Almost ten years after buying my 1985 Scamp
16, I think I've reached the low point with it. My attitude towards it resembles Desi Arnez, about ten minutes from the end of "The Long, Long Trailer," when he's ready to leave Lucille Ball, if she'll take the trailer with her.
Today, my wife and I were packed up for a one-night "shakedown cruise" with the Scamp
, just after an expensive round of maintenance. Our trailer's had lots of downtime as we negotiated the tail end of our kid's high school years, when she was usually too busy with homework, music, etc, to camp with us. As reported in my earlier post, our trailers seem to wear out just sitting still. It was time to replace the aged tires
, do a full wheel bearing replacement, get a new battery
, fix running lights
and update the registration
. That totaled nearly $1000, almost half what we paid for The Skimp originally.
As we pulled out of the driveway this morning, I plugged in the control module of the trusty Draw-Tite 1Stop brake controller (aka Prodigy RF). The letters "n.c." appeared, indicating Not Connected, and we had no brakes
. So we spent a half hour reading the pairing procedure for the two-part unit, but to no avail. None of the several trailer shops nearby could help us, because it now was Saturday afternoon. Nothing to do but drive back home, park and empty the cooler.
I feel totally blindsided by this latest snafu. The brakes
worked perfectly two weeks ago when I drove to various shops doing my prep work. They never failed to work in any previous tow with them in the three years I owned this brake controller. There was no way to anticipate this-- was there? I've begun to feel that a 30-year-old trailer might be too unreliable to trust, but this failure hit its newest component!
Next month, we've planned to haul the trailer from Denver to Seattle to deliver our daughter to college. That's an emotionally charged mission even without worrying whether the brakes
will work then, or what else will break down next. Thanks to the cruel logic of the workweek, we'll be leaving on a Saturday then, too. She has a date when she needs to be present and accounted for on campus, down a long and very lonely road. How can I rely on this fickle piece of equipment?
Previous trips with the Scamp
have been successful and enjoyable. Maybe we're just going through a rough patch. It's rough enough that, for me, I'd prefer a tent and a small utility trailer for the dorm gear, but it's not just me deciding. My wife adores her trailer, since she loves to camp but her knees don't favor sleeping on the ground. Carrying the kind of gear she'd want (cots, large tent, big coolers, six pillows etc.) would demand a bigger car than our tow vehicle.
I welcome advice from anyone who's faced failures of the Prodigy RF system. (We suspect a hardware failure with the in-car control unit. It will go back to the shop that installed it next week.) Is there any other mission-critical part left to break on this thing? And does anyone else fear using their TT on a critical mission?