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Old 12-31-2002, 07:53 PM   #1
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Brand new to this; need logistics advice

First, thank you all. I've learned more in the last couple of weeks, having found this site, than in the last 5-6 months I've been seriously thinking of scratching my lifelong vintage Airstream itch. Countless questions have already been answered, but this one needs a tailored reply.

I'm considering a '67 Overlander which currently lives in Illinois. Almost Wisconsin. I've never towed so much as a bicycle. Nor have I driven more than about five times on snow or ice.

My dilemma is: should I drive out there (1182.86 miles door-to-door, according to Map Blast) through the potential wintery weather and my complete cluelessness, to benefit from the experience of the journey and the previous owner? Or should I take the more conservative (though much less gratifying) approach and have it somehow brought to me in Texas?

Then, if it isn't the smartest thing for me to attempt the transport by myself, does anybody have specific suggestions for how I can get it here? Cost? Speed? And then how I can learn to operate all the systems without the previous-owner-tutorial??

MANY thanks in advance for the wonderful advice I know you will give!

VERY excited,
Holly
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:32 PM   #2
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What do you have for a tow vehicle? How much time to get back?

John
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:36 PM   #3
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Well Holly the first thing I'd do is go meet John Irwin and buy him a steak. I'd try to get him to help with a check list. I'd plot the trip home with all kinds of people,dealers, tow companies etc to call if necessary. I'd ask the owner if they had ever been on one of the discussion groups, and review their posts if so.I'd ask anything and everything that came to mind of anyone and everyone who might know, with NO hesitation or embarassment. I'd also explore the purchase possibilities closer to home. Chas of this list just picked up a Overlander in or near Austin for an excellent price. Heck I'd even try to talk John in going along for the ride.
I would think twice about anything less than the International.
For a long trip home the running gear and tires must be of first priority. Where a crosstown or nearby purchase allows you to concentrate on interior systems and save running gear for later or a bit at a time. Lots to think about.
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:39 PM   #4
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Ya know, I realized that I'd left the all-important tow vehicle ID out just as I hit the button.
I've just acquired a '91 Suburban, but I don't know much about it beyond that. (I read in some other thread someone asking for a VIN which could give specifics on a GMC van and am hoping there's a website somewhere I can look mine up. Haven't got a clue about rear axle ratios...if that's the proper term.)

Time is not an issue. My kids are both in high school, completely self-sufficient, and I'm not punching a clock these days.
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:47 PM   #5
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How about the hitch on the Suburban, you will need a brake contoller. You need good brakes, and bearings on the trailer, especially if you never towed. Do you know if these work? How about tires?

John
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:49 PM   #6
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I've been really glad to see all the Texas neighbors on here. I'm pretty sure I just missed out on that other Overlander due to stupidity 'cause I've been on the lookout.

And there's another '68 for sale here, but the thing I'm keen on is the dinette layout. (At least I think that's what you call it - I'm really unfamiliar with all the language yet.) This one in Illinois is just a peach and I've sorta fallen for it.

For instance, what do you mean by "less than an international?" Does that refer to the tow vehicle or the trailer?

Thanks for the suggestions - I've been asking many more (and more intelligent) questions since I've found you guys. (I cringe when I think about the one I almost bought a couple of months ago...)
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:58 PM   #7
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I don't have the hitch as yet. I know I need the brakes, and I need new tires. All sage wisdom and suggestions welcome. I've been reading about tire size and the relationship to tow power but I'm thinking I need to find out more about my specific vehicle before getting much deeper into that, right?

I'd also like to know if anybody around here has recommendations for mechanics do do all this tow-vehicle-fixing - is my regular Joe Mechanic likely to be able to help me get my Suburban safe and ready?
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Old 12-31-2002, 09:05 PM   #8
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Oh I shouldn't have said that about the International. because I am not positive about my theory, and I have no experience with the 60s models. But I feel the LandYacht series (which has been described here
as the basic or lowest series)is less desirable in the cases where the grey water tank is located below the blackwater tank. If I'm correct this gives an elevated platform on which the commode sits.
Now I'm sure this gives a lofty view,but I suspect the tanks positions will be a continuing problem to repair or troubleshoot.
The International series in the mid 70's appears to have a different drain layout. Please disregard my personal opinion.
They are all the finest on the road if taken care of.
BTW are you planning to travel with it or use it for a studio or such?
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Old 12-31-2002, 09:13 PM   #9
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Nononooooo! This is exactly the kind of stuff I've yearned for. I've only had pictures and some descriptions to go by, and I'm frankly terrified to make the plunge without knowing more.

Do tell??!! I thought it was just the size that mattered. Any waste-related advice will be extremely helpful. All I know is you definitely want greywater and some of the single axles with rear baths sag a little.

