NEW TO RV'ing - Need advice

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tommydamic68

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Sep 3, 2018
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6
Hello all, am about to get into rv 'ing and just trying to make the right decision. here are my "stats" and where my thoughts are. Any help or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Who: The majority of the time we are camping it will be 2 - wife and I. May have family stay here and there, 2 at a time I'm guessing. So 4 to 5 at times in the camper but not often.
Towing: Have a 2013 Dodge Durango (HEMI) AWD with 7 pin and tow package, no electric brake yet, but do have a wire that came with truck for that?, not sure how much i need to invest there, the dealer wanted an additional 900.00 to install entire towing package, stabilizers and a bunch of other stuff. NEVER towed myself except a trailer with 4 wheeler, dealer says the TT must be about 1000 pounds under my max tow capacity which is 7200 pounds so a bit limited there.
Trailer: We like space, we really like the Jayco Jay flight SLX double axle -one slide. out of a bunch of TT's it was our preferred layout, no kids so we don't need bunks, many had that and we didn't like the bunks at all - so not an option.
Location: We will most likely leave the trailer somewhere seasonal that offers storage in the winter. We live in NJ and found a nice place in the Poconos PA (but HARD to get into being its so popular, Otter lake camp ground) and one we have yet to look at down at the shore (near ocean) that is pricey but looks like all the amenities we are looking for in both locations.
Finances: our budget is about $20-$22,000.00 cash. We prefer NEW.
Additional questions: doesn't have a ladder, do i need one? What extras are a must that i can buy now and not later? Electric trailer jack up front? covers for the wheels? The dealer is also including all hoses and other starter type stuff needed for camping.
Thanks in advance.
 

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darsben

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Tow capacity is only one factor and usually not the most restrictive.
Your PAYLOAD capacity will usually be the limiting factor.
The Payload capacity of your truck is on a placard near the drivers door..
I think your Durango will have a max payload of around 1500 more or less but your placard is the final authority.
Now you need to know THE GROSS WEIGHT of the trailer, not the dry weight. You go camping with the trailer loaded so gross.
Let us assume that you try to tow a 7200 lb gross weight trailer. between 10-15% of the weight will be transferred to the tow vehicle. Lets go in the middle at 12%. that is 860 lbs of your payload gone. Now subtract the weight of occupants, dog, anything else you put in vehicle.
Are you over or under your theoretical payload max (remember you placard governs)
 

clown9644

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Jun 8, 2018
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Toledo OH
I hope I can help.  I will respond to as much as I can.

Brake:  First thing you need to do is check your Durango manual or dealer.  I never had one but my Ford with towing package had a plug under the dash.  I see a cable for Dodge on Amazon for $10.13 and a series of controllers ranging from $75 to 140.  I used a Prodigy with mine as they have the capability of matching how hard you are pushing the brake on the truck, the harder you push the more it does the trailer.  It is not connected to your brakes, it just knows and it works.  if you have the plug you can do it yourself in about an hour, total cost of under $150.

Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH):  Your Durango has the receiver part already.  You can buy a really nice hitch from Amazon that has the sway control built in for $217 and it is a simple process to set it up correctly, tape measure and some wrenches are all you need.  Total cost  $217.  Word of caution- I had to move from a trailer to a Motor Home as my arthritis became so bad I had problems putting WDH on, THEY ARE HEAVY!  You will be putting on and taking off every time you hook up for a trip and when you get back.

Weight- I was impressed by your dealer mentioning the 1000 pounds.  The weight on the camper is dry, no LP, water, clothes, etc. are on that number.  You have 1000 pounds for YOUR STUFF and that isn't hard to pass.  Of course if your going to a full hook up you tow with no water in the unit (water weighs 8.3 pounds a gallon) so if you have a 40 gallon you added 175 pounds of just water!  Clothes, food, pots and pans, all those extra lawn chairs etc. add up fast too.  It appears you are not going to use the camper as a travel unit but a semi permanent getaway.  One thing to consider if you found a camp ground you really like, see if they have any Park Models for sale.  These are a permanent unit but can be moved.  They have more space in the bathroom and a full kitchen.  I have an older Motor Home I use in OH but a Park Model for my Florida home.

