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Old 01-26-2013, 12:15 PM   #1
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1971 21' Globetrotter
Redondo Beach , California
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Intro to using a vintage Airstream?

So, I fulfilled a lifelong dream a few months back by buying this original Globetrotter I've always envied, and towed it home. I bought it from the 2nd owner (of 28 years), and after all the due diligence of researching these beautiful forums, I finally have my head around what needs to be done before getting it on the road.

I've replaced the axle, wheels, and tires and have determined where the small leaks are and the repairs are under way. My lovely lady and I are getting the curtains and upholstery sorted, and it's gonna be a great little trailer for our small family.

Which brings me to the embarrassing issue at hand... I have no idea how to camp in an Airstream. I mean, I know how to pull a trailer, and I know how to sleep and to make campfires and relax in the Zip Dee chairs and whatnot; I just don't know how to do all the really important practical stuff, regarding water, sewage, and gas.

I've looked around here a bit and haven't found those basics. Can anyone help me get started? Any threads or videos for newbz out there already? I really want to be able to use the toilet with confidence....

Thanks!
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:12 PM   #2
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I bought myself a copy of The Newbies Guide to Airstreaming on amazon. I got the kindle edition but I believe there's a paper edition available too.

Great read covering the basics you're talking about. I learned a lot and highly recommend it.
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:25 PM   #3
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Attend a WBCCI rally near you, you will find many members willing to answer your questions. El Camini Real Unit is a start or any other So Calif unit. Thr Region 12 facebook page has a map with rally locations by unit or look at the WBCCI web site.

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Originally Posted by BenHud View Post
So, I fulfilled a lifelong dream a few months back by buying this original Globetrotter I've always envied, and towed it home. I bought it from the 2nd owner (of 28 years), and after all the due diligence of researching these beautiful forums, I finally have my head around what needs to be done before getting it on the road.

I've replaced the axle, wheels, and tires and have determined where the small leaks are and the repairs are under way. My lovely lady and I are getting the curtains and upholstery sorted, and it's gonna be a great little trailer for our small family.

Which brings me to the embarrassing issue at hand... I have no idea how to camp in an Airstream. I mean, I know how to pull a trailer, and I know how to sleep and to make campfires and relax in the Zip Dee chairs and whatnot; I just don't know how to do all the really important practical stuff, regarding water, sewage, and gas.

I've looked around here a bit and haven't found those basics. Can anyone help me get started? Any threads or videos for newbz out there already? I really want to be able to use the toilet with confidence....

Thanks!
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:28 PM   #4
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Primer on the Slinky

Hi Ben,

It can be scary/fun when you first start out

I'll try to give you a little primer here.

First, when you get to where you're going, you need to position the trailer. You'll want to level it side to side, and fore and aft. You can use boards to level it side to side, but I've found that these things they call "Lego Blocks" that you can get at Camping World work great. They come in a bag, are about 10" square and roughly an inch tall, and they fit one to another like Lego's. Get yourself two bags of these (20 blocks). You can get these adhesive bubble levels that you can stick on the trailer. It's nice to have one on the side, and one on the front, so you can level it in both directions. I have one for the long direction and typically use a Hotwheels car for the side to side (put it on the kitchen table and see if it rolls) or use my 2' carpenter's level. But the best way is to get an adhesive one and put it on the trailer's front, as well as one on the side. Anyway, use these to get the trailer level in both planes.

Make sure you have a set of wheel chocks. After you get her leveled up the way you want it, chock those wheels on both sides so she doesn't roll away on her own!

Now you'll want to hook up the electric so you can run the a/c for the wife and kids while you do all the hard work outside and work up a lather. Make sure you have a couple of adapter plugs on hand; 20amp to 30amp, and 50amp to 30amp. That should cover you for most campgrounds.

