October 25, 2014, 05:21:08 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Calendar Gallery Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3
  Print  
Author Topic: Project: Re-Outfit Used Popup for 1500 lb. Towing Restriction.  (Read 8789 times)
OneMoreDay
Chocks-a-lot
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 440


Writer, teacher, mother, and wife...


« on: February 16, 2010, 06:20:20 PM »

Family of four, limited budget ($2000 total). Mission: Buy a used popup tent camper, tear out the heavy stuff, replace with new lightweight fittings in order to fit under the 1500 lb. limit of a 4-cylinder RAV4 with 2" hitch (already installed). (But it has to be cozy!)

Can two months of summer camping and togetherness save this family ($2000 won't include summer expenses, only cost of outfitting the camper)? I hope so. I'm betting on it. I'm the Mom. I'm a teacher; husband's unemployed now and is handy with electrical, plumbing, carpentry. Two girls, 14 and 10. It's been a rough couple of years, and we need a break; we're planning a two month trip this summer from Florida to the wondrous National Parks of the Rocky Mountains. At 50, I've never seen the Grand Canyon in person, and we want to experience the thrills of nature from Arizona to Montana.

Care to follow along? I need to start with a great lightweight trailer with very good canvas.

My first question: any recommendations for a great basic trailer? Coleman/Fleetwood, Palomino, Starcraft? We've camped a few times in tents, but never with an RV. It needs to be light (10 foot base?) with great canvas/screens and an easy setup mechanism. We don't care about cushions, toilets, or even sinks or propane stoves. We expect to figure out our own solutions (air mattresses, portable toilet for-emergencies-only, small sink will see limited use (so hopefully very little tankage required), basic 2-burner propane stove will be used outside. In place of a dinette, I envision two large coolers (one for cold food, one for cabinet food) with foam covers (all strapped in somehow), with a light table in between. In place of a fixed sofa, I envision a foam sofa, velcroed in. In place of heavy wood cabinetry, I envision lightweight aluminum or Rubbermaid cabinetry.

This will be a several-month project, obviously. We need to use our existing RAV4, and can't afford a new towing vehicle. But what do you think? Can it be done?

Mary, from Florida
Logged

1999 10' Jayco Eagle Qwest with a total bodylift
2007 Saturn Relay (tows the popup without a hiccup!)
Spirit Deer
PUX is my life
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 14999

Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota


« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2010, 06:58:42 PM »

That's going to be tough.

Right off the top, you have to deduct, most likely, the weight of your passengers except for a 150-pound driver.  Check your car's manual for more specific info.

Then you have the weight of the trailer itself, all bedding, gear, clothing, supplies, food, coolers, etc, etc.  It'll add up very fast.

Then you're looking at towing in the mountains, at or above your vehicle's limits.  Not good.

Have you considered a small utility trailer and a good tenting set-up?
Logged

Rae, Fred, Sugar, and Minnesota

2013 Aliner Expedition Titanium Edition (Ty)
2002 Chevy Avalanche (Avvy)
OneMoreDay
Chocks-a-lot
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 440


Writer, teacher, mother, and wife...


« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2010, 07:14:51 PM »

Don't I know it, Spirit Deer. That's why I'm here, for encouragement  Cheesy

Luckily, the kids and hubby are skinny.

Seriously, though, we towed a UHaul with about 2000 pounds over Grand Mesa (western CO) on Hwy 50 with this RAV4 a couple of years ago. That's no sissy road; and I will always be grateful that the Great Spirit kept Other Motorists Far Away From Us during that stint. So I know what you mean. But, there are trails around the really steep inclines, and when necessary, we will take them.

If we can't make a popup work, I'm willing to fall back on a good tenting setup. But I'm not sure the kids are, if you know what I mean. So I mean to pursue this option first if I can get some constructive advice. It's hard to figure out what the bare weight of some of these popup trailers are, absent the fixtures. Any ideas there?
Logged

1999 10' Jayco Eagle Qwest with a total bodylift
2007 Saturn Relay (tows the popup without a hiccup!)
Spirit Deer
PUX is my life
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 14999

Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota


« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2010, 07:26:14 PM »

I'd say you'd definitely need to start with an eight-foot box.

No, I don't have any idea what a trailer would weigh if you gutted it.
Logged

Rae, Fred, Sugar, and Minnesota

2013 Aliner Expedition Titanium Edition (Ty)
2002 Chevy Avalanche (Avvy)
OneMoreDay
Chocks-a-lot
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 440


Writer, teacher, mother, and wife...


« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2010, 07:41:43 PM »

Eight-foot box, that's pretty tight. Two huskies and a kitty? (I saw your pretty grey tabby on the camping photo.)

I forgot to mention we also have a cocker spaniel and a part-Siamese cat that we rescued from the runoff drain. It's getting crowded in that 8-foot box...they'll be inhaling nature alongside us, I'm afraid...

