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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

I've read the old (18 year old) posts about FJ and Basecamps but I'm feeling like an update might be in order. (Please direct me to relevant threads that I've missed.)

My FJ is 2010, automatic, 110k miles.

I just pulled out of the Airstream dealer with a 2020 Basecamp (GVWR 3500) The plan is to pull it from California to Long Island, NY (over the Rockies) in July.

First question: is that crazy?

also: The FJ manual recommends that you never drive in 'D' while towing a big load - is that right? How is that even possible?

Thank in advance for your patience, I'm new to the towing thing and want to make sure I'm not just cruisin for a brusin.

[UPDATE] See downthread for a follow-up after completing the trip

Thanks
Victor
 

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others will have lots of input am sure; i'm right there with you with an FJ and just getting a larger trailer.

i had one trip out over small mtns to the coast, into the wind. never drove in D. always 2 3 or 4. mainly 4.
just returned from Ed's Transmission. $500 aprox for aux. transmission cooler.
got the rv dealer also to upgrade to 7 pin,with a brake controller. also got the backup up camera on the RV.
next is getting a Curt frame mounted receiver (left and right frame, vs just the 6 bolts center frame).
possibly also getting airbags.
also got a Camco R3 600 Re-Curve weight distributing hitch.
driving a 2012 FJ stock, 57K miles. 2020 Rockwood GeoPro 19FBS trailer.
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20200531_144122[1].jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #3
wow that's so helpful I can't tell you - I'm mostly compatiable with your setup though a transmission cooling unit it news to me and makes perfect sense.

  • The Camco is mainly for sway control? Was that a problem?
  • You start in 2nd from a dead stop and shift up to 4?
  • what was your max speed?
Thanks again,
VS
 

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wow that's so helpful I can't tell you - I'm mostly compatiable with your setup though a transmission cooling unit it news to me and makes perfect sense.

  • The Camco is mainly for sway control? Was that a problem?
  • You start in 2nd from a dead stop and shift up to 4?
  • what was your max speed?
Thanks again,
VS
victor - others here will be the experts. and you may hear that your unit is too heavy for an FJ, based on the dry weight you stated; so you're likely at/over the max.

I got the Camco both for sway control and weight distribution due to red lining the max tongue weight and towable weight. many on this forum recommend definitely sway control device; and many also the WDH. however, many say NOT to use a WDH with the stock 6 bolt center only frame mounted hitch, as it bends the bolts. i dont think i bent mine yet with one trip, but am getting the frame mount Curt since it just makes total sense when look at each of them. sway was not a problem on this trip into the coast wind, up hills, down, and down the coast in wind. worked great. slight porpoising was, when i went over larger dips in the road (just in some spots where the road goes up/down/around some washout spots on the coast hwy) so air bags may be in order.

also some say to get Bilstein 5100 etc shocks.

max speed was 60 (55mph zone).
no, i didnt move up through the gears, i just left it in 4th all the time, except for when i was going up hills or into the wind then downshift depending on speed. oh, and when in towns at 25 to 35, sometimes i would downshift to keep it above 1500 RPM. from what i've read here, you just should not use D (overdrive/5th). and whatever gear you use, it jsut wont go above that gear, so i.e. in 4th, from a start, it wll go through the gears up to 4th, but not up to D 5

theres many other WDH's. have seen here that some recommend the Hensley Arrow Cub, though pricey .
 

