Originally Posted by Double Jay
Thanks for all of the inputs, especially from jimmoore13.
I bought the trailer today. Paid the full asking price but asked they to throw in some free stuff like battery etc.
The dealer said I need to have a brake controller on my tow vehicle. I tried to educate myself what is that. Before today, I don't even know such thing exist, LOL....
My tow vehicle is rated 5000/500 lb. It only has a hitch now.
Where is a good place to install the brake controller? Any good suggestions?
So welcome to the club. I'm going to ramble on a few subjects a bit given the new info you provided.
This old (2008) article from Trailer Life (now RV Magazine) touches on rudimentary information about trailer brake controllers. It's a good 101 class on the subject. https://www.trailerlife.com/towguide...railer-brakes/
A lot has changed in 13 years, so recommendations on brands and so on will be obsolete. But the info on the types of controllers - Proportional vs. Timer Based - will give you a basic understanding of how the little black box under your dash (usually) works.
Next, you might look at some buyers guides on brake controllers. Generally , these must be taken with a grain of salt, because advertisers get better reviews, but if you skim a couple of recent ones, you'll have a general idea of what's available and the advantages/disadvantages of each.
When I bought my previous rig (a high-wall pop-up), it was enough of a beast (about 4000 pounds wet) that it needed brakes. I had the dealer install "something" that would do the job. So far, I've liked it, and it works well and is reliable. The brand? Damned if I know. On delivery, we took the rig for a spin in the parking lot, and one of the things they showed me is how to adjust the brake controller. 7 seasons later, so far so good.
The easiest thing would be for you to choose a controller you like, see if your RV dealer can supply and install it, and tell the dealer to make it so. You'll pay handsomely -- $200+ -- over DIY, but you'll be more confident in the work.
Tow Vehicle (TV)
So, as I suspected, you are towing with a midsized SUV...in your case, an Acura MDX (fancy Honda Pilot). I'll presume this one is setup for towing. That's important. Another important thing to bear in mind. This is essentially a front wheel drive (FWD) drivetrain made into all-wheel-drive (AWD)...NO, NOT FOUR WHEEL DRIVE...all wheel drive. When it comes to truckliness, there is a big differnce. Hondas do have a "lockup" feature for low speed manual engagement of the AWD. Handy. It will save your bacon someday. If you don't know how to engage it, learn. The rear axle generally kicks in when sensors detect incipient front-wheel spin. Manual lock engages it from the get go. Not something to use on paved roads, but terrific when maneuvering on wet grass or slick mud or a bit of ice/snow. (You WILL go to the mountains with this thing.
Why is this important? FWD is not great for towing. A weight distribution hitch (WDH) will RETURN some weight to the front axle for restored traction, but when you hang more than two tons off the rear hitch, and when the primary traction is as far from that load as possible, FWD is at a disadvantage. Yes, the AWD will compensate, but, as I said, the Honda is low on truckliness. Look at that rear differential and compare it to the one in a pickup truck...you'll get the picture.
This is starting to sound like a rant. It's not. I'll get to the point.
Your Geo Pro 19BH is a fantastic boondocking camper. Off the grid is where it's at. It's not an RV Park Queen. Yes, it will do great in RV parks. But this thing shines in the outback. And to a point, your Acura will get it there. But your "Honda" ain't no Jeep or Taco or half-ton pick-em-up truck. Things like ground clearance, tires, and so on all lean in the direction of shopping mall, not the Rubicon trail. Yet, here you are in gorgeous country, and I predict that very soon you'll develop a hankering to leave the RV parks behind and follow some two-tracks into the boonies. The rig is built for that. Your Acura can handle some of it so long as you are mindful of ground clearances
That said, your biggest weakness is climbing hills on loose gravel or dirt. You might be on a perfectly "civilized" dirt road, but a CUV towing more than 2 tons will soon find that dirt roads into BLM or NFS (National Forest Service) lands aren't actually that civilized, and if you venture off that road, things can get challenging in a hurry...again towing two tons.