I wish I knew the base weight of these trailers. I think I will email a couple of manufacturers and find that out. I'll post whatever I find out.
Logged

1999 10' Jayco Eagle Qwest with a total bodylift
2007 Saturn Relay (tows the popup without a hiccup!)
austinado16
Guest
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2010, 08:03:20 PM »

It's doable, but it's going to be a real challenge.  Not only are you guys going to be pushing it as far as load/weight goes, you're planning on traveling at a time when air temps are highest, and you want to get up into the elevations.  (the Grand Canyon South Rim is 7,000' and the north rim is 8,000.....and coming through AZ it will be 100 something during the day and 90 something at night.

What you're wanting is an early 80's Starcraft, specifically their Venture line.  These were their lightest models, and they came full featured, and big.  They were built to be towed by the 4 cylinder sedans of the time.  You'll find the Colemans of the era will also be light, but they generally don't have refrigerators and may not have heaters.

I wouldn't modify it.  You're not really going to save much weight, and you'll be putting back weight and spending more money.....for example, getting rid of the nice carry-out stove on a Starcraft, you'll spend money on some sort of cook stove and then have to still carry it.

Here's what you're looking for.  This is an '84 Starcraft Venture.  I think it was 1,100lbs, 10' box, and there was a bed extension for the front bunk which made that bunk almost a King, by bringing the sleeping area "into" the camper further.  It was an optional accessory at the time.  The rear bunk was a double/full size.  Came from the factory with electric brakes, carry-out stove, sink w/hand pump, and 2 way Dometic fridge.  I added a Suburban gravity furnace to this one, which it also would have had as a factory option.





Start looking for campers now, in a wide radius, and be willing to travel to pick it up.  Finding a nice old camper that's nice, or that needs only minimal work is going to be a real challenge.  

You're also going to have to investigate adding a transmission cooler to the RAV, and a Tekonsha Prodigy break controller to operate the electric brakes on the camper, as well as wiring up a 7 pin wiring harness so you can have all the equipment on the camper functioning while you tow.......electric brakes, battery charging, running lights/turn-sigs/brake lights, and maybe reverse lights.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 08:21:40 PM by austinado16 » Logged
OneMoreDay
Chocks-a-lot
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 440


Writer, teacher, mother, and wife...


« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2010, 08:10:39 PM »

Thank you, Austin! I was born in TX (Victoria), so I especially appreciate your help Grin

I was wondering about transmission cooling and brakes for the trailer, so it is validating to hear your advice on that subject, too. We can do that.

Don't think there's much we can do about the temperature, but hey. We won't grow very much if we don't adapt to our environment.

Thanks again for your recommendation. Anyone else? I'm all ears!
Logged

1999 10' Jayco Eagle Qwest with a total bodylift
2007 Saturn Relay (tows the popup without a hiccup!)
austinado16
Guest
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2010, 08:29:08 PM »

I added some photos above, so you can see what one of these look like.  (It's not for sale and I'm not trying to sell you anything.....just providing a visual)

Regarding the outfitting of the RAV, you guys really need to investigate the vehicle's recommend towing capacity and then work into a camper decision from there.  The other thing you need to consider is that a RAV4 is small, and these campers are wide and tall in comparison.  You're going to find it frustrating to tow, because you're going to be smaller than the camper and not readily able to see around or over it.  It's going to feel like you're towing a sheet of plywood behind you I think.

Have you guys thought about this?  What about buying a used Class C motorhome (the van frontend ones) and then spending your money buying fuel for it?
Logged
OneMoreDay
Chocks-a-lot
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 440


Writer, teacher, mother, and wife...


« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2010, 08:41:55 PM »

Nice! You're sure that this rig weighs in at only 1100 pounds? Very nice setup. It looks perfect for a family, but also looks heavier than we can pull with our cute but reliable and charismatic RAV4.

Honestly, I'm afraid my husband is convinced that 1500 pounds is the max, per Toyota specs. (I would push it; I'm the dreamer in the family.) Have we considered a trade-in on a heftier TV? Yes, but that opens a new can of worms that we'd prefer not to touch, if possible... the 2005 RAV is a dependable little workhorse, and trading her in on an unknown quantity (Toyota Highlander? Ford Explorer?) is a little scary.

Logged

1999 10' Jayco Eagle Qwest with a total bodylift
2007 Saturn Relay (tows the popup without a hiccup!)
austinado16
Guest
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2010, 09:33:28 PM »

There are a bunch of great vehicles that would be better TV's than your RAV.  It's not an "unknown" issue really, you just need to figure out what you guys are really looking for and then start shopping.

