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Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by rob.mwpropane, Aug 12, 2021.
We have a 2007 Forest River Flagstaff pup. We pull it with a Chevrolet Traverse. No problem. it has the toilet and shower combo. The only thing I'm going to do different is change my hitch to a straight from a 2 inch drop
@rob.mwpropane. You're asking good questions here. I know some implied you were splitting hairs but, trust me, I've been in your exact shoes and agonized. Perhaps we're both overly analytical. My wife's family chides me for the vast research I do before making decisions, but I prefer that to their approach which is to wing it, then live with regrets and Monday Morning Quarterbacking afterward.
As I mentioned above, we towed a 10' box with a Town & Country WITHOUT factory tow with no issues (other than worries of technically violating owner's manual) until we added a used TrailBlazer that the kids drove when we weren't camping. The PUP was around 2,000 lbs. loaded and both handled it fine, TB better of course.
We bought a 2018 Pacifica with tow package assuming it would replace the TB as our TV at some point. At that time, we were contemplating an upgraded PUP. My math said we could upgrade our PUP to a 12 box but NOT with the two items we really wanted in a PUP if we ever upgraded: (1) slideout dinette and (2) front storage box. I just wasn't comfortable with a PUP with dry weight plus cargo being at 3,200 - 3,300 lbs. So, the wife made that decision....limitations on the PUP in order to drive a Pacifica.
I totally understand the desire to tow with a minivan. We've owned at least one minivan, sometimes two, since 1994 when we had our 2nd child. They're the most practical vehicle on the road for families when not towing, WAY more interior space than a CUV/SUV. That interior space helps when there's limited storage space in the PUP, too, but you have to watch payload. I learned after buying our PUP that we were overloading our Town & Country and started shifting weight to the PUP.
Last option for you - if you're staying reasonably close to home, can you take 2 vehicles? If we camp 2-3 hours from home for a full week, our most common scenario, we just started taking 2 vehicles. Wife, youngest daughter, friend in non-TV, me in TV with camper. This enables us to take bikes and associated gear, tubes, lifejackets, cornhole, extra canopy, firewood, and all the food we need. We just chalk that up as the price we pay 2-3 weeks a year for not having to buy and drive a half-ton truck year round.
Having owned multiple Chrysler/Dodge mini vans and actually searching for the differences between tow package verses no tow package I can only find one confirmed part that differs. The rear shocks are certainly not the same. The engine maybe, the one we have with tow package has a 3.8L while the others have a 3.3L. There is also an oil cooler, but it can be added to either engine regardless of tow package. The brakes. body, springs, transmission cooler, and radiator are all the same. The optional oil cooler is about $100 plus re-routing heater hose though the cooler. The shocks after market were around $500 for a set and you don't want to look at Mopar prices. There is coil over shocks available to aid in the squat for tongue weight, but it's not the same. They had different size rims. The tow package has 16" aluminum and the non tow package all had 15" steel. With the exception of the engine all these are fairly affordable bolt on items that would make a non tow package just as capable as a tow package vehicle (be aware this still doesn't raise your legal tow or GCWR). All that we've owned were 4th generation RG platform and haven't looked into the CS platform nor any other generations. There is nowhere on the vehicle or papers that I can find designating tow package or not. You may be able to find it through the dealer with the vin# but I'm not that interested as the only things we will be towing with it are the golf cart or a small fishing boat both below even to non tow package limits.
Thanks. We actually do take 2 vehicles for the most part. My son likes to drive his own set of wheels. The van is great for loading everyone up, and I have a smaller trailer for dive gear that's not an issue.
We went and picked up a PUP yesterday. Got a 2013 Palpono Sequoia. Because we didn't want to go without any of the features we're just deciding to haul the camper with the truck and drive the van separate, it works out because again we have all the diving stuff.
The camper is really nice, was garage kept and well maintained. The only feature that it doesn't have that I'll have to install is an AC, but it was too good a deal to pass up. It comes prewired for AC, I just need to figure where. Everything really looks brand new. The guy we bought it from said they used it 1-2 times a year and that's it. There's not even any surface rust on the jacks.
Does anyone have a link to someone doing the prewired AC? I have read people talk about it, but can't seem to find the video or pdf anywhere. Because we're heading into fall, I have some time to plan it out.
Thanks a ton to everyone that posted here. It won't end up getting pulled with the van, but you guys gave me a lot of knowledge as to why it shouldn't and I was better prepared all around for the purchase.
Looks really nice. No idea on the ac, i had a colman. Someone else will chime in or start a new thread. Acs are $$$$ though. Like 800$ , add covid tax and probably 1k now. At least your going into cooler weather, so if it can wait it will probably be chaper.
That's the part that started scaring me after a few years. We added airlift bags, a transmission cooler, etc. to our 3.8L Town & Country. It towed fine, but as my attorney friend told me, doesn't matter what you did, some other attorney will be happy to point out that we were knowingly violating our owner's manual.
Both packages had the same transmission cooler integrated as part of the AC condenser.
