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Old 08-02-2002, 07:12 AM   #1
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New Owner

Hello everyone

I have spent quite a few days browsing and reading the posts around here. I have to say, that this is one of the best boards out there. I have certainly gleaned alot of info from the posts and links here.

This week I purchased a 79 Airstream Ambassador Land Yacht that was in pretty amazing condition. I plan on using it to stay in when I travel from Philadelphia to Redmond, WA for my consulting gigs. As well as for those weekend trips when I get the opportunity.

Anyone around here from the Seattle area? I have places from KOA listed that are possible stays at - but interested in other not necessarily 'main attraction' sites. I will be up in the Redmond area for anywhere from 2-5 weeks. Then on the way back going to travel south down Pacific Coast Highway and across the country the long way so I can hit places like Moab, Co, and other Jeep off-road places.

I am a big Jeep fanatic. Not one of those gun toting, beer guzzling, driving over cars and trees because I can fanatics - just love Jeeps and their history - and the ability they give me to get to places off the beaten path.

So thats my first post in a nutshell.
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Old 08-02-2002, 04:18 PM   #2
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New Airstream owner

Hi Jody
Welcome to the Airstream world. I'm sure that you are going to enjoy your new Airstream.
You didn't mention how long it is. I hope that it is a small one, and I'll tell you why.
Jeep vehicles are not recognized as a good choice for a towing trailers, because of their short wheelbase.
Even with a perefect hitch set-up, you will probably experience some white-knuckle situations when the wind and the passing semi-trucks make you wish that you had a tow vehicle with a longer wheelbase.
Your rig may work OK on short trips around home, but I would give it some thought before I went cross country with a long trailer and a short wheelbase tow vehicle.
Check around and see what other experienced campers have to say.
Again, welcome to the fraternity of Airstream owners.

Cliff in Indiana
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Old 08-02-2002, 04:43 PM   #3
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Agreed. I question the Jeep

Cliff, I'm glad you posted that comment. I had been ruminating over doing the same thing.

This is one situation where I think the big dollar hitches such as the Hensley would be more than worthwhile.

I also wonder what the relation is between the max tow capacity of the Jeep and the loaded weight of the trailer. I'm a big fan of not towing anything more than 75% of the manufacturer's tow rating. There is some mighty high ground between PA and Washington states that has to be climbed. I would be more than hesitant to use a Jeep with my under 5000# International on a trip like that.
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Old 08-02-2002, 04:58 PM   #4
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We have a Jeep (6cyl. 4.0L) and it struggles here in Colorado with towing our 19' GlobeTrotter...the tow rating is stated to be over 5000lbs for our Jeep and our trailer only weighs 2850lbs (dry). We thought it would be fine...HUH!?! Not even! The altitude really takes a toll on the available power or lack there of! Some mountain passes we crawl up at only 35-40mph. We have since been told, that at this altitude you should really only tow 50% of the manufacturer's tow rating...and always use preminum gas.

I know the Grand Cherokee has a V8 so it's probably better suited, however, isn't an Ambassador in the 29' range? I would agree that the wheelbase-to-trailer ratio would seem a bit "off" if that's the set-up, regardless of the tow rating.

Shari

BTW - We will be buying a new tow vehicle by next season
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Old 08-02-2002, 05:05 PM   #5
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Shari,
Since towing vehicles have been discussed many times on the forum, have you decided what you want to tow your 19' GlobeTrotter around the hills(?) of Colorado?
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Old 08-02-2002, 06:18 PM   #6
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Right now we are thinking it's going to be in the Surburban/Tahoe family. 4WD will be definite, but we won't be buying a brand new one.

We really haven't researched it much yet, so we're still somewhat undecided. There are a lot more Suburbans out there than Tahoes, but we don't need anything that big since it's just the two of us.

It'll probably come down to a $$$ vs year vs size thing. Being newly self employed, we can't always just go out & order-up exactly what we want...oh darn!

It's kinda like my Rob's grandfather used to say when asked what size shoes he wore..."I wear an eight, but a nine feels so good I'll buy a ten!" Same with our next tow vehicle...
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Old 08-02-2002, 09:26 PM   #7
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Shari,
I pulled out my Chevy 2000 trailering guide and it says that the 2000 Tahoe has a weight-carrying hitch limit of 5,000 lb. trailer and 600 lb. tongue wt. A weight-distributing hitch and sway control is required over 5,000 lb. trailer weight. The K1500 4X4 with Vortec 4800 V8 requires a 3.73 rear end ratio with max. trailer wt. of 6,800 and 4.10 with max. trailer wt. of 7,800 lbs. The Vortec 5300 requires 3.73 with max. trailer wt. of 7,800 lbs. and 4.10 with 8,800 max. trailer wt. By contrast, the Tahoe Z71 with 5.7 liter is rated to tow 6,600 lbs. max. trailer wt. with 3.73 rear end.

