Hauling a camper on bad roads?
We have not gone full time but have several multi-month trips under our belt. We live in South Carolina and that is about as far away from the desert Southwest as you can get. We are not marathon drivers normally and with only a 25 gallon tank, that gets us about three hours on a tank. Setup, fill-up, rest and relax etc.
In late 2019 we headed West. We are "collecting" National Parks. We set sights on Saguaro, Joshua Tree, and a few others.
We do a little boondocking but we are easing into it. I had added 400 watts of solar so we felt we could try a few things. When we were near Quartzite I remembered Ray's trip to Palm canyon. We thought about trying the trip. We were in campground south of Quartzite and drove down to that area in our truck (GMC 2500 4WD 2009).
The road was awful! Wash boards, ruts, etc. I don't drive fast but the access road about beat us to death. We did see a number of people with their rigs on the access road but we thought it might tear the camper apart.
How does one drive these types of roads? I know the truck being unloaded is worse on wash boards but still, what is the secret?
Do you just drive super slow and just crawl down the road, or what?
I think I just missed Ray by about a week or two when he was in that area, so how does everyone do it? Any ideas would be appreciated.
Rush and Lola
After a few thousand miles it pays to tighten the bolts on fifth wheel hitch. Got a funny jerk and checked bolts and all where loose on my rails holding the hitch .Two nuts were gone on bolts. That was the funny jerk. I haven't done my maintenance as I should.
Rush and Lola
I just go slow and try and pick the smoothest path, roads will vary depending on when the last time the grader went down it and how many people have been speeding, chewing it up.
I usually come in loaded up with water so that helps, I also have a shock/air bag pin box. A rough road is the price of admission for many spots.
'Speed based on road' is certainly one tactic, TerryMac. But it goes beyond that. Torsion bar suspensions provide more cushion than leaf springs and are not cross-linked, either. One RV salesman I know, who delivers trailers all over Montana, will check for loose interior pieces after the trip but before the delivery. You will occasionally see references from the full-timer YT channels about carrying an air compressor and nail gun, as they find they occasionally have to refasten trim pieces and cabinet assemblies. Our trailer was built using CAD/CAM technology, so the tolerances are so tight there's no need to trim out the interior. Most of our trailering so far has been in the Rockies and boondocking in USFS and BLM locations. I've yet to find a loose fastener, so my conclusion is that some trailers are simply better able to handle rough roads than others. And then there's the choice of a lifted suspension, which gives more ground clearance. The Montana dealer from whom we bought our trailer never orders a non-lifted unit we has that choice from the manufacturer. That alone tells you something.
Towing a trailer on a rough road is an exercise in patience. In our experience, about half of the bad roads out there have bad stretches, but once you’re past the nasty stuff the road will usually get better. I figure a bad road is a filter anyway. The badder the road, the fewer campers will be at the end. Yes, we love boondocking by ourselves. After long careers dealing with people we now prefer wild animals and dark skies.
Besides the suggestions provided above, you can lower tire pressure. It helps with both traction and ride and may be the only way to get across some really loose sand patches. It is a bit of guesswork as to how much to drop it, but
don't go too low
. You can get a starting idea of correct pressure here:
I wish I could give you some tips.......
We may have been down too many of them to know witch ones are "Bad"????
Just take it slow and most of all, enjoy the journey!
Hi Terri and Mac,
My wife and I have had Cabover Campers for over 20 years. We like them so we can pull our boat which is big plus for us over other types of rigs. My first question to you is..does your 2500 have air shocks? Easy to install and tremendous help with stabilization of camper load on truck chassis. We added them several years ago and it made life on the road sooo much nicer. Eliminates a huge amount of camper sway. And with regards to rough roads, well you do have to slow down but the air shocks absorb so much of the road that you and your camper will survive nicely. I take my camper hunting and fishing and often drive down dried up riverbeds (my wife knows about that but let's me go so long as I bring back meat or fish) to get to my favorite campsite. Been doing it for years. So add some air shocks and then hit the road.
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