Question for Scamp 16 owners towing with Subaru - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-08-2014, 03:47 AM   #1
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Question for Scamp 16 owners towing with Subaru

I am looking at getting a Scamp 16' standard to tow with my 2008 Subaru Forester, rated at 2400# trailer GVW (200# tongue) with the Subaru installed Class I hitch (2000# rating). Since the dry weight of Scamp 16 is somewhat below the Class I ratings but most people find towing weights closer to the 2400# limit on my Forester, I was just wondering if people have replaced the Subaru Class I hitch with a Class II hitch (3500# rating). Comments and thoughts welcome. Thanks.
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Old 09-08-2014, 05:52 AM   #2
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Scamp 16 Hitch

We towed a Scamp 16 using a class III hitch as shown below rated for 3500/350 pounds. Our Scamp 16 weighed 2400 pound axle weight and had a tongue weight of 200 pounds.

We towed with a 4 cylinder, manual transmission 2004 Honda CRV. We did have an anti-sway bar.

Curt Trailer Hitch for Honda CR-V 2004 - 13535

If you want more details about our tow vehicle set up let me know. The most obvious detail we paid attention to is tongue weight. We also increased the inflation of our tow vehicle tires and minimized the distance from tow vehicle axle to ball.
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Old 09-08-2014, 09:30 AM   #3
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Doug, tongue weight is the main issue. 10-15% of total trailer weight is recommended for stable towing. That means a 2400# trailer should have at least 240# on the tongue.

There have been a number of previous discussions of this. You can find them by doing a Google search on this forum for something like "Subaru towing." (If you haven't done this before, you can go to the blue task bar underneath your log-in information. Click on "Search" and scroll down to the bottom for the Google search feature.)
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Old 09-08-2014, 09:55 AM   #4
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We sometimes tow our Scamp 16 with our 08 Subaru Outback with automatic transmission, which has the same engine as your Forester. Not sure why the Forester has a 2400 rating vs the 2700 rating for the Outback, but it does. We don't mind using the Subaru in fairly flat areas or even in the hills in NE GA or NW SC, but defer to our Dodge Dakota when pulling on higher hills. The Subaru would probably do fine but my biggest worry is transmission heat which can kill an auto trans. If you have the stick shift then that wouldn't be an issue.
Our 4 cyl engine does have enough power to pull it, the hard part is trying to keep the tongue weight down to 200. We usually remove the 2nd propane tank and shift some weight behind the axle and fill the fresh water tank to get the tongue weight where it needs to be with the Subaru. Because of that, we also added a sway bar that's only used when we tow with the Subaru. Haven't had any sway issues but we added it as extra insurance. (Subaru recommends 8-11% tongue weight)
We also added a transmission cooler and brake controller. Our hitch is just a 1 1/4" class II hitch purchased at etrailer.com, but it meets/exceeds our Outback's 2700 lb limit. If I was getting one again, I would opt for the 2" hitch just because you can get more accessories like bike racks that I could swap between the Subaru and Dakota since they would then be the same size.
I'm surprised that Subaru only has a 2,000 lb hitch rating on their supplied hitch on the Forester, as the Subaru supplied hitch on the Outback was rated higher to match the maximum load indicated in the manual.
One of the forums has actual weights of campers, so you might want to check that to see where 16' Scamps fall in. Ours weighs 2600 lbs loaded for a trip with just the one propane bottle and full fresh/hot water tanks.
Good luck and happy Scamping!
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Old 09-08-2014, 10:01 AM   #5
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Tongue weight experience

Doug,

Our experience is that we had no trouble towing our Scamp 16 with a 200 pound tongue weight. That said we did have an anti-sway bar however we towed for two years without an anti-sway bar without any issue.

We added an anti-sway bar because an experienced RVer told us that anti-sway bars are inexpensive and nice to have in an emergency.

We have towed Scamp sized trailers for 7 years, covering about 20,000 miles a year.

We are careful and do not drive in severe weather conditions. Our top speed is about 62 mph, below the limit of our 65 mph tires.

I know the rule of thumb in the USA and Canada is 10-15% tongue weight however this is not the case in Europe.

There are many factors in making a trailer 'safer for towing', not frequently discussed in the forum while tongue weight so often dominates the discussion. Tongue weight is just one factor.
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Old 09-08-2014, 12:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougOlson View Post
I am looking at getting a Scamp 16' standard to tow with my 2008 Subaru Forester, rated at 2400# trailer GVW (200# tongue) with the Subaru installed Class I hitch (2000# rating). Since the dry weight of Scamp 16 is somewhat below the Class I ratings but most people find towing weights closer to the 2400# limit on my Forester, I was just wondering if people have replaced the Subaru Class I hitch with a Class II hitch (3500# rating). Comments and thoughts welcome. Thanks.
The reason your Forester only has a class I hitch is that Subaru for years did not offer a hitch from the factory of any kind - even though they had tow ratings on their vehicles and it was not until about 08 that they actually added one as an option but originally only the Class I. Subaru dealers would use local hitch shops to have the Class II installed if the customer wanted them to look after doing it.

