Towing with skid plate on or off: which is better. - Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-01-2021, 02:38 PM   #1
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Name: zack
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Towing with skid plate on or off: which is better.

I have a scamp 13 which I tow with a 2012 forerunner. I have always assumed that you should leave the skid plate on when you tow, but recently I think I’ve read or heard somewhere that you’re supposed to actually take the skid plate off. And I wondered, which is preferable? The skid plate does come pretty close to bottoming out when I go across small wooden bridges and cattle guards. Taking it off does get the bottom of the Jack about 1 inch higher off the ground. But I had always assumed that a skid plate was supposed to be on there when you were towing and then it might help you kind of skid and bounce over something if you just hit it a little bit. Anyway, regarding skid plate on or off while towing, would love to get some advice from people here about which is better?
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Old 04-01-2021, 03:06 PM   #2
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I wouldn't. On some surfaces the foot allows the jack to slide rather than stick and bend. But if you tow often in situations where you come close to hitting the jack, consider replacing the factory jack with the Ultimate Jack, which allows you to raise the whole tube, foot and all. The price seems pretty high right now with some gouging going on. Thinking there may be supply issues due to COVID. I've kicked myself many times for not buying it when I first heard of it for $60 at Tractor Supply!

Alternatively, you could try to find a fixed jack with less projection, replace the center jack with a side-mount swing-away jack, or use the Jack-E-Up, which allows you to easily remove the jack altogether when towing
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Old 04-01-2021, 04:53 PM   #3
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I agree with Jon. I have the Ultimate Jack which also allows me to open my truck tailgate with the trailer hitched. Tongue jacks are available with different projection lengths.
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Old 04-01-2021, 06:18 PM   #4
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First.. I never heard of a skid plate (in this context). Second, your reference to the jack makes me think maybe you mean the jack foot. such as this:

its not about skidding at all. Its a foot designed to make the jack more stable when you are parked.
And you should not travel with it attached. .. First, it means lower ground clearance. And second, it can fall off and at 65 MPH, and that is a problem.. more so for people behind you than yourself.
Why do you think it has a removable pin if its meant to be left on permanently? Because its not.. its for use when stationary.
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Old 04-01-2021, 06:59 PM   #5
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That's a new one to me, Gordon.

Mine came bolted on with nylock nuts. Even if not, the type of clip shown is commonly used to secure coupler latches, bike racks, and other equipment on motor vehicles and seems to be generally considered safe. Either way, I think the risk is greatly exaggerated here.

The foot is removeable to allow substituting a wheel when needed.

The foot has saved my jack on several occasions- almost always a poorly designed driveway apron- by allowing the jack to contact the pavement briefly at slow speed without digging in. The benefit outweighs the slight reduction in clearance for me.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
...
The foot has saved my jack on several occasions- almost always a poorly designed driveway apron- by allowing the jack to contact the pavement briefly at slow speed without digging in. The benefit outweighs the slight reduction in clearance for me.
Well Jon.. as much as I agree with you on this forum and value your usual good advice, this time I have to take issue.

The jack should never contact the pavement, briefly or at any speed. If it does, even with the foot attached (which is not a skid plate), then the lateral stress on the jack is still substantial and totally unnecessary. Remove the foot and the added clearance will likely prevent any contact with the pavement. And if it still is not enough clearance to prevent it, then the options you mentioned are available. I for one use the Ultimate Jack but a side mount swing up is also acceptable.

BTW, when I say the foot provides more stability, it is better to say that it presents a wider footprint to reduce the problem of sinking in soft ground. At any rate, it is for having a stable parked trailer.

