Newbies to trailer camping

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carpenterminator

New member
Joined
Jul 10, 2005
Posts
3
All,

  My wife and I are finally taking the plunge, and are considering a trailer.  I have a few questions and thought that I would trust this community more than the dealer.

1.) We like the '06 Coachman Cascade 21 ft (218FL lite) because of the layout and we seem to be getting a pretty good price at $12K.  Any feedback about Coachman?

2.) I have a GMC Sierra Denali with 4 wheel steering, and it tows very nicely, but I've never towed anything this large.  This truck has a pretty good reputation for towing stability, but should I consider hitch upgrades, stabilizer bars, snake oil, etc.?

3,) Is the fiberglass worth the $1K?  We are in hail country here in North Texas, but would it pulverize either one?  Hiow much more durable is fiberglass?  Does aluminum have advantages?

4.) We've printed the checklist, and plan to use it where applicable.  How many hours should I allocate to inspect and pickup the trailer?

  Thanks for the prompt replies, we've got the itch and would appreciate going into it with all the knowledge.

Best Regards,
Mike Carpenter
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
1.) We like the '06 Coachman Cascade 21 ft (218FL lite) because of the layout and we seem to be getting a pretty good price at $12K.? Any feedback about Coachman?

A vacation trailer is a simple box on wheels filled with appliances and electronics made by a handful of manufucturers like Dometic, Suburban, and Coleman.? Those items all carry? their manufacturers guarantee.
Beyond them, what you see is pretty much what you get.

2.) I have a GMC Sierra Denali with 4 wheel steering, and it tows very nicely, but I've never towed anything this large.? This truck has a pretty good reputation for towing stability, but should I consider hitch upgrades, stabilizer bars, snake oil, etc.?

If you have the 2005, your rig will pull 8000# according to Trailer Life's ratings, which see at http://trailerlife.com.  Go to the Tech section.    What does your trailer weigh, dry?  Add about 500# gear, and the weight of your water tank filled.  If the total is less than 6,400#, which allowsa 20% headroom for towing in the mountain west, you are in business.

Yes, even with a short, light trailer use a weight distribution hitch and anti-sway devices.  It will contribute to both the stability of your tow vehicle by reducing oversteer, and the trailer, by reducing yaw due to side winds and shock waves of passing trucks and busses.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,070
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Fiberglass will usually stand up to moderate hail without surface damage, whereas aluminum dents fairly easily.  The aluminum isn't really damaged in these cases, but cosmetically it may be a mess. Large hail ("golf balls") can damage either one.  The advantage of aluminum is that it is somewhat lighter in weight, perhaps 300-500 lbs on a trailer the size you are considering.

Coachman is largely focused on the entry-price market level and is probably no better or no worse than other inexpensive Rvs. For occasionbal use it shold be OK, but other brands would be probably hold up better under more frequent use.  All Rv manufacturers buy their appliances (stoves, fridge, water heater, furnace) from the same few Rv appliance manufacturers, so the Coachman will be the same as any other brand in that regard (though any specific model may have higher or lower grade/priced versions of those appliances).  When comparing trailers, make sure you not the features of the various appliances installed, since one may have a better grade of water heater or fridge tan another.  These can explain differences in price.
 

carpenterminator

New member
Joined
Jul 10, 2005
Posts
3
Carl & Gary,

  Thanks for all the feedback.  We looked at another 20 trailers or so today, and decided that since we are just entering the community, as it were, an entry level, lightweight trailer is probably about right.  My father is retired and has a really fine 5th wheel (his 3rd RV).  With my 20 days of vacation a year, I don't get the use to justify some of the really fine RVs we saw while shopping.

  Several were really well made (steel / aluminum frames, ect.), well appointed (LCD TVs, etc.), and thoughtfully provisioned (full length beds, etc.)  Most had mediocre quality, at least from the automotive standard.

  In any case, we're excited to get started, and to leave tent camping behind.  I would have thought my pickup truck would have been more than adequate for this little trailer.  The trailer is 3650 empty and is max'd out at 6,050 lbs.  The truck is apparently max'd out at 10,000 lbs (03 Sierra Denali was higher than 05- they dropped Quadra Steer).  Other owners have weighed trucks like mine on a scale at 6000 lbs.  Does this limit me to 4000 lbs (only 350 lbs cargo (!)).

  I'm sorry, I know you probably get REALLY tired of explaining this to newbies, but it's hard to believe that a relatively strong truck and a relatively light trailer are this close to the borderline.  I understand the need for a distribution adapter and stabilizer.
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
In any case, we're excited to get started, and to leave tent camping behind.? I would have thought my pickup truck would have been more than adequate for this little trailer.? The trailer is 3650 empty and is max'd out at 6,050 lbs.? The truck is apparently max'd out at 10,000 lbs (03 Sierra Denali was higher than 05- they dropped Quadra Steer).? Other owners have weighed trucks like mine on a scale at 6000 lbs.? Does this limit me to 4000 lbs (only 350 lbs cargo (!)).

Trucks have two ratings of concern here.? ?The first is the tow rating which is the maximum weight that a trailer can have.? ?The second is the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating --? GCVWR.? ? The GCVWR = trailer weight + truck weight + truck payload + passengers.? ?Trailer Life provides both ratings for each tow vehicle it lists.
 

carpenterminator

New member
Joined
Jul 10, 2005
Posts
3
Carl,

  Thanks, I understand my mistake now. BTW, I downloaded the entire "Tow guide," it's full of great info.

  I actually had the tow capacity mixed up with GCVWR.  I'd have to have the trailer ~50% overloaded to max the GCVWR.  Maybe if we visited the beach and got some sand on the floor (~20 inches) ;)
 

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