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Old 02-29-2012, 01:02 PM   #1
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Can-Am RV Customers Questions

I have been in touch with Kirk and Andy Thompson since the days when they towed with a Dodge Intrepid, probably before this forum existed. They even sent me the raw, unedited video of the original Hensley Arrow video before it was finalized for public consumption. So I am quite familiar with the work they have done over the years in setting up tow rigs and the work they do with smaller tow vehicles.
--------------------------

So if you are a customer of Can-Am I have some questions for you:

-What is your tow vehicle year and model, cylinders, transmission, engine, fuel, etc?

-What is the trailer you pull with it, model, length, year, etc,?

-How much prep did they do for you? Hitch, reinforcement, coolers, etc.?

-How long ago did you have this done?

-How much have you traveled with this rig, years, miles, area, mountains or flats, etc?

-How do you feel about the set-up now after driving it over time? Safe, good idea?

-What changes would you make in your rig if you did it again? Same? Larger TV, smaller trailer, different hitch, etc.?

-What suggestions would you offer an RVer who were considering a Can-Am towing set-up/rig?

Thanks for any suggestions and comments.

Don in Dallas
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:30 PM   #2
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Don, curious why you've asked, given that you've known of CanAm for a decade.

Here we go: I bought my 1977 Argosy Minuet (2500 lbs dry, about 3100 loaded) used from CanAm in 2009, not fully realizing their skills in tow vehicle set-up. I mainly went there because they had the rare trailer I wanted. The Argosy was an upgrade from a T@B, which I towed cross-country before meeting CanAm.

They reinforced the hitch and installed the brake controller wiring in my 2005 Honda Odyssey, as well as dialing in the set-up. I had already installed the factory hitch and coolers. When I bought my 2010 Odyssey, I cut the hitch off the old van and had a local welder put the reinforced hitch into the new van; I did that van's wiring myself and had the coolers done at the dealer.

I towed the Argosy about 8000 miles with the first van and have towed it 5000 miles with the second van. I get to use other tow vehicles on occasion, and I'm an engineer atuned to vehicle dynamics. I am VERY impressed with how well the van handles the trailer, better than other vehicles with higher tow ratings. My wife is comfortable towing with the van as well.

The only changes I would make is that now I want a bigger trailer. (I fully think you need to own a succession of RVs until you sort out what you want.) I will probably wind up with a newer 23' Safari SE or Flying Cloud in a year or so, and plan on towing it with the Odyssey. The van is so comfortable and easy to use for the outdoorsy things we do (hauling around kayaks and bikes, either inside or on the roof) that we just don't want to move to a SUV or pickup.

My advice: CanAm knows what they're talking about. They have the client base and experience to prove it, something internet detractors lack. But you should feel comfortable with your decision. I'm not going to talk someone out of their heavy-duty truck towing a 20' trailer, but I'd appreciate the reverse respect. CanAm clients aren't ignorant - far from it. I've met several other clients and all have been rather happy with their various choices.

Tom
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:50 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mutcth View Post
Don, curious why you've asked, given that you've known of CanAm for a decade.

...SNIP...

My advice: CanAm knows what they're talking about. They have the client base and experience to prove it, something internet detractors lack. But you should feel comfortable with your decision. I'm not going to talk someone out of their heavy-duty truck towing a 20' trailer, but I'd appreciate the reverse respect. CanAm clients aren't ignorant - far from it. I've met several other clients and all have been rather happy with their various choices.

Tom
Hi Tom, I'm not shooting for anything in particular. I just want to hear some feedback from Can-Am customers. I agree with your last paragraph. They have many years and hundreds of happy clients. After all these years, I am still waiting to hear someone who has "been there, done that" give negative feedback. So far, that person seems to be missing from the picture. So evidently, Can-Am knows what they are doing. I am involved with a real-estate mentor/investment group that has 20+ years of success while those on the outside throw rocks...much like the outsiders do to Can-Am. I couldn't believe the Intrepid towing that Airstream. But they successfully have done that. Reading stories like yours and other folks successfully towing over many years says alot for their business model.

And you are right about changing RVs over time. I am already on number three, planning to sell number two and buy number four (probably a fiberglass SOB). I originally planned to travel with my 32' Argosy (7000pounds). But fifteen years later, I'm looking at really downsizing, plus I won't be actually fulltiming with my rig, just traveling for fun. So I will probably make the trip to Toronto for hitch-work.

