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Old 03-28-2021, 01:31 PM   #1
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Two newbs pick up their trailer and get it home - some observations

This is intended for people like us that are picking up their first Airstream. However if seasoned Airstreamers see an error (or three) I'd be grateful for their input.


Here are the mistakes we as new owners made in our prep.
1. I didn't bring enough tools.
All I brought was a star tire iron, click type torque wrench with one socket (13/16) for the lug nuts.


2. I had only assembled one extension mirror before we left home.


3. We arranged to pick up our unit on a Saturday in early Spring. The dealership was hopping and there were no staff that could focus on us exclusively due to the hub-bub that early Spring days bring to an RV dealership.



How these errors impacted us:
1. Our star tire iron socket heads were too big to fit into the gaps in the aluminum wheels around the lug nuts making our tire iron useless.
This problem was compounded by not having an extension for the torque wrench.
Even though I had a deep well socket it still put the torque wrench handle too close to the body and tires so in most positions I couldn't tighten the lugs.


Solutions:
1. Look for a star iron that will fit the lug nut gaps.
Buy a two inch (minimum) extension for the torque wrench.
If I can't find a star tire iron that fits I'll have to get a breaker bar.
Make a permanent trailer tool kit and don't leave home without it . . . ever.


2. Assemble anything your going to use to haul the trailer, at home or make sure your tool kit contains the tools you'll need for assembly (in this case there was a phillips set screw required to mount my extension mirror and I didnt bring any tools but the ones mentioned above.


3. Take a weekday off to pick up your trailer. In the long run you'll be glad you spent a day of vacation.


Some ways the dealer could have done a better job:


1. They sell Airstreams but aren't Airstream exclusive so some of their people were not completely up to speed.
For instance prior to pick up their service Mgr (who actually did her best to be helpful) sent me a list of possible accessories including a water pressure regulator and a $750 surge protector.
Our unit comes with a built in pressure regulator.
This lack of product knowledge is not how you instill confidence in a buyer, from that point on we were suspicious of their knowledge about Airstreams (in particular) and other aspects of RV-ing in general (more to follow on this note).



2. The orientation seemed rushed. Their orientation person was good but he was also one their diesel mechanics so he was busy with other concerns on a Spring Saturday.

I'm not sure of everything we missed but I know fantastic fans or their operation were never mentioned.


3. At one point (prior to hitch orientation) X was talking about gross weight etc. and I asked him if the weight sticker on the A frame would tell me the unloaded weight of the trailer including the options (a second AC and solar panels on the roof).He said it did.


This will be a factor in loading our personal gear so we can comply with the gross weight limit of the trailer.
The sticker as you may have guessed only lists the GVWR.
So for the moment we have no idea of our unloaded weight, even if they didnt know they simply could have told us that.







4. Initially the service Mgr said X would do our orientation and Y would be hooking up our hitch and explaining the hitching process.
Seems OK.
So after we finished orientation we were told we could shop for accessories while we waited for Y to finish the hitch installation. It should be noted that Y started on the hitch about the same time we started our one hour orientation.
We waited for over an hour for our hitch demonstration before the service Mgr told us Y had been pulled off for some other emergency and X would be doing our hitch tutorial.
We had liked working with X on the orientation so this was fine with us.
However shortly after the Mgr left, Y came and got us for our hitch tutorial.
This just reflected poorly on their operation but on the surface didn't cause us any actual problem or did it?


5. Having been a shop teacher I would describe Y as an old school mechanic.
Y hooked up the driver's side of the (Eaz-lift 1200) W/D hitch saying you want to have five links hanging loose. Then he walked me through the passenger side.
When it came time to hook the chain we could not get five links and settled for four links hanging loose on the passenger side.


When I checked the hitch today I saw there were three lengths hanging loose (not five) on the driver's side and four hanging loose on the passenger side.
The unit is still hooked up and not completely level but I measured that the driver's side rear wheel well (3 links) had dropped 2" and the passenger side (four links) had it dropped 2.5".


As they say on TV, but wait there's more:
When Y and I finished hitching he showed me how to hook up the safety chains and he didn't cross them.
Yup, he hooked them to the receiver in a straight line, both sides.


6.. Then we moved on to the Tekonsha P2 brake controller.

I'd watched the Tekonsha video on set up and according to Tekonsha you're supposed to take it to a setting around six, then take your rig up to 25 and put on the brakes.
The trailer brakes are supposed to lock up on this test and then you dial them back a couple clicks.


