13' vs 16' - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-27-2012, 07:54 AM   #1
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13' vs 16'

Newbie question here. We're looking for used 'Eggs' and since we have never pulled a camper before we're unsure of our TV's capability of pulling in the mountains where we are, and we don't want to have change our vehicle. We will be pulling with a Toyota 4Runner V6, and we've read our owner's manual, but my husband's concern is driving in the mountains. We have found more 16' campers that will meet our needs of a bathroom compared to the 13', and I would really like the couple extra feet as we have a pet that would be traveling with us. I've read the thread on Trailer Weights in the real world, but would like to know what others are using to pull their campers with and any difficulties noted pulling through the mountains.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:05 AM   #2
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Name: Bob Ruggles
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It'll do just fine if you don't expect to win any up mountain races. Our vehicles have gears for a reason. We have towed our 17 ft Egg Camper with our V6 Chrysler minivan and it did it just fine. We, however, prefer our Chevy V8 pickup because of its far superior seats. If not for the Chrysler seats, we'd still be towing with it. FWIW, my parents towed a very heavy 1939 Kozy Koach trailer from Florida to Michigan with an 85 hp 1937 Ford. It wasn't fast up the mountains in between but we got here. That happened in 1947. If you really want the larger one, go for it.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:10 AM   #3
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Thanks! I appreciate your input.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:11 AM   #4
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Name: Norm and Ginny
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16s

I know little about the Toyota 4 Runner but I'd be surprised if you had trouble towing a 13 or 16. We tow a 16 with a 4 cylinder without issue.

This year we crossed probably a dozen mountain passes without any issues. These passes were both on Interstates and backroads.

On the Interstate your uphill speed hardly matters because they are always multi-lane, often with a slow vehicle lane. I sometimes have to down shift but in general I am way faster than any semi going uphill and never drop to 'flasher speed'.

On off-interstate roads your uphill speed also hardly matters because most of these roads have little traffic. The disadvantage to these roads is that they are usually steeper and sometimes curvey. We had no problems on these hills, occasionally having to downshift to 3rd. Most of the this year's non interstate passes also had a slow lane.

I'm sure your V6 has more horsepower and torque than our four. All in all I can not think of a single situation where I was concerned about lack of power.

One major advantage of a 16 over a 13 is that all 16s have brakes on the trailer and few 13s have brakes on the trailer. Brakes to me are critical to successful towing.

Our experience is that fiberglass trailers tow wonderfully.

As to 16 vs 13, I feel a toilet is important to long term travel as well as the extra space. As to pets, we like them but have the 'no pets more petting' rule.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:33 AM   #5
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What year is the 4Runner?
The early ones had the 3.0L V6 while the newer ones with the V6 used the 3.4L which had a lot more guts.

I used my V6 Tundra which had the same 3.4L V6 as the 4runner to pull a 16' Scamp and 17' Casita all over the place and the Casita is in general much heavier than the 16' Scamp.

There was always enough there to get the job done and I drove several 14ers through Colorado with the combo and it does not get a lot higher than that.

I now have the same truck but with a V8 and it is a lot more powerful but I still would be content overall towing with the V6.

Of course these vehicles are also each rated to tow this much weight which I feel adds a significant margin of safety and being Toyotas they should just pull away without complaint too.

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Old 09-27-2012, 08:53 AM   #6
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Our 4Runner is a 1997 straight drive.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:55 AM   #7
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You don't say what year on the 4runner. The "fourth generation" 4litre 6cyl. is rated by Toyota at 5000lb towing capacity. The recommended "rule of thumb" is to take 80% of rated capacity as a "real world" number. So 4000#. I think most 16'-17' trailers average around 2500>3000# curb wgt., well inside the 4runner rating.

We tow with an '05 6cyl. automatic. 150K on the clock; no problems towing the Burro, 15-16mpg. Timbren "donuts" in the rear springs. I never tow in 5th to avoid wear on the torque converter. Don't have auxiliary tranny cooler; probably should.

