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Old 07-12-2015, 11:47 AM   #1
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Smile A Life Story. Oh and Some New Buyer Questions Too!!

So this is my very first post here on the Escape forum. Which is really not that extra-ordinary as new people must post all the time. But I dare say by the time I finish the post, a majority of you will either be comatose or begging me to make it my last. And I'm ok with either, as long as people would be kind enough to answer my questions before it happens

So for those of you who haven't read my posts on the CasitaClub, you don't know that I can rather ramble on about the most minute, unnecessary details before coming to my point. Its a character flaw of mine. However, if you want to avoid all the "blah, blah, blah" just scroll down to page 158 where my questions will be brilliantly numbered. You're welcome. I mean, thank you. And just know I will be calling Escape on some of the "can this be done?" questions, but I think most are more opinion in nature.

So a bit of background...in 2006 my wife announced in rather emphatic tones that she was sick and tired of...not camping. What did you think I would say? Me?! As in hardly!! She said she didn't care what kind of trailer we got, we just had to get SOMETHING. Fortunately, a friend of my parents had a 13' Scamp we just by luck happened to see, and we both fell in love...with the concept. I also had been internetting (my very own word misspelling!), and we looked at several aluminum stickies locally. We even actually called Escape and talked to Reace about their trailers. But due to the fact that Escape was so far away, and also because we saw a Escape at a Camping World being repaired, which looked like something only a mother could love (the shape it was in), we kept looking. Then I found Casita's website...Cue the heavenly harp music...we were like 2 teenagers in love. We bought a 2007 SD which we have to this day.

Fast forward 8 years, and the two precious toddlers we had, running around in diapers, are now now 15 and 11. Ok maybe they were't still in diapers, but it paints such a strong emotional picture, don't you agree? Sure, they tent outside the Casita when we camp locally (around New England) but we have found the older they get, the more aware they are to the fact that their mom and dad are sleeping in a climate controlled camper while they are trying to sleep in a heat and moisture capturing tent in 90% humidity and 70 degree weather. This has led to demands that they be treated as equal citizens under the law. Well, more like "c'mon...do we HAVE to sleep outside? It's so hot!" What parents, who love their children and who want to have fun camping, can say "no!"? So they sleep in the Casita too. One on the dinette and on under the bed. Oh yeah, then the two dogs have to sleep somewhere in the Casita too. Usually laying on my pillow with their paws in my face. And I don't even like them!

When we got back from a trip to Disney World and Hilton Head a few months ago I was wondering why, that even with this epic, once of lifetime trip, I was an angry man by the time we got back. Then it hit me. Who in their right mind wants to live the game of Twister in real life for three weeks?

So with that revelation, we decided we are going to try and sell the Casita and get an Escape. The funny thing is, the kids are the ones who don't want to. Both have sentimental attachments to it because of the memories and such, but we tell them, memories are about the camping and family, which we will still have with the Escape. Kids learn such valuable life lessons nowadays! Back when, we only learned how to work hard and be good citizens.

Which finally brings me to the present. No, no, it's ok, I'll wait for the applause to die down...Here is our situation:

We have a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, 5000 lbs towing capacity, give or take 5750 lbs GVWR, 9500 lbs GCVWR, and a tongue weight capacity of 500 lbs. If there is anyone smart out there who sees that I got my numbers all screwed up, be forewarned, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed. We have a 2 bar WDH and an anti-sway bar that attaches to the WDH and trailer. As it now stands, we could afford the upgrade to the trailer, but not it AND the tow vehicle.

The first barrage of questions are as follows (please don't fall asleep now!):

1. If we mainly will pull the trailer around relatively flat terrain and mostly a just couple hundred miles (we don't have the Rockies or the Sierra's in Maine just tiny tiny hills) is the 21' an option with the FJ? I know its maybe not the "ideal", I just want to be within the margin of safety. Even if its pushing the envelope.

2. If so, on the 21', with the bed being the size and shape it is (I was sobbing my eyes out when I saw it was no bigger than our Casita's) do you feel cramped with 3 walls surrounding you?

3. If we went with the 19' we would still like the oven, and the larger fridge. If that were the case could the fridge be dropped down so a microwave could be installed above the fridge. Or would that make the microwave too high? The problem easily seen with this is that we lose all our storage. Not smart. But I already told you I'm not, so that's no shocker.

