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Old 10-31-2020, 02:18 PM   #1
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Technology Face Off

I have been enjoying these forums for years and realize that thousands of folks read these postings and keep up with the different issues about AS trailers. However I have never read a definitive posting concerning technology and safety and the AS.
Let me start this thread by saying that I am talking about what is possible in 2020 and what is not being done by the AS manufacturer, technology-wise. And it is NOT my purpose with this post to be argumentative or to spawn disagreements. I just want to open the conversation so that maybe---maybe---AS will pick up the mantle and run with it thereby providing everyone with a better, safer more comfortable towing experience.
My first car was 1958 Triumph that took over 4 turns lock to lock on the steering, had drum brakes and a tractor transmission. For the next 20 years all of my cars made tiny little steps toward safer and better driving, adding disc brakes in the late 1960’s along with safety belts. Over the next 20 years we finally came to the use of computer components to add a new dimension of safety including anti-lock brakes and traction control, among many other safety advances like proportional braking and sway/traction control.
My latest car has those features along with radar and a sophisticated computer that tracks activity from all 4 wheels, including angle, speed and location and this computer analyzes my input and then adjusts the balance of the far for braking or cornering, regardless of my mistakes. I can fly into a corner and the further I turn the wheel the further the car slows down if it recognizes that I am exceeding what it can handle on any given radius. It also has multiple cameras.
This model is 2013 Mercedes.
Fast forward to 2020 and let’s look a new AS---any model.
When did AS introduce disc brakes? 2018---and of course they came with a premium, as though the company is doing you a favor.
But wait! What about all the inexpensive technology that could save lives every year that is not included and still cannot be bought?
Why hasn’t AS installed an onboard computer with sensors that collect info about speed, angle, braking, location, load, stress and etc.? The cost cannot be an excuse as a computer that can fly you to the moon is under $100. And these sensors are cheap. Less than $20 for any of them. Yet none of this technology has been included and we continue to buy AS technology that is like my first cars in the 1960’s. Old, manual and out of date.

I am just asking that maybe its time for this community to come together as a group and demand that AS provide this technology that will incredibly increase the safety of TT’s and provide a much more comfortable driving experience with the possible elimination of any white knuckle experiences. This technology also can currently be applied to tell the owner exactly how his TT and TV are set up, what they weigh and if they are attached correctly.
For those of you who have bought any of the new Trucks, you know about some of this technology. The difference between towing with a 2000 Dodge or Ford and a 2020 Dodge or Ford is worlds apart.

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Old 10-31-2020, 02:50 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labans View Post
I have been enjoying these forums for years and realize that thousands of folks read these postings and keep up with the different issues about AS trailers. However I have never read a definitive posting concerning technology and safety and the AS.
Let me start this thread by saying that I am talking about what is possible in 2020 and what is not being done by the AS manufacturer, technology-wise. And it is NOT my purpose with this post to be argumentative or to spawn disagreements. I just want to open the conversation so that maybe---maybe---AS will pick up the mantle and run with it thereby providing everyone with a better, safer more comfortable towing experience.
My first car was 1958 Triumph that took over 4 turns lock to lock on the steering, had drum brakes and a tractor transmission. For the next 20 years all of my cars made tiny little steps toward safer and better driving, adding disc brakes in the late 1960’s along with safety belts. Over the next 20 years we finally came to the use of computer components to add a new dimension of safety including anti-lock brakes and traction control, among many other safety advances like proportional braking and sway/traction control.
My latest car has those features along with radar and a sophisticated computer that tracks activity from all 4 wheels, including angle, speed and location and this computer analyzes my input and then adjusts the balance of the far for braking or cornering, regardless of my mistakes. I can fly into a corner and the further I turn the wheel the further the car slows down if it recognizes that I am exceeding what it can handle on any given radius. It also has multiple cameras.
This model is 2013 Mercedes.
Fast forward to 2020 and let’s look a new AS---any model.
When did AS introduce disc brakes? 2018---and of course they came with a premium, as though the company is doing you a favor.
But wait! What about all the inexpensive technology that could save lives every year that is not included and still cannot be bought?
Why hasn’t AS installed an onboard computer with sensors that collect info about speed, angle, braking, location, load, stress and etc.? The cost cannot be an excuse as a computer that can fly you to the moon is under $100. And these sensors are cheap. Less than $20 for any of them. Yet none of this technology has been included and we continue to buy AS technology that is like my first cars in the 1960’s. Old, manual and out of date.

