Help, Im Fishtailing (and other first trip encounters) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-04-2012, 05:45 PM   #1
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Help, Im Fishtailing (and other first trip encounters)

We have just finished our first short little trip (~2200 Miles) This was the first trip for my little 13' 1980 Scamp. Most all went well with a couple of exceptions. Towing up, I had an "adjustible height" hitch. It rattled and thunked but did pretty good, except hanging down as it did it bottomed out and dragged and undoubtably dug some gashes here and there. So on the way home I switched to a 3 1/2 inch drop hitch.

Here are my questions and issues.

1) driving up, the ride rattled a little more because of the adujstible hitch but was much smoother.

a) did the play in the adjustible hitch act as a mini shock absorber to have less effect on the tow veghicle.

b) with 3 1/2 the front was a bit higher, and with 5 1/2 the front would be a bit lower. Towing home at 3 1/2 i would get some fishtailing occasionally, especially at the end of my trip. WAS THIS CAUSED BY THE TONGUE HEIGHT? Nothing else had changed, load in the trailer was identical the entire time except a pound or two of propane lower. How can I stop the fishtailing.

2) the tire company put 42# of air in my tires and rattled the heck out of everything til I got to the bay area and dropped it to 30. Scamp recomments 20 and I have seen people go as low as 15 psi, what does everybody here use on their 13' fiberglass vehicles??

3) My fridge actually does work on 110/12V and propanem however it is unreliable on 12V and propane. What can I do to make it cool better. it is a Dometic 211. I think one night the propane blew out and I had no way of knowing. On new trailers I saw there is a green LED indicating that the propane is working. Does anyone know of an aftermarket kit to add this to my rig?

Thanks for the help and input. looking forward to more upcoming trips.

A "quick " detail of my trip is below. Pix at the bottom of the post...


Started in Pasadena, made our way to Santa Barbara, Then the Bay Area, then Cloverdale on the russian River, up the Mendocino Coast, through fort bragg, through the Redwoods into Crescent City, up into Rogue River Oregon, and our final northern destination point of Crater lake. Back down through the modoc Plateau and the lava tubes national Monument, (which had all of the smoke from Lassen) into Lassen (which sent all of their smoke from their fires into the Modoc Plateau and other places) finally a night in Marysville off the 99, lunch in Sacramento, dinenr in Bakersfield, and then home sweet home back in pasaeena, whew)!!!
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Hitch Drop_resize.JPG   Curtains_resize.JPG  

Lassen Peak_resize.JPG   Medocino Coast_resize.JPG  

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Old 09-04-2012, 05:49 PM   #2
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Flip the hitch over, reverse the ball, you will get new numbers and possibly the correct level one.
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:42 PM   #3
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As far as the fridge goes on propane I would clean the gas jet and pilot real well.You may even want to blow some air up the chimney with a air compressor. Don't put anything metal into the gas jet as you could ruin it. You may be surprised how well it will run after a good cleaning. The fridge should work best on propane, then 110v and last 12v. You have to watch it on 12v as it will drain a battery in a hurry. That should give you a start and there are other things to help with the cooling.
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:46 PM   #4
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Thanks Harley and Tim. I am hoping to take the fridge out and clean/repair all that I can, when you say chimney, which part are you referring to.

As for the fishtailing, Harley do you think the front end being lower is causing it. The photo I posted before the trailer towed perfectly at all speeds, here is the hitch I am using now (although I dont currently have the trailer hooked up)

You can see in the photo at the lake that the front end is maybe an inch or so lower than the back end. Not sure if that is causing the fishtailing but the only thing I suspect, then again this is basically my first time at towing a trailer, so all other options will be considered and appreciated.

Thanks again. . jimbo
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:01 PM   #5
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Our trailer is never perfectly level when being towed, but ut is pretty close. An inch should not make a difference. The fish tailing is often caused by too much weight in the rear of the trailer. I try to balance front to back by trial and error, putting the most weight over the axle. I would think soft tires would also lead to squishy handling. A bad axle could also be the culprit.

Now that I've spouted off about a trailer I've never owned, we should let the Scamp pros take over.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:01 PM   #6
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does that show 2" off the ground? I'd try 3" drop, do not forget that the trailer will drop the tow also. Level is ideal, if not a little nose heavy. Make sure you weigh your tongue, if it is too light(too little weight in front) you will have sway. This is what you may be calling fishtailing, we call it sway, caused by improper set up or too light tongue or a combo of both.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:04 PM   #7
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There are anti-rattle devices you can buy for your ball mount. I made my own. General rule is the trailer should tilt slightly down in the front. I own 5 different ball mounts because of different tow vehicles and trailers
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:06 PM   #8
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it is not uncommon to own several hitch bars (I have a collection of 3 plus 2 adjustable ones) so find the right one that works rather than "making do", you will have a more enjoyable ride. Some people will buy at Wallyworld, go out to parking lot, hook up, if not right back into store to try another one. Do what you have to do, but make it right.
Also keep in mind, every tow will be different, it maybe ok on one trip but on another you may pack different or bring more/less and it will tow different.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:21 PM   #9
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Per the Scamp web site, for a 13' trailer the top of the ball should be about 18" above the ground. As far as your tires, there are several threads here about tire pressure. Personally, I think 20# is way too soft and that will cause some sway(and possibly overheat the tires). I always go with the tire manufacturers recommendation-listed on the tire.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:27 PM   #10
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I have noticed that sometimes the tire manufacturer recommends one PSI level and the car maker, another set of PSI levels. The car company wants a soft ride normally and for example my Jeep states on door jamb 30 psi but the tire states 45 psi. When towing I use 45 and I leave it that way the rest of the time. It rides a little harder but it make life a little simpler. So check both places.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:39 PM   #11
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Harley the photo is misleading, the tape is not on the ground. just a way to show the drop of the ball from the receiver on the tow vehicle.

As for tire pressure, I read on another forum here (maybe for a compact Jr) but because of the light weight of these type of trailers, full pressure should not be used. 42 was WAY too high and I was scared to go to 20 so I settled for 30.

Weight distribution did not change from the beginning of the trip to the end of the trip. The only known variable (other than possibly a thrown weight on a trailer wheel) was the hitch I used.

Guess I need to check the tongue weight. but with a propane bottle and a marine battery it is not light. (I had to lift it a ocuple times) nor is it impossible to lift.

Maybe I need to buy the new hitch and start hauling. . lol

Mary & Bob, rattling wasnt as much as a problem with the solid hitch vs the adjustible hitch, but the trailer did tow differently, felt like we would occasionally surge with the newer non adjustible hitch. .
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:04 PM   #12
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Per the Scamp web site, for a 13' trailer the top of the ball should be about 18" above the ground.
That is for current trailers. Back in the 70's and 80's many trailers were in the 14" - 16" range. To me it looks like the trailer is riding low, might be time to replace the original axle.

For the fridge, search "almost good venting".
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:27 PM   #13
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I had a severe problem with fishtailing with my Trillium 4500 any time I went over 55 mph. It was solved 100% with the addition of a cheap friction sway control device. After that it tracked true at 70-75 mph with no fishtailing whatsoever. I would never pull a light fiberglass trailer without one, especially since the cost is under $50.
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Clinton View Post
Per the Scamp web site, for a 13' trailer the top of the ball should be about 18" above the ground. .
Dennis your correct on Scamps with a newer axle 18" would bring the trailer to pretty close to level but looking at the photos of the Scamp in question it appears its riding way lower than it would with a newer axle which is why its bottoming out. If they were to put the hitch up to 18" they probable will have a sway problem due to the tongue being way to light due to it being tongue up .
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