Stu - Fiberglass RV

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Old 10-04-2014, 07:18 AM   #1
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Name: Stu
Trailer: In the market
Posts: 5


I am new to FiberglassRV. My wife Cindy has finally joined me in retirement and we are looking forward to traveling the country and meeting new friends! We are currently looking for the right fiberglass Rv for us and the right vehicle to tow it with. We will be looking to you for advice on how to start our journey the right way.

We started by looking at which vehicle is best for us. We are looking at a 16ft trailer and want to get the vehicle first so we can be ready when we find the trailer we want to buy.

The vehicle we decided on is a Subaru Outback rated to tow 2700 lbs. Our son-in-law warned us that it might not have enough power when you factor in the wind resistance.

What do you think the right vehicle capabilities should be?.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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Old 10-04-2014, 07:34 AM   #2
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Name: Jim
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
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Hi Stu, welcome to the site.

Lots of good information here. I would suggest reading back, as you will find lots of good info on fibreglass trailers of all makes. Then, fire away with any questions you may still have.

A 2,700 lb towing capacity will be limiting to what you could tow, especially once you load up a trailer in the 16-17 ft range, Have you bought the Outback (which is a nice vehicle) yet, or is it just a forerunner?

This link will give you an idea of the real weights of many of the fibreglass trailers out there, once loaded.
Trailer Weights in the Real World

I think it is wise to not buy either until you work out the specifics for both the tow and the trailer first, that way you can be confident your combination is perfect for you.

2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
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Old 10-04-2014, 07:57 AM   #3
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Name: Stu
Trailer: In the market
Posts: 5
Jim thanks for the advice. We have not purchased the vehicle yet. We are looking at Scamps just because they are made here in MN so we can actually look at one. We have no idea how to be able to see other brands because there are no dealers to go to and no way to find owners of various brands in the area.

What can we do to solve this problem?
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:08 AM   #4
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Posts: 6,968
Welcome to the forum, Stu!

I'm going to have to reluctantly agree with your son-in-law on this, Stu. Reluctantly, because the Outbacks are great vehicles. But any Subaru will probably not be a good choice for a 16'er. The overall weight limit is marginal, but the greater problem is tongue weight. Check the limits (believe it's 200# on many models), and check out the thread "Trailer Weights in the Real World" in the General Chat section.

At least one forum member did make it work, but reported experiencing significant mechanical repair issues as a result of towing.

Highlanders (and other mid-size crossovers) are popular for that class of trailer. Minivans also make great tow vehicles, but I'm thinking you're looking for AWD up there in MN.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:33 AM   #5
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Posts: 6,968
I guess you're looking to buy a new one, and a 16' Scamp is a good choice. They are among the lightest in that size class, and being near the factory is an advantage. I wouldn't rule out used. FG trailers hold value well, and most of the depreciation is in the first few years. If you bought a nice used one and it didn't work out, you could probably get your money back in the spring. New, you'd take a hit. Used ones aren't all that common, but new ones have a wait of several months. May depend on when you plan to hit the road.

Best way to check out other brands is to attend a rally. Probably too late up in your area, but you might take a break to a sunny clime and pop in on one of the winter rallies in the Sun Belt. There's a section of the forum devoted to rallies.

Good luck!
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:33 AM   #6
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Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
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Just to add in.... The Suburu will be at or over it's limit with a 16' ready to go, especially in the critical area of tongue weight. It's far better to have at least 25% of headroom in your towing capacity. Figure 3000 lbs for most 16's and 300 lbs. tongue weight when you are looking.

Again, be sure to review the trailer weights chart Jim mentioned in post #2

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Old 10-04-2014, 08:34 AM   #7
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Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
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Originally Posted by Stuart View Post
We have no idea how to be able to see other brands because there are no dealers to go to and no way to find owners of various brands in the area.
Actually, if you contact Scamp they will direct you to individual owners who have agreed to show their trailers to prospective buyers. The manufacturers of Scamp and Casita have programs to compensate owners for this service.
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:18 AM   #8
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
Posts: 11,731
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post

At least one forum member did make it work, but reported experiencing significant mechanical repair issues as a result of towing.
Welcome Stu!
I believe the forum member mentioned above is probable me.

I have owned a number of Outbacks over the years and I did indeed tow with the last one I bought - the only one I towed with. I towed for six years a lightly loaded 16' Side bath Scamp - no ac, no micro wave, no water in the tanks, only one propane tank and battery etc.

Although the trailer weighed in under the total tow rating of the Outback I found it towed the most stable if I was at least 40lbs over on the tongue weight rating of 200lbs. I didnt carry anything in the back of the car or passengers in the rear of the car to compensate for over loading the tongue weight rating.

Although the car has/had fairly low milage on it for its age, I did indeed start to have a number of mechanical issues with it in the 5th year of towing with it - mostly items I had never had an issues with on my previous Outbacks with way more miles on them at the same age but they did not tow. I retired the vehicle from towing last year (end of the 6th year of towing) with 55,000 miles on it due to the high number of repair issues I had over the last year of towing with it.

I loved my Outback - you will not find a better car for driving in the snow. I live on the side of what many here would call a mountain and I am a skier. So I was very reluctant to sell it due to its low milage. I thought I had done all the major repairs it would need for a few more yeas, so I kept it as a second car. Unfortunately although it has not towed over the last year its mechanical problems have continued. It would appear that perhaps the damage done from having towed heavily with are not going to go away and its getting more than a little to pricy to keep it running well - just last night due to yet another issue with it this week, I was discussing selling it .

