5th Wheel & RV Trailer Insights

Tag: Tow Dolly

Culture and the RV Trailer in Europe

by on Jan.14, 2013, under RV Trailer

The world is becoming a smaller place and the widespread use of English means that the exposure to American ideas and American culture can often lead people to believe that we live in a mono-cultural world.

It isn’t quite true, however: While, as an American, you might have no trouble finding a can of Coke in Paris compared to, say, an American looking for a Coke in Paris in the 1930s, I find that there are still huge gaps in culture and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of the enclosed trailer.

Last summer, I spent three months living in seven different countries in Europe. I was working on a period novel set in 1890 so my research into current-day cultural differences made a pleasant change of pace for me. As well as that, I was travelling in and living in an rv trailer. The thing is that in Europe, nobody calls them that. They have a variety of names for them, but the Brits and the Irish call them camper vans or large camper vans (or, in Ireland, “feckin’ huge camper vans!”) For most Europeans, they’ve never heard of the term RV trailer except in American movies and, despite the fact that Europeans seem to be addicted to American films, this particular word has not crept into common usage. Hurray for American films.

I started my travels in Ireland and the first place I stayed in was in a camp site about two hours south of Dublin. I picked up my vehicle at Dublin Airport. It was a large one – the biggest camper van that they had and something that we in the States would call a car hauler or a toy hauler. But, as previously explained, the Irish tend to call it an oversized camper van.

The county is Wexford in a region that the Irish call “The Sunny South-east”. The word “sunny” was furthermost from my mind as a pulled into the site with my huge camper van. Contrary to popular opinion, the roads in Ireland aren’t so narrow – at least not as narrow as I had expected them to be. It was essentially a four-lane highway all the way down to Wexford. When I got there, the place looked really quaint. Camp sites in Ireland seem to be a lot smaller than they are at home and so well equipped. On that evening, there were a lot of people – mostly from abroad. There seemed to be a lot of what looked like converted equipment trailer vehicles from France and the occasional fifth wheeler from Germany. Plenty of English too, many of them with tents packed into flatbed trailers. I love trailers.

The atmosphere was really hospitable and multi-cultural. That was another surprise – the different nationalities there. I had expected to find that on the Continent proper, but Ireland sure seems to get its fair share of other visitors. We sat late into the night drinking cans of black beer and talking about flatbed trailers, with me educating my new friends on the subtle differences between American terms like toy hauler and atv trailer.

The next day, it was time to explore the rugged South-west of the country. The rain got heavier and the landscape got much prettier and it all reminded me of so many movies I’d seen at home. Then it was time to catch the ferry to see some more of Europe.

There’s a good ferry service from Cork to France and I joined a bunch of other Irish enclosed trailer owners on the Brittany Ferries ship and sailed to warmer climes. I’d only once before been on a ferry and had real rudimentary expectations. It turned out that the Irish and French really travel in style when visiting one another’s countries by boat. The ship was packed and they had a cinema on board, restaurants, bars, entertainment, a swimming pool, shops… you name it. I had a blast with all the folks I met on board.

The next morning at 7am, we disembarked. I was at the very back so I made a point of counting all the camper vans that drove off. 52 in all, with a large German-registered car hauler, a Dutch fifth wheeler and an Italian atv trailer. That’s a lot of trailers.

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Reasons to Love the Fifth Wheeler

by on Nov.04, 2012, under Fifth Wheeler

The fifth wheeler is, in many ways, something of a rebel. This radical dude of a vehicle surfs the fine line unashamedly between the universes of the trailer caravan and the motorhome, yet it doesn’t belong to either. It inhabits its own universe, cutting its own groove in a style that is all of its own.

When it comes down to it, however, and you really want to classify the 5th wheeler, then you’d have to come on the side of the caravan. The fact is that that this a car trailer that you can actually live out your life in perfect comfort; it’s an enclosed trailer with all the modern conveniences of a house but it’s a house with benefits. I love the fifth wheel I stay in.

