passengers and cargo (and fuel). The "tow rating" is something different...that's the maximum amount of weight it can pull...which can be deceiving, because the manufacturers derive the tow rating without considering the truck being fully loaded. in order for it to pull that much weight, the truck has to be empty. sometimes they allow for a 150lb driver and a full tank of gas; nothing else. The other number you have to consider is the "GCWR", or "gross combination weight rating", which is the maximum weight that the whole truck/trailer combination weighs, including all cargo. Typically, a fully loaded truck can NOT also pull a trailer that is at its the truck's maximum tow rating.

for example: the GVW on my truck is 6600lbs. its rated to tow 7200lbs. but the gcwr is 12,500lbs. 6600 +7200=13,800! ooops!!

a typical load in my truck is me, the wife, the kid, his car seat, some crap...about 200lbs in the bed, (maybe), plus a full tank of gas (150lbs), plus I installed those tube-step thingies, and a toneau cover...(50lbs?), plus the hitch bar and ball (50lb assembly). that adds up to: 850lbs. THEN you have to consider how much of the trailer's weight is being held up by the truck. that's the "hitch weight", or "tounge weight". 300lbs after weight distribution. that puts me at 1150lbs of cargo. the empty weight of my truck is 5100lbs. that means its gross weight is now at 6250, which is 350lbs under gvw. doesn't seem like much to spare!

So, if the most everything can weigh is 12,500, and the truck weighs 6250...that means the biggest loaded trailer I can carry is (coincidentally) also 6250lbs. quite a bit smaller than its "rated" 7200lbs.
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:59 AM   #11
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myboyburt

Sounds like you are all over it like ants at a picnic. Have a safe and happy time. Blow your horn as you pass by exit 176 on I-95 in Florida, so I'll know it's you.

Vic
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Old 03-11-2004, 02:51 PM   #12
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The best advice I can give is... get your rig weighed at a CAT scale. It is easy. RoadKingMoe explains how to do it on this thread.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...+30+classic+so
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