Shakedown Cruise - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-12-2006, 05:20 PM   #1
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Hi All,

Well, we just got back from our shakedown cruise in our 1983 Scamp 16 that we've been working on ...

We only went two hours down the road to Oscar Scherrer State Park near Sarasota, Fl but it was 2 hours down the Interstate ... which gave us time to see how everything pulls. We weren't particularly impressed with the park. Only minimal hook-ups, water and electric and strictly dirt (and dead leaves) so cleaning the inside floor became a chore. Next time out we’ll carry an astro-turf pad the size of the awning or a little bigger to help keep the mess outside.


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You'll note our tow vehicle is a 2004 Chevy Colorado ... 4 cyl, 5 speed, fiberglass topper ... I can't say that I recommend this vehicle as a TV ... it's about maxed out. It tows but it's a real strain... we can hit 70 on the flat and level, floored in 5th gear and the cruise control pretty much maintains speed at 65 except that it will drop down to 60 on some overpasses. A V-6 engine with automatic trans would be much preferred ... maybe a small van. That's considering that our Chevy 4 cyl is a rather large 2.9 liter engine.

The PO had installed passenger car radials on the Scamp. I replaced these with Carlisle 6 ply trailer tires 13 inch Load Range C as recommended by the Scamp owner manual. The new tires (running at 50lbs ... max load pressure) solved most of the sway problem but we still get a little sway at times ... maybe due to the draft of passing vehicles? or tongue loading? I think we're pretty light on the tongue because I can shift the tongue by hand a small amount if need be so I doubt if the tongue is over 100lbs ... if was over that I probably couldn't lift it at all ... anyway, any suggestions would be appreciated.

The trailer will bounce the truck a bit on rough roads, overpasses and such but it's pretty steady for the most part.

I filled the gas tank this morning … it took 14 gallons and we logged 235 miles on the trip meter so we’re happy there, at close to 17 mpg. Around town we get about 20-22 without the trailer and we have clocked 27 cruising the Interstate over a full tank before so we'll see how we do on a longer haul. We spent a lot of time with the pedal to the metal.

I have a few more pictures but in this one you can see we've replaced the factory awning with a Jayco Bag Awning ... we also have the screen room that goes with it (not rigged) ... I think we paid about $250 for the whole thing not including track on EBay ...(brand new)

You can also see the A/C unit in the side window ... works fine. It's a little 5000 BTU model from Home Depot...it seems to cool well even with the camper in direct sun. It'll freeze you out at night.

One problem we had is that the A/C, the fluorescent light, the Fridge and the Microwave are all on the same circuit ... a 15 amp circuit ... so we have to turn off the air to run the microwave ... back to the drawing board on that one. We have two circuits in the box, 15 amps each ... one is dedicated to the water heater (12.8 amps) and the other is everything else (apparently more than 15 amps) ... a project for next year.

The other issue is that the black water tank fittings leak. The tank was full when we got the unit (of course) so we pulled into a truck stop near the house and emptied both tanks. Since then the black water tank valve apparently doesn't close (even though the handle goes in all the way) and the drip cap might as well not even be there. Also the black water tank connection is under the trailer and facing down which makes it a pain in A ... to connect. Another project for next year ... put elbows on the fittings and extend them out the side so I can make the connection without tempting fate.

We also have a water leak inside under the sink. Looking under there, it appears that everything leaks ... just about every fitting oozes a little water ... with the city water hooked up ... another project for next season.

We also added jackstands to the rear bumper ... they work well ... and we uninstalled the propane tank in favor of all electric stuff ... mainly because here in Florida we need A/C anyway which means going to camp sites with power ... at least until we buy a genset. We'll cook outside on a campstove or we'll zap everything.

We also added a tongue box. We did it mainly so that we can lock up the battery but it also provide a good storage hole for outside type items … mainly the hose we use to flush the sewage tanks, extra jack stands, jack stand pads, spare gas bottles, fix a flat bottles, etc …

I'll send along another post or three with more pictures...
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Old 09-12-2006, 05:26 PM   #2
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Old 09-12-2006, 05:30 PM   #3
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Old 09-12-2006, 06:29 PM   #4
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If you're floored all the time pulling i would suggest using 4th gear instead of overdrive. I tow my 13 ft Compact with a 4cyl Suzuki sometimes and it is a lot happier in 4th gear unless you have a downhill stretch of road. There is more power available on 4cyl motors when they are around 3,000-3,500 rpm cruising speed. For sway control make sure the trailer when hitched up is level. Unllevel towing can cause swaying. Mike
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Old 09-12-2006, 06:35 PM   #5
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I think that you are being rather harsh when you say that your 4 banger will not hold 70 in 5th gear going up an incline. I don't think I would be pulling at 70 mph with a 4 cyl much less trying to do it in 5th gear. Slow down a little bit, drop down to 4th gear and enjoy the trip. Going 60 mph instead of 70 mph will only take 20 minutes longer on a 2 hour trip, probably less because you said that it didn't maintain 70. I also do not tow with my cruise control on because you cannot tell how hard the trailer is pulling. You feel that with your gas pedal. By slowing down and letting the engine rev a little bit, your gas mileage will probably go up.
I am not being critical, just wondering if your expectations are realistic.
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Old 09-12-2006, 07:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Hi All,

Well, we just got back from our shakedown cruise in our 1983 Scamp 16 that we've been working on ...