We are lucky in the US to possess so much wide open space. Some people estimate that, even given the rapid and seemingly exponential rise in the world population as is, it would take another 4,000 years to fill the US of A right up. It means that you have an enormous and effectively endless landscape in which to explore with your rv trailer or whatever. People in Europe love their caravans, but they don’t have the whole range of stuff to attach to your car that we have here in the States. Ask any Brit or English-speaking continental what a 5th wheeler is and the chances are he or she won’t know what you’re talking about. Over there, the huge open spaces that we sometimes take for granted just don’t exist.

We got millions of acres of pure nothing that the Europeans can only dream of. That pure nothing is the difference. That pure nothing is space in which we can play and into which we’ve dreamed into existence a whole range of playthings. And my favorite is (no – not the toy hauler!) is the aforementioned friend with the additional wheel.

The maintenance is the first thing. Even in the most modest of fixed homes, you’re going to have pay an average of $2,000 a year and then some tax on top. When you take to the road like me and my wife, you’ll find that the maintenance costs go way down. Also, you learn to look after the basics of engine maintenance too, so you’re able to do all the stuff that many folks fork out for – stuff like getting your car serviced even though it’s running fine. In fact, I worked out that if you combine the average home maintenance and tax bill and the average car maintenance bill and subtracted the maintenance costs of your comfy heavy duty trailer, you save yourself about $2,500 every year. That’s the sort of money that don’t grow on trees.

And it’s comfortable. Boy, is it comfy! The first time I was in an enclosed trailer of any sort was in my parents atv trailer back in the late 1950s. Back then, the technology wasn’t so great and, even though I had a lot of fun, I got kind of tired of living in the atv trailer after a prolonged stay anywhere and I wasn’t impressed with the cold factor and the lack of warm washing facilities.
Having any kind of trailer is an asset.

So, for many years, I rejected the idea of even buying one myself, even though my wife was always suggesting it. Eventually, after pressure from the kids (they were getting older and louder), we invested in an rv trailer that looked like it had been converted from a car trailer and a large tree.

My eyes were opened. And the comfort factor has been ratched up another few notches since. Now, I actually find that sleeping in my 5th wheeler is more comfortable and warmer than sleeping in any of the houses I’ve lived in.

The other beauty of moving into a home with wheels is that you can sell your solid home and make one hell of a profit -the sort that you didn’t think it was possible to make as you go through life selling one house to afford a better one. The extra cash you have might be useful for college expenses and the like, or maybe buying that wine collection you always promised yourself.
I like saving money with a 5th wheel.

Whatever your own personal reasons, I guess I’m just someone who has found a wonderful way out of the normal way of life and even more wonderful of rejuvenating my life and my love life with the woman I love. I’ll be singing the praise of life in the fifth wheeler ‘til the day I die.

 

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Important Tips for Purchasing Utility Trailers

by on Oct.29, 2012, under Utility Trailers

Making the decision to buy a toy hauler, car trailer or RV trailer is the easy part. It takes a little more time to decide whether to buy a new or used utility trailer and what qualities to look for in order to get the best value for the money. One of the first things you want to do is inspect the plumbing and air conditioning vents in the trailer you are thinking about buying. Look over the seams, gaskets, screw heads and antennas to be sure there is a secure fit. The windows should also be in alignment and the seals tight fitting. The gaskets in the ramp and external door should have positive seals with good alignment. Make sure you check the weight specs of the ramps that come with your trailer RV to make sure the weight capacity is appropriate for what you plan to use it for. I like having ramps on the trailer.

You need to check the doors and their mechanisms to make sure they operate properly and have a tight and secure fit. You also want to make sure there are no leaks or any signs of water damage. Check all the light fixtures and switches to make sure they are operating properly. If there is a compartment for a generator the door should have a snug fit and the exhaust located as far as possible from windows.

It’s important when buying an RV trailer to have easy access to electricity, water, gas, cable and phone connections. Make sure you know where the dump valves are since you will use them frequently. Locate the propane regulator and be sure it designed downwind ventilation. It should also have a reinforced tank with a well-designed hold down system. Regardless of the type of trailer you’re buying the wheel sizes and tires should match and be the right size for the loading capacity of a particular trailer. I get the right tires for my trailer. There are many other items you may want to view, especially if you are planning to buy a used trailer RV, 5th wheeler or toy hauler.

