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Old 11-09-2008, 08:36 AM   #1
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copley , Ohio
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Dumb Newbie Questions !

Hi, wife and I are considering about a 26' Airstream to take to weekend sport events (about 3-4 day long trips). Ideally we'd be starting at our house, going straight to the event sites (which likely don't have RV hookups), and returning straight back to our house. We've never towed anything like this before!

Couple questions such long should I typically expect the electricity to last, LP gas to last, gray water to last, black water to last, etc without recharging/refilling any of it? Ball-park figure would be great, I realize it depends on exactly how much we use and exactly which model we get.

Also where/how do you fill up the various water tanks (garden hose?), and where do you empty those tanks??? I figured water tanks I can just drain at my house in the yard or wherever, but what about the black water???

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Old 11-09-2008, 08:47 AM   #2
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As far as the tank capacity, it depends on several things. It would help if you posted the year and model of the trailer. Different years have different sizes. Battery life depends on the number and condition of the battery(s), how many lights you leave on and if you use the furnace of the trailer. On a typical weekend (3 days), the only concern we have in our 75 trade Wind is the grey tank. It is very small and can only hold a couple of showers. My black tank is small as well and it will last about 5 days with the two of us.

Waste tanks should be emptied at a dump station. You can find them at campgrounds and some travel centers (truck stops).


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Old 11-09-2008, 08:56 AM   #3
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Propane will last quite a while. I have two thirty pound cylindars and one of those lasts me a couple of weeks, once it's empty I turn over to the other and go get the empty refilled. I'm living full time in my trailer, so my stove and oven gets used daily. Now that it is cooling off, I turn the furnace on low some nights or mornings. Once I start running the furnace all the time, I expect a cylindar will only last a few days. Also, my water heater runs on both propane and electricity, so since I'm plugged in all the time I just use it on electric to save propane. If you have access to you sanitary line at home, you can dump your tanks when you get home.
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Old 11-09-2008, 09:14 AM   #4
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Austin , Texas
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Ditto what Cam and the Labs said about propane and the furnace. I just finished up a two-month stay in the Tetons, and it turned really cold for the final weekend there. We fired up the furnace, and the two cylinders we had been using the entire time without refilling quickly ran down to near empty in two days.

So, my experience with LP gas is this…two full bottles should last at least a month with the water heater on, no furnace and occasional use of the oven and stove.

As for tanks, we seem to empty the gray every four days or so, even though we could probably go longer. The black seems to get full every week or so.
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Old 11-09-2008, 12:09 PM   #5
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Small Generator

I carry a very small generator (Honda 1000). It won't come close to running the A/C or any heavy use devices, but I have been known to plug in a small electric heater - running a heavy extension cord from the generator through the "garage door" and into my hallway - keeping the bedroom comfortable. Propane lasts a long time - until you turn your furnace on!

I also use the generator directly to recharge my batteries if needed. I also cook outside with charcoal much of the time, or use an electric skillet plugged into the generator if I'm in a hurry. Cooking odors in a very small place can really persist. In the great outdoors, gone in a flash.

I spend most of my time in campgrounds, and when I'm boondocking if I don't disconnect my tow vehicle, I do make sure to disconnect the electrical umbilical cord, because if you DO run your Airstream's batteries flat, then you automatically go to the car battery for more juice. BAD thing.

If you unit has a gray tank, it's really best to drain that at a dump station (lots of coffee grounds, grease from doing the dishes and all of the dead skin, hair products, etc. you wash off of yourself. As long as you have a sewer clean out in your yard, you can dump both gray and black down that. Most campgrounds will allow you to pull in and dump for a nominal fee $4 - $8.


