Towing - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-23-2003, 08:21 AM   #1
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Towing

Hi all

advice, suggestions?

I'm gearing up for our first trip out, and was wondering if anyone has any special pointers or tips for me. I will be towing my Boler with a Toyota Rav4 5-speed. We will be out for 1.5 - 2 weeks or so. I'm new to both towing and trailering. I'm worried about stressing the tow vehicle. It is rated for 1500 lbs. towing capacity with a 150 lb hitch weight. Any driving pointers for me? Also, are there any little things I might need to be bringing along that I wouldn't have thought of?

Thanks a bunch! :wave
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Old 07-23-2003, 09:56 AM   #2
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towing

slow and steady does it, get used to the trailer first before you crank up the speed. You shouldn't really notice a 13 footer a whole lot, other than starting and stopping. You might find 5th gear a little sluggish with the trailer on behind.
When I got my first trailer I towed it around for a week every time I went for a drive just to get used to the feel of it and the reaction of my van.
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Old 07-23-2003, 10:15 AM   #3
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I agree with Joe ... you should hook up and drive around your neighborhood a few times before hooking up and hitting the road.

Practice makes perfect.

Also, trailer sway is not normally a problem ...

But ...

If it starts to sway and you have trailer brakes and a brake controller, apply the trailer brakes manually, while you speed up your tow vehicle. Don't step on your tow vehicle brakes!

If it starts to sway and you don't have trailer brakes ... Don't step on your tow vehicle brakes. Just increase the speed of your tow vehicle, and it will usually pull the trailer out of a sway.

Most important thing to remember, is in either case ... do not step on your tow vehicle brakes ...
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:05 AM   #4
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I'm not sure if I understand this. Are you saying that I shouldn't step on my tow vehicle brakes if it starts to sway? I just want to be sure I'm clear on this. :-)
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:27 AM   #5
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towing technique, a different approach...

Quote:
Orginally posted by Charles Watts
But ...

If it starts to sway and you have trailer brakes and a brake controller, apply the trailer brakes manually, while you speed up your tow vehicle. [b]Don't step on your tow vehicle brakes!

If it starts to sway and you don't have trailer brakes ... [b]Don't step on your tow vehicle brakes. Just increase the speed of your tow vehicle, and it will usually pull the trailer out of a sway.

Most important thing to remember, is in either case ... do not step on your tow vehicle brakes ...
UNLESS.....

......... you have a 'ramp type' brake controller, (Drawtite, or others) you can LIGHTLY touch the tow vehicle brakes, which starts the 'time sequence' on the trailer brakes, and the trailer brakes will then take over, all this time you're driving with both hands on the steering wheel. :)

I've tried the manual button on the controller and IMHO this was more dangerous. It diverts your attention and you're trying to steer with one hand at a time when ya don't need to be fumbling around.

Anyway, that's how I do it. ;)
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:35 AM   #6
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I don't want to answer for Charles, but I think I understand this one as he explained it to me once. This is the way I understand it.

If you start to fishtail, do not ever use the car's brake peddle. Slightly, gradually increase your speed. If you have trailer brakes (please tell me you do) then you should have a controller inside the tow vehcile. On this controller, you will have a lever. This lever allows you to apply the trailer brakes without using your regular brakes.

Slightly and gradually increase your speed while you manualy apply the trailer brakes from the controller. If you do not have a brake controller, then gradually increase your speed.

From experience, I can tell you that this works and works very well. I now have a sway control, but practice some of these as a precautionary measure under extreme circumstances.
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:41 AM   #7
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Don ... thing is, in a panic situation, most folks will jam on the brakes, not just lightly tap them, and as a result, the trailer sway will get worse.

Herb ... yes, that's what I'm saying. The force of the sway gets worse when you jump on the tow vehicle brakes ... and this force is usually what spins the tow vehicle and trailer in a 180.

You'd be much better served to activate the trailer brakes by taking one hand off the wheel and manually operating the lever, while accelerating your tow vehicle. (But like Don says, it's dangerous to take one hand off the wheel.).

If accelerating doesn't work, then just take your foot off the gas, keep it off the brake and just let the sway settle down on its own.

Now, having said that, I want to say that sway is not normally a problem with our small trailers ... but everone should have an attached sway bar, particularly if driving at expressway speeds. It's cheap insurance.

Lainey, something else you should "practice" before you leave home is a full blown panic stop.

