Looking to buy my first tent trailer and think I found a great one
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Author Topic: Looking to buy my first tent trailer and think I found a great one  (Read 9787 times)
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Dave
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« on: April 19, 2011, 10:10:07 AM »

Hi all,

Drex, I'm hoping you especially might be able to chime in on this one, as I know you towed a pop-up trailer with your Tek. Below is a link to a used Palomino Pony P280 that's for sale here in Toronto and it looks like it would be a great size to pull behind Blue. The total dry weight is 1285 and total length 13 feet - I think this should do fine behind a Tek, no?

Now, I need to get a hitch installed and a tranny cooler put on - and that raises some questions. I know my tranny has been having issues - I've put details in my other thread on that subject but the Coles Notes version is a delayed shift problem, clutch material in the pan - but that was largely resolved when I did a tranny fluid/filter change. Only seen it come back briefly (24-48 hours) after the two last repairs when the electrical was disconnected, which has me wondering on electrical causes. In any case, the debate is do I get the cooler installed now and tow until this tranny dies, or do I find the funds to drop in a re-manufactured tranny before I start towing?

Anyway, here's the link - any feedback, suggestions and tips are hugely welcome, as I have never pulled a trailer before, so I'm a total newb. Oh, I believe the Teks are pre-wired for towing, is that correct? I just have the 2WD version, no towing package.

http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/bra/rvs/2329449011.html

Thanks as always!
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Dave
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2011, 08:18:17 PM »

*BUMP*

Hi all,

So my wife and I found a really great little Rockwood tent trailer - not the one I first posted about - that we decided to buy. It's an 8' x 7' box, dry weight 1,285 lbs, in spotless condition and pretty much perfect for what we want and what we have room to store LOL. The RV dealer we found it through is delivering it for us but I obviously need to get moving on the hitch, etc. As I mentioned, I'm a total newb to towing, so I have some key questions I'm hoping my fellow AFCers can help with - here we go:

- Hitch.....I'm going to get one put on, but know nothing about them. Anything I need to know? What about wiring? My Tek does not have the towing package, but I assume the wiring harness I found in the left rear storage compartment is for trailer lights?

- I assumed a transmission cooler is a must but the dealer was telling me "no, it's a light little trailer and those tranny coolers can be lots of problems, I wouldn't spend the money". I'm still thinking it's a must, my brother-in law is a mechanic and he says it's better safe than sorry, but I figured I'd ask here. So, tranny cooler or no? If so, better to go for one rated more like 5,000 lbs or is 3,500 okay?

- Overdrive. OK, this is really embarrassing  Undecided, but I honestly didn't know this but I now understand that we have a 4-speed transmission, with 1, 2, 3 and then D which is overdrive (told you I'm a newb). So, I believe I have been told that you should never tow in overdrive, so I should then be sticking the shifter in 3 and staying there when I pull the trailer. Is this correct?

- Air shocks? Bearing in mind the dry weight of the trailer is 1,285 lbs, I figure with propane, water (if I fill the tank, likely won't) and some gear maybe 1,600 lbs and then maybe another few hundred for me, wife, 2 kids, dog, gear, food, canoe....maybe total 2,300 lbs. Again, I know nothing on this count - I put new shocks on the rear last year, and I know that air shocks would be nice, but are they a must? Or a wait-and-see-how-it-drives thing?

- What else should I know?  :huh:

Thanks in advance!!!
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97drexelgrad
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2011, 09:15:17 PM »

Sorry man, I must have missed your original post.

Trailer hitches are nothing special- you need a class 2 as a minimum, but I would go for a class 3 since it is usually only a few dollars more.  You will need a receiver to match that hith- either a 1 1/4" or a 2'.  I would go for the 2" personally.  Then match the ball to the size you need.  My guess is that it will be a 1 7/8" or 2".  A sway control would be nice, but not absolutely necessary.  It is a plate with another smaller ball that mounts next to the main tow ball.  Then there is an attachment that connects between the smaller ball and a ball mounter on the front side of the trailer frame.  It basically helps keep friction on the trailer so cross winds and drafts from other passing vehicles from blowing the trailer, and ultimately your Tek all around.

