(Other) Lessons Learned - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-16-2006, 05:53 PM   #1
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My first time out towing a trailer on an actual overnght trip was a major bust because of my tow vehicle, but we have gleaned a few additional lessons learned from the experience and here they are:

1. My tow hitch, factory installed by Ford on the bumper, was too high and did not allow towing the Burro level. Though at the time I could detect no swaying, no instability, I agree the trailer angle could have created an air dam that contributed to tow vehicle stress, and/or the poor gas mileage. Since we know towing level is best, I have added a new, lower, hitch to the Explorer.

2. Inside the Burro the nested plywood hatch covers under the cushions tended to slip out of place. My feeling is we don't need no more extra flying objects in there than is necessary. Wood stops have been added to the underside of the plywood.

3. All the curtains flew off the windows while we were in transit. Wire fasteners now keep those curtain rods fast. Bows make the curtains prettier.

4. The plastic petcock I installed for drainage in back, through the floor, feeding up into the 11 gallon water supply, got clogged somehow. It was a hot day and when I tried to drain out the water the thing not only wouldn't turn open, the handle bended! I was a little bent myself and in no mood for disobedience at the time, so guess I resorted to too much persuasion. Snapped its stupid little head off. I had installed that nozzle facing to the front, so maybe road crud found a way into it. Or, maybe it was weevils. Anyway, I replaced the whole cheapo thing with brass, and added a screw cap. Oh, and now the nozzle faces the rear.

5. I now carry my own flares.
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Old 08-16-2006, 06:18 PM   #2
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Next trip will be a breeze for you. all things are good now.
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Old 08-16-2006, 06:50 PM   #3
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Myron, I broke that stupid petcock thingy off on my first trip out. Had to use vise grips to turn it to the "Stop draining all over the place" position.

I did purchase a new one to replace it.. that was in 2003. I don't remember where I put it.

I just turn on the pump and let it drain into the sink and out the side. Seems less of a pain than fighting the valve.
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Old 08-16-2006, 07:23 PM   #4
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Myron, unless you're going over some really, REALLY nasty roads, nothing should be 'flying around' inside the trailer, nor should your curtains come flying off under normal towing circumstances.

If you were towing on normal roads, those are symptoms of a worn out axle. If you were on really nasty washboard or potholed gravel roads, then that may explain it.

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Old 08-16-2006, 08:57 PM   #5
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Myron, thanks for learning all the lessons for me....I do learn from others!

Good luck on the rest of your towing life...sounds like you've already taken care of most of those "towing life lessons."
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Old 08-17-2006, 06:15 AM   #6
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Don't forget to cross your safety chains. They were doing inspections this summer and ticketing if your chains weren't crossed and attached with a clip and not just an "S" hook.The crossed chains are supossed to suport the tongue if for some reason you accidentally become unhitched.
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Old 08-17-2006, 04:56 PM   #7
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I knew why crossing the chains was a smart safety move but didn't know not doing it was illegal. Samo on the "S" hook. Thanks for the heads up. Must get clips.

Roger, my axle, etc is all-OK. It's my curtain rods hook things that's the trouble. I may have misled you, but thanks for the concern. Took the rig out for another test drive today, this time 150 miles, to the Hudson river, around other places, and back. (The inner city? Am I nuts?) Gave those curtain rods and hatch covers a real work-out at Liberty State Park, Jersey City. Cobblestone road there, quaint remaining testimony to the early early years, but well worn Communipau Avenue leading down to it was almost as nasty.

That there is the old train terminal that transferred folks to the ferry service to Manhattan. Just north of Ellis Island, which is about 1000 feet from the shores of Jersey City. Couldn't get up close to the river today because of construction blocking things.
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Old 08-17-2006, 04:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Myron
Don't forget to cross your safety chains. They were doing inspections this summer and ticketing if your chains weren't crossed and attached with a clip and not just an "S" hook.The crossed chains are supossed to suport the tongue if for some reason you accidentally become unhitched.
Are you sure that "S" hooks are illegal every place? My Scamp came with "S" hooks, it was delivered last December.
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Old 08-17-2006, 05:32 PM   #9
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I dont like "S" hooks.I always change them to a clip on type device.I feel its safer.
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:31 PM   #10
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Different states and provinces, different laws -- S hooks are still perfectly legal in a lot of states, as well as uncrossed chains.