Tow your rig out to a quiet country road. Drive about 50 mph (80 km), then slam on the brakes ... I mean really, really slam on the brakes to see what your particular tow vehicle/trailer is going to do ...

Do it before your life depends on it.

If your tow vehicle/trailer combo is going to misbehave, it's better to find out about it now ... rather than in a situation where you and a cement mixer truck are trying to occupy the same space at the same time.
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:56 AM   #8
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Thanks, Charles.

Something else I would like to add in the FWIW department:

I have found that some simple prevention maneuvers also minimize this problem for me so that I don't have to correct it. Assuming it tows perfectly under normal circumstances and you have no weight distribution issues.

If I see a large vehicle approaching I ease up on the gas before it gets close to me so that when it is about to pass, I can gradually put pressure on the excellerator. I'm not talking about yanking your foot off of the accellerator (a sure cause of fishtailing) or speeding up. In fact, it should be done so gradually, that some one sitting in the car with you wouldn't even notice.

Now that I have a sway bar, this really isn't a problem. But I drove without one for a long time and only encountered a slight problem during extreme conditions. It was after a slight wiggle that I started using the method above, and had nary a wiggle or waggle the remainder of the time.

I don't know if this is the right thing to do or not, I just know that it works for me. Also, it keeps me on my toes. Our trailers are lightweight and easy to tow, but they are there and it is important they we are constantly aware of them and we acutally drive and not coast down the highways.
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Old 07-23-2003, 12:09 PM   #9
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I'd also suggest driving in 4th gear. Typically, 4th gear is a utility gear, and 5th gear is an overdrive, light duty gear. I tore the tranny out of an import truck one time by using 5th gear on the highway with a large load in the bed (wind-resistance). Your trailer with gear will be pretty close to the rated load limits of the RAV4, and you don't want to unduly stress your transmission.
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Old 07-23-2003, 07:37 PM   #10
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Wow, thanks everyone for your responses!

I have no trailer brakes or sway bar. Am I right that if the trailer is loaded properly the sway should be minimal? How crutial are trailer brakes on a 13 footer?

I was wondering if towing in 5th would be a no-no or not. Does anyone have more information on this? If I'm on flat level hiway is it ok, then gear down on hilly stretches, or never use 5th?

Also, wasn't there someone else towing with a Rav4, does anyone know who that is?
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Old 07-24-2003, 07:28 AM   #11
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I can't speak specifically to the RAV4 but our family truckster is a 20 year old Toyota with a 5spd. The 5th gear on it is a seperate section on the back of the transmission that basically engages itself when you put the shifter in the 5th gear position. On this transmission, the shaft sizes, and bearing sizes, shift-dog, everything in that section, is the same size as the normal section of the transmission. Having seen it in pieces, I know it's as strong as the rest of the transmission and as such, have always towed my Boler (13ft) in 5th gear except for hills or high head-winds. It is a Land Cruiser so they're generally built to be tough whereas the RAV4 is more of a regular sort of car, so I'd consult your manual about towing in 5th.
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Old 07-24-2003, 07:52 AM   #12
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Trailer brakes crucial?

:wave Lainey, I wouldn't think brakes on a 13 footer would be crucial if your tow vehicle was a big pickup or Chevy Suburban.

Just my opinion, but I'd be more comfortable knowing your Boler had brakes, since you want to tow it with a RAV4.
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Old 07-24-2003, 07:52 AM   #13
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Towing in fourth gear puts your engine RPM nearer to its torque peak.

With our four cylinder Tacoma pickup we found we got better gas mileage towing in forth gear. It also gave us more available power.

Brakes and a sway bar would certainly make your rig closer to being safe. You will be near your vehicle towing capacity which is probably very optimistic to start with.
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Old 07-26-2003, 05:43 PM   #14
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Brakes or not??

:wave
Hi Lainey,
Whether or not you require brakes depends on where you are going. I believe all Canadian Provinces only require trailer axle brakes if the loaded trailer weight exceeds 2000 lbs. EXCEPT BRITISH COLUMBIA. They require trailer brakes on all trailers over 1000 lbs if the trailer weight may exceed 50% of the tow vehicle weight. Somebody from B.C. correct me if I'm wrong please. :dance :dance Hope this helps.
CHEERS
http://www.rvhotlinecanada.com/regulations.asp
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