Fall is a great time for Airstreaming almost everywhere in North America. Whether you're grabbing that last wonderful month of camping before winter arrives in the north, or you're looking forward to prime winter camping in the south and southwest, cooler temps and color changes make fall travel a joy.
Fall is also the ideal season to check off a few quick and easy Airstream maintenance tasks, and here are the five we recommend (and do on our own Airstream) during this time of year.
Everything on this list you can do by yourself, even if you have no prior experience. Completing these five tasks will save you a number of possible problems on future trips, and probably help you avoid a trip to the Service Center, too.
NOTE: All the tools and most of the supplies you need to do all these simple tasks are in our Maintenance Essentials Kit or our Rivet Replacement Kit. You may also need a can of silicone spray or grease, which can be found at hardware or auto parts stores.
1. Lube and protect
Windows that don't want to open are such a notorious problem on Airstreams that the company puts a warning label on the glass. Because when a window sticks shut, forcing it open can actually break the glass.
I've read all sorts of complicated solutions to this problem like putting dental floss in the seals. But you'll rarely need to do anything like that if you simply maintain the seals.
To do this, just wipe the window seals with Aerospace 303 Protectant and the problem will go away. (It's also great for sticky vent fan seals.)
Likewise, lubricate any exterior wear points (especially parts made of steel, like hinges, entry door steps, stabilizer jacks, door locks, and hitch parts) so that they don't rust or seize up during storage or wet fall weather.
We like Boeshield T-9 for small items like hinges and locks because it leaves a long-lasting waxy film. And we prefer silicone spray for larger items like stabilizer jacks. You should follow the manufacturer's recommended grease for your hitch.
See exactly how and where to lubricate key points in your Airstream in this video:
2. Clean and seal the electrical connectors
Dirty or corroded electrical connections can be a major problem. A dirty 7-way plug creates a number of issues, like turn signals or trailer brakes not working. A corroded power cord is even worse—it can cause a meltdown or even a fire.
Avoiding these problems is easy if you clean and protect the connectors.
We recommend cleaning the 7-way connector (on a trailer) and the prongs of the power cord and adapters that you use. Our friends Sam and Lauren at A Little Bit Unhitched show you how in this helpful video:
Be sure to completely remove any dark or strange-colored corrosion. Once you're done, protect the connectors with a thin smear of dielectric grease to prevent further corrosion.
3. Secure loose screws & hardware
Bouncing down the road takes a toll after a while, and you've probably noticed the results. It's pretty common for some screws to back themselves out, and sometimes things will end up on the floor. This is a good time to fix all those loose bits, in a way that prevents them from being a problem in the future.
If a screw hole is "stripped", meaning that the hole has gotten so big that the screw no longer stays in place, you can fix that easily. The old "matchstick trick" is to push a wood matchstick into the screw hole, and break it off flush with the surface. This makes the screw hole smaller again, and it might be all you need to get that screw to stay in place.
If a screw repeatedly unscrews itself, you can fix that too. Don't use glue, or you may never be able to get that screw out again. Instead, put a dab of blue "thread locker" on the threads of the screw before you put it back. Thread locker is a sort of very weak glue that keeps screws from backing out.
For a loose bathroom door handle, towel bar, or other hardware, you'll probably need either a 2mm or 2.5mm Allen wrench to secure the tiny set screw that holds those items in place, with a dab of blue thread locker on the threads.
4. Replace missing rivets
If you see rivets missing anywhere inside a trailer, they're easy to replace if you have a rivet tool and a few spare rivets. (That's what our Rivet Replacement Kit is all about.)
We've previously written about how our rivet kit has saved more than one trip, so if you want to know more, read this blog.
5. Inspect propane gas hoses
Propane hoses only last 2-3 years, on average. After that they can get stiff and start to crack, and sometimes leak at the crimped fittings (at the ends). When that happens, you need to replace them.
First, check for leaks using a spray bottle filled with soapy water. Here's how:
- Fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops of dish soap
- Turn on the gas
- Spray the soapy water heavily on all the fittings and connections, and look for growing bubbles. Bubbles that grow are indicating leaks. If you find a leak anywhere on the hoses, they need to be replaced.
If you need to replace the hoses, this is an ideal time to upgrade to a GasStop, for added safety. Our exclusive Airstream Installation Kit includes replacement hoses, Teflon tape, a spray bottle, and complete instructions, to make the job easy.