4. We were surprised when we looked a 19' Friday how small the bathroom was in comparison to the Casita's. Well, except for the height. Which we don't need as we are only 5'8" and 5'4". We are Oompa Loompa's. At least in height. Is the 21' bathroom more comparable to the Casita's? We exclusively use the bathroom, never campgrounds, so a nice fit is always a pleasant thing.

5. My wife was a little shocked with the thinness of the outer wall around the bathroom. Felt flimsy. Is there any issue with it being that thin as far as durability, or is there a reason why they don't put a cabinetry-style wall around the bathroom? Or could that be an option?

6. If we went with the 19', and didn't go with the cot option, which we might, could the 3 windows be lowered, instead of having the benches raised?

7. Can we get different color window shades? Such as well, say cream instead of the tan? We aren't thrilled with the way the tan shades darken the trailer up. I realize there will be give and take with a new trailer, but we are just used to how bright the Casita can be even with all the wonderful (I jest) vinyl blinds pulled down.

8. Do all trailers come with the snap on vinyl rock protectors, or can those be left off?

9. Where do people store their dirty clothes? My wife was thinking of places to put them but we don't want to permanently replace storage (i.e. a dirty clothes hamper in the hanging storage closet).

The thing is, I feel very much liberated and overwhelmed with the insane amount of customization which can be done in the Escape. Too used to "we have three favors of ice cream you can choose from. Vanilla, or Vanilla, or Vanilla. Which flavor of Vanilla would you like?" Now we have 51 flavors...

Please feel free to add to, dissect, criticize or mock any of my thoughts, please just don't ignore them!
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:10 PM   #2
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A Life Story. Oh and Some New Buyer Questions Too!!

Welcome to the forum. That certainly is a lot of info to digest, and I'm replying on my phone, so bear with me if I don't hit all your points:

1. A properly equipped FJ can tow a 21. Don't worry about the terrain. Will it be ideal? Depends on how you define that. The capacities work, but not much margin.
2. The bed on the 21 is very long, but only slightly narrower than a queen. Haven't heard many complaints about the size.
3. No, you can't relocate the fridge. It's in a specific spot that is tied to the roof and side vents.
4. The bathroom in the 19 is more square than in your casita. In terms of total volume it's bigger, but the width vs depth may make it seem smaller. The bath in the 21 is larger.
5. The bathroom is an insert. It's purpose is to enclose the water - not to be a structural component. You have the trailer's shell and support structure for that. Don't worry about the flex in the walls. It's light, and it's watertight.
6. No. The windows are in a specific spot for a reason. Moving them means messing with the structural integrity of the shell.
7. The shades do come in a light or dark color.
8. The rock protectors are an option for those who don't get the front storage box. Get the box. It's a must have.
9. A basket under the dinette bench for us, which is accessible via an optional door we had them add on the end of the bench. Others store it elsewhere.

Finally, it can be overwhelming to have as much customization options as Escape offers. Don't let it be that way. Just have fun with it. You're making the trailer reflect your personality and your tastes. In the end, the trailer is so well equipped that it's hard to screw that up.

Have fun!
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:15 PM   #3
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Welcome Nathan,
I'll try to answer some of your questions as I'm sure others will follow. I had an Escape 19 before my present 21 and did tow it with my FJ Cruiser without any issues. That said, the 21 is about 400 lbs heavier. The 19 gives you the cot option, not in the 21. The 21 gives you the rear dinette, not in the 19. The windows can not be changes, just raise the floor or the dinette height. But if you get the cot option you can not raise the height. The thin bath walls are caused by the bath being separate from the exterior and in some places they flex, in others they are solid. Yes the bath is larger in the 21 over the 19, but who spends a lot of time in there? Storage is always an issue, less with the 21. The snap protectors are eliminated if you get the front storage box. Hope this helps some and welcome.
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:35 PM   #4
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5. You can have most if not all walls reinforced as an option. The charge is per wall.
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by nathanj04011 View Post
5. My wife was a little shocked with the thinness of the outer wall around the bathroom. Felt flimsy. Is there any issue with it being that thin as far as durability, or is there a reason why they don't put a cabinetry-style wall around the bathroom? Or could that be an option?
When I first read this I thought that you were referring to the outside wall of the trailer (certainly no structural concern there), but perhaps you're talking about the interior wall of the bathroom, particularly on the side towards the outside of the trailer.

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5. The bathroom is an insert. It's purpose is to enclose the water - not to be a structural component. You have the trailer's shell and support structure for that. Don't worry about the flex in the walls. It's light, and it's watertight.
I agree.

