Roadtrek as tow vehicle? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-08-2018, 11:20 AM   #1
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Roadtrek as tow vehicle?

I recently became the somewhat reluctant owner/caretaker of a 2014 Roadtrek Popular 19. It was Mom's, but at 92 she just couldn't care for it anymore and didn't want it to leave the family. It's on a Chevy Express 3500 chassis, 6.0L engine, 6-speed transmission with tow/haul and full manual modes, 11K on the odometer. It got a better-than-expected 19 mpg deadheading solo from MD to AZ last weekend at around 65 mph (manually computed). It has a receiver and trailer wiring. The Roadtrek manual indicates it can tow 8000 pounds (seems to include the moho upfit, but not passengers and gear) with up to 1000 pounds tongue weight (over 400 requires WDH). Seems high, but it should handle our Scamp 13 without breaking a sweat. I can already tell the enormous wheelbase (compared to our other tug, a Pilot) will make maneuvering and backing a challenge...

I'm thinking we might use it to pull the Scamp occasionally for extra beds now that our teens are approaching the weight limit of the Scamp upper bunk. We may also take Mom camping with us when she visits- she still enjoys it, just can't go it alone anymore.

The camper has some issues due to sitting unused for over a year, but on the whole it's in excellent shape. I've never dealt with anything this fancy or complex, so I've got a steep learning curve ahead! If anyone here has prior experience with Roadtreks, I'd love to hear about any issues to watch for. I have visited a couple of Class B forums, but this is my home...

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Old 09-08-2018, 12:06 PM   #2
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I had a 2008 Roadtrek 170 Popular on the Chevy 2500 chassis with the 6.0 - I towed my 17' Casita ID with it for a while - towed it great and got 16mpg doing it.
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Old 09-09-2018, 10:04 AM   #3
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Roadtrek as TV

I have a Roadtrek 290 and have towed a Scamp 13 as a bedroom for family members. The Roadtrek barely notices the Scamp. I don't think I would make a practice of constant speeds of 65 for hours towing, mostly because the smaller wheels of the trailer have to work so hard. As far as the gas milage, I think it is in the range of reducing mpg by less than 1mpg. I didn't have a weight distributing hitch either and if the trailer is loaded right, it tows like a dream.
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Old 09-09-2018, 12:21 PM   #4
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Hi, I don't have a Roadtrek but have had a van most of my life and find that they are one of the most versatile vehicles you can own. I bought my first Ford E150 back in 1968 and traveled with my wife down the east coast down to Mexico to Veracruz and the Yucatan down to Merida and explored many of the Mayan ruins and coast line down to Tulum before it was turned into a into popular resort. Some of the best things about it you can tow a small lightweight trailer without increased gas consumption because of their same physical size, you can mount an extra bike rack on the bumper if you want to bring bikes along and carry skis or windsurfer boards on the roof. Unlike pick-up trucks, you can easily lock all your stuff while parking and snow or rain does not affect your belongings. My current van is a 2005 E350 that I bought when I had a larger RV trailer. It has a 5.4 L V8 and auto with OD and has been very convenient and reliable on 2 trips out west visiting family and exploring the west coast. I hope that you enjoy the van
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Old 09-09-2018, 03:31 PM   #5
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I have a Scamp 16 and Sprinter-based class B RV. I use now Scamp as an extra bed room only when needed, travelling mostly in the Sprinter RV alone, without Scamp.
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Old 09-09-2018, 06:04 PM   #6
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Roadtrek

Don't have a Roadtrek, I have a 2001 Gmc Savana 3500 and a 2008 Chevrolet Express 3500. Besides my 19 foot escape I have 10 more trailers mostly enclosed trailers of different lengths The two vans make excellent TV's. I would love to have a Roadtrek for a TV and yours is the color I like.
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:41 AM   #7
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If I decide to really commit to my current lifestyle and start earning a bit more, a van of some sort is probably the ideal vehicle for me. They can tow, and rather than having my stuff in the back of my truck with a topper than can't be secured all that well, it can be inside the van, safer and somewhat climate controlled. Plus on overnight trips or other times it makes more sense, I can use the van as a "camper van" and leave the trailer behind.
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Old 09-10-2018, 09:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I recently became the somewhat reluctant owner/caretaker of a 2014 Roadtrek Popular 19.(...)

