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Old 11-17-2018, 01:12 PM   #1
Omi
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Omi

Hubby and I have just returned from Chilliwack where we ordered an Escape 17B. Will pick it up in March 2019. Have never owned a trailer. Plan to tow it with our 2002 Volkswagen pop-top Eurovan which has been our "camper" for 16 years. Big change for us !
This site has already been so helpful. Many Thanks. I am not very computer literate. Please excuse my bumbling around the forums and posts.
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:17 PM   #2
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Separate bedrooms?
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omi View Post
Hubby and I have just returned from Chilliwack where we ordered an Escape 17B. Will pick it up in March 2019. Have never owned a trailer. Plan to tow it with our 2002 Volkswagen pop-top Eurovan which has been our "camper" for 16 years. Big change for us !
This site has already been so helpful. Many Thanks. I am not very computer literate. Please excuse my bumbling around the forums and posts.
Great that you purchased an Escape! You should make sure that you have enough towing capacity with your van. A fully loaded 17B with propane and water can be upward of 3,500 lbs, so make sure that you have a robust enough tow vehicle.
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:33 PM   #4
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Well, our VW is rated to tow 4400 lbs. The ETI people seemed to think it would be fine. We know that somewhere down the line we will need a new tow vehicle but I can't imagine one as versatile as our "Blue Bird" . . . seats 7, sleeps 4 and allows standing height.


. . . and you never know when that "separate bedroom" might be handy
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:57 PM   #5
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Welcome! I've been down your way a few times; my daughter lives in McKinleyville and works in Arcata.
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Old 11-17-2018, 03:05 PM   #6
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Well, our VW is rated to tow 4400 lbs.
The T4 generation of the Volkswagen Transporter (called the "Eurovan" in North America) is a commercial vehicle of substantial capacity - especially these late ones with the six-cylinder engine - and the towing rating looks promising. There is more than one number to towing capacity, though, so it is still worth checking to see if the trailer will fit within all of the vehicle's limits, including
  • the trailer's tongue weight is within the van's hitch weight limit,
  • the total of the loaded camper plus the trailer's hitch weight is within the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the van, and
  • the total weight of the loaded camper plus loaded trailer is within the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of the van.
You might need to be careful with the amount of stuff that you carry (to avoid excessive total weight), or how the trailer is loaded (to avoid excessive tongue weight).

I can't find a Eurovan manual online - so far it looks like perhaps (from owner's comments in other forums):
  • hitch weight limit = 440 pounds (one post said 220 pounds, but that would be unreasonably low)
  • GVWR = 5800 pounds
  • GCWR = 10,000 pounds
The empty Eurovan is about 4500 pounds and the camper adds a lot to that, so the trailer's tongue weight might tip it over GVWR, and the trailer's total weight might tip it over GCWR, if you carry too much stuff.
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Old 11-17-2018, 03:40 PM   #7
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There is no "camper" inside our Eurovan . . . no sink, no stove, no propane etc. . . . only the pop-top and a very small fridge under a seat.


My husband looked at the hitch we have and it reads max. TW = 400 lbs. We assume that means tongue weight. How do we determine the tongue weight of the 17B ?
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Old 11-17-2018, 03:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omi View Post
There is no "camper" inside our Eurovan . . . no sink, no stove, no propane etc. . . . only the pop-top and a very small fridge under a seat.


My husband looked at the hitch we have and it reads max. TW = 400 lbs. We assume that means tongue weight. How do we determine the tongue weight of the 17B ?
ETI says the approx. dry hitch weight is 250lbs for the 17'. But the only way to truly know what YOUR trailer hitch weight is, is to weight it. Maybe every single time you are loaded and ready to go.
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Old 11-17-2018, 03:58 PM   #9
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There is no "camper" inside our Eurovan . . . no sink, no stove, no propane etc. . . . only the pop-top and a very small fridge under a seat.
Ah, so it's a Eurovan MV Weekender, not a Eurovan Camper. That will save some weight.

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My husband looked at the hitch we have and it reads max. TW = 400 lbs. We assume that means tongue weight. How do we determine the tongue weight of the 17B ?
Yes, that's tongue weight.

The base dry (meaning without option, and with no water or propane) tongue weight of a 17' is listed by Escape in the Specifications as only 250 pounds. The base dry total weight of a 17B is 2400 pounds, and as Escape suggests in their FAQ, a typical loaded weight might be 3400 pounds (including options and your stuff). If the tongue weight is 12% or more of that (typical for Escapes) it would be over 400 pounds on the hitch. You'll need to distribute the load in the trailer carefully to keep it under 400 pounds, but that will still be high enough for good trailer stability.

There's a long-running discussion of loaded trailer weights with accompanying spreadsheet listing: Trailer Weights in the Real World. It only has a very small sample of 17B tongue weights, all but one of which are under 400 pounds, but some people run much higher tongue weight than these examples. I don't see a problem, but don't plan on piling a bunch of stuff on the tongue (including the storage box if you got that) or in the front dinette area.
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Old 11-17-2018, 04:17 PM   #10
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when I test drove a new T4 Eurovan VR6 circa 2000 or 2001, I felt it had a bit of a tendency to porpoise even without a trailer. If you're going to use one for towing, I would strongly look at either using a light WDH, or adding airbags to the rear suspension of the van to reduce this. The T4 I drove had the sport suspension setup with /50 tires, which I thought was ludicrous on a van.
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Old 11-17-2018, 04:30 PM   #11
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Too light tongue weight you have sway, too heavy and you may overload your hitch. The dual six batteries on the rear may lower your t/w but you may need a antisway attachment.
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Old 11-17-2018, 04:35 PM   #12
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My husband looked at the hitch we have and it reads max. TW = 400 lbs. We assume that means tongue weight. How do we determine the tongue weight of the 17B ?

