Considering Tow Vehicle - Am I Crazy ?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-17-2010, 02:50 PM   #1
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Name: Richard
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We've been keeping an ear to the ground for a tow vehicle for a 13' FG WhatEver-We-Can-Find-At-A-Price-We-Can-Afford for some months now. We've looked at several types - minivans, small SUVs, and trucks - and have decided that a small club-cab PU with a cap would do the job nicely.

Finding something that fits our plans and our budget isn't easy - Newfoundland is a tough environment on vehicles. We have a longish freeze-thaw winter here, resulting in literally tonnes of salt being used on the roads. Even relatively young vehicles can have real problems - a 2000 Ranger, with about 190K kms. on it we had checked, needed both ends of the chassis done, and the base pan was rusted out. Others have had bad body panels, bad floors, rusted spring hangers, body mounts...

That's why a Ranger SuperCab I came across this morning is a real possibility - it arrived here last summer from Alberta, and the body and chassis are in really good shape. The truck, with a 3.0L engine and a 5 spd. manual transmission, has 217,000K (135,000 miles) on it. Nice cap, too, and the interior is really clean. It's going to our mechanic tomorrow for a good inspection, which will find any major lurking mechanical problems. And the asking price, at $1,500 Cdn, is reasonable and well within the budget.

So what's the issue? The age - it's a 1991. Around here, that generally means it's long since in the knacker's yard, rusted to perdition. I'd truly appreciate any wisdom folks have to share about towing with a solid but old vehicle. Do it? Don't do it? Check this, that and the other thing you wouldn't normally worry too much about?? Our plans are, of course, vague, since we don't yet have a trailer, but we'll likely be doing at least one longish trip this coming summer - maybe 3,000 to 5,000km., plus some much shorter runs around the island.


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Old 01-17-2010, 03:03 PM   #2
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What's the maximum tow weight capability? What does the manual say?
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:08 PM   #3
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Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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That's an almost impossible question to advise someone else on, as it's very subjective.

I can tell you that I tow with a 1989 Volvo, which has 235,000 miles on it, and it suits me fine. My last tow vehicle was the same model but a 1987. I retired that one at near to 400,000 miles, but not because it was unreliable - someone slammed into me and totalled it.

Now, that said, the vehicle I drive is known to be robust, with a good solid engine and transmission. I also treat it like a new car in terms of maintenance. That is, I don't let things go because the car "isn't worth it"; rather, I maintain and repair as if I were going to drive it for years.

I've bought both of my last two main vehicles in non-salty, non-rusty locations (California and Georgia). Being from Minnesota, I know what salt and rust can do to a vehicle. Mechanical maintenance is one thing; body and "frame" work are completely different.

Another plus is that when I go to change something, such shock absorbers (recently), they just come right off with a wrench. No cursing rusted and stuck fasteners.

Now, I can't speak to the model vehicle you're looking at, but I can say this:

1) I find it well worth it to buy a vehicle from a non-salty location
2) I don't mind an older vehicle at all if it is a model I deem to be worthy
3) It all depends on whether *you* will be comfortable with it

One caveat: If you have an older vehicle and it is hit or destroyed in an accident, it may be "totalled" by the insurance company even if it is a really nice one. That's because they go on average values. This isn't necessarily a problem if you calculate it into your big picture, but is something to be aware of. You can sometimes bargain for what you think is fair (I did); but you probably won't get it without some effort.

Raya
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:58 PM   #4
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The Ranger with 3liter V6 is what Scamp claims to use to deliver trailers.
Just FYI.
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Old 01-17-2010, 05:04 PM   #5
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Our TV has an automatic transmission. I always hated them and if I ever replace it I am going back to a stick shift.

Reasons: (1) I never had an automatic that didn't fail. (2) I can't fix an automatic but I can rebuild a stick shift. (3) I only ever had but one stick shift fail and it was a bearing. I was able to remove and repair it with my leg in a cast. (4) It costs a fortuine to have an automatic repaired. Especially when you are "on the road". (5) Stick shifts don't overheat when you are towing. Nor do they need coolers.
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Old 01-17-2010, 06:03 PM   #6
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What's the maximum tow weight capability? What does the manual say?
If you look at the link http://www.fordf150.net/specs/04ranger.php you will see that the Ranger with 3.0 litre engine and manual transmission has a towing capacity of 2440 pounds, which should be adequate to handle a 13 foot fiberglass trailer.

