17 ft size towing? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 03-30-2006, 12:23 PM   #1
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Trailer: 78 Scamp 13 ft
Posts: 118
My husband and I are REALLY anxious to get nice little camper for the two of us and begin to do a lot of weekend travel... we've gotten all the kids out of the house finally and we look forward to this!!

I am excited about these little type campers!! We reject the idea of a bigger type since we do NOT want to have to park in the RV "parking lot' sections of campgrounds! We actually like to CAMP sort of, in quiet, and not have our entire house with us!

Anyways- just what size vehicle does one really need to tow a 17/16ft Scamp, for instance? A 13ft? I have my eye on a 13ft one near us for sale- and I think I ought to grab it quickly.

We currently own 4 cylinder Saturns..... but we can upgrade no problem. I am really hoping a 6 cylinder car would be okay.

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Old 03-30-2006, 12:46 PM   #2
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 24,582
Welcome to FiberglassRV Debra, we're glad you found us.

You get lots of help on this forum to your questions.

I'll start by saying, check your owners manual for your vehicle and see what the stated towing weight may be...other's will jump in.

PS: I tow a 16' Scamp Deluxe with a 5.4 litre V8 Ford F-150, needlessly to say...towing is not a problem


Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 03-30-2006, 01:52 PM   #3
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Name: Per
Trailer: 2000 Burro 17 ft Widebody towed by Touareg TDI
Posts: 863
Hi Debra,

From my limited experience (6 yrs and towing) the majority of 16 or 17 footers can be towed with a vehicle that has a 3500lb tow limit, with a tranny cooler and tow package, naturally.
Our Odyssey has that limit, and we have gone back and forth across the country a couple of times with no problems so far. Two important advantages of a minivan: long wheelbase (don't underestimate this one for stability) and good gas mileage as a daily driver (I get 25.7 mpg overall on the highway when not towing). The room in it makes it easy to keep the trailer free of unnecessary clutter too.
It sounds like you approach camping very much like we do.
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Old 03-30-2006, 02:53 PM   #4
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Name: Roger
Trailer: Y2K6 Born Free 32RQ on the Kodiak chassis, 1995 Coachmen 19' B-van
Posts: 5,009
Welcome to the Forums!

I have a Scamp 16' custom deluxe (with the wood interior). I've towed with various trucks, most of them V6s. I currently tow with an '02 Tundra 3.4l V6 auto 4WD. I second that if you're planning to buy a vehicle, buy one with at least a 3500 lb tow rating. That will pretty much ensure that you'll be able to tow any of the offerings from Scamp, Casita, Burro, and most of the other now-defuct companies. Bigfoot requires a little more oomph as they're a lot heavier.

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Old 03-30-2006, 03:56 PM   #5
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Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
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We currently own 4 cylinder Saturns..... but we can upgrade no problem. I am really hoping a 6 cylinder [b]car would be okay.
Like Per, I also tow with a Honda Odyssey. I know of others who tow with Toyota Sienna or Dodge/Crysler Caravan. Look at the spec sheets carefully.

I spent a lot of time looking at the Saturn L300 Wagon with a V6, but had to abort that purchase when I discovered that it's tow rating was still only [b]1000 pounds. Not all 6 cylinder cars have the same capability.

The [b]V8 Ford Thunderbird (wouldn't that be cool!) is also only rated to tow [b]1000 pounds!

Don't rely on engine size alone to figure on towing capacity.
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 03-30-2006, 04:07 PM   #6
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Posts: 4,999
My combination is a 17' Boler and Toyota Sienna van, which is very similar to Per's Odyssey.

I would suggest the following:
  • Ignore the number of engine cylinders. The engine power is somewhat important, but counting cylinders doesn't mean much. The Cummins in the big Dodge pickups is a 6-cylinder, most Ferraris have 8 cylinders, and we know which one tows better...
  • Pay attention to the tow vehicle's ratings from the manufacturer - they have reasons for setting those limits. For fiberglass trailers 16' and up, that means more than 2000 lb, and the next common rating is 3500 lb, the level which Roger mentioned.
  • Pay attention to all of the limits. If a tow vehicle can handle the trailer you want, but not while carrying any passengers (because the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is not high enough, for instance), then it isn't much good. Auto maker web sites rarely give these specs - it's time to visit a dealer, get the brochures (for trucks there's usually a special towing guide), and even read owner's manuals before making a final choice.
  • Get the right equipment. The transmission coolers and similar components in tow packages are required to reach the ratings, and things like pre-wiring packages make setup easier.
  • Consider realistic trailer weights. Even 13' eggs don't weight 850 lb in use (as some people might claim), and highly-equipped larger units (even aside from the large Bigfoot models) can push the 3500 lb limit of a typical "mini"van. Search this forum for "weight"... there's lots of information here.
In general (and we all know generalizations are just a starting point) long wheelbase is good, and long rear overhang (distance from rear axle to bumper) is bad.