Y's approach was set it at six then tell me," If it seems like the trailer is stopping the truck dial it down a bit, if the trailer pushes the truck when you brake then dial up the brake controller and . . . adios.




I hope this post can be of some use to other newbs.
We got home in one piece but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to watch some vids for more hitch orientation
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Old 03-28-2021, 02:09 PM   #2
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Not too bad on the dealer side.
Its going to be far worse at ANY RV dealer as the weather warms up.Its record demand this year.
I'm a little suprised at the safety chain hookup at a dealer, but that's how he hooks his own chains up.
When you stop at a big Interstate rest area this summer ( especially on a weekend) just walk around the parked camper trailers, and look at the safety chains and tires.
Tiny / rusted chains, or 1 chain.Or no chains.Or twisted safety chains.
Low tires /badly cracked sidewalls( old tires ready to blow) bald tires, etc etc.
Not safety pinned hitch latches.Dragging chains.
Its endless....
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Old 03-28-2021, 03:06 PM   #3
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We were newbs twice. I don’t know how any newbie picking up a trailer can pack everything for every need. You are right about a future toolbox for the trailer. I have one that has a duplicate of just about every nut and bolt I would need. Your post sure helps. You made it, so the fun begins. Good luck
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Old 03-28-2021, 03:17 PM   #4
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I'm surprised you weren't supplied with an appropriate lug wrench. There's one in my trailer, and I sure didn't buy it... (2020 23FB FC)
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Old 03-28-2021, 03:25 PM   #5
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Very detailed description of your first day. You will have more fun as time goes on, and part of that fun is the adventure of figuring it out. 3rd year for us and we are still figuring it out. Went camping this weekend and it was 70 on Friday and a gusting 41 this morning. Thanks for the post, that took me back to when we picked ours up. Excited, a little confused, but ready to go camping, Enjoy!
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Old 03-28-2021, 04:08 PM   #6
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Sounds like an adventure. I'm flying out to NC in a few weeks to pick up my first Airstream so I'll be there with you on this excitement. I'm adding even more fun to the mix, as I'm going to be picking up the tow vehicle when I first get to NC, and then heading an hour away to pick up the AS. Double whammy - new truck and new AS. Just makes for more fun, right?

The big question I have is whether or not you had any subsequent troubles on the trip home?
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Old 03-28-2021, 04:22 PM   #7
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Welcome Aboard👍

Sad to say not an uncommon orientation experience.
A lot of new owners who spend any time at all on these forums will know more than the folks walking them around their new Airstream.

BTY...you can get all the links you need by using the tongue jack to lift the tongue until the chosen link can be engaged.

Sweet Streams

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Old 03-28-2021, 04:26 PM   #8
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Good call on the dedicated tool box. I continue to add to mine as needed. Yesterday I bought a short 15/16” socket for my water heater drain plug and a 10” pipe wrench. You’ll find that you need to have many things in your toolbox. Things like zip ties, a multimeter, rubber mallet, pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc. I’d be happy to share my list of tools if you’re interested.

Your dealership experience isn’t uncommon. I bought my Airstream from a dealer that sells other brand also. I knew more about the trailer than the guy giving me the orientation by simply watching YouTube videos.

Congrats on your Airstream purchase, and enjoy the learning process!
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Old 03-28-2021, 05:09 PM   #9
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Tom, I’d say you did well all around. On the toolkit—I’d say you should let your travels determine what this will be. For most folks a typical homeowner’s and car owner’s toolkit plus a few extras will be fine because they don’t really take extended or remote trips. Because it’s a new trailer, expect things to break (that’s not me being pessimistic—it’s what happens). Think about it like a house settling, but consider that this house experiences a small earthquake every time it moves. Don’t stress out about any of it, just bring what you need to stay safe and comfortable.

You’ll figure out over time what spare parts and “kludge” fixes are useful. Ping me if you want more detail on what I carry (which I think of as a pretty modest kit and served me well on 100+ days to and from Alaska). I have three shoebox-sized kits—one for the TV (lives under the back seat), one for the trailer interior (on shelf in interior closet), and stuff for the hitch and trailer exterior (front cargo compartment). When we take bikes, I have a toolkit for that as well.

For what it’s worth, I knew about the pressure regulator at the trailer’s inlet, but got another anyway and run it at the supply end. Most parks and campgrounds have lousy water pressure (especially in the morning and after dinner) but holy moly some supplies are off the charts high! The pressure regulator at the supply is largely redundant but it’s easy to replace and could save a hose.