We only went two hours down the road to Oscar Scherrer State Park near Sarasota, Fl but it was 2 hours down the Interstate ... which gave us time to see how everything pulls. We weren't particularly impressed with the park. Only minimal hook-ups, water and electric and strictly dirt (and dead leaves) so cleaning the inside floor became a chore. Next time out we’ll carry an astro-turf pad the size of the awning or a little bigger to help keep the mess outside.
I too didn't want to be tracking in mud and debri, so I took a plastic door mat and attached a Scrusher to it. Now I'm able to get most of the junk off my shoes by using the Scrusher on the mat.
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Old 09-13-2006, 07:07 AM   #7
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Quote:

I think that you are being rather harsh when you say that your 4 banger will not hold 70 in 5th gear going up an incline. I don't think I would be pulling at 70 mph with a 4 cyl much less trying to do it in 5th gear. Slow down a little bit, drop down to 4th gear and enjoy the trip. Going 60 mph instead of 70 mph will only take 20 minutes longer on a 2 hour trip, probably less because you said that it didn't maintain 70. I also do not tow with my cruise control on because you cannot tell how hard the trailer is pulling. You feel that with your gas pedal. By slowing down and letting the engine rev a little bit, your gas mileage will probably go up.
I am not being critical, just wondering if your expectations are realistic.
That's ok ... I appreciate the comment ... I don't think I had any expectations ... just trying to sort out the best way to use what we have. I'm not buying another truck until this one wears out so how it pulls is how it pulls.

With gas prices the way they are, we're pretty much cruising in the right lane at about 65 (in fifth on the level) ... dropping to 4th when engine rpm drops below about 1800 ... the truck really seems to lug below 1800 or so. I think I'll try running more in 4th to see if fuel economy improves with the engine running in a different range ... the final drive ratio on our truck is also quite high ... 65 in 5th is right at 2000 rpm. It would be nice to have a bit of reserve power when you need to pull out and pass though.

Also driving in the right lane is an experience ... I've always tried to be defensive and so preferred cruising the middle lane (of three) leaving room on either side ... but that requires keeping up with traffic at least. At 65 we're close to the slowest thing out there.

The problem here in Florida on I-4 anyway, is that there's an entrance/exit ramp about every mile and I find that a lot of drivers don't know how to merge properly so I end up braking a lot behind cars merging well under the speed limit. That means dropping off cruise and then reaccelerating ... another fuel waster.

We'll learn how I suppose ... thanks for the comment, it helps us think through the process.
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Old 09-13-2006, 07:14 AM   #8
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I too didn't want to be tracking in mud and debri, so I took a plastic door mat and attached a Scrusher to it. Now I'm able to get most of the junk off my shoes by using the Scrusher on the mat.
Thanks for the tip ... that's something we don't see here in Florida. Probably works just as well on beach sand as on cow stuff
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Old 09-13-2006, 07:17 AM   #9
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If you're floored all the time pulling i would suggest using 4th gear instead of overdrive. I tow my 13 ft Compact with a 4cyl Suzuki sometimes and it is a lot happier in 4th gear unless you have a downhill stretch of road. There is more power available on 4cyl motors when they are around 3,000-3,500 rpm cruising speed. For sway control make sure the trailer when hitched up is level. Unllevel towing can cause swaying. Mike
Thanks for the reply,

I think we're level oe nearly so. Would tongue up or down mean more or less sway? Or is level the only way to minimize sway?

Thanks
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Old 09-13-2006, 07:20 AM   #10
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[quote]
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Great looking tongue box. Where did you get it?
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Old 09-13-2006, 07:49 AM   #11
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If all your fittings leak a bit of water when hooked up to the city supply perhaps the pressure is too high. Have you put a pressure regulator between the city supply and the trailer?
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Old 09-13-2006, 11:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Hi All,

Well, we just got back from our shakedown cruise in our 1983 Scamp 16 that we've been working on ...

We only went two hours down the road to Oscar Scherrer State Park near Sarasota, Fl but it was 2 hours down the Interstate ... which gave us time to see how everything pulls. We weren't particularly impressed with the park. Only minimal hook-ups, water and electric and strictly dirt (and dead leaves) so cleaning the inside floor became a chore. Next time out we’ll carry an astro-turf pad the size of the awning or a little bigger to help keep the mess outside.


Attachment 4847


You'll note our tow vehicle is a 2004 Chevy Colorado ... 4 cyl, 5 speed, fiberglass topper ... I can't say that I recommend this vehicle as a TV ... it's about maxed out. It tows but it's a real strain... we can hit 70 on the flat and level, floored in 5th gear and the cruise control pretty much maintains speed at 65 except that it will drop down to 60 on some overpasses. A V-6 engine with automatic trans would be much preferred ... maybe a small van. That's considering that our Chevy 4 cyl is a rather large 2.9 liter engine.

