Trailer and Car Mishaps
Sputs (Stupid Pop Up Tricks)
My worst SPUT was to not lock down the hitch in 2015 in New Mexico. The trailer popped off and the hitch post dragged along the asphalt. Luckily, I wasn’t going fast. I was able to put the hitch back on the ball and continue. I had to pay someone to grind down the hitch so that I could get the wheel back on. Since then I made a point of putting a hitch pin in the hitch to lock it down as part of my routine.
Another SPUT was when I was in an extremely tight space in Washington and tried to back in the car next to my camper. I managed to just touch the projecting point of the airliner – leaving a white mark on my car. No real damage to either vehicle though.
The GPS mislead me on the Wisconsin/Minnesota state line and in an attempt to return to Wisconsin I ended up in a blind end parking lot. I tried for half an hour to turn around with the camper without hitting any cars but I needed just a few more inches; I finally had to back into the road to get out.
Mechanical Failures – Car
This one falls under human error. In 2016, I found that I had been setting the brake controller too low, so the electric trailer brakes were not doing much. The car had been doing the braking for the camper as well as the car for 15,000 miles, including a lot of mountain roads (Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada). I had avoided using the transmission to take the load when going downhill as I am used to thinking of automatic transmissions as weaker than manual transmissions.
On a 5 mile 10% grade coming into the Grand Tetons, the brakes started shuddering and shaking the car whenever I tried to slow down. I managed to pull over into a road department maintenance area and could feel that the brakes on all 4 wheels were extremely hot. Another clue was that smoke was coming out of the left wheel area. After waiting for 10 minutes to let it cool off, I put the automatic transmission into manual and used the engine to brake the car until I unhitched the trailer. I drove the car for several days until I could get it looked at. They resurfaced the rotors and put on new pads.
I now use the automatic transmission to down shift more often.
Mechanical Failures – Aliner
Overall, the Aliner Scout has served me well, but due to price and weight constraints, small trailer campers are not usually built to a robust standard.
The first problem I had was cabinet doors that came open and sagged, bending and ruining the hinges. In addition, the hinge screws were exceedingly small to avoid extruding through the back and they tended to come out. I replaced the hinges and used bolts to anchor the hinges to the paste board doors. I also put a D handle around the corner and used a ball bungee to connect the door knob and the D handle. This has worked well but it is something I have to remember to attach each time I close up the camper.
In 2016, early in my trip to Washington/Oregon, I found out that my air conditioner was kaput. It is held in with pop rivets and I didn’t want to hassle with replacing it on the road so I just did without. When it was 95 degrees in Nevada, I was staying at a site without electricity anyway. I just stayed under my awning – the breeze was enough to keep me reasonably comfortable.
In 2016, the foam seal that keeps water out of the Aliner at the top came loose and I had to get that replaced after I got home. I was on the way home when that happened.
In 2016, the electrical wire that connects the electric brakes on the trailer started dragging on the ground. I only found out about this because of stopping for road crews in New Mexico. The guy behind me walked up and said “Did you realize that you had a wire dragging underneath the trailer?” Luckily the wire had not dragged long enough to do serious damage and I tied the wire to the trailer frame to protect it until I got home. I thought it got replaced but it remained like that throughout my 2017 trip.
In 2016, two out of three electrical outlets stopped working in Wyoming. I was on the homeward bound leg and I had one good outlet so I just waited until I got home to have it fixed. It turned out that two GFCI outlets were in series and one of them went bad. I will know what to do next time.
In 2017, I replaced the air conditioner before I left. It died in Idaho after only 2 weeks on the road. I might have been able to get it fixed at an RV place, but then I would have had to give up seeing something I wanted to see. I chose to tough it out. Next time, I will get a portable air conditioner that can be repaired without hauling the camper into a repair place. It could also be swapped out easily unlike the pop riveted, caulked in version that comes with the Aliner. A fan might be a viable option if you have electricity, which you would need for the a/c anyway. I now carry a fan.
In 2017, the foam seal weather stripping that keeps water out of the Aliner at the top came loose again about 2 weeks before I got home. Luckily, there was no serious rain.
In 2017, I replaced two of the tires because they were 5 years old.
In 2018, I found out one of the wires connecting the battery was only held on by one strand of wire out of many. I repaired that but that might explain why I had to replace my trailer battery yet again. Before I left on my trip, I also replaced the remaining trailer tire.
I replaced the seal around the door.
Before leaving for Newfoundland, I found out at the last minute that there was corrosion in the 7 pin connector, both on the trailer cable and the car hookup. I cleaned the area out but was concerned. I had not saved any time to deal with it. The lights seemed to be working OK so I took off. Later in Nova Scotia, I stopped by an RV place and they cleaned the contacts more thoroughly. They recommended I get some dielectric grease and apply. That seemed to fix the problem at least for this trip.
When I got back from Newfoundland, I took the Aliner in for repairs. Yet again, the top foam seal needed replacing. I also had them replace the bungee cords and repack the bearings. While repacking the bearings they found the brakes (and magnets) needed to be replaced, not surprising after 39,800 miles. They also found that the front corners on both sides needed to be replaced. All this was done.
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