I'm thinking we might use it to pull the Scamp occasionally for extra beds now that our teens are approaching the weight limit of the Scamp upper bunk. We may also take Mom camping with us when she visits- she still enjoys it, just can't go it alone anymore.

(...)
I predict this is going to be perfect for your family, as the kids are outgrowing the Scamp bunks. Let us know how it works out.
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:39 AM   #9
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It should tow the Scamp very easily. Backing will present a challenge as the camper will jackknife on you quicker than you will be able to correct for it, but don't let that discourage you. If you have help I bet you could unhook and push it into the campsite by hand easier than backing.
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Old 09-10-2018, 04:07 PM   #10
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Backing up Trailers

I have found the Length of the TV doesn't effect backing up a trailer that much. Trailer length makes a big difference. Backing up a long trailer is much easier than backing up a short trailer.
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Old 09-10-2018, 04:30 PM   #11
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Very nice. I expect you will really enjoy the king or twin beds. If the weather turns bad, a second living area may be nice. And yes, at times you may enjoy it solo, without Scamp.

There's a YouTube channel "We're The Russos". that is about a couple fulltiming in a Hymer. As you probably know, Hymer acquired Roadtrek.

You need to be a minimalist, & get along to fulltime in a van.
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Old 09-15-2018, 10:25 AM   #12
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Hi Jon,

Wishing your mom the best and hoping she gets to camp with your family. I think the Roadtrek and Scamp create some really cool camping opportunities.

Hey, you have a small towable and now you have a small motorhome (relative to Class As and most Class Cs). NICE!

Take care,

Dean
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Old 09-15-2018, 11:02 AM   #13
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Driving a full-size van presents it's own challenges, as opposed to a more conventional SUV, as you've probably learned by now.
My major concern would involve some questions:
1: What is the loaded weight of the Scamp?
2: Is the Scamp equipped with brakes?
3: Is the Roadtrek equipped with a brake control?
As far as the 'Roadtrek' being able to pull the 'Scamp'?
It should be no problem with pulling, as the 'Roadie' is a full 1 ton.
However, if the Scamp is not equipped with brakes, or exceeds 2000 lb (loaded), or the 'Roadie' doesn't have a 'Brake Control', being able to tow safely becomes a whole different matter.
As far as backing up is concerned, as both units are close to the same cross-section, there should be no real problems.
Try backing up a m/c tent trailer (3.5' Wide x 10' Long, with axle 18" from back end) with a full-size van! By the time you see it, it's beyond recovery.
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:56 AM   #14
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16mpg, that is great. I have a 1996 Coachmen RB19 on a E250 chassis with the 351 Windsor. It gets 12 mpg highway and 10-11 country towing a boat or no boat in the city. Backing up is not an issue with my small 16' boat but I can imagine a shorter trailer could be harder to back up. I added a front hitch. Makes it very easy when I have to back down a dirt boat ramp or put the trailer in a tight spot. another thing that will help you backing up is a high mount camera.
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randyag View Post
I have found the Length of the TV doesn't effect backing up a trailer that much. Trailer length makes a big difference. Backing up a long trailer is much easier than backing up a short trailer.
it sure does when you have to backup around a turn, for instance, when doing a 3+ point U turn in limited space.

if the TV turning circle is considerably larger than the trailers, as someone said, its way too easy to jacknife going backwards, and way hard to straighten out after turning while still going backwards.

my Tacoma (41' turning circle) was nicely matched to the Casita, and my F250 longbed (58' turning circle, eek) does OK with the Escape 21. I have to do a multipoint U turn in my driveway, which is a sort of trapezoidal area about 60 x 60', it was trivial with the taco+casita (32' long combined), but challenging with the f250 LB + escape 21 (41' long combined).
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Old 09-17-2018, 07:14 AM   #16
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Roadtrek as tow vehicle?

