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jondsw 11-15-2013 05:38 PM

winter driving
 
i am looking for advice regarding pulling my scamp during the winter. specifically i'd like to know if people simply shut down for the winter or pull their trailers under a set of guidelines. i've done a lot of winter driving but never pulling a trailer. if you do use your trailer during the winter do you have a strategy about how to handle varying weather and road conditions?

any helpful comments would be appreciated. i looked at the driving rules for washington, oregon and california but didn't come away with a conclusive idea of what i should do.

thanks,
jondsw

Gilda 11-15-2013 09:25 PM

We choose to have our winter fun from a four-star basecamp hotel. Winter is NOT the time for us to be caught in a snowstorm with a trailer. Conceivably we could travel from San Francisco to LA with nary a fear of a snowstorm, but rainstorms aren't a piece of cake either. I'll keep my trailer travels in mostly good/dry weather.

We've planned a trip to Yosemite this winter to snowshoe and ice skate. Our abode will be a comfortable hotel nearby. I can already feel my body warming as I sip hot chocolate by the (indoor) firepit!

Karen T 11-15-2013 11:45 PM

I think it is helpful to not be in a hurry. As in, we don't go unless we are ok with waiting a day or two for truly bad weather to pass and roads to clear before heading back out. The few times we've been out and got caught in bad weather while actually on the road, we just took it really, really slow and pulled off if it got too dicey for us to feel safe.

Byron Kinnaman 11-16-2013 12:10 AM

Winter is when we do the bulk of our camping, but not in the PNW. We head south. However ever we still have to go over the mountains to get south. Living in Oregon in the Willamette Valley winter driving is wet and cold not snowy and icy. I avoid ice and snow. I'm not sure when the WA trailer towing laws are for chains. In Oregon if your trailer has brakes you have to carry chains for it along with your tow in snow zones. If chains are required the trailer with brakes has to chains on along with tow. When towing 4 wheel drive doesn't matter when chains are required.
Before retiring we camped in all months, simply watched the weather and took advantage of non snow and ice weather.
Most highways are clear of snow even over the mountains unless it's actually snowing. So winter camp it's great fun.

cpaharley2008 11-16-2013 08:31 AM

I would rather camp in the winter than the hot summer. Campfires and cooking outside is what camping is about. You need to make sure your Scamp will keep you warm, with or without hook ups. Your tow vehicle should have 4 wheel drive capability or at least locking rear end. Carry a set of chains for the tow vehicle, and you should be okay. Also a cell phone and let someone know where you are, enjoy.

Carol H 11-16-2013 10:30 AM

Jon, I have traveled down the PNW in winter - but normally heading south ;-) Did pull east across the Cascades and hit snow late one spring though. As others have indicated being flexible and being able to stop and wait out a snow storm on the passes is your best approach. Keep an eye on the weather forecast for a good weather window when passing through places such as Grants Pass.... even then there is never a guarantee the weather will not suddenly change and you get caught out on a pass while its snowing. Also the same for some of the *big* wind storms you may come upon once further south. You are required by law to carry chains or have proper snow tires (the ones with a snow flake on them) during winter months on many of the passes and roads in the PNW and elsewhere in the winter months. If you dont have proper snow tires on your tug then at least make sure that you carry the chains and the tires that are on your vehicle have lots of tread in case you do get caught out in a snow storm and there isnt enough snow to run the vehicle with chains on but you do need good treads to get yourself to a spot you can stop and wait out the storm. Personally have found all wheel drive (full time) SUV type vehicles to be far better snowmobiles than trucks due to being a bit heavier on the back end that most 4x4 trucks. So if you have a Pick Up make sure you have but some extra weight into the back of it if heading into an area with possible snow on the roads.

cpaharley2008 11-16-2013 10:35 AM

So if you have a Pick Up make sure you have but some extra weight into the back of it if heading into an area with possible snow on the roads.

Your trailer should add enough weight to help with traction over the rear drive wheels.

Carol H 11-16-2013 12:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 (Post 431460)

Your trailer should add enough weight to help with traction over the rear drive wheels.

Well it depends on what you are pulling. Keep in mind a Scamp for example may only have a tongue weight of 250lbs - some far less depending on the size of it & options. That weight is distributed across the vehicle's rear and not directly over the rear axle of the tug. Very common in these parts to see Pick Ups with sandbags or large bricks loaded up in the box right over the rear axle of 4x4's that you can be sure total up to at least 200 lbs of extra weight often far more - even on 4x4 's with snow tires (snow flake on them) and rear locking differentials. Based on my personal experience in driving 4x4's on snow in the mountains often with the rear packed full of ski gear and several peoples luggage, I dont think the owners of those trucks are wrong in doing that.

