A trip from Hell! - Fiberglass RV

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Old 04-02-2006, 07:37 PM   #1
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Trailer: Casita Deluxe
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Ok, I didn't think towing a camper was going to be such a big deal. Maybe I was a little overzealous thinking I can do this, but now I am rethinking this camper ownership and pitching a tent (as I have for 10+ yrs) isn't looking so bad again!

Driving I-10 is horrible! And 64N isn't much better - My trip from hell started the last week of my work assignment in Lake Jackson, I got shingles...working in a hospital, that didn't go over well and I was told I couldn't work the rest of the week, so I stayed in the apt. sick, barely being able to walk, fever, and in a lot of pain... with no friends or family around. I was going to head back to Ga Thursday AM, but a friend already paid for a buddy pass to come help drive home. She was scheduled to arrive Friday at midnight, so I decided to bite the bullet and wait... well, she was 13 on the list with 2 seats available.... needless to say, no friend to help.

Since I was packed and ready to leave, I decided to head out (around 1030pm) and would just rest when I was too tired to drive.

I didn't have a full tank, so I stopped at the next town to fill.... only to find my road bike barely hanging on by the seat. (I have a flatbed bike rack). So I bungied the road/mountain bike tires to the rack and also put plastic ties around the wheels. So 45 minutes later... off again.....a while later, some boys had me roll down my window to let me know the camper door was open. UGH!!! ( I know I checked to make sure the door was closed/locked)

Around 3am, I decided to pull over in a rest area to sleep some... didn't buy ear plugs so sleep was not going to happen... All I could concentrate was on the roar of the tucks on the interstate... so 6am, I gave up and decided to hit the road.

So, for the next 9 hours I had to keep pulling over because of the road bike wouldn't stay put and kept dragging, the camper door flying open and my cord kept coming from the TV plug, which meant, not battery charging, no brake/turn signals....

I finally stopped at a Truck Stop (in Alabama), called my ex boyfriend crying because I was delerious from exhausion, dirty from dealing with the bikes, tired of having to pull over for the camper door and cord and 3 gas stations did not have working restrooms!! All I was concentrating on, was getting home and listing this possessed camper and/or...

I was ready to unhitch the camper and leave it!

He calmed me down, I took a hot shower, ate a huge hot meal and took a nap (ahhhh, truck stops are so much more peaceful!).... For some reason, the camper battery was dead... I don't know if it is from the cord dragging or what, so off to the RV place tomorrow.

I felt better, but still didn't make home (in Atlanta) till 10pm!!!! (yes, almost 24 hrs later and covered less than 900 miles)
Atlanta drivers are crazy drivers and almost had a wreck...

so my bikes have gouges from rubbing so much on the bike rack, the front tire/wheel is ruined, mini blinds in the camper are damaged and my camper battery is dead.

I have taken zillions of road trips (not towing though) never ever had a problem ... not till the possessed camper came along!


Maybe I did get over my head!

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Old 04-02-2006, 08:02 PM   #2
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Trailer: 19 ft Scamp 19 ft 5th Wheel Dlx / 2001 Ford Ranger 4x4
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dont give up on towing... I think maybe you tryed to go to far for your first outing and heading into traffic? I too am still a newbie at towing and I get the gitters everytime i head out, but to me towing takes alot of practice etc. I was clipped last yr by some young fella passing me ( on a double line) while I was making a left turn never the less.. Talk about UPSET... Thank goodness no major damage and all was ok and fixed. I swore i would never tow again.. but I am biting the bullet and doing it anyways... I dont have far to go to the campgrounds i like to go to and just go the back roads and avoid the freeway if possible.
Why dont you take some of the back roads with you trailer and practice some before heading out again.......
Next time it will be easier for you!!

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Old 04-02-2006, 08:11 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2002 Casita Freedom Deluxe / 2007 Nissan Frontier King Cab
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Sounds like a horrid trip. I'm sorry you had such a bad time.

Just get the problems fixed up. Give it another go.

One thing is that you won't have any trouble at all selling a fiberglass trailer. Put it online and it'll be gone in nothing flat.
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:13 PM   #4
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Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,016
Oh Oh.

The first trip is the hardest.. and you learn from those. Everything you mentioned is overcomable, and tho it seems daunting at first, you'll soon be doing this like an old pro!

I was so nervous my first trip that I had to have baby wipes in the car to keep the sweat off my hands and steering wheel. I checked every millisecond to make sure the trailer was back there and had not exploded or something.

You will get your packing system down with a little trial and error, and make constant adjustments as you gain more experience. This is all quite normal.

Obviously, your door isn't latching correctly, check your hinges and see if they are loose and allowing the door to jostle. Check the strike plates etc.