Tranny cooler-  I would add it, especially if your BIL is a mechanic.  Part should be about $125, plus labor.  More fluid capacity along with better cooling - I would go for the biggest possible
Hitch, receiver, ball, wire harness- $200-250

Electric brake controller- If the camper has brakes, or if your province requires use- could be $100-200 more.
this module taps into the positive electrical connection of your brake pedal, and then sends an electronic signal back to the trailer brakes.

Air shocks- Less than $100 and an easy DIY project.  U can use a bike pump, or even a small 12v compressor to inflate.  I would add as it does affect steering, and handling if there is too much of a load added to the back of the Tek.

I added air shocks on the Tek, and I added rear air bags on my Sierra in addition to a weight distribution hitch too, since the tongue weight of my Travel Trailer is 850 pounds.  Keeping everything level makes a world of difference.

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/MON-MA762MM/      air shock kit
http://www.summitracing.com/parts/BMM-70270/            trans cooler
http://www.summitracing.com/parts/CHT-17200/             sway control
http://www.summitracing.com/parts/CHT-13469/             hitch
http://www.summitracing.com/search/?keyword=brake%20controller&dds=1   brake controller and harness

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/RED-80204/   Antifreeze additive I added to help run cooler temps while towing.

Now , as long as the harness connector is under the left rear of the Tek- you could either go to the dealership, and get the mated connector or you could simply splice and solder the connections.  My Trailer had a 7 way connector which had the brake wires, turn signals, brakes, and a 12v positive out to the trailer for charging the camper battery or running 12 v accessories like the refridge while in transit.

Towing with the Tek, you should just put the shifter in the "3" setting.  The transmission will still go from 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but it will not allow overdrive to engage.  Doing this allows the transmission to run at a more stable RPM and will keep locked in a gear more so then having it move from 3, the 4 and back to 3 every time you take an incline.  This really will heat up the trans, and could cause problems, so leave it in 3.

Hope this helps and I didnt just overwhelm you.

Brian
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Brian, NJ
Current owner of 2011 GMC Sierra SLE Crew Cab 4x4 6.2 l
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Former owner of a 2003 Aztek Yellow, McCullough HID 6000k Headlights, Xentec HID 3000K Yellow Fog Lights, LEDS on all 4 Markers and Reverse Lights, Recon Strobe Lighting, Pioneer 10 speaker stereo, Infinity BassLink2 Sub, Precision Interface Electronics GM12-AUX, XM Roady XT, Helo Tease Rims with General Exclaim 245/40ZR20 tires, EBC Dimpled & Slotted Front Rotors, EBC Yellowstuff Pads, K&N Air Filter, Remote Start, kids car seat, Custom Dual Exhaust , Recon Big Rig Amber Running / Signal LED Lights, Side mirror LED Signal Lights, Line of Fire and Ice Brake Light, Monro Air Shocks in Rear, B&M Transmission Cooler, Garmin NUVI 350 GPS,  LEDs everywhere, Rear camera with night vision and 7 inch color monitor, GM Hood Deflector, Diehard Platinum Battery, American Flag / Bald Eagle on Rear Window, Fleetwood Camper,with LEDs and camera also, towed behind Tek ,
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2011, 12:53:53 PM »

Drex, all I can say is  :bow: :bow: :bow:

That is incredibly awesome info, thanks very much for taking the time to write this up. Sorry to have called you out by name on the original post, but I admit I did it cuz I knew you'd have all the details  Grin

So, have talked to my mechanic and will have him put on the tranny cooler and the air shocks - as well as check on my brakes and see if they need replacing/upgrading before I tow. There's no brakes on the trailer (don't need them at this weight) so I want my brakes to be up for the job. Vito can put the hitch on if I get the parts, but for that I'm going to go to an actual hitch place, just think that's a better option, and a little less legwork on my part.

