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Old 04-29-2016, 04:39 PM   #1
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Newbie about to take the plunge

So I have been boating for over 15 years and sold the boat last month. Now I am about to take the plunge into RVing!

My wife and I really like Airstreams. The late model 30' International to be specific. We found one in the classifieds and are attempting to find an inspector.

We also debated storage options, since we both work and it will be a while before we can spend a lot of time in the RV - we will start with weekends and 2-3 weeks out of the year. We are looking at RV lots in a relatively nearby RV park.

So we obviously have 2000 questions - these forums are great! Thanks to everyone who has offered to help.

So if we work out a deal with this trailer, it will be a 15 hour drive from home to were it is parked. The trailer already has a hitch. So I've seen a ton of hitching videos and I think I know, but I've never done it soooooo.....

Any tips for the new guy?

Thanks!
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:13 PM   #2
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Ouy Vey. Tips for a new rv-er. This could be a can of worms, but here are some random thoughts. A 30 footer is a looooong trailer. Have you ever towed anything like that before? If yes, cool beans. If no, yikes. Do you have an appropriate tow rig? If you don't know, you need to find out. You have had boats, did you tow them or? How long were they and how heavy? You should know how to hook up the trailer, and how to hook up load leveler so and anti sway. What kind of hitch system will you be using? Do you know the condition and age of the trailers tires? How are the brakes? This is basic safety stuff you should answer before towing 15 hours.

For camping, do you know how to hook the trailer up to shore power, sewer, and water? Do you know about leveling the trailer? How to check fuses and circuit breakers?

Not meant to be insulting if you have all this already dialed, just stuff you should know.

Mike
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:41 PM   #3
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Yep, it would help to know what size boat we're talking about when you say you've been boating for 15 years. It's possible you already know a lot of the things folks are likely to share. So, was it a dinghy, a 50-footer, or something in between, and did you ever tow it yourself?
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:51 PM   #4
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Think of the Airstream as your new shiny 'dirt boat'. Check all the things you normally would when towing the boat (assumption is your boat was on a trailer). Make sure the coupler is locked, safety chains and umbilical hooked up, breakaway cable hooked up, turn signals/brakes/running lights work. Have the hitch at the proper height. WD and sway control connected. Check tire pressure. Get your brake controller set up so it will stop you, but not lock up the brakes. Check the brakes before each trip. Check tire and bearing temps, either with a IR thermometer or by touching when you stop for fuel.

Take turns wider than normal. Be careful of overhead objects, as the dirt boat may be taller and wider than the water boat.

Leave adequate stopping room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Have fun!
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Old 04-29-2016, 07:37 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies! My boat was a 38 footer, and I never towed it. 20,000 lbs dry weight. I don't drive a rig like that!

I've never towed anything ever before, this will be my first. Oy vey indeed!

I did the math and weightwise I have enough TV, but I haven't done an inspection of the trailer so I don't know the condition of the hitch or the tires. I was planning on doing that before I towed it.

I've never camped before, so I was planning on stopping on a hotel on the way back and not try to camp it somewhere. Baby steps.

Driving 15 hours and hooking up an unknown trailer and driving it back scares the you know what outta me.

Just in case I was also planning on resolving issues like a temp tag and insurance prior to that.

The trailer looks to be in good shape from the pics, but I will know more after the inspection IF I can find someone to inspect it. If not I think I will have to plan a trip up there myself just to inspect it before I pull the trigger.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:41 PM   #6
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Don't pull into a crowded motel parking lot with a 30 ft trailer. When towing, you need to know about a couple things. Off tracking and tail swing. Off tracking is the trailer not following the path of the tow rigs wheels, but instead cutting the turn a little sharper and lessoning the clearance between the trailer and anything else. Use your side mirrors and watch for this when turning. Tail swing happens when the tail of the trailer pivots out away from the direction of the turn. This happens in a sharp low speed turn exclusively. Again, use your mirrors.

If this trailer turns out to be a good deal, and you want it, it could be worth your while to have it professionally brought to you.

Mike
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Old 04-30-2016, 11:27 AM   #7
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I make a short list of things like trailer height & length and put it with me up front when towing along with a short list of items to check each time I stop particularly specific to the hitch, access doors are secure (mine actually come off the trailer when I open them by design and if I lost one it would be next to impossible to replace), and a quick tire check (low and not hot to the touch). When everything is going well it's nearly easy to forget the trailer is even back there at all. I love my rear camera system so I can make safe lane changes and for backing up in parking lots and trailer parks. Bottom line - take your time, do the checks you need to do to be comfortable that you are safe, and most of all have a really great time! So far I've rarely heard anyone with one of the long AS's say they wished they had bought a smaller trailer, but I have heard people that went for smaller say they wished they'd gone larger
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Old 04-30-2016, 11:38 AM   #8
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Speaking of checking...in case it's helpful, we've posted checklists here for packing, departing, and arriving. Happy trails to you.

Oh, and before we started towing a trailer, we had zero experience doing so. We have some funny stories so far but no real disasters, and now we're reasonably good at backing up the trailer.

