Researching a TON of information - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-15-2012, 07:51 AM   #1
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Name: Paul
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Georgia
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Researching a TON of information

Greetings, all. I'm primarily a backpacker, cyclist, kayaker, travel-writer, and general outdoors-ish person. While I still love going into the backcountry on multi-day excursions, the wife is looking more for a little-less strenuous trips. Now that we are approaching our 50's (she's already crossed the line), we might be looking at more day hikes, returning to a home base. Some of you by reading the last two words in the previous sentence saw "home base" and now know why I'm here on this forum.

I recently saw a SylvanSport "GO" trailer that folds into a tent, and thought it would make a great travel trailer option, pulling all the toys and a "home base" when we're done hiking or cycling. But they a buddy of mine phoned me about a Scamp (Burro?) and said to look into it. So why don't I just go ahead and buy one?

Here's a clue - I'm driving a 2006 VW Jetta 2.5 (gas, not diesel). It's a comfortable car for traveling, but it wasn't built for towing. From what I have read so far, the vehicle can tow 1000lb unbraked and 2000lbs braked. The GO trailer is 840lb dry, so that would work, but the 13' Scamp is 1200lbs, so that's within the range. Even loaded out with clothes, food, and cycles, I'm thinking another 500lbs for 1700lb, still within the range.

Anyway, it's an option, but before I start going out shopping for a 13' trailer, I need to do a bunch more research. Heck - I even need to get a hitch installed on my car. And that's after I figure out what I can tow/can't tow.

So, if you see me on the forums asking questions, it's because I haven't found the answers. I do search sites for existing Q&A's, so if I repost something that has already been discussed, I apologize since I wasn't able to find it.

Cheers!
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:25 AM   #2
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Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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Hi Paul, to FiberglassRV. This is the forums to ask questions about all molded towables and we're glad you're here!
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:36 AM   #3
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Name: Richard
Trailer: Trillium 1300 Nor'Easter Egg '06 Ranger Supercab 3.0L auto
Newfoundland
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Paul,

A tip re searching for info on FiberglassRV, if I may...

When the search box opens, use the bottom box - the Google Custom Search - rather than the top one - it provides much more on-topic returns...
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:37 AM   #4
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Welcome Paul. You have stumbled into the small fiberglass trailers for all the same reasons I did. Still use the trailer as a return base camp for kayaking trips etc.

Your cars manual should give you the actual towing cap if not it would not hurt to ask your VW dealer directly.

If you haven't seen it yet this forum does have a thread called Trailer Weights In the Real World. Its really helpful in determining what trailers to focus on looking for that you can safely pull and stay within your towing specs. The trailers have been weighed loaded. The problem with going by the trailer manufacturers specs is their dry weight is very misleading as it does not include anything they consider to be optional and in most cases that includes batteries, propane tanks, fridge, awnings etc. A good rule of thumb is to add about 600lbs to 700lbs to the manufactures dry weight specs to come up with a more realistic camping weight.

Some of the 13' do have electric brakes but many do not. It is possible to add electric brakes to a trailer that doesn't already have them but you may need to change the axle inorder to do that (the axle needs to have a mounting bracket on it for the brakes to be installed). The average cost of changing out the axle for one that will take brakes on a 13' trailer is around $500/600.

Have fun looking.
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:22 PM   #5
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Much appreciated

Thanks for the hunting tips so far. I used the search feature noted above and found a good thread about towing with a VW Jetta (albeit a diesel). I think I'm going to get some opinions from the local German VW repair guy about actual towing results as well.

I looked at the actual trailer weights, and there were some 13' Scamps that looked REALLY heavy. Those things are supposed to be about 1200# or so.