Ice-breaker 11-16-2013 01:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carol H (Post 431491)
Well it depends on what you are pulling. Keep in mind a Scamp for example may only have a tongue weight of 250lbs - some far less depending on the size of it & options. That weight is distributed across the vehicle's rear and not directly over the rear axle of the tug. Very common in these parts to see Pick Ups with sandbags or large bricks loaded up in the box right over the rear axle of 4x4's that you can be sure total up to at least 200 lbs of extra weight often far more - even on 4x4 's with snow tires (snow flake on them) and rear locking differentials. Based on my personal experience in driving 4x4's on snow in the mountains often with the rear packed full of ski gear and several peoples luggage, I dont think the owners of those trucks are wrong in doing that.

Placement of the additional weight directly over the axle would be the best position to improve traction in snowy conditions. However, the trailer tongue weight on the hitch will also be carried primarily by the rear axle, and should improve your traction. Unfortunately, the greater the distance between the rear axle and the hitch, the more the trailer tongue weight will also decrease the weight on your front axle, which will degrade your control of the vehicle.

My previous truck, an F150 supercrew 4x4 would get its best winter traction with more than 700 lbs of weight over the rear axles. Without the extra weight, the rear end was much too light and traction was quite poor.

Frederick L. Simson 11-16-2013 02:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jondsw (Post 431355)
i looked at the driving rules for washington, oregon and california but didn't come away with a conclusive idea of what i should do.

There are California Chain Requirements for chain control areas.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Notes:
  • All vehicles, including four wheel drive vehicles, that are towing trailers must have chains on one drive axle.
  • Trailers with brakes must have chains on one axle.
  • Front wheel drive vehicles must have chains on front (drive) axle.

My understanding is that if I tow my Fiber Stream with my Honda Odyssey through a chain control area while there is snow, I need to put chains on the front wheels of the Odyssey (drive axle) and chains on the front axle's wheels of the trailer (the axle with brakes).

Glenn Baglo 11-16-2013 03:06 PM

I'm curious how the chains on the braked trailer axle would actually work. If the wheel is stopped with bare tire on the ground and chain either side, what good would that do?
Seems to me that chains are good to get going on a drive wheel, but wouldn't accomplish much on braking.

Jared J 11-16-2013 03:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo (Post 431523)
I'm curious how the chains on the braked trailer axle would actually work. If the wheel is stopped with bare tire on the ground and chain either side, what good would that do? Seems to me that chains are good to get going on a drive wheel, but wouldn't accomplish much on braking.

It's a lot harder to lock up the tire with chains, getting much more braking out of your trailer, and preventing it from passing you. Chains help tremendously on trailers (and vehicles).

Carols right. My pickup is 2wd, and I need 800 lbs in the bed before it makes an appreciable difference in traction during the winter.

accrete 11-16-2013 05:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman (Post 431410)
...Living in Oregon in the Willamette Valley winter driving is wet and cold not snowy and icy. I avoid ice and snow...

Cari and i will be out again this winter camping as usual, though this will be our first season towing with the AWD van. I do realize that as we have a trailer in the loop again (first time was w/our 4x4 Taco + Aliner) i will need to pick up chains for both rigs for rare situations only...as we have no intention of being out when there is a possibility of snow in camp.

just a ramble...If we go out in the AWD Van only we can drive right on through the "Chains Required" area as our AWDrig+mt.stamped tires qualify for passage. And since the van can do all (eat/sleep/shower) we would pass on towing if we _must_ be somewhere and overnight.

...more ramble...Rain? We love it and will snuggle inside either rig and listen to the rain on the roof and enjoy ourselves. A walk in a forest after rain is one of our favorite things. And as hinted by another, we would rather camp in the mild-cold than deal with hot-summer camping (not that we have that in Oregon!).

Safe travels,
Thom

FTTRV 11-16-2013 05:18 PM

Waiting out the snow
 
1 Attachment(s)
Pictured is my friend Herbert he and his family are sitting out a storm at Walmart in Rock Springs,WY. His Bigfoot 25ft is behind him.

Cyndi B. 11-16-2013 05:33 PM

We pulled our first 13' Scamp home from the factory in a snowstorm. Ran into it just north of Rochester about an hour from home. Not exciting. Our first time moving home from Montana ran into a snowstorm pulling a 8 foot Uhaul between Dickinson and Bismark, ND. Cars in ditches, semis blasting past us, white outs. My husband was making the comment that 4 wheel drive on the interstate is useless but a few seconds later retracted that statement when the Tundra told him she was sliding. Not fun.

Darwin Maring 11-16-2013 06:31 PM

Winter driving with a trailer - A really great reason for having brakes on the trailer.

Byron Kinnaman 11-16-2013 06:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by accrete (Post 431547)
Cari and i will be out again this winter camping as usual, though this will be our first season towing with the AWD van. I do realize that as we have a trailer in the loop again (first time was w/our 4x4 Taco + Aliner) i will need to pick up chains for both rigs for rare situations only...as we have no intention of being out when there is a possibility of snow in camp.

just a ramble...If we go out in the AWD Van only we can drive right on through the "Chains Required" area as our AWDrig+mt.stamped tires qualify for passage. And since the van can do all (eat/sleep/shower) we would pass on towing if we _must_ be somewhere and overnight.