What else??!!
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Old 12-31-2002, 09:14 PM   #10
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As to the tires I would be sure to get tires of not only the proper size but also the proper load range as well.

From a standpoint of tow rig setup you may want to contact a loacl RV dealre and have them go over your Suburban. Based on the tow weight of the Airstream you plan to tow they should be able to reccomend what you need to make the vehicle work properly. I would reccomend that you talk to the service manager not the sales guys.

You may also get a suggestion from one of your Forum neighbors as to a reputable shop in your area.

The VIN decoder I mentioned is usally in the service manual for your vehicle. Another option is to stop by a Cheverolet dealer with the VIN and ask them if they can decode it for you.

VIN DECODER

Here is a decoder I found on the web, but I do not know if it will work for your Burb. I also see on this decoder that rear axle ratio is not part of the VIN. It is on the Ford VIN. You may need to look for a build tag and get the info off of it.
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Old 12-31-2002, 09:30 PM   #11
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Danger Will Robinson Danger danger

If you have never towed anything that big ,
and you are talking snow and ice,
then you are just asking for trouble.

Throw in that you have not seen it yet, but will probably buy it anyway "since I drove all this way"

Airstreams are not RARE , they are for sale all over the place and there are lots of them in Texas.

Unless there is something VERY special about this one , I would at least wait until the weather was better.
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Old 01-01-2003, 12:41 AM   #12
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Neighbor

Since hex kind of nominated me, I'm right here in Hays County, as close as your phone, and would be glad to talk to you. I don't like to put my phone number on the forum, so I'll PM you with it.
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Old 01-01-2003, 12:51 AM   #13
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But don't forget he nominated you with a steak dinner!

(I myself will do almost anything for a good ribeye.)
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Old 01-01-2003, 01:03 AM   #14
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Hex ~

60's models, International models or not, didn't have grey water tanks. They weren't introduced until '73. Also, the Land Yacht wasn't so much the "lowest series" as the International package had the "Eddie Bauer-type" upgrades that we see today in cars...extras, but just a matter of choice as to whether they are "desirable" or not.

Shari

P.S. Good luck Holly in whatever you decide to do & welcome to the forums!
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Old 01-01-2003, 01:30 AM   #15
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I knew about the greywater thing, but I understand they're not that difficult to retrofit. Plus it seems like that one thing wouldn't be a real show-stopper, like no A/C in Texas would. Am I being naive?

Can somebody run me down a quick hierarchy of trim lines or something? If they still made the same models it'd be easy to go price them and figure that out, but I haven't had much luck finding a guide or anything. I'm not really even sure what an International _is_. (I've seen that mentioned with the Overlander and the Tradewind I think..haven't I?) If anybody has some secret tome of known lemons or something, it'd be real cool to see.

Shari, maybe you'll share with me your secret wealth of cool upholstery fabrics? I've sorta been fantasizing about taking a class at the local community college. I tend to like doing everything my own self...

Thanks!
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Old 01-01-2003, 04:20 AM   #16
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Brand new to this; need logistics advice

Greetings Holly!

You can find the information about the differential ratio in your Suburban by checking for the option code placquard that is typically found in the glove box. Once you have found this information, contact your local GMC/Chevrolet dealer and ask him/her if they can help you determine what towing options were included on your Suburban.

If the Suburban is a C/K 1500 series, ideally, you would hope to find at least a 3.73 differential ratio to have adequate capacity for your intended Overlander - - this is assuming a later model Suburban where the largest gasoline engine available in the C/K 1500 was the 5.7 liter (350 c.i. V8). If it isn't present, your Suburban will definitely need an auxiliary transmission oil cooler - - this was part of the factory Trailer Towing Package. In addition to the trailer wiring and hitch that you mention, you will also want to consider supplemental towing mirrors as the stock mirrors on most later Suburbans simply will not give you enough reach for safe towing. There are a number of slip-on, clamp-on, or permanently installed auxiliary mirrors available in a wide range of costs - - my personal choice are the McKesh clamp-ons, but they are at the high end of the cost range. As a novice to towing, I would also suggest that you might want to consider a sway control unit such as Reese's Dual Cam system for a little insurance for those difficult situations.

The Overlander that you are considering isn't vastly different from the one that I have owned for the past eight years. You will likely find that the empty weight of the trailer is approximately 4,900 pounds with a fully loaded weight approaching 6,000 pounds. The far Northern Illinois location would indicate that the coach may have been exposed to road salt if it has been towed to any great extenet during the Winter. This is not reason to discount the coach - - it is just an indicator that the visible portions of the frame should be checked for significant rust damage - - expect surface rust but when tapped lightly with a hammer, the metal should be sound. My coach spent much of its recent life (past 15 years) in Northern Illinois/Southwest Wisconsin and it hasn't suffered any rust damage on the frame.

