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katzklaw 12-25-2006 10:53 PM

The adventure begins.... in more ways than one!
Hiya! and thank you for the warm welcome last week :flowers:

anyways. as i said, the adventure has just started for us. the super-short-condensed version of the story that led us to this point is... many months ago, hubby decided his job and life sucked, and since he was very handy, he wanted to get into the boom of "house flipping". the plan was, sell the house, buy an RV, find a likely-looking dump of a house, park said RV on the property, and go to town, so to speak... sell for a profit, and roll out and head to the next house... taking "road trip" vacations wherever we saw fit.

fast forward to last week... house sold, sold both junky cars and bought a '98 dodge ram 1500 with the 5.2 magnum V-8... intended as a work truck for the business. hubby had always been enamored of motor homes, so thats what we were looking at. we drove from NJ to FL to stay with my parents. (no hotel $$$ = good thing) after much looking around and thinking, hubby finally conceded that a trailer was actually a better move than a MH... but he hated the boxy look. lo-and-behold, i was surfing e-bay trying to find something... ANYTHING... and i ran across the airstream i posted in my first post in the intro section. HOLY CRAP the husband actually LIKES the "silver hot-dog" look! one click of "buy it now"... and 2 days later we were on our way to TN to collect our new trailer!

AFTER i had commited to buy, and even paid for half as a deposit, i checked the dodge out... and we totally lucked out. it had a factory installed heavy duty tow package... complete with the tranny cooler my dad recommended...reciever/ball combo, brake controller, and a simple plug-in wiring harness was all i needed to hit the road. so off we went (on an unrelated note, i also picked up a brand new 150cc scooter on the trip up... convinced hubby it would be much better for putting around town than the truck would be)

since i wasn't sure what kind of plug the trailer had, i didn't purchase an adaptor. i figured i could get something locally. well, we finally arrived just as darkness was falling and after a thorough personal inspection (it is, to say the least, awkward to purchase something you intend to LIVE in, with only pictures and someone elses description to guide you) we hitched up and set off... SLOWLY... down the road to the nearest autoparts store... no lights, no brakes, no nothin'... :blink: fortunatly, it was a short trip. BUT... i bought the only 7 pin to 6 pin adaptor that Advance Auto Parts had... and all my trailer lights came on just fine, but when i went to pull out... the trailer's brakes were locked! several frantic minutes later, the auto-parts guy says "Well... there is an Airstream dealer just down the road... I can call them and see if they have a different kind of adapter...?" holy crap. what luck! calls were made... 10 minutes to closing time. jump back in the truck and try to make our way thru 5pm city traffic on a trailer still without lights or brakes and arrive with 4 minutes to spare. plug in the adapter, and hallelujia! it WORKED! i hugged the guy, paid for my part, and we hit the road!

(now notice i havn't said a word about weight distributing hitches or sway control or any of that fancy stuff yet....) my hitch was rated (written right on it, in fact) at 500 tongue weight 5000 draw weight without a WD hitch, and i'd studied up and found out that the empty weight of an overlander was less than that, so i figured it would be... ok.... just enough to get it home.

we drove for several hours, and for being a rather old tired looking trailer, it towed quite well. i held steady at 55-60 mph with practically no undue vibration or sway... only the occasional shimmy when a semi would pass. we stopped in a truck stop to sleep the night... unfortunatly i wasn't brave enough to try to figure out how to light the furnace in an untested trailer, so we near froze our hineys off! but we spent the night in our "brand new" trailer, darnit! :lol:

after another full, if uneventful, day of travel, we finally arrived back in FL... only to have my dad try to back the trailer into his backyard and smack it into his gatepost, wrenching the already shaky entry stairs and breaking several slats out of the lower jalousie window. thanks dad. :rolleyes:

anyways. it came with an ancient hitch with some kind of WD or sway control.. or possibly both. i'll figure that thing out later.. first thing this needs is some serious TLC. the veneer on the cabinets is all peeling off... there's a soft spot by the door, a dent in the outer shell, and the afore-mentioned now-broken window, among many many other things.
there will be many pictures, and questions, to follow, seeing as how i am a total rank newbie, not only to airstream, but also to RVing... but here's one to start out with...our rig.

