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Old 01-28-2012, 02:49 AM   #1
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Default Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? Thanks.

Hello all,
We'd like to spend more time in the south during the winter, and are looking for a way to do it economically and with two cats along for the ride. We're looking for input/comments/experience/pros and cons of pulling a travel trailer with a large(r) pickup truck. It seems like it might be our only option under the circumstances, as I don't think I could pull anything behind the class B. It would be too much wear and tear on an already stressed to the max chassis, engine, and transmission combo.
Basic Premises: Our target stay would be for at least a month at a time, but two or more wouldn't be beyond possibility. One of our greatest challenges is that we have 2 cats that do not travel well in the confines of a class B RV. The simple issue of where to keep a litter box is almost impossible to deal with. So something larger is probably the only way to go. We're considering selling our B and getting a travel trailer and a mid to large sized truck to pull it to a "destination" and drop it at a campground, and use the truck for day/overnight trips in and around the surrounding area, as well as supply runs. We believe the cats would be OK in anything 20' or longer, as nowadays these travel trailer things look like you could live in them full time, and not even know that you weren't living in a smallish bungalow in the burbs. They seem quite spacious, and some are very well equipped including all weather camping packages.

Disclaimer: We are getting close to the point (after 3.5 years of B-ing) where we feel like we're just about finished with the class B "touring" era of our travels anyway, and we've seen lots of places in and around North America. The B was a great tool for touring, fast, convenient, and economical. That said, we now have a short list of places in the US southwest where we'd like to plant ourselves during the colder months up here. Should we decide that a particular place is becoming too routine, we'd just pick up like you would with any other RV and move to someplace new. It's just a bit different than starting your B, and driving off. You have to hook up the truck/trailer first, then you start the truck and drive off. It does restrict some of the places you can drive, and the type of campsites you can fit into, but that's pretty obvious, and we're prepared to deal with that. Our feeling is, once the tt is parked, the truck becomes the touring vehicle, and that's going to have to serve as the fast, convenient, and economical part of traveling for us, should we proceed with our plans.

So, does anyone have any experience with switching from a B to a TT or vice versa? Any anecdotal info or even 2nd or 3rd party stories, good or bad, or just your considered opinions would be appreciated.
It's not a done deal yet, but it seems like about our only choice, to achieve our goal of spending more time in the warmer weather in winter, and creating a better overall travel situation for us and the cats, both short and long term. Up to now, we've used a local cat sitting service, but it's pricey, and it does limit the length of our stays away.

Thanks in advance, and I hope/expect this thread will get a lot of traffic. We need any and all input to help us to figure this out, and to point out anything we might have missed or misunderstood about trailers, and towing, and fuel economy, and insurance, and braking these things, and maintenance, and ERS, etc., etc.......

As another related question, do any of you belong to Passport America? Apparently they call themselves
the "50% off camping club", and they only charge $44/year to become a member. My cousin pulls a 20' tt and he's staying in Lake Elsinore, CA, at a really nice looking campground, for $15/night with full hookups, with the PA 50% off camping discount.
Thanks again, folks.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? TY.

Found Ford's towing guides here:
https://www.fleet.ford.com/showroom/...ng/default.asp

Both online viewing and downloadable PDF files. Many model years to choose from. Looks like a good technical resource to have.

And here is a NHTSA towing guide http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/e...ing/towing.pdf

I've towed something small behind a large vehicle but I've never towed anything large like a travel travel trailer. I'll be interested in hearing what other members have to say.
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? TY.