In checking out the coach, you will want to pay particular attention to the condition of the floor especially around the perimeter and near exterior doors and hatches. If you find soft spots, many can be repaired with epoxy preparations so long as the area isn't too large - - if large soft areas or holes are found, floor repair/replacement can become quite expensive. The only item that is somewhat unique to this era coach are the Corning windows - - these curved, tempered glass units are very difficult to replace if broken or damaged - - most owners choose to replace broken or damaged Corning windows with either Lexan or Plexiglass. Other items on the coach are tried and true systems that would simply need to be checked for functionality. The coach in question is in the middle to end of the production sequence for its design - - the newly revised coaches would be introduced in 1969 so there aren't any particular bugs to the coach in general other than the issue of the Corning windows.

As with any Vintage coach, you will want to determine if there is substantial evidence that the tires on the coach are less than five years old and are of the correct capacity and design (ST) for trailer towing. In addition, the brakes should be fully checked out and adjusted as part of the wheel bearing repack - - an especially important step for towing in Winter as you want to be sure that the brakes are functioning uniformly if you encounter slippery surfaces.

If all proves to be what you are looking for, towing in the Winter can be something of a challenge but is not totally impossible. Extra time should be allowed for lay-overs due to Winter storms. I would not encourage a novice to consider towing if ice is expected on the roadways - - at most, a two day lay-over will usually allow for main roads to be cleared for safe towing. Keeping an eye on the Weather channels will allow you to choose a window of good weather to make the trip. My suggestion would be to allow at least three-times as much time for your return trip with the trailer as with the Suburban solo to allow for the possibility of running into inclement weather. So far this Winter, we have had very little precipitation of any kind in Northwestern Illinois - - but we have had three Winter Storms in the past four weeks in Southern Illinois that would have made travel with a trailer ill-advised for a day or two at a time.

Good luck with your decision.

Kevin
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Old 01-01-2003, 05:06 AM   #17
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Thanks so much, Kevin. I'll say it again: you guys are incredible.

I've been wary of coastal area trailers because of the rust, but I hadn't even thought of the north-ish winter salt factor! I think I better go up there and look at this baby in person, whether or not I plan to tow it back. I don't mind restoring the interior, but I want all the structural stuff to be rock solid.

The owner says the tires are new, but I didn't even ask about the glass. My thinking has been that I want Corning windows, but now I can't decide whether it's that important if they're that hard to replace.

If there's any chance at all of ice or snow I will wait until Spring to pull. I'm a single mom and I'll want to get back home!

Mainly I'm wanting this to be a fun place for camping around Texas and the Southwest, and a retreat where I can get away and finish the book I'm trying to write. It will also be a piece of functional art (my favorite kind) for me to mess with.

I guess I'm still wondering which trailer I'll be happiest with (she said, as she drifted off-topic...) My favorite interiors have almost all had the dinette layout, but my first thought was to go smaller, say 20-25'. I haven't found anything that really jazzes me in my price range (without gotchas) until this one.

So all information, opinions, advice, stories from the trences are eagerly awaited.

Happy New Year!!!

Holly
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:34 AM   #18
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4521red

Forget what hex said about the steak. I'll happily talk Airstreams with anyone, anytime, for nothing at all.

If you go with a well prepared tow vehicle and are prepared to wait out bad weather at any point, I don't see winter as a big problem. Traffic is usually lighter and, with no need for AC, your tow vehicle has it a bit easier.

The key is being able and willing to stop when the weather is threatening and before conditions deteriorate. Go with a good cell phone and a list of numbers where you can get road condition information.

Pick service stations and motels that have plenty of room so that you never have to maneuver in close quarters until you are more experienced at towing.

Keep your gas tank above half full so that you are never faced with having to enter a station you aren't prepared to handle (I have a friend who just gouged a brand new Safari because she got into a gas station she should never have entered).

Tow at about 55; fast enough that you aren't a traffic impediment ans slow enough to not exceed your abilities. Swing wide on corners; remember that the trailer turns inside of the tow vehicle. Those signs on 18-wheelers saying they make wide turns are there for a good reason.

With an older, narrower, trailer, I think a good set of slip-on mirrors are all you need. I use slip-ons with my 8' wide International and need nothing more. Point your regular mirrors to see traffic close to you and beside you. Point the towing mirrors to see back along the trailer to traffic further back.

I have friends who tow 34 footers with Suburbans. WIth any decent equalizer hitch and sway control, you should have all the stability you need.
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:37 AM   #19
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Wow!

I just noticed while double checking my spelling in that last post that it was my 1000th post on this forum.
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:46 AM   #20
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You're the #1 post-er on the site. You must've been at this Airstream thing for a while to have so much good info to impart!

Thanks again.
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