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I agree on the weight-I need to run it by the scales.
 

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Thought I'd chime in with a real world towing experience and a word of caution for those looking at towing high profile trailers-This may belong elsewhere, but given that my trailer is larger I though it appropriate here.

I acquired a 2003 Rockwood Roo 21BH Hybrid in April, but for multiple reasons never got to tow it other than around the neighborhood to check the Brake adjustment-That is, until last weekend. I have a Curt Hitch, Equal-I-zer WDH, Airbags, and Electric Brakes with a Prodigy Controller. Scale weight of the trailer loaded and ready for camping was ~2950lbs at a local CAT scale. Last Friday I hooked up the WDH and after a few trial and error adjustments, got everything balanced and looking good. I drove it around the block and was impressed with how easily and smoothly it towed. Acceleration was peppy, it handled well, and braking was good. Feeling optimistic-I hit the road headed to our favorite campground about an hour away. All was well on surface roads and at speeds below 40 mph, but I began having issues when I hit the interstate and had to attempt to maintain speeds of 55-60 MPH. The Sienna was not happy-It struggled a bit on straight-aways and did well on downhill grades, but any kind of incline and the engine and transmission were struggling noticeably. I never got it over 65 except for one downhill stretch and over the 60 mile drive I went through almost a half tank of gas. I know the issue is the Barn Door effect of the hybrid, but I wanted others considering towing a high profile trailer to factor wind resistance into their thinking. The Sienna is absolutely capable of handling the weight, but when you add the high wind resistance, it struggles like nobody's business. I'm sure others will have opinions and differing experiences, just wanted to offer my $.02; I enjoyed the weekend camping and a good friend offered to tow it home with his V-8 Ford to avoid any more stress on the van. I've since towed another friend's pop-up of equivalent weight (Coleman Bayside) and had no problem at all maintaining 65-70 MPH with the same setup.

Cheers,

Jay
 

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Discussion Starter · #83 ·
Oilman said:
Thought I'd chime in with a real world towing experience and a word of caution for those looking at towing high profile trailers-This may belong elsewhere, but given that my trailer is larger I though it appropriate here.

I acquired a 2003 Rockwood Roo 21BH Hybrid in April, but for multiple reasons never got to tow it other than around the neighborhood to check the Brake adjustment-That is, until last weekend. I have a Curt Hitch, Equal-I-zer WDH, Airbags, and Electric Brakes with a Prodigy Controller. Scale weight of the trailer loaded and ready for camping was ~2950lbs at a local CAT scale. Last Friday I hooked up the WDH and after a few trial and error adjustments, got everything balanced and looking good. I drove it around the block and was impressed with how easily and smoothly it towed. Acceleration was peppy, it handled well, and braking was good. Feeling optimistic-I hit the road headed to our favorite campground about an hour away. All was well on surface roads and at speeds below 40 mph, but I began having issues when I hit the interstate and had to attempt to maintain speeds of 55-60 MPH. The Sienna was not happy-It struggled a bit on straight-aways and did well on downhill grades, but any kind of incline and the engine and transmission were struggling noticeably. I never got it over 65 except for one downhill stretch and over the 60 mile drive I went through almost a half tank of gas. I know the issue is the Barn Door effect of the hybrid, but I wanted others considering towing a high profile trailer to factor wind resistance into their thinking. The Sienna is absolutely capable of handling the weight, but when you add the high wind resistance, it struggles like nobody's business. I'm sure others will have opinions and differing experiences, just wanted to offer my $.02; I enjoyed the weekend camping and a good friend offered to tow it home with his V-8 Ford to avoid any more stress on the van. I've since towed another friend's pop-up of equivalent weight (Coleman Bayside) and had no problem at all maintaining 65-70 MPH with the same setup.

