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Old 09-10-2006, 02:29 AM   #1
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Found it! How do I get it home?

Hi all---this is actually a reintroduction. We have been looking for several months and I have read a LOT on this forum in the meantime. This weekend we had the chance to buy a 1969 Overlander, and we jumped! We drove 9 hrs round trip today to look at it and hand over some cash.

It needs a lot of work, but the chassis appears structurally sound and looks watertight. We plan to put it on our property this fall, where we are building our dream house. It will be an office and a place to camp. AFTER the house is done, we plan to start a long, relaxing (ha!) renovation, and eventually will find a TV that can pull it comfortably.

But now we need to get it home to clear out the cobwebs and make it into an office/camper. It is about 200 miles away. One tire is blown and the other 3 are looking sort of crackly. Seller says the brake lights don't work, and I am guessing the brakes themselves are also not working. It has a 7-pin umbilical. The sellers bought it a year or two ago and managed to tow it about 75 miles home---the tire blew out on the way. They didn't mention any issues with brakes.

As for a tow vehicle, my '04 Dakota is too small to tow it, and my '68 F100 won't make it 200 miles away! I have thus far been unsuccessful at finding an appropriate truck to rent, although I may be able to borrow a friend's truck (and hopefully the friend as well). I also talked to a local pro driver who will go get it and bring it back for about $600, IF it is in good towable condition first.

Trouble is, it really isn't in safe towable condition right now, and I'm 200 miles away. I need to find a way to get it towable quickly (and not too expensively) for this one trip. I had a few ideas, all of which assume I can find a tow vehicle.

One idea is to tow the trailer first to a tire shop and replace at least 2 of the tires, pray for the brakes to work, and drive back roads home at 40mph. Considering the stories I have read on this forum, I am guessing this will not be the recommended option, but it is certainly the cheapest one.

I could also try to find an RV shop who will go pick it up and repair tires, brakes, and lights, but that seems like a lot of expensive effort for one trip.

Another idea is to pay to have the thing put on a flatbed car carrier and towed as cargo, or find one to rent and do it myself, and not worry about brakes or lights for now. I am leaning in this direction but not sure where to look for a flatbed trailer big enough for an Overlander.

I would dearly love to hear more options and advice, and I'm sure I will be wearing out my welcome in the coming weeks as we get the trailer ready for its first new life with us.

thanks to all

Jeff
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Old 09-10-2006, 04:07 AM   #2
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I was quoted $1.65 per mile?

You would need to put new tires on, check the brakes out and the 7 pin connector was working the the brakes and lights before it could go on the road.
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Old 09-10-2006, 06:20 AM   #3
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Here goes...

To get your trailer tow-worthy, here is a short list:
4 7.00x15LT tires, or 4 ST225/75R15 tires, both in load range D.
1 tub of wheel bearing grease.
1 12v test light.
1 cheap compass.
Assorted tools, like pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc.
1 roll of electrical tape.
1 4 way lug wrench.
1 2"x6" cut in two foot lengths
1 class 4 hitch with 2" receiver, weight distributing, 2 5/16" ball.
Weight distributing bars, weight rating will vary depending on what tow vehicle you come up with.
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Old 09-10-2006, 08:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
To get your trailer tow-worthy, here is a short list:
4 7.00x15LT tires, or 4 ST225/75R15 tires, both in load range D. . . . 1 cheap compass . . . . Weight distributing bars, weight rating will vary depending on what tow vehicle you come up with.
I may be sorry, but I just have to ask, a compass??
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugarfoot
I may be sorry, but I just have to ask, a compass??
Yeah, I was wondering about that one too.
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugarfoot
I may be sorry, but I just have to ask, a compass??
No problem mon... I've tried to listen for the brakes actuating and have a little problem with that. If you hold a compass inboard of the wheels and up against the brake drum, a swing of the needle will confirm brake function when another person presses on the brake pedal inside the tow vehicle.

[on edit:] For any compass to swing you will have to have a brake controller installed in whatever tow vehicle is used. This is fairly easy to do before you go on the pick-up. One question -- which 7-pin connector does your trailer have? See: Airstream FAQs on this subject. You may already know that it is the 7-pin connector that is OEM on current day tow vehicles. Rewiring a new plug onto the trailer is pretty straightforward. The tire issue is quite a concern!
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
No problem mon... I've tried to listen for the brakes actuating and have a little problem with that. If you hold a compass inboard of the wheels and up against the brake drum, a swing of the needle will confirm brake function when another person presses on the brake pedal inside the tow vehicle.
Genious! Simple, easy & quick. I love this forum!
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Old 09-10-2006, 11:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
. . . If you hold a compass inboard of the wheels and up against the brake drum, a swing of the needle will confirm brake function when another person presses on the brake pedal inside the tow vehicle. . .
What an elegant solution! I thought maybe the compass had something to do with the "how do I get home" part.
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Old 09-10-2006, 12:12 PM   #9
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Thanks to all for the advice!

