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Old 11-18-2015, 08:46 PM   #1
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2011 16' Sport
Berkeley , California
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New Bambi owner. Know nothing about towing

Hi everyone. We're proud owners of a 16' 2011 Bambi. I have a 2006 4Runner V8 Ltd for towing (Toyota says 7,000 pounds... Bambi is 3,500). Drives reasonably well from what little experience I have (have driven about 20 miles with it).

I know NOTHING.

1) The guy we bought the Bambi from said we criss-cross the safety chains so if the tongue came off, it would rest on the chains. Correct?
2) He also said to rotate the chains so they shorten and are not dragging on the ground. Is this the right way to do it?
3) Really, the #1 issue is the brakes. The vehicles hitch is all factory. I don't understand what a brake controller is and whether I need one. The guy at the RV place said to read my manual (was not friendly or helpful), but it doesn't mention a thing about it. When I apply the brakes on the 4runner, doesn't that apply the brakes on the Bambi? Do I need a controller?

Thanks so much!
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:02 PM   #2
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You received good advice on your questions #1 and #2. Regarding brakes, you absolutely need to have your trailer brakes hooked up or you are in great danger of an accident in a hard stop or when descending a steep hill. That requires a separate brake controller be installed. The brakes on a Bambi are electric and the controller apportions the currect amount of current to the brakes to activate them. Without a controller, your trailer brakes are not working at all. A hitch installation shop can install the proper controller. But, please do not attempt to tow your trailer without the brakes being hooked up or you will find the trailer pushing your vehicle in directions you do not want it to go.
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:05 PM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to your questions,

1. Yes, the safety chains should be crossed.

2. Yes, you can rotate the chains to shorten them. You can also add a screw on link to shorten the chain.

3. You must install a trailer brake controller in your tow vehicle to make the trailer brakes operate. The trailer brakes will not work at all without a controller.

You should also consider adding a weight distribution/sway control hitch system.

Brian
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:11 PM   #4
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Wow, congrats on your Bambi
#1. Yes cross chains
#2. Twist chains if to long. But not so much that it causes turning problem
#3. Brake controller. You need one. Look online for one that will work best for you tow vehicle. Break controller is what "controls" the "gain" or amount of voltage that goes to you trailers breaks. This controls how hard your trailer breaks grab when you TV breaks are applied. The gain can be adjusted to optimize your towing and stoping.
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:20 PM   #5
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True beginner.. Welcome aboard!

There are tons of YouTube videos... Check out http://youtu.be/CCSevhxQzXc
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunnelboy View Post
Hi everyone. We're proud owners of a 16' 2011 Bambi. I have a 2006 4Runner V8 Ltd for towing (Toyota says 7,000 pounds... Bambi is 3,500). Drives reasonably well from what little experience I have (have driven about 20 miles with it).

I know NOTHING.
...
3) Really, the #1 issue is the brakes. The vehicles hitch is all factory. I don't understand what a brake controller is and whether I need one. The guy at the RV place said to read my manual (was not friendly or helpful), but it doesn't mention a thing about it. When I apply the brakes on the 4runner, doesn't that apply the brakes on the Bambi? Do I need a controller?
You should get a trailer brake controller like this Tekonsha and mount it under the dash; the one in the link comes with an adapter harness to wire into your brake switch with little or no additional hard-wiring required. If your 4Runner came with the factory 7-way trailer plug connection, then this should enable your vehicle brakes to control the trailer brakes. The P3 controller (I have one in my 2013 Tundra) is configurable for the size and weight of your trailer so it can be very smooth.
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Old 11-19-2015, 12:09 AM   #7
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Wow that was quick! Thank you all VERY much. The Youtube video was good to see. Will get a brake controller for sure (thanks for the recommendation Alumineer).

The sway control topic seems like a HUGE can of worms here. I just searched it here, and everyone has different opinions of brands, styles, and whether it's even necessary for a 16'. I'm lost on that one. FWIW, we live in the Bay Area, but bought this thing in San Luis Obsipo (~250 miles south). We rented a pickup truck and hauled it back via Hwy 1. It really towed very smoothly and there was no evidence of a tendency to sway on the windy roads or even rough roads.

Now we do plan on some mountain driving (Sierra's), but generally not super long trips. Maybe 200-400 miles max. I don't know if that plays into it.
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Old 11-19-2015, 12:42 AM   #8
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Tunnelboy,

Welcome!

I have a 16' bambi with a weight distribution hookup. You won't need much. I think you will find that shifting some of that tongue weight forward to your front tires will give you some extra control for steering and braking (btw, what others already said about getting that brake controller!)

Take your time getting to know your new trailer and practice some towing before your first real outing, especially that whole backing up thing.

Enjoy and have fun!

Stan
Salt Lake City
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Old 11-19-2015, 01:11 AM   #9
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In addition to towing set up, here are some other factors that I, also a fellow noob in regards to towing, considered...

1. Even with a brake controller, one must adjust to towing mode by increased anticipation and situational awareness. Focus on braking sooner than normal and give yourself a greater cushion for stopping.
2. Buy a Garmin or GPS unit for the dash or windshield. The newer models show number of lanes coming up to an intersection which helps you gauge how many lane changes you need to make before your turn.
3. Some people don't need them but I added towing mirrors to our Tundra.
4. Carry a tire pressure gauge and use them before extended trips for the day. You may even need two to handle different pressure maximums for truck and trailer. (You should also carry a small air compressor, easily found on Amazon.)
5. Make sure you walk one last circle around your trailer to inspect before taking off.
6. Make sure you chock right after leveling and removing them after hitching up.
7. Bring a cordless drill and socket to raise/lower the stabilizers faster.
8. Make sure you raise your stabilizers before raising/lowering your receiver onto the ball.
9. Make sure you can open your trailer door from under a campsite awning before unhitching.
10. When backing up the trailer, grab the steering wheel at the bottom and turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go. This way you don't have to think in reverse direction mode.
11. Load up your iPod with more songs. Trust me, you'll need them.
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Old 11-19-2015, 05:58 AM   #10
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Regarding sway and weight distribution need, you might want to do what both our AS dealer and hitch shop suggested and try towing without it first and determine how it pulls and how much it lowers your truck's backend. Not having it simplifies hooking up and the complexities of setting it up properly. We have towed thousands of miles without on our Honda Pilot/Bambi 16 but YMMV.
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:06 AM   #11
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Even if you decide on no weight distribution I would still go with sway control.
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:19 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remphoto View Post
Regarding sway and weight distribution need, you might want to do what both our AS dealer and hitch shop suggested and try towing without it first and determine how it pulls and how much it lowers your truck's backend. Not having it simplifies hooking up and the complexities of setting it up properly. We have towed thousands of miles without on our Honda Pilot/Bambi 16 but YMMV.
Very true!
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:37 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by westcoastas View Post
In addition to towing set up, here are some other factors that I, also a fellow noob in regards to towing, considered...

<snip>
7. Bring a cordless drill and socket to raise/lower the stabilizers faster.
<snip>
Caution: be careful to not over extend the stabilizers, or to jam them up when retracting. You'll not be happy when it takes a couple of hours to get it free again. Maybe this point should be titled: Learn From the Mistakes of Others.

Also, get some leveling blocks or 2x8 segments to get the trailer level, and to serve as landing pads under the stabilizers.
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:51 AM   #14
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I would also add the following: buy a decent torque wrench, the necessary extensions, and a SIX POINT SOCKET that fits your lug nuts. Check the torque on your nuts in the pattern and foot lbs. listed in the owner's manual at least once a month. The six point socket is key; a conventional 12 point socket will make a mess of the lug nuts.
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