Reducing weight on 16' - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-08-2021, 08:55 AM   #1
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Name: David
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Reducing weight on 16'

Hey,
So I've been looking to buy a trailer, but realized that tow vehicle (Hybrid Toyota RAV4, 2019) has a relatively low tow rating, 1,750lb. Many members have pointed out that pulling a 16' would be unlikely due to its high weight...

Would it be possible to remove anything from a 16' to make the loaded weight anywhere close to near 2000lbs? I've seen people tow around 2,200lbs with such a vehicle.

I don't wish to damage my drive train, We'll only be bringing 2 people (driver passenger) and a 35lb-ish fluffy Chow Chow on our trips. don't really bring additional gear other than food, water and books...

I guess the short answer is:
can you strip down a 16' trailer to a loaded weight of less than 2,000lbs

Thanks!
David
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Old 09-08-2021, 09:07 AM   #2
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Not practical. One of my favorite sayings is "I can make a pizza so cheap no one would eat it." Take a little cheese off, then reduce the sauce, remove toppings, remove more cheese, remove more sauce. Repeat as needed to hit a price target. Its still a pizza, just not edible.

In the case of a 16, remove spare tire, battery, awning, all appliances, water tank, cushions, table, etc. Strip it down. At that point, its not usable as a trailer. But you have reduced weight some. Not enough to reach your goal.

Another way to "reduce" weight is to believe what a seller tells you. Its the old "I was told" weight. When I bought my Trillium 1300, the seller assured me it only weighed 800 pounds. OK, right, sure. I knew better. But until I ran it across a scale, I could "think" it weighed 800 pounds. Then I weighed it at a truck stop, 1,540 pounds......

I see a lot of weights in ads, here and elsewhere. None have posted a certified weigh ticket. To be fair, most people have never weighed their trailer. So they go on what they have heard, what someone told me, I read somewhere, and so on.

I collect and restore vintage road bicycles. I've seen some whopper weights there too. Weighs less than 10 pounds (OK, sure...) So light I can lift with one finger (is that finger calibrated??)
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Old 09-08-2021, 09:09 AM   #3
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Oh boy.... guess I'll just have to keep looking for a 13' then...

*wow you're really active on this forum! two replies within...20min?!?
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Old 09-08-2021, 09:37 AM   #4
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Weight is only one factor in a tow rating, and is mostly related to safety. Comfort and durability while towing also enter into the equation. A too small of a tow vehicle will be jostled all over by the trailer, and at high speed the loads imposed by the air on a large frontal area of any travel trailer (yes, Scamps and other fiberglass RV's have a fairly large area exposed to the air) will cause fuel economy to go down and wear and tear on the engine, transmission and rest of the drivetrain to go up.

I would advise getting a different tow vehicle no matter which fiberglass camper you choose.



--Dan Meyer
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Old 09-08-2021, 09:53 AM   #5
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We were faced with keeping the weight of our 13' Boler to below 1500lb. Best we can do is to shave a bit here and there, replace solid cupboard doors with a thinner ribbed design. We removed the vinyl flooring someone had installed to reduce some 60lb, a wood tongue box with a thinner plastic one, considering a lithium battery to replace the standard wet cell, etc.
Moving some of the in trailer stock to the TV helps but to a limit.
Have fun...
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Old 09-08-2021, 10:24 AM   #6
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Name: Chantal
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Even with a 13' you will need to be careful. Ours is 1685 lbs fully-loaded.
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Old 09-08-2021, 11:37 AM   #7
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Trailer: 2015 Escape 17A
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So, the short answer to your 2nd and 4th paragraph question: No.
My example: I tow an Escape 17A, no bathroom, porta-potty instead. Factory dry weight is about 2000#. With our gear, full propane, full fresh water tank: we are at about 2600#. Our tow vehicle is a Honda Pilot: 3500# tow rating, 250 HP, 250 Ft/lbs torque.
Your tow won't realistically do half of that.
BUT, here's perhaps the most important issue: If you have an accident while towing and you are over specs., your insurance co. will likely say: "sorry, you're not covered!".
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Old 09-08-2021, 06:42 PM   #8
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Check this site
It is a spreadsheet of actual weights

https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...rld-43010.html
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Old 09-08-2021, 07:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfandrews View Post
So, the short answer to your 2nd and 4th paragraph question: No.
My example: I tow an Escape 17A, no bathroom, porta-potty instead. Factory dry weight is about 2000#. With our gear, full propane, full fresh water tank: we are at about 2600#. Our tow vehicle is a Honda Pilot: 3500# tow rating, 250 HP, 250 Ft/lbs torque.
Your tow won't realistically do half of that.
BUT, here's perhaps the most important issue: If you have an accident while towing and you are over specs., your insurance co. will likely say: "sorry, you're not covered!".

600 pounds is a lot of "necessary" cargo!