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couple more newbie lessons i learned in the past week -

check for the pin that goes in the little hole on the hitch coupler top, not sure what it's called, but it can save the hitch popping off the receiver during "porpoising". my RV dealer sent me off without it; and the kind gents i asked for help, pointed that out.

i camped next to some guys, so when i put the FJ back under the hitch for the first time, i wasnt shy to ask for their insight. i didnt have the coupler/hitch on all the way over the ball, i thought it looked a little off, so they helped me, put it in neutral, pushed the FJ a little, and it slid down.

when i was ready to leave, i did one last :"walkaround" to look, and noticed that i hadnt put down both of the WDH hitch "arms" all the way so they "pop" in. glad i caught that one.

also twice now i have put up the receiver off the FJ and completely forgotten to put the wheel chocks in place around the trailer wheels. luckily i was on flat land or that could have been bad. my dad did same once, and the trailer started rollin.

oh, and when trying to open the rear FJ door, my door hits the on button for the power hitch jack. it has a light on it. so i left it on all day yesterday by mistake.

and finally, @Hannibal save my "arse" with this: dont do the Pyramid of Poo. i.e, fill the black tank with some water before #2.
 

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Hi Victor, welcome from Ohio!
If you haven't found it you may want to read @TL Johnson's thread here for more of the same info.
Somewhere around here is a detailed thread about how WD hitches work, moment arms, and why this is bad with the OEM hitch. If you look in TL J's thread @dabeyta3 has some good pics of what happens. If you stick with the OEM (or even if you don't) the Hensley or ProPride (same guy, Hensley, started both) are a great anti-sway hitch. Last I looked if think they were ~$2500 though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
thanks again! Yes! I've heard about the importance of the pin and the PoP from the rep today. And something we never thought about but the back door of the FJ barely open at all (<2 feet) 馃檮

I'm still wondering if it's even sane to try to traverse the Rockies with this setup but I really don't want to fight big rigs for 2000 miles along i10 while I go 55mph lol.

I have to admit: the FJ is rated GVRW 5570 I still don't get why this is so much work. I thought i was giving myself 1,000 lbs headroom.

VS
 

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Hey, Welcome to the party! Beautiful Airstream. I've always liked those. ;) Is that the 16 ?

You stated; 2020 Basecamp (GVWR 3500) That's GROSS Vehicle Weight Rating, that's the max weight loaded for that trailer. From the 16's specs; Base Weight: 2,585 lbs. Net Carrying Capacity: 915 lbs = 3500#

I believe that the FJ's Tow Rating was lowered in later years to 4850 or 4750 ?

I did the Continental Divide, East to West, from South Dakota to WA hauling 3500# w/ a failed brake controller. What I learned, I learned the very hard way described in those thread links provided by UNCHARTED.

#1 Camping World sucks! (insert middle finger emoji here) Your experience may vary :ROFLMAO:
#2 Don't trust any shops work, double check everything yourself. Every hose, every wire connection, every bolt, etc.
#3 Lock your hitch coupler down with a LOCK even when it's parked w/out the FJ attached. Add a yellow ball lock for extra security too.
#4 Lock your 2" receiver to the tow bar. Put some keyed alike padlocks on the chains too.
#5 get a nut driver attachment and the proper socket size for a cordless drill. It makes it SO much easier to raise and lower the 4 corner stabilizer legs.
#6 Unless you're dry camping/boondocking, don't haul water in the tank. Keep your weight down as much as possible. The FJ can handle it, but it's the panic stop you have to worry about. Look up the $400 Big Brake kit thread.

"I'm new to the towing thing and want to make sure I'm not just cruisin for a brusin." We don't want you or anyone else for that matter injured or worse. ;) I'm no expert, these are just my experiences.

HAVE FUN!



My pic shows that the wire was cut almost through before inserting it into the butt connector. I was surprised it made any kind of electrical connection at all. No weatherproofing shrink wrap was used. CW techs, Oh yeah, we used shrink wrap on every connection. Lying A$$ DOGS. The wires were not secured, on the Divide, they hit the Catalytic converter and melted. The fuses popped and I lost the brake controller. I did some very creative braking and downshifting, intermixed with numerous cuss words.

