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Old 09-25-2017, 07:39 PM   #1
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Default New old Hi Lo camper

Hi Folks,
It has been 25 years since I last had a Hi Lo. Now retired and ready to travel. Just bought a hardly used 2003 TowLite 17T, but a little confused about it. PO gave me what appears to be a general manual for the "World of TowLite". Here's part of the confusion. It says hitch wt 275, axle wt 2465 and UVW of 2740. Also states all TowLites use a 2" ball. Looking at the TowLite specification sheets (has all the size specs for 2003 model), hitch wt of 380, axle 2310 and UVW 2690. Which is close. But per manual for my new Honda Ridgeline (I know. A suv with a thyroid problem. LOL) if back end squats 2", its about 485# hitch wt., so I will be over on hitch weight by 75#. Also on the tongue of the trailer, it says 2 5/16 ball size.

Also by specification sheet, outside shower was not an option, but this has one, nor were multiple batteries (now have 2). My old 9021 only had a single battery. Did this unit originally have a single battery? If so, does anyone know what size I should use? I need to get the tongue weight down a bit, without adding weight to the back if possible. I have a 500# tongue limit on the hitch, and the new equalizer bars weigh an additional 90# by themselves. I've thought about taking off one LP tank to also aid in lowering hitch weight. Any words of wisdom from those who know?

Thanks,

Poppy
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Old 09-25-2017, 11:51 PM   #2
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Poppy, welcome back.

Do yourself a favor and get a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH). You'll want one with a 600# tongue weight capacity. This will go into the hitch receiver in your Honda and should solve all your weight problems, by shifting half of that tongue weight to the front axle of your tow vehicle. Your Honda probably cites a "bumper hitch weight" that is fairly low - My F150 gives me a 500# limit for a bumper hitch.

With a WDH, you are limited only by the Total Combined truck and trailer weight and the Maximum Allowable Axle Weight Ratings on your Honda. You should be able to find those figures on a sticker on the driver's door.

And yes, get a hitch with a 2 5/16" ball. That's what mine is and I think Hi-Lo went to that size somewhere in the early part of this century.

I suspect the prior owner added the second battery. I added a second battery to mine, connected in parallel to increase the capacity.

- Jack
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:10 AM   #3
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Default Adding a battery

Hello Jack,

I read your post about the fact you added a battery and connecting them in parallel. I have a good basic knowledge of electrical but this subject is a bit confusing...but since you have done it...Does that change your system then from a 12volt to a 24volt? Can you simply add a battery to a single battery system without modification? I have the older model Hi-Low 84 Funlite. I am very worried about not having enough power with just one battery so this subject I am really trying to figure out. Also along these same lines, can I simply replace my old light fixtures to LED since they have such a low power draw.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:16 AM   #4
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Jack,
Thanks for the reply. I had looked at 600# WDH, but was told not to get one by many people. Was told that it would be too stiff (6000# capacity and I have less than 3000 total wt.) and could bend the frame of the trailer. Ended up with 450/4200 WDH. Now I don't know which way to go. Trying to lesson tongue wt by decreasing 1 propane tank and eliminating one of the batteries. Figured I could lose at least 100# with that move, but WDH weighs 90 so I would need to trim a little more.

I have very little need for more than one battery except to open and close the unit. Won't be doing any boon docking so I think 2 batteries is an over kill for my use. Do you know what the single battery specs are?

Will try to get to local scale this week to see what actual wt is. Hoping it will be lighter than what I think it might be.

Great group. Love reading all of the helpful hints and comments. I'll be on site quite often.

Thx again

Marty (Poppy)
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:45 AM   #5
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Hi, JMan - when you connect batteries in parallel, the voltage remains the same 12 Volts. To do this, you buy two short "jumper" cables (at an automotive store) that are about a foot long, and you apply one from the positive post of one battery to the positive post of the other. Then, you apply the other cable from the negative post of one battery to the negative post of the other.

In essence, what you have created is a battery that is twice the size of your original battery (so it has twice the capacity) but it has the same voltage. You then connect your trailer battery cables to a positive post of one of the batteries and the negative cable to the negative post of the same battery or the other battery. It is slightly better to apply the trailer cables to the posts of opposite batteries to even out the effects of cable resistance, but this is a minor consideration.

Your two batteries should be the same age, brand and size if you do this. If not, BOTH will operate at the weaker level of the two and the stronger will be damaged.

Ideally, connecting two batteries in parallel will double the time they can be used before becoming discharged, but this doesn't happen in practice. However, it DOES extend the time to discharge significantly - probably by 75% or more.