...more ramble...Rain? We love it and will snuggle inside either rig and listen to the rain on the roof and enjoy ourselves. A walk in a forest after rain is one of our favorite things. And as hinted by another, we would rather camp in the mild-cold than deal with hot-summer camping (not that we have that in Oregon!).

Safe travels,
Thom

Picking up chains is a good idea. In case you didn't know it from Nov 1 to April 15, I believe are the dates the law says you must carry chains even with 4 wheel drive vehicle in snow zones. I have chains for my 4x4 truck and chains for the trailer that in 5 years have never been on the tires.

accrete 11-16-2013 09:20 PM

Thanks for the Oregon specific info Byron.
Yup, i know i should do the dastardly deed and pick them up just cuz ;)
Though in 35 years of driving in Cali/Nevada/Oregon i've never used chains even though driving in "Snow Zones"...guess i've been spoiled with all the AWD Volvos and similar in the family. The only time i was questioned was once when driving a 4x4 truck (all the Volvos (and our Van one trip to Mt.Hood) they just waved on by).

ramble. . . My _snow driving_ story from the only time i was told i needed chains:

I was driving over Donner Pass (HWY 80 Ca/Nv) during a snowstorm in my brand new 1982 Toyota 4x4 mini truck with winter tires on (w/chains just in case). I was heading home to Reno from a week of work in No.Cal...still dressed in my office/biz suit. I pulled off at the Truckee exit to fuel up and grab a cup of coffee (~9pm ish)...

When i went to get back on the highway a state trooper stopped me and suggested i turn around as there was about a foot of new snow on the roadway (gee i already new that, i just exited ~30 minutes before!). I told him i'd just gotten gas and coffee and rode this commute from Sacramento to Reno every Monday & Friday and knew the conditions and road well. He said if i could make it up the on-ramp i was free to go the rest of the way...oh, PS he never said/suggested needed chains, he simply put out the challenge of getting safely up the on-ramp. Crazy? yea, maybe...

I said thanks, put it in high 4, and waved him good-night... an hour later i was pulling up in our driveway in Reno... I think fresh snow on a road is easy driving. ICE? Not so much!

Cheers,
Thom

Byron Kinnaman 11-16-2013 10:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by accrete (Post 431594)
Thanks for the Oregon specific info Byron.
Yup, i know i should do the dastardly deed and pick them up just cuz ;)
Though in 35 years of driving in Cali/Nevada/Oregon i've never used chains even though driving in "Snow Zones"...guess i've been spoiled with all the AWD Volvos and similar in the family. The only time i was questioned was once when driving a 4x4 truck (all the Volvos (and our Van one trip to Mt.Hood) they just waved on by).

ramble. . . My _snow driving_ story from the only time i was told i needed chains:

I was driving over Donner Pass (HWY 80 Ca/Nv) during a snowstorm in my brand new 1982 Toyota 4x4 mini truck with winter tires on (w/chains just in case). I was heading home to Reno from a week of work in No.Cal...still dressed in my office/biz suit. I pulled off at the Truckee exit to fuel up and grab a cup of coffee (~9pm ish)...

When i went to get back on the highway a state trooper stopped me and suggested i turn around as there was about a foot of new snow on the roadway (gee i already new that, i just exited ~30 minutes before!). I told him i'd just gotten gas and coffee and rode this commute from Sacramento to Reno every Monday & Friday and knew the conditions and road well. He said if i could make it up the on-ramp i was free to go the rest of the way...oh, PS he never said/suggested needed chains, he simply put out the challenge of getting safely up the on-ramp. Crazy? yea, maybe...

I said thanks, put it in high 4, and waved him good-night... an hour later i was pulling up in our driveway in Reno... I think fresh snow on a road is easy driving. ICE? Not so much!

Cheers,
Thom

We just to head up to go X-C skiing in the winter first with front wheel drive then 4X4. I did have a police man that driving the opposite direction slow be down long enough to see that my then front wheel drive had studded tires on. I've never been question about chains, but have always complied with chain laws and carried chains. I figure it cheaper than a ticket also there's this thing call "conditional closure" where no matter what you're driving or tires chains are required. It would be kind of awkward to get on the other side of the mountains and not get home because you didn't have chains with you.

Enjoy winter camping. There's lots of neat low level camping opportunities in Oregon between the valley and coast.

accrete 11-17-2013 08:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman (Post 431605)
...It would be kind of awkward to get on the other side of the mountains and not get home because you didn't have chains with you.

For sure. & I will pick up those chains : )

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman (Post 431605)
Enjoy winter camping. There's lots of neat low level camping opportunities in Oregon between the valley and coast.

Yuppers. Also some easy pickin's on the coast from Cape Disappointment just over the bridge into Long Beach and down to the Trask River area in Tillamook (dispersed federal and state land camping for free!)

Thom


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