Long Time Listener, First Time Caller - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-15-2018, 09:21 PM   #1
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Smile Long Time Listener, First Time Caller

Itís not often I join new forums, however in recent months Iíve changed the script. Iím scratching off all of my bucket list items now while I have the time, energy, and money.

Hiya!!! Iím Mercedes! Iím a 25 year old IT Analyst out of Chicago with a love for U-Haul CT13 campers and smart fortwos...I love those cars so much I ended up with three of them!

When Iím not tinkering with my cars, Iím trying to push the limits of custom computers and getting some of my invention ideas down onto paper.

I suppose thatís how I ended up here! My parents have a gargantuan 36í travel trailer and while itís fun tagging along with their rolling hotel suite, I want something to call my own.

Iím a bit of a U-Haul fangirl. I have hauled and towed my way through life with little orange trailers and giant cube trucks. So, it was only natural for me to become obsessed with the CT13 and VT16 siblings. My dream CT13 would be a tiny tech palace with a built-in high power PC and enough RGB lighting to make a nightclub blush. Okay, maybe not that much!

I hope to have a CT13 soon, hopefully before camping season starts! Iím happy to be here!
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:27 PM   #2
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welcome there is a nice americo 16 for sale 5700.00 I don't know what your tug is but it is very nice


bob
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:33 PM   #3
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Have you researched the common problems of the Uhaul campers and what will you be towing one with.
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:50 PM   #4
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Have you researched the common problems of the Uhaul campers and what will you be towing one with.
Both good questions! Iíve been doing research on them for about a year now. It looks like the greatest challenges for me would be parts availability and working with fiberglass if modifications/repairs are needed. I tend to be excellent at DIY and in a worst case scenario, my best friend is an expert in fiberglass. So that aspect doesnít scare me. I like getting my hands dirty with projects.

The tow vehicle is perhaps an interesting question. As I mentioned, I have three smarts. I ďsouped upĒ one of them in anticipation of turning it into a capable offroad machine using a suspension I designed. That didnít really happen. To test theoretical compatibility with a CT13, Iíve spent the past year daily driving with a loaded AV series trailer (5x8). Itís amusing to take the thing on road trips.



I also own a GMC Envoy XL. That would be my vehicle of choice anyway to pick it up from wherever in the 48 I would theoretically pick a trailer up from. Safety first!
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Old 02-15-2018, 10:55 PM   #5
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welcome there is a nice americo 16 for sale 5700.00 I don't know what your tug is but it is very nice


bob
That is very nice!!! Personally, I’d love CT13, though a Burro comes in a close 2nd. After my extensive testing over the past year towing weights higher than that of a CT13’s dry weight, I’d feel comfortable using my heavily modded smart fortwo for local camping trips and the chunky Envoy XL for long distance runs.

Edit: Hmmm...I wrote out a nice lengthy response to ‘mary and bob’ but it does not yet appear. Oh! I think it’s under mod review because I posted a picture with it.
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Old 02-16-2018, 09:13 AM   #6
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Miss Mercedes, You plan to tow a CT13 with a fortwo? A vehicle with a 500lb towing capacity? May the force be with you. Oh ya, make sure your trailer has brakes.
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Old 02-16-2018, 09:38 AM   #7
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Miss Mercedes, You plan to tow a CT13 with a fortwo? A vehicle with a 500lb towing capacity? May the force be with you. Oh ya, make sure your trailer has brakes.
The Uhaul 13's did not have brakes and about the only way to install them is to replace the axle because Uhauls have a sealed bearing hub. It is possible, if the parts can be located, to install Uhaul's surge brake system, which is what they used on the larger VT camper. The generally accepted dry weight of a CT13 is 1250 lb. I never had ours weighed.
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Old 02-16-2018, 09:39 AM   #8
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Miss Mercedes, You plan to tow a CT13 with a fortwo? A vehicle with a 500lb towing capacity? May the force be with you. Oh ya, make sure your trailer has brakes.
Depends on the generation. The first generations (1998-2007) have an official rating of 775 lb, the second generations (2007-2016) have not been officially rated, annoyingly forcing private organizations and people deeply invested in smart (like myself) to figure it out on our own.

By my own testing (roughly 10k miles) towing loads that are on average 1,300 pounds, a second generation smart can safely tow 1,400 pounds. That's provided decent quality brakes and tyres with a higher load rating than factory. The car's so light that the factory brakes actually have a lot of breathing room. I haven't experienced any fade or warping in emergency maneuvers. This seems to mirror testing with my colleagues as well.

Since my third generation (2015+ (there's some overlap in model years)) doesn't have any towing equipment, I had to leave testing on them to the Europeans and colleagues here in America. Their findings are that those ones can tow 2,000 pounds. Makes sense given the third generation is a shortened Renault Twingo.

