Minimum Ground Clearance Needed? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-04-2015, 08:39 AM   #1
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Minimum Ground Clearance Needed?

Currently (hehe) I plan on picking up a 16ft Scamp or Casita and pulling it with a V6 of sorts (Minivans seem like a decent bet these days) while fulltiming. The type of off-roading I envision are dirt roads that may have seen better days. But honestly, I have no idea of what I would run into. Stuff like this enters my mind for the occasional trip, but maybe this sort of situation is one in a million? Maybe a stock Scamp or Casita 16 footer would handle that fine?



I'm not sure how many remote places & festivals I'll venture to, but it'd be nice to have the option and not be limited by my setup to a certain extent.
Anyway, I have a couple of questions re: ground clearance.

- What is the ground clearance for the 16ft Scamp and Casita to:

a) the underside of the body?
b) the underside of the axle?
c) Are there high-lift kits (for body or axle) for the Scamps? Most of the aftermarket products/vendors seem to cater to Casita for mods.

- What's type of clearance (a or b) is important when traveling forest roads and what not? Obviously great clearance to the bottom of the axle is wonderful, but maybe that's not the end all / be all? Maybe axle clearance is fine and what folks run into trouble with is the body dragging on big dips in the road?

- I don't know the clearances for the TTs, but having good clearance with the tow vehicle is important as well to me. For a few popular, modern minivans I see the following for ground clearance:
4.5in
6.2in
5.6in

And for a Ford Explorer, I see:
7.6in

For folks that take their campers to somewhat remote areas, what sort of minimum ground clearance do you require in your tow vehicle?

Thanks!
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Old 11-04-2015, 08:56 AM   #2
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As an experienced driver of 4x4 vehicles off road, I find your questions difficult to answer. Your minimum required clearance is enough to let the highest obstacles clear without damage! How skilled are you at placing your wheels on high points of the trail? I have successfully driven a Mazda Miata off pavement without damage. I have also dented the Skid plate of a Jeep Wrangler that had 10" of clearance!
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:25 AM   #3
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Going back to Geometry-101, you will see that ground clearance isn't the biggie, it's length and what happens in a dip when the back end of the trailer takes a "Tail strike".


Most off-roaders tend to prefer shorter RV's and larger diameter wheels/tires for that reason. As far as raising, many FGRV's have torsion axles that, short of remounting in some manner, usually have to have axles replaced with those with more down angle, as well as larger wheels and tires. The few with leaf springs, like a Hunter Compact, can have their drop axle replaced with a straight axle and larger tires/wheels, can pick up about 8" of additional clearance.


There are a few sites that speak to the issue of off roading with trailers of different kinds, "pop-up portal" being one.


Here are before and after pics of a pop-up trailer that we raised with larger tires/wheels and a frame spacer for desert dirt-road use.






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Old 11-04-2015, 09:37 AM   #4
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we make 3" lift kits for Casitas and some Scamps.
Only work with bolt-on axles
Helps with the scraping at the extremities.

Generator Security, Casita Add-ons.. The Perfect Casita by Orbital Machine Works

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:58 AM   #5
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as Bob mentioned, I've done "Tail strikes" just pulling out of gas stations! so I can't imagine off-roading it too much with my Scamp. to me, its not worth risking the damage to my egg. there are some aussie camper versions that are more rugged & made for rough roads, maybe check those out?
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Old 11-04-2015, 10:07 AM   #6
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I have taken my stock 13' Scamp on roads much like the one in your picture- graded, but perhaps not recently. I don't make a habit of it, and one was a GPS misdirection. Careful negotiation of a couple of bad spots was all I needed. Avoiding tongue scrapes or tail strikes is usually a matter of crossing at an angle rather than straight on.

My Scamp sits lower than either of the 16'ers, but, as noted, has less overhang. Raising a trailer raises the center of gravity and increases wind resistance, and the 16'ers already sit a bit higher. I'd be inclined to try the stock set-up for a while, and only raise it if your actual experience dictates a need.

There is also a Flexride adjustable torsion axle you could retrofit that allows you to change the axle arm angle based on anticipated conditions.
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Old 11-04-2015, 10:44 AM   #7
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Ok, so in summary... I may be just fine for forest roads, we'll see. And if I need modifications, Scamp mods are possible, but Casita mods are more plentiful with vendors.

What do u guys think of the clearance for the average Minivan? They certainly get better MPG than an Explorer (for ex), so I'd like to benefit from that, but would u trust it on a beat up forest road for clearance? Thx.
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Old 11-04-2015, 10:45 AM   #8
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clearance needs

We purchased our 19'5w Scamp via Craigslist. We are in MO, it was in KY! It was a 'fair' deal based on the po, however, it was not even a good deal based on what we found with new knowledge!!
However, Mae West is fully functional at this point! We picked her up with an '88 toyota truck, and pulled her home over 400 miles plus took a couple of other trips with the small truck (the po pulled her with his small truck, and that was what we found visiting several other sites).
However, after the couple of adventures we decided a larger truck made more sense rather than drive Truck to death. So we purchased a Toyota Tundra.
To the clearance. the Tundra was too high for the hitch on Mae, so we had to change the hitch, and raise the axle on Mae. Raised her 8" by having 'boxes' welded to the frame. I am not postive what-all they did, but we changed the gooseneck hitch, and now Lennie pulls Mae with no issues, and we do not have any tail-strikes except in the deepest of driveways!
All that to say it can be done with enough time and money!
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Old 11-04-2015, 10:56 AM   #9
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Ground clearance would most likely be measured under that axle crossmember in the center 1/3 of the width between tires.
for tail end clearance the term is called ANGLE OF DEPARTURE.
both would be increased with a high lift axle. Casita has, I think, a high clearance option. All of this is predicated by the trailer sitting level when hitched to the tow vehicle. Increase departure angle by lowering the hitch. but just a little.
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:01 AM   #10
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Ok, so now there is a name to it... angle of departure. Thanks! Wayne, I see you have a Scamp... did lack of (that I've found) clearance mods (and mods in general it seems) factor into your purchase decision between Casita and any other manufacturer?