The nice part is I don't need any wiring - now, how would I know if my Tek happens to have the tow package? There definitely was a hitch on it at some point cuz we saw the marks from it when I bought it and I notice that I have the nice flat-4 trailer lighting wiring harness and plug in my trunk area, in one of the storage compartments on the left - the mirror of the compartment where the jack is. Is this stock on all Teks? Just thinking that if not, then it has either been installed or maybe I got lucky and have the package, but I would say no cuz I sure don't have air shocks already.

Anyway, I feel a whole lot better informed and able to actually make some good decisions here - thanks again for the awesome help Brian!!  Grin
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2011, 03:23:15 PM »

Drex, all I can say is  :bow: :bow: :bow:


Agreed. I am still contemplating adding a hitch for my move to NH (From WA) and that was very helpful information..
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2011, 10:54:06 PM »

I did also upgrade my front brakes.  I couldn't do anything more with the rear drums/ shoes.
I added EBC slotted and dimpled front rotors along with EBC Yellowstuff pads.  The swap made of world of difference with and without the trailer in tow.
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Brian, NJ
Current owner of 2011 GMC Sierra SLE Crew Cab 4x4 6.2 l
403hp 420tq

Former owner of a 2003 Aztek Yellow, McCullough HID 6000k Headlights, Xentec HID 3000K Yellow Fog Lights, LEDS on all 4 Markers and Reverse Lights, Recon Strobe Lighting, Pioneer 10 speaker stereo, Infinity BassLink2 Sub, Precision Interface Electronics GM12-AUX, XM Roady XT, Helo Tease Rims with General Exclaim 245/40ZR20 tires, EBC Dimpled & Slotted Front Rotors, EBC Yellowstuff Pads, K&N Air Filter, Remote Start, kids car seat, Custom Dual Exhaust , Recon Big Rig Amber Running / Signal LED Lights, Side mirror LED Signal Lights, Line of Fire and Ice Brake Light, Monro Air Shocks in Rear, B&M Transmission Cooler, Garmin NUVI 350 GPS,  LEDs everywhere, Rear camera with night vision and 7 inch color monitor, GM Hood Deflector, Diehard Platinum Battery, American Flag / Bald Eagle on Rear Window, Fleetwood Camper,with LEDs and camera also, towed behind Tek ,
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2011, 01:40:04 PM »

Just curious, how much was the brake upgrade? How much of a difference did you notice since you upgraded?
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 02:29:03 PM »

I didnt change calipers or increase the diameter of the rotors, but the rotors I think were $300 and the pads were maybe %150 more.  This was at least 3-4 years ago.

Here is a link to the ones.  There are 2 different sizes for the front depending on FWD (smaller)  or AWD (slightly larger)

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/EBC-GD7405/Application/?query=Year%7c2003%7cMake%7cPONTIAC%7cModel%7cAZTEK&prefilter=1

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/EBC-DP41628R/                    Brake pads

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Brian, NJ
Current owner of 2011 GMC Sierra SLE Crew Cab 4x4 6.2 l
403hp 420tq

Former owner of a 2003 Aztek Yellow, McCullough HID 6000k Headlights, Xentec HID 3000K Yellow Fog Lights, LEDS on all 4 Markers and Reverse Lights, Recon Strobe Lighting, Pioneer 10 speaker stereo, Infinity BassLink2 Sub, Precision Interface Electronics GM12-AUX, XM Roady XT, Helo Tease Rims with General Exclaim 245/40ZR20 tires, EBC Dimpled & Slotted Front Rotors, EBC Yellowstuff Pads, K&N Air Filter, Remote Start, kids car seat, Custom Dual Exhaust , Recon Big Rig Amber Running / Signal LED Lights, Side mirror LED Signal Lights, Line of Fire and Ice Brake Light, Monro Air Shocks in Rear, B&M Transmission Cooler, Garmin NUVI 350 GPS,  LEDs everywhere, Rear camera with night vision and 7 inch color monitor, GM Hood Deflector, Diehard Platinum Battery, American Flag / Bald Eagle on Rear Window, Fleetwood Camper,with LEDs and camera also, towed behind Tek ,
 2006, 2007, 2008 International Aztek Rally Organizer.  Email me @ 97drexelgrad@aztekfanclub.com
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2011, 02:47:55 PM »

