Newb question: Hitched trailer attitude? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-20-2019, 03:44 PM   #1
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Name: Whit
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Question Newb question: Hitched trailer attitude?

Hi folks,

First time poster and newbie trailer owner here. My wife and I picked up a 16-foot ’81 Scamp last weekend. Very exciting! We’re working on various modifications, but among the first things that we need to do is get the right hitch hardware for our tow vehicle, and I'm a bit confused on that front.

Scamp's website calls for a 21" tongue height: "The ball hitch height on the tow vehicle should be about ... 21 inches high for the 16 foot trailer."

But that seems oddly high for our trailer, the tongue of which is maybe 14" (correction: top of tongue is 12" high) off the ground at best when level, see attached photo. I did a bit of research on towing stability and did see some mention of attitude being relevant, but it certainly didn't suggest that the trailer should be pointing up significantly.

Any idea what I'm supposed to do here? Is there any chance that our trailer's suspension is just shot and it's sagging super low?

Thanks!

EDIT: I just measured it, I was shooting high in the guess above - the top of the tongue receiver is just above 12' when level.
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:11 PM   #2
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Name: Gary
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I keep my trailers as level as possible. Too high and the rear bumper can drag on uneven driveways, too low and the hitch can drag
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:13 PM   #3
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Name: JD
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Florida
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The '91 Scamp might be a bit lower than a trailer with a newer non sagged suspension
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:15 PM   #4
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For Escapes the ball height is 19" and I believe a Scamp would be lower. That 21" number has to be incorrect.
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:26 PM   #5
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Name: Whit
Trailer: Scamp
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
1. Ball height, not tongue height (ball is higher than bottom of tongue).

2. 16? 13? Modern? Older? Modern 16 seems like 21 is about right.
16-foot '81 Scamp. Thanks for the tip re: ball height, but that would still have my tongue pointing up. (see edit above)
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:27 PM   #6
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Name: Whit
Trailer: Scamp
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
For Escapes the ball height is 19" and I believe a Scamp would be lower. That 21" number has to be incorrect.
Well, it's from the very well-organized Scamp website, I assume they know their products very well.
https://www.scamptrailers.com/ask-sc...re-you-go.html
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:28 PM   #7
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Name: Whit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russ514 View Post
I keep my trailers as level as possible. Too high and the rear bumper can drag on uneven driveways, too low and the hitch can drag
Good feedback, that would have been my guess about what to do here (and we do have an elevated driveway, so that is an issue). Anybody else suggest otherwise, letting it pitch upward?
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:30 PM   #8
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Name: Whit
Trailer: Scamp
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Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
The '91 Scamp might be a bit lower than a trailer with a newer non sagged suspension
I'm not totally sure I understand your point. Ours is '81.
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:32 PM   #9
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Name: Whit
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Ah! Thanks to Brian B-P for a very helpful, authoritative answer via PM (TLDR: it should pitch level or slightly *down*, never up). I think that wraps this question up! Thanks for everyone's thoughts/feedback!
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Old 04-20-2019, 04:48 PM   #10
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp 16 Modified (BIGLY)
Florida
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The rubber torsion suspension will sag with time and the level point might (read probably) be lower than when new.
My (reaxled with a Flexiride) is set to 19" to the top of the ball. (adjustable trailing arms)
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Old 04-20-2019, 05:07 PM   #11
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Trailer: 2014 Scamp 16 layout 4, 2018 Winnebago Revel 4x4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitfield View Post
Hi folks,

First time poster and newbie trailer owner here. My wife and I picked up a 16-foot ’81 Scamp last weekend. Very exciting! We’re working on various modifications, but among the first things that we need to do is get the right hitch hardware for our tow vehicle, and I'm a bit confused on that front.

Scamp's website calls for a 21" tongue height: "The ball hitch height on the tow vehicle should be about ... 21 inches high for the 16 foot trailer."

But that seems oddly high for our trailer, the tongue of which is maybe 14" (correction: top of tongue is 12" high) off the ground at best when level, see attached photo. I did a bit of research on towing stability and did see some mention of attitude being relevant, but it certainly didn't suggest that the trailer should be pointing up significantly.

Any idea what I'm supposed to do here? Is there any chance that our trailer's suspension is just shot and it's sagging super low?

Thanks!

EDIT: I just measured it, I was shooting high in the guess above - the top of the tongue receiver is just above 12' when level.

The coupler location on your trailer is strange, it is very low. Here is the factory coupler:


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Old 04-21-2019, 11:59 AM   #12
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The trailer should be level to slightly low in front.
If yourA-frame/hitch was modified for some reason, like for a TV with a low hitch, you may be able the have it restored to a higher ball.
Otherwise, you will need a ball mount with a deep drop. But then you may have issues with dragging over humps.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:31 PM   #13
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Name: Hal
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It looks like someone may have replaced the coupler, thus the lower stance.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:21 PM   #14
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Name: Jann
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitfield View Post
Hi folks,

First time poster and newbie trailer owner here. My wife and I picked up a 16-foot ’81 Scamp last weekend. Very exciting! We’re working on various modifications, but among the first things that we need to do is get the right hitch hardware for our tow vehicle, and I'm a bit confused on that front.

Scamp's website calls for a 21" tongue height: "The ball hitch height on the tow vehicle should be about ... 21 inches high for the 16 foot trailer."

