As in a trailer hitch! Not the other kind. Yesterday was a good day for getting stuff done. Awoke bright and early at 6:30am to get the Casita hooked up and drove down to Camping World so they could install my weight distribution hitch (WDH). This was only the second time I’ve towed the trailer, I definitely felt more comfortable about it. Of course I forgot to bring the camera with, so instead of actual hitch pictures, you’re getting a picture of me taking a picture of myself in a mirror.
For any who are curious, I went with a Reese #66151, rated for tongue weights between 200 and 600 lbs with two built in trunnion (sway) bars. The cost was $499 for the hitch itself, and Camping World changed $125ish to install it. I also bought a new casing for my 7 prong plug, since the old one had gotten road burned at some point before I bought it and wouldn’t stay plugged in without being taped into place. Also acquired were these magnetic stick things called Hitchin’ Rods which the Casita community assures me are great for hitching up when your on your own, time will tell.
For guaranteed conversation, just mention on a RV forum that you’re in the market for a good hitch, and then sit back and enjoy as the various camps step forward to explain why the one they use is best. Now I’m not an expert in hitches by any means, but I do have some advice of my own to offer anyone who’s getting ready to hit the road with a trailer.
Check your tow vehicle’s manual. This is the most important thing. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I would put the opinion of the people who manufactured the vehicle above others. If your owner’s manual says get a WDH, then get one. If it says get a sway bar, then get one. Bertha’s manual said that she needed a WDH for tongue weights over 250 pounds, and the Casita tongue is over that, so I got one. Now I don’t have any sag issues, which is nice.
I likely could have gone with something a little simpler than what I got, but I went with the Reese for three reasons: it was highly rated and a well known company, many people on the Casita forums use one and have had good luck with them, and it didn’t require any welding on the trailer tongue to attach.
On the way back, I stopped at a gas station and made use of their coin vacuum to clean the metal filings up from my dinette screw removal project, it worked pretty slick once I got the trailer turned around so that the door was facing the vacuum and the hose could actually reach.
After arriving back at the storage lot with the Casita (it’ll have a name too eventually, just hasn’t come to me yet) I cracked my fingers, grit my teeth, and prepared for a task I’d been dreading and putting off since the purchase: practicing backing it up.
Backing up in a straight line shouldn’t be this hard. My biggest problem is I don’t recognize the little cues that would signal me to turn the wheel slightly one way or the other, like I naturally do when driving forward. But I gave it the old college try, and if necessary I think I could manage it now. I make no guarantees that there wouldn’t be a bit of muttered cursing involved however. After that I made myself park it in it’s parking spot by backing it in instead of looping around.
The parking spots are perpendicular to the road, so it was at a 90 degree angle, but I took it pretty wide which cut the difficulty down a lot. It still took a good 10 minutes probably to do but I never had to completely start over which I was proud of. Like before getting the trailer to swing back the correct way wasn’t the problem, but rather getting it to straighten out afterward. I occasionally had to straighten out by pulling forward a bit before backing up some more.
With all that hard work done, I went to unhook my shiny new hitch and discovered that one of the four friction pads had shattered. Doh. One phone call and 45 minutes later I was back at Camping World and the installation tech was shaking his head, perplexed. Of course I would be the person to get a defective one. He said he’d call Reese and order the replacement part for me, and in the meantime that it was safe to drive like that. 45 minutes after that I was parked back at the storage lot again – this time not taking the time to back it into place – and faced with a new problem.
Without that fiction pad, there was no way to get leverage from the handy little bar provided to lift the trunnion bars out of place. For a while I was thinking I’d need to give in and call one of the people who worked at the storage site out to muscle it off, but my stubbornness paid off and when the tongue jack on the trailer couldn’t go high enough to release the pressure I ended up using my truck’s scissors jack to get it just a bit higher. This probably wasn’t the safest thing to do, but in my defense the ground was level, Bertha’s parking break was on, wheel chocks were in place for both truck and trailer, and I was careful to stand off to the side.
Today I went back out to the Casita and used some foam carpet cleaner I’d picked up from WalMart to clean some of that rust off from the bad dinette screws, it didn’t work so well. After five-plus repetitions of apply foam and scrub clean, I got some of it off but there are still some flecks of metal and rust caught in the carpet that refuse to budge. It didn’t touch the stains on the ceiling from a prior cooking mishap either, but I hadn’t expected much there. I still have plenty of cleaner left so next time I get bored I can have another go at it, it’s better than it was at least.
On the downsizing front, I made $60 today selling my PS2 and related accessories. I was a bit sad to see it go, but the joy of the family that bought it from me made me feel much better. I hadn’t played it in quite a while and I know it’s going to a place where it’ll get used often and be enjoyed.
The moving date is fast approaching, and I still have a lot of ground to cover. Packing hasn’t even begun yet, and there are still a few things that need prepping on the RV before I start moving stuff into there. Two weeks(ish) and counting!