The reality of today's automotive market is that vehicles with sufficient towing capacity will more likely be in a tall wagon (called SUV to be trendy) format, rather than a sedan, although they can still be a reasonable size and decently economical.
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
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Old 03-30-2006, 06:22 PM   #7
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Name: Per
Trailer: 2000 Burro 17 ft Widebody towed by Touareg TDI
Posts: 863
I should have mentioned that the Ody has a 118" wheelbase (good for comparison). I echo Frederick's admonition to check the specs carefully: I found the Ody to have a surprisingly tight turning radius, and I wouldn't want to bore you with tales of when that came in handy bordering on crucial.
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Old 03-30-2006, 09:21 PM   #8
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Trailer: Boler 17 ft
Posts: 510

Buy the trailer now, take it on a few weekends, decide if you need a bigger tow vehicle later.


We had a Nissan XTerra then decided on a GMC Silverado, but we carry a lot of scuba gear, etc. in the truck.

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Old 03-30-2006, 10:47 PM   #9
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Name: Mary
Trailer: Escape 21; (formerly Casita LD 17 & 16)
Posts: 9,927
Debra, Check out the Show us your Rigs topic. Many of the photos are of tow vehicle and trailer. You should be able to get lots of ideas on how folks travel (and what the different trailers look like, too!)

Of course, the albums have pics of many different trailers as well...

But for tow vehicles, go to Show us your Rigs.
Mary F Fiberglass Rules!
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Old 04-01-2006, 07:23 PM   #10
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Trailer: 78 Scamp 13 ft
Posts: 118
Thank you to everyone! Hubby and I have been talking about "what vehicle next" anyway, since his little Saturn is at 280,000 miles and we may have to get something else soon.

He talked to our dealer, who is SO nice- he says we'd be better off getting a Saturn Vue than an L Series for the same money- same gas mileage! And the Vue will be perfect for the camper.

Goodie, Debra gets the Vue- hubby has to stick to the little bitty ones since HE drives far more than I do ! hahahaha
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Old 04-01-2006, 11:36 PM   #11
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Trailer: 74 13 ft Boler and 79 17 ft Boler
Posts: 568
Personally I find my GMC 4.8L, 280 HP, V8, ext. cab , short box pickup under powered for my 17' Boler on flat land with any head wind.....it`ll not go into OD....It`s OK w/o OD but fuel goes thru much quicker, but haven`t gone far enough for a mileage check vs my 13' Boler.....With the 13' I can tow in OD almost all the time except climbing grades in the mountains.....I believe that the difference is the wind load on the frontal area of the two trailers......If I had a different gear ratio in the diff or a 5.3 L engine with about 10 more HP but with a lot more with torque, it would probably be OK but burn more fuel running empty........so there is a trade off.....Benny
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:56 AM   #12
Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 73
Benny k
Cruise control and OD are good for flat terrain, but use more gas in hilly areas. I do not use the cruise control in mountains or hilly areas.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:36 PM   #13
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Trailer: 74 13 ft Boler and 79 17 ft Boler
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I`ve never noticed much difference....in the mountains, if approaching a long grade , I`ll run in 3 rd with the cruise off and accelerate to may be 70 mph then as the speed drops off I`ll let it drop slowly and not let it drop into 2 nd gear unless my speed is down somewhat ....towing the 13' I average about 21 MPG IMP or 16-17 US which may include mountains out West, which I think isn`t too bad......I can`t really compare the 13' to the 17' because I`ve never taken the 17' for a real long haul but I do notice more fuel consumption on 2 way runs in Manitoba of 200-300 miles ......A lot of people tow 16 or 17 foot trailers with less engine and less power and are very satisfied.....Benny
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:05 PM   #14
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Trailer: 2002 17 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe
Posts: 106
Our first vehicle for towing was a Ford Ranger 4.0 litre engine. It did quite well pulling our 17 ft Casita, but had limited storage capacity and ceratinly would not accomodate any more people comfortably than just two. Subsequently, we purchased a new Honda Odyssey in 2004 and have been very pleased. It carries all the cargo we need and more. It can serve nicely as a people carrier, and gas mileage is excellent. We get around 29 highway.

The Honda is rated at 3500 lbs, as has been stated and is probably the most versatile vehicle we have ever owned.

Just a testimony from two happy campers. Don

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