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Old 01-19-2010, 06:30 PM   #7
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Trailer: Trillium 1300 Nor'Easter Egg '06 Ranger Supercab 3.0L auto
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Quote:
[b]I'd truly appreciate any wisdom folks have to share about towing with a solid but old vehicle. Do it? Don't do it?
Attachment 25926


Didn't do it - drove the truck today, and while it seemed generally sound, there were a few driveline bumps and grinds that didn't inspire confidence. The 5 spd. also was reluctant at times to slip into 1st and 2nd - took some wiggling and jiggling - don't need any major jobbies on a '91 tranny, or even the fear of potentially having to do some. The advice and PMs are much appreciated...
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:08 AM   #8
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In 97 and again in 98 we went Florida to Seattle in an 86 S-10 pickup V6 2.8 with automatic. In 99 we went to Nova Scotia with the same truck. We towed a 16' Sunline stick built on all 3 trips.

You do have to pay attention, an antifreeze odor was a clue to a small leak in the heater core. After the first blowout I replaced all the truck tires which had lots of tread but were originals. I installed a large transmission cooler which would not be needed on a stick. Never had a transmission failure on any automatic, but I have had stick shifts die on me. My knees are not so good so I prefer the automatic. I also put in a heavy duty radiator.
I bought a kit and installed cruise control, I wouldn't be without it.


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Old 01-24-2010, 12:08 PM   #9
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Richard,
Just a little suggestion on " a 13' FG WhatEver-We-Can-Find-At-A-Price-We-Can-Afford" and finding an appropriate tow vehicle. Be sure to check the "unbraked tow capacity" of any towing vehicle that you consider IF you are considering an unbraked trailer.

Recently I acquired a 13 ex UHaul camper at a real nice (IMHO) price. I don't have any history towing an RV and I purchased the trailer to reside along side a pond I am building at the far end of our property (plan A). A more or less permanent campsite so to speak where we and visiting kids, friends etc. can have a fun place to stay. Since the trailer is in such good condition (basically hitch up and go) my wife and I hit on the idea of heading to Yellowstone Park as a month or so getaway this spring. We were planning on using our Toyota Previa as TV as it too is in good condition with low milage. And that's where we started to run into problems...the Previa is rated at 3500lbs tow capacity with a tongue weight of 350 lbs HOWEVER, that's braked trailer tow capacity, the unbraked tow capacity is a measly 1000 lbs.! Won't work or rather won't work in the eyes of our vehicle manufacturer and much more importantly our Insurance Co..

So for us it's back to plan A at least for this year as we don't need yet another vehicle (we have four at present). When and if the right vehicle comes along we will reconsider our trip.

Hope this has helped,
David
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:59 PM   #10
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That's really good info, David.

I tow with a Volvo 240 wagon, and it's 3300# for towing with trailer brakes and (IIRC) 2000# without. So it's a great thing to check.

In case you hadn't considered it, you can add brakes to your U-haul instead of getting a new tow vehicle. That said, I think you might have to change the factory axle for a new one, as the U-haul axles are proprietary and I don't think you can add (electric) brakes to them (but.... please double check as I am not sure on that, and your trailer may have a different axle already).

How do you like the Previa? I've been considering one. Although I *love* my 240s, I tend to take a number of quick-but-long trips sans trailer, and then it would be nice to have the extra "camping" space of the van. I like rear-wheel-drive, so that's part of the attraction to the Previa (plus, I like Toyota in general).

The "weirdness" of the mid-engine has given me a few second thoughts, and I wonder if they'd be easily good for 400k like my Volvos are. OTOH, the space.... drool!

Raya
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:11 PM   #11
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That's really good info, David.

I tow with a Volvo 240 wagon, and it's 3300# for towing with trailer brakes and (IIRC) 2000# without. So it's a great thing to check.

In case you hadn't considered it, you can add brakes to your U-haul instead of getting a new tow vehicle. That said, I think you might have to change the factory axle for a new one, as the U-haul axles are proprietary and I don't think you can add (electric) brakes to them (but.... please double check as I am not sure on that, and your trailer may have a different axle already).