A Scamp is lighter and more aero than an Escape 17.


That last remark would likely require A LOT more than a Scamp 16 on a RAV4 to initiate such an action. In 17 years on this forum, nobody has EVER reported such an action on the part of an insurance company.
I would not presume to suggest exceeding tow ratings, but I tend to resist hyperbole and unfounded fear tactics.
(no matter how well intended)

Fact is... The 2019 RAV4 Chassis is designed to handle a tow rating of 3500# when properly equipped. A little research will likely reveal that the limitations on yours are drive train related and not chassis or safety related once "properly equipped" for towing.

If you do decide to tow "at the limit", you can reduce the impact on the drive train by reducing acceleration and top speed as well as following distance.
My latest tow vehicle is gross overkill for my Scamp yet I still slow down and increase following distances when towing.
(just common sense IMO)


If you find a 16Scamp which you choose to tow with your RAV4, be sure and get a real functioning brake controller and be sure the trailer brakes work.
Even at reduced speeds that will greatly reduce the wear and tear on the TV and its brakes,while increasing towing safety . Also add a friction sway device AFTER your trailer is well balanced for towing.
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Old 09-09-2021, 08:44 AM   #10
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Base empty, un-optioned weight of the lightest 16’ no-bath layout (#3) is 1750#, and that's with nothing more than a hand pump sink, stove, and icebox. Most weigh 2400-2800# with a few options and basic camping gear. To lighten one enough to stay under 1750# loaded, you'd have to start ripping out the basic cabinets. Not only would the trailer be unusable, much of the interior contributes to the structural integrity of the shell. A 16'er is not an option, not even close.

Even many fully optioned, front bath 13’ers exceed 1750#. A basic front bunk 13’er is doable with care.

Agree, overweight towing will not void your insurance in the event of an accident. After all, nearly all accidents are the result of doing something unsafe or illegal. However, if the unsafe or illegal action was egregious, you will likely find yourself facing cancellation or steep premium increases. There could also be citations and civil lawsuits.

Agree, trailer brakes are essential. Not all 13’ers have them.

It is good you are asking the questions now.
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Old 09-11-2021, 04:17 PM   #11
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Name: David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd View Post
600 pounds is a lot of "necessary" cargo!

A Scamp is lighter and more aero than an Escape 17.


That last remark would likely require A LOT more than a Scamp 16 on a RAV4 to initiate such an action. In 17 years on this forum, nobody has EVER reported such an action on the part of an insurance company.
I would not presume to suggest exceeding tow ratings, but I tend to resist hyperbole and unfounded fear tactics.
(no matter how well intended)

Fact is... The 2019 RAV4 Chassis is designed to handle a tow rating of 3500# when properly equipped. A little research will likely reveal that the limitations on yours are drive train related and not chassis or safety related once "properly equipped" for towing.

If you do decide to tow "at the limit", you can reduce the impact on the drive train by reducing acceleration and top speed as well as following distance.
My latest tow vehicle is gross overkill for my Scamp yet I still slow down and increase following distances when towing.
(just common sense IMO)


If you find a 16Scamp which you choose to tow with your RAV4, be sure and get a real functioning brake controller and be sure the trailer brakes work.
Even at reduced speeds that will greatly reduce the wear and tear on the TV and its brakes,while increasing towing safety . Also add a friction sway device AFTER your trailer is well balanced for towing.
Thank you for your response! I really appreciate you putting in the effort to look up my TVs specs!

I had read on a RAV4 forum that the only difference between the XLE (what I have) and the Adventure (rated 3,500lb) was drive train related, but wasn’t too sure.

In addition there have been people documented towing 2,000 lbs up steep grades to test the XLEs performance. Apparently the hybrid has a lot of data logging! Chances were the coolant (eq. To transmission fluid on a non-hybrid..?) would get a few degrees hotter and the battery might drain down on lengthy inclines or passing.

As for towing safety, I’ll have to look up and read into that considerably… just got my hitch delivered and installed today!

If I do manage to locate a 13’ I can afford, I’ll probably try towing it >55mph and keep an excellent following distance till I get trailer brake installed on it…

Do you think 55mph is a safe speed? Or less is better for safety till I get one installed?

Thanks,
David
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Old 09-11-2021, 04:26 PM   #12
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Name: David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Base empty, un-optioned weight of the lightest 16’ no-bath layout (#3) is 1750#, and that's with nothing more than a hand pump sink, stove, and icebox. Most weigh 2400-2800# with a few options and basic camping gear. To lighten one enough to stay under 1750# loaded, you'd have to start ripping out the basic cabinets. Not only would the trailer be unusable, much of the interior contributes to the structural integrity of the shell. A 16'er is not an option, not even close.

Even many fully optioned, front bath 13’ers exceed 1750#. A basic front bunk 13’er is doable with care.