I've heard good things about the Odyssey and the Toyota van also. But I'm just not crazy about vans. I should rent one for a couple of days to see if I like it. Hmmm...

Thanks for your feedback.

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Old 02-29-2012, 03:33 PM   #4
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Don, I forgot that you mentioned a Casita in another thread. During our cross-country trip, we met a couple who towed a 17' Casita with a previous-generation Odyssey. They were thrilled and had put a lot of miles on it.

I know I'd tow a Casita with a new Passat TDI with no hesitation. (Well, I'd rather drive a Chrysler 300 with the new 8-speed, but anyway...)

Tom
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:48 PM   #5
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Don, I forgot that you mentioned a Casita in another thread. During our cross-country trip, we met a couple who towed a 17' Casita with a previous-generation Odyssey. They were thrilled and had put a lot of miles on it.

I know I'd tow a Casita with a new Passat TDI with no hesitation. (Well, I'd rather drive a Chrysler 300 with the new 8-speed, but anyway...)

Tom
Tom, I reserve the right to change my mind but today, it is looking like I'm switching brands, possibly temporarily. It's like when my family said "You're not gonna live in a trailer for the rest of your life???"

I said, I don't know, the rest of my life is not here yet. So we'll see. But I'm not 44-years old anymore. And that 32' Argosy still weighs 7000 pounds. Know what I mean? And I'm single, so no back-up help. I ask alot of questions always before I make a final decision, then I usually don't have any regrets about it. I've heard good things about your van. Of course, any Honda is a good machine.

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Old 02-29-2012, 04:20 PM   #6
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I will first say that I am not that good at attaching Youtube videos, but I saw this one last week. Just Google "Mini and Airstream Argosy" and you will see some of the work that the boys at CanAm can do. The hill that they are going down, at around 1:35 to 2:10 in the video, is the Talbot Road hill at Baseline Road in London, ON. It drops about 100ft. in 2,000ft. I was surprised that Mini didn't get run over by the Argosy. WOW.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:58 PM   #7
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Tom, I reserve the right to change my mind but today, it is looking like I'm switching brands, possibly temporarily.
LOL. Fair enough. My upgrade plans switch daily too, partly depending on which old brochure is on the nightstand. 23' Safari SE? Restore a early 60s Tradewind or Flying Cloud? Maybe a 70s Caravanner or a 22' Argosy. Or go full tilt and get a 25SS Ocean Breeze...

FWIW, we looked at a Casita before the T@B and Argosy. If it felt more open inside, and didn't have the carpet on the walls, I think we would have bought one and would still be using it. They're built wonderfully well.

Tom
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:10 PM   #8
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Don I have had my hitch set uo by Can Am on my first TV. It was a 1986 GMC camper van. They did do a great job setting up the hitch but tried to up sell me into another set up. Probably a HaHa or PP, I'm not sure as that was back in 1998 when I was a trailer virgin.
Andy himself wasn't to happy with my choice of TV but oh well that's all I had at the time. It worked well for me for 8 yrs.
Now you wanted to hear if anyone had anything negative to say about Can Am.
I do have something to say on that matter. The service department and the parts department are noy really "vintage friendly". I needed a lot of the parts for my 73 Excella and the pat response I got from the parts department were that they were no longer available. Since joining this forum I have discovered places like Inland RV and Vintage Trailer Supply and have been able to find all I was originally looking for and many more parts as well.
In 1999 I put my unit into Can Am for service and they did perform all the repairs flawlessly. However when I arrived to pick up my unit and a Tech was helping me locate my trailer on the lot his response to me when I inquired about it's location was " oh that one, I thought it was a salvage unit". Needless to say I was really put off by that as I was very glad to be owning an A/S and did not consider it to be a salvage wreck.
I have never been back and seriously doubt I ever will be.
I know they do fantastic work on hitch set ups so I don't want to slam them just letting you know my experience with them.
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Old 02-29-2012, 11:18 PM   #9
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LOL. Fair enough. My upgrade plans switch daily too, partly depending on which old brochure is on the nightstand. 23' Safari SE? Restore a early 60s Tradewind or Flying Cloud? Maybe a 70s Caravanner or a 22' Argosy. Or go full tilt and get a 25SS Ocean Breeze...
Yeah, I know what you mean. NOTHING can ever compare to the Airstream. That's the way it is. But my budget is half of what I need to do what I want to do. I keep the Casita brochure handy, but I check the Airstream classifieds every day. Sometimes OCD is not a bad thing.