The main issue that my testing has revealed is excessive transmission heat. However, that seems to only occur with 1,400 lb loads at and above 70 mph in high wind. Given that driving that fast is dangerous anyway, I did not find that to be an issue. Driving at safe speeds, transmission temps are normal.

The car could be a good candidate for a transmission cooler, though I have not tested such yet. Also, I'm not sure if 10,000 miles towing (with a vehicle that already had 130,000 miles to start) is long enough to reveal what additional wear and tear occurs.

And of course, in a worst case scenario I have a SUV I can tow the CT13 around with as well.

And yes, I'm very obsessed with smart cars, I loved them since I was a kid.
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Old 02-16-2018, 10:13 AM   #9
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Hi Mercedes,

Welcome! Love your attitude and energy. Looks like you have outstanding research skills and I bet you end up with a wonderful U-Haul egg camper. We have friends with a CT-13 an other friends that have a CT-13 and a VT-16.

I, too, have appreciated the Smart FourTwos, but more as a potential toad rather than as a tug.

Keep us posted on your U-Haul egg hunt.

Happy Camping,

Dean
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:01 AM   #10
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towing with a smart

I don't think I would attempt this with a smart car and I have done some towing but never with a light car oh I take that back I towed a 800lb lawn mower one time with a volkswagan rabbit diesel.

flat land decent about 50mph but hit a hill then about 40mph the trailer had no brakes didn't have any problems but I was just very underpowered with the v/w.

I towed about 100m but it wouldn't have went long distance. I think I wouldn't try the Smart car thing!

bob
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:46 PM   #11
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Welcome and best of luck! We had a 13' Burro for a year and a 16' UHaul VT for 9 years, loving the freedom they provided. Keep your eyes open for CTs coming on the market during spring. There always seem to be a few for sale.
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Old 02-16-2018, 01:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by DeanCHS1980 View Post
Hi Mercedes,

Welcome! Love your attitude and energy. Looks like you have outstanding research skills and I bet you end up with a wonderful U-Haul egg camper. We have friends with a CT-13 an other friends that have a CT-13 and a VT-16.

I, too, have appreciated the Smart FourTwos, but more as a potential toad rather than as a tug.

Keep us posted on your U-Haul egg hunt.

Happy Camping,

Dean
Thank you!! It seems a lot of people tend to say that about me. Admittedly my career gives me way too much time on my hands. This project of mine is a year in the making and I want to make sure it turns out the way I plan for it to. I spend that time researching...basically everything?

Most RV-owning members of the smart community here use their smarts as a toad. An escape pod, if you will. My advice for that is that you'll want a battery disconnect. The computers in the smarts have been known to somehow wake up and panic, causing engine, transmission, and brake part damage.

I'll most certainly keep you all posted on this!

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I don't think I would attempt this with a smart car and I have done some towing but never with a light car oh I take that back I towed a 800lb lawn mower one time with a volkswagan rabbit diesel.

flat land decent about 50mph but hit a hill then about 40mph the trailer had no brakes didn't have any problems but I was just very underpowered with the v/w.

I towed about 100m but it wouldn't have went long distance. I think I wouldn't try the Smart car thing!

bob
Funny enough, I got this idea back in 2016 when there was a vintage camper rally at the campground my parents were at. I felt like a kid in a candy store and interviewed the owners of the campers. I was amazed at how little they weighed compared to their amenities and relative size.

Many smart owners who camp get themselves a motorcycle camper like a Timeout. With those trailers at roughly 600 pounds the car drives like the weight isn't even there.

That's what started me on my journey to find ultralight campers. I entered into a world that's always been there, but I've never seen it before.

My testing seems to indicate that my car should be fine, at least for short trips to my favourite local campground. I replicated similar weight through 5x8 U-Haul AV trailers with some distributed weight tossed in. Though I'm not yet sure how confident I am at how fond the transmission would be on say, a cross country trip.

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Welcome and best of luck! We had a 13' Burro for a year and a 16' UHaul VT for 9 years, loving the freedom they provided. Keep your eyes open for CTs coming on the market during spring. There always seem to be a few for sale.
Thank you! Oh my!!! A Burro would be my second pick. The CT13 and a Burro look similar enough that they could be cousins.

Is it true that there are fewer than 100 VTs in existence?
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Old 02-16-2018, 02:25 PM   #13
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Only 59 VT's were built. 1725 CT's
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Old 02-16-2018, 02:34 PM   #14
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Supposedly the Uhaul 13 was made from modified Burro molds. Uhaul used parts unique to only them with some long out of production and impossible to get. Many people want the Uhauls for the "cute" factor, but then get frustrated with the numerous problems that are common to them.
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Old 02-16-2018, 04:07 PM   #15
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I really hope you decide to tow with the GMC Envoy. I can't support end user tow ratings. Have you considered a Harley Davidson? No, I am not serious about the Harley.
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:22 PM   #16
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Oh my, VTs are even rarer than I thought!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mary and bob View Post
Supposedly the Uhaul 13 was made from modified Burro molds. Uhaul used parts unique to only them with some long out of production and impossible to get. Many people want the Uhauls for the "cute" factor, but then get frustrated with the numerous problems that are common to them.
Are there any specific issues I should be worried about? I'm still doing my research on these. And of course, even the newest CT is older than I am, so I have to have realistic expectations.