It was a very solid tow vehicle and I did tow with it in lots of weather conditions - up and down the NA coast more than once - summer and winter. it also traveled many times over a number of large mountain passes to the east. It would surprise a few people as to just how solidly it did tow in really high winds - side ways or head on. MPG's do take a hit in a head wind though - but thats pretty typical of all tow vehicles - big or small.

BTW the MPG's a Subaru gets are really not all that impressive by todays standards - even when not towing. So I wouldn't use the better gas milage card as a justification for towing a 16' with it.

When towing in the flat lands it was easy to forget the trailer was back there, but not so when on a steep hill or on those occasions I needed to boot it to get quickly out of the way of a developing bad situation - I was reminded quickly that I was pretty well at the max weight of its ability to pull. It had no issues stopping the trailer (with brakes on it) well, even when traveling at high speeds on a steep down hill.

The above is why when anyone asks I suggest they stick to towing a 13' trailer with it and they should be very happy camper.

The Highlander would be my first choose if I were out shopping for a new vehicle to pull a Scamp 16' or similar sized fiberglass trailer and wanted to stay with a smaller SUV vehicle.
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Old 10-04-2014, 02:05 PM   #9
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Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Posts: 7,374
This is not to deny Carol's comments about her Outback. I know nothing about their reliability. I can only relate our experience.

We towed a Scamp 16, 2400 pounds axle/200 pounds tongue, for 4 years for 7 months of the year. We have been all over the USA and Canada with it. As Ginny can attest we have driven many 'roads from hell'.

We also towed a Casita 16 and a Sunline 15.5, both similar in weight and size to the Scamp. This covered a period of 7 years of towing with multiple loops of the USA. We used the same vehicle for towing all our trailers, our 2004 Honda CRV.

We never had a single mechanical issue with the CRV. We traded it in after 225,000 miles. Of course we had to down shift on long hills but they really are a trivial portion of our driving. Like Carol, we have never found tow vehicle brakes to be an issue, particularly with brakes on the trailer.

As to the 25% safety margin, if we followed it our new 2014 Honda Odyssey would 'just' be able to tow our Scamp. Interestingly the Odyssey is used by many to tow much larger trailers with great success.

As to the Scamp 16 there are many fine trailers available in the marketplace, We like our Scamp because of it's openness and cost. Our's is now 23 years old and going strong. We did buy it used, there are not a lot of products that you can buy that are still going strong after such a long period.

The major complaint about the Scamp is the size of it's rear bed. The most common Scamps have beds that are 44" wide though some of the newer units are available with 54" wide beds. We have found the smaller bed perfectly fine but not all feel that way.

Now that we have the Odyssey, assuming Honda reliability, I think we're going to really like having a mini-van. If I were younger I might have considered the Toyota Sienna 4 wheel drive mini-van but we're sort of stuck on Honda's.

If you're considering a smaller tow vehicle you need to consider the limitations. The major one is tongue weight. We towed with a light tongue with no issues though there have been others who have had problems.

By the way we switched to the Odyssey because Honda no longer offered the CRV with a manual transmission.

Wishing you well in your search.

Just another view, previously stated but sometimes hard to find.....
Norm and Ginny

2014 Honda Odyssey
1991 Scamp 16
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:51 PM   #10
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Name: Brian
Trailer: 2015 Scamp 13 Front Washroom, Van Camper
New Brunswick
Posts: 372
Have you looked at a V6 Cherokee with tow package (not the Grand Cherokee). It's similar price to Subaru but tow rating of 4500 lbs. The owners manual does make mention of frontal area so actual limits are probably less.

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Old 10-04-2014, 07:16 PM   #11
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Name: David
Trailer: 1998 Casita 17 SD
Posts: 675
I used a 2003 outback as a tow vehicle with my 13' 76 Ventura and found it very limited due to the frontal area with the square front on the ventura. I found that I fell out of the power band pretty quickly and 4th gear I was revving around 3800 rpm. With the head gasket problems that the 2.5l has had in the past, the last thing I would do is really stress the engine as far as getting overheated. The gas mileage towing was very poor getting about 280km to 50L

Frontal area in my opinion is worse than the weight. My 17' Casita gives me better mileage than the Ventura (towing with a 2003 F150 now) even though its almost twice the weight.
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Old 10-04-2014, 11:59 PM   #12
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Name: Charlie Y
Trailer: Escape 21 - Felicity
Posts: 1,261
I used a 4 banger Tacoma rated at 3500 tow with a Casita 17LD which worked fine, unless you needed to go up a long grade (like 9000 ft in Utah) in which case one could spend the whole day at a screaming 4100 rpm going 40 mph with no head wind.

Then towed with a 6 cyl Tacoma rated 6400 lbs and hardly knew the trailer was back there. Got better mileage with the different transmission gearing too.

Now towing an Escape 21 with the same truck and it works great.

I would not consider towing anything with less than 3500 rating. Too noisy in the hills/mountains.

Charlie Y
Charlie Y

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Old 10-05-2014, 06:44 AM   #13
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Name: Drew
Trailer: 1987 Scamp 16ft, Layout 4
Posts: 77
Welcome Stu!

I'm in Saint Paul, MN with a 16ft Scamp and would be happy to give you a "tour". I store it in my backyard, so it's really very accessible. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to see it.
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Old 10-05-2014, 01:05 PM   #14
Junior Member
Name: Stu
Trailer: In the market
Posts: 5
Thank you all for the great help offered. With the help from new friends like you, we can't wait to begin our retirement on the road! It is great having the shared knowledge of so many experienced people. You have already saved use from going ahead with purchasing a new vehicle that would be marginal in performance. We are planning to look at a used unit as purchasing a new vehicle and a new trailer isn't in the cards right now.

As a side note, it sure would be nice to have a rating service like Consumer Reports to rate vehicles for towing different loads.

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