BTW, there's a right way and a wrong way to use S hooks -- The end of the hook should be installed by coming up from the bottom, not coming down from the top -- Try installing one hook one way and the other one the other way, then tap both upward with the palms of your hand and see how easily the wrong way becomes detached.

I drove just about all the Alaska/Yukon/BC roads one summer and only had one S hook bounce out once in about 12,000 miles, however, I have replaced them with the screw-links made for connecting pieces of chain (of test strength high enuf to likely exceed the chain test strength -- Despite that, I believe either OR or CA bans their use, along with S hooks).
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:43 PM   #11
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California DMV does not require Clip hooks.

California DMV Gov website states: (thought I would include Breakaway info.)
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl648/dl648pt12.htm

Quote:
Safety chains are required for travel trailers. Safety chains are not required for fifth-wheel trailers. The purpose of safety chains is to prevent the trailer from separating from the tow vehicle in event of hitch failure such as a hitch ball that has loosened. The chains should be crossed in an "X" fashion below the ball mount, with enough slack that they do not restrict turning or allow the coupler to hit the ground.

Breakaway switches are also required for any trailer having a gross weight of 1500 lbs. or more and manufactured after December 31, 1955. They are designed to activate trailer brakes if the tow vehicle becomes separated from the trailer. One end of the breakaway switch is attached to an electrical switch on the trailer frame and the other end is looped around a stationary hitch component on the tow vehicle. If the two vehicles become separated, the cable pulls a pin inside the breakaway switch and applies full power from the trailer battery to the trailer brakes.

Even though hitch component failure is rare, the breakaway switch and the safety chains must be in good working order.
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Old 08-18-2006, 07:00 AM   #12
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...............I have replaced them with the screw-links made for connecting pieces of chain (of test strength high enuf to likely exceed the chain test strength -- Despite that, I believe either OR or CA bans their use, along with S hooks).
Oregon doesn't allow screw links??? That's what I'm using. The RV place that inspected my trailer when I bought it replaced the S links with screw links.

I'd better check this out (and will post any valid info I find here!)
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Old 08-18-2006, 07:32 AM   #13
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I run my chain through the hitch connector then connect the s-hook through a link. No way the S-hook could come loose this way and still have adequate slack. D-links are on my to-do list though.

The curtain rods on my new Scamp kept falling off until I pinched the cafe rod ends tight with pliers.
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Old 08-18-2006, 06:05 PM   #14
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Sorry! I can only state what I read about Ontario. I'm not familiar with other areas so cannot give you advice as to where you live. I replaced my "S" hooks with heavy duty stainless from TSC farm store and have had no problem with them. The mental security using them doesn't hurt either.
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Old 08-18-2006, 11:02 PM   #15
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IMHO, Pete is right, codes vary country to country, state to state and province to province. I have a friend working in the Dept of transport here in B.C and he tells me that VERY soon towing with a bumper hitch is going to be illegal.

From what I've been also told that IF you are "legal" in the area you live in, you "SHOULD be" legal almost anywhere you go as long as you are not permanently living there. Having said that I'd guess it'd be up to you to convince a law enforcement officer OR Transport official that you are, in fact, legal at "home".
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Old 08-18-2006, 11:20 PM   #16
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Ask him to define bumper hitch -- The hitch that was on the bumper of my Ranger pickup was quite solid and had a rating of 2-3,000 lbs (I don't remember which), but I took the ball off and installed a bolt-on receiver hitch for added strength -- In fact, the after-market step bumper I had on my D150 pickup was rated stronger than the truck itself was rated (some folks read the bumper rating on vehicles and think it applies to the entire vehicle, which it most definitely does not).