Ladder is useless.  I don't trust them and when I need to inspect the roof I lean my ladder to it and go up.  WARNING: not all campers roof can support people or stuff, make sure before you go on the roof!  No ladder does make me wonder.  I would not be too worried about electric Jack as you are not moving it that often, they are a luxury.  Starter Packages come with all new units so no big favor their.  Things to consider, if you have an awning you should also get straps and ground units (the look like a wine opener on steroids that screw into the ground) as the wind can destroy a loose awning and you don't leave them up if your not going to be around- just begging for trouble.  You will need chemicals to keep your black and grey water smelling nice along with extension hoses for fresh water as well as drain.  the starter ones are too short.  I carry a 30 Amp extension cable for power as well.  You should also get a pressure regulator for you water hose, some parks have too high a pressure that will damage your plumbing.  I NEVER drink the water in my camper as I hook up to water systems that may or may not have really safe water so plan on using bottled water.  I carry a couple of large water tanks I fill at home for drinking water and brushing teeth.  Park water is used for shower only.  I use paper products but will wash my pots and pans and rinse with a little of my carried water.  I always get the pan above 140 degrees before putting in food as that will kill all bacteria.
Hope this helps.  Wish you were near Toledo, I have all that towing stuff, other than a Dodge cable, from all of my TT towing days you could have for next to nothing.
Good luck and welcome to Camping in style!
Dave

Towing capability-  Your Durango is a pretty stable towing package.  You definitely need the brake (most states law as well as for safety) and you will need a WDH
 

tommydamic68

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Sep 3, 2018
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This is what i found, the dealer is the one whom said we should be ok with this size trailer. Does this look ok?

 

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tommydamic68

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Sep 3, 2018
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clown9644 said:
Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH):  Your Durango has the receiver part already.  You can buy a really nice hitch from Amazon that has the sway control built in for $217 and it is a simple process to set it up correctly, tape measure and some wrenches are all you need.  Total cost  $217.  Word of caution- I had to move from a trailer to a Motor Home as my arthritis became so bad I had problems putting WDH on, THEY ARE HEAVY!  You will be putting on and taking off every time you hook up for a trip and when you get back.
Thanks for the great info- the dealer told me besides the "ball" on my truck, all other apparatus was on the trailer side, perhaps i misunderstood?
 

Alfa38User

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I don't see any payload numbers on that truck sticker but.... You should find a sticker on the drivers door post, often with yellow highlights, it is particular to YOUR truck, not for an imaginary trucks numbers as found in brochures and manuals. It should say something like " the maximum payload (or capacity) of this truck is..." The payload figure will include all options the truck was equipped with when it left the factory. You then have to subtract all additional loads such as passengers, dogs, kids, firewood etc and include the 10-12% of the trailer weight on the hitch. We often use the trailer gross weight or GVWR for this number.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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A WD hitch bridges the trailer and truck, so part of it installs on the truck (the ball mount and sockets for the springs bars) and part of the trailer (the other end point for the spring bars. And the bar themselves, of course, which join the two when connected but not permanently installed on either one (they get removed when unhitched).

I didn't see that $217 WD hitch that was mentioned, but here is an excellent one for $271 and you could install it yourself if you have a couple wrenches. They come with excellent instructions.

https://www.amazon.com/Fastway-94-00-1000-Distribution-Standard-Included/dp/B0071L3IFK


I'll second the motion for the excellent Tekonsha Prodigy or P3 brake controller.  If you don't care to DIY, make sure the dealer installs one of those and not some other brand.  They tend to use cheap units that yield more profit but they come up short when the going gets tough.  A few extra dollars here is well spent.
 

darsben

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DOES NOT LOOK OKAY!

