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Old 04-17-2018, 10:16 PM   #1
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Default this week's trip

we loaded a kayak on top of the van, hitched up the T139 and went to Deming, NM, then to City of Rocks North of Deming for the night. going from Las Cruces to Deming is uphill climbing out of the Mesilla Valley, then pretty flat highway driving. we were averaging 16 mpg on that leg, but it included some non towing miles, so didn't pay much attention. we filled up in Deming, and I reset the milage calculator (which is very accurate). the road from Deming to City of Rocks is pretty flat, I drove 60 on that road. we spent the night at City of Rocks state park, then on into the Mimbres Valley to Lake Roberts. a rolling, gradual gain in elevation. averaged 45-50 on that road. We had a wonderful day kayaking and relaxing. this afternoon, we headed home and the winds were terrible. gusts 40-50 mph. we had side winds about 1/3 of the time, head winds about 1/3 and tailwinds about 1/3. the thing is, we got 18 mpg on the way home. I stayed below 60, visibility was an issue, the whole interstate had slowed down. but also, we had that kayak on top. Could it have been a benefit instead of a determent? I see that the kayak on it's J hook rack comes about as high as the top of the trailer. maybe we should mount the other kayak up there too and make a V shaped air dam...
either way, slow mph or kayak, I'm really happy with the t139. I love that everything works, that we are comfortable and I'm not scared to tow a trailer anymore.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:36 PM   #2
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Amazing mileage! I have never gotten anything close to that, towing a very similar trailer with either my Pathfinder or my Tacoma -- usually 10 or 11 mpg. Well done! And very happy to hear you had such a good time.
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:13 PM   #3
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I've been trying to post a picture or two. not having much luck. Of course my van might have issues later on, but so far so good. we had the tranny serviced last week, they said it all looked ok. (fluid, etc)
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Old 04-18-2018, 07:56 AM   #4
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I think it's the slow speed. Didn't carry water on the highway, filled tank the first night at the campground. I suppose next time we will keep track of odometer and gallons pumped, to be sure the old fashioned way. But the mpg average computer reads 18 mpg. And we reset it when we filled up in Deming.
Without towing we can get 29 mpg in that van with conservative driving. We are seldom in a hurry...
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Old 04-25-2018, 09:21 PM   #5
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we are getting ready for a two week roam. actually not sure where, just heading North. probably end up in Co. or Az. then home. so trip 3 coming up.
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Old 04-25-2018, 10:46 PM   #6
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Utah's nice this time of year . . . . less snow than Colorado!
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Old 04-26-2018, 12:34 AM   #7
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Mesa verde would be the Co destination. Not everything open, but enough
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Old 04-28-2018, 07:26 AM   #8
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We got to Cochiti lake last evening and joined in the parade of campers circling the campgrounds for a spot. We found one, backed in, unhitched and started setting up outside stuff. Uhoh, we forgot to fill fresh water tank on the way in. So hitch back up and start circling again. The water is at random, awkward spots so it was another "learning experience". Bet we don't do that again!
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:59 AM   #9
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Hilda, we bring several six gallon water jugs for exactly that scenario -- park and level the trailer, go get water, and then pour it into the fill port. Often, the water faucets are not accessible, or there is no threaded hose connection.

We have one of those "water thief" slip-on adapters -- they can come in handy, too:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Camco-Wat...&wl13=&veh=sem
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Old 05-01-2018, 08:44 PM   #10
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Good idea! We need to carry a jug or two along! We when we were pop up camping, we always took jugs for water, so still have a couple of jugs. We need to bring jugs, Especially since we did it again at Heron Lake. At least the campgrounds are empty, and it wasn't too much trouble to go back to the water source. It's true though, some water sources don't allow hose hookups.

Next, we went to the Jemez springs area, ended up at Fenton lake. Nice kayaking, and nice camping among tall pines, even though crowded. Sunday afternoon the place emptied. Unfortunately as I was cooking supper in the blissfully beautiful, quiet woods, so did the propane tank. The weather was changing, temps dropping and wind picking up, but we had the little buddy heater to take the chill off before bed and in the morning. Fold and go grill heated water and made toast, then we packed up and left. No propane changes a lot. I suppose we might carry an extra tank, or top off tank more often.
We're getting used to this towing business. Our trailer is very well behaved, in wind, windy roads and on grades.
Then to Heron Lake, ospreys nesting and a possible snowstorm. We have food, water and propane, so we will enjoy the weather overlooking a beautiful lake.
We have had several people come by and admire our little t139 along this trip. One man was lamenting the lack of small trailers being built, another couple ask where they could buy one. As we drove into a campground a little kid piped up, "look at at that bitty trailer!"
I know the 13' casita or scamp look tiny, but the one we have just looks 1/2 size.
It's plenty roomy inside for us, We are loving it!
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Old 05-01-2018, 09:18 PM   #11
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Hilda, I purchased 2 of these "Diesel Jerry Cans" new and use them for water jugs to fill our trailer if need be. Two are easy to carry as they are nicely balanced and the handles are easy on hands. God help anyone who decides to steal them and dump them into their diesel truck.
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Old 05-02-2018, 06:26 AM   #12
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Although a bit early in the 'camping season' here in the upper midwest, almost took a weekend venture last weekend.
So glad we didn't leave late Friday as both Saturday and Sunday were quite breezy so it would not have been a good trip.
By breezy, the wind blew 40-45 mph from Saturday AM thru the day and night and all day Sunday 'till around 8 or 9 in the evening.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:03 AM   #13
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We are planning to start camping here in a couple weeks not due to weather as we have had some nice days already.We had planned on going into British Columbia in to the Kootenay Mountains but decided to go East to Northern Saskatchewan instead because of the lack of support for the pipelines from a few in BC. We are headed to Loon lake to start as the Campground is great aswell as the water is clean and fishing regulations are decent. Safe travels for all. Silverado
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:35 AM   #14
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we are home, and enjoyed the trip so much. Fun Finder did it's job. we've gotten in the routine. baby gate keeps little dogs in their half with beds and covers. DH takes them out for morning walk, I make up the dinette. bedding goes into storage under dinette bench, have the table folding up and down thing mastered. we went to lakes this trip. Cochiti, Fenton, Heron and Vallicitos in Co. everything worked great, we learned to find water before parking. for the most part, we found dump stations soon after leaving, if they weren't at parks. we had snow one night, and it got pretty hot as we came back south. The fun finder T139 is a great little camper.
We are home now, and I'm ready to go somewhere soon again!
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:13 AM   #15
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Well done! Glad it went so well.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:52 AM   #16
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It did! But I have to admit, as you mentioned, I'm having second thoughts about towing with the van. It never overheated or showed any other sign of strain, but I keep thinking about that 40 sq ft of frontal area limit. We went on a lot of higher elevations, long hills, some of which we needed to keep our speed up because of traffic. the van could do it, but usually ended up accelerating in forth or third gear and it seemed like a lot of work. RPMs never went above 3500, Brakes did fine, and when I just manually selected a low gear and climbed at a reasonable speed, it did fine. Maybe any vehicle would do the same, I don't know. Maybe I should borrow a truck and take a drive to compare. we don't go off road, so the ability to do that isn't a factor for us.
I suppose we shouldn't put a kayak on top either.