The question of reciprocity between states/provinces starts to get murky when one gets into some arcane details of towing laws -- There have been (and maybe still are) states which don't require license plates on small trailers like boat and utility (Alabama was one), but that might be hard to explain to a trooper in Utah... If some practice is deemed unsafe for residents, does it suddenly become safe for folks just passing thru?

There's surely no reciprocity when it comes to radar detectors and the places that ban them!

I believe a couple of years ago, one of the provinces (Ontario?) started enforcing new laws regarding towing of vehicles behind Bulgemobiles and a requirement for brakes on out-of-province/country tourists -- I believe they had to back off, but more places are now requiring brakes on the toads.
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Old 08-20-2006, 10:30 AM   #17
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I just went to the website for the New Jersey Commission of motor vehicles looking for specific state rules governing towing. Not much there. Nothing found on chains. Code 22 covers trailers but when you look it up get fee schedules and weight designations, not a list of no-no's.

Something there I already have experience with: To register a homemade trailer....

<blockquote>"...you need to visit an MVC Agency with acceptable proof of identification to complete an application ...and as part of the inspection process, you will need to provide receipts for all parts used to build the trailer or a notarized statement and a certified weight slip if receipts cannot be provided."</blockquote>
Since earlier Burros were also sold as kits to be assembled at home (mine was one of those) and since mine, at least, never had a VIN stamped on its tongue, this knowledge is certainly useful for us who need to know it.

Even though you are a NJ driver, you can still acquire points and penalties for violations committed in other states. NJ is a member of two compacts that enforce this policy. The Compact consists of 45 states and the District of Columbia. States not included are Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Members of this compact exchange all violation information. For example, if you get a speeding ticket in Florida, you will get 2 points on your NJ driving record.
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Old 08-20-2006, 10:41 AM   #18
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Myron,

They were never sold as do-it-yourself-from-the-frame-up kits. They sold them as competed, towable, weather-tight shells on completed frames with a manufacturer's certificate of origin (or title). The only thing that the do-it-yourselfer completed was the interior, and Burro sold the complete interior as a kit with the do-it-yourself trailer.

I know from experience that Burro VIN numbers are notoriously difficult to see as they were very lightly stamped on the tongue, and typically years of rust and/or paint can make them all but invisible. But, so far as I know, there were never any produced without VIN numbers.

It's unfortunate that yours may have become invisible. It certainly makes life more difficult.

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Old 08-20-2006, 03:23 PM   #19
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Wonder if Chuck T is still around? He's the salesman who sold my burro "kit" to the guy I bought it from. As you can see from the invoice here he uses the word "group" to indicate what was included in the deal. As in...No "Groups", Electrical "Groups," etc. Yet, on another document from Burro which I found in the trailer you see clearly the words, "Burro Kit, Complete with 4 Groups".

So! It is obvious degrees of kit-osity are subject to much variation. Dare I say one man's kit is another man's......no, I won't say that.

There is a chemical I have seen detectives on tv use to reveal serial numbers that have been filed off metals by criminals. You know, some kind of acid, that exposes microscopic dents deep in the metallic little cells, that the human eye cannot see. Don't know what chemical it is. I'll need to get that stuff to be certain Burro really did stamp a VIN on my tongue because I've scoured it thoroughly with a magnifying glass and found zero trace of any stamped number. And I got a number to look for. It was on the manufacturer's statement of origin. Interestingly enough, the word KIT is not found on that document.
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Old 08-21-2006, 11:36 AM   #20
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Oregon doesn't allow screw links??? That's what I'm using. The RV place that inspected my trailer when I bought it replaced the S links with screw links.

I'd better check this out (and will post any valid info I find here!)

I finally did a bit of checking on this one. Oregon law does not specify how the safety chain(s) are attached. Read it here. Section 818.150
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