On the forward, rearward, and inward sides, the bathroom is against interior cabinetry that's there for the purposes of the other side (in any model). On the outward side it is the shell of the trailer; not only is there no need for cabinetry, it would be impractical to build a wooden panel due to the shape... and I wouldn't want a piece of wood trapped between two fiberglass panels anyway.

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5. You can have most if not all walls reinforced as an option. The charge is per wall.
The reinforcement is only for wood-framed / plywood skinned "cabinetry" walls. The reinforcement is a more substantial plywood panel, which is just unnecessary weight unless you need it as structure to support something attached to the wall... which means you could get it for the forward-facing and rearward-facing walls, which is not likely the concern.
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:20 PM   #6
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When I first joined this forum, I asked if I could pull any with my 2010 FJ Cruiser. Due to what else I would be hauling with me at times (I want to use it for out of the area craft shows, so I would be hauling lots of stuff and weight), I was advised that it would not be best for a 21'. You also have to consider you have two kids with you, plus the dogs. They, and their stuff, will add weight.

I'm fortunate that there were bunches of Escape trailers to look at in our area. We realized the 19' was too small for our needs. The 21' was quite nice and would have been quite do-able. But when we saw the 5.0TA we fell in love and knew that's what we wanted. Plus the fact it has a full size queen, which was one of my requirements (at least the full length as I'm tall and need it).

We need to replace our 2000 Tacoma, so we knew a new truck would be required in the near future. Probably a bit sooner than hubby would like, but it is what it is.

You questioned the bed on the 21' and being surrounded by 3 walls. My question to you - you're also surrounded by 3 walls in the 19', so how it that much different? Granted, the "openings" are in a different place, but it's still basically 3 walls around you. I'm not familiar with your Casita, but I imagine it would be the same sort of situation.

Yeah, my brain rather boggled at all the different options for the Escapes. I put together an Excel file with all the options we like and the prices (as far as I can figure them out, as not all are listed on their web site). I did a lot of reading on this site and bookmarked tons of threads for future reference. Lots more got added to the spreadsheet!

We ordered free samples of Formica (the only brand countertop ETI will install), narrowed it down, as well as the flooring (wasn't able to get samples there, unfortunately). And I just ordered a yard of the fabric I most like off ebay. It's coming on Tuesday - I'm so excited to see it in person as a yard is much better than the sample I got from a store. (Thanks to Donna D for that suggestion!)

After lots of research and note taking, I don't feel so overwhelmed by all the choices. A visit to the factory in the near future might make it less boggling (or more - who knows!). You'll be the same pretty soon.

Can you look at different sizes in your area? That really helped us, as well as questions on this forum.

Oh, another thing to think about regarding the FJ. You'll probably have the trailer for far longer than the FJ. It's already 8 years old - how long do you plan to own it? I owned my Isuzu Trooper for 21 years and it would be great if I got that with my FJ; we'll see. Since they aren't making the FJs any longer (darn it!), the resale value might still be pretty decent on it (I've never checked, so I don't know). So, you might want to consider selling it and getting something else. We're going to start looking at Tundras pretty soon.

Have fun picking your different flavors of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coconut, pecan, etc, etc.
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:24 PM   #7
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5. I think I confused everyone, maybe even myself! What I was referring to was the "paneling" that used to surround the outside of the bathroom on the inside of the trailer. How's that for more confusion? All the other walls/cabinetry in the trailer which are made of wood of some fashion, are much sturdier to the touch then the wall the bathroom door is attached to. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:31 PM   #8
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5. I think I confused everyone, maybe even myself! What I was referring to was the "paneling" that used to surround the outside of the bathroom on the inside of the trailer.
...
All the other walls/cabinetry in the trailer which are made of wood of some fashion, are much sturdier to the touch then the wall the bathroom door is attached to. Hope this helps.
Ah, okay, we're outside the bathroom - not in it. That's a good example of a panel which doesn't need to be stiff so it is light... and no so stiff. Because it is a cabinetry panel it perhaps could have the plywood reinforcement, but unless you're hanging a load on it I still see that as just unnecessary weight.
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:44 PM   #9
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Did you ever have an issue with rivets popping on your Casita? That was one issue that scared me away from the Casita but mainly it was wanting more room. And we were to both the Casita plant and the Escape plant, so we did our homework. Loren
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:51 PM   #10
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Hi Laura! Now you've gone and done it! You questioned my love of my FJ. You see, I owned other old decrepit tow vehicles before the FJ. We bought a 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport when we bought our Casita in 2007. That was not a great vehicle and we soon outgrew it. So we bought a 2000 something Chevy Astro Van. We used that a couple of years till it literally died on us while we were camping in NH. I got fed up with old vehicles so started looking at something newer (I hate buying new cars). Looked at some pickups, but since this is also my drive to work vehicle, I shied away from them, as we would have to have gotten a 4 door for the kids.