The sales specialist at the dealership will help you learn about the appliances that are included in the RV trailer, toy hauler or 5th wheel. It’s important to inspect the features of all the appliances no matter how much time it takes. It is much better to be cautious than to buy something that has problems that do not surface until you’re on the road.

You should not hesitate about going over your trailer RV thoroughly before you take it off the lot. All of these RVs including 5th wheels and travel trailers come with built in appliances. Your salesperson will explain everything to you while you become familiar with everything including the air conditioning, furnace, hot water heater, generator, microwave, refrigerator, stove and oven. Take time to play with all the switches until you know exactly how they work.

Those who are in the market for a trailer RV need to take time to look over the fresh water pump that delivers the hot and cold water to the trailer. This mechanism pressurizes the water, so you need to know where to locate it and the fuse that operates it. You also need to know what is necessary when draining it for storage.

You need to make sure whether you have a receiver-style towing hitch which should be a square tube about two inches square or a ball-mounted hitch. If you don’t have either of these types of hitches just let the dealer know your towing capacity which you should have checked before you began looking for a travel trailer or 5th wheeler.

You need to locate the wiring system in your tow vehicle—this is essential since it holds responsibility for all the lights on your trailer. In order to have working clearance, tail and brake lights you will need to know where the wiring system is located. Most toy and car haulers have 7 way connectors while landscape, cargo or utility trailers have 4 way connectors because these trailers do not have brakes.

 

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Choosing A Car Trailer To Tow Your Auto

by on Jul.24, 2012, under Car Hauler

When choosing a car trailer one must take several factors into consideration. These choices will help determine whether to purchase a car hauler, car trailer, flatbed trailer, enclosed trailer or even a tow dolly. Sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Don’t worry; it’s just a matter of learning about each trailer to find out which one is perfect for you.

The main factors to consider when buying a trailer are

  • Flatbed (open) or enclosed trailer
  • Capacity
  • Ease of use
  • Storage

The two main types of trailers are open or enclosed. Both types have their advantages and drawbacks. The primary difference is that a flatbed trailer is open to the elements and an enclosed trailer is not. A flatbed trailer has the advantage of being able to haul many different sizes of vehicles. It also allows you more access to the vehicle while it is on the car trailer. Wrecked or junk cars are commonly hauled on this type of cargo trailer. Another use for having your vehicle on a flatbed trailer would be if you were planning on displaying your car while it’s still on the trailer.

An enclosed trailer offers different options than a flatbed trailer. This type of car trailer or car hauler gives you more security, protection from the weather and increased anonymity. Antique or custom car owners would greatly benefit from all of these advantages due to the high value and rarity of their cars. Another benefit of this trailer type is that it can be customized on the inside to carry extra parts or supplies. In addition, the exterior can be painted to match the tow vehicle. A lot of race car owners utilize this type of trailer because of the ability to add extra storage space. They don’t have to bring an extra equipment trailer to safeguard the tools, parts and equipment they require, as they fit easily into an enclosed trailer. Many choose to decorate the outside of their car hauler with the team number and sponsors names to make their trailer stand out to the fans. The only real downside to an enclosed trailer type of car hauler is that once you have it set up for one type or size of car it can be difficult to change it.

If you have 1 or 2 vehicles that you tow all of the time an enclosed trailer would be the best type of car hauler for you. If, however, you are hauling many different types or sizes of vehicles then the best type would probably be a flatbed trailer.

The 3rd type of car trailer is in a class all its own- the tow dolly. A tow dolly is a very specialized type of car hauler. It is used only to tow cars. It sports a very simple design and is essentially two wheels that support a ramp that you drive the front wheels of your car onto. The car wheels are then strapped down to the ramp, allowing the tow dolly to tow the vehicle. This type of car hauler is very easy to operate, simple to move around, a cinch to hook up, and convenient for loading and unloading. A tow dolly is also the easiest for a one person operation.

