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Old 05-10-2013, 09:47 AM   #1
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Ennis , Montana
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Dirt road destruction

Hello everyone - My name is Alicia and I am new here, although I am a long-time eavesdropper! Currently we have a 16' scamp, which we are planning on putting up for sale this weekend to make my long time airstream wish come true! We will be shopping for a 2000-2005 model Bambi (16), and hopefully we can find one in our price range sometime this summer. We live in rural Montana and do much driving on remote dirt roads. With our Scamp, as well as other campers we have owned, by the time we arrive at our destination, the interior of our camper looks as if it has been looted, thanks to the vibration of the rough road. The cushions are off, the curtains fall down, drawers open and contents fall out, etc... You get the idea!
I was wondering if we will encounter the same issue with our future airstream... I would love to open the door of our camper when we arrive at our campsite and find a nice, tidy space, ready to be enjoyed, rather than a disaster area! Thank you so much for your thoughts on this. BTW, if anyone has a Bambi 16 that they are interested in selling, let me know! Thank you again

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Old 05-10-2013, 09:55 AM   #2
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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It really depends on the type of axel that the Scamp has. Does it have springs under it or is it a torsion axel. There is only so much you can do about stuff bouncing around on dirt roads. The Scamp maybe more rugged and not have as many structural issues as the the Airstream in the long term. You should invest in some rock guards and window protectors if you are going to invest in an Airstream. It will get rock dents and possibly broken windows from stuff kicked up from the dirt road. Slowing down a little will help with stuff not flying everywhere in the trailer.


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Old 05-10-2013, 10:21 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by aliciaL View Post
We live in rural Montana and do much driving on remote dirt roads. With our Scamp, as well as other campers we have owned, by the time we arrive at our destination, the interior of our camper looks as if it has been looted, thanks to the vibration of the rough road. The cushions are off, the curtains fall down, drawers open and contents fall out, etc... You get the idea!
Regardless of trailers like your or motorhomes like mine, the issue of keeping cabinet doors closed and contents where they're supposed to be is a perennial issue. If you want to put the problem to rest, you may want to check out some boating magazines and websites, and see what they do on sailboats, that have much the same problem of constant three-axis movement and the same need to keep things inside cabinets and drawers.

In my case, I've found that spring-loaded rods (like small curtain rods for big cabinets, refrigerator rods from Camping World for small cabinets), placed across the cabinet inside the door keep contents from banging on the cabinet doors and knocking them open. The contents hit the rods, not the doors. When I get to the campground, the rods are easy to remove and store out of the way.

In a more exteme case, such as your back roads, extra latches to hold the cabinets and drawers closed might be called for. File drawer locks, made for wooden file drawers, might work. If you go that route, buy the locks in a setó all keyed alikeó so you don't have to figure which key goes to which lock.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:25 AM   #4
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Any single axle trailer will have more lumping and bumping around than a double will. If a wheel drops into a hole, there is not another to keep it from moving the entire trailer up and down.

However, the torsion axle of the Airstream is better than the one on your scamp, most likely. But don't expect miracles.

Even though you may not really need it with a 16', a WD hitch also will help make both the TV and the trailer work as one unit and may reduce the tossing of the interior. Just make it a light weight unit with light spring bars, otherwise you will make the problem worse. 500 # rated bars would be about right for the 16' you are looking for.

On dust, you can try running the ceiling fan while driving on dirt roads. Have it force air into the trailer, the positive pressure will help keep dust from coming in other places. If the entire road is one big dust cloud though, it could simply pull dust in from outside. You will need to experiment. At any rate try to get a trailer with a Fantastic Fan (the brand) or add one after you get the unit. They are great for many other uses.

I have towed many a mile on lumpy, dusty roads with both single and dual axle trailers. I think you will find the Airstream to be a pretty good unit for your use, but no rig can defy the lumps of some dirt roads. I am thinking of the Alaskan highway of the early '80s where at times I had to drive at 15 to 20 miles an hour to keep the rig from destruction. However, one camper I talked to on that trip was in virtual tears, as all their cabinets in a conventional trailer had ripped loose from the walls and were in the center isle when they opened the door at a rest stop. Your Airstream won't do that.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:58 AM   #5
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We also owned a Scamp. Very lightweight trailer with torsion axles, and very sturdy.

