towing a trailer (popup) in the snow? Advice?

Discussion in 'Trailer Tech' started by e9999, Dec 5, 2006.

  1. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

    Messages:
    15,288
    Location:
    PRK
    thinking about possibly going in the mountains for Xmas vacation. Would likely take the trailer - a popup.
    We'd probably try and find some snow to enjoy.
    But I've never trailered in the snow. Popup is pretty light (about 2,500lbs or so I think) but it has dinky little skinny kindaworn tires. Popup has electric brakes.

    I'd rather not have the thing dart sideways the whole time or make it impossible for the cruizer (not sure which yet) to brake.

    Advice / comments?
  2. stanley

    stanley

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    I forgot
    bring something warm
  3. gladly

    gladly User title SILVER Star

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    I'd deal with the tires. aren't those little weeny ones on popups like 20 bucks each?
    and keep the braking turned waayy down.
    don't speed
    2500lb isn't that light, should tow fine, esp. since it's so low
  4. inthewall

    inthewall

    Messages:
    1,304
    Location:
    Elko, Nevada
    Put mud flaps onto receiver hitch. It will keep the trailer from getting covered with snow and crud.
  5. KliersLC

    KliersLC SILVER Star

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    But the mud is fun to scrape off.......

    You should be fine, just realize that if you brake hard on a curve, especially a downhill curve, the trailer will want to push the rear end out. This is easily corrected by using the throttle, but if you could use the throttle, you wouldn't have been braking so hard......


    So anyway, take it easy and slow down for the corners.
  6. KliersLC

    KliersLC SILVER Star

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    This isn't trailer tech....it is vehicle towing a trailer tech, move it to the 80 series tech.....or 100 series,

    Which rig are you taking?
  7. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    was in chat, somebody moved it here
    not sure yet what rig to tow.
  8. John E Davies

    John E Davies

    Messages:
    735
    Location:
    Spokane WA, USA
    I won't get into all the obvious safety issues, but there are a few points to make.

    Most state DOTs have extra rules about towing trailers on snow covered highways. WA for example requires the towing vehicle to have chains on at least one axle, regardless of whether or not it is 4wd, and they "recommend" chains on one braked trailer axle. You had better check this out before going any further.

    I've seen plenty of 4x4s towing snowmobile trailers up to the passes - I don't know what those guys do higher up. I bet they don't often chain up, but in WA they will be facing a ticket if they are caught.

    Towing on slick surfaces with balding tires is foolhardy - look for replacements with an aggressive (not ribbed) pattern to give the trailer brakes a chance to work, and to keep the trailer from heading for the ditch on off-camber turns. Bring chains for the trailer (assuming you can even find a set that fit) and install them promptly if the road surface gets snotty. In deep or fresh snow they aren't needed.

    Most folks who camp in the winter use heavily insulated pickup campers. I don't see any fun in using a pop-up in 20 degrees, but that is up to you.

    Corrosive liquid road deicers will destroy the finish on aluminum components on a trailer before you can get it to a car wash. This can literally happen over a single weekend, so be aware of this factor if the looks of the trailer matters to you.

    I suggest that you leave it at home and don't risk the extensive vehicle damage that will result from a jack knife.
  9. IggyB

    IggyB

    Messages:
    13
    My pop up has restrictions in the manual about putting up or taking down the soft sides in cold temperature. Something about the material cracking in the cold
  10. Coolerman

    Coolerman SILVER Star

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    Reviving an old, old thread because I have a long story about why you do NOT want to tow a pop-up on slick roads.

    This past fall I towed my 2800 lb pop-up with electric brakes to Yellow Stone for a two week vacation. All went well on the way out. We had a blast (this was our third trip there, first with the pop-up).

    The last night we were there, the weather turned, and they were predicting snow for the next couple of days starting around noon the next day. So we planned to leave around 4:00 AM local time (We stay on EST when traveling to stay ahead of the crowds.) so we could get across the mountains long before it hit.

    We got up at 3:00AM and just as we finished packing it started very lightly snowing! :mad: I have a 4WD Nissan Xterra so we decided to go ahead and start up the mountain to beat the snow before it started sticking to the roads. The temps had been in the 60's for the last couple of days so I didn't think the snow had any chance of sticking before we could get across....

    Everything was going fine until the wife noticed that the temps had plummetted into the high 20's as we climbed above 7000 feet. The roads of course were wet from melting snow but less than a mile later I felt the rear tires spin a bit as I accelerated. ( I was still in 2WD at the time) I pulled off the road and put the truck in 4WD HI, we conferred and decided to go on since we were only about 6 miles from the peak and it was 20 miles back to camp.