OK, we're level, chocked, and have the a/c running and wifey and kids and Fido are inside getting things set up. Now you need to hook up the fresh water. You'll want to have a dedicated hose just for water hookups. It's also nice to have an external pressure regulator and a water filter. You simply screw the pressure regulator onto the hose, and do the same with the filter. I typically put the regulator and the filter on the trailer end of the hose, but you can also put them on the water supply side of the hose. It doesn't matter. At any rate, let's say you screw the hose onto the hosebib of the campground (I also use a chlorox wipe to clean both the hose bib before I attach my hose to it....can't be too safe about germs....), and you have your pressure regulator and filter on the other end. Run a little bit of water through it before connecting it to the trailer....you'll see a bunch of charcoal dust run out at first and then it will be clear water. Now hook the filter up to your trailer's freshwater input line. Turn on the hosebib and oila! You've got city water.

Now for the fun part. Time to hook up the sewer. Get your "Stinky Slinky" out and whatever supports you have for it. Attach the one end to the trailer's dump valve port. Install the appropriate fitting into the other end of it, and then attach that to the campground's dump valve. It's generally all PVC and it threads right together. Typically you'll thread your own PVC fitting into that of the campground, then the part that hooks to the non-trailer end of the slink just drops in and rotates 90 degrees to make the connection. You'll want to have a nice slope going downhill the whole way from your trailer's dump port to the PVC sewer fitting in the ground. #%@! rolls downhill....first rule of Civil Engineering But you get the idea. You want it to run downhill the whole way from your trailer to the sewer hookup.

OK, you're all hooked up.

It's wise to not leave the dump valve open all the time. What can happen there is that the liquids all run out and the solids will build up into Mt. Vesuvius.....not a good thing. So leave your valves closed until the tank seems about full. Then pull the lever to dump the black tank first (the poop tank). Once it's empty, then close that valve and empty the gray tank (the sink and shower water). The gray water coming last cleans the yuck out of the stinky slinky.

Anyway, that should get you pretty well set up.

When I'm about to leave, I'll do the valves like above, but then take a second hose (NOT the fresh water hose) and run some freshwater through the slinky and into the sewer to clean it out that much more.

Anyway, hope this helps. My wife got me a book way back when called "RVs for Dummies" or something like that that had all this kind of stuff in it. I think it was $15 or so. But anyway, this should get you going.

Have fun!
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:37 PM   #5
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1983 31' Excella
Troy , Ohio
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The book RVing Basics by Bill and Jan Moeller is very helpful. Your local library might have a copy of that book, or other similar books.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:03 PM   #6
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Longmont , Colorado
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And if you don't already have it, get a copy of the owners manual for your trailer. Try Ebay, or Outofdoorsmart. Yay for early 70's trailers!
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:48 PM   #7
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1971 21' Globetrotter
Redondo Beach , California
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Thanks for the writeup, Jim, and for the other advice as well. I guess all that's left is to tow it somewhere and give her a whirl!
Ben
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:03 PM   #8
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Nice writeup Jim, just mist 1 thing the OP has a '71.

Ben since you have a 1971 trailer if it wasn't modified it doesn't have a gray tank so if you camp where you don't have sewer you need a "blue boy" (portable dump tank) to hook to the sewer connection to catch the gray water otherwise the tub will quickly fill.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:47 PM   #9
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1971 21' Globetrotter
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Hmm, so that's what that blue tank is for. So there are only 2 built in tanks, the clean water one and the sewer tank? How do you make all the gray water drain into the blue boy but keep the black water (i.e. dukey) from going into the blue one as well? I would think you'd want the black water to stay put until you find a sewage dump spot.

I think what I need to do is somehow flush out both the clean water tank and the black tank and make sure everything is working properly, like the gauges that show whether they're full or empty.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:10 PM   #10
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The black water stays put until you pull the dump valve handle. The grey drains straight out all the time,so you direct it into the 'blue boy'.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:41 PM   #11
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1971 21' Globetrotter
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Okay, so if I were to pour a bucket of water in the sink, it would flow straight out without a valve to open? Is there a way to redirect it into the black water tank to help rinse it out? Also, the T handle above the rear bumper: do you simply pull it out and the black water tank dumps straight out, or is there a twist-and-pull technique?

