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Old 04-07-2013, 02:43 PM   #1
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New AS Bike Rack, Hitch Receiver

Fellow Airstreamers,

Several threads on the forums discuss bike rack solutions for your Airstream, and I thought I'd share the solution I recently installed on my trailer.

In a nutshell, I had a 2" hitch receiver installed under the rear bumper of my trailer, which will accept my Yakima four bike hitch bike rack. The bike rack lives on my Dodge Durango most of the time, but then I can move it back to the trailer 2" hitch when I take the trailer on the road. The 2" receiver will take all sorts of other accessories as well, if needed, such as a cargo platform, a grill, and so forth. Photos below.

The nice folks at Restless Wheels in Centerville, VA did the hitch install for me. As you can see below, they went into the rear bumper compartment, drove down through the main part of the frame, through the skid plate bracket, which also gives more support thanks to a secondary plate attached to the bottom of the frame. It will easily support several hundred pounds, more than needed for as many as four bikes.

We made sure the hitch receiver didn't stick out too far as to snag anything. The bike rack, moreover, does not block the rear compartment door from opening, and you can even fold the bike rack down (with bikes mounted on it), if you needed extra access space, such as pulling out chairs and so forth.

All the best,

Airstream Dad
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:17 PM   #2
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Nice. That is exactly what I am going to do so that I can use my Thule bike rack.
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Old 04-10-2013, 04:22 PM   #3
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We are now fulltiming and have been warned not to put weigh on the back in because of bumper and floor separation. Of course our trailer is a 1999. Let us know how it goes. We put our bikes between our twins inside.
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Old 04-10-2013, 05:01 PM   #4
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That may cause rear separation. Look at the approved AS bike rack and take note of the additional attachment points. You can find many threads debating the issue you have to judge for yourself. I went with the approved AS bike rack because I did not want to create warranty issues on a new trailer. I do like the concept it has been around for years just never would risk the intergearty of the shell to frame joint. BTW The AS bike rack has a 75 lb weight limit which is 2 bikes which tells me AS did not want to push the envelope to much.
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Old 04-10-2013, 05:36 PM   #5
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Folks I had a 2008 25' Safari and Explore USA fabricated a similar 2" receiver so we could mount a Thule T2 bike rack (link below).

It looked good and was within weight limits. But it was totally unacceptable! With 2 mountain bikes on in it, the weight and moment caused the rack to bounce up and down over any bump in the road. Fortunately it did not cause damage before we removed it. In the end we opted for roof racks on my Armada TV as the most safe and secure way of transporting our bikes.



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Old 04-10-2013, 05:49 PM   #6
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When I bought our Classic 30 used, it came with a 2" hitch receiver welded to the frame.

initially, I was very happy about it as I felt I could use it for our bike rack.

But after joining this forum, I read so many articles about it potentially damaging the trailer body / frame securement (Including from Andy, proprietor of a respected AS repair shop in California), that I become concerned and wound up cutting the hitch off before ever using it. We continue to carry our bikes on the front of our truck as I have done for years with our previous non-AS trailer.

Not sure if it was necessary to do that, but I just didn't want to take the chance of causing damage, as I would imagine the bikes can bounce with considerable force cantilevered out back
.

The manual that came with our AS said not to hang things on the back. On the other hand, I see that AS now sell a bike rack for rear mounting - I believe it transfers part of the weight to the body though so the forces attempting to separate the body from the frame would be reduced.

In any event, front of the tow vehicle continues to work fine as another option - no issues at all after 15 years of carrying the bikes this way.

I find that carrying them up front has the added advantage of allowing me to keep an eye on them. The tip of the handlebars stick up just an inch or so above the hood line - just enough to see that all is well!

Brian.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:17 AM   #7
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I did look at the AS solution, but it seems like most of the weight is on the bumper, with the body attachment points for stability. Even then, attached to the rear of the AS, it's still placing weight down on the rear.

As to contributing to rear end sag, I understand that is really only a concern on certain older models. Mine is a 2005 28', so not only better engineered (with thicker frame rails, for example) but larger overall - 100 lbs is not going to make much difference on a loaded 6500 lb trailer. If I had a 34' mid 70s rear bath Excella or a Bambi, I'd pause.

Lastly, I don't put much wear and tear on it anyway - my trips are typically only 2-4 hours out of town, on good roads, and I drive conservatively. The rack does fine on my Durango, the hitch bolt actually screws in tightly to the receiver, so it doesn't bounce too much.

But hey, I could be wrong. Discuss.

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Old 04-11-2013, 07:35 AM   #8
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The separation issue is not about frame strength, or strength of the body. It's about acceleration loads on the frame which tend to try to tear the frame from the body. The back of the trailer gets lots of acceleration loads when driving down the road hitting pavement irregularities.

I have a friend that dropped his tongue jack off a block a few inches, didn't notice a problem immediately, but later in his trip while disconnecting the trailer from the tow, found out the front of the Airstream body had been ripped loose from the frame.

I looked at the bike carrying issue years ago and decided to buy folding bikes, and have been happy with the decision since. Besides, the bike rack that Airstream sells won't work well on a Classic with the sliding bumper storage, and the storage area directly in front of the rack.
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Old 04-11-2013, 09:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airstream Dad View Post
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Well you are in good company.


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Old 04-11-2013, 10:29 AM   #10
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Looks like Wally's bike rack is attached at the bumper and just below the rear window, and carries one bike. That won't help most of us as we need two bikes, and don't own an Airstream factory to fix the trailer if it breaks.

I like this photo, really feel the spirit of past caravans. I wonder if that is the same gold trailer that sits on the side lot at the Airstream factory?

doug k
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:54 PM   #11
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I'm using my Thule 9031 bike rack. The frame of my 74 Sovereign has been rebuilt-new beams and new belly pan.
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Old 04-11-2013, 09:55 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Looks like Wally's bike rack is attached at the bumper and just below the rear window, and carries one bike. That won't help most of us as we need two bikes, and don't own an Airstream factory to fix the trailer if it breaks.

I like this photo, really feel the spirit of past caravans. I wonder if that is the same gold trailer that sits on the side lot at the Airstream factory?

doug k
Wally's bike has a motor on it, so the weight is more like 1.5 bikes.
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:27 PM   #13
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Wally's bike has a motor on it, so the weight is more like 1.5 bikes.
Cool, Wally was quite the innovator, I never noticed the motor. But it still leaves me .5 bike short on the weight.

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Old 04-12-2013, 11:03 AM   #14
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I like this photo, really feel the spirit of past caravans. I wonder if that is the same gold trailer that sits on the side lot at the Airstream factory?

doug k
That is the same trailer...
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