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Old 01-28-2008, 09:07 PM   #1
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NEED EXPERIENCED ADVICE: Trailer choice

I spend much of my summer in a "76 Sovereign that is in good condition with ordinary wear and tear. I am thinking about going to Florida in August. I pull the Sovereign with a Ford F250 diesel, 1986, 120,000 miles. It's the one with the big Radiator.

A friend suggested I look for a Safari of the same vintage and sell all the other camping vehicles I have been using for going on the road. (A 12' Coleman and a 20' Alpenlite fifth wheel.) He said it is lighter, easier to park in a campground because it is shorter. etc etc etc.

I need some seasoned advise from those of you who have hauled for a number of years. I bought the Sovereign for $7500 and have used it for 5 years as a base camp at the beach. I have taken her camping, but while very comfortable and really steady on the road, she is hard to get into camping spaces. It is in very good shape, new tires, good running gear etc. But the truck needed to pull it is old.

Because of the length of the Sovereign and the shortness of parking spaces in camp grounds I like to use, I purchased an old, but very sound Alpenlite. Prior to this I had and still have a 12' Coleman Tent Trailer. Like everything else, it is in very good condition. I used it once two years ago for three weeks.

I realize these are all very different camping experiences and hauling experiences. But I have to make some choices since I am going at least to southern California and New Mexico and maybe to Florida.

I like camping. I don't mind eating on a picnic table and spend most of my time outside the trailer when the weather is good, but I hate wet canvas, putting the TT up and hauling it down and never being able to boondock. The TT is a reasonable choice with the exception that I live in the Pac. NW where it rains nine out of 12 months and isn't really comfortable for much of anything, in my mind, but warm weather, plus the up down hassle. But, it is a smooth hauler, takes less gas to haul, is cool in the south, carries my kayak on top, is an absolute joy in woodland settings and by any sort of water. I can park it in most cities by finding a double space and paying two meters.

The fifth wheel, because it is short is a problem to park as the turning ratio is too close, but it is light. I have to leave it behind to go into town. But it provides a cool or a warm place to stay no matter the weather. I don't have to reconfigure it every day, I can boondock in it. It is more expensive to haul.

The Sovereign is a known to everybody on this list. BTW if I buy a Safari I sell the sovereign and have to deal with 10 less feet for the rest of my time at the beach. I AM NOT GOING THROUGH THIS AGAIN.

So. WHADAIDO? All advise will be reverently considered as I am in a complete conundrum here.

Thanks. Joan
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:32 PM   #2
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Choices, choices, choices.
3 trailers,each one has it's pluses and negatives. We did the tent trailer for 17 years and loved it. Being in Arizona, the rain was never much of an issue. The few times we packed it wet we set it up again at home to dry out.

Mid 70's Safari''s are great trailers. I looked at several before I found my Trade Wind. The two foot difference between a Safari and a TW is not great, but the TW does offer you a separate sleeping area from you cooking area. If you don't want to make up the bed, close the door.
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Old 01-28-2008, 11:18 PM   #3
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If your objective is camping, get the shortest 2-axle model you can find. I love all my trailers, but the Caravel makes me crazy every time I hit a pothole--it just doesn't like bumps of any kind on that single axle.

I've towed an Overlander for a lot of miles, including downtown Vegas and LA. You wouldn't believe it, but I've always found parking (hooked up with trailer) when I needed it, even in the heart of the city.

But unless I'm going to a beach party or othewise expect a lot of company (Burning Man), I would take the Safari. Getting a dry bath and full time bed reduces the storage to something close to what I have in the Caravel, believe it or not, but that's OK, it's still quite a bit. Plus the extra floorspace makes it a more reasonable trailer for two.

Camping--as short as you're comfortable with!