It looks like the 5.3 V8 is stronger than my old '92 5.7 liter Z71 even though I haven't wanted to admit it. Improved engine technology has helped the 5.3 so that it can handle your 2850 dry wt. and fully loaded GlobeTrotter without problem. The Z82 Heavy Duty Trailering Equipment Package is definately worth getting. I'm like you, why get a Suburban if you may not use seating capacity and extra storage? Sure, towing may be just a little smoother but the 4 door Tahoe should do it fine. The big question is whether to go 3.73 or 4.10. I guess it would depend how steep the mountains are and how much towing you would do.

The 5.3 doesn't get the mileage your current Jeep gets or the Grand Cherokee probably gets but the comfort and safety is so much higher with the larger platform of the Tahoe.
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Old 08-02-2002, 11:25 PM   #8
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Thanks Craig...I'll tuck this away for reference when we are ready to start shopping


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Old 08-03-2002, 03:07 PM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback

I have read quite extensively the posts on towing. I am having installed all of the right gear such as the stabilzers, weight distribution, etc... My Grand is not your off the lot variety. Having an addictive hobby such as offroading has meant I have spent quite a bit of time and effort upgrading practically every component of the vehicle.

Shari, one thing you might consider is doing a air intake modification. There is a K&N kit that replaces the stock air box with a cone shape filter that allows greater air flow - it does make a difference when going uphill. If you have a cherokee - a better and somewhat more costly conversion that works REALLY well is a ARB Snorkle. Typically a snorkle is used for treading water, in places where there is alot of dust - but for highway it has what is similiar to a RAM AIR induction effect. It increases fuel economy as well as a bit on power. (www.arbusa.com).

Another modification I made was swapping out my stock exhaust for a complete "free-flow" system. Without a trailer last year at high altitudes - I was basically crawling at 55 but after the change-over - I simply flew through mountains with minimal effort.

I also have a heavy duty non-stock suspension, and modified wheelbase, and run 32X11.5's... Yes, I am probably pushing it a bit with the 29' Ambassador - but the only way for me to see if it works and how it will tow will be to do it. I don't plan on being a speed demon cross country - and will most likely drive at night.

Thanks for the warm welcome - and please do not take any offense to the reply here. Not discounting everyone's experience - and I do agree that with most stock cherokee's with most of what was written - just I do not have your typical next door neighbors grand
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Old 08-03-2002, 05:39 PM   #10
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Thanks for the modification suggestions Jody...but we need a new car anyway This is just another excuse to get one! It sounds like you have analyzed your needs, please post how everything works out...

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Old 08-03-2002, 09:50 PM   #11
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Jody,
Good to have you as a new member. Now that you have made a number of performance enhancements, what have you done to your brake system to enhance its stopping ability?
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Old 08-04-2002, 09:58 AM   #12
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Talking

Put a very big E-brake on it (kidding) - having my brakes upgraded this week for it. Everything done so far with the purchase I have with safety first in mind.

New auxiliary transmission cooler being installed as well. Jeep Cherokees even with their "towing package" have the tranny cooler inside the radiator - so the addition of the aux should help keep the heat down to a minimum...

I also have the trailer in for new tires, shocks, as well as having the brakes on the trailer overhauled. Not exactly an inexpensive project but I think well worth it and all the advice in the forum posted from everyone here have been excellent -

Will post on how the journey goes. Hopefully my homework was done correctly and the additional mods make the experience pleasurable and safe... But will post the good, the bad, and the ugly as well as pictures once it all begins...
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Old 08-05-2002, 11:25 AM   #13
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Jody,
Summitt Racing also offers a fan for aux. trans. and oil coolers.
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Old 08-05-2002, 10:24 PM   #14
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That is a great looking Jeep... or should I say that is a BAD looking Jeep.

One thing that seems in order, to me, would be to make certain that loading of your Jeep is done to keep the center of gravity VERY low and toward the front of the vehicle.

I didn't notice, did you put a skid pan on your Jeep, an auxilary fuel tank, or a front winch... ? All of these would be helpful, perhaps a VERY heavy skid plate too; to keep the weight lower and farther forward for more stability while that trailer is trying to toss you around.