Of course, if Airstream finally produced a 17'-21' molded fiberglass Airstream like they considered twice in the past with a slightly more affordable price, that would be a GREAT thing. I know many folks who would jump on it in a minute. But I think they may be selling almost all they can produce now. I jus' don't know where these 30-somethings and 40-somethings come up with all that $$$.

And Chris, thanks for the input also. They seem to be right-on with the hitches and tow/trailer combination information.

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Old 03-01-2012, 06:44 AM   #10
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They seem to be right-on with the hitches and tow/trailer combination information.

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Agree Don. As a customer I was very satisfied with our combination design, set up and test drive with Andy. It gets done right the first time by pros and then you enjoy the drive.

Just read my posts here for the last 10 years. All one has to do is spend some time at Can Am and talk to Andy or Kirk. Take one of their seminars. Talk to the technical folks there. So much experience and knowledge gets put into their offerings, product, services.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:48 AM   #11
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Don,

I'm a newcomer to the world of trailers and to the world of Airstream. I came across Can-Am more by accident than design as they are just an hour up the roads from me here in SW Ontario. I'm also recently arrived from the UK so what I knew about trailers, or caravans, was based on the very lightweight European standards and fuel efficient tow vehicles that are a necessity over there.

We knew we wanted an Airstream but we knew that we also didn't want to use a pick-up truck to tow with because, whilst they're normally sufficiently powerful, they are appalling gas guzzlers when not towing and for us, quite impractical. So Can-Am showed us the sedans, the SUVs and the minivans, showed us the math and the physics and backed it up with some real-world experience from their test program and user experience. Armed with this information, this is the setup we opted for, in line with the questions you asked:

-What is your tow vehicle year and model, cylinders, transmission, engine, fuel, etc? Toyota Sienna LE, V6 3.5 liter gas engine, six-speed auto transmission.

-What is the trailer you pull with it, model, length, year, etc,? 2011 Airstream 28' International Serenity

-How much prep did they do for you? Hitch, reinforcement, coolers, etc.? We bought the Sienna without the tow package. Can-Am added an off-the-shelf hitch receiver but welded two pieces of steel behind the receiver that run down the length of the car and are bolted to the chassis near the rear axle. The weight distribution system supplied is an Eaz-Lift head with two 1000lb bars and the sway control is two simple friction bars. Can-Am fitted a new transmission oil cooler, a Prodigy P3 brake controller and the wiring for the car/trailer connection.

-How long ago did you have this done? 12 months ago

-How much have you traveled with this rig, years, miles, area, mountains or flats, etc? In our first season we ran 9,602 Km (5,966 miles), mostly in flat terrain. We did a three week run down to Florida and back via New Orleans - hills encountered were tackled easily but not at full speed.

-How do you feel about the set-up now after driving it over time? Safe, good idea? The setup works very well for us. The Sienna tows effortlessly, is stable and stops with no drama at all. Huge Semis passing at speed will pull the combination a little but no more than I'd have expected, and very windy weather seems to have little or no effect on the general handling (although it does on the gas mileage). Gas mileage in general is similar to most others towing similar sized trailers, 12mpg (US) on average, but not towing we get 28-30 mpg (US), so there's the advantage.

-What changes would you make in your rig if you did it again? Same? Larger TV, smaller trailer, different hitch, etc.? It's still an option to upgrade to Hensley or PPP and the next tow vehicle might be a sedan or SUV, but we do like the Sienna.

-What suggestions would you offer an RVer who were considering a Can-Am towing set-up/rig? Listen to Kirk and Andy Thompson and throw away all your preconceived ideas about tow vehicles; if they say a combination will work, then it will. You are most definitely not limited to towing with a truck and you should explore all the possibilities, especially with gas prices heading skywards.


The whole truck/car towing debate is brought about largely by the marketing policies adopted by the big manufacturers. Trucks are sold as being big and tough and can tow anything, other vehicles are not. I've encountered some hostility to my driving a Minivan, towing or not, simply because it's marketed as a "Soccer Mom" car for hauling kids around in - trucks and sports cars are for men, of course. Look beneath that marketing veneer, though, and you'll discover a capable, effective and safe towing platform.

