You’ve heard the expression, “kick the tires before you go,” right? That’s a great place to start. With sound attention to detail and a reasonable level of caution, you can safely haul your Scamp down the road for a memorable vacation. Make it a habit to go over your safety checklist every time you hit the road.
Hitching your Scamp
Securely hitch your Scamp to the towing vehicle: You should have a 2 inch ball hitch for towing your Scamp. Prior to 2005, most 13 foot trailers used a 1 and 7/8 inch ball. The ball hitch height on the tow vehicle should be about 18 inches high for the 13 foot trailer and 21 inches high for the 16 foot trailer.
With help from someone standing near the trailer, yet clear of where your vehicle will travel, back the towing vehicle up to the Scamp hitch. In the case of the Scamp 5th wheel, this often requires the tailgate to be lowered in order to avoid hitting the hitch, and then closed again before it makes contact with the front of the camper.
Be certain that the hitch is seated all the way down on the ball, and that the latch is locked in place. It is a good
idea to use either a trailer hitch lock or a bolt to secure the hitch down and in place. Then attach the safety chains and connect the wire harness. When connecting the wire harness, make sure the tab on the trailer connector lines up with the notch on the car connector. Next, raise the center mount jack as far as it goes. On the 13 foot Scamps made prior to 2006, tip the jack up to the horizontal position. For the 5th wheel jacks, after raising them as high as they go, remove the height adjustment pin, lift the lower member all the way up, and then re-insert and latch the pin to lock the jacks all the way up.
1) While at the front of the trailer, make sure that the LP tank is turned all the way off. If you have a dual tank setup, make sure you check both tanks.
2) Check the trailer lights to confirm that they are working, checking left turn, right turn, brake lights, and tail lights. Check the marker lights on both sides as well.
3) Take one final look around the camper, looking for any issues like low tires, rear stabilizer jacks that must be raised, and water or electrical connections that need to be properly stowed. If this is the first time you have towed your Scamp in several weeks, check the tire pressure with a tire gauge. Don’t forget to check the pressure on your spare tire. This is also a good time to check for any abnormal tire wear.
4) Look inside the Scamp, confirming that all the windows are latched, all loose items are properly put away, all faucets and valves are off, and the vents are securely closed. Your refrigerator should be put into the proper power mode for towing (more on this in the Interior Operation section). If you have a screen door, make sure it is strapped and secure. Lock the door as you close it, and your Scamp is ready to tow.
It’s a good habit to run through this checklist each time you tow your Scamp. It only takes a couple of minutes, and assures that your Scamp is ready to travel.
Proper loading and weight distribution
How you load your Scamp can have a big impact on how well it tows as you travel down the road. Weight needs to be distributed evenly side to side, and front to rear. Keep in mind that your LP tank or tanks will impact the weight, depending on how much gas you have in them. Ideally you will want enough weight on the hitch to keep the trailer from floating up in the front, but not so much that the towing vehicle is carrying too much weight causing the rear suspension to sag. Ideally you want from 100 to 200 pounds of weight on the hitch when your Scamp is fully packed. The best method to determine the proper tongue weight for your Scamp is this - approximately 10% of the total weight of the trailer should be on the hitch for correct trailing.
Also consider how much water you have in your holding tanks. Every gallon of water adds 8 pounds. Traveling with full tanks will add several hundred pounds to the weight of your Scamp. If all tanks were completely full you may add over 400 pounds to the travel weight of the trailer.
Don’t forget to distribute your supplies among the various storage areas under the bunks and rear dinette. Place any heavy items low in the trailer to reduce swaying, and as close to the axle as possible to maintain trailer balance.
The power converter, located under the right rear bunk, should not be covered with items that will cause it to overheat, such as blankets.
Note that your Scamp is not designed to be a utility trailer. You should not pack excessive amounts of supplies in it while you are traveling. This will cause unnecessary wear on the axle, and shorten the life of your Scamp.
Pack items in a manner that will prevent them from moving around during travel. Any breakable items should be securely packed, as some bouncing may occur. When ever possible use non-breakable items, such as plastic plates and cups instead of glass.
The brake controller
All trailers with electric brakes will require a brake control mounted in the tow vehicle. If you have a trailer with electric brakes you will need to set the controls properly. For instructions on how to do this we refer you to the instruction manual for your specific brake controller. When your brakes are set properly your vehicle should not feel as though the trailer is pushing it when you are trying to stop. At the same time, do not set your trailer brakes so aggressively that that are stopping the car and trailer both with the trailer brakes. The goal is a smooth braking action, where the trailer brakes are stopping the trailer, and the auto brakes are stopping the tow vehicle.
The last thing to check before you tow your Scamp is your mirrors. Once in the driver’s seat, make any mirror adjustments that are needed to see around your Scamp as you drive.
And then you are set to go…