The Airstream is a heavy trailer by comparison, not well-designed for the roads you describe. I think you would begin to see structural damage driving frequently on these roads. And everything loose inside will be on the floor, including parts of accessories such as air conditioning and light covers. Eventually the upper cabinets may end of there as well if they are stocked.

Perhaps lowering the tire pressure for these roads while traveling very slowly would help. But I don't think the Airstream would hold up as well as the Scamp.

doug k
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Old 05-10-2013, 11:01 AM   #6
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Thank you all for the great info! I want to be sure I have realistic expectations....
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Old 05-10-2013, 11:14 AM   #7

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Welcome Aboard....

You could always ride in the trailer with your tool kit handy...

I have been known to do that on slo-dirt in the Adirondacks, looking for UnwantedFO's.

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:16 PM   #8
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Midland , Texas
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Whatever you are pulling or driving you just have to plan to slow down on the rough roads, and secure everything inside like you are going to sea. I work in the oilfields and we see some pretty bad roads at times. It can be frustrating, but slowly usually wins the race.
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:52 PM   #9
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We live in Colorado, use our Airstream for hunting and frequently camp in places accessible only by dirt roads.
We have a double axle trailer with torsion axles with shock absorbers. Our AS rides better than previous travel trailers with leaf springs.
Even so, doors pop open and clothes fall off their hangers.
We duct tape the doors that are likely to open and don't worry about the clothes. We don't have any other problems
We go as slow as possible over the bumps.
One problem you will have with your new Airstream that you probably didn't have with your fiberglass Skamp and that is dents. We have big mud flaps on our tow vehicle. These stop most of the rocks that used to hit the trailer.
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:45 PM   #10
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Paint your Scamp silver and pretend it is an Airstream.

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Old 05-10-2013, 02:25 PM   #11
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We have a 13' Trillium (Like a Canadian Scamp) and a 23' Airstream. Both have torsion axels - Trillium is single, Airstream is a tandem.

The Airstream rides much better than the Trillium, I think because it is heavier (think Cadillac vs Chevette) and because of the Weight distributing hitch. The Trillium seemes to be just hangin on the truck for the ride and bouncing around all on it's own, while the Airstream feels much more connected to the Truck. (with a weight distrubuting hitch in theory if you lifted the rear of the trailer high enough it would lift the back of the truck with it, with out the spring bars the trailer would be verticle and 90degrees to the truck before it lifted the truck up)

One thing I love about our Airstream is the roll up cabinet doors, they can't possibly open while on the road since gravity holds them shut. The Trillium has hinged doors which normally open on any significant bump. We used small bungee cords to hold the doors shut and packed items in the trailer in plastic totes, strategicaly placed on the floor of the trailer so they couldn't slide around. The totes also kept the cushons from moving off the bed and once set up the totes could be used to keep gear or firewood dry outside the tiny Trillium Trailer. We also used a bar intended to hold loads from sliding around in a pickup truck.

Good luck on your purchase, if fiberglass trailers are as popular in your area as they are here you'll have no trouble selling.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:29 PM   #12
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Your cabinets and drawers should have some type of locking latches on them, and if not you could either install some or maybe strap a bungee cord across several drawer fronts of cabinet doors.

I had a problem with the valance over my rear window occasionally falling down. It just hooked on like a residential one, so I put a dab of silicone caulk on each hook before putting it on. Solved the problem but can be pulled off in the future if necessary.

Heavy stuff like old TV sets should be put on the floor. You can also get these non-skid mats to put in cabinets to help keep things from sliding around.

I would also measure the ground clearance on your Scamp compared to the Airstream you want. I suspect the AS rides lower so you will have to be more careful.

When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Go get the oranges that you really want.
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Old 05-10-2013, 03:37 PM   #13
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Ennis , Montana
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Great information, everyone...thanks! Perry, I actually did think seriously about painting our Scamp silver but I decided I should save the money and just get the real deal. Fiberglass campers are extremely in demand here in Montana, so it should go fast, and hopefully for more than we bought it for, as we have fixed it up a bit. We do go quite slow on the dirt, but it is the "washboard" surface that vibrates our poor camper. When I look out the rear view mirror, it does appear to be bouncing along behind, so hopefully more weight will equal a bit less destruction!

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