If you were to connect the two batteries in SERIES (positive post of one battery to the negative post of the other using only one jumper cable) and then the trailer battery cables to the two remaining posts, you would double the voltage to 24V. This would damage the electrical system in your trailer. DON'T DO THIS!

Regarding LEDs - YES, you can replace all the lighting inside and out with LEDs. I've put LED bulbs in all my interior fixtures. All you need to do is find LEDs with the proper electrical base (the part that twists in to the socket). There's no need to replace the fixtures. A good source for LEDs is SuperBrightLEDs.com. They give the brightness rating in Lumens and tell you the color temperature of all the bulbs they sell. I got the brightest ones that would fit in "soft white" (a color temperature of 2500-3000K) Daylight color temps are in the 4500-6000K range.

Hope I haven't confused you.

- Jack
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:05 PM   #6
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Marty, you and I have basically the same trailer. I discovered my trailer weighs about 3500# with the fresh water tank empty. If I fill the tank, the trailer weighs about 3800# which is its limit. I DO have two batteries in the battery box and I have two full propane tanks on board. There is very little else that I've added that has significant weight. It is simply heavier than the specs say it should be (and was even before I added anything). It also had a heavier tongue weight than was described in the brochure.

I have an Equal-I-Zer 600/6000# WDH that was installed by the dealer when I bought the trailer (new) in 2007. It is an excellent hitch that combines sway control in its design and it has been trouble-free.

I honestly don't see how a heavier capacity WDH could "bend" the frame of your trailer. If anyone on the forum thinks otherwise, I hope they join this discussion. As far as I know, the only thing a stronger WDH will do is to "stiffen" the ride. The weight of the WDH IS borne by the axles of your truck, so you have to respect their limits, but it does NOT add to the trailer weight.

Your WDH would probably be fine if you removed the extra battery. You DO need to weigh the trailer and determine its actual tongue weight to be sure. There are several posts in this forum on how to do that using a CAT scale and you can find other posts online on the subject of determining these weights. If you only camp at campgrounds with hookups, you should be OK with one battery. I'd keep two propane tanks - they're only 20# each. At a full service campground, you'd have water hookup too, so you would not be carrying any water in the fresh water tank.

Have I clarified things or confused you?

- Jack
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:50 PM   #7
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Thank you Jack your comments and knowledge is really invaluable here. I have taken your advice on most all this stuff and I am really starting to understand my Hi-Lo so thank you for that.

I do understand about the batteries now, thanks for the tip on having to be pretty much the same I would of never figured that one out...

While I am asking questions...My outside running lights...If one is out are they all out? I am having a tough time finding a replacement for one that is destroyed and I really do not want to replace them all.

Another question is that I measured the distance between the upper half and lower half gap In the raised position. In the front it is about 1/2 inch.. In the back it is about 1 1/2 inches. Hopefully you know what I am talking about. Should both sections come together flush all around? Since mine is about an inch off dose that mean I need to adjust my cables or is there maybe a tolerance for that. I don't like how it looks, It seems like when it was originally built both sections would be flush seeing it from the inside
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Old 09-26-2017, 07:14 PM   #8
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How to fix top half creep in your Hilo Trailer Just type "top creep" in the "search" header. I've done this to most all units I've done repairs to. Pretty simple. Two 9/16" wrenches and a pair of vice grips and a little time. I start with top down to have a little slack in the cables. Any questions, just ask.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:36 PM   #9
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Jman, I don't think having one outside light out will effect all the others. They would have to be wired in series for that to happen (like some old Christmas tree lights).

There are several places you could find a similar light fixture for any of the outside running lights. I've seen them in Home Depot, ACE Hardware, and Harbor Freight. I think some of the automotive stores may have them too, in the RV section. You can probably find them online too, at a site that sells RV products. They don't have to be an "exact" duplicate, and I doubt you would find them to have particularly different wiring. A running light just needs two wires, one to supply the 12V and the other to connect to ground.

If your lights have 4 wires, attached in pairs to 2 points on your existing fixture, just keep the pairs together and attach the each wire of the new fixture to them using wire nuts or something similar. A white wire is usually the ground wire.

You should adjust your cables so that the bulb seal on the inside of the top (near the lower edge) meets the "lip" at the outside of the lower half (again, near the top). This is hard to see unless you take the inside trim strip off the inside top edge of the lower half. That will also expose the pulleys if they are under the strip and will allow you to lubricate the cables where they go over the top pulleys. If the bulb seal meets, that is all you want. The trim strips on the upper and lower halves may or may not be "flush/even". Mine are not on the front side of the trailer.