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I really hope you decide to tow with the GMC Envoy. I can't support end user tow ratings. Have you considered a Harley Davidson? No, I am not serious about the Harley.
I can respect that. There is a lot of risk in using a product for a task it was not designed for. In the case of vehicles, you bring forth even further risk by being on public roads. I mean, disasters can even happen with vehicles that are meant for the task.

And no worries, I may be a bit eccentric though I try to be realistic.
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:30 PM   #17
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Years ago, when the Smart Car wasn't sold in the US and only marketed in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, Wayne Edmonston ( author of car guides ) called it a dumb vehicle to buy. Mercedes only had service in those cities and limited parts availability.
I assume it's somewhat better now, but I'd look into service centres, as well as campgrounds, when planning a trip, especially towing with an overloaded vehicle.
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Old 02-17-2018, 03:07 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by DeanCHS1980 View Post
Hi Mercedes,

Welcome! Love your attitude and energy. Looks like you have outstanding research skills and I bet you end up with a wonderful U-Haul egg camper. We have friends with a CT-13 an other friends that have a CT-13 and a VT-16.

I, too, have appreciated the Smart FourTwos, but more as a potential toad rather than as a tug.

Keep us posted on your U-Haul egg hunt.

Happy Camping,

Dean
ean as a potential Toad it has to be a manual transmission, because you will blow up the automatic if it is a CVT.
Peter
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Old 02-17-2018, 07:18 AM   #19
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...The tow vehicle is perhaps an interesting question... To test theoretical compatibility with a CT13, I’ve spent the past year daily driving with a loaded AV series trailer (5x8)...
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...After my extensive testing over the past year towing weights higher than that of a CT13’s dry weight,...
Hmmm... I like your experimental approach.

From a purely "can-it-be-done" perspective, I'm wondering a couple of things. First, weight. Dry weights are meaningless; the loaded weight of a CT13 typically runs in the 1400-1600 pound range. What did that box trailer weigh when you did your testing?

Second, don't underestimate the effect of frontal area. Aerodynamic drag increases as the square of speed, so by the time you get to a highway speed of say 55 mph, it adds a significant additional load on the drivetrain. Add a little headwind and it gets worse fast. The 5x8 box trailer has a frontal area of 25 sq. ft., while a CT13 is about 42 sq. ft. With a small vehicle like a SmartCar, a lot more of the trailer profile is exposed to catch air. Even my Honda Pilot labors pulling our Scamp 13 up a grade against a moderate headwind.

Then there is the "should-it-be-done" angle. Beyond your own personal safety, the issue is liability. If something were to go wrong while towing way beyond the tow rating of your vehicle, you may find yourself in a tough place. Euro ratings are not going to matter in an American court. I took risks when I was 25, and nothing bad happened, but the world is a more litigious place today than it was 30 years ago.

The Envoy is boring to be sure, but it will do the job.

If you really want to take a SmartCar with you, ditch the Envoy for a decent used cargo van and trick it out as a DIY camper. There are lots of ideas online. Maybe you could find a former U-Haul unit, since you love the brand. Hook up the Smart Car as a toad and go!

Stude, the SmartCar uses a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, not a CVT. I have no idea if it can be flat-towed. The manual version should not be a problem.
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Old 02-17-2018, 08:30 AM   #20
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Itís not often I join new forums, however in recent months Iíve changed the script. Iím scratching off all of my bucket list items now while I have the time, energy, and money.



Hiya!!! Iím Mercedes! Iím a 25 year old IT Analyst out of Chicago with a love for U-Haul CT13 campers and smart fortwos...I love those cars so much I ended up with three of them!



When Iím not tinkering with my cars, Iím trying to push the limits of custom computers and getting some of my invention ideas down onto paper.



I suppose thatís how I ended up here! My parents have a gargantuan 36í travel trailer and while itís fun tagging along with their rolling hotel suite, I want something to call my own.



Iím a bit of a U-Haul fangirl. I have hauled and towed my way through life with little orange trailers and giant cube trucks. So, it was only natural for me to become obsessed with the CT13 and VT16 siblings. My dream CT13 would be a tiny tech palace with a built-in high power PC and enough RGB lighting to make a nightclub blush. Okay, maybe not that much!



I hope to have a CT13 soon, hopefully before camping season starts! Iím happy to be here!


You go, girl!

Take the naysayers with the proverbial grain of salt.
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