I am just asking that maybe its time for this community to come together as a group and demand that AS provide this technology that will incredibly increase the safety of TT’s and provide a much more comfortable driving experience with the possible elimination of any white knuckle experiences. This technology also can currently be applied to tell the owner exactly how his TT and TV are set up, what they weigh and if they are attached correctly.
For those of you who have bought any of the new Trucks, you know about some of this technology. The difference between towing with a 2000 Dodge or Ford and a 2020 Dodge or Ford is worlds apart.

<Moderator removed word processor junk>
If you have been following this Forum for "years", you may remember AS has reached out with the Customer Advisory council in the last year or so? We all have given "input" from time to time for sure......in fact, it happens all the time here on the Forum! Technology often seems so "obvious", to many of us, but this is a large business and making a change to incorporate the latest technology, sometimes is not as easy and obvious if you have purchased parts for a few year build process to keep pricing down, sometimes is more costly then it looks...take for example, the ATT WiFi plan a few years ago...many of us were so excited, and jumped on that bandwagon...it was latest industry leading technology, or many of us thought (including AS); only to find out ATT dropped the "Unlimited AS Plan", and the hardware technology was out of date pretty quickly by other wifi manufacturers offering a better widget...anyway, think we all wish what your asking for...technology is always changing.
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Old 10-31-2020, 03:11 PM   #3
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Actually disc brakes were offered from Airstream many years ago but there were issues with the brake controller. I switched our 2014 31 Classic to disc brakes in 2014. Tuson now has an expensive kit to convert to ABS disc brakes.

We converted to a Truma instant on water heater that uses only propane. We converted our stove to the newer Italian designed Dometic CU-434 stove with oven. We got rid of the ammonia based Dometic refrigerator for a Vitifrigo freon based DAN Foss compressor that can run on either 120Vac or 12Vdc.

The wiz-bang computer controlled, awnings, bed tilt, power awnings, stabilizers, and table lifts along with a loop for hot water heating are great if they work. After the legally required seven years, if that computer dies, good luck getting a replacement.

Both of our current Airstreams lack those computer devices and we burn a few calories putting the awnings in and out and raising or lowering the stabilizers. Our furnace can be serviced from outside the trailer, not like the new ones that require removal of the cabinet that encloses the furnace to service the furnace.

All this computer controlled equipment in a moving earthquake leads one to think of planned obsolescence. A used 2020 Airstream in 2015 with no warranty could be a real money pit for repairs if one can find a qualified repair facility. Just saying.....
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Old 11-01-2020, 04:43 PM   #4
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Technology

Good points about the technology mess.
I am thinking only about the safety of the TT. We know that the latest trucks have a LOT of built in safety technology that does not go out of date quickly and substantially adds to driving experience. So just talking about using the current available technology to get the AS up to date.
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Old 11-01-2020, 04:53 PM   #5
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AS Tech

Gypsy Dad----
Sorry I missed AS talking about technology. I guess I read selectively and missed it!
I really believe that company owners/directors are driven by money primarily so I understand the reluctance to update. However, the technology I am referring to is already over 10 years old and the supply manufacturers have been able to keep up with the truck business with no problems, not to mention what the European market it doing so I am convinced that the problem is that AS has not planned ahead nor looked directly into what it would take to adopt this safety technology to TT's.

A quick note about ATT---our family had over 80 years of ATT service. ATT began a melt-down in the '90's when their monopoly was threatened. We began to see dishonest service, billing and low quality products beginning in the 2000's. In the last 20 years I have tracked their business model carefully and I can tell you that their primary goal is to screw every customer. Are there good people there? Yes. And you can get resolutions to problems but they are far and away the worst company to get involved with under any circumstances. You will get cheated. Just as you got cheated.
But once again, I am focused on the safety aspects only---Yaw, Pitch, porpoising, anti-lock disc brakes, millisecond monitoring of all aspects of the TT in relation to the TV etc. It is not expensive but requires a team of folks who are aware of what is already being used and how to apply it.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:55 PM   #6
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With all of the posts about cabinets, sinks, and refrigerators falling off, not to mention power awning controller boards left rattling around loose underneath plumbing, I'm not sure I'd have much faith in higher levels of technology from them ..especially if that technology did anything to control the brakes. Complexity is the enemy of reliability -so sez this luddite!
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labans View Post
Gypsy Dad----
Sorry I missed AS talking about technology. I guess I read selectively and missed it!
I really believe that company owners/directors are driven by money primarily so I understand the reluctance to update. However, the technology I am referring to is already over 10 years old and the supply manufacturers have been able to keep up with the truck business with no problems, not to mention what the European market it doing so I am convinced that the problem is that AS has not planned ahead nor looked directly into what it would take to adopt this safety technology to TT's.

