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Old 02-12-2017, 03:06 PM   #1
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Grand Rapids , Michigan
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Prospective buyer re: renovation weights

My wife and I have been interested in a trailer for some time now. We have 4 kids (all under 5) and are trying to plan everything out. Due to the size of our family, a pickup unfortunately is not practical. We just bought a 2016 Yukon XL with the HD Trailering package (reportedly 8,000).

We have gone to a few local RV shows and dealers, including the local airstream dealer. Aside from the cost, there isn't a new Airstream that seems suited for 4 kids. We would like a double full bunk for them to sleep in, and a full for us.

My question is, what is a good ballpark on the weight of a renovated older airstream? Occasionally there are a few that pop up locally (including a nice 1967 30') but I have no idea if one of these would be appropriate for our tow vehicle. We've been told to aim for a loaded weight 1,000-1,500lbs under your max trailering. I've been able to look up the dry weight on most of these trailers but I wonder what the difference would be if we were to shell one completely and re-do with some attention spent on lighter weight materials.
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Old 02-12-2017, 05:49 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. My suggestion is that you slow down a bit and do so calculating. The first thing to do is locate a CAT scale in your area. Then load up the whole family as if you were heading out for camping. Leave behind anything that would be in the trailer, but take whatever will ride in your Yukon. Go to the CAT scale and weigh your vehicle, putting each axle on a separate pad. The cost for this will be $10-$15. Take the scale slip home and let the kids play. On the doorpost of your vehicle will be a sticker with some weights. You are interested in front axle, rear axle, and gross vehicle weight ratings. Your scale slip gives you what your vehicle actually weighs on each axle. The difference is what more you can add.

Your dealer can also give you the Gross Combined Weight Rating for your vehicle. The difference between the total weight of your vehicle, loaded for camping, and that number tells you what the total weight you can tow is.

Next calculation: Now that you know the maximum weight you can tow, figure that 10-15% of that weight will be on your hitch, which is mostly carried on the rear axle. Do you have the capacity for it? If not, you will need to find a lighter trailer.

Now, to the Airstream question. Older trailers, like that 1967 you found, are lighter than a similar new one. There are some known problems with those, though, that others are better qualified than I am to address. The question is whether you want to camp with your kids or rebuild a trailer. Unless you are prepared to work full-time on the trailer you won't have it done before your oldest graduates from high school, and with what you spend on it you could buy a trailer that is ready to go. You would be money and time ahead to find one that is ready to go.

Finding an Airstream with two bedrooms, though, is going to be difficult. You probably will have to settle for a trailer that either has bunk beds already or twins that you can add the bunks above. You and your wife will have to use the front couch, turning it into a bed each night and back into a couch each morning.
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