Pay cash (never have a paper trail for an ambulance chaser to follow) for parts and if it comes up it was on there when purchased and thought it to be a tow package version. It's really nothing but a money racket. If it's factory equipped they are saying it's safe at the stated ratings. If you equip it it is then modified and the liability shifts to the modifier/owner/driver. They charge thousands for a few hundred in parts and the risk of a law suit should it be found unsafe. Regardless of how safe the modded vehicle is, anything above the original rating isn't going to be the liability of the manufacturer. The risk isn't being pulled over and checked, it's ending up in an accident and having a scumbag ambulance chaser drag you in court for a modded vehicle that caused their client untold suffering and pain although they were the ones that ran the stop sign in the first place.
At the end of the day you best bet is to buy a TV that can legally handle the camper or buy a camper that your current TV can legally handle. Personally I want my TV at 2/3 or less than it's rated for. Our current setup is less than 1/2 what the TV is rated for. I know people that cut it so close they can't fill the water tank.
Unless someone dies in an accident, and they have reson to suspect something is a miss and they have the means to weigh stuff, no one is ever going to question it. So , you would have to kill someone in a questionable way in a city area that has the means to process the vehical. I have seen it happen once or twice, in bus accidents. Its is a few and far between scenario. And lawyers dont have the $$$ to don this type of investigation themselves unless your a millionaire. I am by a major city that has the ability to do this , but most dont.
Just to add, this isnt to say they dont investigate an accident, they just don't disect stuff without a real good reason that they know something else was at fault.
The one thing that's missing is the A/C. That's what I said when we bought it, heading into fall so dont need to worry right now. It does have a breaker for A/C and I think I found the wires to it. Red and white wires in that area. Have to pull the panel to see what color is running to the breaker.
Camping in it this weekend. It's great so far. Little chilly this morning so I turned the heater on for a bit, worked like a charm. Sleeping 7, so it's a little tight, but that's not what the usual will be. I love that just about everything runs on propane
One thing I am missing though is a place to hang up wet clothes / towels. I saw the mod where you can add towel racks under the beds, might give that a go.
Yea, under bed mount for rod , maybe 2 for that many people. Look into the tension shelf mod over the sink. Thats worth its weight in gold. Get a small ceramic heater if you plan on campgrounds with power, just make sure it has a tip over shut off. And a smoke/co detector. Be safe, have fun!
You asked before about tips for A/C. There is a video for Forest River campers that shows cutting out the roof etc... I am hesitant to share it as its not for your camper.
A/C ready usually means its got the breaker and possible an outlet for power. On mine it meant there was an opening at the sidewall for the power wire to come out and a hole had to be put in the roof side wall for a matching plug for the wire coming out of the floor to plug in to. From there you route a power wire along the inside roof side wall but under the curtains and then a wire molding goes across the ceiling to the A/C install.
I'm telling you what mine is like to illustrate one way its done but yours may be very different. It is unlikely anyone will route 110 wire through the tent fabric as all the folding up and down and creasing it will lead to a short and then a possible fire.
Yeah, most of the time it's cut and dry. There are only two cases I know of that people got charged because of something else.
One was someone I know rear ended someone. The other party didn't have a drivers license and got charged for the accident.
The other was someone that got hit by someone running a stop sign. The police officer smelled beer and had him take a breathalyzer and he was .02 over the legal limit to drive and was charged with the accident and DUI even though the other driver ran the stop sign. Sorry, not sorry, but if that happened to me the person that ran that stop sign better have moved and changed his name by the time I got out of jail!
I would appreciate the video...at least I'll have ideas. I've modded and cut holes and rebuilt just about everything I've ever owned. I've never paid anyone to come to my house for plumbing, electrical, etc. I don't have any intentions on watching 1 video and taking it as the bible, it's just a step in the right direction.
To those of you that the A/C plugs in at the roof before you raise it, are there issues with that? That makes the most sense (unless I'm missing something) as the wires won't bend like someone mentioned.
Thanks all..I'll look into the tensions shelf mod also.
Have a great day!
P.S. - absolutely pouring here, not wet in the camper at all. They weren't calling for it to rain like this, but what better way to test the trailer...not exactly what I wanted but at least we're dry so far.
The one thing I would do different than what he did in the video was I would never put any weight on the roof material. The one time I was on my roof I had a couple 2 by 6 that spanned the entire roof and made it to each side. That way most of the weight was on the edge rather than any of it being on the roof material.
Both of the PUPs we've owned had very flexible multi-strand power cords. One had the cord hardwired and came down the center into the cabinet to the power supply. The other was routed to the corner of the roof and down behind the dinette cushion to an outlet in the storage compartment where it plugged into a 20 amp outlet. This quickly became a major PITA and was soon rerouted down the center and through the cabinet to the outlet in the storage compartment.
. A little late, but just for reference. This was my recent trip with the Niagara. The camper was not that heavily loaded and the propane tanks were nearly empty. And still overweight. Towed fine though. Obviously not a Pacifica.
Which takes us back to the OP's original question. I agree with your standard. Our HW PUP GVWR is 3,800 lbs and our TV has 7,000 lbs tow capacity. Same standard leaves minivans and small SUVs (with their 3,500 lbs. tow capacity) best suited for 1,750-2,500 lb. tent trailers fully loaded.