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Old 04-19-2011, 06:42 PM   #1
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X17C Now Part of the Family

We picked up our Z17C from Indiana RV Connection in Middlebury last Friday. For a guy whose towing experience has been limited to a few popup and Jet Ski pulls itís hard to imagine a worse set of circumstances. First, winds were sustained between 25 mph and 30 mph gusting higher. Second, I was installing my first WD hitch, a Reese Strait Line with dual cam sway control. Third, it was my first experience with a brake controller.

The dealer let me use their lot to install the hitch. It was painfully slow. It takes a long time to make an adjustment and when you miss a couple of times it is tiring and perplexing. I got it close but not where I ultimately want it for our planned trip out west. Iíd like to raise the TV rear a Ĺ inch and drop the front a ľ inch. Though when using the trailer entry step for the level it showed the trailer to be level it looked to the eye as if it was higher in the front than the back. I thought the adjustment would be simple - drop the hitch a notch on the shank. Unfortunately when I went to make a change at the campground I learned I was already on the lowest available setting on the shank. This means Iím going to have to lower it through the angle of the hitch ball which means changing the cams and/or the change hanger location. It will take a couple of hours but when I get it right I should be done with that aspect for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately the brake controller was a snap. I have a Prodigy P2 and it worked well enough that I could tell no difference between stopping with the trailer than without it. The 3 hour drive to the campground started slowly. Soon, in spite of the wind, I gained confidence that the trailer would follow without swaying. I do think I now understand what Hensley means when they say their hitch eliminates sway while others ďcontrolĒ sway. With the wind hitting the side of the 18 foot trailer or a semi screaming by it seemed that it wanted to move. But the Reese did its job and kept it in line. I was able to drive at 55 comfortably and pushed it to 63 at one point with it holding steady. On maybe 2 occasions it felt like the front end of the Pathfinder was a little light. It sort of felt like a very mild hydroplaning action. It could have been wind gusts that will happen regardless but those brief moments are the driver behind the weight distribution fine tuning.

The Pathfinder, rated for 6000 lbs., towed the 3024 lb. trailer without a problem. There was plenty of power. Granted the roads between Middlebury, IN, and Noblesville, IN, are mostly flat, but I did slow down intentionally prior to hitting some grades to see how it would tow up hills without momentum. No problem. I towed in 3 to ease any possible transmission temperature increases. On a few sections I put it in drive and the RPMs dropped from 700 RPM to 1000 RPM and it didnít seem to impact the Pathfinder at all. I didnít feel any hunting for gears. Since Iím not completely sure Iíd recognize this ďhuntingĒ phenomena I will await the installation of my transmission temperature gauge before reaching any conclusions. Gas mileage was terrible Ė around 9 mpg. Between better wind conditions and the possibility of towing in drive Iím hoping to get above 11 mpg on future trips. If not, well, letís hope the thieves that are driving up fuel prices are caught and put in jail soon. For the big trip Iíll have 450 lbs. more in human cargo and a few hundred pounds more in the trailer. I believe the Pathfinder will handle the additional pounds without problem.

Setup and take down of the Jayco was a snap. Though the weather was terrible we were overjoyed with our new camper. Everything seemed to work except for the bathroom light and I really didnít mess with it to try and figure out what was going on. We had a full hook-up site so Iím anxious to test a weekend using the freshwater tank and getting some experience with a dump station (how many people look forward to that?). All in all, it was a grinding setup and drive but, though we will certainly encounter worse conditions, handling those of our maiden voyage has boosted my confidence that our setup will handle them.
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:33 PM   #2
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It can take some adjusting to get your WD system dialed in. When the dealer installed and adjusted mine, it was not right, the cams and cam arms were clearly not centered and I had to adjust them close as possible at the CG that night before the trip home.
( Old style Reese dual cam). I have since made several adjustments including tilting the hitch head back a few more washers. The "hunting for gears", you`ll know it when it happens, in and out of overdrive, RPM`s up and down. It seems you had a good test run with those wind conditions and all.
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Old 04-19-2011, 08:34 PM   #3
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Sounds like you had "baptism by fire", but all ended well! 9 to 10 MPG when you get all loaded is probably not a bad estimate.