Then I found...oh my goodness...my PERFECT vehicle. You know how some people cannot bear to even think of camping in something other than lets say Escape? Well, that was me with the FJ. When I saw that 5 year old, yellow and white FJ with 37,000 miles on it, previously owned by an 87 year old retired Ambassador to England who traded it in for a Mini Cooper because he loved them over there (am I a sucker for a good story or what?!), there was no stopping me. I swooned. I still am right at this very moment. It still is in extremely remarkable condition, only has 85,000 miles now, and yes, it does have a high resale value. Saw a 2010 with 50,000 miles at a Toyota dealer for $26,000. I know if I traded it in, they would not offer anything close to that. And while I love Toyota, I'm not smitten with the Sequoia or Tundra. So thats my predicament...I am emotionally attached to an inanimate object. Ok, fine, I'll call a shrink...
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:59 PM   #11
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Hi Loren or Cathy. I laughed right out loud when I read your first sentence. Yeah, I have probably replaced a million or two rivets. It's a wonder we found time to camp for it! It didn't compromise any structural integrity of the the cabinets etc. for us, nor did it cause any leaking, it was more just an "awww man!! You gotta be kidding me!" sorta thing. And of course, I would have to replace the rivets at least on the sides or back of the Casita to make it look good. All about appearances I say...
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:20 PM   #12
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FJ with 21' on mostly level terrain would probably be ok. You will need your WD hitch. If you are planning on regular trips in hilly or mountainous terrain, I would suggest that the 19' would likely be a better combination.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:25 PM   #13
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FJ with 21' on mostly level terrain would probably be ok. You will need your WD hitch. If you are planning on regular trips in hilly or mountainous terrain, I would suggest that the 19' would likely be a better combination.
The Tacoma went through a major design change after 2000 (I've owned 4) and the current model I use is a 4 dr 4WD long bed with a V6, rated to tow 6400 lbs. My 21 weighed in at 4100 pounds loaded for travel and it tows it just fine, even in the mountains. The automatic tranny is geared very differently than my last one. I get 13-13.5 mpg towing.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:29 PM   #14
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The Tacoma went through a major design change after 2000 (I've owned 4) and the current model I use is a 4 dr 4WD long bed with a V6, rated to tow 6400 lbs. My 21 weighed in at 4100 pounds loaded for travel and it tows it just fine, even in the mountains. The automatic tranny is geared very differently than my last one. I get 13-13.5 mpg towing.
I like tha Tacoma also and would definitely consider one when my FJ needs replacing. But the op did specifically ask about towing a21 or 19 with his FJ.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:37 PM   #15
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Hi Laura! Now you've gone and done it! You questioned my love of my FJ. (snip)

Then I found...oh my goodness...my PERFECT vehicle. You know how some people cannot bear to even think of camping in something other than lets say Escape? Well, that was me with the FJ. When I saw that 5 year old, yellow and white FJ with 37,000 miles on it (snip)
I would never question the love for an FJ, as I love mine as well! I looked and test drove them off and on for 3 years before realizing it was time to give up the Trooper (which I also loved) and get a new vehicle. We bought it new and I've never regretted it. Yeah, it has some issues with visibility, but you get used to it. Mine is brick red.

And yes, I'm thoroughly bummed I can't use it to pull the size trailer we want. I could have settled on the 21', but with what I need to haul, I didn't feel comfortable using the FJ for that. And Dirk does need to replace his truck, so he gets a new vehicle and he gets to drive my FJ when I'm out of town with the 5.0TA.

And I get to drive my FJ the rest of the time. Win, win!
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Old 07-12-2015, 03:41 PM   #16
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Welcome. I'll add my two cents to the discussion.

1. I really enjoy towing my 21 with a full size pickup. Its overkill for 80% of the miles, but I've bumped into the remaining 20% on occasion and been pleased to have more truck than trailer. Don't forget cargo weight is a concern, potentially with more toys as the boys get older. This is coming from someone who mountain travels (well, 4000 feet anyways).