EDIT: Of course if its securely attached and high enough that it will never hit the ground, then its OK to leave it on. But I will always insist that it is not a skid plate and should never contact the ground when in motion.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:11 PM   #7
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Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
First.. I never heard of a skid plate (in this context). Second, your reference to the jack makes me think maybe you mean the jack foot. such as this:

its not about skidding at all. Its a foot designed to make the jack more stable when you are parked.
And you should not travel with it attached. .. First, it means lower ground clearance. And second, it can fall off and at 65 MPH, and that is a problem.. more so for people behind you than yourself.
Why do you think it has a removable pin if its meant to be left on permanently? Because its not.. its for use when stationary.
Yes, that is exactly what Iím talking about. The Jack foot. Mine looks just like that and I can take it off very easily. I remember being really surprised to read something that said:: donít keep this on when you were towing.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:18 PM   #8
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I think that with the Jack foot off, I can probably get away with the existing Jack. I have had to make another accommodation: I tow with a 2 inch drop hitch instead of a 4 inch drop. A 4 inch drop would make the Scamp level. So I tow with the front a little bit above level to circumvent bottoming out.

I have thought about the ultimate Jack, but I resisted it partly because of the cost and partly because I had heard of occasional random failures? bad things happened? But maybe that is a thing of the past or was never really true? Is the ultimate Jack as 150% reliable as the relatively crude jack that came with the Scamp?
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:21 PM   #9
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OH THAT SKID PLATE!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zack sc View Post
I tow with a 2012 forerunner. I have always assumed that you should leave the skid plate on when you tow, but recently I think Iíve read or heard somewhere that youíre supposed to actually take the skid plate off.

A 2012 forerunner has skid plates also.
Is there a reason that your Scamp is so low? I never leave the caster wheel on the jack but never had problems with a stock Scamp hitting the jack foot. Taking it off will not gain you more than a half inch.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:31 PM   #10
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Just right

Quote:
Originally Posted by zack sc View Post
I think that with the Jack foot off, I can probably get away with the existing Jack. I have had to make another accommodation: I tow with a 2 inch drop hitch instead of a 4 inch drop. A 4 inch drop would make the Scamp level. So I tow with the front a little bit above level to circumvent bottoming out.
I have found that all types of trailers that I have pulled were better with the front an inch or two high. For others that need to gain just a little, their are balls that will add to the height.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zack sc View Post
....

I have thought about the ultimate Jack, but I resisted it partly because of the cost and partly because I had heard of occasional random failures? bad things happened? But maybe that is a thing of the past or was never really true? Is the ultimate Jack as 150% reliable as the relatively crude jack that came ...
Yes I saw saw of those reports also. I can see how it might happen if the locking pin comes out AND there is so much vibration that the adjustment handle rocks back and forth and releases the jack. But that is a very extreme case requiring either a forgotten locking pin or a very damaged one, and also a very rough road at perhaps high speed. Proper maintenance and proper use should alleviate any concerns.
But just to be extra safe, I have usually run a cable through the bottom of the jack tube so that is all else fails the jack tube will not drop and dig into the ground.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:45 PM   #12
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2Ē high

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Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
I have found that all types of trailers that I have pulled were better with the front an inch or two high. For others that need to gain just a little, their are balls that will add to the height.
Interesting. I think what youíre saying is that towing with the front a couple inches high is a good thing in general. Is that right? I am actually doing that already just to keep the Jack foot from hitting the ground. I told with a 2 inch drop trailer hitch, instead of a 4 inch drop which would make the Scamp level. I had always thought that the trailer was supposed to be in level and that I was compromising on that by making the front end a little bit high. I also have a straight hitch with no drop at all. But I donít use that with the forerunner because then the front end would be really high.

I think itís just the nature of the Scamp 13 to be really low to the ground and have very little clearance.
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Old 04-02-2021, 11:07 AM   #13
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Mine is slightly high in front

Quote:
Originally Posted by zack sc View Post
Interesting. I think what you’re saying is that towing with the front a couple inches high is a good thing in general. Is that right?I think it’s just the nature of the Scamp 13 to be really low to the ground and have very little clearance.
I pull my utility trailer 2 inches high and the Scamp 16 about one inch high. The big reason to be level is the refrigerator, but if you feel comfortable in the RV and it tows well it should be OK. My 2016 F150 has more "sag' than my old Ranger had. If you are set so that it trails well and it is comfortable inside when you stop, I'd call it OK. Mine has about a 1.5" sag with the Scamp 16 and mine is a little light on the hitch.
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Old 04-02-2021, 02:37 PM   #14
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I pull my utility trailer 2 inches high and the Scamp 16 about one inch high. The big reason to be level is the refrigerator, but if you feel comfortable in the RV and it tows well it should be OK. My 2016 F150 has more "sag' than my old Ranger had. If you are set so that ....
The fridge does not need to be level when towing / moving.. the movement on the road allows the fridge to work just fine. As for having the tongue high, every expert on the topic says tow your trailer level or slightly nose down to make the vehicles more stable at speed. You are the only person I have ever heard advocate having the tongue high and I do not agree with you on that.
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Old 04-02-2021, 02:51 PM   #15
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It's what works for the rig

