Newbie Questions

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Newbie Questions

Post  Climber on Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:38 pm

Hey guys and gals,
I posted this on another forum but did not get much help. Hoping yall can help me out!

I have been looking around the web for a while and seem to be finding a bit of contradictory info. I am the "new" owner of a 20ft 1998 Thor Wanderer Lite. This is my first time owning a TT and only the 5th time I have ever stepped foot in one! I have no idea where to even start...
A few questions I'm pondering:

- How do I learn about how to set up the TT safely for towing? I have read the forum a bit but have no idea what a Equalizer, WD hith, etc... even means. I have a 2011 Tundra with 10K tow capacity and the TT is 2,900lbs empty. Can i just hook this to my 2" ball and take off?
- I don't have the user manual and Thor told me that this TT line was sold to Thor CA and then MVRP who has since gone out of business. Therefore, I don't know anything about setting this up to test out water, propane, AC, etc..
- The TT has some rotten wood in the corners and needs repairing. I'm wanting to tackle this myself so is it as easy as tearing off the walls and replacing? Or, should I go to a camper repair store? Is this an expensive fix?

The good news: The TT frame is in overall good shape and the shell, tires, axle, springs, etc... look very good. I'm really excited about taking on this project and hope to be able to take our two little boys out for the inaugural trip this spring!

Sorry in advance as I know this is complete newbie stuff but I am thankful for any advice or suggestions you will be willing to share.

Thanks,
Chris

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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  chuck on Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:48 pm

Welcome to VOLUNTEER CAMPERS.. We don't have a bunch of members.. but we do have some who have made similar repairs, modifications, etc.

I am sure others will have some suggestions..

As for towing.. I am an advocate of towing safely. Your TUNDRA should have no problem pulling that travel trailer (TT). A weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) may not be necessary.. but I would highly recommend some sort of "Sway Control".

WDH is used to kind of equal out the trailer weight and the tow vehicle weight. Have you ever seen a truck pulling a trailer and the TT seems to be pulling the back end of the truck down? A WDH will solve the problem and make for a better, safer towing experience. Here is what I mean:


However.. your TUNDRA probably won't have much of a problem with weight distribution. But.. a WDH wouldn't hurt.. and will just make things safer. Some WDHs come with "sway control" (the EQUALIZER).

You should have "sway control" of some kind.. If you don't get it with a WDH.. you can purchase away bars as stand alone. The attach to the hitch and and then to the TT.. and keep the TT from swaying in wind.. or big trucks passing you on the road. SWAY control is a must (my opinion).

As for towing.. I would also look into a brake controller. I am sure your TT has electric brakes. The "controller" is mounted in the cab of the truck and is connected to the trailer brakes. There are different kinds of controller.. but they all do basically the same thing. They sense when you are applying your truck brakes.. and they send a signal to the trailer brakes so they will engage at the same time.

You can order the WDH and/or a sway control system new online usually cheaper than the area dealers will offer. You might even find a used WDH and/or sway bars used on Craigs list. If you buy new.. install instructions and "setting up" instructions will be included.. you can do this yourself.

Your truck may already have an easy "plug in" for the brake controller. Since you have an almost new TOYOTA.. I would consult a dealer for advice.

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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  chuck on Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:55 pm

by the way.. You don't have to buy "Equalizer" brand.. I have owned two.. and I really like them. But others have used different kidns of WDH and Sway control and are very happy. EQUALIZERS are not cheap.

you can learn more about the EQUALIZER here http://www.equalizerhitch.com/About%20Equal-i-zer/howitworks.php

here's more good info on WDH and Sway control: http://www.etrailer.com/faq-weightdistribution.aspx

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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  merrykalia on Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:54 pm

We also use the Equalizer brand of WD hitch with a Reese sway controller. I don't really know why, but when we purchased our camper, that is what came with it from the original owner. It works wonderfully. It also has load levelers on it, which comes in really handy with the size of our TT (35', 6820 lbs).

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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  Richard on Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:07 pm

On the rotted wood, if you are handy with tools, you can do this. Often the places you need to access require more work in the disassembly and re assembly, than the actual repair will need. That being said, go ahead and do everything well and right to your eye while you have the area apart. Do not cut corners, nor do cover ups or patches, or else you will be doing it over. Still, I have done zillions of heavy duty mods to my camper. You just gotta get in there and see what needs to be done. You sure do not want to pay a camper repair shop by the hour to do stuff you can do yourself. Just be patient and go slow. You can find manuals for most of the individual components online. Each of these will advise you on how to setup or test that component. The RV manual is mostly a packet of these individual manuals. It is not like a car owner's manual.