I know I sound like a moron, just trying to get my head in the game.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:44 PM   #12
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The black water stays put until you pull the dump valve handle. The grey drains straight out all the time,so you direct it into the 'blue boy'.
Only if you don't have sewer hookups where you are camped. If you do have a sewer hookup just have the hose connected to the trailer and the sewer hookup and the grey water drains directly to the line. Then every now and then "dump" the black tank and you are in business. In the old days when you were boon docking the grey water was just dumped on the ground. But now that is frowned upon so park where you have hookups to begin with. Then venture out to boon docking.

Don
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Old 02-10-2013, 07:19 PM   #13
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Ya got me there Waz My trailer isn't quite that old...I didn't realize they didn't have a gray tank back then.

We camp sometimes at a place that doesn't have a sewer hookup. Guy there says to just dump the gray water on the ground, so we do. Doesn't hurt a thing. No different than if I were washing my car with a hose. They come around (twice a week in our case) and slurp out the black tank (talk about a crappy job!! heehee). But anyway, I believe Cleanliness is next to Godliness and so take my shower every day. We'll fill the gray tank long before we do the black tank. With four of us bathing daily (though my son, who turned 8 the other day, would be perfectly happy to NEVER take a bath....and my nearly 13 year old daughter thinks she's a mermaid....) we can use a lot of gray water. Not so bad with the washing of dishes....I like to skin a stick with pen knife and roast 'dogs and 'mallows on the fire then throw the stick down when I'm done.

Man you'll have a blast though. Camping is SO fun! These aluminum tubes just beat the pants off a tent...

My first shakedown cruise we go to this really nice campground in the Outer Banks (Camp Hatteras) and that's where I discovered that the Previous Owner (P.O.) of my 34 footer had let Drain/Waste/Vent pipes freeze. It wouldn't leak when you had the valves open. But when you had the valves closed, it built up just enough static pressure that you could see a hairline fissure in the sidewall of the black ABS plastic drain pipe and it'd leak. Of course this was 10.5 hours from home on our first camping trip. Aye Caramba, what to do??!!! Well, I broke the rule and just left the valves open. That way no pressure ever built up and the "fluids" just ran straight out with no leaks.

But when we got home, I had to remove the belly pan and tear out the black piping. When I pulled it out of the big hole in the back of the black tank, guess what I found??!!! Yes, there it was: Mount Vesuvius just waiting for me! I tried every toilet chemical they make to break that #$@#$@ down and get it to flow out. Nope, wouldn't cut it. So I got a bucket, and a long handled wooden spoon, a dual chamber respirator like you'd use in an autobody paint booth, and had to dig out the mountain spoonful by spoonful. Easily the worst job of my entire life! But I physically removed the stuff. I then got all new DWV piping, new valve assemblies, and replaced everything.

Now she doesn't leak. And, I take great care to clean the tank out super thoroughly at the end of each season. I have this rotary scrubber thing that you stick down the toilet and high pressure water blast the inside of the tank. I also use toilet chemicals all along to keep it broken down. And, I don't leave the tanks open.

What happened in my case was the P.O. had the trailer set up semi permanently and had the valves open all the time and the slinky went into a hole in the ground. Liquids went out, solids built up. And I got to scoop another dude's #$#@ out.

I totally sympathize with Robin Williams in the movie..... "Dad, it's not mine!"

See ya on the road!
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Old 02-10-2013, 07:40 PM   #14
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I've heard that "Mt. Vesuvius" can be softened by driving around on bumpy roads with a couple bags worth of ice cubes in the black tank. The ice breaks up the solids and then melts into a liquid for washing it down the drain.
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