Completely new to towing - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-09-2016, 08:31 PM   #1
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Name: Margaret
Trailer: in the market
North Carolina
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Completely new to towing

Hi all,

I am completely new to towing. I've never towed anything before.

I am thinking of moving into an RV trailer temporarily, until I find a new house (I'm selling my house, and I also don't know exactly where I'm going to live--would like to live in drier climate).

Exactly how dangerous is towing? Does it take a lot of work, and do you need a lot of strength? How difficult is it to hitch and unhitch?

I would be towing either a camplite, or a light weight molded fiberglass trailer like Scamp, hopefully no bigger than 17'. I wouldn't mind smaller, but most of the companies I'm looking at right now that are in my region don't make smaller than 17'.

I wouldn't just stay in one location; I'd be traveling around.

I'm just wondering: Is it hard to connect the vehicle to the trailer? Where do you park if you're on the way somewhere, and you just need to go to the store, or, more importantly, the bathroom? The last question is the most important, really.

The fiberglass models I'm looking at don't come as truck campers.

Some examples of what I'm looking at include: Scamp, Casita, Eggcamper, Oliver, etc.

I'm looking at those particular models because of health reasons, mainly mold and chemicals.

I've looked at Camplite, but the new 2016 model makes a rubber roof, and that's not good if you are as highly sensitive to mold as I am.

Plus, I've heard that Camplite leaks.

What about backing up and making left or right turns?

How do I avoid fishtailing?

so back to my original question: Is it at all realistic for me to tow and travel around the country? Or should I just give up and buy a truck camper?

Thanks, Margaret
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Old 05-09-2016, 09:05 PM   #2
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Name: Ed
Trailer: 1982 Fiber Stream and 2002 Casita Freedom Deluxe,The driveway is a Dark & Lonely Place now!
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OK I will try my serious face here but am saying so just so you know.

What is your vehicle now?

There is nothing about towing that is beyond your ability to learn and improve upon unless you are scared to give it a go?

I think it is more about Finesse than Strength and Practice to overcome the challenge pretty much like anything else.
The mechanics of the whole experience are pretty easy to grasp and just going slow and taking time to get the feel of it goes a long way as always too.

A lot obviously depends on your vehicle and how much trailer you need but in general it is pretty easy to adapt too and a lot of people do it here all the time on their own and develop confidence with it in pretty short order too.

You asked a lot of questions here but in general a lot of us tow so we can stop wherever and whenever we want or need to for any reason we want or need to too!
So going to the bathroom,eating,napping or whatever you can usually find a parking lot and just go about your deal.

One thing we like about our tiny rigs here in general is how much easier they are than most to find a place for,Walmart lots are a case in point I guess but anywhere people camp there is always space for one of ours before there is for some huge bus,at least physical room to park.

So to start off what do you drive?
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Old 05-09-2016, 10:53 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
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Completely new to towing

Remember what Henry Ford said: "Whether you think you can or think you can't- you're right." I think you can!

First, it is critical to have a vehicle correctly matched to the trailer you intend to tow. If you plan to use a vehicle you already own, start by reading the towing section of the owner's manual. It will tell you how much it can tow and what special equipment is required. If it has some miles on it, a thorough inspection and discussion of your plans with a trusted mechanic is a good start.

If you are planning to buy a new or used vehicle to tow with, it's best to decide on the trailer first (at least down to size and weight) before you buy the vehicle. DO NOT depend on trailer manufacturers' dry weights listed on many websites. The best resource is the thread Trailer Weights in the Real World. Post #297 links to a spreadsheet of the data, which you can download, filter by make, model or length, and calculate average weights.

Second, I agree with Ed that towing is something most people can learn. However, it does require accepting a different driving style. Everything takes longer. Hitching up does not require strength, but it does take time, and there are lots of things to check. Once you hit the road you will be driving slower, parking out on the fringes of most parking lots, and avoiding congested urban areas. You will learn to watch for curbs and overhead obstructions because the trailer is taller and wider than your vehicle. Backing up takes practice. An empty parking lot with plenty of time and room (and nobody watching) is the ideal practice field.

Most gas stations have room to park a smallish travel trailer for pit stops. Fast food restaurants vary- some are more RV-friendly than others. I have never had a problem finding a place to stop when I needed to. And if your trailer has a bathroom (mine doesn't) all you need is a wide spot in the road.

Starting with a smaller trailer generally means a quicker adjustment, but the principles are the same regardless of size. Yes, it can be dangerous, but risks can be minimized with the proper equipment, checklists, and practice in uncongested areas. Sway (or fishtailing) usually results from driving too fast or improper loading of the trailer with too much weight at the back.

If you already have a vehicle with a hitch, you might consider renting a small U-Haul trailer just to get a feel for how a trailer behaves. Even better if you know someone experienced to get you started.

A truck camper will have some of the same size and clearance limitations as a small trailer (without the hitching and unhitching, or course). But unlike a trailer, you can't leave it in a campground while you take your tow vehicle into the city to do some shopping or sightseeing. And most require a heavy duty truck, while a light duty truck or mid-sized SUV can pull many molded fiberglass trailers.

