Tow vehicle considerations-The journey - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-15-2013, 12:19 AM   #1
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Tow vehicle considerations-The journey

It is interesting reading all the banter regarding the "best" tow vehicle. Generally we are all interested in efficiency, safety, reliability, at the lowest cost. Very few mention how they intend to use their rig. At one end of the spectrum you have people who spend many months traveling all over the country. They have to consider fuel economy and reliability at the top of their list. What about the people who are tied to their jobs and can only escape on rare occasions for short weekend trips? They have to analyze this differently. Fuel economy does not matter, but depreciation matters because the vehicle gets used so infrequently, unless relegated to family duty when not towing. The infrequent user can indulge in any low cost high powered gas hog with no real downside. I got to thinking about this when trying to decide on a tug to fit our purposes. It gets complicated when you start to figure in all your vehicle needs. We are both working and have to sneak weekends away. I require a one ton work truck for my job. It is too big to want to drive for any other purpose. I have a Honda fit which is used for all my non work related daily driving. I put about 16,000 per year on it. It is stone reliable and sips fuel. Resale is also good. It is not designed to tow anything, as it is powered by a revy, low torque engine. The fuel savings compared to a 12mpg vehicle pays the Honda payments. I also have a Jeep Wrangler that has been modified for off-road performance. It is short wheel based, tall, slow, and gets poor mileage. It can tow the 16' Scamp, but is not more than fair in most categories. I was looking for a replacement for the Jeep that would be more powerful, more stable, and have low depreciation. Better fuel economy would be good but not that important due to our short trips, and be safe and reliable. To have a new Rav4 sitting alongside the house depreciating didn't seem like a good idea since the major benefits would not be used such as fuel economy and reliability. It would also be under powered even with the V6. A new Silverado 1500 would get the job done, but depreciation and under use would also be too big a hit. Then I started thinking of a classic truck like old Chevy C10's. It would hold its value. I could be powerful and reliable. Fuel economy would be poor, but not important for our short trips. The problem was finding one that was already done, not a project. I saw a few in the $30,000 area that I could not get financed. Next I happened across the Chevy SSR. That looked promising. Low, wide, heavy, stable, powerful, big brakes, but low 2500 pound towing capacity. They were poor sellers when new, but have done pretty well in recent years holding about half their value after eight years. I expect depreciation will be good from here on out. I did some research regarding the low tow rating. It seems the main limitation is engine cooling due to the small grill openings at the front. Users have figured out ways to significantly improve on the factory cooling. Vendors offer many choices of radiators, fans, ducting, etc. The rear suspension is tuned for an empty pick up bed, so trailer tongue weight was rated for 200 pounds. That can be improved by adding Air springs or airlift helper springs. Transmission cooling should also be increased with an additional cooler which are available from aftermarket vendors. These things seemed like simple stuff to me, so I went shopping. After a few weeks I found a low mileage '05, made a deal and drove her home. I was anxiously planning the order of mods to make her tow worthy. Then while sitting in my driveway staring out the right side mirror, I thought "Oh crap, the mirrors! I had done all this research and had not once considered the tiny mirrors. I sat there not believing I had overlooked this important issue. Now I am wondering if I should continue the project or sell and go back to square one. I found some Camco suction cup extension mirrors, but don't think they will work at speed, since they attach to the factory mirror glass that could become un-attached with enough wind force. I could put them on only for backing into sites though. What to do? SSR or not to SSR
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:03 AM   #2
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Someone on this board is towing a Lil Snoozy with an SSR. Can't remember if there were extension mirrors in his fotos. There are extension mirrors which cinch up on the factory mirror with rubber straps. CIPA is one maker.

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Old 01-15-2013, 06:15 AM   #3
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My first inclination was to recommend you go to a bone yard and find a set of truck mirrors and just screw them on. Then I went to Edmunds and discovered that a 2005 SSR is not a beater. Edmunds compares it to a Corvette. (My choice would have been an old Toyota pick up.) Obviously you wanted something more exotic. That being the case there are extension mirrors that will attach more securely than suction cups. You will find them. Enjoy your new tow vehicle. Raz
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:11 AM   #4
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Can you believe that the European Honda Fit (Jazz) is rated to tow 2,200 pounds? My in-laws have a Fit, and they tow a 4x8 utility trailer from time to time.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:55 AM   #5
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I know Glen tows a 13' Casita Patriot with an SSR because I've personally seen it: Glen's Patriot and Red SSR

Jack is thinking of Tommy's and Linda's Lil' Snoozy and yellow SSR

IMHO, I wouldn't be concerned if it's mirrors from holding you back from towing... that's fixable! Or check with the folks linked above and see what they did.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:05 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
My first inclination was to recommend you go to a bone yard and find a set of truck mirrors and just screw them on. Then I went to Edmunds and discovered that a 2005 SSR is not a beater. Raz
.

I knew the beast and the first thing that came to mind was pulling rivnuts in the doors and bolting on classic mirror struts. Another one of Chevy's "harks back tos" with a George Jetson price tag.

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Old 01-15-2013, 08:21 AM   #7
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Ruscal,

As to mirrors, the following link suggests a set of mirrors that work on most vehicles. This is a Can-AM RV link, people who use what they suggest.


Can-Am RV :: HH 37-2
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:26 AM   #8
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Wow! The SSR is a sweet vehicle. Fuel enconomy would not be one of it's strong points with the corvette engine.

There are a number of owners towing trailers with the SSR, some are full heights. A couple SSR owners on the Airforms site tow Airstreams with them.