Just picked Blue up with her new tranny cooler and Monroe air shocks - the ones you can inflate deflae yourself. They're currently set to 20 psi which is the same as standard shocks - Vito tested them up to 90, but recommended I not go above 60. So, here's my next newb question - how does one know what psi is good? Is there a sandard based on your estimated cargo/tow load? Or do you just get all Jedi and do it by feel?  Wink Any and all advice welcome as always.

I guess I should have asked if there was anything special I needed to know about the cooler, but I couldn't think of anything - any useful info out there?

Next up is getting the hitch on - parts ordered, just waiting for the appointment. Trailer should be arriving here at our house literally any minute - can't wait for that first trip!
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2011, 04:39:56 PM »

I kept a small level in the back of the Tek.  When towing, I would put the level on the front tongue of the camper and continue to air up the shocks until the bubble was centered.  Was pretty good but not perfect if the street wasn't level.

I have had the shocks up near the 100psi mark at times with no problems.  Most of the time I needed about 65psi

Congrats on the camper and safe travels to you.

Post some pics of the Tek and trailer all hitched when you can
« Last Edit: April 27, 2011, 04:41:42 PM by 97drexelgrad » Logged

Brian, NJ
Current owner of 2011 GMC Sierra SLE Crew Cab 4x4 6.2 l
403hp 420tq

Former owner of a 2003 Aztek Yellow, McCullough HID 6000k Headlights, Xentec HID 3000K Yellow Fog Lights, LEDS on all 4 Markers and Reverse Lights, Recon Strobe Lighting, Pioneer 10 speaker stereo, Infinity BassLink2 Sub, Precision Interface Electronics GM12-AUX, XM Roady XT, Helo Tease Rims with General Exclaim 245/40ZR20 tires, EBC Dimpled & Slotted Front Rotors, EBC Yellowstuff Pads, K&N Air Filter, Remote Start, kids car seat, Custom Dual Exhaust , Recon Big Rig Amber Running / Signal LED Lights, Side mirror LED Signal Lights, Line of Fire and Ice Brake Light, Monro Air Shocks in Rear, B&M Transmission Cooler, Garmin NUVI 350 GPS,  LEDs everywhere, Rear camera with night vision and 7 inch color monitor, GM Hood Deflector, Diehard Platinum Battery, American Flag / Bald Eagle on Rear Window, Fleetwood Camper,with LEDs and camera also, towed behind Tek ,
 2006, 2007, 2008 International Aztek Rally Organizer.  Email me @ 97drexelgrad@aztekfanclub.com
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2011, 11:48:41 AM »

Alright - just got back from having the hitch installed and talk about your luck. I had been quoted $290 CDN for the hitch, receiver and ball installed at this great little father-son hitch operation here in Toronto. Get there this morning and Lorne takes Blue in the shop, then comes out with a big smile and tells me it's my lucky day - apparently about 5 years ago, someone with a Tek ordered a hitch, paid half as a deposit then never came back. Lorne has had it sitting in his shop since then but never had another vehicle it would fit on - so he gave it to me today for half price, so all installed, taxes in was $180  Grin

So,, I am all set to go. The trailer arrived last evening and we got it tucked into my driveway - a tight fit, but a fit all the same  -_- Tomorrow I'll hook it up and do a bit of a test drive (did I mention I've never towed a trailer before??) and of course get a pic or two to post. Then we set up the trailer, load in the kitchen supplies and then pack it away until the first trip in May.