after reading some of the WD posts, someone please tell me, does the rear of the truck look too low? or is that close to "level"? (please keep in mind that there is a 287 pound scooter in the bed of the truck in that picture :blink:)

and speaking of the scooter... does anyone have any suggestions as to where it can be caried? the obvious answer of the bed is unlikely. the bed will be well occupied with hubby's tools for the business, covered by a locking hard cover. the scooter is just a *tad* too wide to try to load it into the trailer (d'oh!), so the most obvious solutions i've come up with is a hitch-mounted motorcycle-carrier mounted in a front-mount hitch on the front of the truck, or welding some kind of bracket/shelf/thingie onto the rear bumper of the trailer. anyone else have any other suggestions?

terribly sorry for the lengthy post, but i did have quite a bit of story to tell :lol: according to hubby, first order of business is strip it down to bare nothin' and replace the floor. yippie skippie... i'm lookin forward to that. :bb:

Foiled Again 12-26-2006 03:20 AM

Glad to know you had a safe trip home. First, I'd suggest you learn to use "SEARCH" on this forum. There are a wealth of things you can learn about your vintage unit. From the look of it you have it set up fairly level but your axles look badly settled which will cause every bump to be transferred to the exterior and interior of your unit. Ultimately you will have to replace the axles, but at a minimum put on new shocks now. PLEASE make sure you have the right size ball, new properly rated safety chains and a working emergency disconnect for the trailer brakes.

Also, NEVER put a rear hitch on an airstream, it is NOT designed to carry weight, and you could easily separate the frame from the body.

There are several great threads about weight of tow vehicle and Airstream - and the importance of not overloading. One sentence that got my attention: You not only have to TOW your Airstream, you have to be able to STOP it. The key is a downhill stop, or a panic stop. Too much load or even a too much load int he wrong place and you can be in BIG trouble.

I wish you lots of success with your new career.


Zeppelinium 12-26-2006 04:23 AM


Originally Posted by katzklaw
after reading some of the WD posts, someone please tell me, does the rear of the truck look too low? or is that close to "level"? (please keep in mind that there is a 287 pound scooter in the bed of the truck in that picture :blink:)

and speaking of the scooter... does anyone have any suggestions as to where it can be caried? ... the most obvious solutions i've come up with is a hitch-mounted motorcycle-carrier mounted in a front-mount hitch on the front of the truck, or welding some kind of bracket/shelf/thingie onto the rear bumper of the trailer. anyone else have any other suggestions?


Nothing like jumping in with both (or in your case, all four) feet! :D But there was this dude, Goethe, who said "take the first step, there is magic and power in it..."

Now, to the point--I tow with an F-250 diesel, so my rear axle suspension is a little stiffer than yours. Saying that, I can tow my 18' Caravel without using the load distributing arms on my Reese WD hitch. However, I always use them, since it seems they reduce the porpoising a little when you hit those bumps that are spaced "just right." I ALWAYS use the arms when towing the 27' Overlander. The Overlander is a little heavier than your Airstream, but I find that the tongue weight of the Overlander pitches my TV a little too much (probably because the bed is always full of extra fuel, water, generators, spare tires, etc.).

So, yes, I think you'll need a WD hitch, particularly on your 1/2 ton truck.


moosetags 12-26-2006 04:27 AM

You are indeed a brave person. We're glad to hear that you made it back with your new baby without major incident. The picture of your rig looks pretty good. If you can not be dead level, you want to be a little low at the front of the trailer. You NEVER want the trailer to be high at the front end. Shocks are definitely in order from the Airstream. Some helper spring shocks might be advisable for the tow vehicle. It would probably be a good idea to have an experienced person take a look at your truck/tailer hook up to make sure that you have a safe connection. If you can not find anyone, post some photos of the connection on these forums, and you will get some feedback. The only good place for the scooter is the bed of the truck. That much weight on the rear of the trailer would create a dangerous towing situation.

