Advice for first tow ever? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 04-05-2016, 08:42 PM   #15
Name: Rebecca
Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 44
Well, I was looking at used ones... guess I can look for a used one with a tow package on it.

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Old 04-05-2016, 08:49 PM   #16
Junior Member
Name: Gay
Trailer: Trillium 4500
Posts: 3
Thanks for the tips

I looked at this thread because I just did my first tow this past weekend. Although I don't have a Scamp, I found all of the information Jon posted very helpful. Thank you!

Gay Groomes
Arroyo Grande, CA
2014 Trillium 4500
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:00 PM   #17
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Byron Kinnaman's Avatar
Name: Byron
Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
Posts: 6,431
Here's a link to Oregon's towing brochure. Lots of good information very little is unique to Oregon.
I would suggest you read it. Then ask questions.

Weight distribution is one thing overlooked or misunderstood. Trying to balance an overweight tail by adding weight to the tongue isn't going to help much, some maybe but not a lot. Most of the weight should over the axle. If know what a pendulum is you'll know that the more weight behind the axle the stronger the pendulum effect is.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:13 PM   #18
Name: Rebecca
Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 44
Fortunately, for my first tow I will not have any gear/cargo other than the trailer - and me driving the car. Maybe a few articles of clothing. I intend to take as little as possible for this first tow.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:18 PM   #19
Junior Member
Name: Jim
Trailer: Escape 17B
Posts: 29
If you already have the subaru tow vehicle with wiring and a hitch... instead of doing your first tow with the scamp, I would rent the biggest U-Haul enclosed trailer (I think 5'x10' based on the Outback's curb weight, if you can trick them into letting you have a 6x12 it is a lot heavier and will be a more accurate test).

It will cost you $30 or so for a 1-day rental. You can load up the front of the trailer with some heavy stuff (to get the tongue weight up to Scamp levels). Make sure the cargo is all tied down and won't slide around.

Take the trailer for a drive and see how you like it. The Scamp will have a lot more wind resistance and weight than the U-Haul, but it will give you some idea of how much of a load it will put on your subaru. you will be able to tell if you need new suspension (too much bounciing around). You'll hear some weird noises, clanks and so on from the coupler; it will be nicer to hear whilst driving on your own turf, rather than hearing those noises for the first time in an unfamiliar place after having plunked down serious $$$ for your trailer.

I personally tow my Escape 17' with an Audi A4. I have a manual transmission so i don't have to worry about transmission temps. It tows really well. It is quite a bit heavier than the Escape(3825 vs 2555), which makes a big difference in handling.

I'd also invest in RV roadside assistance (AAA, GoodSam, etc). That way if your new-to-you trailer has old grotty tires that want to pop on your way home, you'll have some assistance in getting back on the road.
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:37 AM   #20
Junior Member
Name: Dennis
Trailer: 16' Scamp
Posts: 11
Advice for First Tow Ever?

Do FIND someone who has at least a little towing experience, AND TAKE THEM WITH YOU! It's not "Rocket Science" but you NEED to do this!
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:38 AM   #21
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Name: Patrick
Trailer: R-Vision Trail Lite
New York
Posts: 592
Rebecca, It seems evident you have the wrong tow vehicle. The Toyota Highlander would handle your trailer and more....excellent choice.
In the interest of you safety please wait until you have the right vehicle and have it set up with the following: Brake controller, sway control, weight distribution.
If you had bought thru a dealer he would have made sure you were properly equipped before you hit the road. I know you have been on this board fishing for information before today and have been given a lot of advise. It seems you may still be confused. Your first tow should be a safe and happy experience but if you are not properly equipped it could be traumatic.

Again delay picking up the trailer until you have the proper tow vehicle with the required equipment installed and instructions on how to use that equipment.
Better safe than sorry.....good luck.