A quick note about ATT---our family had over 80 years of ATT service. ATT began a melt-down in the '90's when their monopoly was threatened. We began to see dishonest service, billing and low quality products beginning in the 2000's. In the last 20 years I have tracked their business model carefully and I can tell you that their primary goal is to screw every customer. Are there good people there? Yes. And you can get resolutions to problems but they are far and away the worst company to get involved with under any circumstances. You will get cheated. Just as you got cheated.
But once again, I am focused on the safety aspects only---Yaw, Pitch, porpoising, anti-lock disc brakes, millisecond monitoring of all aspects of the TT in relation to the TV etc. It is not expensive but requires a team of folks who are aware of what is already being used and how to apply it.
I am an ATT victim also...40+ years, and I still fight most months when I get my bill over something...now it's the Direct TV which their folks still don't quite understand, but thats another thread! I have been involved in the latest technologies since I got back from Vietnam...worked with major vendors before they were major vendors, like Intel, Fairchild, Qualcomm, etc...I remember selling leading edge technology and being frustrated at how hard it was to convince management to invest in change, so it's not just AS...AS makes lots of money with their existing technology, right? As for Yaw, Pitch, proposing, anti-lock brakes, etc..AS does a reasonable job with existing technology, IMHO...show me a mainstream travel trailer who does a better job and makes more money??

My good friend invested in a new 2020 Lance 28' last year with all the bells including nice slide dinning area, auto leveling, auto awning, all season package, entertainment center outside, electric fireplace inside, etc...They spent several weeks traveling with us last year starting here in Austin, then to Rockport in February; then on to Tetons in Wyoming and then to Glacier over the summer, they decided they liked the simplicity of our AS and how it handled on the road vs theirs which rocked with the wind and semi's passing.
(He had a new loaded 1500 Denali.) His wife started noticing how simple our AS was to set up/take down when at campsites; and how open it looks inside with the big windows... When they got back to CA in early Aug, they ordered a new 28' FC Twin for themselves, along with a new Denali 3/4T diesel rig..."the glass is half full", right? My point is, AS may not have the latest technology, but what they offer is pretty darn good compared to competition...so I think you have 3 choices: 1) you can do what many of us do...modify yours with new bells/whistles the way you want. 2) get SOB with all the tech mods you think make it better. and decide if it is as good as you thought. 3) enjoy life with what's out there...we chose 1 & 3...we did 2 once between 25' AS 1 & 25' AS 2...then went to 25' AS 3, and now have 28' AS 4...still have my eye on that 30' Classic with that cool couch...perhaps AS 4...after all, the Classic has all the latest bells...or so I am told?
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:43 AM   #8
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Be careful what you wish for....Let's demand the 'tech' they already have attempted is working well before asking for more.
"TECH" bouncing around in a trailer can be problematic.
Especially when it ends up on the floor.🥴

Build it well first, then start adding the HT stuff.

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Old 11-02-2020, 12:44 PM   #9
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DJB75
You make the best point! I am always stunned when I read postings from folks who just bought a new AS and have a myriad of problems that should never have happened. When you look at the auto industry where some of the manufacturers churn out nearly a million cars a year it just boggles the mind why and how AS can be building such bad example. They can do better---the Japanese taught us that years ago when Toyota took over the market with cars that just didn't break down and WERE NOT delivered with any problems. Wake Up AS!!!
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Old 11-02-2020, 12:49 PM   #10
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Robert Cross:
I totally agree that the idea is "scary" at best.
But the technology I am talking about has to be well-embedded, just like the computer in the car you own. For the applications I am talking about there would not be a way for them to ever be bouncing around or become detached, no matter the circumstances short of a crash. And as I have said, this technology has already been proven reliable and robust over decades now and just works! AS can apply it---they just need some smart people and hard work. If they did do what I suggest, they would immediately corner the market, assuming they did not up the prices which is unlikely. But everyone else would have to follow and it would be a mad rush for all to catch up. Everyone would benefit greatly.
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Old 11-02-2020, 01:11 PM   #11
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Experience is based on one trailer only, a 2007 model and 10 yrs of ownership.

