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Old 05-10-2011, 09:49 AM   #1
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
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Towing with an Airstream Classic?

Trying to get my head around all the info to tow safely with my Classic M/H.
I need to make choices, figure out Pro's and Con's and costs.
Looking at towing a Flatbed trailer with a vehicle on it, and/or a flat towed vehicle. Both will have braking systems to be legal.

I have put this question in the Classic section simply because it will be more targeted at the Classic, as I am sure the later Cutters etc had different ratings etc.

Let me start by quoting/defining a couple of acronims, because I had to look them up to be sure I had it right.

GVWR:
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Maximum weight of loaded Vehicle.

ASW:
Airstream's term for the weight of the M/H with fuel but not water.

GCWR:
Gross Combination Weight Rating. Maximum weight of Vehicle and Towed vehicle combined.

In researching I find that in 1986 the 345 was quoted by Airstream as having a GVWR of 16,500lb, and Approximate Standard Weight (ASW) of 14,300lb. Not found a GCWR yet.

I am aware that Airstream put a 2000lb tow rating on the stock hitch, and I will be strengthening mine. Looking at what others have done, It will be 10,000lb rated.
My 345 has a fresh, and mildly uprated Jasper 454, and pulls like a train. I will be doing work on the cooling system for the engine and transmission, and going thru the braking system to be sure everything is in good shape.
A good quality brake controller will be added.

My Ideal Toad, my 1998 jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9LTD weighs about 5,000lb, and can be towed flat with the Transfer case in N. I also have a Mercedes 190D, that weighs 3800lb, but its an Auto, so cant be flat towed.
Approximate weight of a dual axle car hauler with brakes is 2,500lb.

Putting the Jeep on the trailer is 7,500lb towed.

I am worried that it might be unsafe, or too much.
Requesting knowledge, insight, experience?
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Old 05-10-2011, 12:41 PM   #2
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I noticed some rear frame Flex on mine when I towed with an enclosed trailer with a total weight of 4000-4500lbs (est).

In looking at the frame beams, there are a couple of places that factory holes through them appear to create some weak spots.

I suspect that the issue with my trailer was that the axles were a long way back resulting in a lot of tongue weight.

I solved the issue by building a much lighter open trailer which brought the towed weight down to 2100lbs and much less tongue weight. I also went from 5-6MPG to 7.5MPG!

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Old 05-10-2011, 12:49 PM   #3
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Thanks Paul.
Yes, I agree with your comment about possible frame flex.
Worst area is on the drivers side where the Gas filler pipe goes thru a huge cutout in the frame...
I noted this, and kinda plan to extend the legs of my new tow frame past that area, and also try to protect the gas tank better somehow.
Here is a view of that areas, looking fwd.
And yes, I have noticed my filler pipe is leaking... I have a new piece waiting.


Edit..
Found this better pic...
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:10 PM   #4
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Yep. That is the one that concerned me.

I suspect towing 4 down would be less of an issue because the forces are fore-aft rather than vertically.

Paul
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Old 05-10-2011, 02:00 PM   #5
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If you notice, there are two bolts hanging down front and rear of the hole... on some there is a tubular frame that hangs down to protect the rear of the gas tank. Mine was maybe removed when they put those other frame/wheels on.
I was planning to use those bolts and add a twin strip of 1/4" 2x2 or 3x3 wall angle that extends past the hole as far as I can to stiffen and carry any loads past it.
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Old 05-10-2011, 09:16 PM   #6
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I wanted to tow my 20' ATV trailer behind the MH. My trIler houses my ATV. But I really think this would be too much for the MH even with a proper hitch. I think the trailer is best suited for my truck and I need to just get an ATV flat trailer just big enough for the ATV to tow behind the MH.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadstoy
I wanted to tow my 20' ATV trailer behind the MH. My trIler houses my ATV. But I really think this would be too much for the MH even with a proper hitch. I think the trailer is best suited for my truck and I need to just get an ATV flat trailer just big enough for the ATV to tow behind the MH.
I'm not sure what the trailer weighs...registration states the unladen weight to be around 3400. That's a lot! I thought the trailer was around 2500. The ATV is 1000. Then probably another 1000 in extra (tools, etc).
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Old 05-11-2011, 06:57 AM   #8
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If tongue weight is the problem, www.trailertoad.com looks like a good answer. I have no firsthand experience, but the designer appears to be as passionate about it as the designer of my SuperStalker.

Paul
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:21 AM   #9
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Looks like a good solution to haul something heavy. A quick look at the add indicates it is not equipped with brakes??? A good setup if you never have to disconnect.
Why not make it for a modified trailer that actually mounts on top with a 5th wheel and tows like a full 3 or 4 axle trailer? It could still be used by any vehicle with a standard Class IV or V hitch? That would eliminate the big air gap and associated drag it creates.
Dave

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Originally Posted by pwhittle View Post
If tongue weight is the problem, www.trailertoad.com looks like a good answer. I have no firsthand experience, but the designer appears to be as passionate about it as the designer of my SuperStalker.