When you set it up, remember to get it level and chock the wheels. Level can be accomplished by backing or pulling the low-side tires up onto 2 x 8 boards. I have two screwed together. Once you get it side-to-side level, you use the tounge jack to level it front to back. Once that is done, you put down the stabilizer jacks under each corner. These are just to stop shaking, not for holding the weight of the trailer.

Once it is all set up and level, you hook up the water, electric, sewer. The propane is last because of the water heater.

Then there is the awning and other extras that you may or may not have. It is all pretty straightforward, but easier if someone shows you. I agree with Chuck on the anti sway and brake controller. I got my brake controller at Northern Tool, I got the cheapest one they had and installed it myself. It works fine. Without the controller, the brakes won't work.

What town are you in. If it is Tri-cities, I can come over and help you.
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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  Climber on Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:21 pm

Wow, thanks for all the fast replies! My family and I are really excited about learning about camping in a TT. I have done tons of backpacking and a good bit of car camping so not worried about all that stuff. Its the self contained TT that has me scratching my head.

This TT has new plumbing throughout so I think that part will be fine. The propane system has not been used in many years so I'm wondering if I should just replace all the lines? The propane range looks like it was only used once or twice. The story with this TT is that someone bought it and didn't use it much and parked it behind their house for years without checking for leaks.

I've done a lot of carpentry work so I'm pretty sure I can get the inside sorted out but the more I poke and prod it seems the more old water damage I'm finding. I'm guessing I will need to replace the entire front and back ends with new inside walls. The aluminum shell looks great but the roof must have had a substantial leak at one time. Seems to be dry now and it has not been covered.

Thanks again and any tips for the tearout/rebuild will be greatly appreciated!

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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  KralCamper on Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:43 pm

Climber wrote:This TT has new plumbing throughout so I think that part will be fine. The propane system has not been used in many years so I'm wondering if I should just replace all the lines? The propane range looks like it was only used once or twice. The story with this TT is that someone bought it and didn't use it much and parked it behind their house for years without checking for leaks.

I've done a lot of carpentry work so I'm pretty sure I can get the inside sorted out but the more I poke and prod it seems the more old water damage I'm finding. I'm guessing I will need to replace the entire front and back ends with new inside walls. The aluminum shell looks great but the roof must have had a substantial leak at one time. Seems to be dry now and it has not been covered.

Thanks again and any tips for the tearout/rebuild will be greatly appreciated!

We have a 2000 Trail Lite Bantam Hybrid Travel Trailer (HTT). As far as the propane lines go, ours are still fine and we use the propane primarily for the hot water heater. If you are worried about the stability of the lines and know of a good HVAC person, I would give them a call and ask if they could come out and check the lines and system for any leaks before replacing any of the lines. Chances are they are still good and will continue to give you good service for years to come. In my opinion, the lines that are exposed to the weather, ie:the lines that connect directly to the tanks are the most vulnerable to deterioration and can be replaced easily.

As for the interior walls, make sure that you don't have any roof leaks before replacing/repairing the walls. The worst thing is to do all of that work and then find you still have a leak somewhere and will have to re-do everything. I am also comfortable with carpentry and am about to launch into a partial floor replacement but need to get the source leak fixed first. Good luck! Hope to see you camping!

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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  Richard on Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:40 pm

Climber, my number one tip is to take lots of pictures as you go, so you can find that little thing you did not notice during demolition. Also, do not force anything. The aluminum is a skin, the frame is wood, so brace things up. The skin won' support the roof. I agree with Dave that the propane lines are almost certainly still good. You can pick up detectors at Camping World or online that will give you piece of mind. If that roof used to leak, and you can not find evidence of a repair, you can bet it still leaks under the right circumstances. The rubber replacement stuff is expensive, but you can not use the cheaper mobile home "cool seal" stuff. It will not stand up to the flexing that travel trailers experience. The roof is the first thing to be absolutely sure of.
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Re: Newbie Questions

Post  Richard on Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:48 pm

Yes, I learned the "cool seal" lesson the hard way, years and years ago. A buddy. Bought one of those little two room office size trailers for a hunting cabin. We did the cool seal at his home, and when we moved it to the woods it leaked worse than when we started. We thought we had it fixed with more cool seal on site. It started leaking again inside the walls. We learned this when someone leaned against a wall and almost went through. The frame and such may still be down in those woods, unless someone got them and reused them as a utility trailer, or sold them as scrap.

Be sure about the roof! Fix it, haul it, set up, take down, haul it again, then test it thoroughly with a hose before you fix the other stuff.
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