I'm glad my trailer is not overly tech based.

For me that means individual components each with it's own functionality, diagnostics, maintenance and servicing. Granted each major appliance does have some sort of control board and system, but it is not integrated into a master system. And I'm glad it's not. These systems are so common that an aftermarket has grown around them, like Dinosaur boards. The chance of obsolesce is IMHO reduced as opposed to a possible short lived app based master system. I'll take an on / off switch or simplicity over complexity on my trailer any day over a "system" for controlling my lights.

And I'll leave it like that, comments only based on first hand experience for a 2007 model.

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Old 11-02-2020, 02:39 PM   #12
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I am certainly no technophobe. Just ask my wife!

Despite that, every time we are underway with our 2002 19' (bought new), I am so very happy that nothing is integrated and all is simple. We have kept the bimetal thermostat for the furnace, the refrigerator switches manually from gas to 110v, the lights have simple switches, the AC has a couple of knobs to turn, and the water heater turns on and off with a switch as does the water pump. Something goes wrong, I know what and where it is.

The automotive systems are in, as pointed out, millions of cars and development costs are amortized over those millions of vehicles. We ride in our tow vehicle and not in the moving Airstream. Sway is mechanically controlled with our Hensley hitch. I can see in the tow vehicle's mirrors if the trailer is misbehaving. I will admit, anti-lock brakes would be nice.

Tim
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Old 11-02-2020, 04:07 PM   #13
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Tim A - we're of a like mind. My truck has crank-up windows and manual front hubs. If something goes wrong, I have a fighting chance of being able to diagnose and fix the problem. My wife's car? Not so much - everything is computerized and the most I'm going to get is a cryptic error code. The only thing I have a shot at fixing is a "Door Ajar" message!
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Old 11-02-2020, 05:40 PM   #14
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Tim A - we're of a like mind. My truck has crank-up windows and manual front hubs. If something goes wrong, I have a fighting chance of being able to diagnose and fix the problem. My wife's car? Not so much - everything is computerized and the most I'm going to get is a cryptic error code. The only thing I have a shot at fixing is a "Door Ajar" message!
He-he-he. I agree. The big difference between autos and trailers is that you can find decent auto service techs almost anywhere. Low tech for a trailer is better because all too frequently you may be hundreds of miles from.a qualified RV tech.
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Old 11-02-2020, 05:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCinSC2 View Post
Experience is based on one trailer only, a 2007 model and 10 yrs of ownership.

I'm glad my trailer is not overly tech based.

For me that means individual components each with it's own functionality, diagnostics, maintenance and servicing. Granted each major appliance does have some sort of control board and system, but it is not integrated into a master system. And I'm glad it's not. These systems are so common that an aftermarket has grown around them, like Dinosaur boards. The chance of obsolesce is IMHO reduced as opposed to a possible short lived app based master system. I'll take an on / off switch or simplicity over complexity on my trailer any day over a "system" for controlling my lights.

And I'll leave it like that, comments only based on first hand experience for a 2007 model.

Gary
Ditto. 2007 and 10 years ownership.
Btw, my oem disc brakes still have original actuator, pads, rotors and calipers. 51k on the hubometer.
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Old 11-02-2020, 06:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labans View Post
Robert Cross:
I totally agree that the idea is "scary" at best.
But the technology I am talking about has to be well-embedded, just like the computer in the car you own. For the applications I am talking about there would not be a way for them to ever be bouncing around or become detached, no matter the circumstances short of a crash. And as I have said, this technology has already been proven reliable and robust over decades now and just works! AS can apply it---they just need some smart people and hard work. If they did do what I suggest, they would immediately corner the market, assuming they did not up the prices which is unlikely. But everyone else would have to follow and it would be a mad rush for all to catch up. Everyone would benefit greatly.
Another TETO subject...
We use "Cloudsplitter" to leave behind what little 'hi-tech' we have at home.
After-all my 'smart phone' is still in the third semester of second grade.