To perhaps make you feel great about your first trip, on my trailer’s trip home, I hit a really bad (and unpredicted) ice storm off the southwest coast of Lake Michigan. I saw it from quite a ways off—trucks and cars were in the ditch, some of the heavier rigs couldn’t get enough traction to get up small hills and were sliding backwards. It was awful. I managed to slow down over a mile or so to about 10mph and took the first exit, and at that point I started sliding sideways quite a bit. I managed to turn into the slide and catch the rumble strip, which gave me enough traction to straighten out. 3mph to the end of the ramp then straight to a parking lot, where several semis were parked waiting for the ice to melt. They all came over to chat and one of them saw my maneuver at the exit and complemented my quick thinking. That made me feel great.

Congrats on the first journey!
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard5933 View Post

The big question I have is whether or not you had any subsequent troubles on the trip home?

Yes we made it home in one piece (240 miles).
We had a tear drop before the AS but it was a small unit with no brakes and no weight distribution hitch.


This may calm you a bit about the driving of the trailer, it was as easy or easier than towing our tear drop.
One difference in the tear drop's favor we felt comfortable gassing up anywhere.
With the AS we were extremely careful which gas station we chose and we scoped them hard before pulling in or moving on to the next one.


Good luck, I hope this helps.
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Old 03-29-2021, 08:28 AM   #11
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I guess if any other newbs read my post the best advice I put in there is don't pick up your new unit on a weekend day.
The people at the dealership were essentially decent folks but they were all (seemingly) trying to accomplish 5 tasks at once.
Also consider they make their money selling RV's, in a crunch that's where their focus is going to be.


We share some blame with the dealer for the big error of the day, my excuse is that my focus that day was getting our rather large investment home safely and into its garage.


After our hitch demo we were turned lose.
I left the service bay, went around the building, stopped and crossed my safety chains then hit the road.


I only realized today that we received no bill of sale or any other documentation we'd need to register our vehicle (save what for us is an out of state LAF card)*.


So in fairness to the dealer, I'd re-emphasize don't pick your unit up on a Saturday.



*I spoke via text with the salesman right before I posted this and he said they never give out documentation but always mail it after the fact. I'm taking that info with a grain of salt.
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Old 03-29-2021, 08:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Servo View Post
I guess if any other newbs read my post the best advice I put in there is don't pick up your new unit on a weekend day.
The people at the dealership were essentially decent folks but they were all (seemingly) trying to accomplish 5 tasks at once.
Also consider they make their money selling RV's, in a crunch that's where their focus is going to be.


We share some blame with the dealer for the big error of the day, my excuse is that my focus that day was getting our rather large investment home safely and into its garage.


After our hitch demo we were turned lose.
I left the service bay, went around the building, stopped and crossed my safety chains then hit the road.


I only realized today that we received no bill of sale or any other documentation we'd need to register our vehicle (save what for us is an out of state LAF card)*.


So in fairness to the dealer, I'd re-emphasize don't pick your unit up on a Saturday.



*I spoke via text with the salesman right before I posted this and he said they never give out documentation but always mail it after the fact. I'm taking that info with a grain of salt.
My 2 cents...
I would take exception to your acceptance of the Dealers lack of 'focus'.
You are the one who deserves ALL of it during the delivery process.
The folks browsing should take comfort in the attention YOU are getting and realize they will be getting the same should they make a purchase.
It's the dealer delivery process that needs some reorganization.

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Old 03-29-2021, 09:07 AM   #13
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Your experience sounds about like ours - our dealer was not an exclusive AS dealer - we were not shown how to lower the spare tire. Much to our surprise after driving and camping, the spare tire looked like it was too close to the ground. After crawling under the AS, we discover one bolt holding up the carrier was missing - so we used what we had with us (a hitch pin) and got home safely trying to not imagine what would have happened if it had come fully down while driving. Moral of story is check and re check everything.
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:15 AM   #14
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Welcome to the excitement of owning an AS. This is our first, so we are newbs too, even though we have been on extensive trips with her. Every trip you learn something new. Before we bought ours (used Bambi) I watched videos on YouTube until my eyes bled and took extensive notes. I used those notes to inspect the AS before we even bought it. Then when we purchased, our RV dealer did give us an extensive "lesson", which I lipsynched because of all the videos I had watched. We carry a very comprehensive tool box, as well as road emergency kit (triangle, flasher, etc), and personal safety kit. Haven't had to use them so far, thank goodness. But every oopsy that you can imagine has happened, from losing our bumper somewhere along the line, to having one of our locks on our tires jam to where we had to get a locksmith to cut it off, to relying on the safety chains because the pin fell out that connected the RV to the TV. What I have learned is that you just have to go with the flow.
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:19 AM   #15
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Someone snuck a potential separate thread into this one?