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Got it thanks. Some disconcerting comments there like "FJ, it鈥檚 just not a good hauler."
Well, I'd say that maybe hauling/towing wasn't a primary design focus for the FJ. That doesn't mean it won't tow well, just that there are other vehicles that can do it better. There are also vehicles that will do it worse or at least tow less mass. [commence Jeep slagging]. Even a random pickup truck may not be much better compared to one designed to tow or haul a heavy load.

Towing seems simple enough until you start into the details to make sure you're doing it safely. I know, I'm still earning my t-shirt. When I was a kid the adults went straight to the mechanics of maneuvering, they left out parts like the mathematics of tow vehicle/tow trailer weight and balance.

There are many here that tow with their FJ. The FJ is rated for 5000# * and 500# hitch weight. (*with some at 4700# IIRC) The Basecamp is sounds heavier than I'd go with, but you're not me and if you already own an FJ and a Basecamp; find out what you think of your TV and TT and how you feel about the performance of combination:
鈥 Not mentioned, but your trusted auto service techs set you with trailer brakes, yes?
鈥 Get a transmission cooler, this is DIY-able with threads here or you can go to a good shop and have it done.
鈥 Do some trial towing runs and see what you think. Be prepared for low gas mileage, slow ascents in the mountains. Start your trial on a day without strong winds. See what you think, that's the real test.
鈥 I don't know much about the Basecamp beyond admiring the glossy photos, consider if you need to add airbags to the rear or want to switch to different type of hitch.
鈥 Remember that every subject will have people on the extremes -- and if you think politics is bad, some tow vehicle discussions get really crazy. Take opinions with many grains of salt, run the numbers, start conservative, Have Fun!!
 

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Rating was dropped to 4,700 lbs.
 
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All great points by @ Hannibal, but after seeing #3 I have to second the "lock it all" approach.
Don't be the easy target. Lock the hitch pin, lock the coupler release, use a ball lock (something like this), lock up hooked, hock up unhooked.
A locksmith will be able to get or key these items "keyed alike" for you. Money well spent.
 
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Rating was dropped to 4,700 lbs.
Hey Mikey, do you know if that was just for later year vehicles or retroactive for all FJs?
 

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I don't know. I have always seen 5,000# but have seen others mention a lower number.
Maybe lower with the 2010 engine change or some other later year change.
I suppose I should go google for it myself 馃檪
 

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Discussion Starter #17
#3 Lock your hitch coupler down with a LOCK even when it's parked w/out the FJ attached. Add a yellow ball lock for extra security too.
#4 Lock your 2" receiver to the tow bar. Put some keyed alike padlocks on the chains too.
Have you really had all this stuff yanked from your rig(s)? For real?

Yes to the cordless+3/4 socket !!

I read through TJ's thread and I see you installed a frame based receiver? and use WDH? Did I get that right?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
From the FJ Manual: Page 195
鈼廡he total trailer weight (trailer weight plus the weight of cargo) must not exceed 5000 lb. (2265 k
鈼廔f a trailer and cargo weight over 2000 lb. (907 kg), use a sway control device with sufficient capacit
鈼廡he gross combined weight (sum of your vehicle weight plus its load and the total trailer weight) must not exceed the following. 2WD models: 9200 lb. (4173 kg) 4WD models: 9500 lb. (4309 kg)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Towing seems simple enough until you start into the details to make sure you're doing it safely... and if you think politics is bad, some tow vehicle discussions get really crazy. Take opinions with many grains of salt, run the numbers, start conservative, Have Fun!!
This is all really great advice and I appreciate it - I'm pretty confident (as I can be) that we made a good and fun choice, now I'm just doing the research (and mods) to make it as safe as possible.

Just bringing thing home today I've already encountered the slow climbs, winds, super hot temps (112F), low MPG etc.

So far my for sure mod list:
  • replace receiver to be frame based
  • install WDHs
  • trans cooler
  • secure everything down.
I have the echo brake controller.

I have to say, you guys have all been super helpful and I'm feel lucky to have stumbled into here and gotten all this great feedback. 馃檹
 
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