One for sure was set up and tested by the Airstream dealer here in Ontario. There was an article about it a while ago. Apparently it worked great with the custom receiver and WDH.

Keep us up to date on the project. Really sounds like a fun deal.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:34 AM   #9
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OK, I found a pic of an SSR with the McKesh mirrors install. Easy on, easy off.
Attached Thumbnails
ssr i IMG_4194.JPG  
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:02 AM   #10
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Ha ! A SSR....that is going to be a fun tow vehicle !
As for the mirror issue, I use one of the cipa mirrors on the frontier, and it would probably work on the your mirrors. The only issue with it is at some speeds, the air whistles around it, but you really only notice it if the window is open. Some walmarts sell them, so you could try there, and if you don't like it, it would be easy to return.

CIPA Universal Tow Mirror - Cipa Usa Inc 11960 - Mirrors - Camping World
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:33 AM   #11
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This is what I use on my Kia, which has smallish mirrors like your car does. They work very well (or did until I knocked one off and lost it last trip on a wild ride up a mountain...but that's another story!)

They're non-marring since they "clamp on" with rubber straps. Only $25.00 a pair, and free shipping! Here's a link to seller

Francesca

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Old 01-15-2013, 10:03 AM   #12
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Here is the link with Lil snoozy and SSR- Tommy and Linda
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...tml#post350539
as far as the least amount of depreciation issue, I found that the FJ Cruiser by Toyota has the smallest amount, I replaced my Jeep Cherokee with one.
http://www.buyingadvice.com/auto-buy...-depreciation/
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:13 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by gmw photos View Post
Ha ! A SSR....that is going to be a fun tow vehicle !
As for the mirror issue, I use one of the cipa mirrors on the frontier, and it would probably work on the your mirrors. The only issue with it is at some speeds, the air whistles around it, but you really only notice it if the window is open. Some walmarts sell them, so you could try there, and if you don't like it, it would be easy to return.

CIPA Universal Tow Mirror - Cipa Usa Inc 11960 - Mirrors - Camping World
George,
That is an interesting setup. I like the dial that reels the webbing into the housing. The fairing on the SSR mirror is pretty swoopie shapped, so the suction cups would have to swivel pretty far to fit. I'll check those out.
Russ
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:31 AM   #14
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Russ,
A trick on these that some folks claim reduces the wind whistling is to twist the straps instead of leaving them 'flat'. I think it may have helped some, but there is still some whistling. I have even tried various applications of good old duct tape to try to change the airflow around the mirror, but have so far been unable to eliminate all of it. I thought for sure the noise was coming thru the "aero opening" of the mirror, but that isn't it, because a total block of it with duct tape didn't change a thing regarding sound.
Who knows, it may be quiet on your SSR since the airflow off of your A pillar is likely very different than how it flows around the edge of my Frontier.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:34 AM   #15
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More on mirrors.....here's one that I have given some thought to trying. Coincidentally, their video shows it on a Frontier like mine, and so I saw exactly how it looks on "my mirror".
Aero 2 Towing Mirrors 2899
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:35 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
This is what I use on my Kia, which has smallish mirrors like your car does. They work very well (or did until I knocked one off and lost it last trip on a wild ride up a mountain...but that's another story!)

They're non-marring since they "clamp on" with rubber straps. Only $25.00 a pair, and free shipping! Here's a link to seller

Francesca

Francesca,
I tried a similar mirror on my Jeep Wrangler, but it shook so badly I couldn't see. The rubber straps were tight, but still could not hold it without vibration. I ended up mounting some teak wood spacers under the mirror mounts which added 1 1/2" to the arm. On the Jeep it is a simple three bolt affair.
Russ

PS
The shaking could have been play in the Jeep mirror arm and not the add on mirror attachment.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:43 AM   #17
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I've tried a bunch of add on mirrors & settled with Aero Grand mirrors. Not the least expensive, but they stay adjusted, and while they will shake a bit on rough roads, don't vibrate to the point where they become unusable like so many...
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:50 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by gmw photos View Post
More on mirrors.....here's one that I have given some thought to trying. Coincidentally, their video shows it on a Frontier like mine, and so I saw exactly how it looks on "my mirror".
Aero 2 Towing Mirrors 2899
George,
That looks like a sound idea. I'll check how much the lip of the fairing protrudes past the mirror face. If there is enough depth for the clamps it should work. It looks like JR makes a larger version too.
Russ
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:07 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
My first inclination was to recommend you go to a bone yard and find a set of truck mirrors and just screw them on. Then I went to Edmunds and discovered that a 2005 SSR is not a beater. Edmunds compares it to a Corvette. (My choice would have been an old Toyota pick up.) Obviously you wanted something more exotic. That being the case there are extension mirrors that will attach more securely than suction cups. You will find them. Enjoy your new tow vehicle. Raz
Raz,
My first inclination was to attach to the factory bolts, but I discovered the mirror has studs that are nutted inside the door. It would be too hard to quickly remove the towing mirrors, so abandoned the idea.
An old toyota pick up is not a bad idea at all. It is hard to find one with 405 lb. ft. of torque though After driving the Jeep for a year I was feeling power starved. (40 MPH up grades) I didn't mind going 40, but the people following me were hating it.
Russ
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:12 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Jon Vermilye View Post
I've tried a bunch of add on mirrors & settled with Aero Grand mirrors. Not the least expensive, but they stay adjusted, and while they will shake a bit on rough roads, don't vibrate to the point where they become unusable like so many...
Jon,
Do the clamps do any paint damage? Any slippage?
Thanks,
Russ
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