Advice for first tow ever? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-05-2016, 05:16 PM   #1
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Name: Rebecca
Trailer: Scamp
Kansas
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Advice for first tow ever?

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?
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:29 PM   #2
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Name: Frederick / Janis
Trailer: Previously Scamp 13 2002,2016. Scamp 16 on order
Michigan
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Does your new Scamp have a bath?

You are going to be pushing the limits on the weight of the trailer, when you have your gear inside and inside the car. In the real world, the weights of most 16's is well north of 2000 lbs and some as high as 2500 lbs.

Also, the tongue weight is almost sure to be over 200 lbs. Sorry to say these things and I don't mean to rain on your anticipation for your new Scamp, but it is what it is.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:35 PM   #3
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It does have a bath. Should I weigh it before doing anything? I can take a bath scale to weigh the tongue. I won't have gear on the first drive and so can get an idea of what it'll be like. If I have to buy a different vehicle I will.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:48 PM   #4
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Name: Frederick / Janis
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Does it have a battery on the front? Is the bath a front bath? Does it have dual propane tanks on the front?
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:51 PM   #5
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It's a layout #6 so the bath is on the front. I will find out about the propane tanks and battery.
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bpfick View Post
Does your new Scamp have a bath?

You are going to be pushing the limits on the weight of the trailer, when you have your gear inside and inside the car. In the real world, the weights of most 16's is well north of 2000 lbs and some as high as 2500 lbs.

Also, the tongue weight is almost sure to be over 200 lbs. Sorry to say these things and I don't mean to rain on your anticipation for your new Scamp, but it is what it is.
As someone who pulled with same vehicle an older Scamp side bath (the lightest of the 16's) I totally agree with the above. Very lightly loaded (back packing gear) with no AC, no water in the tanks mine routinely weighed in loaded for camping at between 2400 and 2500lbs. As such there was no choose but to go over the Subaru tongue limit of 200lbs by about 40lbs in order to achieve a nice stable tow. To compensate for that I never carried rear passengers and not much in the rear of the vehicle. I know there are people who claim to get by just fine with only 200lbs on the tongue of a 16' but despite making lots of hitch adjustments and gear loading changes I never was able to get a stable tow at highway speeds without the extra weight on the tongue.

The Subaru pulled it fine but you will find your having to take it very easy on the hills and in warm weather on the vehicle. You will also have to keep the vehicle WELL serviced... towing was tough on mine and its is why I retired it from towing with only about 60,000 miles on it & an ever mounting repair bill pile. Based on my experience pulling with the Outback I highly recommend folks stick to a 13' trailer.

Make sure the brakes on the trailer & your car side controller is set up correctly. Found that although mine were I still went through brakes car side faster than I had on previous Outbacks that never towed anything.
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:46 PM   #7
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Most trailers will begin to become unstable (start to sway) at some speed. That, of course, is very dangerous. The goal is to make sure that speed is well above normal highway speeds, which for towing should be limited to 65 mph or less. Even lower for your first tow is a sensible beginning.

Tongue weight is one factor in towing stability. If tongue weight is too light, the trailer will have a tendency to become unstable at lower speeds. Most towing sources recommend keeping tongue weight around 10-12% of total trailer weight. Your empty trailer probably weighs around 2000 pounds, so it should be possible to limit tongue weight to 200 pounds and still have a stable tow to get it home.

Your problem will come when you load up your trailer for extended use. As said, Scamp 16s typically weigh 2400-2600 pounds loaded and have a tongue weight of 250-275 pounds, well above the tongue weight rating of your vehicle. Majority opinion is that Subarus are best suited to 13' trailers.

Another factor in stability is tires. Having ST tires (designed for trailers with a stiffer sidewall) and inflating them to maximum pressure minimizes side-to-side movement. Make sure the current tires are no more than about 5 years old (date stamp in sidewall is read as WWYY, so 2514 means the 25th week of 2014). It wouldn't hurt to air up your vehicle's tires 3-5 pounds above normal for towing, too.