Getting a bit off topic here, but I see all these great cottage shops that have sprouted up around Casita mods/custom parts. And when I hear "Casita and Scamp haven't changed/improved much over the years" it's nice to know there are shops out there to the rescue for major issues or small annoyances/convenience items for our campers.
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:03 AM   #11
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Was the work done, custom/one off by a local welder or a more established shop that caters to Scamp?

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JessieJanet View Post
We purchased our 19'5w Scamp via Craigslist. We are in MO, it was in KY! It was a 'fair' deal based on the po, however, it was not even a good deal based on what we found with new knowledge!!
However, Mae West is fully functional at this point! We picked her up with an '88 toyota truck, and pulled her home over 400 miles plus took a couple of other trips with the small truck (the po pulled her with his small truck, and that was what we found visiting several other sites).
However, after the couple of adventures we decided a larger truck made more sense rather than drive Truck to death. So we purchased a Toyota Tundra.
To the clearance. the Tundra was too high for the hitch on Mae, so we had to change the hitch, and raise the axle on Mae. Raised her 8" by having 'boxes' welded to the frame. I am not postive what-all they did, but we changed the gooseneck hitch, and now Lennie pulls Mae with no issues, and we do not have any tail-strikes except in the deepest of driveways!
All that to say it can be done with enough time and money!
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:36 AM   #12
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I believe Scamp recently switched from a welded-on axle installation to a bolt-on, so that should open up options for raising the suspension. I'm not sure when they made the switch. But I guess Scamp does change...

Casita comes from the factory riding on 15" wheels, versus Scamp on 13". Advantage there goes to Casita. Scamp's shell has an apron that extends below the floor, and it looks like it might be a bit more vulnerable to getting caught on something compared to Casita's wrap-around fiberglass underskin. Another advantage to Casita.

Bottom line, though, is either could work for light off-highway use (graded gravel or dirt roads) and neither is a great choice for heavy off-road use without extensive modification.

Regarding minivans, my biggest concern is how low the back end is and the length of the rear overhang. Some of them take aftermarket hitches that hang down even lower. Also, I have experienced that it doesn't take much of a grade on a slippery road surface (dirt or gravel) for a FWD vehicle to lose traction when pulling a trailer. The tongue load has a tendency to unload the drive axle, and going uphill makes it worse.

A minivan is an ideal tow vehicle for the the highway, and for limited off-highway use. But it won't handle deep ruts, washouts, or steep grades very well.
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:41 AM   #13
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Thanks Jon, very insightful.

I don't see myself as Lewis and Clark, especially when towing my house and all my possessions (planning to go full-time), and most likely doing it alone (what a PIA it'd be to get stuck "out there."). But you make some great points about hitches on minivans and the overhang of the minivans over the rear axle.

It seems like the overhang of the TT and the tow vehicle will be more important in my world than pure ground clearance for the vision I have of my travels.

Are the 13' tires touch to get while on the road for the Scamp in a pinch? Are the 15' tires for the Casita easier to get at any tire store, or just as much of a pain since they aren't that wide and not a typical car tire? thx.

As for the FWD component here... the SUV I'd purchase would most likely be FWD as well due to simplifying the drive train and trying to eek out a MPG or two more. So perhaps that's a wash between an SUV and a minivan, but I agree, additional hitch weight will reduce traction on a FWD vehicle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I believe Scamp recently switched from a welded-on axle installation to a bolt-on, so that should open up options for raising the suspension. I'm not sure when they made the switch. But I guess Scamp does change...

Casita comes from the factory riding on 15" wheels, versus Scamp on 13". Advantage there goes to Casita . Scamp's shell has an apron that extends below the floor, and it looks like it might be a bit more vulnerable to getting caught on something compared to Casita's wrap-around fiberglass underskin. Another advantage to Casita.

Bottom line, though, is either could work for light off-highway use (graded gravel or dirt roads) and neither is a great choice for heavy off-road use without extensive modification.

Regarding minivans, my biggest concern is how low the back end is and the length of the rear overhang. Some of them take aftermarket hitches that hang down even lower. Also, I have experienced that it doesn't take much of a grade on a slippery road surface (dirt or gravel) for a FWD vehicle to lose traction when pulling a trailer. The tongue load has a tendency to unload the drive axle, and going uphill makes it worse.

A minivan is an ideal tow vehicle for the the highway, and for limited off-highway use. But it won't handle deep ruts, washouts, or steep grades very well.
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:15 PM   #14
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No problem buying either size tires. Discount Tires (aka America's Tires) is my go-to source.

I also have a FWD-only SUV, which I chose for the exact reasons you mentioned. Previously we towed with a minivan. The minivan was a better tow on the highway for sure. But on rougher, unpaved roads, it's nice not having to worry about bottoming out the vehicle and focusing my attention on the trailer. I mentioned the FWD limitation because there is a campground we go to every year that has one short section of access road that really challenges the FWD. The road rounds a sharp bend (no chance to gain momentum) and ascends an 8%(?) grade on a combination of dirt, gravel, and exposed bedrock. I have to turn off stability control and allow some wheel spin to get through. For those five minutes once a year, I wish I had AWD.
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