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Old 12-20-2020, 01:00 PM   #1
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Ground Clearance on Airstream International

This is a general question about ground clearance, what to expect and what others have done.

I just picked up mu 1st Airstream, 2016 International 23FB. Picked it up from the dealer as they were going through it during the time it took for the payoff and title transfer. Everything went fine, towing it home behind my 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ. The dealer had me buy an extension that added +1" to the height of the hitch, (or a 2" drop)

When I arrived home to put the trailer to bed in my driveway I hit a small problem. Ground clearance. My street has a high crown since the city replaced the water main several years ago. This has create a rather large dip at the curb. Backing it in we were able to catch it just as the tanks in the back were about to hit. Pulled it back out, inverted the extension and ball to sit 2" lower and it backed in and again stopped as it looked like the spare tire may rub. A couple of boards in the gutter solved that and now it sits in the back of my driveway waiting for me to learn what it will do, what it won't and fairer weather. I will most likely just buy a 2nd extension and ball to use when traveling.

Has anyone else had any problems with ground clearance either home or when camping? and what have you done to minimize any problems besides a good spotter? What should I expect with large dips or washouts in the road?

Tim
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Old 12-20-2020, 01:28 PM   #2
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I was unable to back my FC30 into my driveway for the same reason. After a 3" lift kit was installed, I was able to get into my driveway without using my homemade 2x12 ramps.

Even though I don't take delivery of my Classic 33 until next month (hopefully!), I've already scheduled an appointment to have the 3" lift put on.
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Old 12-20-2020, 04:12 PM   #3
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I've not even brought home my Flying Cloud, it's still at the dealer: awnings have shipped, they'll be installing the awnings and the lift before I leave their lot. My driveway is one that I'd want that extra bit of help a lift can offer, too.
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Old 12-21-2020, 09:20 AM   #4
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There are a lot of threads about the lift kits. I have only seen posts where people love them (I have never seen a complaint).
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Old 12-21-2020, 11:27 AM   #5
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I spent most of yesterday evening reading through different threads on the lift kits. Looks like that will work well for what I need. I will need to do a bit more research to see if I need the Dexter or the Torflex kit.
Some threads talk about moving gas lines, others say they didn't have to. Guess there is only one way to find out.
Thank for pointing me in the right direction.
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Old 12-21-2020, 11:57 AM   #6
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Torflex is the Dexter name for the type of axles they make for most Airstreams. So it is probably appropriate to say that you are considering a lift kit for a Dexter Torflex axle.

Tim
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Old 12-21-2020, 02:10 PM   #7
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That is good to know
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Old 12-21-2020, 03:03 PM   #8
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My driveway has a pretty good dip right before the turn around in front of the garage. When I first brought our 25FB home it started to scrape pretty hard. I just took off the weight distribution bars and it did fine.
I have since added the 3” lift because it scraped at a few gas stations and a really rough road going into a CG in Wyoming.
The 23FB has the plumbing for emptying the tanks in back, behind the wheels. I never did scrape it, for the several years we owned the 23, but I was pretty careful that would be an expensive drag..
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Old 12-21-2020, 06:29 PM   #9
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The 2016 23’ models sit way too low.

3” lift kit was the solution for us. Also adding 15” wheels and tires is an additional bonus.
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Old 12-22-2020, 12:48 PM   #10
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I have found someone who does this locally and plan on taking it in after the 1st of the year. He will do 2",3" or 4" riser and I will talk to him about it when I take it in. For the price he is charging complete I won't even attempt it. Don't bounce around like I used to. Hopefully the price isn't per axle.

Have you found that you also need to raise your ball extension also? Currently mine is at 21 1/2" and rides a little high in the front unloaded.
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Old 12-22-2020, 01:57 PM   #11
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If you lift the trailer, it will tow differently. More wind resistance, more fuel, maybe more chance for sway. It seems better to change the driveway if possible. Bigger tires will add some height and it may be just enough. If the spare tire carrier is a problem, put the tire in the truck bed and remove the tire carrier.
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Old 12-22-2020, 02:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene;
If you lift the trailer, it will tow differently. More wind resistance, more fuel, maybe more chance for sway. It seems better to change the driveway if possible. Bigger tires will add some height and it may be just enough. If the spare tire carrier is a problem, put the tire in the truck bed and remove the tire carrier.
Have you lifted yours and what specific differences did you observe?

I have a lifted 30' using Dexter 2 7/8" lift kit and there was literally no measurable difference in towing whatsoever. Have put 1000s of miles before and after.
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Old 12-22-2020, 02:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene View Post
If you lift the trailer, it will tow differently. More wind resistance, more fuel, maybe more chance for sway. It seems better to change the driveway if possible. Bigger tires will add some height and it may be just enough. If the spare tire carrier is a problem, put the tire in the truck bed and remove the tire carrier.
In theory, some of this is factually correct.

