Hi, I just discovered this forum tonight, after getting back from a huge RV show today, after getting back from my first RV trip (rented) last week*, and this dude is ready to roll out for some more RV fun!
But I need some sane wisdom from this forum and I deeply thank you all for any/all feedback.
I recently bought a truck, a brand new Tundra 5.7 w/tow package. I bought this for many reasons, but one was I figured I could tow some kind of RV with it that would be fine for me, wife, kid (8), and two dogs (chihuahua's). So basically I did not buy a truck for a specific RV (size etc), but rather will be buying an RV to fit the truck, if that makes sense.
I think I found something my truck can handle which is the Coachmen Catalina 31RLS. The specs say GVWR is 9,900 which falls under my trucks abilities (I think), and does feel bigger then we need but I am betting I want to buy something bigger, and will be grateful for this as we use the rig.
So with that bit of info let me list my questions, again must appreciated for any wisdom/advice here.
a) Is this too much rig for my truck, I am completely willing to beef up (air springs, etc) the suspension if needed.
b) Is Coachmen Catalina considered OK quality/brand?
c) This rig says 46 gal/fresh, 40 gal/grey, 30 gal/black, is that OK? Being careful how many days camping off grid?
d) Just to be clear that I understand, when off grid I would simply use a portable generator but where do I plug this in? Something I will have to install (e.g. the plug?)
e) I must admit, I have a secret desire to buy an Airstream but shoot they cost some deep cake, are they really worth it? (I hope I did not just ask if Mac's are worth buying on a PC forum :-))
* Crazy but my first RV trip was renting a 43' diesel mega slide monster for three weeks (with another family), and it was such a blast we all loved it! Sure it was nice having two bathrooms, three TV's, three A/C units, etc, etc, etc. But 6 MPG and a $350 a pop tank fill (from 1/4 -> full) was, well... not very fun. :-)
Welcome and condolences on being bitten by the RV bug. It will give you a disease for which there is no cure and the only way to treat the symptoms is to camp often!
Without all of the necessary numbers my off-the cuff guess is that with the size of your clan, the necessary gear and trailer, you are going to be asking a lot of your truck.
I suggest you spend an hour or two and read every post with the title, “can I tow”, or “do I have enough truck” to name just a few. You will find there are a lot of numbers other than my trailer weighs X and my truck can tow Y that go into a good and safe tow experience. You will also discover that you can’t always trust the numbers! LOL
As great as internet forums are, especially this one, you will find they all contain people with strong opinions. You will find people who are willing to tow up to and beyond their truck ratings. You will find those who will tell you if you are not climbing into a 6-wheel 1-ton truck you are courting disaster.
Read, read, read and understand the concepts for yourself. You don’t want to turn a great experience into a big disappointment.
Keep us informed as you go.
* This post was
edited 07/30/12 05:26am by Hector Bravo *
2013 Jay Flight 26 RLS
2006 Titan Crew Cab
Welcome! When I first read your post, I thought it said 8 kids!! Anyhow, in addition to what Hector said. Do a search on Coachmen Catalina. I own one and posted about quality. Airstreams are beautiful. Just to add fuel to the fire-There's a guy on Ebay Motors named MacGregor. He restores old Airstreams and sells them for about $15,000. Just remember, it's very luxurious to haul a McMansion on wheels but not very realistic. You can have more fun with a pop-up in the local state campground.
a) Too much rig? I don't know, someone else will know better. We have a 21 foot travel trailer, easy to tow and easy to get in and out of all sorts of different campgrounds (and my driveway, lol!). We are in our 9th season with our TT, a family of four. It is tight, but actually we are rarely in the TT except for sleeping. I would like a larger trailer, but now our kids (teenagers) are getting "away" from camping with the parents, and out trailer is suddenly very nice for just two!
b) Coachman Catalina good? Again, I don't know.
c) Tank capacity... that actually looks like good sizes for those tanks. If that is enough depends entirely on how you use them. Biggest fresh water user is taking a shower, learn how to do a "Navy shower" - Quick wet down, shut off water, soap up, then rinse off as quick as you can. Second biggest user is washing dishes. Use a tub to wash dishes in (we have a small bucket that fits in our sink), don't just run the water faucet (like I do at home).