See you on the discussion groups.
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llama View Post
... I looked at the actual trailer weights, and there were some 13' Scamps that looked REALLY heavy. Those things are supposed to be about 1200# or so...
They probably are, unless you plan on carrying food, clothing, a battery, propane, maybe water, etc. etc. Remember, there's a big difference between dry weight and real world weight Some people take pounds and pounds of dutch ovens and charcoal!
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:40 PM   #7
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Trailer: Bigfoot 25B21FB
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Hi Paul,

I am a past VW Jetta TDI owner and loved the car. Found this video and I know you will love it! Can-Am RV :: Jetta towing Visa

Andy Thompson of Can-Am RV is renown for his knowledge on RV towing.
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:49 PM   #8
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Just remember that Can-Am will ONLY recommend a towing combination if THEY set it up - and there is a cost for them to set it up
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:46 PM   #9
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And in this case, a direct quote from Can Am would show that they can only speak positively or negatively about any combination if they were the ones who set it up.

Since they will also ONLY use a Hensley Arrow hitch system and since that system costs more than I have invested in some of my cars..........
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:46 PM   #10
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I only want to tow a lightweight trailer. Honestly, I'm not looking for anything larger than 13' at this time because I don't want to overload the TV (see, I learned that abbreviation on the forum already).

1000lbs is fine, and I'll leave the Dutch oven at home. Right now, my "trailer" is a Yakima pod on the roof rack holding tents, backpacks, and such. So I'm used to living in small spaces.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llama View Post
I'll leave the Dutch oven at home. Right now, my "trailer" is a Yakima pod on the roof rack holding tents, backpacks, and such. So I'm used to living in small spaces.
I also tow with a smaller car so I need to watch the total trailer weight as well and I found that a lot of backpacking gear works out well for using in the trailer - things such as your light nesting pots, solar showers and head lamps etc all do double duty. But you may also find it tends to go the same way it went when I first started doing kayaking trips. Once I loaded up all the stuff I was carrying on my back for a weeks trip into the kayak there was still lots of empty space in the hatches that begged to be filled with comfortable chairs and a bottle of wine & a bigger tent. Trust me you will find all sorts of must have things to add to the empty trailer hatches as well
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:10 PM   #12
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You might consider looking for something even lighter like a Huntsman Compact or a Campster. Both start at about 850 lbs and look very good in the more remote campgrounds.



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Old 10-15-2012, 09:28 PM   #13
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Another option for you might be a teardrop trailer - the bed is inside and the cooking area outside under a hatch. Might work for you since you're used to a tent (the hard-sided teardrop is definitely better in the rain. Strategically placed tarps or awnings could keep the kitchen area pretty dry too.

Happy Hunting! I'm sure you'll find a 'home base' that you feel good towing with your Jetta!
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
I also tow with a smaller car so I need to watch the total trailer weight as well and I found that a lot of backpacking gear works out well for using in the trailer - things such as your light nesting pots, solar showers and head lamps etc all do double duty. But you may also find it tends to go the same way it went when I first started doing kayaking trips. Once I loaded up all the stuff I was carrying on my back for a weeks trip into the kayak there was still lots of empty space in the hatches that begged to be filled with comfortable chairs and a bottle of wine & a bigger tent. Trust me you will find all sorts of must have things to add to the empty trailer hatches as well
yep...that sums it up pretty well...
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:23 PM   #15
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Watch for the teardrop American. They are like fiberglass but basically sleeping places, so they would be light. (Personally, I would be claustrophobic, but that is me.)

Watch for threads on weight for towing. European towing weights are very different than US. On the other hand, while climbing a WV mountain last summer, our fan (I could say fans but both of us believe that at least one of the fans may have been compromised earlier, and we were running on one or part of one fan.) lost all its fan blades and left us with a long story about the kindness of WV people and how to find broken VW parts. We pull with a Eurovan. The WV mountains were too much for our crippled Eurovan (VW).