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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
The fridge does not need to be level when towing / moving.. the movement on the road allows the fridge to work just fine. As for having the tongue high, every expert on the topic says tow your trailer level or slightly nose down to make the vehicles more stable at speed. You are the only person I have ever heard advocate having the tongue high and I do not agree with you on that.
Up removes weight from the hitch and down adds. I've been about 10,000 miles slightly up and while it rocks a little it never sways. Experimentation will find the combination that works. I picked mine up at the factory nose down and changed to up on the way home. I have also noted that it looks different ever time I park in a new place.
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Old 04-02-2021, 05:54 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
..I have also noted that it looks different ever time I park in a new place.
It is an unstated and logical assumption that the pavement is level when you judge the degree to which the trailer is also level.

If you need to raise the tongue to make it lighter on the hitch because it exceeds 15% then you should redistribute the load so the trailer is level AND
10-15% of total trailer weight is on the ball. If you want to raise and lighten the tongue because the proper tongue weight causes excessive tow vehicle rear end sag then you need a weight distributing hitch, air bags, different tow vehicle, etc.

But another assumption is that we are not talking about a weight distributing hitch. Not yet at least.
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Old 04-02-2021, 05:59 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
But another assumption is that we are not talking about a weight distributing hitch. Not yet at least.

And, we're not talking about a skid plate on the tow vehicle. Had me lost there for a while.
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Old 04-02-2021, 10:52 PM   #18
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And, we're not talking about a skid plate on the tow vehicle. Had me lost there for a while.
Yep. Never heard the jack foot referred to as a skid plate. Please don't use it for that purpose.
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Old 04-03-2021, 07:55 AM   #19
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Must be a Scamp 13 thing...

I’ve also been known to use it to “skid”- as in slide- the tongue on hard-packed surfaces to reposition it in the garage or campsite after unhitching. I could buy a wheel of course, but why bother when the tongue’s so light, and I’d rather have the foot than the wheel once it’s where I want it.

I’d never call it a “skid plate” either, but I got what he meant immediately. I certainly don’t think it was meant for that, and if tongue strikes happen frequently in your towing environment, other solutions are indicated.

As to towing attitude, I have found no discernible real-world difference in towing a 13’ Scamp just a little high at the nose. I started towing with a drawbar that put the tongue maybe 1 to 1-1/2” high. It was the longest drop available locally. Towed with it at highway speeds with around 12% TW. It was perfectly stable up to 70 mph, which is 5 mph higher than my fastest normal towing speed. Never a problem with tail strikes due to the relatively short rear overhang, though I do have a “skid plate” back there too: the rear receiver.

However, after reading the dire warnings on this forum, I bought another drawbar (at considerable expense) that put the trailer level. I noticed no change in towing dynamics, but much more care was needed to avoid tongue strikes. My take is the rearward weight shift with the higher drawbar is very slight, and the rounded trailer profile minimizes aerodynamic effects.

I now use the lower one for highway towing and the higher one for local trips that take me off-road. Hoping to upgrade to the new zero degree axle in a few years and leave all this behind.

But the “skid plate” stays. .
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Old 04-03-2021, 10:07 AM   #20
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Up removes weight from the hitch and down adds. I've been about 10,000 miles slightly up and while it rocks a little it never sways. Experimentation will find the combination that works. I picked mine up at the factory nose down and changed to up on the way home. I have also noted that it looks different ever time I park in a new place.

Every trailer manufacturer and towing equipment manufacture out there says the trailer should be level!
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