If you go to a good hitch shop they will have no issues finding you a Class II hitch that mounts to the car using the factory installed hitch mounting points - thats something you want to be sure of when you buy a new hitch. Its best that they not drill new holes into the car frame in order to install the hitch - use the reinforced mounting points that Subaru puts in at the factory.

I towed a 16' Scamp side bath with an 07 Outback for 6 years. The Scamp was weighed many times and loaded for camping, with no AC, no water in the tanks, one propane tank & one battery and it weighed in with a total weight more often than not between 2500 to 2650lbs. Try as I might to keep weight down with *everything* needed for camping stored in the trailer (nothing in the rear of the car) the lightest I ever got the axle weight down to was 2150lbs & that was only one trip and I had left a number of items that I wished I had brought along at home. More common to have it weigh in at about 2300lbs on the axle. Any tongue weight below 220lb resulted in a not so stable tow when traveling on the highway at over 55 mph. It was most stable if the tongue weight was at 240lbs.

As others have indicated it was a good solid tow vehicle for the 16' Scamp but only if I exceeded the tongue weight limit of 200lbs (and put little in the rear of the car to compensate for that) but I did have to take it pretty easy over mountain passes etc. and often opted to take a longer less steep route if one was available.

Would I do it again if I didn't have to - nope. I have owned 4 Subaru's and the one in question had the least amount of miles on it after 6 years but it had the biggest repair bills. It was also the only Subaru I towed anything with. Mostly repair items that a number of mechanic's would/have suggested are all heat related and most likely directly related to the weight the car pulled over many miles.

An additional transmission cooler is a *really* good idea but Subaru doesn't sell them as they feel they already have an oversized cooler in the car and if you stay within their towing specs you shouldn't need one so they don't make one.

Last fall with mounting repair bills on the Subaru I switch to towing with a vehicle with more tow capacity and a bit more power - V6 - although its not known to be one of the better vehicles in regards to MPG but neither is a Subaru with its full time 4 wheel drive. While towing with the new vehicle I have lost about 3 mpg on average while towing with it but being able to put more weight on the trailers tongue for added stability and having that extra power has been a big plus. In fact last Thursday with trailer attached I found myself in a bad situation on the freeway. Happy to say the new vehicle had enough power when I hit the gas and started praying to get the vehicle & trailer clear of the bad situation. Had I been towing with the Subaru & with its lack of extra power when pulling a 16' trailer I am pretty sure it would not have been a happy ending in the same situation and I would not have had a good laugh around the campfire that nigh with friends about having horse shoes.

As with all things your's and others experience with pulling a 16' Scamp with the Forester with a lower tow rating than the Outback may be different.
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Old 09-08-2014, 12:33 PM   #7
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Quote: "Would I do it again if I didn't have to - nope. I have owned 4 Subaru's and the one in question had the least amount of miles on it after 6 years but it had the biggest repair bills. It was also the only Subaru I towed anything with. Mostly repair items that a number of mechanic's would/have suggested are all heat related and most likely directly related to the weight the car pulled over many miles."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Very telling to ALL of those that think that towing limits are only a suggestion.
Thank You for your comments.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:53 PM   #8
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Certainly sorry that Carol's Subaru had a lot of repairs after towing her Scamp. It was not the case with our 2004, manual transmission Honda CRV where we had no drive line repairs in 225,000 miles.

In 10 years of ownership we only had a thermostat and fan fail at about 200,000 milkes.

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Old 09-08-2014, 05:03 PM   #9
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The more you go in the direction of the high end of limits the more stress and less margin of performance you will have. The more juggling and trade offs there are involved in making it work. Some folks will work though those compromises and it will work for them but not everyone will find the extra work worth it or be able to make the decisions that allow pushing things to be a viable choice.

