Dark Side is Good Side

Discussion in 'Going to the DARK SIDE' started by rjhammetter, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    Highly recommend the layout. It’s the optimal size for this family of four (two kids almost 8 and 6 years old). Glad to have the slide. Makes it feel significantly larger than the 15BH (we didn’t want to break down bed every day) and 17BH (table isn’t big enough to seat a family). Plenty of storage and living space, but this is the biggest we can and would tow, plus bigger TTs come with bigger prices too. This is no doubt the sweet spot for us.

    I scoured a bunch of internet forums for all I could find on towing travel trailers with Hondas. There isn’t much out there. A few users on OdyClub, so I checked Piloteers, Ridgeline and AcuraZine. Most who do it say it works, but the Honda chassis and powertrain aren’t really up for it. We took the plunge on ours anyway. I was extremely afraid to try it. As in, it would be a harrowing, white knuckle experience. I would turn around on our drive home from the RV dealer wanting to return it, or worse, lose control or get in a crash.

    Real world feedback: tows just fine. Typical 19mpg dropped to 12mpg while towing, cruising at 60-65mph, about as fast as semi trucks. Our purchase included a weight distribution hitch with sway control. Quite a chunk of hardware that really works. Keeps stuff level and ties the frames together for good control. We filled up at a gas station with a CAT scale, so being the curious engineer I am, I weighed and paid the $11.50 or whatever to see. Fully loaded, with the fam, gear, cargo, trailer, hitch... empty water tanks... basically right at the GCWR. Trailer was just above its empty weight. Both van axles are below their ratings. Front axle weighed couple hundred heavier than rear, which confused me until I realized the WDH is leveraging the rear weight to the front. Honda used to recommend WDH through your years, now does not on current generation. No one seems to know why.

    I have the Honda OEM tranny cooler and change fluid annually. We have a Tekonsha P3 brake controller. We maintain good brakes (since buying our PUP) and keep fresh, rotated tires on it. I evenly distribute the cargo in the van. It’s definitely different than towing the PUP. The wind resistance is significant, like towing a parachute, but this TT is only 7’ wide and 9’ tall, not much higher than the Odyssey. Towing is only about 4% of our annual mileage so we have no wear and tear concerns. We’re already talking about taking it to Fort Wilderness, but to be honest, my wife and I agree we wouldn’t tow across the country or through the mountains until we upgrade our TV. For local and Midwest jaunts, it will be just fine. The tail does wag the dog a little bit when passing or being passed by semi trucks, but keep it slow and anticipate slowing traffic ahead. I feel comfortable driving this way, confident in the setup and would recommend if loaded properly. No need to be shocked. Our Odyssey has been one of the best vehicles my wife or I have ever owned. Reliable, capable, good road manners, comfortable, quality materials, loaded with technology... I’m really impressed by this van. The only thing I would change is its lack of available AWD.
    861FDC9A-EEB3-4EDB-81C5-D857D46E9CB0.jpeg C79B38B2-F067-4D5E-BC32-BF402F843AD0.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
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  2. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    I feel like our Odyssey owners manual says not to use a WDH, and it seems like it would be so heavy on our van that already suffers from rear sag. I could be wrong about what the owners manual said. I'm going by memory, which is not that great.

    We also have a transmission cooler installed. Currently we have air bags, but they don't hold air anymore, so I purchased bump stops, although they haven't been installed yet. Just for the pup. Do you have any suspension support? Your van looks nice and level hooked to the trailer.

    We live in the flatest place ever, Florida. I even feel uncomfortable leaving the state towing the pup into the GA mountains. We have a Titan that we use for that. It's not that the Odyssey has had any problems towing. It hasn't. It tows like a dream and has been a very reliable vehicle for many years. It's just my own paranoia, I suppose.

    I'm glad you posted this. It may be possible for us to tow around FL with a small TT. We stay frequently at Fort Wilderness, it's only 2 hours away for us. We have a large 30' TT that we initially purchased just for FW trips. Turns out that's all it was really good for. It's too big to fit in the small state park camp sites we frequent most often. It's set up semi-permanently, like a mobile home, on our property right now. We are probably going to sell it, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I sort of hate to see it go, even though we no longer have anything to tow it with. It's too heavy even for the Titan, on a regular basis.
     
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  3. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    Odysseys before 2011 said this in the owners manual:
    Weight Distributing Hitch
    If the total trailer weight is more than 1,850 lbs (840 kg), you must also use a weight distributing hitch. This device transfers weight from the vehicle’s rear wheels to the front wheels, and to the trailer’s wheels. Carefully follow the hitch maker’s instructions for proper installation and adjustment.