On the light in the bathroom - on most Jayco's there is a switch on the wall in the bathroom. Both it and the one on the light itself have to be on. You might pick up an extra set of bulbs as they are handy to have with you. They are #921. Best place I have found to get them is the big box hardware store. They are the 18 watt 12 volt landscape light bulbs.
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:07 PM   #4
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thanks for the notes

Tafische - thanks for the light info. I felt for a switch but couldn't find one. I'll take a closer look when I go to adjust the hitch Friday. From what I'm seeing elsewhere your estimate of 9 - 10 mpg is probably where I'll end up.

Crabman - My Reese doesn't have the washers but rather teeth the washers adjust on with a range of 15 degrees. Tell me, now that you have it dialed in, are you free of sway from wind, trucks, etc. (or at least comfortable with the sway being controlled)? My first impression was very favorable even though I think adjusting it will make it better. Also, is there a preference between adjusting the cams versus the chain hangers if both allow the bars to set properly (e.g. - the angle of the cams?). On the hunting for gears, I'm pretty sure I didn't experience what you describe. Is there a downside to towing with lower RPMs if there is no "hunting"? If not, I would probably go to 3 on any grades of significance and run in D on flats.

Thanks to both of you for the feedback.
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Old 04-20-2011, 06:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by tafische View Post
Sounds like you had "baptism by fire", but all ended well! 9 to 10 MPG when you get all loaded is probably not a bad estimate.

On the light in the bathroom - on most Jayco's there is a switch on the wall in the bathroom. Both it and the one on the light itself have to be on. You might pick up an extra set of bulbs as they are handy to have with you. They are #921. Best place I have found to get them is the big box hardware store. They are the 18 watt 12 volt landscape light bulbs.
Congratulations Trout. We have the Starcraft twin of the 17C the 175RK. The master switch for the bathroom is right below the sink on the right side, see picture:
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Trout34 View Post
Tafische - thanks for the light info. I felt for a switch but couldn't find one. I'll take a closer look when I go to adjust the hitch Friday. From what I'm seeing elsewhere your estimate of 9 - 10 mpg is probably where I'll end up.

Crabman - My Reese doesn't have the washers but rather teeth the washers adjust on with a range of 15 degrees. Tell me, now that you have it dialed in, are you free of sway from wind, trucks, etc. (or at least comfortable with the sway being controlled)? My first impression was very favorable even though I think adjusting it will make it better. Also, is there a preference between adjusting the cams versus the chain hangers if both allow the bars to set properly (e.g. - the angle of the cams?). On the hunting for gears, I'm pretty sure I didn't experience what you describe. Is there a downside to towing with lower RPMs if there is no "hunting"? If not, I would probably go to 3 on any grades of significance and run in D on flats.

Thanks to both of you for the feedback.

I think you are always going to feel the "push" of a large vehicle passing you. Its like a bow wave of air hitting your broad sided trailer.This can occur with them going in either direction, coming from behind you and passing or coming at you. This really is not sway unless the trailer starts wagging back and forth somewhat, which I have not yet experienced.

It also sounds like you have the newer style dual cam system which I have never adjusted. If so your cam arms bolt on to the frame. On mine there are Ubolts that attach around the frame and these hold on the cam arms. The adjustment procedure to center the cams on mine is to somewhat loosen the ubolts, put normal tension on the hitch, and pull the truck 100 feet in a STRAIGHT line, then tighten the ubolts. This is supposed to self center the cams and cam arms. On mine the tension is regulated by the number of links under tension. Tilting the hitch back will also increase tension with the same number of links under tension. Confusing, isn`t it? You`ll get the hang of it.

Also be sure your trailer is level when hitched or ever so slightly nose down. Nose high could lead to sway, or so the experts say.

If in doubt on towing tow in 3rd gear. I will tow in OD when conditions are perfect, but 3rd gear if a headwind or hills are present. With the trailer I`m towing, it will hunt for 3rd gear when in OD with small inclines or those headwinds. So I just use 3rd in those situations.
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:49 PM   #7
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Here`s a link to weight distribution set up procedure and it includes the new style Reese dual cam 26002. Perhaps it will be of some help. These guys know their hitches.

