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Old 01-28-2012, 09:09 PM   #1
New Member
1973 31' Sovereign
Jackson , Wyoming
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 2
Greetings from Wydaho

Finally ready to post something to the airforums after months, maybe years of following threads...

A few years ago we made a rather spontaneous purchase of a 1971 31' Soverign Land Yacht. Moved it to a friend's house to sit while we figured out what to do with it and eventually, two summers ago, moved it to our home near Jackson, WY.

The AS was completely gutted, only the vinyl walls remain, and new flooring was installed in the back half. It has a few minor dents on the exterior, but could probably be repaired fairly easily. Otherwise, everything else - the frame, brakes, tires, awning, etc. seem to be in good condition. We had no issues towing it 500 miles to our home from Denver.

We've added some carpet, and a hide-a-bed, and so far its only purpose has been a unique, private spot for guests stay when visiting. Now we're looking to travel and have some decisions to make.

(Not sure if the newbie thread is the best place to post these questions - but I'm hoping that maybe someone can point me in the right direction.)

First - Tow Vehicle - I have a 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser (with tow package). I've researched both the airforums and the toyota forums and can't find an answer to whether it would be reasonable to tow a mostly empty 31' AS (rather than a loaded model, which would weigh considerably more). I've tested it around the neighborhood and it feels ok, but don't want to invest in the controller, and getting the wiring sorted out if it is a really dumb idea.

I can't recall exactly the "Curb Weight" but it seems like it was less than 4k lbs. I would think that a gutted version would be significantly less... Correct?

Second - Keep or sell? Not really sure we're better off selling this one to someone who's looking for a restoration project and finding something a little more "ready to go" or just making a few more improvements (clean and paint the walls, repair the well covers, etc.) and then selling it down the road. (We don't want to put a ton of $$ into it if we're going to sell it anyway.) If we sold it, we were considering asking around $4,000. Reasonable?

Third - Are there any female forum members / AS owners with experience towing and handling a setup like this on the road? My other half travels overseas a few months each year and I would really like to be able to travel around solo. If I could do it with the AS (and Land Cruiser) then great, but I'm not sure if I would be better off buying a cheap self contained motor-home vs pulling the AS.

Fourth - In our neck of the woods, it is winter 6 months of the year, 10' snow drifts in the driveway, etc. Really tough to work on during this time of the year, and we're busy much of the summer. So again, with respect to the lack of motivation to do any more work on it, would it be "better" to try to sell it here - or tow it to AZ or NV where we could post it for sale and use it until it sells?

We just finished a 6 week trip living in a MB Sprinter Van (non-conversion), and we're getting ready to head out again soon, but this time I'd love to take the AS.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!!!

Photos attached.
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:42 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,601
Milamooski Welcome to the forums first of all.
Secondly I did a quick google search and a 95 land Cruiser can tow up to 3500 lbs. Your 71 Sovereign weighed 4840 lbs and probably still weighs close to 4000 lbs even empty. Most people recommend towing only to a max of 80% of capacity which would be 2800 lbs. The sov is too heavy to tow w/ the cruiser.

Now on to your question about a reasonable asking price. $4K is too high. An empty shell in good condition would probably sell for around $2k. Your 71 has no grey water tank for the waste water which detracts from it's value. I aslo suspect that you do indeed have some frame issues as can be seen by the large buckle in the shell just aft of the entry door. I can also see that the axles need replacing as they are sitting way to low and probably have no travel left in them. This will cause further damage to the shell.Sorry to burst your bubble but I call it as I see it. There are lots of 70's sovs for sale and most folk prefer the smaller units so the value is not as much aswould be for a smaller unit.

Female forum members I can't help you with, but if you find some let me know I'd like to meet them as well. LOL.

Tow it to where you like and sell it, it's your call as it won't change it's value.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:00 PM   #3
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1973 31' Sovereign
Jackson , Wyoming
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 2
Thanks for the great input! Much appreciated...

As far as the tow capacity for the Land Crusier, I've googled and checked several forums and found that a LC with a stock Tow Package (which mine appears to be - but I'm not sure exactly how to know this for sure) can handle up to 6k (I think - maybe it was 5k). Also, mine appears to have an added transmission cooler as well. (I'm a little foggy on my info b/c I did this research initially a few months ago, before we decided to hit the road with the Sprinter instead of the AS.)

However - since I'm asking - I'm obviously not confident that it would be ok if I'm missing something here with respect to the tow capacity ratings. I'm more concerned about the size/length of the AS compared to the LC. Does size matter if the AS weighs less than the tow capacity?

As far as the images go, after looking at the side view I posted with the awning, I'm guessing that the "large buckle in the shell just aft of the entry door" must be a shadow or something. There's no buckle in the side. I've attached a different side view showing no buckle. (Thank you for pointing that out!)

I also wonder if you're referring to the shot with the AS on the Land Cruiser. The hitch on the LC was too high when we took that shot and needed to be adjusted. But we were just dinking around with moving it around the yard so we didn't bother to make any changes. I've had a couple of friends check it out for damage and no one has pointed out axle issues. So, hoping that was just an effect of the photo. I'll have to check it out when there's a little less snow on the ground again.

Thanks for the input on the pricing. Good to know what the going rate is these days.

Again - I really appreciate your input and thoughts on all this. I think I'll leave it here for the rest of the winter and hope to sell it when the snow melts.

Maybe I can find someone willing to rent theirs out for a month or two while I'm traveling in the SW...

