What lessons have you learned over the years about towing... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-23-2015, 07:52 AM   #1
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What lessons have you learned over the years about towing...

Like many forum members one learns a lot about towing trailers.

Here are some key lessons learned from my experiences.

A. Back in the 70's I bought a 67 Dodge Dart GT from my BIL. Had to pick it up with a borrowed flat bed trailer and towed it home with my Dad's 1972 Ford LTD sedan. The rig was within all the limits and followed the info in the manual but what a white knuckle 3 hour drive home. No WDH or sway control.

B. We towed our 2,000lb Coleman Pop Up all over the country 2X's with the Nissan mini van. Worked great and the pop up had no brakes. Then we bought the 23' dual axle trailer with brakes. The stopping distances and braking was amazing, so much better. Although we got by with no trailer brakes I would never tow a trailer again without them.

With our Nissan mini van we towed the light weight pop up trailer and then the heavier TT. We felt the weight of the heavier trailer when getting up to speed but once up to speed it towed great. The overall towing experience had more to do with the correct connection hardware, trailer design and set up than the trailer weight, size, or length.

C. My dad was an RV dealer and towed 30 or 40 different single axle trailers. After a drive towing his first dual axle trailer he reported... " that was the best towing trailer he had ever towed.

D. I built and installed a very stout custom receiver for the back of our Coleman pop up. The intended use was to hold a Swagman bike rack attached to a 1 1/4 draw bar bought from U-Haul. Two lightweight bikes were installed with a safety line attached. Although well within spec, after 3 days on the road the draw bar failed. We no longer carry bikes by this method.

Interested to hear what others have learned towing trailers over the years.
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Old 03-24-2015, 07:21 AM   #2
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Towing Experience

Our initial towing experience came from wanting to drive across Labrador. We owned a 32' motor home and based upon our Alaska experience figured our motorhome would not survive a 1000 mile dirt road. Our motor home tow vehicle was a 2004 Honda CRV so we decided to buy a trailer we could tow, only planning to tow for 2 months.

We based our trailer choice on the conservative use of European ratings for the Honda CRV and purchased a 2200 pound (loaded) 1992 Sunlight 15.5 for $900. We completed our 2 month trip, decided it was fun and easy and continued on for 8 more months completing a loop of the USA and Canada.

Since than we have owned or used a Scamp 16 and a Casita 16 averaging about 8 months a year on the road. There was never a moment when we wished we had a larger or more powerful tow vehicle. Our Honda CRV took us every where in the USA and Canada and never had a single drive line problem. Of course we were not the fasted rig in the world but fast enough to go every where dong multiple loops of North America.

All the time getting good gas mileage, averaging 21 mpg towing.

After 10 years we replaced our 2004 Honda CRV with a 2014 Honda Odyssey. It is bigger, more comfortable and more powerful than our CRV and we hope it has traditional Honda reliability. For us reliability is number 1. We only own one vehicle and it must take us to locations many miles from the nearest dealership.

Some times I see the forum spend a lot of time on horsepower and torque discussions, yet little time on what power and torque is required. For us, we retired early without a pension, and have now seriously been on the road for 14 years having the time of our lives. Ginny and I just smile when we think of the fun we have, the little smile of first time lovers.

I will say if we had owned a bigger tow vehicle, I suspect we would have started with a bigger trailer and probably not found ourselves in a fiberglass trailer. The things that steer your life choices are interesting and not always part of one's conscious.
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Old 03-24-2015, 07:27 AM   #3
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I learned there is no rhyme or reason to tolls. With a single axle it was simple, but with tandem axle it is sometimes triple what a single axle would be? Logic would step in and say if a car pays $4 then a tandem trailer would also pay $4, but no, they say $11?? and with people behind you you can not argue.
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Old 03-24-2015, 07:44 AM   #4
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I learned there is no rhyme or reason to tolls.
I think toll charges/axle numbers may have something to do with their loose relation to weight and the effect weight has to do with wear and tear on the roads.

I recall stopping at a toll booth heading east out of Buffalo. Pulled up to the booth and the guy looks down and says buck and a half. Then he glances back and says "WHOOOOOOH", make that $3.50. He then says... " I didn't see that trailer was hooked up to you"..... Had to laugh!
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Old 03-24-2015, 02:41 PM   #5
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The biggest lesson I've learned is to check and recheck the rig and trailer.
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Old 03-24-2015, 03:49 PM   #6
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I learned that an '84 Dodge Omni could tow a 13' egg, but that it was difficult to maintain the 55 mph speed limit.