    2011-2018 owners manual (including mine) said this:
    Weight distribution hitches
    A weight distributing hitch is not recommended for use with your vehicle.
    An improperly adjusted weight distributing hitch may reduce handling, stability, and braking performance.

    The 2019 manual says this:
    Weight distribution hitches
    Your vehicle is designed to tow without the need for a load distributing hitch. If you wish to use one, please consult your trailer maker for proper installation and set-up. Improper set-up could degrade the handling, stability, and braking performance of your vehicle.

    I just grabbed these quotes from manuals on owners.honda.com.

    So really, Honda doesn’t know what stance to take on them. First they said thou shalt. Then they said we don’t recommend. Now they say go ahead if properly set up. Redesigns notwithstanding, very little has changed between these Odysseys or the fundamentals behind weight distribution. WDHs work and it does on my Odyssey according to the CAT scale.
     
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  4. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    Regarding ours: we have no air bags or support. We sagged more than I liked fully loaded with the PUP hitched, but not bad enough to fix it. We never bottomed out.

    The dealer set up the WDH for us and gave us the setting (chain length) for best leveling. That pic is completely without any rear suspension support.

    I’m really singing praises for towing with the Odyssey... I mean, it works, but there are obviously better - take your pick - like yes a Titan or Sequoia, F150, Silverado or Yukon. No one ever complained about too much power and stability when towing. I’d rather have one of those trucks, but we don’t need it IMO. We will get one of those someday when we need to replace the Odyssey or get a bigger TT, but never as large as 30’. That’s half a house. There are a lot of good options in the 26-28’ range towable with normal trucks (non diesel, non dually, non F350 or 3500HD)

    The one post that convinced me I would be okay was this one:
    https://www.odyclub.com/threads/towed-a-21-trailer-great-success.355199/
    I would echo everything he/she said.

    I forgot to mention I also bought a BlueDriver to monitor coolant and transmission temp. It does read coolant, but not transmission fluid temp. Rats. But at least coolant temp provides me another level of feel-good-ery.
     
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  5. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    Thanks for the link. We have the exact same suspension helpers that the person in the post mentioned. Our van has noticable squat with no extra support. It's much older, though. Perhaps they have changed something over the years.

    I would love to be able to monitor transmission fluid temperatures. But, really, not sure I need anything else to increase my paranoia or keep an eye on. The Odyssey has been doing a great job towing and stopping for 6 years without incident so I need to just leave well enough alone.

    Thanks for all the info!
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
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  6. Ladiesman

    Ladiesman Active Member

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    We camped this week at Bigfoot State park in Wisconsin. We start driving to our site and i am noticing people all over the campground with green shirts. We get to our site back in level and get set up takes us 15 minutes with the TT and i realize we are in the middle of a family reunion. Loud and wild but they were just having fun we left for the day anyway. At night they were very loud and up late. But inside the TT we couldn't hear them at all. Slept like babies. If we were in the pup no way we could have dealt with it.
     
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  7. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

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    @Ladiesman , where is Bigfoot? Don't think I have ever heard of it!
     
  8. Ladiesman

    Ladiesman Active Member

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    Lake Geneva Wisconsin. Nice campground.
     
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  9. starcraft

    starcraft Member

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    How is the fuel economy when towing the TT compare to the PUP?
     
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  10. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

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    We never hear anything inside our pup at night. Main reason is we always have the roof air conditioner or fan on. It's so loud inside, it drowns out anything outside. None of us can sleep without a fan, so it works. The only thing I don't like about it is that we can't hear nature outside, which is something I enjoy while falling asleep.

    We had a family next to us pack up an extensive tent camping site, with two tents and a kitchen, two vehicles, bikes, tons of stuff, and a couple little kids ... all before we woke up in the morning and never heard a single sound. Slept right through it. Maybe our a/c ran them off ... [LOL]
     
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  11. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    No trailer, Odyssey gets about 19mpg mixed driving.
    With PUP, I could cruise 75-80mph easily at about 17-18mpg. Wind didn’t really matter.

    With TT, totally different ballgame. I cruise 60-62mph at about 12mpg, no wind. I can tell that works the van hard enough. Our six speed often downshifts out of sixth to fifth and sometimes even fourth up hills, running revs at 4500-5000 or more for a minute. I’m slower than 90% of traffic, but no one has made any “gestures” at me thinking I’m too slow where the speed limit is 70mph.

    Wind matters with TT. Tailwinds are nice - van cruises nicely and I get up to 13mpg at 60mph. Headwinds suck - van works extra hard, downshifts/revs high more often and we drop as low as 10mpg at 60mph.

