Friday, December 4, 2020

Preparing for My Airstream Basecamp Delivery

Airstream Basecamp
photo credit: Airstream/Prime Motor Cars, Scarborough, Maine

Excitement was the key word when my wife and I were told that our Airstream Basecamp 16' could possibly arrive in November rather than the scheduled January. And since it is now the first week on December, "possibly" was also an important word at play in my email interchange with our Airstream sales rep. When I wrote to the rep on December 1, saying that obviously a November delivery date was no longer possible, he replied: "Airstream is a little behind as they were having distributor issues getting certain parts to complete their builds.  The rep didn't know an ETA at this time but will let me know as soon as he can.  Hopefully it doesn't take too long!" 

Luckily, my wife and I are continuing our research on the AS Basecamp, searching for those items we'll need (such as a jack for possible flats) and little add-ons to sweeten the camping experience (such as rechargeable LED lights for deep cupboards and face mirrors). Below is a list of what we've come up with and have ordered. We're running out of necessaries, though, so we hope the trailer arrives soon!

It's funny how buying a travel trailer that costs six times more than my tiny trailer can change things. With the arrival of the Basecamp imminent (I hope), I've had to make some decisions on what equipment I want to keep and what equipment I need to replace. My wife and I are holding off as much as possible before buying so that we can live in the camper for a while prior to purchases. However, there have been a few early choices we've made--indeed, a few we had to make.

Towing

Part of the purchase package for the Basecamp was for the RV One dealership in Des Moines, Iowa, to furnish and install at no cost an Equalizer E2 Weight Distribution hitch, which will be installed when we travel to Des Moines pick up the trailer and have our training session with the technicians. The "Equal-i-zer" website says the hitch has a four-point sway control configuration and a weight distribution design that transfers weight to all four axles. It looks like our orientation session will begin with hitching up!

Our former tiny trailer was so light that it was not equipped with electric trailer brakes; however, the Basecamp is heavier and comes with trailer brakes. That has required me to recently have a trailer brake controller installed on our Nissan Pathfinder, our tow vehicle which came equipped with a tow package. The controller we chose is a Hayes Endeavor brand, which is a proportional braking system that provides braking in proportion to the level of braking I use when driving. I've been talking to my son, who has towed trailers (commercial) with electronic braking systems before. I've been reading the operation manual but will also probably end up calling the company and asking a few questions. My main concern is to start off with the right settings, since the installation center service manager was wiggling an adjustment gauge and now I'm not sure of the default setting. If all my basic or novice questions and concerns seem to indicate that I know nothing of these advanced towing concepts--well, guilty as charged!

A final adjustment to my towing set-up is that I've bought two clip-on towing mirrors, K Source #3791. Although reviews state that there is some vibration with this product, and although Basecamp owners state that the trailer is narrow enough that mirror extensions are not needed, I've bought the pair anyway. My tiny trailer was just five feet wide, and the extra eighteen inches in width for this trailer have prompted me to pick up the extra mirrors. Perhaps I won't use them for my local, rural trips, but for the first drive home and perhaps for trips that include heavier traffic, it's reassuring to have them. (Incidentally, the online price for these at the etrailer website was $130; the Amazon price for the same two mirrors was $40. Etrailer, through their Price Pledge program, just credited my card $98 when I informed them of the price discrepancy.)

Although not essentially related to towing, buying a jack is related to towing, since you can't head down the road with a flat. Even though the Basecamp is pricey, for some reason Airstream does not provide a jack. The jack I owned for my tiny trailer was not hefty enough for the larger Basecamp, so I've bought a hydraulic bottle jack that will lift 4,000 pounds. Along with the jack, I also bought a breaker bar to loosen the lug nuts. I already own a torque wrench, lug nut wrench, and appropriate sockets for my Pathfinder and the trailer. (Since I haven't tested these purchases, and they are commonly available, I won't provide links.)

Security

The hitch security system I used for my tiny trailer was an inexpensive set of locks for the ball and receiver hitches, costing about $35 and purchased by my son-in-law at a local store. I've decided to upgrade, though, for the Airstream
  • Proven Industries coupler lock made for Airstream trailers. At $295, this is a pricey item, but when it arrived, the lock's strength is evident. First, it is heavy! The lock I received is different than the photos on the page site, but I called the company, and the rep said that if there it is "36" on the "ball," then the lock is correct. Yes, there's a "36." This new model also holds the chain hooks, increasing security. Below is a video tutorial.

Along with the increased security of a stronger lock for the trailer, I also wanted stronger locks for the car end of the hitch. The inexpensive package system that I used for my tiny trailer was a little flimsy, really, but adequate for an inexpensive trailer. The more expensive trailer might attract more determined or professional thieves, so I wanted a heavier duty security.
  • Master Lock receiver and coupler lock system. The online product description states: "These high-strength locks feature hardened receiver pins for increased sheer strength. Pick-resistant precision locking mechanisms ensure optimal security."
Luckily, the Trimax wheel lock that I bought and used with my tiny trailer will also fit the Basecamp, according to the wheel lock's manufacturer. 
  • The Trimax TCL65 is easy to use and has provided me with extra security. I had considered buying a new wheel lock that is designed to cover the lug nuts also but decided to go with what I have now. 
These above purchases will get me home and the trailer secured. Mostly, my wife and I intend to use the trailer for a while before deciding what additional purchases to make. We will use our current cooking kit and won't make any specific storage purchases until we have possession of the trailer and make measurements. There are a few exceptions to that overall strategy, though, that will be fun and perhaps useful for me to add. 

Tails of Wanderlust is a blog writer and full-time adventurer whose house on wheels is an Airstream Basecamp. Cass Beach works her full-time job online, and travels with her dog and cat. Her website includes some articles on items she's found that have made her inside living space more efficient and homey. My wife and I have a few of her suggestions on order, and once we have the trailer in the driveway, we'll check over her list again.
If you use the links from the Tails of Wanderlust articles, Cass will receive some advertising revenue for you purchases. My wife and I chose early purchases of some LED lights for cabinets and mirrors, some standard stick-on hooks, and a shower head shut-off value. We know we'll be using these items. I've also purchased a 15 amp to 30 amp adapter plug so I can keep the Basecamp's batteries charged while it sits in the driveway.

One last purchase my wife and I made were three new cooking chef's knives and storage safety covers for the knives. With the Basecamp's inside kitchen, we know we'll have a little more space to use and store the better knives.
  • Henckles chef's knives: "Fabricated from high quality German stainless steel, the set includes a 4-inch paring/utility knife, a 6-inch utility/sandwich knife, and an 8-inch chef's knife."
  • Universal knife edge guards: "Safer, non-BPA materials that are felt-lined so that they protect your knives’ integrity without marring their finish or dulling their blades as they slide in and out of the sheath."
And now we continue to wait for that phone call or email telling us the Basecamp has arrived in Des Moines. We have our funds ready for a wire transfer so we can skip one more meeting during this pandemic. Then we'll mask up and head to the RV One dealership for our orientation. After that, the open road will call . . . and we will answer!

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