Project Vintage Thunder

The latest on Project Vintage Thunder, by Airstream Life magazine. Sponsored by George M Sutton RV, Reese hitch, Dometic USA, PPG Paint, Axis Products, GSM Vehicles, and Zip-Dee. Vintage Thunder is an "honest" RV refurbishment and travelogue. We tell you what really happens ...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Reflecting on Sounds

While in our five-week "hiatus" at Whispering Pines, we have hardly traveled at all. Except for this week's trip to Plattsburgh for tweaks, Vintage Thunder has sat in the same spot, killing the grass beneath the tires and gathering a few spider webs in the wheelwells.

But when we did hitch up and haul for 80 miles up through the Adirondack Park, it felt exceptionally good. As always, Vintage Thunder pulled silently behind us. I drove the first ten miles with the window down, listening to the faint hiss of the tires on corners, and hearing nothing else.

Your trailer should be silent most of the time. Clunks or squeals in the hitch mean you may have missed an important lubrication point (check your hitch manual to be sure what points are safe to lube, and which are not). Rattles and clatters could mean loose parts on the trailer, perhaps the belly pan, or even a propane tank.

I used to hear a distinct THUMP-clatter on my Caravel before we took it in for major renovations last fall. The axle was petrified (the THUMP occurred on every bump in the road) and the floor was rotted. Never having had an Airstream before that one, I didn't know how quiet a properly-maintained one could be.

It was perhaps a strange thing to enjoy: the silence of towing. But since I spent so much time carefully chasing out squeaks in the hitch (ordinary grease works best but Reese Hitch Lube attracts less dirt), and we had gone through the trouble to replace the entire axle and brake assemblies, replace huge sections of floor, and weld up bad frame members, silence was the only reward.

This morning, I woke up early and reflected on the ambient sounds of an Airstream. When they are in use, they do make small sounds: the click-click-click-WHOOMP of the water heater firing up (and same from the refrigerator when it is running on gas); the ticking of the metal sides warming in the morning sun; the soft hum of a Fantastic Vent running; the whoosh of a warm summer breeze against an open window.

All of these sounds remind me of rallies. For whatever reason, I always wake up early on the first morning of a rally. I guess I want to wake up and see the new neighborhood -- a gaggle of silver shapes covered in dew, newly arrived. Who are the neighbors, what cool trailers are parked nearby? Time to get up and explore!

In five days we will be heading out again, and it's about time. Vintage Thunder is ready. All systems are 100%. I need only check the tire pressure and hitch up. If we didn't have an unavoidable obligation today, we'd be joining the caravan that is heading to Quebec from New Hampshire right now. The spider webs will blow off on the highway ...

By the way, our mouse has departed. After the one night of scritching noises, we have neither heard from him, nor seen any sign of him. I suspect he found the traveling life less than ideal, probably about the time we got up to speed on I-87 Thursday night. Not everyone likes Airstreaming.

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