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Old 11-09-2016, 12:29 PM   #1
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First Center Bath AS

When AS decided to move the rear bathroom to the center bath location in the early '70s, a bunch or 31 footers went out the door in JC with 1,100 to 1,200 pound tongue weights!!! Seems they forgot to move the axles to compensate for moving the weight around. Customers had their hitches bent and in some cases pulled off their TVs. Owners had them brought back to JC and the axles were moved to correct the problem. Not a good start for the CB introduction, but sales took off anyway when folks realized how much sense it made to have the bath in the center when camping with friends and family.

Mike
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Old 11-09-2016, 07:24 PM   #2
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Interesting observation in Airstream history. I'm surprised re-configuring the bath location would add that much to the tongue weight. I think of a bath being lighter weight than a bedroom due to the mattress and bed frame. But I don't know. My 86 is a center bath and has proper tongue weight proportions to overall trailer weight.

I had a coachman 29 foot trailer with a front kitchen years ago. That seemed heavy on the tongue.

David
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Old 11-11-2016, 06:57 PM   #3
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The bathroom itself probably doesn't weigh all that much, but the liquids associated with it (fresh, black, gray tanks) do. Larger coaches (think fifth wheels) are able to put the fresh water tank over the axles. Often the grey tank is in that area, too. The black tank is usually located under the toilet for obvious reasons, so sometimes there is a secondary grey tank located near there, too. (Many 5'ers have the bath in the upper level and the kitchen on the main level.)
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Old 11-11-2016, 07:03 PM   #4
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Bent and ripped off hitches?
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Old 11-11-2016, 07:59 PM   #5
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Bent and ripped off hitches?
That did happen to my parents in the mid-1950s. My dad noticed the trailer handling kind of funny, so he pulled over to take a look. The entire receiver assembly had torn loose from the truck at the welds, leaving the entire thing hanging by a single piece of steel no thicker than a pencil. No, it wasn't an Airstream, it was another brand of aluminum trailer.
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Old 11-12-2016, 01:38 PM   #6
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With the weight of the tanks in the rear, the leverage was working for less tongue weight. Moving the tanks forward eliminated the leverage.
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Old 11-12-2016, 05:38 PM   #7
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So about what year did the majority of Airstream floor plans have center baths with water tanks close to the axles? I'm guessing the early 80s.

David
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Old 11-12-2016, 09:46 PM   #8
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Interesting observation in Airstream history. I'm surprised re-configuring the bath location would add that much to the tongue weight. I think of a bath being lighter weight than a bedroom due to the mattress and bed frame. But I don't know. My 86 is a center bath and has proper tongue weight proportions to overall trailer weight.

I had a coachman 29 foot trailer with a front kitchen years ago. That seemed heavy on the tongue.

David
Another tongue weight problem, Airstream moved the axles forward to make up for the extra tongue weight of the front kitchen then moved the kitchen back and forgot to move the axles back.
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Old 11-13-2016, 07:49 AM   #9
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So about what year did the majority of Airstream floor plans have center baths with water tanks close to the axles? I'm guessing the early 80s. David
I have a 1978 Sovereign with Center Bath so prior to the 80's
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Old 11-13-2016, 09:49 AM   #10
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According to the airstream archive 1973 was the first year of the center bath for the 31' sovereign and 29' ambassador.

For the 31' double the center bath decreases total weight by 120# and increases tongue weight by 240# to 730#.
For the twin the center bath decreases total weight by 85# and increases tongue weight by 210# to 695#.
The 29' has simular weight changes.
I'm almost positive that there is no difference in axle placement between center and rear bath models.

The center bath fixtures are smaller and lighter and are located just behind and over rear axle hence the lighter total weight and increased tongue weight.
The black tank is moved forward 6' but doesn't effect these dry weights very much. The big difference is when full, which explains why rear baths have more rear end sagging problems than center baths.

I think 73 is also the first year for grey tanks. My center bath has one but not sure if the rear baths do.
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Old 11-13-2016, 01:20 PM   #11
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Hi Al,

Was on the AS payroll back in '72-'74 and it was an axle location problem. I remember folks coming back to JC to have the work done. It was not a good thing. Most folks towed with Caddys, Lincolns, Pontiacs back then. Most Airstreamers would not have been caught dead in a pick-up truck. The trailers were lighter back then and you did not need the power and torque you need now to do the job. I think you are right about the '73 being the first year for grey water. Took a '27 Overlander (CB proto-type) that year on vacation to Cape Cod . TV was "72 Chevy wagon with 454 engine. Towed like a camp! AS killed the idea of CB in that size as the layout did not make as much sense as the 29 and 31 footers did. Back then, 70% of the production was '31 footers and they were going together like Swiss watches. When a 21 Gobetrotter was coming down the line, nothing fit because the workers were so use to building 31s. Now the 25' is the most popular AS.

Mike
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Old 11-13-2016, 02:47 PM   #12
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Mike,

Man I'd love a overlander center bath! I started looking for an ambassador CB over a year ago but they are hard to find. I found an excella 500 that I couldn't pass up but I could do without the extra 2' up front.
But 5000# dry weight for 31' is pretty good and only a few hundred pounds more than the 29'.
They really started gaining weight in the late 70s.
Do you have any idea how many of the 31's were center baths compared to rear? You'd think that they would have been more popular than what you see still around.
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Old 11-13-2016, 06:46 PM   #13
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Al,

Don't have any production/sales numbers, but after the CB came out, the RB faded out. Only folks who had to have a bathtub were buying the RB. The dealers wanted CB trailers because they were the latest new thing and sold quickly. You would not have liked the 27' CB they made. It had 2 doors on the curbside and two pullout couch/beds front and rear. As you sat on the rear couch, you were looking at the rear bathroom wall and hall. Not a great layout I don't think there was enough space to make it like the 29 and 31 footers.

The Excella 500 was a super nice trailer! The carpet, drapes and fabric were high end and the color of the panels were stunning. I loved the L-shaped lounge in the front which was an option back then. They also came from JC with a swag lamp which did not make sense to me but set them apart from the Sovereign.
That blue beltline trim really made them look special going down the road.

Mike
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Old 11-13-2016, 07:04 PM   #14
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I like my 81 31ft Center Bath. The bathroom is a little on the small side. I do like what it does by putting all the tanks under the or between the axles. I have 3 tanks are all next to each other near the axles so weight distribution does not change much. I also like that rear end repairs are easier since there is not bathroom there. Having the rear bed room is nice because it at least gives you the illusion of some privacy.

Perry
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