The bikes, well, I have no experience on racking them to the trailer. I put mine IN the trailer or the car when I have room.

Interstates (or any other multiple lane hiway) are always a pain, it's usually the other driver, not you. They don't see, they don't realize it takes you longer to stop, they just don't get it.

If you have ever driven a motorcycle, you will learn to drive with the trailer with the same mentality. Pretend you are invisible, and drive defensively with that in mind.

If your plug kept unplugging, that means your lights were not working either, so no one knew you wanted to make a move, so ya gotta give a little slack for that.

Speaking of slack, do you have a lot in your pigtail? If not, every corner you take will unplug the thing, little whimpy notch on your plug/socket won't help to keep it in place with a little force applied.

PORTA POTTI!!!!! No bathroom, no problem!.

Got a little radio? I sometimes set one up in rest areas and "listen" to tv. This usually makes me fall asleep instantly at home, and it hides some of the truck rumble.

DON'T GIVE UP!!! this will pass.
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:18 PM   #5
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Trailer: 1979 13 ft Trillium
Posts: 459
Nice reply. Very calming. I'm going to call you next time I am melting down!

First of all....."STEP AWAY FROM THE CAMPER"!!
OK, I have to tell you..I was LAUGHING SO HARD READING YOUR POST! Come on, you have to admit, you are going to have many years of good story telling with that one! The first time I took my camper out (besides the two hour drive home from buying it) I took my 75 year old Mother-in-law and two four year olds 3 hrs away for one overnighter. Dropped off Mom and headed home with the twins. La, La, La...all was great, La, La, La....there's nothing to this trailer! La, La, La.....70-75 in the carpool lane, NO PROBLEM, God this trailer tracks great! Hmmmmm, what's that in the side mirror, I don't remember seeing that before....pull off....OH MY GOD! the door was open and hanging (barely) by one hinge. What did I learn from this? I learned I have a LOT to learn! I agree with Cristi, maybe you took on too much without realizing you have a LOT to learn. You just can't quit after one try. You know that! Start with your checklist of seemingly potential problems. Next time you are at the drugstore, pick up some earplugs. Make sure the next boyfriend is handy ! Thanks for the good story Lisa, you will conquer!!
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:25 PM   #6
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Posts: 4,999
I, too, vote for the short-trip introduction idea. Anything can be tolerated for a little while when you're close to home and not needing the trailer to be your home that night. It sounds like most of the frustration came from the bike rack (really not related to the trailer), the trailer door, and the trailer-to-tug electrical plug.

Lots of people have had various door problems, but they all seem to be solvable, usually with some alignment adjustment. Maybe someone local can look at the door and see if that appears to be the case.

I have a 7-pin RV-style plug, and noticed two things: it takes quite a bit of force to plug it in fully (lots more than a household electrical cord, for instance); and, there's a tab on the hinged cover door of the tow vehicle's receptacle which catches on the body of the trailer's plug to hold it in. Perhaps you just didn't have the plug in far enough, Lisa? By the way, you wouldn't be the first to have this problem by a long shot - I replaced the cord on my trailer, partially because the plug body was badly worn from being dragged. Fortunately, these plugs (alone, or already attached to a new cord) are readily available and not very expensive.

By the way, I have been known to do some unreasonably long trips in a day in just a car - including one of a little more than your 900 miles and without a real rest stop - but would certainly prefer not to do so with a trailer. 900 miles at 60 mph (which you can't expect to average) is 15 hours, so I think doing that distance in one 24-hour period solo is just too much to expect. Of course, I realize that wasn't the plan...
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:31 PM   #7
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Posts: 4,999
Gina has a good point about the electrical cord slack. I rented a tent trailer a couple of years ago, had everything set up nicely (the right height of ball platform, checked all the lights...), pulled away from the rental place... and then saw the rental guy running after us waving his arms! The plug came out on the first turn; I adjusted the amount of slack, plugged back in, and had no further problems (well, with the plug, anyway).

One nice thing about having your own trailer is that once you have it set up right, it will always be right - no rigging someone else's stuff to work each time.
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.
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:48 PM   #8
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Trailer: Casita Deluxe
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Thanks everyone... I knew y'all would make me feel better

The reason I had to take this long trip is because I bought the camper in Dallas Tx (November 05) I made several plans to pick the trailer up (while I was still in GA), but it never worked out. Since I accepted a travel assignment in Tx (I am a travel Sonographer) I decided to just wait since I would be in the same state.

Y'all are right, I took on too much too soon. I am so use to driving GA to Cleveland OH (to see my parents in 10-13 hrs) and use to driving long trips in the car that I truly thought towing wouldn't be much different.

