Hitching up

How cool was this!  I now owned a great little RV travel trailer and a perfect Dodge Ram truck.  What fun!  Ok, next step was to connect the two of them together and actually tow the RV somewhere.  Well, more research was needed.  Frankly, a whole lot of the fun for me in this entire endeavor was the research.  I do love learning things.

For many months, I had already been researching all things about RVing and camping and towing and such, so I had a pretty good idea what was required to hitch up the trailer to the truck, but RVs are not all the same and trucks are not all the same, so more research was needed.

After measuring the size of the coupler on the trailer (in order to buy the proper size ball for the truck), and after measuring the height of the coupler on the trailer with the trailer in a relatively level position (you want the nose of the trailer level or very slightly uphill as you tow it down the road), I purchased a ball and an offset ballmount for the truck and then drove to the trailer at its storage location to try those out and see if they worked.

They worked great.  The offset I had figured and purchased for the height difference between the trailer and the truck worked perfectly, and the size of the ball and the coupler matched perfectly (with appropriate type of lube sprayed on the ball).  But a few other things didn’t work so well.

The electrical connector on the trailer did not fit into the electrical socket in the truck.  And there was no place on the truck to attach the emergency breakaway cable for the trailer’s electric brakes (if the trailer becomes disconnected from the truck while driving down the road, that breakaway cable needs to snap off so the trailer brakes are fully applied immediately).  The cover over the propane tanks shimmied and wobbled so badly that I thought it would fly off if I drove more than about 3mph.

I researched each situation, mostly online, but also talked with friends who owned RVs and talked with the repair shop that was connected with the RV dealer where I bought this RV and I also asked questions on a couple of RV blogs I had been following.  The answers varied a bit, but not much … most everyone agreed on the answers.  Most companies in the RV industry have the experience and honesty to be trusted.  Still, experience in the real world can’t be beat and there are all manner of short-cuts and/or other ways of doing things.  I am learning a lot from other people and, in turn, am always happy to share what I know.  If you have questions, please ask and I’ll share what works for me.

With regard to what wasn’t working yet, rather than replace the wiring and the socket on the truck or the wiring and connector on the trailer (either would have been expensive), I took out my sharpest utility knife and modified the end connector that was attached to the wiring from the trailer.  Piece of cake!  Only a small amount of blood was donated in the process.





The socket on the truck, with one big poke-out on the top, and lots of little poke-IN ridges all around the circumference.









The connector from the RV, with one big poke-out on the top, but a smooth circumference .. no little poke-IN ridges around the circumference.





After surgery on the connector from the RV (and one band-aid for me), it all hooked together nicely.  You can see the scrabbledy cuts in the side of the connector where I created the poke-IN parts so the RV connector and the truck socket would match up perfectly.  A tab on the flip-up cover prevents the connector from sliding out accidentally.

Rather than pay someone to weld on an eye-bolt and then fabricate some type of connection at the end of the RV’s emergency brake cable, I simply made a loop in the end of the cable and clamped it closed and then put that loop over the hitch pin, then inserted the hitch pin clip to hold all of that in place .. voilà, perfect solution.

Rather than buy an expensive kit to hold down the propane cover, I simply routed two bungee cords underneath the cover in such a way that if either of them broke, then the other would still hold the cover securely.

There were a few other things to deal with (and there will be more in the next few months), but eventually I got the RV hitched to the truck and, wow, I actually towed the RV out from under the shed roof and around the parking lot (after checking all the lights, of course).  This was exciting!

And then, of course, I had to BACK the trailer back into its storage spot, yikes.  I had a friend with me to help spot me and had no problem.  I learned a trick as a teenager when I was backing a ski boat down a ramp .. put one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel .. when you want the trailer to back to the left, move your hand to the left .. when you want the trailer to back to the right, move your hand to the right .. use only one hand and keep moving your hand so it is always at the bottom of the steering wheel, right over your lap .. and sit on your other hand if need be .. and use only your side mirrors, don’t turn your head around and look back, you will make yourself dizzy and just confuse your brain.  If you get really confused, just stop the truck (and turn the engine off please! as it can jump into gear) and walk around and look at the situation, then get back in the truck and proceed.

I was being very careful about taking all of this one step at a time.  Some folks have more experience than I did, or just don’t care that much about the details, or choose to pay someone else to work out the details.  But since I would probably be camping at times in places where there might be no other people right close by, I figured I really did need to know my RV and my truck and exactly how everything worked.  Besides, I was having fun.

Ok, next post will be about towing the RV on a real street!  (It went well.)  And I’ll talk about taking the RV to a maintenance/repair shop for some work and advice.  In the meantime, over the winter of 2016-2017, I fixed and cleaned and researched everything I could on the RV, including how to winterize (and then did it) the fresh water system using RV-type anti-freeze (safe for human consumption in small quantities), and installed a magnetic door-holder for the bathroom door (the door just flopped around otherwise .. how stupid was that?), and several other improvements to the RV.


I also started figuring out how/where to stow all the camping bits and pieces inside the trailer .. kitchen things, food, clothes, tools, outdoor furniture, hoses and electrical cords, spare parts, etc, and began figuring out the truck as well.  This was great fun, but I was starting to wonder if I would ever actually go camping.  Not to worry, spring was coming.

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4 Responses to Hitching up

  1. Dorothy Matthews says:

    Be sure to pack close to hand a multiple head screw driver, some small “Swede-nails” and screws that are a bit larger than holes on various door hinges.

    There is “vibration fatigue” that can’t be checked ahead of time.

    Vibration fatigue is when you are most exhausted on a lonely, dark road, some door will clatter to the floor from its hinge or you step on three little screws hidden in the rug or find yourself fixating on a strange noise that seems to have no source. Cheers!

    • Ann says:

      Hi Dorothy,
      Good advice! And funny too. 🙂 Love your “lonely, dark road” reference. And yet, yes I bet that’s when things happen.
      I didn’t think much about the stress on a trailer as it’s being jingle-jangled down the road and it being different than the stress on a boat rolling with the waves .. but it is much different now that I think about it. You know I’ll have tools handy. Might just have to add a few more.
      Cheers back at you folks. 🙂

  2. Furry Gnome says:

    Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog. Hope you stay and emjoy it. Your story is fascinating, and that 2nd boat is beautiful! You sound very much like us, planning to travel in a small RV, and maybe the occasional more distant holiday. Except I have to get some surgery out of the way first. Seems to be quite a cluster of bloggers I follow out in the PNW. And occasionally we’re out here ourselves ’cause our daughter lives in Abbotsford. Good luck with your blog and travels.

    • Ann says:

      Hi FG,
      You bet I’ll follow your blog. I’ve barely had time to do anything else since I discovered it yesterday evening. You write very well!
      One of my other finalists for a trailer was an Escape 21, built in Chilliwack, just a few miles east of Abbotsford. If I ever get up that way, I’ll wave in the direction of Abbotsford. If you’re ever in the Tacoma, WA, area, give a holler. Best of luck with the surgery and here’s to healing quickly. Thanks so much for the comment.

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