Cheers,

Jay
Absolutely Jay, the shape of the front (and rear) of the trailer, the ride height and width of the trailer will play a huge role in an individual's towing experience. So, nothing personal but; Your rockwood has an almost vertical front face (that the sienna has to push through the air), I believe that it is 8 feet wide, it has a leaf spring suspension (which makes it 12 - 16 inches higher (read more wind drag) than a torsion type suspension. These are real world issues with towing, it is NOT strictly about weight as you have found out. Trust me, my first purchase was a KZ spree trailer. I got out of that deal losing only a couple hundred dollars, ended up with a surveyor 235RKS. Same weight, a somewhat sloped front (compared to the KZ) and torsion suspension.... world of difference as far as towing went. Too bad, I still like the KZ better but it did not work for me...

cheers,

shineysideup
 

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I agree that height and shape are important to the effort required to pull the trailer, and even to the handling.

shineysideup said:
... it has a leaf spring suspension (which makes it 12 - 16 inches higher (read more wind drag) than a torsion type suspension.
Yes, the suspension design is a big part of the height, but it doesn't matter much (to height) whether the suspension is leaf spring or rubber "torsion". Many travel trailers - and nearly all of the big ones - are now designed with the floor level above the tops of the tires; this makes the floorplan design easier and the construction less complex than having wheel wells, and keeps the rear end of the frame up for ground clearance (departure angles). They also use leaf spring suspension (the cheapest option), but the suspension design is not what forces the trailer to be tall.

While the classic 13-foot Bolers normally have the same type of rubber-sprung "torsion" suspension as shineysideup's Surveyor, my 17-foot Boler has leaf springs; however, due to underslung springs and a 4" drop axle beam, it sits at the same height as it would with a typical rubber torsion suspension.

In shopping for an easy-to-tow trailer, I think it is good to look at the height; the suspension is important too, but not due to any height effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #85 ·
brian_bp said:
Yes, the suspension design is a big part of the height, but it doesn't matter much (to height) whether the suspension is leaf spring or rubber "torsion". Many travel trailers - and nearly all of the big ones - are now designed with the floor level above the tops of the tires; this makes the floorplan design easier and the construction less complex than having wheel wells, and keeps the rear end of the frame up for ground clearance (departure angles). They also use leaf spring suspension (the cheapest option), but the suspension design is not what forces the trailer to be tall.
You are correct Brian. I still see many new travel trailers that sit on leaf springs. A lot (not all...) do this to accommodate a floor level side slide. Personally, because we like to travel everywhere (not at seasonal sites) I will always look for a trailer that has great (o.k. great might be a stretch - better) tow characteristics (for me - torsion suspension, low to the ground and a sloped front end). I know you can add shocks to most leaf suspensions. If I were a trailer manufacturer it would come standard from me!
 

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Yes- the front of the Rockwood is very large and not too far off of vertical-It makes a heck of a Movie Screen! I know this issue had been mentioned previously, but I also know folks tend to skip to the end of these long topics and I wanted to make sure that I addressed it.

I should still come out ahead on the deal-I got a very good price on my Rockwood to start with, and even factoring in the towing upgrades, Equal-i-zer WDH and whatnot, I should be able to break even or make a few dollars on the flip side. I just bought a new to me PUP and the van tows it like a champ. Can't wait to get it to the campground. ;D

Also-FWIW: The Rockwood is a Double Axle with Torsion springs, not leaf.

Thanks everyone

Jay
 

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Oilman said:
Also-FWIW: The Rockwood is a Double Axle with Torsion springs, not leaf.
Sure enough, the current Rockwood Roo features list shows
Easy Lube Axles
Torsion Axle, Rubber-Ryde Suspension
Given that combination, I think they mean EZ-Lube (a Dexter trade name) and Dexter's Torflex suspension; Ingersol's Rub-R-Ride has been out of production for a long time. Torflex is probably the most common current rubber torsion suspension.

shineysideup said:
I still see many new travel trailers that sit on leaf springs. A lot (not all...) do this to accommodate a floor level side slide.
As the Rockwood demonstrates, you can have any floor height with either suspension. Accommodating level-floor slides in the area of the axles is one reason many floors are so high. I don't know if there is any trend to shift to the rubber torsion suspensions from leaf springs; the rubber torsion systems have been around for decades (Airstream has used then since the 1960's).