Agree, overweight towing will not void your insurance in the event of an accident. After all, nearly all accidents are the result of doing something unsafe or illegal. However, if the unsafe or illegal action was egregious, you will likely find yourself facing cancellation or steep premium increases. There could also be citations and civil lawsuits.

Agree, trailer brakes are essential. Not all 13’ers have them.

It is good you are asking the questions now.
I’ve read about how the cabinets make up support for the shell… I’m not looking for a fancy 13’, just fridge, fan (or not?) the converting table - bed and kitchen. I personally would like to build in a shower, but would be fine with no water heater. Do you think those mods would be able to fit under my limit? Im definitely installing brakes if they didn’t come with the trailer and don’t plan on speeding. In the near future I’m also planning to replace the lead acid battery with LFP cells, which will supposedly reduce weight too.

We don’t really bring any supplies like I mentioned earlier, just clothes, food, books, and a dog.

Thanks for your input!
David
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Old 09-11-2021, 06:34 PM   #13
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It’ll be close, but I think it could be possible with care. With some of the other modifications you’ve mentioned, you might even squeak a front bath model with toilet and shower under your limit, especially if you do without A/C and awning, which are heavier options. Absolutely get the power roof fan. They work surprisingly well and can eliminate the need for A/C in marginal situations.
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Old 09-15-2021, 10:37 AM   #14
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Name: Cliff
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For me the only reason I got a camper was for pleasure. For me towing at the edge of your capabilities does in no way fall in the realm of pleasure. Traveling in the breakdown lane up grades, struggling to get to highway speeds and white knuckleing long down grades are all doable but not desirable. And that "safe" distance you can try to maintain is often taken up by some wannabe Grand Prix racer. 😎
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:13 AM   #15
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Don’t know how handy you are, but in my travels I’ve seen some very nice and some very “basic” home made campers made from enclosed construction trailers.
You could start with a size that just fits your needs, start the build and stop when you hit your target weight. 🤔 My guess would be that you would decide to add more and have to upgrade your tow anyway 😆
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:25 AM   #16
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Sounds like you are committed to your hybrid Rav4, which I respect. But you might consider the possibility of a reliable used vehicle as a TV. Certain models, I think Honda, Toyota (hybrid Highlander?) and Subaru, hold up really well. I recently bought a 2008 Acura MDX for $10k as my "new" TV. I had to install a hitch, but it had a tow "prep" pkg from the factory, meaning it already had a transmission cooler installed (I think these are great for any TV) and wiring connectors for towing, etc. It tows well (rated over 3500 lbs) and runs cooler than my other vehicles even when towing. And it's a nice car. If you have a little patience and know what to look for, you can get a reliable used vehicle that will tow comfortably and not have to try to strip down your trailer to a point where it isn't even comfortable any more. Just a thought. Hope it all works out for you.
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:27 AM   #17
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Dont fill the water tank and dont take anything with you. Eat out and be sure to flush your holding tanks B 4 going home is you connected to camp ground system.
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Old 09-15-2021, 01:16 PM   #18
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I kind of am

Quote:
Originally Posted by TracyG View Post
Sounds like you are committed to your hybrid Rav4, which I respect. But you might consider the possibility of a reliable used vehicle as a TV.
Im love this vehicle …. But also because I “inherited” the remaining $36,000 balance on its loan, and I’ve already paid 12k of it!

That makes it hard for me to consider a different TV.

Very good point to consider in the future though!

David
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Old 09-15-2021, 03:52 PM   #19
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We had a 2011 Tacoma with the 2.7 4 cylinder engine. Pulling our U haul camper we could barely get down the road. We tried to lower the weight but it is difficult. The Tacoma was rated for 3500 pounds tow capacity and the trailer fully loaded was only about 1600 pounds.

We now tow the trailer with a V6 Highlander and it tows very well. My rule of thumb now is to keep the towing capacity at least twice and if one climbs mountains much to have 3 times the rated capacity.
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Old 09-15-2021, 08:10 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoomStick01 View Post
Im love this vehicle …. But also because I “inherited” the remaining $36,000 balance on its loan, and I’ve already paid 12k of it!

That makes it hard for me to consider a different TV.
...
Many people tow campers which nearly meet, or sometimes exceed their maximum tow vehicle limits. And many people tow campers which nearly meet, or sometimes exceed their maximum budgetary limits. Either of those can become expensive but some people do both, and then the extra cost incurred from pushing the first limit intensifies the effect on the second. Tow vehicles are deprecating assets. They only decline in value. Most campers are also deprecating assets although some fiberglass campers have shown a positive return. So you should plan to lose money. You can limit that loss by not financing, and by purchasing vehicles and camping trailers of high quality which deprecate the least, and which are not abused or overworked and are well maintained. As you get older you will find that making smart financial (and engineering) decisions will pay huge dividends.. literally and figuratively.
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