New Member Intros Say Hello! Tell us a little about yourself and your camper; we're fairly friendly :)
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:03 PM   #1
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Default New owner of a 2001 Towlite

Greetings All!

Boy, talk about a newbie, that's me. I started out looking for a cabover camper for my 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 4X4, thinking we would be able to get in more remote places, but my wife wanted more room. We have had a van camper (loved it, easy to go anywhere, but little room inside), a cabover (a little more room, but limited size with a 1/2 ton truck), a class C motorhome (too much vehicle for my current purposes, and unless you tow a vehicle, no flexibility once you get where you are going).

Anyway, my wife kept mooning over all the room and comfort in trailers, but I have towed utility trailers cross-country several times, and I was not looking forward to a super-sized monster tied to my back end. Somehow, this 19-foot 2001 Towlite showed up, and now it belongs to us.

To show you how much I don't know, I drove a hundred miles to get it with my truck, which has a factory installed "tow package" (whatever that means), thinking I would just hook up and drive away. First surprise, the trailer has electric brakes, but I have no installed brake controller (what the heck is that?). The trailer has a seven blade electrical tow hookup, but my plug has only 5 blades connected. I could go on, but you get the idea. I don't know what I am doing.

We are heading out to Iowa and Illinois from Washington State in 2 weeks (probably will drive around 5,000 miles in a big loop), so have a very steep learning curve in front of us. Fortunately, the folks we bought the Towlite from are good people--they drove the trailer down to me this morning, and said we could call them with questions--and recommended this website for additional info.

I am not sure even what questions to ask just yet, but am on the trail to solving the electrical-tow-trailer connection problem (do I really need all 7 connectors in the plug?) and am hoping to get a sway control-weight distribution hitch in short order. Anybody have experience with a brake controller--suggestions for brand and installation? My truck has a wiring harness for the controller, and it looks like all I have to do is plug in the plug, tie into the controller, and I will have access to the hitch connector (or at least to 4 wires and a ground).

I won't overwhelm you with more questions right now, but expect to be back for a visit when I feel my feet back on the ground. Best wishes to all.

Ron and Christine
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:44 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forum and congratulations on the new HiLo. You will definitely need six of the seven pins on the seven pin plug. Tail/running lights, left turn, right turn, brakes, 12 volt charge line, and ground. If your TV has the factory tow package all those should be pre-wired to the socket. As for brake controller, I recommend a Tekonsha Prodigy P2 controller with the plug in wire harness that fits your TV plug. Here is a wiring diagram for trailer plug to study:Trailer Wiring Diagrams | etrailer.com
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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The factory installed tow package normally includes: heavy duty alternator, higher capacity battery, transmission cooler, heavy duty radiator, seven pin wired trailer connection, and a Class IV/V hitch receiver. That can vary depending on make and model.
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Old 07-01-2012, 12:12 AM   #4
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Default RJ Cronk

Since you are going on a big trip shortly you might consider having an RV place put in your brake controller and get you set up with a weight distribution /sway bars.If you prefer to do the install yourself search the internet for the best prices. Quite a few of our members are very good at finding what they need at good prices. Try E_Trailer. Or Amazon. You might even find some used equipment on Craigs list or EBay or similar sources. Check the code dates on your tires. Make sure you keep them properly inflated. We love questions so just ask away.
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:38 AM   #5
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Welcome and no one could ask more questions than me.... the people here are great, helpful and know what they are talking about. Have fun with your new camper!!
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:39 AM   #6
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Default HI rgcronk

Hi rgcronk
I tried to send you a private message. Let me know if it came thru.
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Old 07-01-2012, 02:42 PM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for your help. Fortunately, things are not as dire as I first thought. I did have a sleepless night trying to think everything through, but came to some good understandings. Regarding the 7 vs 5 connector plug, I actually have a standard 7 blade plug; I was looking at an adapter plug for towing a conventional utility trailer. And there is a wiring connector plug under the dashboard, so all I should have to do to connect the brake controller is buy the right harness and plug it in. I am on my way to Camping World in a few minutes to buy the Tekonsha controller and harness (thanks, Rich, for that suggestion).