The inner trim strips are held on by screws and are easy to remove and replace.

- Jack
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:30 AM   #10
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yeah jack knows everything just take all his advice, nothing he cant answer! lmao and will regular dictionary on hi lo's lmao again
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:03 AM   #11
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Jack,
Thanks ever so much for the needed information. I feel better knowing my initial thoughts were basically correct. I'm going to return the 450 WDH for a 600 one, but still will get a platform scale weight. It has been too long ago, and too much has been forgotten about pulling a heavier unit. My last trailer was an '85 uHaul 15' that only weighed 1200# and a 100# tongue wt. That was a dream to pull, but too small for the wife and I to stay in for any length of time. Sometimes she doesn't have a sense of humor about things. :-) Glad to be back with the TowLite.

Depending on what my tongue weight is, do you know what size single battery should be used with my 17'?

Marty
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:31 AM   #12
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Marty, my battery box won't hold anything larger than a Group 24 battery. The next one up is Group 27. It is longer, but about the same width and height as I recall.

You don't need to get a new one unless your current pair of batteries are weak. Just use one of them.

- Jack
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:47 AM   #13
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"SUV with a thyroid problem" hahahah - perfect description of the Ridge!

I own the older Ridge (which has a 5000lbs tow limit), but a bit less HP/torque than the new ones (but not a lot).

I've towed quite a bit with it, from a small utility trailer (2000lbs max) to a box trailer that was most likely fully maxed at the 5000lbs (yes, irresponsible, wouldn't do it again).

The two generations of Ridge are similar enough that they probably perform about the same (in that they're a very stout unibody, not a true pickup, and have a somewhat unique AWD system, not a 4WD system). Yours has a little more HP and torque.

3500 lbs is about the limit of what I would tow with mine anymore. It can do it, but it's really not built for regular towing. It does have both a radiator-integrated trans cooler and an external trans cooler (for towing). BUT...the gauge/idiot light system will NEVER indicate if there's a trans heating problem (has to do with the stabilization algorithm in the computer).

If you decide to do regular towing with the Ridge, it would be worth it to have a separate transmission temp gauge installed (one that is connected to the trans cooler line AT the transmission). Keeping temps in control is very important with an automatic, and even more so with Honda's (they use much smaller clutch packs than traditional trans designs, increasing both propensity to heat more and sensitivity to fluid heating). IIRC you want to keep the trans temp under 220 degrees or so (I'd have to look that up).

The trans in the Ridgeline is an impressive piece of engineering, but I would highly recommend decreasing the fluid change interval for it and the VTM4 unit (the rear "differential"), which also uses clutch packs (unlike a conventional differential). Think the standard interval is 35k miles for the trans and 75k for the diff. And it's not a cheap change.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my Ridge, it's a truly impressive piece of engineering that has withstood heavy use and a fair amount of abuse. But unfortunately we're going to have to replace it with a "real" truck for regular towing above 3500lbs - it really isn't meant for it.
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Old 09-27-2017, 07:27 PM   #14
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Jack,
Haven't made it to public scale yet, but did do the scale, pipe, board, trick and came up with a tongue weight of 435#. Including both batteries and propane. Rechecked Honda manual for the Ridgeline and with 2 people in the truck it has a 600# tongue max, 5000# towing. Even if I allow 90# for the WDH, i'm only at 525 tongue wt. I will still get to pub scale to verify, but right now I'm a happy camper. New WDH should be here at first of the week and I'll get the whole thing weighed.
Again, thanks for your help. You can teach an old dog.

Poppy
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Old 10-01-2017, 04:20 PM   #15
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Not sure where to find a vin #On our hi lo and have no idea what year it is .
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Old 10-01-2017, 05:15 PM   #16
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Marty, your WDH does not add to the tongue weight, but it DOES add to the weight on your Honda's axles. It's kinda like throwing the WDH into the bed of the truck. So, your 600# limit is still there. If your measured tongue wt of 435# is accurate, you will be distributing that weight, plus the wt of the hitch, your passengers, and whatever else you have packed in the truck over its axles.

I've never weighed my hitch (I should do that) but I THINK it's around 90-100# total with the spring bars.

It sounds to me like you'll be OK.

- Jack
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:53 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missyloyd13 View Post
Not sure where to find a vin #On our hi lo and have no idea what year it is .
Welcome to the forum. Sometimes you can find the VIN stamped into the tongue on the left side or in one of the cabinets.
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