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...d/17730894.cfm
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:39 PM   #8
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More good info

tbwill - I appreciate the picture. I know I did not check there, just the wall. That looks like one thing I thought might be a warranty issue that will be no issue at all. I noticed you have a 4 Runner that is probably similar in capabilities to my Pathfinder. Its newer than mine and I can't tell if you have the V8, but how has it been as a TV? Any experience on hills?

Crabman - Thanks for the links. Very helpful though a lot to digest. There seem to be no universal settings. I guess this is understandable given the number of TV/TT combinations. I think I'm close so tomorrow I'll adjust the tilt of the ball a couple of notches and work the cams from there. Probably the greatest remaining mystery is leveling the trailer. I used the trailer step believing it would run parallel with the frame (my tongue had obstructions for the large level I was using). The level on step showed the trailer very close to perfectly level but to my eye it looked like the front was as much as 3" higher than the back. This could just be due to the way the front of the X17C curves up at the front. I'll take a smaller level and use 2 of them tomorrow and trust what they tell me. I can't trust these eyes of mine any more anyway. I'm also going to a scale tomorrow to weigh the unit. I would like to check each axle with and without the trailer but this is another area where I have no experience so I hope someone at the scale can tell me how one goes about doing so.
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:41 PM   #9
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snip.......I would like to check each axle with and without the trailer but this is another area where I have no experience so I hope someone at the scale can tell me how one goes about doing so.
Trout34,

Here is a snap shot of a TV/HTT CAT scale weigh:

You will need to make three trips across the CAT scale. Before getting on the CAT scale, go in and advise the CAT scale clerk ahead of time that you will be taking three independent weighs for your TV/HTT, it will be cheaper. The clerk "may" be able to give you some tips. To get the most accurate results, make sure your TV/HTT represents "loaded" conditions, ready to camp.

Most CAT scales have three individual pads for weighing axles independently, so on your 1st weigh make sure your TV axles are on first two independent pads, and the HTT axle(s) on the 3rd pad. Now, there will be a button to push to advise the clerk that you are ready for a weigh (you may have to step out of the TV to "reach" the button...bring a yard stick with you, but get back in your TV once you have pushed the button). When the clerk responds, just say that this is your 1st "personal RV weigh", or what ever description you have established with the clerk.

The clerk will advise you when the 1st weigh is complete. Drive off the scales and park your TV/HTT. Now you want to disengage the WD spring bars prior to the next CAT weigh. Drive your TV/HTT back to the scale for your 2nd "personal RV weigh" (this 2nd weigh will aid in determining your loaded tongue weight later).

The last weigh will be your TV alone. Look for a clear/safe place to unhook your HTT so you can weigh only your loaded TV.

Immediately after completing your 3rd weigh-in go back to the clerk for your weight certificates, then hitch your HTT back up.

This should give you all the weight information you need. You can also "google" for additional information on weighing RV's such as worksheets, etc..

Bob
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:18 PM   #10
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I almost got it right

I weighed before getting your note. I only did two trips so I couldn't get the tongue weight. As you will see in the other tread I'm going to have to go through this again and will follow these steps.

I am getting some conflicting information so perhaps you can clarify. I've read where tongue weight and hitch weight are synonymous. It seems I want to be sure of two things. 1. My tongue weight does not surpass the 600 lb. limit of the Pathfinder. 2. That the tongue weight is no more than 15% of the trailer weight (ideally 13%).

I have read where any weight behind the rear axle goes toward tongue rate (eHow.com). This doesn't make sense because of the vehicle weight alone behind the axle, though I suppose that could have been built into the calculation. I will have a 135 lb boy riding in the 3rd seat which resides behind the axle so if this is true I'm, well, I'm unhappy. Contrary to that I've read where it is strictly the weight of the trailer tongue. This would mean that my shank, hitch and ball would not count toward tongue weight. I've Googled and Googled and there is a lot of conflicting information.
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