The PO had installed passenger car radials on the Scamp. I replaced these with Carlisle 6 ply trailer tires 13 inch Load Range C as recommended by the Scamp owner manual. The new tires (running at 50lbs ... max load pressure) solved most of the sway problem but we still get a little sway at times ... maybe due to the draft of passing vehicles? or tongue loading? I think we're pretty light on the tongue because I can shift the tongue by hand a small amount if need be so I doubt if the tongue is over 100lbs ... if was over that I probably couldn't lift it at all ... anyway, any suggestions would be appreciated.

The trailer will bounce the truck a bit on rough roads, overpasses and such but it's pretty steady for the most part.

I filled the gas tank this morning … it took 14 gallons and we logged 235 miles on the trip meter so we’re happy there, at close to 17 mpg. Around town we get about 20-22 without the trailer and we have clocked 27 cruising the Interstate over a full tank before so we'll see how we do on a longer haul. We spent a lot of time with the pedal to the metal.

I have a few more pictures but in this one you can see we've replaced the factory awning with a Jayco Bag Awning ... we also have the screen room that goes with it (not rigged) ... I think we paid about $250 for the whole thing not including track on EBay ...(brand new)

You can also see the A/C unit in the side window ... works fine. It's a little 5000 BTU model from Home Depot...it seems to cool well even with the camper in direct sun. It'll freeze you out at night.

One problem we had is that the A/C, the fluorescent light, the Fridge and the Microwave are all on the same circuit ... a 15 amp circuit ... so we have to turn off the air to run the microwave ... back to the drawing board on that one. We have two circuits in the box, 15 amps each ... one is dedicated to the water heater (12.8 amps) and the other is everything else (apparently more than 15 amps) ... a project for next year.

The other issue is that the black water tank fittings leak. The tank was full when we got the unit (of course) so we pulled into a truck stop near the house and emptied both tanks. Since then the black water tank valve apparently doesn't close (even though the handle goes in all the way) and the drip cap might as well not even be there. Also the black water tank connection is under the trailer and facing down which makes it a pain in A ... to connect. Another project for next year ... put elbows on the fittings and extend them out the side so I can make the connection without tempting fate.

We also have a water leak inside under the sink. Looking under there, it appears that everything leaks ... just about every fitting oozes a little water ... with the city water hooked up ... another project for next season.

We also added jackstands to the rear bumper ... they work well ... and we uninstalled the propane tank in favor of all electric stuff ... mainly because here in Florida we need A/C anyway which means going to camp sites with power ... at least until we buy a genset. We'll cook outside on a campstove or we'll zap everything.

We also added a tongue box. We did it mainly so that we can lock up the battery but it also provide a good storage hole for outside type items … mainly the hose we use to flush the sewage tanks, extra jack stands, jack stand pads, spare gas bottles, fix a flat bottles, etc …

I'll send along another post or three with more pictures...
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Old 09-13-2006, 11:56 AM   #13
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I just finished a 6000 mi. shakedown with my 13ft. Ventura and my 2005 GMC Colorado. It also is a standard gear shift and it's great to read about your experience with yours. I travelled with a girlfriend who shared in some of the driving. Often I would sit there with teeth gritted, fuming and gently saying "please don't wind it up to 120 km. in 4th gear". Better yet, 3rd up to 80km. UGh. Way to difficult to tell someone else to drive.

Like you I too had some thoughts on a 6cyl. vehicle to tow but, even reading others posts regarding pulling is we are going to go slower. Hey, we are on vacation so kick back and enjoy, and so what if everyone passes us. I shall heed my own words next time because we were travelling at 120km's at times with me at the wheel. My gas mileage we figured at about 20mi to the gal. for gas so, not great to what I am used to without the trailer. Will put a post it on the dash next time "this isn't the Indy 500!" By pushing the truck so hard I am sure that I have taken a couple of years off it's life.

I might add, girlfriend bought $300 of groceries prior to departing, and enough clothes for 6 changes a day. The back of my truck was also loaded down with things we never used ie: barbecue, heavy plastic picnic table etc. Will travel much lighter next time and take my Bassett Hound instead !! Just realized that you are pulling a 16ft. trailer and I am struggling sometimes with 13ft. maybe you are expecting too much?
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Old 09-13-2006, 05:13 PM   #14
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Great looking tongue box. Where did you get it?
I got it on EBay ... about $80 plus shipping ... ended up about $100 give or take ... It's a little over size for the tongue but so far it hasn't interferred with backing the trailer ... I had to modify the tongue jack some ... took an angle grinder to the foot so the jack would fold up fully. I could have shimmed the box up an inch above the frame instead I suppose. It's only held on with 4 U-Bolts.

I still need to invent a crank handle for the tongue jack that extends above the box ... as it is the crank turns in half circles.

I have also mounted the PVC pipe for stowing the sewer tubing to the outside bottom rear of the box which can't be seen in the photo ... so the box could sit about 4 or 4.5 inches further aft on the tongue but for the tube behind it. This mounting saves holes in the cabin ... which could (and did) leak.
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