But that seems oddly high for our trailer, the tongue of which is maybe 14" (correction: top of tongue is 12" high) off the ground at best when level, see attached photo. I did a bit of research on towing stability and did see some mention of attitude being relevant, but it certainly didn't suggest that the trailer should be pointing up significantly.

Any idea what I'm supposed to do here? Is there any chance that our trailer's suspension is just shot and it's sagging super low?

Thanks!

EDIT: I just measured it, I was shooting high in the guess above - the top of the tongue receiver is just above 12' when level.
I would have the axle and suspension checked. Replace or fix if needed. Then fix whatever it takes to make it sit to specs.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:40 PM   #15
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp 16 Modified (BIGLY)
Florida
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Two things.
1. The coupler has been rebuilt and is too low.
Probably because the angle of the original Scamp frame is not the (IIRC) 55 degrees.
This places the coupler too low as it was welded to the bottom of the frame instead of being a part of the main frame.
The 1981 used thin wall tubing for the main frame where the later trailers used 1/8" thick tubing. This might have entered into the decision to do this repair work in this way.
2. If not already replaced the axle will have settled and the rubber hardened and should be replaced if this is the case.
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Old 04-21-2019, 09:44 PM   #16
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It appears your tongue was modified by a previous owner and is a few inches lower than a standard Scamp. Not sure why they would have done that. You may also have a sagging axle where the torsion arms have compressed the rubber bits in the axle. How much room do you have between the top of tire and bottom of wheel well? You will have to disregard that 21" figure due to the modified tongue, and measure the height from the ground when the Scamp is level and match your drawbar ball height to that.
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Old 04-22-2019, 02:23 PM   #17
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Name: Michael
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The tow vehicle should have the same stance with or without the trailer attached. Unless you have a maximum vehicle tongue weight capacity that significantly exceeds your trailer tongue weight, you may need a weight distributing hitch to achieve this. The WDH will distribute the trailer tongue weight over the four tow vehicle wheels such that the tow vehicle maintains its stance. This will greatly improve the stability of the tow vehicle.
Excessive weight on the rear axle means insufficient weight on the front axle and causes the rear of the tow vehicle to sag. This increases the potential to strike the rear of the tow vehicle, the hitch and sometimes the tongue of the trailer, especially if traveling the back country.
This "speed boat" stance also makes the tow vehicle harder to steer, especially in windy conditions, as there is insufficient weight on the front wheels. It can also decrease braking power as the front wheels, which are responsible for much of the braking action, may not grip the road as well but slide over it.
The trailer should be as level as possible. If the front or back end is higher it reduces stability when towing.
Measure the height of both bumpers on the tow vehicle. Attach the trailer. The height of both bumpers should drop approximatelythe same distance. If the tongue weight of the trailer drops the rear bumper more than 1 -2 inches lower than it drops the front bumper of the tow vehicle you should consider a WDH.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:24 AM   #18
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Name: Whit
Trailer: Scamp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sokhapkin View Post
The coupler location on your trailer is strange, it is very low. Here is the factory coupler:


Yeah, I'm starting to realize that. When I search for "1981 Scamp" on Google, almost all of them just have straight structural beams coming out, not the weird drop that's on ours. :/ The only one I'm seeing that has a drop is this one, but it's different than ours. Between this and other issues, we're starting to feel like we shouldn't have bought the thing. But nothing to do now but forge ahead.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:38 AM   #19
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Name: Whit
Trailer: Scamp
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Originally Posted by Radar1 View Post
It appears your tongue was modified by a previous owner and is a few inches lower than a standard Scamp. Not sure why they would have done that. You may also have a sagging axle where the torsion arms have compressed the rubber bits in the axle. How much room do you have between the top of tire and bottom of wheel well? You will have to disregard that 21" figure due to the modified tongue, and measure the height from the ground when the Scamp is level and match your drawbar ball height to that.
Yeah, these are the conclusions that I've been coming to as well. I have to assume that the suspension is sagging, though a lot of the other '81 Scamps I'm seeing online look the same.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:39 AM   #20
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Name: bill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitfield View Post
Between this and other issues, we're starting to feel like we shouldn't have bought the thing. But nothing to do now but forge ahead.
As far as the tongue issue, yes, its not the original design and yes, its low. The "test" will be pulling into a gas station or your driveway (if it has an incline to it), and see if it drags. I know on my driveway, I would be "plowing" a rut across my concrete driveway with something that low.

If it doesn't drag, I'd just live with it, no big deal. Just be aware when you pull into parking lots, camp grounds or whatever, what the grade looks like. The hitch on your tow vehicle will be the contact point. If it does drag, I'd find a local welder to reattach it, probably on top of the frame. That will lift everything 3 to 4 inches.

On trailers that are almost 40 years old, surprises (not all pleasant) are to be expected. I bought a 42 year old Trillium "project" last fall, on purpose. I've been working on it ever since. As a financial decision, it was a bonehead move. But I knew that up front. I am enjoying it, its not stopping family camping (we have the Escape 19 for that), and I haven't spent that much money on it so far, just time. And fortunately, I have a covered spot to work on it/store it. Doing the belly band this week, hoping to take it to Omaha next week.

Axle sag? Yes, that is to be expected too. See how much clearance you have right now, jack up one side at a time and see how much the wheel drops. These torsion axles were designed to last 15 years, as we continue to use them 40 years later, its no surprise that they are shot.
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