Seems to me both tow vehicle length (or turning radius specifically) AND trailer length (ball-to-axle distance specifically) affect backing.

The turning radius affects how sharply you can back and follow the trailer without jackknifing, and the trailer length affects how quickly the angle between vehicle and trailer changes.

Any time the angle between trailer and vehicle passes the maximum angle you can follow without jackknifing, you will have to pull forward. With a large tow vehicle and short trailer, that angle is less and you will reach it faster.

Looking forward to trying it out. I need to pick up a different drawbar first. The receiver is quite low on the Roadtrek compared to my Pilot.
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Old 09-17-2018, 07:18 AM   #17
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I'll add a word of general thanks for everyone's words of encouragement. I'm still not sure this is a long-term addition to our garage. I am not liking its size or complexity. But for now, and for Mom's sake, it's here. Making the best of it.
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Old 09-17-2018, 09:37 AM   #18
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Just echoing everyone else saying this seems like a good solution if the kids are almost too big for the bunk in the trailer. You may opt to sell it once the kids move out (only a few years, if everything goes well for them, right?), but for the next few years it could be great.

I briefly thought about getting a travel van to use as a tow vehicle, because being able to bring along some friends/extended family who can't fit in the trailer could be fun. I ultimately decided against it, because it doesn't make sense for my circumstances right now. But if I was in your bought, having basically inherited the van? I think I'd at least try it out for a few trips to see how we liked it.
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Old 10-05-2019, 09:17 AM   #19
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Roadtrek as tow vehicle?

Follow-up report...
Just back from a weekís trip with the Roadtrek towing the Scamp 13.

The good...
Having more bed space and two separate bedrooms was sweet. Kids got the Scamp and we got the van. My wife loved lounging in the big back bed in the van with the rear doors wide open to the ocean. A screen kept the bugs out.

Two large 6V batteries meant plenty of power for lights, charging, and the fantastic fan.

The van spare tire fit nicely under the rear folding bed, so we were able to remove the continental tire mount for towing. Upside down, there was room inside the wheel for various small items.

Backing was not a problem, thanks to the excellent mirrors, but it did require more maneuvering room due to the large turning radius. Merging in heavy traffic was no problem for the same reason.

As expected, the van has plenty of power for hill-climbing.

The large fuel tank meant fewer gas stops.

The bad...
The van wanders badly in cross-winds, requiring lots of attention at the wheel.

Engine braking was less effective than expected on long downhill grades and required more help from friction brakes (compared to our Pilot). The sheer weight of this rig has something to do with it, no doubt.

Packing up the van to take a day trip takes about 20 minutes on both ends. That includes stowing the awning and converting the rear bed to a bench for the kids, but not hookups, which we didnít have.

I missed having a cargo area. Everything had to fit in a compartment. Since our bicycles occupied the floor of the Scamp, there was no place for an ice chest.

Passenger seats lack head restraints and are all the way in the back. My wife remarked, ďThis thing needs an intercom.Ē Kids didnít seem to mind that parents were far away.

Creaks and rattles from the cabin got annoying on rough roads. In general, the ride in the van was a lot harsher than the Pilot.

Towing fuel mileage was about 15-16 mog in the Roadtrek (down from 18 empty) versus 17-18 in the Pilot (down from 25 empty). Thatís at a steady 65 mph in AZ, dropping to 62 mph in CA (less when climbing grades or in traffic).

Summary...
The Pilot is a better tow vehicle from the driverís seat, but my wife likes the Roadtrek, so I guess itís a keeper. Had some trouble with the fridge at the last minute, so didnít get to use it, and havenít mastered the plumbing yet.

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Old 10-05-2019, 12:49 PM   #20
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Hi Jon,

Thanks for the update. Looks like a great combo to me. Plus, I assume you are keeping the Pilot. Thus, you have lots of versatility in terms how to use the Scamp with the RoadTrek or the Pilot. Hypothetically, you could use the Roadtrek for trips for two as well.

Outstanding!

Take care,

Dean
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