It occurs to me now, after browsing some of that doc, that licensing requirements may be different
depending on the specific jurisdiction. I guess that might become an issue when towing larger items like travel trailers. Anyone know any general rules of thumb, like maximum weight or length or equipment restrictions that can be towed with a basic driving license? Like maximum weight 10,000 lbs., not longer than 30 feet, with a regular driver's licence, for example? Trailers with built in braking systems require a Z licence or the like? I believe in Ontario, you can drive anything (motor homes) up to 24500 lbs, on a G License. I wonder what the rules are for towing trailers?
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Old 01-28-2012, 02:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? TY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
It occurs to me now, after browsing some of that doc, that licensing requirements may be different
depending on the specific jurisdiction. I guess that might become an issue when towing larger items like travel trailers. Anyone know any general rules of thumb, like maximum weight or length or equipment restrictions that can be towed with a basic driving license? Like maximum weight 10,000 lbs., not longer than 30 feet, with a regular driver's licence, for example? Trailers with built in braking systems require a Z licence or the like? I believe in Ontario, you can drive anything (motor homes) up to 24500 lbs, on a G License. I wonder what the rules are for towing trailers?
We anticipate the possibility of the same issue in the future, although it is a ways away because I am not yet retired (one year left). We continually look at motorhomes and trailers and put them in the "what if" catagory. One of our unanswered questions would be truck/trailer or motorhome/car. There are good reasons for both. On the towing part of it, most I have talked to say it is much easier to do the the motorhome/car routine as the trailers can be a handful. It will be interesting to see what you decide.
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:33 PM   #5
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? Thanks

Mike; Good post-question. I'm sure almost every traveler/RVer has gone through some of the thought process that you eloquently wrote. My towing experience is limited to smallish camp &/or folding tent trailers, so can't address the bigger trailers. But I do know that I DON't Like towing & my wife is real paranoid . And after many years of consideration & cogitating as you are doing we finally focused on the "B" way. It still took us a long time to find the right unit at the right price. Now that we have had it nearly 2 years & some 20k miles we still like it - a lot.
In Arizona we see a lot of "snowbirds" come down from the Great White North with 5th wheel trailer & truck rigs or LARGE motorhomes w/tow'ds behind (both big$$$). They must work, because the population of Yuma & Mesa nearly double each winter.
My dad tried nearly every configuration imaginable for years, but always went back to a Class A 30ft+ w/car in tow. It worked for him until he died a few years ago @ 88yrs.
Of course Your results may vary! So keep us "posted" on your quest. Ric.
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Old 01-29-2012, 12:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? Thanks

We went from a 20ft "C" to a camper. The motorhome was nice because there was no setup involved either than the awning, electric and water. The problem was if we wanted to go into town. Disconnecting the RV and leaving the campsite empty did not give me a good feeling. Gas mileage is about the same between my truck with the camper and the motorhome. I bought a wind deflector for the truck to try to improve the gas mileage next summer. Campers are like sails behind a vehicle and causes a large drag on the truck.

We went to a local RV show and took a look at a lot of different models before we bought anything. Some of the "A" class are better than my house. Some of these fifth-wheels are amazing too. It would be good to go to a show to have a really good look at everything. Don't let any sales rep try to sway you one way or another. Write down notes on each type of RV you would consider and then weigh out all the pros and cons. For me, with a family of 5 and single income, we needed something that we would all fit in, be affordable and something my truck could pull (motorhomes were way out of my price range). We ended up getting the 17ft hybrid. It only weighs 3500lbs, sleeps 8, has a full bathroom and a standard van or truck can pull it.

If you consider a camper/trailer, make sure you check the gross weight. A truck should be rated to pull well more than the trailer will weigh. Diesel is the way to go when pulling anything really heavy but that costs quite a bit more. They do get way better fuel economy though.

Your driving likes and dislikes will also have an effect. With a camper, I now have to do all the driving. My wife would drive the motorhome but won’t pull the trailer (for now). Longer trailers are easier to back up than smaller ones but you need good mirrors to see behind properly.

One thing I did not like was the price of going on a ferry. Our motorhome was only 20ft so it was a car. My truck and camper are a lot longer than 20ft. It cost almost $250 for the ferry in Ontario from Southbay Mouth to Tobermory.

