Towing Our New Camper
I just wanted to post what my husband posted on the Casita Travel Trailer forum for anyone considering a small travel trailer. The Casita is 2800 lbs.
We just completed our maiden voyage. Picked up our new 17' 2010 a few weeks ago. I think we picked the hottest two weeks of the year to do this. Fortunately the air conditioner really works well, even in extreme heat. We took the "scenic route" home to NJ to the tune of 3900 miles. What a great experience. We had only a few minor issues. The basket in the shower fell off and the outside shower leaked a little. Went back to Casita and they immediately fixed the issues. A little further down the road we noticed one loose rivet in the bathroom and the deadbolt doesn't seem to lock or unlock with the key. I don't think either of these will be much of a problem to repair. We brought our Sharp R-820 convection/microwave. Glad we did as it was a little hot to grill outside. This unit fits great in the microwave spot and doesn't need to be tied down. We made something that took an hour at 400 degrees to cook I pulled the unit out after that and my wife checked the inside of the cabinet and there was no heat related damage. I might install a pc fan in one of the vents but it probably is not necessary. Our TV is a 2008 Rav4 4WD V6 with the factory towing package. I installed the hitch and the wiring. Luckily it all worked fine on the trip home. I installed a continuous duty relay to avoid having to disconnect the trailer during stops. I also installed a switch so that the relay isn't energized when not towing. My thinking with the switch was that the relay will last longer. We were able to tow for the better part of the day with the fridge on 12v. At the end of the trip the battery still worked fine. I will be able to find out if the battery is being drained at all when I install and amp hour gauge in a few weeks. We used a Prodigy p2 brake controller. The WDH and sway control were provided by Casita and worked very well. One thing to consider is that the back door on the Rav4 will only open part way with the WDH hardware installed. It opens enough to get stuff out but I'll probably rig up some kind of bumper to avoid scratching the door. I was surprised to find out the Rav4 actually sat an inch higher in the rear with the trailer connected! I think the Rav4 has 270hp or something like that. It seemed to tow the Casita no problem even on the hilly roads in Branson, MO. We drove mostly 65 with occasional speeds of 70. Our MPG varied from 15 on hilly stretches to 18 on relatively flat interstates. With the exception of the very hilly areas, we were able to use the cruise control without the transmission shifting excessively. We also ran into a storm with reported 50mph wind that hit us ranging from a quartering headwind to a quartering tailwind. Even with the high winds the rig handled admirably. Nothing scary, but it did feel better if we slowed down to 55 or 60 though. This was our first experience towing anything with electric brakes. Casita made the initial setting for the brake controller. The next day it seemed like it was taking a little longer to stop so I turned up the gain a little. With the controller dialed in we hardly noticed the trailer back there. It does seem to pulsate a little from 30 to 0 when braking on less than perfect road. It almost feels like a car with warped rotors. Is this normal? The car stops smoothly with the trailer disconnected. We have been traveling with the grey tank empty, the black tank varying from full to empty and the 25 gallon fresh water tank usually half full and 1 full propane tank. We also have roughly 300lbs of gear and provisions (yes we weighed everything before we left). We haven't weighed the trailer yet but can provide that information when we get to the scales. I can say that we are both very impressed how the rig handles. 8 hour + drives are not stressful at all. Maneuvering in tight spaces is much easier than even the smallest motor homes we have driven. One time we were at a gas station with a somewhat steep apron. The trailer was disconnected but the shank (I think that is the name of the part with the ball on it) was still installed. When leaving the station it did scrape slightly. It might be a good idea to remove this part and leave it with the trailer. We had no scraping issues with the trailer connected but were cautious to avoid steep aprons. We did go over some raised RR tracks with no issues but we did so slowly just to be safe. We both need some practice backing up into spots. It wasn't very difficult but took some patience. We have to back onto our pad hat home so I'm sure it will get easier after a few times. One thing to note is that the sway bar does need to be REMOVED to back up. If you back up with it connected the trailer will only turn one way regardless of how you turn the wheel. I learned that loosening the friction is not the same as removing the bar. Imagine that, the instructions were actually more correct than my assumptions. How could that be? It really was an amazing trip. I can say with no reservations that the Casita is a great little trailer. I can also highly recommend the current generation Rav4 as capable TV. Thanks for all the input from the forum members it was really helpful to hear from current owners.