    The other 10% of traffic are semis going slower than me. In those cases, I can get the Odyssey up to 70mph to pass them, but mpgs drop to about 9-10 and it simply doesn’t feel as stable to go that fast.
     
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  12. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    Well put. Having hard sides is better than tent material for several reasons: bad weather protection, security, animal safety and noise insulation. That said, we could have lived with our PUP much longer than we did if it had A/C, which really has two critical benefits versus not having A/C - cooling interior on hot days and providing white noise for sleeping. I know someone is gonna say “well you can get white noise from a white noise maker or fan or yada yada...” Not the same. A humming A/C drowns out exterior noise with a robust, soothing sound while also cooling down the air on a hot night. No tabletop noise maker, fantastic fan, bunk end fans or anything can match the great sleeping environment real A/C makes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
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  13. HappyTraveler

    HappyTraveler Active Member

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    Two things that used to bother me with tent camping, having light shine through the tent while trying to sleep and hearing everything from other campers.
    Both of these things are not a problem with the pup.
    Having the reflectix in the bunkend windows and black out curtains all around has taken care of the light problem. The a/c running blocks out all other noise.
    We sleep great in the pup.
     
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  14. starcraft

    starcraft Member

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    We are getting 21 MPG towing our PUP on a Sienna and DW is already saying it is taking too much gas. lol. When going uphill I usually take the truck lane. Never had a need to push the van too hard. Good for the engine as well.
     
  15. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    Well said. I love my pup, but I’m really looking forward to going dark as soon as the time is right. I don’t mind setting up, but I’m really tired of packing up on the last morning. I plan on eventually getting another truck, but until then the Sienna is our TV. I’ll be under all the limits and will definitely take the time to set everything up correctly. I’m confident it will handle it great until I do get a truck. I need to wait a few more years then start playing Devil’s Advocate to convince my dad he needs a new truck so I can buy his for cheap [:D]

    I have my eye on the Jayco 154BH myself. We don’t spent time inside except to sleep, so if we are stuck inside once in a blue moon it will be fine to set the table up. Otherwise it will stay as a bed and can use small folding tables and just sit on the edge of the bed. There’s one for rent on RV Share locally, so I’ll bite the bullet and rent it out for a weekend at some point just to see how it tows before taking the plunge. It would be the worst case scenario that way since it won’t have a WDH, so it handles fine that way, it should be a breeze with a good adjusted WDH.
     
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  16. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    ^— Sounds good to me! I would like a truck. I already started eyeing up Sierras, Super Duties, 4runners and Tundras, but I think I’ll wait. More power and stability would be nice, but our Odyssey is doing fine. I think you will feel the same way with a 154BH behind your Sienna. Really. Without a WDH might work since the 154BH tongue is only 305#, which is around what my PUP ran too. It’s great that you can try towing it before you buy. The Sienna, especially an AWD one, will make a fine TV for the 154BH, 174BH or 184BS. Go for it. Then get a bigger TV when the time is right. That’s what I’m doing.

    How big is your family? As far as those floorplans, all are great and provide all the TT upgrades to a PUP a family of 4 or 5 wants/needs, but still towable with a small TV. We absolutely love ours. Walk through them all. The 154BH is fine if you don’t need the seating space and won’t break down bed every day. The 174BH has a perma bed, but the table is too small to seat a family. The 184BS has a perma bed, table for 4 or 5 and feels much bigger than both because of the slide.

    I like this guy’s walkthroughs. I watched his 184BS twice before buying, then once again after camping for a week. He pretty much nailed it. I’m sure the same is true for the 154BH.

     
  17. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    Family of 4, kids are 2 and 6, so plenty of time before we would outgrow any of the SLX 7’s. We’re all short too, so that helps.

    I love Josh at Haylett’s I’ve been following him for a couple years. They are only 5 hours from me, so if we decide to go new whenever do buy something, I think I’ll have to at least see what they can do. It would be a fun road trip to pick up a new TT.
     
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  18. jerbear

    jerbear Active Member

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  19. jerbear

    jerbear Active Member

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    We are ready to make the move too. Im 74 and while I can do the popup yet ,im ready to just hook up to a travel trailer. Just maybe next summer we can make the switch . My wife dont like the popup moving in the wind when she's trying to sleep .I on the other hand find that the rocking a little helps me sleep better . We live in a good location for T.T. shopping however the only price brake we get is maybe shipping charges but who knows . Anyway thats my story and I'm sticking to it LOL..
     
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  20. Ladiesman

    Ladiesman Active Member

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    You wont regret the move. I promise!
     
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