boatdoc 12-26-2006 05:19 AM

Hi katzclaw; First, you are in a need of WD hitch to pre-load frond end of TV with tongue weight. The truck's rear is saging and so is the AS in the front. The hitch ball may have to be adjusted for height once the WD is adjusted properly. As a end result you want the truck to squat down equally on both axles. Simple way of doing it is to disconnect the trailer from AS. Measure height of front and back bumper on your TV and record it. Hook up AS with WD hitch. Pre-load WD until the front and the back bumper on your TV [tow vehicle] squats down equal amount. Measure ground clearance on your AS front and back. Raise or drop the hitch ball until your AS is level. The only place where you could mount the scooter is the front bumper of your TV. If you do so, adjust WD hitch with the scooter in place. Good luck, "Boatdoc"

katzklaw 12-26-2006 06:04 AM

heh. i NEVER said i didn't plan on using WD LATER... when i have the trailer all fixed up and loaded for a trip... i may not understand the mechanics of it very well, but i know better than to do something stupid like that. i was just sayin i was glad i didn't have to take a "crash course" (figurtively, OR literally) on how to use one, JUST to get my rig home safe! :lol: i was asking opinions on if my rig looked fairly level or not... and thank you muchly for the input so far! (and if you think i'm "brave" for that little escapade, i don't even wanna TELL you guys some of the trips we've made in the junky little cars we used to own! :lol: )

i do know the importance of stopping... thats why i pulled out soooooooo sloooooooooowwwwlllyyyy when i didn't have brakes.... and altho it was a pain in the butt to have the brakes locked with the first adapter we bought, it was a good sign that they WORKED. i was happy to see that. to be honest, i was scared ****less to haul something that weighed about 2 tons ANYWHERE with no brakes on it!
about 10 years ago i worked in a landscaping company.. so i got used to hauling the heavy work trailer around... and the pre-knowledge of how to handle a trailer was invaluable on the trip home... (we got turned around somewhere and ended up down some bumpy muddy little cul-de-sac that i had to turn around in... that was fun.)

and thanks for the advice on the scooter. unless anyone else has any more advice to input, it looks like i'll be ordering that front-mounted hitch soon... :lol:

and on to my first question. prompted by the gatepost incident, i purchased one of those nifty wireless backup camera systems from wal-mart (and cleverly gave it to "our family" as a Christmas present!) and the directions seem straightforward enough, and i had already read... uhm... somewhere on the forum (this forum is just so dang BIG! :lol: ) that you could wire this system directly into the tag light as opposed to the reverse light (seeing as how i don't have reverse lights on the trailer) however, upon exploratory opening of the rear light, all i saw was a single green wire. color me clueless as to what to plug the camera into now... cuz i was looking for a positive and negative wires! :lol: any advice would be lovely!

on another note, i'll try to get a picture of the what-i-think-is a WD hitch that was thrown into the package and post it up. wanna catch some opinions on if it still looks useable, or if it should be retired.

Happycampers 12-26-2006 06:14 AM

A word from the wise... please make sure that you line of viision is not obstructed by the scooter on the front... we have a front receiver and had the bikes loaded on it and will not put use it again until we get a dropped ball . Nearly had a major misshap with the fifth wheel last spring...

Phil Gobie 12-26-2006 07:04 AM

Re; placement of the scooter, I think you will find that the headlights are blocked if you place the scooter on the front. I think you will find the only way is in the bed or possibly inside. If you are rebuilding the floor you can place tie down points in the floor. I think you will find the scooter will fit through the door.

katzklaw 12-27-2006 08:36 PM

Well... i finally got some pics of the hitch. here's what i have that came with the trailer:


what do you guys think?

so far, electrics have been verified working... need to check the propane and plumbing. replaced the doorknob and deadbolt. fixed the broken planes on the jalousie window.... and learned how to work a pop riveter :lol::bb:

we're planning on taking it on an extremely short trip (about half hour away) and joining my parents in their RV at a beach-front RV park for New Years.... but as soon as we're back home... gonna start stripping it down!

also, this is the scooter.