On a more serious note, I learned to always, always make sure there's positive weight on the hitch. I doesn't matter how small and light the trailer, if you don't have enough weight on the hitch you are asking for big trouble!
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:00 PM   #7
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MC1,

Towing a 23' trailer with a Nissan mini? My big rule is that the tow vehicle needs to weigh more than what is being towed. I have seen many travel trailer accidents where, even with sway control, ended up a pile of very small pieces when this rule was ignored. There have been long discussions about manufacturer's tow limits and the consequences of exceeding those tow limits, let alone the liability lawyers love.

Just my #1 rule.

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Old 03-25-2015, 11:45 PM   #8
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After 50 years of towing I've learned if everything on a trailer was as dependable as the wheel bearings our travels would be virtually trouble free and ALWAYS make sure the trailer is securely attached to the draw bar before you take off.
John
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Old 03-25-2015, 11:54 PM   #9
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I have recently learned to check the lug nuts on the trailer wheels. Don't forget about them just because they're behind hub caps! Take the hub caps off and check for tightness!
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Old 03-26-2015, 01:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by bobkatr1 View Post
MC1,

Towing a 23' trailer with a Nissan mini? My big rule is that the tow vehicle needs to weigh more than what is being towed. I have seen many travel trailer accidents where, even with sway control, ended up a pile of very small pieces when this rule was ignored. There have been long discussions about manufacturer's tow limits and the consequences of exceeding those tow limits, let alone the liability lawyers love.

Just my #1 rule.

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Bob, I'm not questioning your judgement on this especially since on the surface it seems like pure common sense. But as a towing newby it raises questions

The Ford F-150 is perhaps the most popular tow vehicle in the U.S. it has a curb weight of 4300 lbs. yet its max tow capacity with all the packages and the V8 is 11,000 lbs. This can't all be overstatement can it? I don't want to turn this into yet another one of those threads, I'm just curious.
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Old 03-26-2015, 02:44 AM   #11
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Badger, the rule applies in general to the fiberglass egg world where the tow vehicles generally used are passenger cars, not trucks made for towing. I remember U-Haul using that rule. I can bet lots of people have shown up at U-Hauls and tried to tow far far more than the max numbers, having never heard of tongue weight or much else. Of course, there are lots of trucks that can tow more than their weight and non-trucks especially with tow packages, but passenger cars were not intended to tow travel trailers and they are commonly used with eggs.
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:16 AM   #12
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Bob, I'm not questioning your judgement on this especially since on the surface it seems like pure common sense. But as a towing newby it raises questions

The Ford F-150 is perhaps the most popular tow vehicle in the U.S. it has a curb weight of 4300 lbs. yet its max tow capacity with all the packages and the V8 is 11,000 lbs. This can't all be overstatement can it? I don't want to turn this into yet another one of those threads, I'm just curious.
Good question and I too like a heavier tug just cuz but you do have to believe what the makers state for towing limits/weights. I was surprised at the tow numbers of my '02 Ranger of 5850#, by the manual. Well above my SD 17 and it does fine but I would feel better with a 150. It's probably a mind thing after 20 years running commercial truck/trailers. A lot of the trailers weighed a lot more than the truck but within tow ratings for it. Look at all the semis on the road.
I agree with you, I don't want this to go sideways either, just go by the numbers. Safe travels to you.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:19 AM   #13
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MC1,

Towing a 23' trailer with a Nissan mini? My big rule is that the tow vehicle needs to weigh more than what is being towed.
Hi Bob. With such a variety of variables in the big picture of towing dynamics generals rules have little value.

But in our case you brought to light above..... the Nissan Mini Van weighs 5,800lbs loaded ready for travel and out 23' ready for travel weighs 4,500lbs.

Note our current TV a lighter mid size car and weighs 4,300lbs ready for travel. Ironicly it handles and performs better than the van when towing the same 23' trailer.

OK folks, we are back on track. Thnxs for the participation so far. I'm reading some good info.
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:28 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson View Post
I have recently learned to check the lug nuts on the trailer wheels. Don't forget about them just because they're behind hub caps! Take the hub caps off and check for tightness!
QUOTE OF THE DAY!!! Thnxs for posting this one Frederick.

It's a long story leading up to the incident but a friend lost of wheel going down the highway. It wasn't a wheel lug problem but a case of lack of service on a wheel bearing. The wheel bearing seized and the axle snapped off sending the wheel into a field. Luckily no injuries except a $2,500 repair bill.
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