The biggest thing I like about the camper is having the truck to go places when we’re at a campground. It was a pain with a motorhome. Of course, if you pull a car, you always have it to drive but I have no idea how you would back the motorhome and car behind it if you had to.
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Old 01-29-2012, 01:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? TY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
We anticipate the possibility of the same issue in the future, although it is a ways away because I am not yet retired (one year left). We continually look at motorhomes and trailers and put them in the "what if" catagory. One of our unanswered questions would be truck/trailer or motorhome/car. There are good reasons for both. On the towing part of it, most I have talked to say it is much easier to do the the motorhome/car routine as the trailers can be a handful. It will be interesting to see what you decide.
I think truck/trailer might be the way we'll go. My biggest concern is the fuel cost to get a big self contained unit (class A/C) and "towed" to the destination, and then maybe moving again once or twice, before returning home. I'm guessing the mpg range might be 5-10 on those big boys. I'm hoping that a truck that gets 20 mpg on the highway, won't suffer excessively there, with the added weight of a trailer, once you get it all rolling. However, I just read somewhere (in a Ford manual?) that it might cost as much as 1 mpg for every added 400 lbs. of extra weight, so a 4,000 lb trailer will put me down in the large motorhome fuel economy range.
Decisions, decisions?
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Old 01-29-2012, 02:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ ADVenturist
Mike; Good post-question. I'm sure almost every traveler/RVer has gone through some of the thought process that you eloquently wrote. My towing experience is limited to smallish camp &/or folding tent trailers, so can't address the bigger trailers. But I do know that I DON't Like towing & my wife is real paranoid . And after many years of consideration & cogitating as you are doing we finally focused on the "B" way. It still took us a long time to find the right unit at the right price. Now that we have had it nearly 2 years & some 20k miles we still like it - a lot.
In Arizona we see a lot of "snowbirds" come down from the Great White North with 5th wheel trailer & truck rigs or LARGE motorhomes w/tow'ds behind (both big$$$). They must work, because the population of Yuma & Mesa nearly double each winter.
My dad tried nearly every configuration imaginable for years, but always went back to a Class A 30ft+ w/car in tow. It worked for him until he died a few years ago @ 88yrs.
Of course Your results may vary! So keep us "posted" on your quest. Ric.
Good comments and thoughts, thanks. If we could get 2 adults and 2 cats and "all the fixins'" into the B such that we weren't on top of each other, and looking like the subjects of those "hoarder" shows on TV, we'd be fine with what we have. As weird as it might sound, we like the cats but don't like the idea of leaving them behind for periods longer than 2 weeks or so. Even if we could bring ourselves to leave them at home alone for 2 months, the cat/house sitter alone would cost us around $750, plus the mess to deal with when we got back. Not pretty. So, since neither of them has shown much interest in going off to college or university, we have reasoned that we have to figure out how to take them along, on longer trips. That is our quandary.
I'd love to get a large self contained motorhome and towed, but the cost of something new enough to be reliable, added to the lower fuel economy, are the 2 deterrents to that course of action. Financially not possible for us until the cats graduate from med school.
It's got me thinking that a truck and maybe a mid-20s foot' travel trailer might be the answer. Once you get them rolling I would hope the gas mileage might be better overall than a motorhome. Many of them have slightly more streamlined shapes now, and are almost as good looking as some of those gargantuan fivers. And, they're mostly less expensive (well equipped including all weather packages) and lighter weight than fivers and big motorhomes.

The search continues. I'm heading over to do some reading on the trailer forums on RVNet.
It's a good source of info on trailers and fivers, and on class A, B, C motorhomes, too. I find it harder to sift through it all over there, than here where the scope of make and models is a lot more focused. Over there it's like semi-organized chaos, and I think they might even have a few more contributing members which really makes it confusing. No idea who knows what they're talking about, and who's just blowing smoke.
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Old 01-29-2012, 02:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by renrut
We went from a 20ft "C" to a camper. The motorhome was nice because there was no setup involved either than the awning, electric and water. The problem was if we wanted to go into town. Disconnecting the RV and leaving the campsite empty did not give me a good feeling. Gas mileage is about the same between my truck with the camper and the motorhome. I bought a wind deflector for the truck to try to improve the gas mileage next summer. Campers are like sails behind a vehicle and causes a large drag on the truck.
I want the flexibility of dropping the trailer at a site, and then touring in the truck. I have read that a fiver is easier to hook up and unhook, than a travel trailer. Any ideas about that? I have no idea why. I would imagine you would place your jacks and raise the rig enough to detach, and then move the truck. I guess it might be tougher to hit the hitch ball on a TT than the pin on a fiver, because you can't see the hitch and tongue, but you can see the fiver pin and yoke pad by looking over your shoulder." Campers are like sails"? Stop trying to cheer me up about the gas mileage and stability on the road.

