How to prep for my first tow? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-25-2013, 07:15 AM   #1
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How to prep for my first tow?

I've read so much on here that and I'm trying to put it all together. I'm planning on taking the Scamp somewhere close to home for my first weekend away...to Uwharrie National Forrest about an hour from home. I've pulled a pop-up before but it's been years. Having not bought the camper new and given the lack of care that the PO gave her I want to go have some things checked out. Things that I just don't know much about.

Tires and axles. There is a Tom Johnson dealership about a mile from the house. Go there? Or should I go to a tire shop? I see so much on here about axles and packing bearings. Am I correct in thinking that I should do that first?

And to be very honest...I'm so confused about tongue weight. I used to just hook up the pop-up...no thought into to it...just hook and go. But I see there is much more to it.

Basically I'm asking...if this were your first tow what would you checkout before hitting the road?

I'm wanting to go to the rally in Cherokee in October...Hills and mountains involved. It's about a 4hr drive from home so I'm assuming it will be about 5-6 hours for me to pull the Scamp. I need to do some trial runs before hitting the road alone..

My TV is. 2007 4wd Nissan Xterra.

Thanks so much for any input you guys are willing to give..

One more thing...if I get the Scamp from the back yard into the driveway and level it out well. Can I crawl around and give a good visual and see enough? Meaning will that be enough to know if I can even tow to have the tires and axle inspected safely? I had it pulled here to my house in May by the PO...no issues.
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:16 AM   #2
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I need to prepare a checklist for towing etc. I don't want to forget anything important.
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:25 AM   #3
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Kim, What Scamp did you purchase? length and year?
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:47 AM   #4
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Kim, What Scamp did you purchase? length and year?
Hmmm well it's definitely a Scamp 13. It's titled as a 2001...with a clean title checked and double checked at the DMV. BUT if you look at the photos in my album here it clearly is not. Eddie and Francesca have helped me narrow it down to the fact it's probably a 1987.

The PO bought it used at a local Camping World here in NC for a hunting trip to I think Missouri. So it's seen some miles. But there is no info in his paperwork that he gave me regarding any maintenance.

I just don't have any idea where to start. I started with the inside because that was do-able for me alone. Now I'm moving to the bigger stuff.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:06 AM   #5
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You need to have the bearings repacked and if the tires are more than about 5 years old, regardless of how good the tread looks, they need to be replaced. There is a code on the tire that gives it's manufacture date. You can break the code on the internet or ask someone at the tire dealership to read it for you.

You many also want a new trailer battery depending on the age of the old one.

The tongue weight can be measured with a bathroom scale. With the tires blocked, just put a scale under the coupler and use a length of 2x4 to get it at the towing height. Then crank down the front jack until the scale reads the full weight. It should be about 10% of the loaded weight which can be estimated from this data base.
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:50 AM   #6
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Your X-terra will have no issues towing your 13 foot even on the steepest hills. So relax about your capabilities. When you tow up hill if it were my truck I would hit the button and take it out of overdrive. Did your truck come with the towing package? if not adding a tranny cooler is a wise investment especially if hills are in your future. Your only real towing capability issue will be you trying to slow down and stay down to a reasonable speed. This an issue I struggle with when towing with my Pathfinder for the most part the trailer isnt there unless I look in the rearview mirror and I don't like towing the trailer at 65 mph or higher.
Take a look at your coupler on your trailer it will be marked either a 2" or a 1-7/8" ball make sure you use the right ball to the matching coupler. Take the trailer hitch stinger without the truck attached (the part with the ball) and couple it into the trailers hitch and lock it down. Once coupled in place try to wiggle it around by hand. it needs to be snug, not loose and floppy and not overly tight that it locks the ball so tight that you cant move it by hand. There is an adjustment nut under the coupler to adjust the slack. You dont want a loose hitch. Once you hook up your trailer and lock the lever down make sure you put something through the hole in the couplers lever to block the lever from unlocking while you travel. I use a pad lock You can use pretty much anything solid that fits in the hole. A bolt, a carabiner or a specific locking pin just something must be in there to back-up the latch. Hitch up the truck to the trailer at least a day before you tow and check your lights nothing more frustrating than trying to leave and your lights dont work and you loose your cool trying to fix them. Make sure you use 2 safety chains and cross them under the hitch. make sure your tires are good. All three not just the 2 sitting on the ground.
Nothing stopping you from taking the trailer out to a parking lot someplace and pratice towing, hitching and unhitching the trailer with out the stress of having to get someplace in your self induced timeline. Get autoclub towing service with the RV extension for the peace of mind that help is available should you need it.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:30 PM   #7
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Throughout this learning process, remember how long it took to parallel park.

It's a lot easier to back up the trailer if you have an assistant (well, mostly). I suggest that you practice at home with someone you trust and with whom you have a good relationship. It takes awhile for each of you to learn how to communicate the maneuvers to each other. My DH (darling husband) got really upset with my directions (not unusual for couples, I understand) until we became really clear as to what directions he wanted and how I would communicate them to him. Mind you, I have not yet attempted to back up our trailer. When you practice at home and actually park at the campground you might want to put out 2 orange safety cones to guide you.

This article, How to Back Up a Trailer Like a Man, proves that you do not need an assistant (nor do you need to be a man) and gives you tons of detail on the nuances of backing up a trailer. (As a feminist I just ignore the sexism in this title and see the humor in it.)

If you are traveling alone you might want to ask the camp host to assist or scope out the campers near you and choose an adult with a family AND a trailer as well.

Warning: The following is the "mother" in me speaking. Forgive me, I cannot help myself. As a single female, I would not ask a single male. (That may be just me being too cautious). Do remember to put that pair of large, manly, broken in boots outside your door and two chairs at the firepit. You might even say, when you ask for assistance, "My man will be coming shortly and I'd like a little assistance backing up before he comes".

But, hey, if you learn to "back up a trailer like a man" you may not need the above advice!
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:32 PM   #8
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Check the tires and bearings. You'll be fine. I used to tow a 2000 lb trailer with a 4000 lb car behind my '89 nissan, it did fine. I would keep the transmission out of overdrive all the time.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _Kd_ View Post
Hmmm well it's definitely a Scamp 13. It's titled as a 2001...with a clean title checked and double checked at the DMV. BUT if you look at the photos in my album here it clearly is not. Eddie and Francesca have helped me narrow it down to the fact it's probably a 1987.

.
Oh I recall this was the Scamp that the VIN had been mistranscribed on. Changing an I for a 1987 to a 1 to become a 2001... wish we humans could wind back our date of birth like that!

I am will the others - go get the bearings repacked or replaced if the shop recommends it. Tires as well if they are more than a few years old.

I think looking at the photos & how low the trailer is riding that if you ask the axle place if you need a new axle they are probably going to say yes. But lots of people tow with shoot axles as long as it has no cracks etc & nothing is rubbing on the tires that cause a safety problem - you will just have a rough ride. So you would have time to save up for an axle replacement.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:28 PM   #10
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Call around and ask local shops (RV/towing/etc) about having the brakes & bearings checked and the bearings repacked! Here it costs $75 per axle and it was about a half hour to 45 minutes of work.
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:42 PM   #11
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Name: Don
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1) fridge locked
2) ball locked
3) safety chains on
4) antenna down
5) wife in passenger seat
6) hammer down

there might be more.. but thems the basics
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinslayer View Post
1) fridge locked
2) ball locked
3) safety chains on
...
4) trailer electrical cable plugged in
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Old 08-07-2013, 11:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
4) trailer electrical cable plugged in
Oh ya that
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