2. 21 bed is great. Making it properly can be a pain, but there are ways around that issue. As a solo, the walls never were an issue.

9 My laundry goes in the wheel well cubby under the fridge. If its filled to the brim, thats two machine loads and time to do laundry.


I like the Andersen hitch system, as its relatively lightweight and easy to manage. Value of it might be more for you if you go with the FJ.

I don't have the storage box (can add it) as between the truck bed and the massive space under the 21 bed I have lots of room already. Most really like it, especially with a SUV TV.

YMMV.
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Old 07-12-2015, 03:55 PM   #17
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Thanks so far everyone! So I kinda am getting that the FJ would safely (albeit maybe just marginally so) tow the 21'. Thats good news. I am going to talk to the Toyota dealer to see if towing at the upper limits will wear out the FJ quicker, but then again, we aren't full timing with it. More like 10-12 weekends a year with maybe a couple thousand mile trip to Arkansas thrown in. Why there?? It's called the inlaws. No other reason...

I just like the option that if we really wanted the 21' for all the wrong reasons, we can get that with only a majority of panic. We had seen a 19' and like it, but we have not yet seen the 21'
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Old 07-12-2015, 04:29 PM   #18
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I decided to verify your FJ Cruiser numbers and found that the gross combined weight rating is 9,200 lbs. If you find a better number plug that into what follows. This rating is the weight of everything you are carrying in, on or attached as a tow to your vehicle and it includes things you may not realize, for example:

Passengers
Pets
Fuel - 19 gallons at 6.3 lbs = 119
Gear
Tongue weight of tow
Towed vehicle and all the contents inside such vehicle (axle weight).
FJ Cruiser - 4,050
Roof mounted items

How does the 19 and 21 compare? The best source of trailer weights is a series of weighins conducted by Frederick the Scaleman at different fiberglass rallies. He weighs and records the trailers of participants as they arrive at the rally. He has weighed 10 Escape 19's and 5 Escape 21's. His results are published as Trailer Weights in the Real World.

The 21 averages a hefty 434 lb tongue weight compared to the 358 lb average on the 19. The balance axle weight of the trailersare closer with the 21 averaging 3,471 and the 19 a 3,327 average. The tongue weight and the axle weight need to be combined to determine the towed vehicle weight.

The way I read the numbers is you have 5,150 lbs to play with. I take the GCWR less the curb weight of the vehicle. If you added a Escape 19 to your FJ Cruiser with its 358 lb tongue weight you have 1,465 lbs for passengers, fuel and gear. An Escape 21 leaves 1,245 lbs for your use.

You need to evaluate the weights of what you are putting into the FJ and how that affects your GCWR. From those numbers you can make a better judgement of the appropriateness of the FJ with your camping methods and style.
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Old 07-12-2015, 06:32 PM   #19
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I decided to verify your FJ Cruiser numbers and found that the gross combined weight rating is 9,200 lbs. If you find a better number plug that into what follows. This rating is the weight of everything you are carrying in, on or attached as a tow to your vehicle and it includes things you may not realize, for example:

Passengers
Pets
Fuel - 19 gallons at 6.3 lbs = 119
Gear
Tongue weight of tow
Towed vehicle and all the contents inside such vehicle (axle weight).
FJ Cruiser - 4,050
Roof mounted items
Excellent - real numbers!

One note... I'm not sure where the 4,050 pound weight for the vehicle came from, but if it is a curb weight, it already includes the fuel.
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Old 07-12-2015, 06:50 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
How does the 19 and 21 compare? The best source of trailer weights is a series of weighins conducted by Frederick the Scaleman at different fiberglass rallies. He weighs and records the trailers of participants as they arrive at the rally. He has weighed 10 Escape 19's and 5 Escape 21's.
The real-world loaded weights are good, especially for those who don't know how much they will carry in the trailer, but I don't think they're a good way to compare two models. With a very small sample of each model, you could easily end up comparing a lightly loaded 19' to a heavily loaded 21' (exaggerating the difference), or vice versa. Even worse, the list doesn't give any indication of how the trailers are equipped or how much cargo they are carrying.

Most options (such as a microwave oven) weigh the same regardless of which trailer they are going into, and the difference between base dry weights of the two models from Escape specs is 440 pounds (200 kg), so I think that's the difference to consider when choosing.

There is over 1000 pounds difference between the lightest and heaviest examples of the 19' in that list. The average is no more valid for a specific buyer than either extreme.
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