Paul
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:24 AM   #10
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I believe you use the brakes on the trailer and it includes extension cords to connect the trailer to the plug on the MH, which you would need anyway for lights.

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Old 05-11-2011, 09:29 AM   #11
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Seen that before, pretty cool... Not this one, but I have seen them with brakes too, so that the braking load is even less on the M/H.
I am not worried about tongue load, I have towed trailers before and am pretty good at balancing loads to get the tongue load correct.

I guess my whole concern is based in the GCWR...
If my towed trailer is 7,500lb, and both axles have good brakes and i have a good brake controller would that be ok?
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:56 AM   #12
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We had the hitch beefed up for 10K, and flat-tow a Nissan Maxima 5 speed manual...a lot of weight for a 454 with 132 K on it, but it tows fine...no auxiliary brake system. We used to tow a Geo Tracker 4WD auto, and never knew it was back there. Flat-tow is probably the easiest to work with, and you can pack the toad without worrying about hitch weight. m
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Old 06-16-2012, 08:28 PM   #13
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Thought I would bump and review this thread because I had a thought...

When I was replacing the fuel filler and vent hoses I noticed something...

All along the rear of the frame rails there are these "Captive bolts".
Righthand one in this shot..



This is a pic looking from the rear of the drivers side chassis rail.
There are 4 of them each side at about 24" centers from the



I was wondering if bolting a secondary rail to these, and welding/bolting that to the endframe in this pic...


The wheel frames are going bye-bye, but I will use the deeper frame to strengthen and add to the tow hitch.
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Old 06-17-2012, 03:33 PM   #14
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I was informed that the rating of 2000 LB isn't referring to the hitch capacity only, and beefing up the hitch doesn't increase the hauling capacity for the MH. The 2000lbs is related to the total weight capacity for MH's suspension,brakes,and overall construction that it can haul safely according to the manufacturer.That what JC told me when I was there.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gloran View Post
I was informed that the rating of 2000 LB isn't referring to the hitch capacity only, and beefing up the hitch doesn't increase the hauling capacity for the MH. The 2000lbs is related to the total weight capacity for MH's suspension,brakes,and overall construction that it can haul safely according to the manufacturer.That what JC told me when I was there.
I do not disagree with what you say, and fully respect your comment, opinion, and that of the factory at that time!


But the hitch is a known to be weak, the rear chassis rails and gas tank protection is suspect.
Many others have beefed it up and towed without issues from what I read.
Trailer and Toad braking technology has improved hugely since 1984, as has friction materials for stock brakes. I am planning an upgrade in rotors/pads and cooling.
My Jasper engine also makes at least 70hp and 100ft/lb tq more than stock. The transmission is rebuilt, and the cooler I plan to add will further cushion any additional load in the future.

I fully plan to beef the frame back there as part of a "Holistic" approach to some of the issues I see.

I am open to opinions on my plan still!
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Old 06-18-2012, 04:01 AM   #16
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Yep. beef it...I watched my first toad spark, flame, and absolutely shower the roadside with an impressive array of fire that shut down IH 35 in both directions till the fires were extinguished...the brake system kicked in when it shouldn't have, and watching both front tires spit off and flame away was a pretty impressive view...this was just south of Waco, TX, it was summer time, and it was hot...I still get kinda shaky reliving it...
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:33 AM   #17
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Do you think my idea to use those captive bolts has merit?
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:56 AM   #18
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captive is good...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keyair View Post
Do you think my idea to use those captive bolts has merit?
Yep...m
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:01 AM   #19
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I would also recommend bracing...there is at least one thread which details the welding and bracing...since my mechanical abilities are limited to opening a beer, I had the work done, but the online pics made it a done deal for the welder...
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:28 AM   #20
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Yes, agreed mike, there will be welding and cross bracing.

My thinking went something like this...

Remove the junked wheel frames...


Bolt an H or I or square tube to the captive bolts, running at least as far forward and overlappingthe tapering chassis stiffener you can just see on the outboard(LH) side of the chassis rail in this pic...

At the rearward edge it will overlap and be welded to, the big chassis plate bolted to the rearward end seen here....


The new and modified tow hitch itself will be attached and braced to those plates.. and there will be proper casters to protect from grounding out.

Also want to protect the rear edge of the gas tank, and this will provide bracing between the LH and RH chassis legs.

Planning to chat to a Engineer buddy of mine about this once I have it sketched out, so he can advise on the balance of weight vs strength!

I want to leave the whole area between the rear of the gas tank and the tow hitch open, as I have plans for that area.... either I will move the Freshwater tank there, or more likely it will become a boxed in storage area with doors for those bulkier items like picnic tables and chairs, a ladder, etc.
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