Other things to think about on your first tow:
  • You may need to install mirror extensions on your vehicle to see around the trailer to the rear.
  • Walk around your vehicle and trailer inspecting everything, especially the hitch connections, before you get in and drive. Develop the habit of doing this walkaround after every stop before you get back into the driver's seat..
  • Check tires and hubs for excessive heat after the first 25 miles of towing, and every time you stop after that. Bring the back of your hand close to the center of the hub. Normal is slightly warm. If they're too hot to touch, park and get assistance.
  • Check tire pressure, lug nuts, and running lights every morning. Make sure you have a lug wrench that will fit- it may be a different size than the one for your vehicle.
  • Remember that your trailer is a little wider than your vehicle and will track a little to the inside when turning, so allow extra clearance.
  • Your trailer is also taller than your car, so watch for overhead obstructions.
  • Until you are proficient backing the trailer, make sure you have an "exit strategy" when entering a driveway or parking lot.
  • Watch for dips, speed bumps, and steep driveway aprons where your hitch or tongue jack are vulnerable to striking the pavement. If in doubt cross slowly and at an angle.

I'm sure there's more, but I don't want to overwhelm you at once! Most of it will become natural after a few trips. The danger then is becoming complacent and neglecting to do the regular checks. Think like a pilot with a pre-flight checklist. Best wishes with your new adventure!
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:09 PM   #8
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Wow Jon - this is great info! Thank you so much! Yes, I will go ahead and research different tow vehicles.
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebecca3 View Post

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...
One big mistake many folks new to towing do when they start to feel the trailer sway is they use the brakes on the car DO NOT DO THAT! On the brake controller there is a lever that will apply the brakes to the trailer only - that is what you want to use to settle the trailer down. Just don't pull the lever over and hold it all the way over as you will lock up the trailer - something you do not want to do. Your best to take the car and trailer to a quite road when you first hook it up and set the brake controller up correctly and in doing so you will get a feel for the brake lever. If your getting a Tekonsha P2 (Which many here use and highly recommend) Tekonsha has some videos on their site explaining how to set it up correctly.
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:13 PM   #10
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My Scamp 16 with front bath and A/C weighed just under 2000 lbs when it left the factory ( weight from scale ticket at Scamp factory )
The tongue weight was over 200 lbs even before the trailer was loaded for travel . ( NO water in any tanks and empty propane tanks.) . As Carol said it can be done but you will probably be over your tongue weight limit , how far over is the question. You will need to be real conscious of how you load your trailer. Good Luck
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:21 PM   #11
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Name: Frederick / Janis
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Having a tow vehicle that can "easily" meet the towing context just makes the whole thing more enjoyable. Sure, it's more safe, more proper and and so on, but in the end? Far less stress and more focus on the joy of RVing. It's a fact.

It's just flat out not much fun when everything is taxed to the max.

BTW, we haven't discussed trans coolers. As bad as wearing out suspension parts and brakes on the tow vehicle is, burning up a transmission in a pre-mature death is really NOT a lot of fun.
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:47 PM   #12
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Yes, I'm looking at Toyota Highlander Hybrids online right now... sounds like those might work? Looking at used ones...
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:13 PM   #13
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Name: Frederick / Janis
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As long as you're shopping, a factory tow package is the way to go. just sayin'
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:17 PM   #14
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Few things with a hybrid you might want to look into…
  • Are there any special towing caveats different from the regular Highlander?
  • Will the weight of the battery pack adversely affect the ability of the rear suspension to handle the tongue weight of a travel trailer?
  • Is there room for a full-size spare tire, which is usually recommended for towing?
A good place to start would be to pull up the owner's manual for a recent year online (google "2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Owner's Manual") and read what it says about towing. The regular Highlanders are very popular tow vehicles for small and mid-sized egg trailers. Frederick is correct- you'll want the tow package with upgraded cooling and alternator.
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