In practice, this comment is complete rubbish. Simply adding 3 inches to a 10-foot rounded trailer is not enough change to meaningfully impact the abovementioned properties. Ignore this FUD. Some people just want to be "experts" without having walked the walk.

I measured exactly zero change in MPG before/after installation of my 3" lift. For the next 17,000 miles, there was no discernible change in how my rig handled. So, using real world data: no additional wind resistance, no additional chance for sway, and no additional fuel required.

Do your lift and live happily ever after.
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Old 12-22-2020, 03:43 PM   #14
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Actually the tire carrier only came into play after I had lowered the ball 3" to allow the rear plumbing and tanks to clear, thereby lowering the front end.

Replacing 100' of driveway isn't in the future, even though redoing the front 20' of the apron may work, the driveway is 70 years old and it doesn't solve the problem when camping or pulling in elsewhere. Plus it would be the most expensive.
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Old 12-22-2020, 04:06 PM   #15
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I have installed Dexter lift kits on our 19' Bambi and our 23FB and have towed thousands of miles including several trips to Canada, Washington, Oregon, Utah Arizona etc.

I believe I can honestly say that there is no adverse effects to the towing experience. In fact, the 23FB seems to tow much better with the lift kit. The Equalizer WD hitch was easier to dial in. Maybe the hitch was more in line with the receiver on the Tundra that made it feel more stable and balanced.

There is a lot of mass that rides low on the trailer, including fresh water and waste tanks, batteries, propane tanks, etc. My experience is that raising the body of the trailer 2 7/8 inches just does not have a noticeable adverse impact on towing.
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Old 12-23-2020, 01:09 AM   #16
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There is absolutely no discernible difference after installing a lift.

The only difference is you avoid frame damage from dragging the rear and front tire carrier.
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Old 12-23-2020, 04:13 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaybauman View Post
In theory, some of this is factually correct.

In practice, this comment is complete rubbish.
Glad it worked for you. The "theory" has been around for years in other threads, some long ago. I wonder if you agree bigger tires make for a higher trailer or driveways sometimes can be changed?

There are better ways to say the above quote such as: "Though it may make a difference, it didn't in my experience". But this is the internet....
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Old 12-23-2020, 05:13 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gene View Post
Glad it worked for you. The "theory" has been around for years in other threads, some long ago. I wonder if you agree bigger tires make for a higher trailer or driveways sometimes can be changed?

There are better ways to say the above quote such as: "Though it may make a difference, it didn't in my experience". But this is the internet....
Your attempt at summarizing my real-life, measured experiences with toothless trivialities would be humorous if it weren't so dangerous.

I have measured before/after lift fuel efficiency.
I have calculated the before/after delta frontal area for wind resistance impacts.
I have taken detailed measurements of tire pressure/temperature before/after to see if the tires are working any harder.
I have pulled several times thorough windy West Texas before/after, making formal note of handling characteristics.

While some engineering calculations may predict there should be an impact of lifting a 10' trailer by 3", it just doesn't pan out in reality: The signal to noise ratio is just too small; the impacts cannot be measured or felt. While it is true I haven't had any negative consequence from lifting my trailer, I can confidently attest that the physics just don't support anything negative happening. No quantity of opinionated alchemist statements can change the reality of physics.

In case you're wondering, yes I did analyze these things to a high degree of confidence. I am confident in my estimates and my measured experience. The scientific method is a powerful tool when used appropriately, and the Engineering PhD parchment having on my office wall attests to the fact that I am competent in designing, conducting, and analyzing such experiments.

Until you have real data to share, please keep your opinionated musings to the "Off Topics" forum.
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:45 PM   #19
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get a 3" lift kit

we have it on our AS. the next AS we get , will get a lift kit also
worth every penny
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Old 12-24-2020, 04:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaybauman View Post
Your attempt at summarizing my real-life, measured experiences with toothless trivialities would be humorous if it weren't so dangerous.

I have measured before/after lift fuel efficiency.
I have calculated the before/after delta frontal area for wind resistance impacts.
I have taken detailed measurements of tire pressure/temperature before/after to see if the tires are working any harder.
I have pulled several times thorough windy West Texas before/after, making formal note of handling characteristics.

While some engineering calculations may predict there should be an impact of lifting a 10' trailer by 3", it just doesn't pan out in reality: The signal to noise ratio is just too small; the impacts cannot be measured or felt. While it is true I haven't had any negative consequence from lifting my trailer, I can confidently attest that the physics just don't support anything negative happening. No quantity of opinionated alchemist statements can change the reality of physics.

In case you're wondering, yes I did analyze these things to a high degree of confidence. I am confident in my estimates and my measured experience. The scientific method is a powerful tool when used appropriately, and the Engineering PhD parchment having on my office wall attests to the fact that I am competent in designing, conducting, and analyzing such experiments.

Until you have real data to share, please keep your opinionated musings to the "Off Topics" forum.
Dear Mr. Brilliant: maybe you have a PhD, but you have little knowledge of people or how to communicate.
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