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Old 11-09-2008, 03:10 PM   #6
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I would think you would be fine with a half ton truck or van. Make sure whaen you get your hitch installed and TV wired it will charge your batteries.
Black water makes great fertilizer. The tomatos get real big.
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Old 11-09-2008, 03:59 PM   #7
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Lots of different considerations here. For boondocking (no shore power, no water hookkup, no sewer hookup), there are two big considerations. First, tank size. General rule is gray water tank fills first, but this is real dependent upon how little water you can get by with in showering. If you can do a 2-3 gallon shower ... pretty easy with "submarine showers," then a 25-30 gal. gray tank will last two people for several days to nearly a week. Black water tank of the same size lasts a lot longer, esp. if you don't flush for overnight peeing or use a little squirt bottle to rinse the toilet instead of using the pump for a "full flush." BTW, this is one area in which Airstreams, due to their more compact size might not "measure up" to SOBs, which often have larger tanks ... and note that Airstreams themselves vary widely in tank sizes. Be SURE what you're buying. There's usually a label / tag inside the front wardrobe door that specifies the tankage on THAT trailer.

Second big consideration: electricity ... a two-battery rig obviously will run longer than a one-battery one. IF you are not running your furnace at night and IF you conserve lighting (esp. if you replace the standard bulbs with LED bulbs) and don't run a t.v. for hours, one battery ought to last (if it's in good condition and fully charged) for at least a couple of days. Two batteries, twice as long. Do consider the small generator route, as in a few hours, one of these little rigs will top off your batteris. Solar panels also help!

Water tank fill: yes, hose at home or at campgrounds. You can carry extra water in bladders or plastic jugs and add it to your fresh water tank if and as you run low.

Propane: 2 30# tanks will last a LONG time, again if not running your furnace. Dozens of days worth of cooking and hot water heating (esp. if you don't leave the water heater on all the time, just run it a bit before you do dishes, shower, etc.).

Dump tanks: lots of places. Go here: RV Dump Stations, Sani Stations, Dump Points; a comprehensive directory almost any commercial or state campground will let you dump for a small fee (like $5-$10), but there are also lots of free ones.

Good luck - welcome, and hope you get what you like and enjoy it. It's a fun way to travel!

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Old 11-09-2008, 05:36 PM   #8
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Thanks for the help all!

I'm guessing we'll rarely need heet (or at least very little) as most of the events we'd be going to are warmer weather (basically just need warm water). AC would of course be nice in the summer. Sounds like I might be able to get a couple days worth on the battery then. So if it does run out, can't I simply charge it by running the tow vehicle a while? Any idea how long it takes to charge? Thanks!
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Old 11-09-2008, 05:53 PM   #9
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The team gave you good advice.

What kind of "weekend" sporting events?

My advice to you is to read as much as you can about towing. Ask
some experienced people about towing. Here is a Cliff Notes version

1) use a check list when hooking up and unhooking
2) concentrate ( drive defensively )
3) anticipate ( driving slower helps )
4) no sudden stops ( especially in a turn )
5) no sudden lane changes ( you could start a sway situation )
6) take wide turns ( trailers take a short cut )
7) learn from other peoples mistakes
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Old 11-09-2008, 06:24 PM   #10
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I have been to many weekend sporting events.

Drag races both as spectator and competitor

In the middle of no where 4 wheeler riding
I have had as many as 10 people and made it a weekend thing. No hook ups.

Hunting for 7 days the week after thanksgiving down in millersburg, my 2 boys and I.

you can start you tow Vehicle and charge the batteries. You can carry those blue jugs from Kmart for extra water. You can hook up 2 batteries in series and run you blower in your heater for many many days without even turning on the tow vehicle or generator. These are just my first hand experiences
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Old 11-09-2008, 07:27 PM   #11
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Yes, if hooked up properly, you can charge batteries by running tow vehicle for a while, but it's likely to be a LONG while ... relatively low amperage wiring to trailer won't feed a lot of juice to the battery(ies). If you've got two batteries and they're really low, could take many hours to recharge. That's why the small generator is such a good option. And you don't want to let them "run out." Very hard on them to go below 50% charge level.

Go here for pretty good primer on living with 12v systems:
The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
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