I was bummed my trip of gambling, shopping, and champagne was unexpectantly changed, I was in a "hurry" to be home (I was in TX 10 weeks) so driving straight through, with no sleep, was not the smartest thing I've ever done

I am headed to Skidaway Island, to meet my parents, and get my dog.
I am going to get the door and cord looked at.... I am expecting a much better 3 day camping trip. I won't be weighed down with bikes and belongings. I need to practice working the propane tank (couldn't get fridge lite and scared to light water heater), and filling/emptying the tanks...

Something about me is I usually don't let something beat me ( I have a love/hate relationship with moutain biking)... while the experience broke me for a few hours, this will only make me stronger... I can't laugh about it (yet) but in time... I will be able to laugh about it with another newbie

Thanks again all...
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:37 PM   #9
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Geez, did you forget the duck tape. (note to self, pack duck tape for keeping door closed) Okay so I forget the duck tape myself, but I think it will get packed first after reading your trip problems. I had my door come open once, just a block from the house, but said never again will I let some helpful person shut and lock my trailer door. a really long bungy might work if it would stay in place. as far as the bike goes, I don't know?? I've never done that, but would like to.

Next time will be better.
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:58 PM   #10
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I am going to get the door and cord looked at.... I am expecting a much better 3 day camping trip. I won't be weighed down with bikes and belongings. I need to practice working the propane tank (couldn't get fridge lite and scared to light water heater), and filling/emptying the tanks...

Sounds like your travels can only get better! Why don't you see from this forum, or from the Casita Club forum if another Casita owner is nearby---one who is willing to help you with learning how to light the fridge and water heater.

Good luck

P.S. Just love your dog!
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:58 PM   #11
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Name: Con
Trailer: 1977 Boler 1300/2003 17' Bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 319
Good for you Lisa, you will be that much stronger and wiser the next trip out.

Many eons ago when I took my pilots training, the first thing we had to do before we even stepped foot inside the aircraft was to to a "Walk A-round" and visually check for anything lose, cracked, hanging or clamps left in control surfaces etc. Once inside the aircraft we had to go down a check list to make sure all the systems worked properly.

To this day I still follow those rules. I have never had a problem towing snowmolies, horses or llamas in any trailers yet. Touch wood.

I always carry, bungie cords, cable ties, wire or duct tape with me when ever we are towing. I keep a plastic tote bin in the back of the pickup all the time with those items plus rope, star wheel wrench and a small hydraulic jack.

Making up a check list of items to take with you and things to check on the trailer and tow vehicle before hitting the road will save you a lot of grief.

Good luck.
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:53 PM   #12
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Ah, the bikes! We shredded hubby's bike TWICE our first summer towing. The bikes were stored on a bike-rack at the back of the Boler: kid's first, next to trailer, then mine, then his, so hubby's got the wear-n-tear when things got bumpy and loosey-goosey.

We pulled up to a gas station and the guy says, "Ya gotta problem with your tire," so we're looking at the Boler, then the tow vehicle, til he finally says, "No, back here!"


Stuff happens, but it seems you had a whole month's worth in one trip!

And I agree with the advice re duct tape and bungee cords and so forth. Bring lots!

Take a page from the pilot in Prince George, do the walk-around, have a check-list.

Now, would you like to hear how I forgot to double-secure the fridge door and had flecks of fish flesh splattered all over the interior? (It was the same day the guy said, "Ya gotta problem with your tire.") It lives on in memory as The Revenge of the Chowder.....
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Old 04-03-2006, 12:15 AM   #13
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Lisa, I bet a big part of the problem was not feeling well. One doesn't get over shingles right away; it tends to hang in there. Your body was probably struggling to repair itself and then you forced it to go (under stressful conditions) for almost 24 hours straight. Just remember how problems look much smaller after a good night's sleep and try again when you are feeling better and are rested. You CAN do this!

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Old 04-03-2006, 06:12 AM   #14
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You stuck it out! Congratulations! Everyone who is a 'real' camper has a story of the "Trip from Hell". Laurie and I have several! Sometimes they come early in your 'trailering' life, sometimes later, but we all have them eventually. You have done well.

Although terrifiying, maddening, and/or frustrating at the time, it's those trips that you remember. The ones where everything was pleasant and went according to plan fade into obscurity as the years pass. It's your ability to overcome adversity that you remember, and yes, you'll be able to tell this story around the campfire for years and years to come!

Welcome to our world. Keep a set of bungie cords, a roll of 100 mile-an-hour tape (also known as gaffer's tape; I HATE duct tape) and there's nothing you won't be able to overcome!

Hang in there and enjoy...


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