Pre-purchase questions - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-22-2006, 06:46 AM   #1
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I have finally made up my mind to get a fiberglass trailer. I toyed back and forth with the room of a pop up vs. the ease of an egg and the egg won.
Now for the newbie questions. Because I am towing with a Honda Element I will need trailer brakes, is this something that can be put on after market? If so how much should I expect to pay?
I understand that the trailer should tow level.. How does one adjust the height of the hitch to achieve this?
Thanks for your help. I am sure more questions will follow
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:25 AM   #2
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If you are purchasing new, order with the brakes installed.

If not, go to www.northerntool.com to check on the pric of adding brakes.

You can purchase an adjustable class III hitch.

There is an Element owner on this site that will give you the bottom line suggestions.
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
I have finally made up my mind to get a fiberglass trailer. I toyed back and forth with the room of a pop up vs. the ease of an egg and the egg won.
Now for the newbie questions. Because I am towing with a Honda Element I will need trailer brakes, is this something that can be put on after market? If so how much should I expect to pay?
I understand that the trailer should tow level.. How does one adjust the height of the hitch to achieve this?
Thanks for your help. I am sure more questions will follow
I don't have brakes on our 1978 Burro, but I adjusted the height of the hitch by purchasing a new drawbar that stepped up our ball. Our Burro had towed low in front, so I bought a new drawbar that was straight rather than stepped down and this leveled everything nicely. If you have a hitch, however, that is all one piece welded, then this suggestion doesn't help. Sorry!
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Old 09-22-2006, 02:07 PM   #4
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Brakes can be added to axles which already have the flanges to which the brake backing plates bolt. If the axle was built without the flanges, previous discussions in this forum have concluded that it's probably cheaper to just replace the whole axle assembly.

As Kevin explained, the "ball platform" or "ball mount" or "drawbar" can be changed, if the Element's hitch is the type which consists of a frame with a socket (the "reciever"), into which an easily removable part is inserted; these ball mounts come in various heights, so you pick the one that puts the ball at the height you need. There are even ball mounts (such as the one from MasterLock) which adjust in height with a screw, so they can be set at exactly the height you want, and one can serve for multiple trailers. Most designs of adjustable ball mount adjust in steps, and most are only available for the 2-inch square receiver socket found in Class III (and higher) hitches.

I have ball mounts chosen to be appropriate for my Boler and my utility trailer; they have different amounts of rise (or drop) from the receiver height, and each has the appropriate size of ball installed for the coupler of the corresponding trailer. My hitch is a Class II with a 1.25" square receiver, so that's the size of the ball mounts. There is much less selection of 1.25" (Class II) ball mounts than 2" (Class III etc) ball mounts available.

Almost all hitches of every class are now of this receiver type, but some hitches (particularly the ones of lowest capacity, in Class I) are still fixed, with a non-adjustable place to put the ball. Hitches are cheap enough that if I had a fixed hitch on an Element, I would replace it with a Class II or Class III receiver-type hitch.
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Old 09-22-2006, 05:28 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help. I do not have a hitch yet I was thinking of a U haul class 2. Do you know if the newer Scamps and Castias(1995 or newer) have the flanges for the trailer brakes on the axels?
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Old 09-23-2006, 07:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for the help. I do not have a hitch yet I was thinking of a U haul class 2. Do you know if the newer Scamps and Castias(1995 or newer) have the flanges for the trailer brakes on the axels?

My 16' 88 Scamp has electric brakes...right from the factory. I think you're going to find the answer is on a trailer-by-trailer basis depending on the age of the trailer (nearly all 16+ footers of all years will probably already have brakes), 13 footers less often. But the good thing is axles aren't all that expensive (not cheap, but won't break the bank)...with all the bells and whisles and if you purchase an oldy-but-goody you'll probably end up changing out the axle anyway. If you go to the expense of adding the brakes, it MAY just be better to change the entire axle...the cost difference won't be all that great. Adding brakes to an aged axle is merely a band-aid solution.
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Old 09-23-2006, 07:54 AM   #7
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Shooting from the hip here; I don't think you'll have much selection in hitch for your Element. I believe that the Class II reciever may be available. There isn't much in the way of a range of drop sizes for Class II recievers. And you're right, the trailer should be towed as level as possible. The good news is that most of the 13' trailers ought to be just about level with a hitch installed on the Element.