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Old 01-31-2012, 12:12 AM   #4
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Sonoma/Napa Wine Country , Northern California
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 59
Hi Mila-
Welcome to the often overwhelming world of Air Forums. I can't speak to all of your queries, but I can tell you that there's a whole bunch of gals here towing & traveling solo. I frequently take ours out without Mr.Man & when I'm a real glutton for punishment I pile several gregarious kids in the car too. There's also several clubs for just that, such as Sisters on the Fly.

As for the state & road worthiness concerns of yours - stick with your gut, which sounds like it's telling you NO... Or go prepare for some major mechanics bills to get it fully road worthy (not only for you but the others in your path.) This reality is what slowly lured me away from my refurbishment dreams (along with little to no free time, where I wanted to be home tinkering instead of out adventuring.)

As for renting one a little more modern/safe on an as needed basis (that's a great option!) there are a few out there-we rent out an International Bambi out of the SF Bay Area. There's another few in S. CA, there's more retro ones near the Grand Canyon & on an island off Seattle and if memory serves FL?

Pleasant Travels!
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:33 AM   #5
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1967 20' Globetrotter
denver , Colorado
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Posts: 153
Hi Mila -

I'm a female that travels solo and I've had no problem! I hook it up solo, do most of my own maintenance and repairs and have had a great time. I do get funny looks though in most RV parks! Traveling alone should be no problem.

Me personally, I would not travel with that tow combination. Especially in Wyoming. Traveling safely should be your primary goal.

As a lot of members here can attest, a renovation of an old Airstream is a huge project. It's one that will take both time and money. I renovated a much smaller trailer and I have 15K invested in it in just materials. This doesn't include my labor. So if you're jonesing to hit the open road, a more complete trailer may be in your future.

Good luck in whatever you decide!

BTW, I am planning on traveling up to Jackson this summer. Maybe I'll see ya out there.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:30 PM   #6
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1967 22' Safari
Jackson , Wyoming
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Mila, I live in Jackson and would love to connect / camp this spring (which means May here, right?) I tow by myself as often as with DH and love it. Come see my setup anytime!
Poverty with a view in Jackson Hole
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:54 AM   #7
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Try towing with the sprinter, it has a towing rate of 5000 pounds and probably the diesel engine. MPG would be better andyoucould carry lots of stuff. longer wheelbase and a more stable base for towing. jim
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:24 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by zigzagguzzi View Post
Try towing with the sprinter, it has a towing rate of 5000 pounds and probably the diesel engine. MPG would be better andyoucould carry lots of stuff. longer wheelbase and a more stable base for towing. jim
Late-model Sprinters (Mercedes Benz) come standard with a 6-cylinfer 3-liter turbo-diesel. Earlier models (Dodge or Freightliner) has a standard 5-cylinder diesel, but 6-cylinder might have been an option. I'm not aware of any Sprinters with a gasoline engine, but that doesn't mean there aren't any.

Apologies for the long-winded explanation that follows: I'm an engineer and can't help but explain things…
Towing capacity on any vehicle is determined by several factors: First and most obvious is the capacity of the hitch receiver. Even if the tow vehicle had a nominal towing capacity of 6000 pounds, if you only mounted a 3500-pound capacity receiver on it, your towing capacity would be 3500 pounds.
Second, Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). That's total weight of the trailer and tow vehicle. So, if you subtract actual loaded weight of the tow vehicle from GCWR, that leaves you with the maximum trailer weight you can tow. Third is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. That's the maximum allowable loaded weight of the tow vehicle by itself. Here's the tricky part. You have to add the trailer tongue weight to the load when comparing actual weight to GVWR, because trailer tongue weight adds load to the tow vehicle's suspension and tires. For well-balanced trailers, tongue weight is typically about 10% of the trailer weight; for poorly-balanced trailers it may be more or less than that. NOTE: You can usually find GVWR and GCWR on the driver's side door or the door post, near the door latch.

Hope this helps take out some of the guesswork.
I thought getting old would take longer!
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Old 02-16-2012, 06:32 AM   #9
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1989 29' Excella
1979 31' Sovereign
1999 25' Safari
Youngsville , North Carolina
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 326
IMHO to try and tow a 31' with NO BRAKES is a accident waiting to happen. You might get away with it for a short tow but the TV brakes will overheat and potentialy glaze the pads. At that point you will be trying to steer a 50' long 8000# projectile. You must get a controller and have the brakes on AS working, its the law in most states when towing more than 3000#. And don't forget a breakaway switch. Don't let your desire to hit the open road make you blind to the danger to yourself or someone else.
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:35 PM   #10
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1962 19' Globetrotter
Winchester , Ontario
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 251
Welcome Mila, Oh, but that trailer has potential!!
All the replies are spot-on. WasagaChris mentioned the axles, so many folks have had to do theirs, '71 was a long time ago, more than forty years, yikes.
I have a diesel Jeep with the same engine as the Sprinter and my Jeep has a GCWR of 12,200lbs or 7,000kg. Do you have a quarry or gravel pit close by where you can weigh your rig? Just bat the old eyelashes and wear a tanktop, works for me, oops did I type that out loud?
Smaller AS's are more popular for doing lots of travelling but I have seen some big rigs that regularly hit the road.
Good luck with all your endeavors!
TV: 2007 Jeep GC Laredo diesel
Toy: 1995 Jeep YJ
Experience is what you get from not having it when you needed it.
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