What do YOU think, am I being overly cautious here? On my little CJ, years ago, I found it a lot more "polite" in difficult situations because I put a very heavy (350 lb.) thick metal skid plate under the tranny and engine and the full width of the frame rails. It could be brought down from the frame easily, with a floor jack and four heavy bolts when I wanted to get behind it, but it made the jeep a joy to ride all the time, gave it better traction, better braking and better cornering as well as a better ride over all types of terrain. Just a thought.
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Old 08-06-2002, 10:12 PM   #15
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insideout,

Just some helpful info on pre-2000 suburbans.
k1500 suburbans with 350cc and factory towing package have 3.73 rears. Be careful that it doesn't have an after market hitch, because it probably has the 3.42 rears. I think you have to move up to the k2500 to get the 4.10 rears.

my '99 K1500 suburban 4X4 with a 350 (5.7) and a 3.73 ratio has a max trailer weight listing of 6,500 Ibs.

hopes this helps

Dave
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Old 08-06-2002, 11:20 PM   #16
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Thanks, good info ~

Although I don't know what all that means technically, Mr. InsideOut does...

I appreciate all the info & will post what we end-up getting...but not before asking more questions when the shopping time gets closer....

Thanks again!

Shari
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Old 08-12-2002, 08:31 AM   #17
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So much for planned out ideas

Well, I did state I would update the progress...and ended up scrapping the Cherokee tow idea... definately way too much trailer for the rig. So traded in my Wrangler and picked up a Ford F350 Diesel Powerstrokes... rated at 19,000 lbs towing capacity. Lucky for me - it already has a class 5 hitch and every trailer wiring adapter except the one I need! lol

The good news is that all the weight distribution stuff I got was easily transferred A Bright spot to everything. But the Cherokee did fine on flat areas - even the braking was ok - however even the slightest incline - it simply struggled. So think this time - I got the right tow vehicle for the trailer and am now departing for Seattle... Thanks for all the inputs - had to try

So off to the great northwest!
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Old 08-12-2002, 08:39 AM   #18
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Jody ~

Sorry to hear that your Grand Cherokee didn't work much better than our Cherokee...glad we aren't the only ones to believe the towing rating stated "on paper".

Sounds like you got a new set-up that'll do the trick! Have fun on your journey to the NorthWest...

Shari
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Old 08-22-2002, 01:09 AM   #19
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Update

Update from Seattle:

Left Philadelphia towing the Airstream behind the new to me F350. Was kinda annoyed that the trailer seemed to be lurching going along some backroads to by pass the numerous tolls. Stopped, adjusted the weight distribution - everything golden - handling went from "I feel the AirStream" to "don't feel a thing".

Only incident - lost one of the hub caps - which I am presuming was becuase when I had the tires replaced - I didn't bother to check to see if they were put back on snugly.

Hit South Dakota - on Sat - wind is incredible but the trailer stays straight. Pull over and stay at a campground. Meanwhile - Tornadoe warnings in effect and since everything was flat - crawled into the trailer and slept it out.

Hit the real test - the Cascades... Never skipped a beat... Made to Seattle, where a RVer was stranded on the side. Pull over and discovered they hadf had a blow out on brand new Goodyear tires. The tire had destroyed the wheelhouse and surrounding areas of the 5th wheel trailer. So I spend the next hour rewiring their electric brakes and trailer lights.... The amazing thing is they had been there for well over 2 hours and not a single person had stopped to help - and there were dozens of RV's just whipping through...

So found a campground in Falls City. Did the hook-ups. Had a water leak under the sink. the plastic fitting joining tht e cold water from the sink to the supply line had cracked. Fixed that. Now have a problem with the grey water leaking at the rear when the aux tank is 1/2 full... looks like the gasket has a pinhole leak in it where it comes out of the trailer... no idea how to fix that at the moment... and the Battery doesn't seem to hold a 12 volt charge - which means I would imagine a replacement is in order.

So in the meantime - everything else is running fine and I started doing some interior renovation. Currently have replaced the front counch mattress with a full size coil sprung mattress. Its a little larger than the orginal but I find the comfort outweights the extra bulge. I also started taking down the old cloth covered decor pieces and recovering them in vinyl. Will post some pictures up for anyone interested a bit later.

Ironically I didn't see a single Airstream until once I got through Montana. At the park - there are three Airstreams - mine being the only 70's style. One really beautiful Soverign is here that is polished to marine inspection standard. The first day there I saw a one of the Airstream motorhomes - had to take a double look at it - it was painted in various shades of lavenders - looked really neat and definately a custom job....

So thats the report from Seattle after the cross country trip...
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Old 08-22-2002, 01:45 AM   #20
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Glad to hear things seem to be running pretty smoothly...not bad for a first trip Anxious to see pix of your maiden voyage & remodeling efforts ~

Travel safely & keep the shiny side up!

Shari
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