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Old 07-06-2009, 07:54 AM   #1
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1976 Coachman Cadet - First Experience Blog

I got my first TT a a week ago, crossed my fingers, and took it out for a trial run this weekend with my daughters at a camping resort 60 miles away. Only had time to check some basics and pick up a few things it needed and off we went. I do a lot of camping, but as a biker pulling a bike trailer. Alas, Im getting a little long in the tooth and comfort has become more important and I couldn't afford a new tt. In a couple of days we are going to a bike rally in the Ozarks of Arkansas and I didn't know if the old trailer would make it or my SUV would pull it.

The Adventure begins....

My fiance and I had never pulled a large trailer before and since I was going to be following her on the bike we had to both take a turn at it on the test run. Lucky a neighbor instructed us on how to adjust the sway bars. Never have seen a contraption like that before. Did a walk around before leaving and noticed the steps were down and chocks were still under the wheels. Hmmmm, lot to check for. Off we go with her at the wheel. Had to instruct her to take the turns wider, especially the right turns. Gulp... she almost took out a sign post and a Kia before getting out of the neighborhood. Im thinking this used RV experience might be more costly than a new one......

She did get the hang of it and off we go. We are crusing down the expressway good now and then a SEMI truck passes us. Whoa! That was a surprise. Bit of sway there...uh huh. We both tensed up, but she came thru okay. It happened a few more times and some cross wind action too, but she never did get any less tense when it did.

We stopped at a burger king on the turnpike and I tried to get her to do pull thru park between two other trucks. She refused and took a spot with nothing else around for three spaces. "I'm not ready yet" she told me. "When you gonna get ready?" I replied. She stuck her tongue out.

We got to the resort, pulled in, took a wrong turn, ended up on a dirt and gravel road, kept going thinking we would hit blacktop again. Wrong. Dead end. Hmmmmm, how to turn around a SUV and trailer on two lane road or back up 3 miles to a turnout.

After a lot of rounds of YOU DO IT, no YOU DO IT, YOU DO IT, YOU GOTTA DO IT SOMETIME, no YOU DO IT.... She finally gave in and gave it a try. Lucky there was a burned out trailer home with a driveway not too far away. At half a mile per hour (or was it five hours?) she made it to the driveway. Jack knife left, Jack knife right, up, back, up, back, "I can't do this!" Jack knife left, Jack knife right, up, back, up, back. Each time got a little better. I about exploded trying not to laugh. Hurts bad!

Woo Hoo, Only took 45 min to turn the trailer around and off we go. "That wasn't so bad....was it?" I asked. "Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" she said. I shut up.

Now she gets experience on hills, overhanging branches, twisty narrow roads, and did I say hills? Glad there wasn't anyone behind us or we would have got a dose of road rage for sure. 5 mph was prolly a max speed if anything was more than straight. I helped it along by telling her this was a cake walk compared to the ozarks place we were going to be going.....and I won't be in the car when we get there.

We finally get to the RV park section and gasp, our saved spot has trailers on both sides, obstacles on the other side of the road too. Few more rounds of you do it stuff and she gives in. I warn everyone within a block of impending danger. We have ten or more spotters and she gives it a go. I was pround of her. She got it on the tenth attempt and only backed up traffic 8 cars. But to be fair, she was able to let ten of them go thru between attempts. She was proud. I was relieved.

We hooked up everything and ran the ac on a seperate extension cord from the trailer. Worked out great and never did blow the circuit breakers. It was great to camp out and have the stereo, tv, dvd, and microwave, and other amentities.

Best I can tell everything worked and we went thru temperture extremes of 60 degrees to 104 degrees, dry weather to a deluge. Welcome to Oklahoma! lol.

Hmmmm, camper life. Need to do something about storage. Open any cabinet and stuff falls out. Where did I store this or that becomes a favorite game. Got to remember not to put anything needed first under a seat storage. Found out air builds up in the water lines. Just crack the valves, not open all the way. Had to change shirts. Better have a latch on the fridge door when traveling loaded or don't load it until you are parked. Makes a mess. Glass would be a good item not to store. Cleaned that up..... We are learning.

Best thing about having a RV is a bathroom for sure. The RV park bathroom was closed for repairs. Go figure. They finally delivered porta poddies for the tent campers. Was surprised at how long it took the refrigerator to cool down. Making ice would be out of the question. I am thinking about adding dry ice to speed the process on our week long stay next weekend. Got to have cold beer.

How do families do it? Everytime I wanted to go somewhere in the trailer, she was in the way. Can't imagine having the kids along too. If we end up taking them, they get tents ONLY! lol

Cooking was great. Nice to have an oven.

Bedtime now. Hmmmmmm, what is the best setup? Front of the trailer looks like it makes into a king size bed. We brought a queen size air bed. Ok, we take off the cushions, slide the benches together and put down the plywood supports. Spread out the cushions. Blow up the air mattras and decide to put it long ways across the front. This leaves about 2 foot of cushion sticking out. I put my knee on the cushion to climb into bed. Crash! I go thru the plywood cover. Yup, im heavy. Need to climb up on the bench side in the middle, its thicker. Another thing to fix before the trip....oh well.

We break in the trailer without shaking it too much. No more details on that.... but sure was nice.

Fiance took a shower but I took a sponge bath. The bath tub floor flexes when I stand on it and its too short for me. I can see falling thru the floor of it. No way any adult could take a bath in it. Its tiny. The shower head was attached to the wall. She tells me we need to change that.

Rest of the trip went well and it is a lot easier to get ready to come home with a tt than tent camping. Especially if everything gets wet. We got rained on twice. Sure made for some good sleeping.

Need to take more bottled water next time. Potable water thru a new water hose tastes like plastic. We are not using our fresh water tank on the trailer.

Ok, back home now. Two days to make corrections, fix broken stuff and repack. Need more 12V bulbs and got to correct the running lights and turn signals. They are reverse of what they need to be and the running lights don't work at all.

More later.

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Old 07-06-2009, 10:32 AM   #2
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Well you made it back and still alive, so you did good.

A couple of pointers. The bars are called weight distributing bars. Some hitches us a separate friction type sway control and some use a cam system to take care of sway issues. It sounds like you do not have a sway control device.

What size is the trailer and what SUV are you using to tow? Best way to learn the trailer is to find a big empty parking lot and take turns driving and backing. Use some old milk jugs and such to give you something to aim for when making turns or backing. A set of FRS walkie talkies are very handy to have when parking. On the practice runs, one stay out and watch and give comments to the one driving.

We never back the trailer unless the other one is in sight in a mirror and has the walkie talkie. Ir is best to stop, get out and check the site for branches, wheel stops, curbs and locate the utilities before you try backing in.

It all takes practice.


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Old 07-06-2009, 02:28 PM   #3
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If ya think yer trailer was bad, try a Truck Camper .
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