So while you can possibly make a forester and scamp 16 work you probably won't really want to over the long haul. Could be a way to find out if the scamp 16 is the trailer that will really work for you while you explore other TV options as an upgrade. For the price of putting in the heavier hitch you get a chance to try out the camper while looking for something that will provide a little less white knuckled towing experience.
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Old 09-08-2014, 11:25 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the comments and info, a lot of it is quite useful. I think after this input I'll go ahead and install a Class II hitch and transmission cooler. It's a modest investment and most likely well worth it. I realize I will need to take it easy towing with a Forester but since I'm retired I don't have to rush anywhere.
Thanks.
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Old 09-09-2014, 07:04 AM   #11
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I put a class III hitch on my 2012 Forester. Wiring the brake controller was challenging. Brakes are a must over 1000 lbs. Be aware, aftermarket hitches attach differently than the oem. The vehicle has adequate power to tow my 13' Trillium (1700 lbs) but was nowhere near the comfort level my truck provides. I'm not sure how the 4 speed automatic will behave as I have a manual. Good luck, Raz
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:27 AM   #12
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Whenever there is a discussion of towing, it seems to concentrate solely on mechanical ratings or capacities. It is important to know and be aware of these limitations to inform not only what you tow with what... but also how you tow what with what!.
Hard acceleration and high speeds seem to be the norm, or at least way too common from what I have observed.
A Trailer/TV combination close to its ratings, driven by an adult who understands them, is likely far safer than a rig with huge margins driven hard with total abandon.
Towing a race car on a trailer, requires different habits than driving the racecar on the track.
Driving within the margins is just as important as equipping within the margins.
I think it might help to think of your trailer as someone following you.
You need to allow room for two vehicles to safely enter traffic, pass, or stop.

From what I have read here...Norm and Ginny seem to exemplify what I mean.
Safety and equipment reliability go hand in hand with knowledge and common sense behind the wheel.
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:49 AM   #13
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It seems to me the least understood concern is braking and stopping distances. I'm an overkill guy, just happened that way. More than once I wa really glad I had the stopping power of my truck.
Another issue is towing speed. The faster you tow the more likely your trailer will go into uncontrolled sway, along with much harder to stop. A little understanding of the limitations of the whole system makes towing a lot safer. Slowing down is important for several reasons, including over stressing the tires typically rated for a maximum 65 mph.
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Old 09-09-2014, 01:08 PM   #14
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Careful Driving

Thanks Floyd. Part of our conservative driving habits results from the fact that we never RVed until we retired. First I'm sure we were anxious about the new driving skills required and the coming new life style. Second we were older.

The most important part of any towing rig is definitely the driver and in my case, my co-pilot. No amount of towing equipment can replace the driver.

Ginny in a sense is as much a part of driving the vehicle as I am. She follows the route, usually checking it out the night before. She usually knows every significant steep climb or descent before we get there, allowing me to be prepared to downshift when necessary. As well she pays attention to what's happening around us, particularly on the passenger's side, checks the rear camera display, and gives clearance for all passenger side turns. In fourteen years she has never slept while we drove and doesn't read as we drive except as it pertains to the route, like reading aloud the Milepost book on our way to Alaska.

She checks the trailer lights every day we travel and double checks the trailer connections. I activate 'only the trailer brakes' via the brake controller before leaving each campground to feel that little trailer tug.

My job is to mechanically check the trailer and tow vehicle, regularly checking tire pressures (as well we have temperature and pressure sensors on our trailer's tires), lug nut tightness and hitch bolt tightness. Every time we stop I do a general walk-around, checking each tire and wheel hub for temperature.

We have done as many little things to improve the tow vehicle's ability to tow, like increasing tire pressures, shortening the distance from ball to axle, adding an anti-sway bar, adding trailer pressure/temperature sensors, adding a break away switch, adding an ultra gauge, adding a switch to the radiator fan for pre-cooling on long hills.

We do attempt to maintain traffic speed, except on interstates where for us it is usually illegal to match traffic speeds because people are usually exceeding the posted speed for non-trailer traffic. As a rule we drive the speed limit, where we find it necessary to pull over to let people pass who want or need to go faster. We do follow state mandated trailer speed limits.

We rarely do hard accelerations or de-accelerations. It's rather plain that they effect gas mileage. It's probably apparent that we can afford to travel but when we first started we had no pensions and paid for medical insurance ourselves. We were burning cash. This probably tended us to be a little cautious with our driving style, looking to maximize miles per gallon.

Now I can't say I've always been this way because before we retired I had a fast car, with a low center of gravity, lots of horsepower and tracked beautifully on curvy roads. That's in my past now. I am not the person I was 14 years ago (and I'm glad). These 14 years of slow paced road life have been the best years.

As to Byron's speed and brake references, we believe in trailer brakes and as mentioned check them each driving day and we do not speed. Yes we are the old people driving in the right lane. Ginny always comments when I pass some one, it's so rare.

Another style choice is distance driven, we shot for no more than 150 miles a day, definitely easier to do when retired. This means we're less tired when driving and I believe that can add to safety as well.

I suspect not driving long distances is part of the reason we haven't had a tire problem. Since I have temperature gauges on my trailer tires with an absolute read out I can see that as the day heats up the tires follow right along. By driving shorter days and basically just driving in the cooler morning, the tires stay cooler. Not driving as fast also reduces tire temperatures.

As most know we just purchased a bigger, heavier tow vehicle with larger brakes and a more powerful engine. We will drive no faster or further in a day.

Just some meandering thoughts on safe trailering.
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