Third, I would not limit yourself just to the three makes near you, though it wouldn't hurt to check them out. As others have said, buying a late model used unit might save you some money, and it would avoid the out-gassing phase of a brand new RV. Two makes (Lil Snoozy and EggCamper) are all electric, meaning you have to have an electric connection (or a generator) for the appliances to work. The others all offer propane systems for camping without hook-ups.
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:04 PM   #4
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Trailer: Casita
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Encouragement all the way

There is no reason to fear towing if you are a methodical person. The most arduous task to me is bending over to set the jacks, wheel chocks, and sewer hose. Ask for help, and I expect another 'egger' will show up and help you get going with it. Then a short trip on your own, and a longer one... and you'll have it figured out.

Yes... the tow vehicle is the most important thing. Don't trust what sales people tell you (it will pull that easy!), and take factory ratings with a 30% margin for error. For example, my Honda Pilot is rated for 3,500 lbs, and my Casita Liberty Deluxe weighs about 2500 (on paper... I haven't gotten to the scale yet). If you are full timing, you will likely add well in excess of 500 lbs of extra gear (and don't forget to count yourself, fuel, and any water you plan to carry. In short. Get a higher rated vehicle with a lot of 'headroom' on towing capacity, and you'll be fine.

I am fairly new here, but there is LOTS of help in this community, and they'll (we'll) help in anyway we can.
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:31 PM   #5
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Hi, Margaret,

The heaviest item to lift is the ball mount. Think ours is 43 lbs. The rest of the hitching is easy but takes some time to make sure it is right. You may use a weight distributing hitch and may want a sway bar, but fishtailing is often due to incorrect loading. Need tongue weight of 10-15% of the total trailer loaded weight.

You simply learn to tow by doing a little and then a little more, avoiding interstates. Find a big parking lot to stop.

First you decide on the exact trailer you want and then you decide on the tow vehicle, making sure that the towing numbers work. That includes GCWR, GVWR (can look these up --- not difficult), towing capacity and maximum allowed weight for the trailer.

I would also suggest Escapes, of course, because that is what we have had. You can choose the fabric and a long list of other items. You can see one in your region as owners will show them.

There is a lot to learn but nothing really difficult and many here will answer your questions along the way. It is actually quite fun having these trailers.
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathi View Post
The heaviest item to lift is the ball mount. Think ours is 43 lbs.
...It is actually quite fun having these trailers.
Sounds like you are using a weight distributing hitch (WDH). The drawbar on my regular weight carrying hitch weighs under ten pounds. Generally 16' and under does not require a WDH; 17' and over may or may not, depending on the trailer and vehicle. A WDH is heavier and takes a few more steps to hitch up. Used correctly, it does add stability to the towing set-up.

Weight distributing hitch

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Weight carrying hitch

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Agree that having a small trailer is fun!
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Old 05-10-2016, 08:20 AM   #7
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Name: Elizabeth
Trailer: TrailsWest
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Remember what Henry Ford said: "Whether you think you can or think you can't- you're right!" I think you can!

...

If you already have a vehicle with a hitch, you might consider renting a small U-Haul trailer just to get a feel for how a trailer behaves. Even better if you know someone experienced to get you started.

....
The best thing is to find a friend with a small utility trailer to show you how to hitch, unhitch and back it up (preferably in a large empty parking lot). I'd let you practice with my utility trailer but I'm on the other side of the country so it's not practical.

This will give you an idea of what it will be like to tow something. A travel trailer will be bigger and heavier and block the view out of your rear view mirror so you will need to rely on the side mirrors but the principles are the same. If you can tow a utility trailer you can tow a small travel trailer.
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:05 PM   #8
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Name: Margaret
Trailer: in the market
North Carolina
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Hi Ed,

I don't have the vehicle yet, because I want to see the camper first, to figure out what kind of vehicle I will need!

Thanks for the info.!

Margaret
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:11 PM   #9
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Name: Margaret
Trailer: in the market
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Hi Jon,

Good response--a little intimidating, but helpful!! You're a good writer, and I love your Scamp!

Have you heard of Parkliner, by any chance? As of present, that seems to be my best option, but I haven't looked into small Airstreams yet.

Margaret
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:15 PM   #10
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Name: Margaret
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Hi Charles,

I'm not sure how methodical I am, and it takes me a long time to do things, as I am a little bit disabled. I guess it would be good if I gave myself at least two nights at each of the places I camped? Or more?

Thanks!!! Margaret
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:17 PM   #11
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Name: Margaret
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Hi Cathi,

I looked for Escapes, and haven't found any so far, but I'll look again.

All this stuff is starting to sound a little scary, but I think the idea of renting a uhaul trailer is great!

Margaret
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:19 PM   #12
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Name: Margaret
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Hi Jon,

Is there any equipment (albeit expensive) that facilitates the process of hitching the trailer to your vehicle?

Margaret
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Old 05-10-2016, 07:20 PM   #13
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Name: Margaret
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Excellent idea, Elizabeth.

I do have a friend with a little wooden thingamajig.

Or, I can try U Haul.

Margaret
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Old 05-10-2016, 08:24 PM   #14
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There are some very cool tools that make it easier, some cheap, some pricey. The best advice in this whole thread is borrow a utility trailer and try it out. If you end up "Egg" focused (we love it), then a BARE minimum is a mid-size SUV, but a pickup truck or full size (meaning a frame/axle instead of uni-body) SUV will make it a breeze to pull. Don't think you will save gas by going with a lighter vehicle. My Honda Pilot dropped from 20mpg to 10.5 pulling the trailer.
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