    By the time we hit the peak the roads were slick and it was snowing hard. We stopped at the top to talk to some construction guys that were there and asked for some 'local' advice. They all said that the storm brewing was going to dump 4-6" and since it was down hill regardless of whether I went forward or back they said go forward but go to 4WD LO and take it easy. I went to low and we started down. When the first curve came up I decided to slow even further then the 10mph I was doing by putting the auto tranny into second.

    :frown: Big mistake! I have towed that camper and my boat for tens of thousands of miles with no issues on wet slick roads, but had never had either of them on a snow/ice slick road.

    The INSTANT I dropped the tranny into second the wheels locked up! I know all you experienced mountain folks are shaking your heads about now, but what can I say, I had no experience with these particular towing conditions and was between a rock and a place. What I should have done was go back to 2WD and my ABS would have worked to help me steer out of the mess I was about to be in. (No ABS in 4WD)

    Anyway ass sight being 20/20....

    The curve we were approaching was cambered into the mountain, but there was no guard rail. It dropped off a good 200 yards straight down. My wife immediately started screaming as the trailer pushed the rear of the truck around into a jack knife. Both vehicles then picked up speed and we were sliding toward the drop off...

    You know how time slows down whenever your life is in danger? Everything was just slow motion. I knew that if God or somebody did not intervene we were going to die, it was that simple... I did the only thing i could think of doing besides joining my wife screaming, I floored the gas pedal and turned the truck into the mountain. VERY slowly the direction we were sliding started changing toward the ditch against the mountain. I was praying that some vehicle did not pop around the curve and I took us all over the mountain. Then I did the one thing I later realized saved our butts. I let off the brakes on the truck completely and reached down and manually applied the trailer brakes on full. The trailer immediately skidded and pulled the truck around so we were facing uphill sliding backwards! The trailer slide off the road in to the ditch where the brake actually could work in the gravel and we came to a stop. Engine still running, wife still screaming but holy crap we were in one piece! I hit the gas and pulled us completely out of the lane and idled up to a flat spot. I shut the truck off, got out and went around to the passenger side to get the hysterical wife calmed down. After that I surveyed the damage. The front plastic part of the camper was destroyed from smacking the side of the truck in the cold temps, there was a nice big dent the the rear quarter of the truck, the dual Trojan 6V batteries were ruptured and acid was dripping all over the place but that was it. So there you have it. See pics for the damage. We got calmed down, got back in the truck, took it out of 4WD, and continued down the mountain. 3 miles later the snow stopped and the roads went back to just being wet. At the bottom we used duct tape to hold all the flapping pieces of plastic and continued on to KY.

    Hope you enjoyed the long story and learned something from it. ;)
    PA090088.jpg
  11. titanpat57

    titanpat57 SILVER Star

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    Location:
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Thank God you guys were ok Coolerman...that sounds like a Class A "change of underwear" story....:eek:

    theres a guy over Expo who pulls a pop up type tent jammi and his pics show the front axle of the tow vehicle chained and the trailer wheels chained. Certainly sounds like that might have helped Coolerman some in the prior post.

    I'll try to dig up a link and post....

    And as I promised...I stand corrected..he chained up the rear..does that make more sense?

    Trailer Action Shots - Page 7 - Expedition Portal Forum

    P.s. This guy's full setup is the coolest thing I've ever seen
    Chainedfrontandrear.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009

  12. OlympiaFJ60

    OlympiaFJ60

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    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    You beat me too it Pat, was thinking of the same pic. I will be carrying chains for the trailer when we venture out into the snow. I think with an electric brake axle that is the best thing. Oh, yeah, that is the REAR axle of the tow vehicle that is chained :p
  13. titanpat57

    titanpat57 SILVER Star

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Hudson Valley, NY
    HaHaHa..and I was thinking of your setup when I saw his!!!!

    I like them both equally...:D

    I wonder from a braking and handling standpoint...assuming you're going to use the trailer brakes (chained)in an obscene condition, if it wouldn't be better to have the front chained?? Or would that just open the door for a major a$$ slide...I'm thinking (esp. in e9999's case..a 2500# trailer) that the independent trailer braking, coupled with proper gearing, would it keep the nose pointed down hill, allowing for better steering..

    But on the other hand...I drive a CX-9..what the hell do I kow?
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  14. OlympiaFJ60

    OlympiaFJ60

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    I actually think chains on ALL wheels would be best, but I see your point, if your going to chain 4, do the trailer and the front drive wheels. The trailer should help keep the trucks back end swinging around on a down hill.

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