Quote:
Originally Posted by renrut
We went to a local RV show and took a look at a lot of different models before we bought anything. Some of the "A" class are better than my house. Some of these fifth-wheels are amazing too. It would be good to go to a show to have a really good look at everything. Don't let any sales rep try to sway you one way or another. Write down notes on each type of RV you would consider and then weigh out all the pros and cons. For me, with a family of 5 and single income, we needed something that we would all fit in, be affordable and something my truck could pull (motorhomes were way out of my price range). We ended up getting the 17ft hybrid. It only weighs 3500lbs, sleeps 8, has a full bathroom and a standard van or truck can pull it.
Interesting. Our main needs are the same as what's in a smallish house. It would be nice if it was equipped for sub freezing weather, has a full bathroom with mini-tub/shower, queen bed, good kitchen equipment, and good heating/cooling. Boondocking capacity with good coach battery power and propane fridge and furnace would be an asset. Tank capacities above or around 20 gallons are probably OK, and would reduce the weight. I think most that I've seen online are closer to 35 gallons each fresh/black/gray. Another nicety would be centrally located external hookups. I've seen it advertised as a feature on some travel trailer websites designed to better organize your parking/camping hookups and unhooks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by renrut
If you consider a camper/trailer, make sure you check the gross weight. A truck should be rated to pull well more than the trailer will weigh. Diesel is the way to go when pulling anything really heavy but that costs quite a bit more. They do get way better fuel economy though.
I'm going to look at a 2009 F150 Crew Cab XLT Extended again on Monday. It's only a small 4.6L V8 (not sure of it's the 2V or 3V but the HP an torque seems pretty decent either way). It has an HD towing package installed and has all the gauges for oil/transmission fluid temps and the plugnplay connectors in the rear bumper. I looked at the manuals and it looks like it will be able to pull around 8,000 lbs. with the 3V engine, but only 5100 lbs. if it's the 2V engine from the hitch. The rear end ratio increases or decreases it a bit either way, too. Gas mileage without towing in Imperial gallons is 20 city/25 highway. I dread what it might drop to with a load on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by renrut
Your driving likes and dislikes will also have an effect. With a camper, I now have to do all the driving. My wife would drive the motorhome but won’t pull the trailer (for now). Longer trailers are easier to back up than smaller ones but you need good mirrors to see behind properly.
I used to drive tow motors pulling stock trailers at Ford back in the 70s. It was like backing up multiple tandem trailers, so I hopefully will get the hang of it in short order, if we go truck/trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by renrut
One thing I did not like was the price of going on a ferry. Our motorhome was only 20ft so it was a car. My truck and camper are a lot longer than 20ft. It cost almost $250 for the ferry in Ontario from Southbay Mouth to Tobermory.
Good thought, I sort of figured it would cost more based on overall length, but that's a lot. Hmmmmm?

Quote:
Originally Posted by renrut
The biggest thing I like about the camper is having the truck to go places when we’re at a campground. It was a pain with a motorhome. Of course, if you pull a car, you always have it to drive but I have no idea how you would back the motorhome and car behind it if you had to.
Very carefully. Don't most big motorhomes have backup cameras these days? Or lots of squished toweds.
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Old 01-29-2012, 03:57 AM   #10
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Default Re: Opinions on towing a travel trailer with a truck? Thanks

Mike, weren't you looking to increase the power of your 5.7 in the Roadtrek? If the 5.7 isn't powerful enough for you in the 9000# van, do you really think a 4.6 would be good for you hauling maybe twice that weight?
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