Richard 5933 is picking up a new AS AND a new TV in NC soon. Seems like a great opportunity to share the advice of towing with a new TV, particularly if it is new with no miles on it.
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:25 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
A lot of new owners who spend any time at all on these forums will know more than the folks walking them around their new Airstream.
How true. Invested almost 2 years just reading the forums before investing $ in the purchase of our TV and trailer.
I call it "Aistream University", saved us a lot of grief and mistakes.
In fact we almost dropped the whole project after reading some of the threads on the poor quality, but that is part of the process, understanding that they are not perfect (even if their price point and marketing would lead you to believe otherwise); but they are a lot better than what is out there and after some time you figure the whole thing out and iron out the bugs, and with some regular maintenance you are pretty well home free.
Enjoy and safe travels!
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:34 AM   #17
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Wow. Not my experience at all. We bought our AS from Midtown RV in Penticton, British Colombia. Their AS-dedicated tech spent most of the day with us, going from one end to the other. I then took the trailer out for a test drive, and the tech adjusted our TV trailer brake system. We spent the night in Penticton, and left the next morning, very comfortable with our trailer
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:40 AM   #18
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Believe me - "we all live and learn" ... when we purchased our AS (with respect) I considered the dealer to be like any "seller of merchandise" - sell, sell, sell and once out the door it's been nice to know you: by now!

So we spent hours on YouTube looking at videos of other peoples experiences and reading blogs which greatly helped in our own preparation for pick-up. I also chatted with other owners which was very helpful. I would like to say everything was perfect, however "stuff" happens that is not expected - so you "live and learn" - which by the way IS the way of AS ownership.
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:43 AM   #19
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Newbs Pick Up Trailer

Truck and travel trailer . . . there’s a lot that can go wrong, which a good percentage of Air Forums postings underscore. So, there’s learning and there’s doing and there’s reflecting and there’s doing better (and safer) next time.

I now have a binder with laminated checklists guiding regular operations, like hitch assembly, like tire changing. The big boy is the Takeoff Checklist, four pages single-space. As compared, Landing Checklist and Winter Recovery are two pages each, front side, backside.

In the Newby Game . . .
Number One: we research and settle on trailer.
Number Two: we acquaint ourselves with trailer (dealer, prior owner, our own common sense).
Number Three: we codify what we’ve learned AND practiced.
Number Four: we modify checklists over a number of trips as experience accumulates.
Number Five: we laminate. (Lamination is a prayer offered in a confident voice.)

Note: still working on Trip Planning checklist . . . how to see the country while keeping the rig under 60mph.
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Old 03-29-2021, 10:41 AM   #20
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Yikes.

Our pickup experience at the Airstream dealership here in Seattle last month was the complete opposite. Their two techs spent over 4 hours walking us through every detail of the the trailer and hitches operation, made sure we knew how to handle all of the critical systems ourselves and that hitch and brake controller were all dialed in perfectly.

They provided lug wrenches and other essential tools we’d need and then their head of experience went into their shop with me and made sure we had all the right gear. After reading these forums for over a year I assumed this is where they’d try to gouge us with over priced accessories - but their prices were actually less than Amazon!

Then, without even asking, they set up a time for a second orientation and a 90-day service visit to rectify any problems that come up during our first couple of trips. And they gave us a shoulder bag with tons of information I’m still making my way through.

You could tell all of the people we dealt with at the dealership really loved Airstreams and were happy to bring us into the family.

Listen this is a high-end luxury brand we’re all paying top-dollar for. You have every right to expect they will take care of you and not send you home without everything you need to be successful on the road. Being busy is not an excuse! Really sorry you had to deal with that.

It sounds like you’ve already discovered where you can find most of this information online. Our dealership, Seattle Airstream Adventures, has their whole walkthrough available online here: https://www.seattleairstream.com/virtual_walkthroughs and Colonial Airstream’s walkthroughs on YouTube are great too.

Looking forward to seeing you on the open road!
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