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Old 05-18-2003, 12:48 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11
advice for a beginner

Hi, i need some advise. My wife and i just bought a 1966 Safari at an auction in Wichita Ks. I would say that, in the short amount of time we got to check it over . . . .it is in between average and rough condition. It was a very rushed purchase . . and we don't have a clue. Tonight i have found some good web sites. But for starters: what do you haul these with? I don't think my van or my stationwagon can handle it. Thought i would rent something to haul it from wichita to k.c. It looks like it has been sitting for a long time and i need to find someone who can check out systems. I don't mean to be longwinded but what are the things i need to look for/at? The exterior seems to be ok . . . quite a bit of oxidizing and a few missing bits of hardware. The interior and floor seem to be in clean condition but the upolstry (sp) is gone and the toilet seems to be gone. Well so many things to ask but i will stop here. My wife and i are in love with the idea of fixing this up and taking it on trips with our 4 yr old son . . . Did i bite off more than i can chew?
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Old 05-18-2003, 02:27 AM   #2
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1971 27' Overlander
Join Date: Nov 2002
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Hi Welcome on board inthis A/S community;
You 're in THE good place to find informations.
I'm now in FRANCE, so I've taken my airstream from North Carolina to Europe and I was in the same situation as you , in the beginning... I knew nothing on this machine, some monthes ago.
To haul, see the picture...
My first advice is : clean entirely inside to discover all the parts , the electrical system, the equipments to see if they 're in good order,see under the carpet... and buy the manual owner AND the service manual of your A/S to understand how it's made.
After that , it a great pleasure to discover day after day this jewel.
So you can do it by your own; it's more gratituy.

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Old 05-18-2003, 07:46 AM   #3
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Your Safari should weigh well under 3500 lbs., in the condition you describe. This should make it possible to tow with virtually any standard pickup or van, or even some minivans and a few cars. The old girl may not be in any condition to be towed, however - wheel bearings, brakes, and/or lights will need to be checked out before you hit I-35.

If the exterior skin and the floor are in good shape, you are a long way to success.

There are several experts on 60's Airstreams who are on this forum. I will let them tell you what to look for.

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Old 05-18-2003, 08:07 AM   #4
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Anna , Illinois
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Advice for a Beginner

Greetings KC Airstreamer!

Welcome to the forum and the world of Vintage Airstreaming. I am a native Illinoisan who transplanted to Kansas in the 1980s and spent seven wonderful years living and teaching in Osborne county. Checking the latest WBCCI directory, I see that things haven't changed greatly as there still isn't an Airstream dealer or service center in Kansas. It looks like the nearest dealer/service center may be in Oklahoma - - Griffith RV Service, Inc. - Oklahoma City, OK; or Sherrard RV & KOA - Colbert, OK.

Don't despair, however, that there isn't an Airstream dealer nearby - - it seems that most Vintage Airstreamers coun't them very fortunate indeed to be in close proximity to a Vintage Friendly dealer. Most of the assistance that you will need to get the coach roadworthy for the trip from Wichita to Kansas City can be handled by any competent RV service facility.

I wouldn't discount your van or even possibly your station wagon as a potential tow vehicle. Depending upon size and optional equipment installed, you may have a potential tow vehicle for your Safari. According to the Airstream corporate site, you Safari should have an EMPTY weight of 3,360 pounds - - through careful loading, you should be able to keep the weight of the loaded trailer under 4,900 pounds. The empty hitch weight is listed at 377 pounds, and the hitch height at 20.5". You can check this information at:
Airstream Trailer Weights and Measures

If you find that one of your vehicles is a potential tow vehicle, your first task will be to obtain a weight distributing receiver style hitch with a draw bar that will permit a hitch (ball height) of 20.5" on your tow vehicle (you may count yourself lucky that the ball height is that high - - both of my trailers look for 18" and with a 3/4 ton 4 X 4 as my primary tow vehicle achieving that height can be quite a problem. The other hitch related issue that you will encounter is ball size - - most brand X RV dealers are not familiar with Vintage Airstreams and may not want to believe you when you request a 2" ball - - if your coach has the original Marvel couple, you will have a 2" ball as the 2 5/16" ball size didn't come into use until 1969 if my information is correct. The issue may be finding one with a high enough weight rating - - for safety sake, I would recommend finding one with a weight rating specification of at least 6,000 pounds (they can be found but it is not always easy - - the discount store variety usually only have a 3,000 pound weight rating - sometimes a bit more.

If you find that proceeding with the tow vehicle rental plan is in your future, be prepared for a search. Many rental firms exclude towing from acceptable uses of their rental vehicles even when one is equipped with the necessary optional equipment. The other issue that you will likely encounter is that you will still need the ball mount as a rental will usually only have a receiver and not the hitch head portion for the coupler; and it is quite possible that a rental vehicle won't have the proper Bargman connector or brake controller either.

The next issue you will encounter is getting the trailer so that its lights will work with the modern Bargman connector that should be installed as part of the hitch installation (you might want to remind the shop doing the installation that the backup lights need to be connected as your Safari may very well have backup lights installed. Airstream did not wire to the current standard in the 1960s so you MAY need to reconfigure the wires in the trailer end of the connector so that they match the current standard. The wiring standard used by Airstream in 1966 can be found at the Airstream corporate site via the link below:

Airstream Umbilical Cord Wiring

There are several threads on this site regarding brake controllers and I hesitate to recommend as the one that I use is not very popular. I use the Hayes Lemmerz Energize XPC with manual remots and have been thrilled with it as well as its predecessors for the last two decades. The Tekonsha Prodigy and Jordan Ultiman seem to be the two most popular brake controllers with Airstreamers at present.