Starcraft always built the lightest models back in the day.  It was just part of how they did things. Even their biggest, most expensive campers (like my Nova) were only 1,400lbs empty with a max of 2,000-2,100lbs.
Logged
radimus
Back-er-in-er
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 798



« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2010, 07:22:05 AM »

I would start looking around for a decent older used pop-up with an 8 ft box, as you're likely to find one that is within your tow limit.  Look for something with the dinette going across the back of the trailer and you'll get a bigger dinette versus a camper with the dinette installed on the street side.  The side mounted dinettes tend to be shorter than a full length bed.  This floorplan will give you at least a full-sized bed off each end and a twin bed with the dinette collapsed.

As for all of you fitting in an 8 ft box, you could do it.  I would get a good sized canopy or screen room that could be installed over the picnic table, so there is a place to go other than inside the camper when the weather gets bad.
Logged

rad

hybrid Red 2007 Starcraft Antigua 215S
 SUV Red 1997 GMC Yukon * 1999 GMC Suburban  SUV Black
1991 Ford F-150   Pickup Blue
austinado16
Guest
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2010, 12:04:22 PM »

Here are a couple shots of a Coleman "Redwood" from the mid '80s with an 8' box and the end mounted dinette.  This one didn't have a fridge, just a Coleman cooler that could stand upright like a fridge and sit on the counter, and it took a block of ice in a compartment and made you ice water as it kept the cooler cold inside.

I think this camper was maybe 900lbs with a 90lb tongue weight and was going to be pulled by a RAV4.

They are very small inside and great for say, a single parent with 1 or 2 young kids (what these folks were intending) or a couple of adults just starting out in PUPs and who don't mind being really cozy, and towing with their small TV, or existing car, etc.  But for a family, I would think this would be too small, and sort of miserable because with all of you inside, like at night, or during poor weather, you'd be asking one person to move, so another person could get by and it might get a little "close" when everyone's trying to get dressed, or undressed and into PJ's, etc.




« Last Edit: February 17, 2010, 12:11:57 PM by austinado16 » Logged
beemerphile1
Parking Heckler
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 3092


NE Ohio


« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2010, 12:41:08 PM »

As already said, you might not save much weight by gutting the trailer and you will spend a lot of money.  Once you get one you will be surprised by how thin and flimsy the cabinets and such are.

You will definitely want a trailer with brakes and a lot of them do not have them.

Don't get too awful hung up on the 1,500 pounds.  Do a little Google searching and find the tow rating for your Rav4 in the UK.  I would guess it is probably quite a bit more.  Tow ratings are reduced for the US market due to liability issues. 

With that in mind be aware that the weights listed by most trailer manufacturers are grossly understated.  The trailers usually weigh more.  Ignore the claimed dry weight and assume you will be towing the GVWR of the trailer.  The GVWR should be on a tag on the left front corner of the trailer.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2010, 12:44:49 PM by beemerphile1 » Logged

Tim
32 nights camped in 2014
30 nights camped in 2013
33 nights camped in 2012
36 nights camped in 2011

Momma said; "If you argue with a fool, it makes it hard to tell which one is the fool".


2009 Pontiac Vibe 1.8L towing 2009 Aliner Sport  Chalet/AlinerCar Blue
1998 Ford E150 towing 2006 Weekend Warrior FK1900 TravTrl Long Blue Van Blue
1996 BMW R1100GS
2005 Trek Madone
1994 Burley tandem
radimus
Back-er-in-er
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 798



« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2010, 01:15:25 PM »

Quote
Don't get too awful hung up on the 1,500 pounds.  Do a little Google searching and find the tow rating for your Rav4 in the UK.  I would guess it is probably quite a bit more.  Tow ratings are reduced for the US market due to liability issues.

That and the fact that they didn't design the unibody to handle the tongue weights of US trailers.

Logged

rad

hybrid Red 2007 Starcraft Antigua 215S
 SUV Red 1997 GMC Yukon * 1999 GMC Suburban  SUV Black
1991 Ford F-150   Pickup Blue
OneMoreDay
Chocks-a-lot
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 440


Writer, teacher, mother, and wife...


« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2010, 02:32:16 PM »

Thank you, everyone, for some great tips! I found a terrific website that searches the internet for you to locate used popup deals, and I'll share with you:

http://www.camperfinds.com/popup-campers

This pulls info daily from the internet, and you can sort by price, manufacturer, or locality. You probably already had this one, but if you didn't, it is my offering!

We went to see a 1969 Starcraft with an 8 foot box today; the pics looked pretty good, and the asking price is $1000. We figured it didn't matter what shape fixtures were in, since we were looking at it as a "project". But the canvas was in much worse shape than described, and the frame of the top (wood) was rotten. This one would require way too much work.

I'm still looking for an '80s Starcraft Venture, or a Coleman Redwood, in central Florida to take a look at. Keep those recommendations coming!
Logged

1999 10' Jayco Eagle Qwest with a total bodylift
2007 Saturn Relay (tows the popup without a hiccup!)
Pages: [1] 2 3
  Print  
 
Jump to:  



Powered by SMF 1.1.8 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines LLC