March 1, 2006
The RV (recreational vehicle) comes in different configurations, and the towing parameters may vary. For instance, the travel trailer is towed by means of bumper or frame hitch. Its near cousin, the fifth-wheel travel trailer, is towed by a pickup truck with a specially designed hitch in the truck bed. Other RVs, like the park model, are meant for prolonged residential purposes and require a special permit for movement on highways, as well as a specifically designed tow vehicle.
The truck camper is a single-piece vehicle that has become a residential unit, and the term towing does not really apply. The same applies to the legendary Winnebago, which is a larger and more extensively embellished version of the truck camper. The toterhome is an elaborate motor home that permits very large trailers behind it.
The primary movement of RVs is between RV parks, and these are usually a fair distance from each other. Towing an RV has never been the most fuel-efficient undertaking, but many people have little choice due to financial constraints that do not allow them to live in regular homes. Probably one of the highest usages of RVs in recent times was during the recent Hurricane Katrina devastation.
Safe RV towing is governed by Gross Combined Weight Rating parameters. Most manufacturers of RVs quote the stripped-down (unloaded) GCWR of their vehicles – in other words, only the combined weight of the engine, cab, wheelbase, and axle is mentioned. It is important to establish the optimum safety as far as braking and engine capacity is concerned, especially for long hauls. In other words, an RV must never be overloaded with people and goods.
RV enthusiasts have developed many communal practices like the brake buddy system, in which one vehicle’s braking capacity is supplemented by another during towing, if and when needed.
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