To me the second placard gives you a payload of 1060 lbs.  So again a 7200 pound GROSS WEIGHT  trailer puts 860 pounds on the vehicle leaving you only 200 pounds for the wife, you, the dog and anything else you might put into the tow vehicle.
Will you die an instantaneous death if you exceed the limits? Probably not.
Will you be a happy person towing the trailer? If only exceed a little the you will be okay the more you exceed the less happy you will be.
I take exception with the guy trying to sell you the trailer. If the second placard is on your vehicle it would have taken him 2 minutes to ascertain what I m telling you. I would ask him how long  he has been selling RV's  if he states anything over a year I would  GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. He is IMO valuing his commission above your safety and happiness.
 

tommydamic68

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Sep 3, 2018
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6
darsben said:
  trailer puts 860 pounds on the vehicle leaving you only 200 pounds for the wife, you, the dog and anything else you might put into the tow vehicle.
Thanks for the info- when you say wife, dog and me, are you referecing "us" being in the trailer when in transient? Sorry for the dumb question as we would never be in trailer. or do you mean total weight with "us" - trailer and truck.
 

darsben

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The trailer if it is 7200 pound GROSS weight will put 860 lbs of its weight on the truck. That leaves only about 200 pounds of payload capacity and includes anything else you want to put into or onto the truck. That would include all passengers in the truck, the cooler of adult beverage, the dog(cat), clothes, tools, barbecue grill and of course the weight distributing hitch itself.
 

Optimistic Paranoid

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I'm into truck campers, not travel trailers, so this is not my area of expertise.  But I do know that short wheelbase vehicles don't tow as easily as long wheelbase vehicles do.

Looking at the short wheelbase on the Durango, and factoring in the fact that, apparently, it didn't come with a factory towing package, and my guess would be that you don't have enough tow vehicle for the trailer you'd like to buy.  Take a look at:

https://www.transwest.com/kansas-city/7-features-you-should-look-for-when-shopping-for-a-towing-vehicle

BTW, in addition to the trailer's WEIGHT, there is also the factor of how much WIND RESISTANCE it creates when you are pulling it down the road.  It acts just like you were trying to pull a parachute down the road.  If you look at your Durango's owner's manual, in the section on trailer towing, I think you will find they mention such a limitation, and tell you how much it is in square feet.

I'm going to close this by suggesting you spend $20 and get RV Education 101's DVD,  TRAILER TOWING, WEIGHTS, HITCH WORK, AND BACKING.

http://shop.rveducation101.com/trailer-towing-weights-hitch-work-backing-dvd-p23.php

I'm sure there are people here who will disagree with me.  Shucks, there are people here who disagree with me when I tell them the sun rises in the East.  All I can do is say: "I wouldn't do that if I was you."
 

tommydamic68

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Sep 3, 2018
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Optimistic Paranoid said:
I'm into truck campers, not travel trailers, so this is not my area of expertise.  But I do know that short wheelbase vehicles don't tow as easily as long wheelbase vehicles do.

Looking at the short wheelbase on the Durango, and factoring in the fact that, apparently, it didn't come with a factory towing package, and my guess would be that you don't have enough tow vehicle for the trailer you'd like to buy.  Take a look at:

https://www.transwest.com/kansas-city/7-features-you-should-look-for-when-shopping-for-a-towing-vehicle

BTW, in addition to the trailer's WEIGHT, there is also the factor of how much WIND RESISTANCE it creates when you are pulling it down the road.  It acts just like you were trying to pull a parachute down the road.  If you look at your Durango's owner's manual, in the section on trailer towing, I think you will find they mention such a limitation, and tell you how much it is in square feet.

I'm going to close this by suggesting you spend $20 and get RV Education 101's DVD,  TRAILER TOWING, WEIGHTS, HITCH WORK, AND BACKING.

http://shop.rveducation101.com/trailer-towing-weights-hitch-work-backing-dvd-p23.php

I'm sure there are people here who will disagree with me.  Shucks, there are people here who disagree with me when I tell them the sun rises in the East.  All I can do is say: "I wouldn't do that if I was you."
It did  come with the full towing package.
 

Optimistic Paranoid

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tommydamic68 said:
the dealer wanted an additional 900.00 to install entire towing package, stabilizers and a bunch of other stuff.

Guess I misunderstood this line from your original post.
 

tommydamic68

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Sep 3, 2018
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6
Well, looks like i'm going to have to rethink a few things...Surely don't want to down grade to a smaller trailer, and a new truck is out of the question.  :-\
 
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