I think what Can-Am does for customers like me is to expand the options for towing. No one is saying that you should get rid of your truck if that's your TV of choice, but what is being said that if you look at towing dynamics, math and physics, you'll see that a lot of modern vehicles can be pressed into service as perfectly good tow vehicles, despite what the manufacturer's marketing people might tell you.

I should just add a note about safety, as it's something often thrown up in the argument about smaller TVs. Can-Am are not going to allow any setup that they've configured drive off their lot if there were any safety issues at all; one failure and their business reputation would be destroyed at a stroke. They won't set up a TV that isn't suitable, it's as simple as that. And, as there are not lines of people waiting to sue Can-Am then I suspect that they might just have it right!
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:29 PM   #12
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Couldn't be happier

We tow with a 2010 Honda Odyssey SE, 3.5litre V6, 6 speed automatic transmission (+ 2 adults & 5 children). Our Airstream is a 1993 30' Excella with Hensley Hitch. Can-Am did all the prep work - custom hitch (reinforced), tranny cooler, brake controller & wiring (about 1 year ago).

We towed the trailer from Ontario to BC last summer, driving through the States on the way there and Canada on the way back - 10,000km total, through the Black Mountains in SD, the Rockies in Yellowstone, and then the Rockies again in southern BC (Hwy 3 - probably some of the longest/steepest grades around).

The towing experience was incredible. Never once in 10,000km was there so much as a second of feeling of loss of control and/or sway. Pulled up 16km 8% grade in Rockies at 4000rpm, doing 40km/h - temp gauge hardly budged and van performed great. Went down in first gear as well and never once felt concerned about brakes. We hardly felt winds across the prairies - just noticed them in the drop in mileage (avg. about 13mpg for the trip). I give almost all the credit to the Hensley Hitch, the rest to the Airstream's aerodynamic design. The towing experience was an absolute dream compared to the 30 minute tow I did of a SOB trailer on a windy day with an SUV - never again!

We wouldn't change anything - we love towing with a van that we need the rest of the year, not some big gas guzzler that we would only use for towing.

A previous Can-Am customer convinced me to buy - he towed 7 different Airstreams over his life, all with a mini-van or less, including pulling a 34' Classic with both his Intrepid and 300C (he's now towing a 25' with a Toyota Venza). Can-Am knows their stuff and has the happy customers to prove it!
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:39 PM   #13
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Don, we might could get you to thinking about an Avion, Silver Streak or Streamline. The great irony of these is that they cost much less to buy, repair and operate. And are often of comparable weight to A/S. Construction is decidedly better in all respects.

$6-8K plus new appliances, tires, etc is a fair beginning point. $10-12k for nice ones, and $16k for "new" (a recent sale of a '89 34' new in all ways locally). Rare to see one above $20k.

The Avion from 1967 onwards also features sophisticated suspensions (three types through 1990) that lend themselves to optimal towing behind "un-conventional" TV's (and I wouldn't hesitate to try the others as all were car-friendly for a majority of years).

Ask Thomson about these other trailers.

One of my favorites was the 1972 Avion with the older rounded style, but both black and grey tanks. One year only. Nice light weight. (See Dr Gradeless site for info)



Still haven't forgotten meeting you at the El Fenix in east Dallas when leaving town (first night) five years ago (in the trailer in my sig link). That tiny and welcomed blessing for the voyage felt right.

.
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:34 PM   #14
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Don, we might could get you to thinking about an Avion, Silver Streak or Streamline....

...SNIP...

Ask Thomson about these other trailers.

Still haven't forgotten meeting you at the El Fenix in east Dallas when leaving town (first night) five years ago (in the trailer in my sig link). That tiny and welcomed blessing for the voyage felt right.
I've loved all the silver trailers for years, which is why I ended up with an Argosy...even though it is not silver. Still, it's part of the family. I used to have the final Silver Streak brochure but something happened to it during one of my moves I think.

And thanks for the advice, I'm always looking for options. Looks like gas will continue to rise although U.S. drivers are using less than they have in several years. When I get closer to buying, I will have a better idea of what's available at the time.

And yes, I think I still have photos of your rig I made that day. It sure was a good looking trailer. I have a job right down from that intersection and pass by there at least four times a week. Glad you guys like your trailer.

Don
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