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Old 09-27-2012, 08:56 AM   #8
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We pull our 16' Scamp with a 2008 Toyota Rav4 V6 in the mountains with no problems. Well... Appalachian mountains so far ... we've yet to go up REAL mountains.
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:05 AM   #9
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I tow a 16 foot Fiber Stream with a 1999 Toyota 4Runner V6 with a manual transmission. I have no problem towing in the mountains or anywhere else, as long as I keep my speed under 95 kmph (60 mph). Higher than that, I have had very infrequent, but quite significant fishtailing incidents. I suspect the cause is two things. The trailer frontal area is much greater than the 4Runner, especially since I flipped the axles to get more ground clearance. I also think the short 4Runner wheelbase has a role.

The natural fix would be to more rigidly connect the trailer to the tow vehicle with a 350 lb weight-distributing hitch, but in my case, I think that would be a bad idea since I think the Fiber Stream frame is too light a design to take a weight-distributing hitch. I will be experimenting with a friction bar when I can get the trailer to a welder to attach that end of it.

I went to a 16 foot specifically for the bathroom. I would be camping alone if the trailer did not have one.

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Old 09-27-2012, 09:44 AM   #10
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Name: Richard
Trailer: Scamp 16 deluxe
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Just got back from Yellowstone and Jackson Hole with a Toyota Sienna pulling a Scamp deluxe. We were surprised how easyily it pulled through the mountains. So no worries.
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:48 AM   #11
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What is the standard for towing. I originally towed my 16 ft Scamp with a 1/2 ton pickup with a V6 with over 200 Hp . The truck on paper should have towed my Scamp with ease but in the real world it did not.. The truck was constantly shifting even on a slight grade and it was difficult to maintain highway speed on a long upward grade . I do not believe that if you have to slow down to 30 or 40 Mph in a 55 zone to make it up a hill or a mountain that the vehicle is adequate for the purpose. Being able to perform a given task and being able to perform the task well are two different things. Even in Wisconsin , which does not have a great deal of elevation change I see small vehicles having difficulty towing the smallest trailer , impeding traffic and are a danger to other motorists. It appears that on this website that there is a contest to see who can tow the largest possible trailer with the smallest possible vehicle with no concern for the safety of others. There is a reason that the SAE has created towing standards and just being barely able to get from point A to point B does not meet the standard.
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Old 09-27-2012, 10:10 AM   #12
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I appreciate everyone's input, and will take what you've said into consideration. Anyone else, please give us your thoughts as well!
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Old 09-27-2012, 10:18 AM   #13
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I tow with one of the smaller vehicle on this site and have never been below 40 mph going up the most severe hills. My transmission is a manual transmission and has the advantage that it's never hunting for the right gear.

There are occasions where we reach 4000 rpm but the Honda does not seem to mind that at all.

I believe a manual transmission is better for towing except when backing up because of the lack of 'transmission gear hunting'. There the manual transmission is a pain, particularly on uphill sites. Fortunately uphills sites are rare.

Secondarily the manual transmission does not require a transmission cooler or have over heating of transmission fluid.

In our travels there are plenty of vehicles going 40 and 30 and even less going uphills, usually they are Semis. In our travels we rarely pass anyone except for semis, they always re-pass us on the downhill sections.

Severe hills are really rare and in my opinion should not be the primary reason for choosing a tow vehicle. We were all over the Rockies this year and never had a moment where we wished for a more powerful vehicle. However, every time we stopped at a $3.99 a gallon gas pump we wished for a more fuel efficient vehicle.
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Old 09-27-2012, 10:52 AM   #14
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Norm , I agree with you that a manual transmission solves the problem of gear hunting but most vehicles these days have automatic transmission and every year fewer new vehicles are offering manual transmissions. I normally tow on 2 lane state highways and have witnessed traffic backups due to people towing trailers up grades of 3 or 4 Deg. Very few times has a semi been the cause of these delays. I also agree that a lower fuel bill is advantageous but to me it does not justify towing with a vehicle that is basically designed to haul passengers only. Their is a lot more to consider in a tow vehicle than mileage such as braking ability , wheel base , torque ,suspension . steering ,FWD , height of the vehicle versus the trailer , sway , aerodynamics ETC. I often see on this website lawyers, towing standards and Government rules being bashed . I do not wish to go to court to explain to a judge or my peers why I injured or killed another party because I failed to follow the law or the vehicle manufacturers towing guidelines . Spending the rest of my life with an avoidable tragedy on my conscience is not appealing to me. Even drunk drivers have excuses for their behavior
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