My weight distribution hitch says 600 lbs. max tongue weight, but that doesn't mean my RAV4 can handle 600 lbs. My RAV4 manual says maximum 350 lbs. tongue weight. My 17B (classic) is generally 320/340 lbs. tongue.
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Old 11-17-2018, 07:18 PM   #13
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We have a 17A, which is lighter than the 17B. When we first loaded it up, we had lots of stuff under the front bed, and in the tongue storage box. That got us up to a 400 lb. tongue weight, so we redistributed stuff, especially heavy stuff. Now, we're typically 350+ lbs. on the tongue. The issue with all of the 17's is that it is 12 feet between the hitch and the trailer axle. Inside, the axle lines up with the kitchen sink and the refrigerator(), so anything on-board that resides in front of the sink or frig. has at least part of its weight transferred to the tongue.
All that is to say, 17's have a tendency to be tongue heavy, so just pay attention to load.
It does make for a very, very stable tow, with no tendency to sway!
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Old 11-17-2018, 07:31 PM   #14
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My weight distribution hitch says 600 lbs. max tongue weight, but that doesn't mean my RAV4 can handle 600 lbs. My RAV4 manual says maximum 350 lbs. tongue weight.
A good point: the 400 pound value may only apply to the hitch, and the van may have a lower limit. On the other hand, the van's maximum trailer weight is 4400 pounds, and 400 is only 9% of that, so if the van's limit is under 400 pounds it can't be much lower. If the hitch came from Volkswagen, the numbers on it probably match the van's ratings. In any case, the authoritative number is in the van's owner's manual.
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Old 11-18-2018, 10:57 PM   #15
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So many decisions

I have to thank you Brian B-P for your detailed comment on the ability of our Eurovan to tow our 17B. We got out the manual and sure enough it stipulates only a 220 lb hitch weight !! Given all the information from the manual, it looks as if the Eurovan could haul the trailer but it would be an unreasonable burden on my beloved Bluebird.

Thanks to all the comments really . . . for nudging us into shopping for a more powerful tow vehicle. But after investing in a decent RV shelter, and now a new tow vehicle, we have to laugh about a little expenditure turning into an impressive stack of change
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:15 AM   #16
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We got out the manual and sure enough it stipulates only a 220 lb hitch weight !! Given all the information from the manual, it looks as if the Eurovan could haul the trailer but it would be an unreasonable burden on my beloved Bluebird.
220 pounds is only 5% of the 4400 pound trailer weight rating - I've heard of Euro ratings allowing only 6% before but not lower, and was expecting at least 8%. Some trailers can be reasonably stable with only 5% tongue weight, but not likely a travel trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omi View Post
Thanks to all the comments really . . . for nudging us into shopping for a more powerful tow vehicle. But after investing in a decent RV shelter, and now a new tow vehicle, we have to laugh about a little expenditure turning into an impressive stack of change
While a different tow vehicle is needed, and whatever you get will have more power (that's the reality of the vehicle market today), it's not actually power that you need (although more will be nice). You don't even need a bigger tow vehicle - the Eurovan is larger than most SUVs that you will likely look at. The only real issue with the Eurovan is the hitch weight capacity.

While most people in North America have never heard of a Volkswagen Eurovan (or Transporter), those who know and like them can be big fans. If you're selling it to buy the new tow vehicle, there's probably someone who really wants this one (even at 16 years old).
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:18 AM   #17
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Can you double check the manual and make sure is says 220 lbs. and not 220 kg. ( which would be 485 lbs )?
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:41 AM   #18
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My husband went right out to the van and checked the manual again. All the specs are actually written in both units i.e. 220lbs / 100kg
. . . back to vehicle shopping
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:45 AM   #19
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Vehicle shopping is probably a good idea in any event. Towing with a vehicle that long in the legs could be a cause of stress.
You might also get a VW dealer to run the VIN for your Eurovan and see what comes up in terms of equipment and tow capacity.
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Old 11-19-2018, 05:20 AM   #20
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Omi,
I sympathize with your concerns about towing with a beloved, but marginal tow vehicle.

We used our 2003 4Runner V6 for the first 20,000 miles, and it did a decent job. It's rated at 5,000 to 6,400 depending on which hitch is used, but power was a concern (283 lb-ft), and now it's just over 100,000 miles. Transmission temperature was always a concern on long grades, and it was a constant worry.

Our more powerful Ram is at the dealer, for yet another recall, and we may have have to use the 4Runner this week for a Thanksgiving campout. I hate the thought of hurting our old friend and reliable but semi-retired 4Runner.

If you have the room, keep the VW, even after you get something newer. We traded in my wife's V8 Grand Cherokee for "cash for clunkers" in 2009 and I've never heard the end of it.
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