I'd love to just go do the repairs and then bring it home, but I'm guessing the repairs will take some time. With work and family obligations I need to get down there and back in one day, which is why I'm thinking of having a local RV shop take care of it. There is one only a couple of miles away from where the trailer is now. I'm going to call them and ask if they can tow it, and will ask them to quote a delivery charge as well.

Any thoughts on the car carrier vs. tow? Since towing is evidently so expensive in my neck of the woods, I'm thinking of springing for the car carrier and not spending money on the repairs for now.

BTW, I think one reason for the expense is that about the last 80 miles of the trip are on rural 2-lane mountain roads, so it takes a while. The guy quoted by the hour, not by the mile.

Great idea re the compass!
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Old 09-10-2006, 02:01 PM   #10
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Yellow pages...Trucking-heavy equipment haulers/movers. Check both ends of the proposed haul. See what happens.
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Old 09-10-2006, 02:07 PM   #11
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A Compass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
No problem mon... I've tried to listen for the brakes actuating and have a little problem with that. If you hold a compass inboard of the wheels and up against the brake drum, a swing of the needle will confirm brake function when another person presses on the brake pedal inside the tow vehicle.
I have GPS.

Will that work if I don't have a compass?
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Old 09-10-2006, 03:17 PM   #12
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I also just had a flash though, you could also try Mobile Home Movers in the YP's.
I'm not sure what size wheels they use but they've always got a bunch on the truck.... likely not too worried about brakes either.
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Old 09-10-2006, 03:49 PM   #13
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Good ideas all, thanks.

I have found a rental truck that I can use for about $200, which is definitely going to be the cheapest method. The current plan is to replace two of the tires and tow it myself, which I think I can do in one day if I get an early start. The trailer is in the SF bay area, and there are several tire shops and RV repair places within a few miles of its current location. Tires look like they will cost about $100 apiece for 225/75/15 load D and shouldn't take more than an hour to change out.

The truck is a medium-large moving van that is often used to haul heavy equipment, so I think it will be big enough! And they have temporary rear lights I can use as well.

The one issue I was worried about was brakes. However, this truck has a 4-prong wiring harness and doesn't have a brake controller. The guy at the yard says they have zero problems hauling tractors with it, so I'm not too worried, but will take it easy no matter what.

Any recommendations on towing the trailer? I was a teamster once upon a time and a bus driver as well, so I'm not completely green, but haven't done it for (ouch) more than 15 years, and never specifically towed a travel trailer before, just utility trailers & tandem rigs.
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Old 09-10-2006, 04:25 PM   #14
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Even better! Enterprise car rentals now have a truck division. I have a reservation for a pickup truck, either an F150 or F250, with tow package for $60/day, unlimited mileage. Plus it will probably have a brake controller, so I'll get the brakes examined when they replace the tires. I feel safer already.

Anyone have any experience with East Bay RV (Hardcastle RV) in Martinez, CA?

thanks
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Old 09-10-2006, 06:26 PM   #15
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I can't help but keep hearing you say "two tires." If the Overlander is a tandem axle as I suspect I would go ahead and replace all four tires at the same time. If they are checking then it's time to replace 'em. Tire blowouts do really expensive and ugly damage to AS aluminum! Ask me I know from first hand experience.
Once the trailer is in place you can cover or remove the tires for long term storage.
I was just in your neighborhood last month! Hope you're going up 101 to 20 to get the new AS home......
We drove 1 from Legget to the GG Bridge... Hope you have a safe trip back with your new prize.
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Old 09-11-2006, 02:15 AM   #16
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Thanks for the response! I was thinking of just changing two of the tires, but you're right, it is probably best to do all 4. These things really are just like airplanes, aren't they?

Glad to see visitors! But I'll be on hwy 128, it is longer but MUCH more sane than hwy 20. Couldn't even imagine hwy 1, except that I have been stuck behind other travelers there in the past. But no one takes that road to go quick. Come back anytime.

thanks again
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Old 09-14-2006, 12:20 AM   #17
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WELL, got 'er home in one piece, with one very long day. I rented the 3/4 ton pickup and bought a brake controller, and then ended up also buying a new ball hitch because I picked the wrong one at the rental place and didn't discover until I was at the seller's house 200 miles away. I did change all 4 tires before I left (with 225/75/R15 radials).

The tow went VERY smoothly, thanks in great part to advice from this forum. I promise not to disappear too quickly!
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Old 09-14-2006, 06:44 AM   #18
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Good job, kaulike! Sounds like you did all the right things. You must be relieved to have your own Airstream now safely in your possession. Now the fun begins. Don't forget to send pics.
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