now i'm back to wondering where to put the scooter. :huh: i don't think it'll fit in the front without blocking view, light, or airflow, or any combination thereof. i'm worried about trying to fit it inside the AS because the handlebars are about an inch or two wider than the door is. i suppose i can shimmy it in, tho.

and as for the backup camera... i've searched all over the forum... found people singing its praises, and people saying how horrible it is...but no one giving hints how to wire it in. soldering a 12 volt plug to the end was mentioned, but i'd rather wire right into the trailer's electric system. my husband said that usually all that was neccessary was plug the wire into the positive, and the other wire could be grounded, and it should work... would that be the case in an AS? or is that single wire something else?


thecatsandi 12-28-2006 06:15 AM

they do make front hitches and carriers. check out
not sure if yours will accept one. Wally carried a scooter on the front of his Tow vehicle.
the tail of the truck and the nose of the trailer is too low. neither is level. have you tried hooking up the WD hitch?

overlander63 12-28-2006 06:29 AM

The WD system is what we have for our Overlander. I had to get a drop ball for our F250 so the trailer wouldn't be nose high.
We also have two scooters we carry in the bed of the truck.

Silvertwinkie 12-28-2006 06:34 AM

Yea, it looks a bit low. I'd be real interested though how the house flipping business goes. Sounds like a great ride. :)

dbradhstream 12-28-2006 08:14 AM

Don't know if it would be feasible for you, but with all that you're planning you may need to consider a second vehicle and a small work/box trailer for the tools and equipment. Scooters and Airstream related stuff in the bed of the truck, towing the AS, and an SUV or something towing the smaller work trailer with all the tools, etc. Between jobs you'd each have to drive a different rig to the next job.

Looks scary to me to attempt to drive a fully loaded truck with the front-mounted scooter while towing a trailer. Just too much going on at one time and too much weight on the tow vehicle - fine if you're driving pretty slow in a straight line on flat ground, but if anything happened or you had to swerve for any reason ... hate to think about it.

Really, a massive 5th wheel SOB toy hauler sounds like it would be more appropriate for you.

katzklaw 12-28-2006 08:43 AM

*sigh* we were hoping to avoid needing to add another vehicle to the mix... we were hoping the scooter could cover that. all the tools he needs should fit easily into the bed of the truck... along with some room left over for some of the AS stuff... trying to mount the scooter on the front is not looking promising. i guess that really the best answer IS what Phil Gobie said and place tie-down points inside on the floor when we redo the AS floor. traveling between houses the AS will probably be lite, because we're not looking at boondocking when we get there... so no need to carry water onboard.

(the only other possible option i thought of, hubby vetoed the second i said it... we have a BAK industries roll back tonaeu cover.. the rigid rolling cover... its supposed to be able to support something like 400 lbs... i suggested strapping the scooter on top of that :lol: )

but back to business.... purchased a brand new honda UE2000 generator, on you guy's and my dad's recommendation, i think i'm in love! :lol:
filled the propane tanks and figured out a way to make the slightly warped tank holder hold them anyway.
ordered a set of the red teardrop marker lights that go on the back sides of the AS from e-bay... as one is broken and one was replaced by a not-teardrop light. hope they arrive soon
and now i'm off to pop-rivet some hinges onto all the access doors. they're all SO loose i'm afraid i'll loose them on the highway. gonna install new locks in them, too.

and so you think that i should probably be able to use that WD hitch that i already have with little trouble? thats good news for me.

thanks for all the great advice!

overlander63 12-28-2006 10:00 AM


Originally Posted by katzklaw
ordered a set of the red teardrop marker lights that go on the back sides of the AS from e-bay... as one is broken and one was replaced by a not-teardrop light. hope they arrive soon
and so you think that i should probably be able to use that WD hitch that i already have with little trouble? thats good news for me.

thanks for all the great advice!