d) We never did end up buying a generator. With very careful usage, our trailer battery easily lasts a weekend (Friday night until Sunday afternoon). I have taken along an extra battery if we camp longer than that, used it once when we stayed 5 days in Acadia, Maine. I usually recommend not buying a generator until after using your camper for a bunch of trips. If you really want a generator, spend the money to get a very quiet one. Using an air conditioner will require a generator.
e) Airstreams are great trailers, as far as I know they are the essentially the best you can buy. One odd thing that surprised me about them, from just walking through them, is that they are not very big on the inside. I also see them very rarely up here in the North East, don't know what that means, if anything.
2008 F-250 CrewCab 5.4L,
2004 21' Forest River Surveyor
Welcome - it is great to see the enthusiasm that you have.
You may want to try renting one more time with a TT the size you are considering buying, maybe even slightly smaller. If possible, go with just your family if that is what you would normally do when you get your own TT.
If it is just as much fun - go for it.
Laura, Rodney, and Elfie the Schnoodle
2012 Dutchmen 814RB; 2011 Dodge 1500 Hemi; 2012 Sun Dolphin Sportsman; 2003 Tracker Targa V-18
Hey, welcome to the forum. As has been said, a bit of reading will get you the info you need. There will be some issues with towing trailers as big as the one you are looking at as they relate to payload capacity and tongue weight on a half-ton class vehicle like a Tundra.
That Coachman is pretty large at 35' long and a DRY weight of 7380lbs. I'm not going to say that you can't tow it but I will offer that it may not be very enjoyable towing it with that truck. I'm not talking about the powertrain to be sure. That is a great gas engine and I believe they gear them to 4.3:1 on the rear axle.
There is a trade off on payload and truck size however. The reg. cab long bed 2013 tundra has a payload of 2060lbs which is pretty darn good for a half-ton but I doubt you have that with a kid and 2 dogs. The extended cab longbed has 1755lbs payload and the crew cab has 1675lbs. Interestingly, the short bed versions all have quite a bit less payload than the long bed so there must be a stronger suspension put in with the longbed options. I don't know for sure what the GAWR for the rear axle is on a tundra but I think it is about 4100 lbs. With that coachman trailer loaded, you can expect your tongue weight to be over 1,000 lbs for sure.
I've heard that Toyota is very conservative with their tow ratings and factor in a full load of passengers and fuel. Even so, payload is payload. Depending on your particular Tundra, I think you will be either over your payload capacity or VERY close to it. You can add springs or airbags to help with the drivability but you can't change the weight ratings for the Axles.
You have the right attitude about this in understanding that you may be limited by your truck. That coachman sure is nice and big on the inside as well as outside! With your size family, I think something around the 28' size with bunks in the back and a slide might be plenty.
Oh, about the generator: There are alot of generators geared toward RV users and they already have the circular 30amp connector on them. You just start them up, let them warm up, plug in and go! If your generator doesn't have that connector, you can get an adaptor to plug your 30 amp TT power cord into a standard 15 amp home plug. You won't be able to get full power from the generator (Assuming it puts out more than 20 amps or so anyway) as there will likely be a 15 or 20 amp fuse on that outlet. The adaptor is very cheap.
46 gallons of fresh and 40 grey COULD get you about 7 days with a family of 3 conserving water but showering every night (Navy showers). My family of 4 doesn't seem capable of conserving anything. Our 50 gallon tank lasted us about 3 days.
The awfull thing about buying a trailer is that most places won't let you test-tow it. I know I rambled on probably a bit too much about capacities but my gut feeling is that that 35' TT is just too mauch for the Tundra. You wouldn't really know for sure untill towing it for yourself unfortunately unless someone else with your same truck has pulled something of similar size and weight.
Where are you intending to camp? If you want to stay at RV parks or in the flatlands, a big trailer is fine. If you want to squeeze into remote boondocking sites in the mountains, maybe think about a smaller trailer. Just because you can tow a big one does not mean that you have to!
2012 Fun Finder X-139 "Boondock Style" (axle-flipped and extra insulation)
2013 Toyota Tacoma Off-Road (semi-beefy tires and components) Our trips -- pix and text About our trailer
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single list."