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Old 01-28-2008, 11:18 PM   #4
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Hey. Thanks for the input. How long is your TW. What do you pull it with?
The sovereign is 31 feet. I can get into our tight Pac NW camping spots but gotta watch out for the trees when getting so much length down the gravel. I see you have a Yellow Lab. Ours is a humungous, 85 lb girl. She is a Field Lab and full of the dickens. She can run all day. Also see you are from the Four corners area. I spent part of a summer there in the 60's working at an Indian dig called Seven Cedars Pueblo. I think they have renamed it since the early work I participated. I recall seeing pix a year or so ago of the finished product. I think ist is called Pueblo of the Cedars or something like that. It is a truly beautiful place. Joan
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Old 01-28-2008, 11:23 PM   #5
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Thanks for your reply Zep. As far as I can see the difference in the price of towing is not much. With a lighter rig I go faster and so the mileage is about the same as the plod along with the truck and the heavier rig. I can't afford a new truck and I like the idea of a Suburban, but I am unsure about using it to pull a 31 footer. joan
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Old 01-28-2008, 11:26 PM   #6
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Trade Winds of the 70's are 25 feet long. I pull mine with an 07 Tundra with the 5.7 motor. It is more then enough truck for the trailer. Gracie our yellow lab is a 85 pound lap dog who loves to run, eat and sleep.
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Old 01-29-2008, 08:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLD1942
Thanks for your reply Zep. As far as I can see the difference in the price of towing is not much. With a lighter rig I go faster and so the mileage is about the same ...
I don't know about other's experience, but I get about 8% better gas mileage towing the Overlander (~6,000#) than I do towing the Caravel (~4,000#). This puzzled me, but I think it has to do with drag. The longer trailer has a higher "fineness ratio," which means less drag. So on flat highways, drag predominates. In hill country, weight would probably predominate.

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Old 01-29-2008, 09:12 PM   #8
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There were 3 pop-ups in our hunting camp along with one double axle 22' SOB trailer and two tents as of 7 years ago. At that time I packed the tent away and bought a 31' '77 Excella 500. One guy gave his pop-up to his son the next year and he bought a double axle 22' almost identical to the first trailer. Three years ago, one pop-up owner sold his trailer to the last tent owner hold out and bought a single axle SOB of questionable SOB vintage. I bought an '86 Sovereign 25' almost 4 years ago and sold the '77 about 4 months later. That leaves no tents, 4 trailers, one very small pop-up and the other 2 pop-ups in the mix. Those leaving the pop-ups are more comfortable in their living conditions especially faced with the fact that we have no electricity at the campsite and as of 3 years ago no water. The pop-up guys are handling their accomodations with style because it's all about the company sitting around the fire and not about what you brung (TN. for brought).

I found that the 31' would drag the rear when negotiating uneven terrain leading to the campsite and when pulling into gas stations. It had plenty of storage space with 4 wardrobe cabinets, a couple of small storage compartments and plenty of room in the front lounge area. I had the curbside foldout couch, front entertainment credenza, one mid twin and rear bath. I wanted something smaller. I looked at the front area and said "I could cut 3' off the front lounge, get a trailer with a front couch crossways and still have plenty of room". I looked at the two wardrobe cabinets across from each other and said "I can do without them so that's another 2' cut off". I calculated another one ft. deleted in the kitchen area and came up with a 25' length I could live with. Now the configuration; I wanted a rear corner bed or maybe twins. Settled on rear streetside corner bed and mid streetside bath. I actually have more storage area in the rear street/curbside compartments than I had in the 31' Excella. I do keep a big Rubbermaid container in the front which I have to move around from time to time (didn't have to do that in the front area of the Excella). I like the side bath because it seems to have more room in the shower than the rear bath Excella which had water splashing onto the counter during this ordeal. Towel drying was a little easier in the Excella though.

Towing was easier with the 25' Sovereign and so was backing into smaller campsites. My vote is to sell the fifth wheel and the Sovereign in order to buy a 25-27' model which fits your style of camping. You could keep the pop-up to be towed by a smaller vehicle for gas mileage if you wanted or sell it to help with your purchase. I'll not have another 31' and until last year would not consider anything other than a 25-28' model. The 25 and 27' FB models will be within my reach one of these days but not anytime soon.
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