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:34 PM   #16
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Sounds like you might need to think long and hard as to what is most important to you, keeping your Jetta and towing a very small trailer or tent trailer or perhaps upgrading your TV and towing a "more comfortable" trailer. We, too, wanted to keep our sedan (a Subaru Legacy) and luckily it tows our new 13' Scamp beautifully. Our Scamp model is pared down (No bath, no wood cabinets, no air conditioner, no refrigerator [we opted for the ice box], no awning. The options we purchased are a rear overhead cabinet, a heater, a ceiling fan, a second propane tank [in retrospect, probably not needed] and a drawer over the ice box.) We drive with the water and grey water tanks empty. In the trailer we keep bedding, camp chairs, dishware/cookware/utensils, clothing, food in the ice box and minimal other supplies. We keep the bulk of the food, firewood, shoes in the trunk and back seat of the car. We had brakes installed by Scamp on the trailer and the hitch on the car was installed by U-Haul.

My husband and I are retired. I, the wife approaching age 61 at the time, am the one who suggested upgrading from backpacking/car camping to trailer camping. My husband, then 65, had had a hip replacement operation and had to face the fact that he had to adapt to a new physical reality. We still love hiking everyday whether camping or not and occasionally go on overnight backpacking trips. We are fortunate to live in Northern California where we CAN hike locally. We both LOVE trailer camping! It means we can quickly pack our food and clothing and be on our way and focus on hiking, NOT setting up and taking down camp! Most of our trips have been 3 weeks or more in the first year of ownership. It's so great to just drive to our destination, unhitch (or not) and be ready to camp in no time. When we are ready to leave we just hitch up and go! An item that really helped in the hitching process is a hitch wheel. By installing one we can easily move the trailer an inch or two so it lines up with the car. (We remove the wheel when towing because there is not enough clearance with it on.) This is much better than doing an "Austin Powers turn" (In the movie "International Man of Mystery" Austin Powers does multiple "Y" turns to maneuver in a tight spot. It is very funny but not funny if you are the driver of a TV.)

A few caveats I should tell you about towing with a small car because I wish someone had cautioned us (In retrospect, though it would not have changed our decision.): 1. When brakes are installed in the trailer there is a box under the steering column of the TV which gets in the way of your knees when driving. This is annoying at first but you get used to it. I am the one with short legs at 5'4" so it is most annoying to me. 2. With a sedan the hitch is very low to the ground with or without the ball. As a result the rear often drags when negotiating relatively steep inclines, descents and speed bumps. This results in loud "clunks" or scrapes when crossing these obstacles with or without the trailer resulting in odd looks from others and winces from ourselves. We have learned to pay particular attention to upcoming obstacles. We have been known to choose gas stations for their angle (or lack of) incline! We do our weekly shopping at a grocery store that has a steep incline. We like the store so we try to enter/exit the parking lot traveling slowly and obliquely over the hump. 3. If I were to choose a TV now I might chose the Subaru Outback which rides a little higher than the Legacy sedan. Subarus have the added benefit of all-wheel drive which makes them very stable in wet or snowy conditions. You can also select the manual shift which is better for towing. (Can you tell, I am a great fan of the Subaru!) 4. In the end, for me a sedan is much more comfortable than a truck.

All in all we LOVE our new lifestyle. We purchased the Scamp new reasoning that we will use it for the next 20+ years and will have two or more TVs in our future. My husband is now recovering from his second hip replacement operation. Although recovery will take several months we are already thinking of our next Scamping trip in May.

If you were to ask me about your decision I think you need to look at your budget, decide on your preferred camping style, think about how long you will keep your Jetta and trailer. You can always opt for a small tent camper or teardrop now and upgrade BOTH your TV and trailer in the future.

Good luck with your research and decision!
Happy Camping!
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:06 PM   #17
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'Thought you might like to see photos of the Subaru Legacy towing the 13' Scamp. Photo #1 - Maiden voyage out of the Scamp dealership. (note the Scamp on a pole) Photo #2 - Later in the Grand Tetons.
Attached Thumbnails
140.jpg   131.jpg  