Vintage Trailer Supply - Vintage travel trailer parts and supplies! has teardrop marker lights for your trailer for about $5 each.
When I hook up our Overlander, I put the WD chains in the 5th link from the end for proper distribution. I will count the links next time I get out to the trailer, this should get you close to where you need to be as far as weight settings.

katzklaw 12-28-2006 07:43 PM

well... the trailer got a bath today... (i really gotta think up a name... can't keep callin it "the trailer") and while i don't have a smaller trailer to compare to, i can, in fact, verify that it is indeed a large trailer... and requires a lot of elbow grease to wash :lol: (can you all guess who's post i've been reading for reference as to how my own project might go! :brows: ) altho it really looks alot better even with that one little thing done!

propane is verified working... and all the interier windows got washed.
found a lovely leak in the piping where the trailer was obviously not winterized well or at all... hopefully that will be the only leak. (yeahright :rolleyes: ) we did NOT check the furnace... it looks atrocious. i'll try to get a picture... but the stove top definatly works.

speaking of windows... several of my windows have... for lack of a better way to describe it... wrenched actuators... one arm points one way, and the other points in a different direction... on most of them its not a huge difference... but its enough that the windows don't seat down evenly.
here's an example of the worst one:
that particular window is also not attached to the actuator arms... so it was "flapping in the breeze" on the trip home. any ideas on what to do with either situation?

i also have two "mystery switches". one is directly over the top jalousie window, and looks like a standard light switch. i had read someone somewhere mentioned that their mystery switch in that location turned out to be their porch light, but i don't have one (unless it was removed by a PO)
the other switch is a tiny little metal toggle switch directly next to the door

here's the first switch:
and here's the other (the metal toggle)
you can see the open door on the right side of the picture

i also think that at some point the trailer got water into it... the bottoms of all the cabinets look like this:
altho the floor feels pretty solid everywhere except right in front of the door... that spot is definatly rotten
we have a lot of work in front of us.. :rolleyes:

also... one last thing... there seems to be little toggle-clasps (turn them to latch them) over the wheel wells...three in total... one at each end, and one in the center. here's one:
its on both sides, too. what could this be?

wait, i lied... one more thing. i'm taking out all the curtains, because i don't like the color. they're only a few years old.. anyone want 'em? :D

wahoonc 12-28-2006 07:47 PM

I can answer the third question:bb: those "toggle thingeys" are for canvas wheel covers to keep the sun from rotting the tire sidewalls.


overlander63 12-28-2006 07:52 PM

Okay, your toggle switch is probably for the scare light mounted outside, just to the front of the entry door.
The twist latches on your wheel wells are for tire covers, to minimize the effects of weather on them while you are not using the trailer.
You can get the window cranks from mobile home supply stores, or Ace Hardware, they require a small modification to get them to work, but a 5 minute modification to get a $5 crank to work is better than a $50 crank that bolts right in...
Yes, I have noticed that Overlanders are large trailers, and require more time and effort to clean...:whistling
Something else I have noticed, most 1964 model Airstreams had a rudimentary Univolt/12 volt lighting and ventilation system, the first year it was equipped on Airstream trailers en masse. All the 120 volt light switches I see in your photos lead me to think you may in fact have a 1963, not a 64 model. The 1963's had no battery charging system as such, they just used the charge line from the tow vehicle to charge the battery in the coach. If you do have a 64, the Univolt and related equipment should be in a compartment in the rear of the trailer, behind a door in the back, over the bumper. They would have a dual power system, with both 12 volt and 120 volt fixtures side-by-side. For example, a 12 volt light bulb, with a standard base, in the same housing as a 120 volt bulb, also with a standard base.

overlander63 12-28-2006 08:08 PM

baby names
Here is a list of nouns indicating "large":
Hercules*, Polypheme, behemoth, brobdingnagian*, bulk, colossus, cyclops, elephant*, goliath, hulk, jumbo*, leviathan, lump, mammoth, monster*, mountain*, ogre, titan, whale*, whopper*
I guess you see which one we chose.:blink:

overlander63 12-28-2006 08:11 PM


Originally Posted by katzklaw
wait, i lied... one more thing. i'm taking out all the curtains, because i don't like the color. they're only a few years old.. anyone want 'em? :D

What color are they? :huh:

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