I am 69years old, have towed a camp trailer since 1983 ...well over 100,000 miles without an accident. I feel I know enough to offer advise. My best advise is to start with proper complete instructions and the right equipment. Trailer camping and towing should be both fun and safe.

Happy Camping.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:51 AM   #22
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Name: Tom
Trailer: interested in HC1.
Posts: 125
How times have changed!
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:49 PM   #23
Name: Teal
Trailer: Scamp 16
Posts: 48
What I learned

Hi Rebecca,

I researched a lot before buying my Scamp 16... I towed first last holiday season. One thing I would be concerned with is your vehicle. I have a 6cyl Toyota Highlander... and found via Vin research my model was made with the tow pkg...which means a transmission cooler, upgraded radiator, and 3500 tow capacity.

I had the electric brake installed as welll, it was an investment $500... before spending that much I would look into your tow vehicle more and consider something with more towing capacity. Where are you traveling? If mountainous at all...I personally wouldn't do it with a 4 cyl. My mechanic doesn't even think my tranny cooler is much when it comes to towing., he thinks it should be beefier than it is. ... and he is a master. Don't forget that your load overall includes what's in your vehicle and the'll be maxed out. I got lots oh great advice on thus site. Scour the feeds for info, especially on towing and hitch set ups.

Practicing backing is critical... small trailers are trickier than large ones and you can't always go forward if you know what I mean.

If I think of anything else particularly helpful I'll post to again. Another newbie traveling solo
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:15 PM   #24
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Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Posts: 7,316
Originally Posted by Rebecca3 View Post
I will be towing with a 2008 Subaru Outback 4 cyl (114K miles), which runs well, and have purchased a 2012 Scamp 16 with A/C. Scamp dealer said I should be OK. Car rating is 2700 lbs, 200 on the hitch. I'll be picking it up by myself and will ensure it is as empty as possible so I can get an idea of how it'll all work. I have to tow it home first (about 700 miles). Then I will use the trailer for 3 month volunteer jobs at wildlife refuges. I started out shopping for Scamp 13s but ended up with a 16, which I think will work better for my type of use, plus I can get a different tow vehicle down the road if I need/want to.

I have never towed before and am watching all kinds of youtube videos to learn to tow. I'm having elect. and a brake controller installed this week. Will pick up the trailer in 2 weeks. I'm not sure how to use the brake so will research this...

Should I take it to a nearby RV dealership first to have them look over the hitch and setup before I leave the seller area? The seller said she'd take it in before I get there to be sure the tires are inflated properly.

I'll try to avoid rush hour traffic in any cities on the way... I will take my time and go slowly and carefully.

Anything else I should think about?
We owned a Honda CRV when we bought our first trailer and would not have bought a trailer if we had to buy a new tow vehicle. It turned out to be a great tow vehicle. There are many that will discourage you but I'd try your present vehicle before I bought anything else.

We towed a Scamp 16 or equivalent for 8 years. We've towed 7 months a year. Our Scamp 16 weighs 2600 lbs; this includes a tongue weight of 200 lbs. For 7 of the years we towed with a 4 cylinder Honda CR with a manual transmission. We have been to every state and province.

We do not drive at high speeds, never more than 62 mph. We avoid cities and generally avoid crowded Interstates. We don't mind if we have to slow down on long hills, hills are relatively rare. We avoid bad weather. Don't drive in high winds, heavy rains or snow. Of course it happens but we avoid it when possible.

If you have an automatic transmission a transmission cooler is a must.

We do a number of things to improve the safety of our towing. We concentrate heavy items over the axle, like canned goods, and pots and pans. We carry clothes and other items at the ends of the trailer. We only have one battery and one propane tank. We always drive with a half tank of water. We inflate our trailer tires to 50 PSI . We increase the tire pressure of the tow vehicle by about 8-10 lbs over manufacturer's suggested pressures.

We do have an anti-sway bar, not because our trailer's ever swayed (we've towed 1000s of miles without one) but for the inevitable emergency.