Welcome aboard!

http://www.casarocinante.com/Blog/Special-Topics
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Old 04-30-2016, 11:52 AM   #9
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Just. Take. Your. Time!
Go slow and be methodically during the initial inspection, maybe plan to use backroads instead of busy highways for the way home, and by the time you get home you'll feel like you've been doing this awhile. And don't let the shiny exterior blind you to things that need/should be fixed prior to hauling it 15hrs. Safe travels. jon
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Old 04-30-2016, 02:08 PM   #10
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Only 2000 questions?! o probably still have that many!

Congrats on a great decision I don't think you'll regret. Seeing our great country in an AS is awesome. The boss and I are taking early retirement in Aug to spend more time on the road.

I had never towed anything significant until I bought my 2006 25' AS used. It was definitely a learning experience but we did fine. We've since upgraded to a 28' that is about 600 lbs heavier and with more tongue weight.

Read some of the great towing tutorials and tips online. They are helpful for learning to tow. A capable tow vehicle and hitch are going to be critical as you probably know with an AS that big and heavy. More TV than you need is much better and safer than the other way around! Know and heed your AS GVW and combined GVW. Load your AS with GW and balance / tongue weight in mind. You and your spouse will need to work closely and communicate well maneuvering in tight spaces and especially backing - work on a system of observing and communicating to avoid an expensive "oops."

Learn, be safe, have fun!
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Old 04-30-2016, 02:30 PM   #11
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Towing is not the same as driving a car or truck. But it is somewhat like docking your boat. Outside forces as well as your steering and acceleration/braking input have an impact on the direction and movement of the rig. Low wind has little effect just as with ghosting. High wind has much effect as you might expect when the sea picks up a bit of chop. If you like to steer and trim you will enjoy towing. If you like the autopilot engaged and a cup in the hand as the ship takes care of herself, you will find land cruising to be a challenge that will require much more close attention. Dropping a wheel off the side of the road requires a gentle touch and caution to regain the pavement. Maintaining direction and position control when wind and road surface disrupts stability requires care in adjustment and attention to timing. It is somewhat like the focus necessary to maintain an optimum close hauled course to gain advantage over an equally matched craft. Not a horrible challenge if you are up to it. The good news is that you will have more direct control as traction is considerably better.

A 30 ft Airstream is larger than many tow, but not an undue length on the Interstate where a longer distance from ball to axle adds directional stability. As others commented the track will shift from that of the tow vehicle, so considerable care is needed in negotiating close quarter transitions. The key is to go slow and be unapologetic in making wide turns. Do not enter a lot that you can not see a way to exit. Check overhead as well as side clearance.

Until you have practiced backing in a safe area, don't back up. Install a backup camera and do not use it to back. Use the camera as extra information to warn you what is behind the trailer. For backing, use a spotter. Do not assume, check.

You are in control. If you feel uncomfortable, slow down or stop. If you are uncomfortable where you are, leave. If it is not safe to drive ..... wind, snow, ice, black ice, traffic .... then stop and wait until it is safe.

Towing an unknown rig - tires, bearings, brakes, battery to engage brakes in a break away event, hitch (TV and Coach connections), frame, lights ...... verify all are operational and safe. No cracked welds, loose fasteners, or similar structural failures in process. In an emergency situation, tow slowly (20-30 mph) on secondary roads with minimal to no traffic. Do not let your schedule put you at risk. Just like with the boat, keeping a tight schedule can result in bad decisions and expensive/deadly events.

Tires on trailers fail from age and not wear. Good tread depth does not mean the tire is in good condition. Read the tire threads and make your own decisions.

Lead acid batteries are inexpensive and easy to replace. Install a battery disconnect switch like your boat had and turn off the batteries when storing the rig. Read the battery and converter threads. Much the same world as your boat and you are likely ahead of most of us on this issue.......except lighter is better on an RV.

Before you leave, check that the awning/s are secure and all compartments are locked closed. Lock the door. Check that the brake and turn signal lights are working. Verify the coupler is latched in place. Some folks do not use a padlock so the rig can be disconnected in an emergency. Check the safety chains are secure. Check that the breakaway switch cable is secure and attached to something that will not pull away from the TV if the hitch fails. Do not forget to secure the inside doors, windows, drawers and loose items. Heavy weights behind doors and in drawers can result in fastener failures.

If the trailer is dry and was stored inside, do not assume it is leak free. Verify it is leak tight before storing it outside. The rest you can deal with over time.

Good luck and travel safe. Pat
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Old 04-30-2016, 03:21 PM   #12
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Where do you need an inspector?
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Old 04-30-2016, 04:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fwjumper View Post
Where do you need an inspector?
It is located in an Airstream village called Texas Airstream Harbor on Lake Sam Rayburn, about 5 miles from a little town called Zavalla. It looks to be about 100 miles northeast of Houston.
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Old 05-01-2016, 06:32 PM   #14
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I would suggest that you take someone with you who has experience with towing a rv who can help you.
with that size AS you will definitely need a good weight distribution hitch ( I use a Hensley but there are several other good choices) ant the hitch will need to be set up properly for your vehicle.
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