How do you like the Previa? I've been considering one. Although I *love* my 240s, I tend to take a number of quick-but-long trips sans trailer, and then it would be nice to have the extra "camping" space of the van. I like rear-wheel-drive, so that's part of the attraction to the Previa (plus, I like Toyota in general).

The "weirdness" of the mid-engine has given me a few second thoughts, and I wonder if they'd be easily good for 400k like my Volvos are. OTOH, the space.... drool!

Raya

Raya,
I looked under the trailer and it has the original axle and no provision or place to attach the necessary brake drums etc without changing out the axle. That's a non-starter at this point...too busy a schedule.

As for the Previa: On the whole I like the vehicle. Ours is an "AllTrac" so it is four wheel drive it is also a "LE" version so it has dual air conditioning and a few other extras. The engine as you mentioned is mounted beneath the driver and passenger. They also came as a SC model which has a super charged engine. It's a 4 cylinder laid on it's side and access is difficult (but as it is a Toyota, rarely needed). One thing to be aware of since the engine is mounted so low being in a flood of as little as 14 inches of water is enough to get water in the engine. So don't think one can ford streams since it is four wheel drive. The manual states the four wheel drive is not for off road use but rather for better traction and control on road.

There is alot of room and for a family minivan it provides alot of space, gets reasonable gas mileage and has plenty of power. Models from late 1992 and on had dual airbags, 1991 and early 1992 had single (driver) airbags. The Previas were expensive when they were new and so buying used one can ge alot of vehicle for little money. Some people hate the jelly bean look of them but personally I like it, as I suppose anyone who likes our little rounded "egg" trailers would.

Hope this helps,
David
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Old 01-30-2010, 08:26 PM   #12
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So - finally - we did it!!!


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After our mechanic had looked at several other Rangers that were a decade younger but showing signs of significant rusting (and much more expensive), he finally read me the Riot Act on the '91 that started this thread. The chassis, floors, box and body are all A1, the motor's strong, the truck's been well maintained - all in all, he gave it a major .

It will need a clutch job before we do anything really heavy with it like towing, but after that, if he's correct (and he's always been), we've got a little PU that should last us for four or five years with proper maintenance. Whether we'll use it for towing remains to be seen - right now, I'm just so pleased to have a truck in the fleet again after years of SUVs and station wagons that I'm happy to just wait and see how it works out, and what sort of trailer we finally find.
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:12 PM   #13
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Trailer: 1999 17 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe ('Inn EggsIsle')
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Quote:
That's really good info, David.

I tow with a Volvo 240 wagon, and it's 3300# for towing with trailer brakes and (IIRC) 2000# without. So it's a great thing to check.

In case you hadn't considered it, you can add brakes to your U-haul instead of getting a new tow vehicle. That said, I think you might have to change the factory axle for a new one, as the U-haul axles are proprietary and I don't think you can add (electric) brakes to them (but.... please double check as I am not sure on that, and your trailer may have a different axle already).

How do you like the Previa? I've been considering one. Although I *love* my 240s, I tend to take a number of quick-but-long trips sans trailer, and then it would be nice to have the extra "camping" space of the van. I like rear-wheel-drive, so that's part of the attraction to the Previa (plus, I like Toyota in general).

The "weirdness" of the mid-engine has given me a few second thoughts, and I wonder if they'd be easily good for 400k like my Volvos are. OTOH, the space.... drool!

Raya
Raya, We had a 91 Toyota previa that we bought in 1996 with 72,000 miles on it, probably the best car we ever owned, it was all wheel drive. The only non preventive maint we had to do for that thing was a master brake cyl at about 158,000 miles and an A/C compressor at 185,000 miles. We gave the car to our dau inlaw with 335,000 miles and she sold it at 392,000 miles. When I asked her if she got rid of it because of problems she said, "OH no, I just got sick of it". Now, I'm not going to say that all of them will be that good but I knew 2 others that had them and every time I see one and ask the owner what he thinks of it they are all very positive.
It seems to me that there was a lady on one of these sites (maybe casita sites) that towed a 17' with it. They are a good dependable vehicle. We had an 800' driveway in Virginia with a 13% grade in one area that was about 150' long and it climbed that in 10" of snow without spinning a wheel. It was a pain to change spark plugs in it and Toyota told us that they were good for 100,000 miles.
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