as much as we like the t139, it was much less of an investment than the van, and the van meets our daily needs very well. we really aren't in a position to take on another purchase right now. I think the van would be ok if we just resigned ourselves to driving slower when conditions dictate, but around here, that's a lot of slow driving. by slow, I mean 40-45 on hills. Average highways with some hills, 55, flat 60.

I guess I wonder if this is sort of an average performance or an indication something needs to change.
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Old 05-10-2018, 05:32 PM   #17
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You'll know if you have overtaxed the van's brakes -- the brake rotors will overheat and warp. Then, when you put on the brakes, you will feel a pulsing sensation as the wavy rotors make contact and disengage.

But if you are careful and use the engine compression on the way down the hill, you may be perfectly fine and may never overtax the brakes. Instead of using the brakes, downshift and use the engine compression. And if you have to use the brakes, pulse them rather than riding them, which allows them to cool off a little.

On the way up the hill, the van will find the gear it wants, so just leave it alone. The only real fear going uphill is overheating the cooling system. Watch that gauge.

I suppose there is also a risk of overheating the transmission, if you do not have a transmission cooler. I installed a Scangauge on my truck to monitor transmission temp -- so far, no problems at all, but it gives me peace of mind.

Bear in mind that my advice reflects my ultra-conservative risk averse personality. (I mean conservative in a lifestyle sense, rather than political.) . So I may be overly cautious. In fact, I know that I am.
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Old 05-10-2018, 06:54 PM   #18
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thank you, I am too. I do most of the driving on the road and in the mountains. my husband likes to study maps and look around or doze, I like to drive. He navigates me or drives through cities, and backs the camper out of tight spots I get into....

anyway, I do use the lower gears to brake going down hill and it does seem to help. we drove from the Jemez area into Los Alamos and it has some of the steepest downhill hairpin turns I've ever seen. the brake controller and low gears handled it well. Going up hill on twisty forest roads, I've tried letting the van choose the gear, but it seems to work better if I manually put it in 4th maybe 3rd and watch the tach closely. when I leave it alone in auto mode, as we gain speed in a lower gear, it shifts to a higher gear and then it slows down and rpms go down till it down shifts and we start the cycle over. If I pick a gear and adjust the acceleration to keep it at a steady climb and rpm I feel better about it.
On the highways, I do keep it in auto mode, it is a more consistent speed and it does ok.

we don't have a transmission temp gauge, and I called dodge, and based on the vin, it supposedly has a heavy duty tranny cooler, among other things. But I think we should get an aftermarket one anyway. I'd also like some kind of gauge or reader to check the tranny temp. we have a menu that checks oil temp and engine temp, but strangely, not transmission temp.

I've been puzzling why towing this trailer with the van usually seems so easy, and wondered why this time I was so worried about the van as we were returning home. then I realized, we were in a hurry. a toothache (me) and emergency dental appointment on Thursday made me feel rushed. I realized trying to keep up with traffic was making me push the van much harder.

I went by the place we bought the van today, after learning I need a root canal and crown , and spoke to a mechanic. he too suggested what you did, an extra tranny cooler for peace of mind. He also pointed out that our HP is enough and our trailer is very light and reminded me we are retired, and don't have to hurry. (He also showed me some truck prices)
thank you so much for the input! I feel much clearer about it all.
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Old 05-10-2018, 10:29 PM   #19
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If you already have a good enough tranny cooler, do you really need an upgrade? I wonder if there is a user group somewhere of folks who tow with this van -- they would know. I am very cautious, but I am also opposed to spending money needlessly.
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Old 05-10-2018, 11:04 PM   #20
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I think that's a good point. I will see what I can find. Maybe a way to monitor the transmission temps would be a good thing to do first. Verizon talked me into a "hum", sort of a bluetooth, OnStar kind of device for the van. I'm going to look closely at the app for it, it may have a tranny temp readout. it's plugged into the port a diagnostic reader goes. supposed to monitor the vehicle performance.
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