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Old 02-17-2016, 07:34 PM   #1
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Advice for a new Airstream buyer

All,

We are getting an International Signature 27FB, going to be pulling it from a Chevy Silverado 1500, 5.3L V8 with towing package. Getting the electric brake and friction sway WDH installed. We have never pulled something like this so looking for tips on how to avoid trouble early on. Where do people practice turning, backing up, etc. Is it easier than I think it is?

Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2016, 07:40 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums.

Any big parking lot will do to practice backing up. Try placing both hands on the bottom of the steering wheel.

If you want the back bumper of the trailer to go to the right. Push your hands to the right. After that it is just learning the degree of steering input.

Just stay relaxed and enjoy.
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Old 02-17-2016, 07:45 PM   #3
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Big empty space. I back alone, so I practised with big bright cooler in back left corner of where I wanted to end up and aimed for that going very very very slow. If I started going wrong way I would stop pull up just a few feet and reset. Hand in bottom of steerung wheel.

In campgrounds, I get out and check surroundings, tree limbs, table firepit, cliff rocks, electric pole etc then aim to get that back left where it needs to end up. I am 62 year old female. If grandkids in car, they stay straped in until I unhitch, same with hitching up, straped in for safety.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:03 PM   #4
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Go to uhaul and rent a small trailer.

Go practice for a few hours towing straight and backing up. Then practice backing up to light poles, and between cars! Heck, go ahead and hit something!

Now when you go get your much larger trailer, with a MUCH easier backing feature, you will be comfortable.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:04 PM   #5
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One of the biggest and costliest mistakes when moving a trailer of any type, but especially Airstreams is not looking up.

If things look tight, always have a look at the space you wish to go into BEFORE you get there and look for low hanging obstructions such as eaves/soffits on buildings, low overhangs (especially around shopping malls, motels, drive through banking), branches etc etc.

More Airstreams have needed top panels replaced than I care to say. It can get very, very expensive, very quickly. Getting out and double checking with your own MarkI eye ball is cheap.

Above all else, don't let anyone rush you.

Cheers
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:21 PM   #6
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good advice.. and... helpful things on YouTube.. try this as example..

https://youtu.be/lzlOfBGr1i4
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Old 02-18-2016, 05:25 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone! Much appreciated, we are really looking forward to our airstream
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:08 AM   #8
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When using a park lot fir practice you can use the white lines as straight edges to learn to back straight. In a campground you can use your water hose or other markers to ensure you are backing where you want. Just stretch the hose out along the path you wish to back.
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:09 AM   #9
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Oh... Btw, never, ever be "comfortable"... Be competent... Try always to be "careful"...
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Old 02-18-2016, 10:40 AM   #10
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Backing

As slow as possible. Fast as necessary!
Get out and look! Learn to use your mirrors!
Put your tires where you want to go!
If you lose sight of the back of your trailer stop! Pull fwd.and start over.
Above all----use your eyes!

As slow as possible! !!! Don't be in a hurry.
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Old 02-18-2016, 10:58 AM   #11
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Make sure when turning you go a little wider. Use your tow vehicles side view mirrors to confirm your trailer tires are going to clear the curb or other obstructions.

When towing into a gas station be careful of the entrances. If they are too steep then find another station. Going in at an angle will reduce the chance of dragging your trailers back end too. Look for a pump on the outside islands and make sure you can make the turn getting out. Many stations when you pull in you are facing the convenience store entrance with cars parked in front. Keep the tow vehicle and trailer away from the pumps a couple more feet than when filling solo. That way if you have to turn your trailer will clear the island easier.

When you are hitched up at the campground ready to go double check all the connections. Is the hitch pin in the receiver, safety chains, electrical umbilical, safety cable, the tongue coupler locked, weight distribution safety pins in place. Take a walkaround the trailer before you pull out. Make sure all external doors are shut and locked. Is the inside prepared for travel. Make sure pantry is locked, vents down, television locked down.

Just don't get in a rush to get on the road.

Once you get the hang of everything it gets less stressful. However, don't be over confident, always perform the same checklist.

Have fun.

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Old 02-18-2016, 11:13 AM   #12
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I think everyone has made some good points to your backup question, especially never getting overly confident. You might want to invest in some traffic cones to take to a big parking lot to practice with. You can set up many different kinds of parking scenarios to practice with. Don't forget to practice with your co-pilot as well, we have used portable radios and hand signals in co-pilot involved parking ops. Another tool you might look into is back-up and side cameras for your AS. They are very effective in giving you situational awareness but nothing compares to a co-pilot/pilot's eyes-on so be careful with them. Good luck in your travels...
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Old 02-18-2016, 12:08 PM   #13
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Go to a Wal-Mart parking lot early in the morning lots of room to practice and a lot less people and cars to get in your way
That's how I taught my wife to back our boat down a loading ramp
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Old 02-18-2016, 12:51 PM   #14
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Watch the video. Use the GOAL method (Get Out And Look) before backing.
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Old 02-18-2016, 12:57 PM   #15
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Advice for a new Airstream buyer

Perhaps try to find out something about their parts and service depts. I purchased our 27 Ft. International from a dealer in Ms. and boy have we been disappointed in both departments. Those in charge of those departments are extremely rude and makes things so difficult to deal with. Just as you would do your homework on an auto dealer, you need to do the same on an Airstream dealer. Whatever you decide, the Airstream campers are fantastic. Happy Camping !
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Old 02-18-2016, 01:18 PM   #16
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If you have never pulled......go slow and learn. As a general rule, if you are uncomfortable - leave, slow down, or stop.