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Old 10-17-2012, 09:53 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilda View Post
A few caveats I should tell you about towing with a small car because I wish someone had cautioned us.......
1. When brakes are installed in the trailer there is a box under the steering column of the TV which gets in the way of your knees when driving.....
2. With a sedan the hitch is very low to the ground with or without the ball. As a result the rear often drags when negotiating relatively steep inclines, descents and speed bumps. ........
3. If I were to choose a TV now I might chose the Subaru Outback which rides a little higher than the Legacy sedan.......
Re #1 there is no set location that one must install the brake controller which I am assuming is the "box under the steering column" mentioned. The installer can put it in the spot you want it - it just needs to be very reachable while you are driving. Some of the newer controllers do not have restrictions as to what angle they must be placed at in order to work correctly making it possible to mount them pretty well anywhere. Some controllers do have restrictions as to the angle they must be mounted which can create problems in finding a good spot to mount them. The one installed currently on my Subaru Outback is easy to reach but is not located under the steering wheel or where it would interfere with knees while driving.

Re #2 & #3 I agree with the poster that the Subaru Outback or Forester would be a far better fit for a 13' fiberglass trailer. The Outback, as well as the Forester are both popular tows on this forum & both have much greater ground clearance. The new Outback has even greater ground clearance than the 07 I have been towing with for 5 years without ever having had an issue on any kind with ground clearance either with the trailer hitched or not hitched.
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:48 AM   #19
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There is a lot of different opinions about towing a scamp with a small car. Some people believe that a TV that does not have a ladder frame chassis (meaning a truck based SUV) is a suicide mission. Coming from Europe I have a much more relaxed position. I tow my 13' scamp (also a very basic one) with a 2003 Jetta wagon and it works beautiful. From what I understand it is not so much the breaking power but the drag on the transmission which gives it a low tow rating. Fortunately the area were I live is nearly completely flat and I try to stay on the interstates, too. I saw someone here pulling a scamp with a VW beetle, and I believe the cars which were originally designed to pull the scamp in the 70th were much worse.
If your tow rating is 2000lbs you should be absolutely fine if you do not over-load the trailer. If you will do a lot of climbing you might want an extra transmission cooler to prevent overheating (it is only about $200), and take it slow. I found the vwvortex forum a very good place to get advice. I installed the hitch myself- it is quite easy - the only thing you have to do is drill some holes and splice in some cables.
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:39 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by chse View Post
T Coming from Europe I have a much more relaxed position. I tow my 13' scamp (also a very basic one) with a 2003 Jetta wagon and it works beautiful. .
I don't think there are nearly as many folks who feel a ladder frame or a really big engine is needed to pull a small fiberglass trailer as there was just 5 years ago when I decided to go against the grain on that line of thought. In fact I haven't been told I was crazy to be towing my trailer without a big truck for at least a couple of years now. Or at least not directly.

The reason why so many eyebrows continue to be raised when the discussion of towing with a Jetta comes up here is simple due to the fact the Jetta sold in NA is not rated to tow the weight of many/most of the small fiberglass trailers we tow here. Nothing to do with the fact they do not have a ladder frame. As has been pointed out time and time again the Jetta's sold in Europe are rated at much higher tow rates due to the fact that not only do they have different engines but that there are many other differences in major components from those sold in NA thus the differences in the towing capacities. The Jetta sold in Europe vs the one sold in NA have been a very different animal for many years. Comparing apples to oranges. Even more so now that the NA version of the Jetta is actually built in Mexico.

Currently per the attached video even VW says the only thing the Jetta sold in NA has in common with the one in Europe is the chassis.



Another big difference is the type of hitch used in Europe and how its attached, it is very different from those most commonly sold and used in NA. We had one member here Barrie Bocheff? learn that lesson the hard way despite having been warned here it was a bad idea he decided it give towing his Trillium with his Jetta a go. Fortunately he noticed the hitch was staring to pull right off the Jetta and retired the Jetta before he had a serious incident while towing. Yes you can go to some places and have a custom hitch installed for big bucks but in order to install that hitch they usually have to cut away another NA required safety feature from the bumper area of the car to do it.

The bottom line is each year with more and more small vehicles rated to tow the weight of most of our fiberglass trailers its pretty hard for anyone to be able to justify the need to risk the safety of their own family and those they share the road with by towing a trailer the vehicle manufacturer isn't willing to say its safe to tow the weight with.
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