shineysideup said:
I know you can add shocks to most leaf suspensions. If I were a trailer manufacturer it would come standard from me!
More expensive trailers normally have shocks (even with rubber torsion suspensions, in Europe and from Airstream), and I added shocks to the leaf-sprung trailer which we towed with our Sienna. Trailers are really cheaply made (compared to, for instance, cars), so shocks are not on most models. Proper suspension damping really does help control, although of course it doesn't help the barn-door aerodynamics problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #88 ·
Torsion suspension is the only suspension that I know of that can be placed within the frame (thus lowering ride height more than any leaf suspension). In fact the start angle for dexter torflex axles can vary from 22.5 degrees down from parallel with the frame all the way to 22.5 degrees up from parallel with the frame (producing an even lower ride height - although the wheel wells would be much higher inside the trailer) Check out gulfstream visa, earthbound rv. I have yet to see this type of setup with leaf springs. In my opinion the torflex suspension can do things that leafs can't. There are some downfalls to a low rider, much the same with a sports car, scrubbing almost everywhere... ;D
 

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shineysideup said:
Torsion suspension is the only suspension that I know of that can be placed within the frame (thus lowering ride height more than any leaf suspension).
True, and this is a common practice in Europe (using Al-Ko or BPW axles, as Dexter is not in Europe), but it is rarely done here due to different frame designs, and it is not practical to take advantage of the configuration with a very low height if the trailer has a long rear overhang... as most trailers considered in the "towing beyond manufacturers' tow ratings" category would have.

European travel trailers are normally built on a chassis purchased from an outside supplier such as Al-Ko, who sells a more sophisticated and integrated chassis system than the crude rails and tacked on suspension which is normal here. Among other characteristics, these structures are normally tapered, providing more rear clearance for a given floor height than straight frame rails would provide. A North American equivalent is Norco's UltraFrame, although that design typically doesn't take full advantage of the low height possibilities; I believe that the EarthboundRV trailers are built on the UltraFrame, and they sit about a foot lower than typical for their size... but no lower than they could on leaf springs or the designs of suspension used in heavy truck trailers.

As any street rod enthusiast can attest, even a solid drive axle can be configured (with a C-notched frame) to allow a pickup truck to "lay frame" right on the ground... no fancy independent stuff for those guys!

I'm not advocating beam axle or leaf-spring suspensions; I just think that the actual configuration of the trailer (including height) is more important than the technical features which might have been used to build it, and inclusion of rubber torsion suspension doesn't mean (as the Rockwood Roo proves) the trailer will be low or handle well.
 

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OK, so for those of you who have been successful towing overweight for a while, I have one for you. We are looking to buy a travel trailer, and may go to a smaller hybrid if our idea doesn't seem feasible or safe. We have a 2006 Sienna, and are considering the new Coachmen Freedom Express 230BH. The published dry weight is 3795 or so, but have seen on a dealer's lot with a mfr weight sticker showing a dry weight of 4015 lbs (including propane). We are a family of four, and our plan is to upgrade to a small truck (Tacoma or Fronty) or possibly an SUV (Explorer / 4Runner, etc) Though we live in Colorado, we know that towing in the mountains is out of the question with the Sienna and 4500 lbs. What do some of the overweight experts here think of towing on relatively flat land for a while with the Sienna and an Equal-i-zer WDH setup for maybe a year for weekend trips nearby? We always have the option of going to a lighter hybrid if we want, but from what I've been reading here, the front end aerodynamics of this trailer may make it tolerable or acceptable. Let me know your thoughts, and again, I know that this unit exceeds the tow rating and the Sienna's GCWR. BTW overall length of this unit appears to be about 26' hitch to bumper.
 

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You did not compare the tires maximum load rating. I would bet the Jeep has larger tires i.e. greater max load.
Happy trails..
 
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