With hitch issues out of the way, the trailer needs to be prepped for a trip to the service facility that you choose for the pre-trip checkout. You will want to be sure to get the following issues addressed before towing from its current location.

1. What is the condition of the tires. If the tires are seriously weather checked or aren't holding pressure, this would be a top priority replacement issue before attempting anything other than VERY short distance travel.

2. Is there any serious rust on the "A" frame hitch - - by serious, I refer to rust through or near rust throuhg. If none is found then proceed with verifying that the coupler is functional. Lock the coupler to the ball mount on your tow vehicle and then try to raise the tongue with the tongue jack - - the tongue jack should raise both the tongue and back of the tow vehicle to the enxtent of travel permitted by the tongue jack - - if the coupler doesn't lock on the ball permitting this to happen, the coupler is either defective or may have been replaced with a more modern 2 5/16" coupler mechanism.

3. Your next task will be to determine whether the lights are operable without modification. Connect the trailer end of your Bargman connector to the tow vehcile and then test each of the functions to see what happens - - brakes, turn signals (left and right) as well as running lights. If you find that nothing operates, the trailer end of the connector may be internally corroded which will spell replacement (a connector that matches your tow vehicle should be in your parts kit for the pickup trip). If you find that strange things happen - - for instance the backup lights are on constantly - - then you have wiring issues in the trailer end of the connector - - on my Minuet the backup lights were attached to the terminal used for 12-volt feed to the trailer in the modern tow vehicle standard. Rewiring the trailer end is not difficult, but you may want to be prepared for troubleshooting the connection by testing the wires in the connector if they do not match the schematic from the Airstream site (this is possible if a previous owner has modified the original setup which quite often has happened). When I picked up my Argosy, I was carrying a small gardern tractor battery along with two sets of alligator clamps with 24" wires that I used to test each wire to determine its function prior to installig it on my new Bargman connector (took about 2 hours for someone not comfortable with electrical work - me). You may also have to replace tail light bulbs to get things road worthy - - they are typical automotive bulbs but I am not sure which ones a 1966 Safari would use. I wouldn't panic if the clearance lights don't work as they usually won't get you a ticket as can inoperable tail light systems.

The main things that you will want to have checked out by a service facility before heading for Kansas City would be - - bearings - - repack and service including checking brakes. Getting the brakes operational will be critical especially if you are very near the maximum trailer tow rating for your tow vehicle. In a worse case scenario, you might be facing installing full loaded backing plates with some machine shop service to true up the drums and match the shoes to the drums - - this could run in the vicinity of $375 for a single axle trailer (I recently had this done on my Overlander and it was $750 for its two axles). You might also want to have the shop check the tires while they are off the rig for bearing service as this will verify that there isn't serious damage in the tread area or on the back sidewall. If you are a novice tor trailering, you might also want to have the service facility to check the setup of your hitch to verify that all is adjusted correctly, and that the trailer lights are functioning correctly.

Getting the runnning gear prepped will likely be the biggest job in getting your new find home. Verifying that the hitch is functioning safely, the axle components have been checked and serviced as necessary; and the trailer lights have been made operational should get you home safely where you can begin your thorough checkout.

If you find that a manual didn't come with the trailer, you can order a copy of the owner's manual from secretarial service as follows:

Q: I need an owners and service manual for my Airstream. Where can I get one?
A: The first owners manuals were published in 1964. Prior to that, the owner received a brown envelope containing parts lists and other helpful information on the accessories in his trailer. The VAC has started making these available in the Members Archive section. A service manual with instructions for performing service operations did not exist until 1972.
You can get photocopies of owners manual (1964+) and service manuals (1972-1986) from:

Helen Davis Secretarial Services
PO Box 484 Sidney, OH 45365

Prices are about $33 and $70 respectively. After 1986 the Owners Manuals included available service information.
The information above was quoted from the Vintage Airstream Club web site.

One final caution - - before towing your new acquisition, be sure that the entrance door is secured - - especially if it is of the "suicide" variety (hinged on the rear). These doors have the habit of flying open on the highway if not properly secured and cause significant damage to both the coach and the door itself. Before having new door lock hardware installed on my Overlander, I always carried bungee cords so that I could secure the door to the grab handle to prevent it from flying open if the worn door lock quit doing its job while in transit.

Good luck with your new project and again, welcome to the forum!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 05-18-2003, 08:21 AM   #5
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Lightbulb You might

I've said this before and, it very well could be the solution for you.

Since it's less than 200 miles to your home in Kansas City from Wichita, KS, you might consider contracting someone with a flatbed trailer to haul your 'gem' home. Then, you can address those replacement issues at will. As you know already, there's the tow requirement and, getting your new A/S ready for travel. This includes new tires, wheel bearings repacked, brakes checked out and, the hook up to the tow vehicle. All the lights MUST be working between your tow and the trailer.
An outside mirror is a must as well.
It's simply a matter of how much time do you have available to spend on these preparation to make your setup "road worthy".
That's why I offer this advice/suggestion for that initial "get it home".
Once your home, then the "fun" begins~!~
Good luck to you ~!!
BTW, the wife's folks live north of you near St Joseph, MO. We get out that way yearly with our 84 Sovereign. Maybe we can hook up with you on one of those trips?
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