5g Is a Chinese plot. (not totally unrealistic)

Bob
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Old 11-02-2020, 07:59 PM   #17
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I'm no Ludite, but what's the point? A full blown integrated ECU with sensors every where to provide real time "telemetry" (I believe that's kinda the right word for what your suggesting) seems like a solution in search of a problem.

As pointed out, in modern car and trucks, some of this "telemetry" is used to adjust the response of the TV, to varying degrees. When this does happen, it's because the TV in question has active components that CAN be adjusted. Magnetic dampers, air suspension, adjustable electric steering, torque vectoring AWD, adjustable throttle mapping and so on and so on.

Many modern(ish) TV don't have any of this. My 2014 RAM has ABS and in tow mode it will adjust the shift points. Obviously an ECM handles the motor, but thats about it. Live axels on steel springs with gas shock absorbers.

Airstreams are riding on torsion axels from the '60s or so with a gas shocks. Most TT have leaf springs and no shocks. If an AS had all this "tech" to collect pitch and yaw and speed and all the rest of it, what would be done with data? Unless the AS was then upgraded with magnetic dampers, adjustable on the fly air suspension, 4 wheel independent breaking, electronic and variable sway and WD systems and so on, its just a bunch of data. Some love to geek out on data, I get that.

If all this tech were to be integrated with the TV, then, a whole new industry standard would have to be developed, tested and agreed upon, by both the auto (TV) industry as well as the major RV manufacturers. There still seem to TVs that don't have something as simple as proper 7 pin plugs.

Simple things like rear view cameras and TPMS certainly make sense, and maybe some sort of ABS might be nice, but not sure I see the point of the rest. But I've been wrong a lot!
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:34 PM   #18
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My thought on this is that you may not truly understand what you're asking for, nor would I believe it necessarily a good idea.

One has to ask, what value does such a device bring? Value to Airstream?

As one that is works in systems design, including aircraft systems which include diagnostic and prognostic telemetry capabilities...

Sometimes less is more. Complexity is a real problem for durability over time, perhaps when a cheap sensor falls out of spec. Nothing ages in a vehicle quicker than technology. Then there is a real possibility of false positives and false negatives even new and perfectly working that would open liability of such a system to Airstream, where previously they had no concern. Because of the endless variety of tow vehicle to trailer combinations, controlling variables for successful integration would be a forever customer service headache, again where there was none.

Seasoned tow-ers don't care for such a system as they tacitly understand and know when a trailer is stable.

So would this be for newbies? As an automated checklist? Because newbies rather rely on a quick fix rather than take the time to learn skills and best practices?

It's one of those ideas that may be good in theory but doesn't borne out in reality.
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Old 11-03-2020, 09:28 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labans View Post
Robert Cross:
I totally agree that the idea is "scary" at best.
But the technology I am talking about has to be well-embedded, just like the computer in the car you own. For the applications I am talking about there would not be a way for them to ever be bouncing around or become detached, no matter the circumstances short of a crash. And as I have said, this technology has already been proven reliable and robust over decades now and just works! AS can apply it---they just need some smart people and hard work. If they did do what I suggest, they would immediately corner the market, assuming they did not up the prices which is unlikely. But everyone else would have to follow and it would be a mad rush for all to catch up. Everyone would benefit greatly.
What is it that makes you think they haven't already "cornered the market"? Have you tried to find a new AS lately? Last couple years (even before Covid), AS has been the hotest TT out there many years now, for those who can afford it...Is it because their technology is the best? Is it because it's shinny? Is it because it tows better then other SOB's? Is it a status symbol? Is it the simplicity of the layout without slides to break? Could it be because that they last the longest due to build quality? Could be a little of all of those things...we the consumer are the issue...some of us are never satisfied and always complaining, right?
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Old 11-04-2020, 09:58 AM   #20
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Tech

Gypsy Dad----
I think I was using "corner the market" as a general phrase, not a specific action. I am not an expert in the modern TT's but some like Oliver seem to producing a very high quality product. I know the older TT's better---I owned a 1989 Silver Streak that was trouble free from the day it was delivered. It certainly put other TT's to shame in all respects. It is disappointing to hear the problems that AS owners of new TT's are having from the factory. But basically you are right in your remarks. I think it is pretty hard not to love an AS.
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