We weigh our tongue every year and it's always in the 195 to 205 lb range.

Our trailer has more extra storage than most, we have not sought to make it super light. The load on the axle is 2400 lbs, (2600-200).

Here's a link to our Scamp 16

Preparing a 1991 Scamp 16

Other little things...we have tire pressure sensors on our trailer tires and a camera in the back window of our trailer to let us know what's really happening behind us.

If you find your vehicle inadequate get something else.

I'm always happy to answer questions about our experiences.
Norm and Ginny

2014 Honda Odyssey
1991 Scamp 16
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:01 PM   #25
Name: Teal
Trailer: Scamp 16
Posts: 48
Valuable Info

Hi! I found valuable info in your post to Rebecca. And... I'm impressed that you did well with a 4 cyl... I have heard the Honda CRV is capable. My Highlander is automatic with Overdrive... have been advised to not use overdrive when towing.

Curious about your rear camera... I would love that. What brand and how have you attached it to the Scamp?

My caution is more inexperience and all the advice I've received being new to towing a Scamp too. I am happy with my experience so far! Can't wait to get out there and travel.

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Old 04-06-2016, 07:18 PM   #26
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Civilguy's Avatar
Name: Mike
Trailer: Escape 21 & Jeep GC 5.7 (Previous 2012 Casita FD17 & 2010 Audi Q5)
Puget Sound, WA
Posts: 737
One thing I would add to all the above is to check the lighting on the trailer periodically.

I once had a "brand new" tow vehicle wiring setup that turned out to have an open circuit on the connection between the tow vehicle battery and the trailer wiring adaptor. The installer had not properly connected one of the most critical connections. What this means is that after checking the trailer lights when we first hitched up, I was merrily towing for perhaps an hour or more (fortunately in daylight) with no brake lights or running lights on the trailer.

If alone, you can "check" the trailer brake lights by operating the flashing emergency lights and/or the turn signals. However, doing this is a 99.9% test; there are some rare potential problems (such as the brake switch in the tow vehicle failing) where this approach won't demonstrate the failure of the brake light circuit.

It's best to have someone that can actually step on the brake pedal while you check the lights. (Notice that I didn't say someone that someone can check the lights while you step on the pedal; you should be the one checking the lights as you are the one depending on this information.)

I have also depressed the brake pedal when alone by wedging a long-handled windshield squeegee between the front seat cushion and the pedal. The squeegee ends pads the contact with the seat upholstery so that can work pretty well.

Good luck on the trip. Hopefully it will turn out that all the "might happens" here from the forum will be the worst of it.
- "Wag more, bark less." -
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Old 04-18-2016, 02:37 AM   #27
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Name: Lynn
Trailer: Casita Spirit 16'
Posts: 158
If your tow vehicle doesn't have a rear camera, the tractor supply store has a $12 kit that is a stick with a ball that you put on the hitch on the car and another one that you put on the ball on the trailer, and they stick up far enough that, when you back up, you can see to line up the two balls. My second tip is: I was not able to back it by feel. I have to just force myself to focus on the simple rule that I put my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel and push the wheel in the direction that I want the back of the camper to go. When I do this, I back very well. When I put my hands up on the top of the steering wheel, things go awry. Good luck!
Lynn in Indiana
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Old 07-07-2016, 02:56 PM   #28
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Name: Sylvio
Trailer: 1975 Boler
Posts: 195
Plenty of good information in this thread! I'm looking for a thread where there's a discussion about checking the torque of the wheels' lug nuts. Can anyone help?

I'll be pulling a 13' Boler with a 6 cyl Kia Rondo. I wanted to buy a transmission cooler but the guy told me that I might not need it. He installed a sticker on the transmission with 5 dots that change color as soon as the transmission reaches a certain temperature. No color change yet, but we haven't really tried the Boler (that is, we haven't tried a trip with the whole family and the luggage...). I'll monitor the sticker and get a cooler once we reach destination if needed.

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