Flatbed trailers have the most towing capacity of the 3 car trailers or car haulers, because it has the least structure. An enclosed trailer would be second, but it does have limits due to the fact that it is enclosed. Both of these car trailers can be configured for one or more cars to be towed at the same time. A tow dolly, however, can only be used for one thing so it has the least flexibility of the 3 car hauler types.

Storage of your car trailer when it’s not in use can also be a factor. Flatbed trailers and enclosed trailers are both larger than the vehicles that they are designed to carry, so if this is an issue the much smaller tow dolly may be the right answer for you.

The final choice of car hauler will come down to what works best for you. Whether you go with the highly versatile flatbed trailer or the extremely customizable enclosed trailer, or the utilitarian, yet easy to use tow dolly, all of these will be readily available from a reputable utility trailer dealer.

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How To Use A Tow Dolly Properly

by on Jun.16, 2012, under Tow Dolly

A tow dolly is a simple mechanism that’s designed to help you haul a vehicle. They’re typically small, so they’re convenient to use and easy to store when they’re not needed. They work by towing the 2 front wheels of your vehicle (usually a car), while the back wheels remain on the road. Tow dollies are shorter than traditional car trailers, which make them easier for maneuvering and turning corners.

The first step in using your tow dolly is to always read the manufacturer’s instructions before you hook it up. You should have a better than average grasp on exactly what you should be doing before you ever hitch anything to your dolly. If you’ve ever used a flatbed trailer or a car hauler before then you’ve already got a familiarity with the subject. Read the instructions thoroughly so you know what your dolly is able to do.

Check the weight of your tow vehicle as well as the weight of the car you’re planning on towing. There should be at least 750 pounds difference between the vehicle you’re towing and the one that will be doing the hauling. Be aware of the maximum tow weight for your vehicle. Rear wheel drive vehicles generally have a better towing capacity than front wheel drives- about 500 pounds more. Front wheel vehicles can tow up to 3,450 pounds while rear wheel drives cannot exceed 3,900 pounds.

Next, attach the trailer hitch to the tow vehicle. Your manual should provide you with the specs for your dolly. While you’re at it, check the manual to see if your tow dolly has surge breaks. They can affect the trailer hitch’s towing capacity.  You will want to get some safety chains too so the tow dolly remains with the hitch and the car in the unlikely event that it becomes disconnected from the tow vehicle.

At this point, you should engage the parking brake on your tow vehicle. Never load or unload a vehicle without setting the parking break first, as serious injuries can occur. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Connect the tow dolly to the hitch and then connect the wires for the dolly’s lights. The dolly should be on level ground and completely secured before moving on.  Locate and release the locking pin so the tow dolly tilts back.

Carefully drive the vehicle onto the dolly until the front wheels are properly positioned. If you’ve ever driven a toy hauler trailer, you’ll be familiar with this process, as it’s very similar. Lock the platform hitch to make sure that it’s locked to the dolly in the down position. Be certain that the vehicle is centered on the tow dolly, because it will swivel when turning and you’ll need adequate room for it to operate properly.

Slide the ramps back into place and then reinstall the pins that were removed. If you’re using any chains or tire straps, make sure they’re attached to the tow dolly securely.

Drive a little more cautiously than you normally would.  A tow dolly handles differently than an enclosed trailer and can feel a little looser until you’re accustomed to it. Just be aware of your speed and your need to brake a little faster than normal. Use extra caution on hills, around curves and on bumpy roads or streets with potholes. Allow at least a 4 second time frame between you and the vehicle in front. If you’re driving under adverse weather (snow, rain or fog) use a 5 second space between vehicles.

Cautions:

  • Always load the vehicle that is to be towed facing forward.
  • A tow dolly is not a cargo trailer and shouldn’t be used for towing anything other than a vehicle.
  • Drive on the outside traffic lane so that faster vehicles can pass easier and you only have to worry about traffic on one side of you.
  • If the tow dolly begins to whip or if the handling on the tow vehicle starts to feel different, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so to find out why.
  • If you’re going downhill, shift into a lower gear and avoid any sudden braking or lane changes.
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