Gina can out here. Oh GINAAAA!!!!!

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Old 09-24-2006, 04:16 PM   #8
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I am late here. I was out towing my trailer around with my Element.

U Haul makes a Class 3 hitch for the Element. Others may also, but that's the only one for sure I know.

I tow with a Class 1, rated at 2k with a 200 lb tongue limit. Your Element is rated at 1500 with a 150 tongue, so.. if you stay within limit a Class 1 will do fine. I got mine from E Trailer mail order. It bolts straight in. A Hidden Hitch. Looks good too. It's, er.. Hidden! So simple, I did it myself. It comes with a straight draw bar and by sheer co-inky dink, the level is perfect for my E and Burro. It bolts right on.

You can also order the harness from them, but it is only a 4 wire. For your brakes and charge line, take it to a trailer shop and let them do it. They will add the two lines, and meld the 4 wire harness in with the 7 or 6 pin you choose. (That depends on the trailer you get)

Get a tranny cooler, (if you have an automatic) despite what Honda says. It's cheap insurance. U Haul again has them. Mine is the heavy duty one, and was 140 installed.

All that being said, I wish I had gotten a class 3, just for the fudge factor, but thats more paranoia than anything. (Bigger is gooder, right?) I started towing with a 400 lb pop up and a class 3 was overkill for that. I stepped up to the Burro.

Brakes, in my opinion, are essential, also cheap insurance. Do a search on this board for "Honda Element" and you will come up with a load of threads on the E.

Also check out The Element Owners Club. Check the boards on Racks and Hitches.

Just another opinon, the Element and most 13 footers are a perfect match for economy and fun, if you have the E properly equipped and your ego won't be destroyed that you can't tow on washboard back roads. For most applications, they are fine!

19 mpg in normal driving conditions ain't nuttin' to sneeze at!
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Old 09-24-2006, 04:38 PM   #9
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Thanks for your help. My question now is do I try to get a 13 footer with brakes or put them on as an aftermarket. I already have talked my mechanic about the tranny cooler It will come when I find the trailer.
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Old 09-24-2006, 04:57 PM   #10
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That depends on the trailers available. As Donna mentioned, if getting used, you takes what you can get. Certainly, if you have 2 to choose from, and they are pretty much equal except for brakes, get the one with the brakes.

Cosmetic things are easy, cheap and fun to do. Axles.. they are something that will have to go eventually. It won't be common to find one that has it replaced already.

I am pretty sure mine was, as, at 26 years old, the trailer does not seem to need a new one.. but.. its clock may be ticking if it's original and it may just be a matter of time. I certainly am not going to replace it if it doesn't need it.

Had it not already had brakes, I would have put a new one on with them. Also, Donna is wise, it isn't that much of a price difference between adding and just doing everything at once. Don't know for sure, but it would seem it's just about the same amount of labor, and there is where the cost is, not in the hardware.
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Old 09-24-2006, 05:18 PM   #11
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Thanks for your help. My question now is do I try to get a 13 footer with brakes or put them on as an aftermarket. I already have talked my mechanic about the tranny cooler It will come when I find the trailer.
Get the brakes if buying new! I think the 13' Scamp is already above the CA limit but, when you need to stop you don't need a thousand pounds or so pushing you down the road to meet what you would prefer not to.
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Old 09-25-2006, 10:48 AM   #12
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Because I am towing with a Honda Element I will need trailer brakes,
Not necessarily, but a very good idea.
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Old 09-28-2006, 12:38 AM   #13
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Hi,

We bought a 1974 Trillium 1300 a few weeks ago, and tow it with our 2006 Hyundai Tucson. It's a base 4 cyl 5 spd, rated to tow 1500 lbs here in Canada but only 1000 lbs in the USA (?? - go figure, but that's what the manufacturer's websites state).

The Trillium has no brakes, and towed very well with a simple class II hitch. The drop in power was noticable in the Tucson, but not uncomfortably so and seemed to tow best around 90 KM/H (55 mph).
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Old 09-28-2006, 06:55 AM   #14
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Here is a listing of hitches available for the Element online at etrailers.com.

http://www.etrailer.com/products.asp?model...amp;t1=&h=e

Tom Trostel
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