Watch the whole LOLOHO series of videos and any others that pop up. Watch the Colonial videos on your trailer model. Read all the manuals. Spend as long as you can with the trailer deliver walk through.

Your trailer hitch may not be correctly setup when you pick up the trailer. Read the tow vehicle and hitch threads that apply to your rig. Don't be scared, just informed.

Towing a trailer is not like driving a car. You need to actively drive the rig. You need to practice defensive driving and look for what might happen before it does.

The traffic cones are a great idea. I use them for a guide and also to show the spotter where I want to go. Some folks do not have a spotter. It is good practice to use one. However, you are responsible for where you drive and back. A spotter should not be the primary control on your backing, just a backup system. We saw a fellow at JC back about 3 ft and get out and check. Then he would back a few, 2-3 ft, more. That is not a bad plan. He learned to to it the hard way. There was a big bash in the rear of the trailer that he was at JC to have fixed. Don't let that happen to you. It can happen to all. We talked to a lady who is married to a truck driver. They had an older trailer that is narrow. They purchased a new 25 and guess what. It didn't fit beside the house the same. Eves tear up trailers. Look up as said before.

Look down too. Those tire treads that big trucks throw from time to time are a real hazard. Try not to follow trucks too close. You can't see the tread they just hit if you are too close. You can't see the chuck hole they just hit either. Ten miles an hour slower will lose you 80 miles a day. Might have to drive for another two hours or take an extra day to get there. Damage to the rig costs you a lot more in the end.

If the 27 has ST tires, they are likely limited to 65 mph. You may only drive 60 mph, but if you pass someone, you can get the speed up a bit in a hurry. You do move on when you pass, right. Also, if you travel long distances, that extra 10 mph kind of pulls at you. Driving over 65 builds up heat and shortens the life of an ST tire. Read the Marathon and Michelin threads. Don't be scared, be informed.

Wind has a different effect depending on the TV hitch and AS that you configure. Force projection works different from brake pad friction, cam or spring bar sway control. Worth reading those threads as well.

Sway and wind buffet are two different events. Learn the difference and what to do. In a sway condition, apply your trailer brakes. In a wind buffeting condition, do not over control. Slow down in 5 mph increments until you are comfortable with the result or stop for the night and get an early start in the morning. Wind often builds in the mid day period. We get caught trying to make some miles after it calms daown in the evening. Makes finding a good camping site a bit difficult when you get there after dark.

Daily distance is another challenge to consider. We watched a few videos of folks who traveled 200 miles and stopped for the night. In our car travel days, we often traveled 600-800 miles. That difference kind of concerned us. Consequently, we did a trial trip and found that we could easily make 400 miles in a reasonable day of travel. We calmed down a bit. Think of it as slow and steady does the trick. After all you are pulling your shell behind you.

Take a few shake down trips. A 2 hour drive, not too far away from the dealer is a good start. Then go for a days drive to a destination you like. Soon, it's vacation or road trip time.

Transition major cities in the non-commute hours. We would not have gotten through ST Louis without both of us paying close attention to directions, signs, and traffic. The trip North to South through Salt Lake was horrible around noon because of the truck traffic. The trip East to West after 6:00pm was no trouble at all. You have to take it the way it comes and stay calm. Try to travel early in the day to arrive at your campsite in daylight. Help other drivers when possible by slowing or moving over. Do not feel you must be in the curb lane. Often it is easier for entering cars to avoid you if you are one lane over. Somehow they just never see you and never step on it to get out of the way. Plan ahead, watch how the truckers drive. You can learn a lot, but beware of the one that keeps weaving. He may need a rest stop.

If the trailer drops off the pavement, do not jerk it back in to the lane. Trailer and TVs end up out of control and roll over when that happens. Slow down and wait for a place to safely pull back onto the pavement. Folks with more experience may have better advice on this one. You have to watch the transition on highway pullouts just like service stations. ASs like smooth pavement or very slow speeds.

Go down hills at a reduced rate of speed and maintain that speed with your brakes and at least one gear lower to provide some engine braking. Apply the brakes for a period of a few seconds and then back off them to allow cooling. Remember your trailer brakes are drums. If you brake to about 5 mph less than your target speed, you can release the brakes and let the rig gain speed until it is going faster than the target speed before you can apply the brakes again. Your trailer brakes may need adjustment to help with smooth transitions. Worth discussing when you pick up the rig from the dealer and read the threads. Makes for a lot of evening's entertainment.

My brother purchased a 1/5 ton, hooked it to a SOB, and used a clone brand hitch. He drives about 60, sometimes a bit slower when there is a head wind. He made it all the way to Maine from Montana and enjoyed the trip. You can too, just take it slow and drive the rig carefully.

Travel safe with your new AS. You will enjoy the smiles from the miles. Pat
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Old 02-18-2016, 01:38 PM   #17
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Try to back in on the left side. Sometimes you have to go around the loop and approach from a different direction but it's worth it.
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Old 02-18-2016, 07:09 PM   #18
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Check out the Scoop - (funny but really good). It on youtube -
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Old 02-18-2016, 07:49 PM   #19
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Backing in on left easier, but learn both so you are ready for anything. Relax and enjoy.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:33 PM   #20
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Get a rear view camera

We just got a wireless rear viewing camera. Helps not just when backing but also when driving.
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