The folks I bought the truck from said it had all the tow package stuff--radiator, transmission cooler, etc.--so I should be okay there. I recently had the transmission and both differentials serviced, and had the mechanic check belts, hoses, plugs, etc., so I should be okay there.

My current question has to do with the sway control/weight distribution hitch. I bought an Equalizer model 1722, rated at MGTW of 10,000 lbs and MTW of 1,000 lbs. I got it from Craigslist, everything is there and in excellent condition, for $300. Then I looked around the web to see other users' experiences (maybe should have looked first?). I saw where one user said the sway control was so stiff, it damaged the trailer tongue. Anyone know anything about that. I had watched the Equalizer videos, and it looked great--easy connection, combined sway/weight distribution--and I knew that it could handle more weight than I needed, but I thought maybe more was better. If I have to, I'll put it back on Craigslist, and find another one. Would appreciate any thoughts you might have.

That's all for the right now. I do appreciate your help--and patience--as we get up to speed. I suspect the next major questions will have to do with the Towlite itself. Like, for example, how the heck does the electrical inverter/converter work--I assume it has one. Again, thanks for your help and patience.

Ron
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:52 PM   #8
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Ron, I think the Equalizer Hitch you are buying will work. I have the one rated just below yours for my 17 ft Towlight (600/6000#) and my tongue load is just under 600# if I fill the fresh water tank. Your tongue load could be a tiny bit higher, depending on the distance from the axle to the hitch. I see that our max gross weights are the same though.

You could function with a hitch like mine, but I just don't see the extra 400# making that much difference.

I've found the hitch to be very trouble free, and pretty easy to hook up or unhook.

The electrical converter is simple. You just plug the thing into shore power and it charges the battery, gives you 12 V power to the components that need that and also gives you 110 V AC power for things like the air conditioner that need AC. If you unplug the converter, you have only 12 V DC battery power. It charges the battery at a decreasing rate when plugged in so it should not damage the battery through overcharging.

You should have room up in the battery box for a second battery to hook up in parallel, and I'd recommend you get that for boondock camping.

- Jack
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Old 07-01-2012, 06:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgcronk View Post
My current question has to do with the sway control/weight distribution hitch. I bought an Equalizer model 1722, rated at MGTW of 10,000 lbs and MTW of 1,000 lbs. I got it from Craigslist, everything is there and in excellent condition, for $300. Then I looked around the web to see other users' experiences (maybe should have looked first?). I saw where one user said the sway control was so stiff, it damaged the trailer tongue. Anyone know anything about that. I had watched the Equalizer videos, and it looked great--easy connection, combined sway/weight distribution--and I knew that it could handle more weight than I needed, but I thought maybe more was better. If I have to, I'll put it back on Craigslist, and find another one. Would appreciate any thoughts you might have.
Ron, that is the same WD hitch that I have also and so far it works great. I'm pulling a 29B Classic and it really handles nice. I think the tongue weight of mine is around 700-800lbs if I remember right. I don't feel any sway, which was my main concern pulling a long trailer. You should be fine, I have learned that it is a lot easier to just leave the hitch on my truck and pull only the sway control bars off when I am not using the hitch. Its a lot easier on the back, as I used to lift and hook up the whole hitch assembly each time I needed to use it. Also if you ever decide to get a bigger HiLo your set
Welcome to the forum also! I can say I am fairly new here also and found a lot of useful information and people here.
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:27 PM   #10
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Default Getting set up for towing

Seems like you are on the right track with getting set up for towing. Remember we all were newbies at one time. Keep asking for advice that is what we are here for. Get the presidents club at Camping world and join Sams club. The magazine highways is good. Keep posting.
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