Thanks again to Drex for all the great input - as always, I am thrilled to be part of the AFC!
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2011, 05:38:44 AM »

You're welcome and enjoy the trip.  Just remember that while backing up with the trailer, the wheel gets turned the opposite way that you want the trailer to turn.  Also a little turn of the wheel in reverse will move the trailer,  don't give the Tek wheel the ol two turns as if you were parking itself. Good luck and safe travels
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Brian, NJ
Current owner of 2011 GMC Sierra SLE Crew Cab 4x4 6.2 l
403hp 420tq

Former owner of a 2003 Aztek Yellow, McCullough HID 6000k Headlights, Xentec HID 3000K Yellow Fog Lights, LEDS on all 4 Markers and Reverse Lights, Recon Strobe Lighting, Pioneer 10 speaker stereo, Infinity BassLink2 Sub, Precision Interface Electronics GM12-AUX, XM Roady XT, Helo Tease Rims with General Exclaim 245/40ZR20 tires, EBC Dimpled & Slotted Front Rotors, EBC Yellowstuff Pads, K&N Air Filter, Remote Start, kids car seat, Custom Dual Exhaust , Recon Big Rig Amber Running / Signal LED Lights, Side mirror LED Signal Lights, Line of Fire and Ice Brake Light, Monro Air Shocks in Rear, B&M Transmission Cooler, Garmin NUVI 350 GPS,  LEDs everywhere, Rear camera with night vision and 7 inch color monitor, GM Hood Deflector, Diehard Platinum Battery, American Flag / Bald Eagle on Rear Window, Fleetwood Camper,with LEDs and camera also, towed behind Tek ,
 2006, 2007, 2008 International Aztek Rally Organizer.  Email me @ 97drexelgrad@aztekfanclub.com
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2011, 07:59:39 AM »

Congrats Dave...  All the best to your future travels, and safety first!!!  ALSO, lol, good luck on learning to backing up a trailer, it will take a few shots before you get used to it, but in no time your going to be a backing king...  Just remember, it does NOT take much to change the pitch of the trailer while backing, so little movement in the steering... you will see..  A little note of advice, practice in a shopping parking lot... WITH NO ONE there to help you, I find the worst thing is people yelling TURN MORE TURN MORE... lol, your best friend will be your side mirrors...

BTW...  NICE deal on the hitch!!!
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2011, 10:56:33 AM »

Thanks guys - and I'm definitely heading out to try some practise in reverse, as backing into my driveway is an adventure in tight turning. My office has a great parking lot that's nice and empty on the weekend, although I'm sure the security guys will ahve some fun watching me on the monitors  Tongue. I'm actually very excited, I love learning a new skill, especially when it's car-related. The hitch was truly one of those nice little moments when you know things have worked out - I chose to go out of my way to get Lorne to do the hitch install cuz I liked the vibe I got from him, and then it pays off like that  :afro:

Pics to come when I get it hitched up the first time!
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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2011, 01:17:29 PM »

It's official, and I have the pic to prove it - hooked the trailer up and gave her a shakedown cruise yesterday, as well as getting our kitchen supplies packed away and ready for the first trip 2 weeks from now for Victoria Day (for my American compatriots, she's a long-dead queen whose birthday we still like to celebrate as our unofficial summer kick-off weekend).

Blue pulls the trailer very well - I have great visibility both over top of it and around the sides. Gotta love the mirrors on our Teks, I didn't even have to adjust them (I keep them cranked out anyway, no blind spots that way!). I drove to my office and spent about 30 minutes practicing reversing and getting the hang of it then backed it into our very tight driveway in just 2 attempts - so I'm pretty proud of myself  Tongue

Here's a pic of it all hitched up - as you can see, even Blue herself looks eager to roll  Grin With the trailer dry and nothing else in the Tek, didn't even need to pump up the air shocks....

Thanks again to Drex and Dice for the great info, tips and advice - long live the AFC!  :afro:
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