One trick that works great is to tighten up the spring bars on your WDH to transfer substantially more weight to the front axle. This is a temporary adjustment to accommodate difficult sections of road...not the permanent setup. Pull over, change the setup, get through the section, then stop and put it back to normal.
One of my favorite spots is 11 miles into a sandy, washboarded, potholed gravel road to get to Lake Wellington. https://www.castlemountainrec.com/
This is a beast of a road, and hot-shoes routinely break RV springs or other parts from going too fast. "Big Red Towing Service" does a land office business picking up broken campers, finishing the trip into the lake area, dumping them on their sites, and coming back for the hulk on Sunday afternoon. My average speed on this road is 5 to 10 MPH with a 4WD Dodge Ram Hemi 4-Door Pickup doing the towing, and my X-213 has enough ground clearance to drag it down ATV trails. But the road is punishing. Acura MDXs make this same trek towing small campers on a regular basis. Your Geo Pro is a perfect match for this situation.
A fellow camper came in two years ago. He had one of the new Ram FWD tradesman vans similar to the Mercedes and Ford Transits. He was towing a Hybrid...perhaps 1000 pounds heavier than your rig. He was flustered and upset that he almost didn't make it because his front wheels were spinning on the long, steep uphill grades...which, of course, is where the worst washboard is. I advised him about tightening his WDH spring bars for more weight transfer to the front axle. Next time I saw him at the lake, he told me that this worked like a charm.
This Geo Pro is going to bite you with the boondocking bug. It has plenty of fresh water, grey water, and black water holding. It has a nice, big fridge for days of food, beer, and wine. Hell, it even has an oven. It's perfect.
~ A couple 7 gallon water jugs you can use to go get more potable water and dump it in the fresh tank. https://smile.amazon.com/Reliance-Pr...1083171&sr=8-2
I bought an extra cap for mine, then made an adapter using a 1/2" NPT to 1/2" barb plastic fitting, about 15" of clear plastic 1/2" hose and a hose clamp. This adapter allows me to pour water from the jug into the gravity fill to the fresh tank...without spilling it.
~ Levelers. Andersons are "it". This is the two pack. You only need one. https://smile.amazon.com/Andersen-Hi...dDbGljaz10cnVl
I have these: https://smile.amazon.com/EZ-RV-Level...1083403&sr=8-8
The shorter "cam" fits well with double axle trailers.
My wife and I get setup and level side to side in less than 5 minutes.
~ Bubble Levels. Hopkins is it for me. https://smile.amazon.com/Hopkins-085...083505&sr=8-10
The flat bottom allows you to align the bottom of the Hopkins with the bottom of a frame rail. One for fore-and-aft, and one for side to side on the cross frame behind the "A-Frame" where the hitch is mounted. You CAN get a 4' framing level, get your rig perfectly level at home in the driveway, then apply the Hopkins to read perfectly level, but that's a lot of trouble for what only needs to be "close enough for government work." Aligning the Hopkins with the bottom edge of the frame rail will be nearly perfect. Use a block of wood or a framing level against the bottom of the frame rail as a guide against which to rest the bottom of the Hopkins. Perfect.
Don't forget: Your rig must be fairly level for the fridge to operate properly, that's why all this leveling stuff is important. That and not falling out of bed or have your beer slide off the table.
~ This wheel dock is also great for the drop leg that probably came with your tongue jack.
The wheel dock spreads the load, but more importantly, it cradles the foot of the tongue jack to prevent it from slipping sideways.
Drop leg: https://smile.amazon.com/Libra-Stand...083862&sr=8-22
~ Wheel chocks. You need 4. One for the front and one for the rear of each tire. If you are on the leveler, it will cradle the tire on the downhill side. https://smile.amazon.com/Camco-44432...NsaWNrPXRydWU=
~ Lego blocks to help with the stabilizer jacks. If you must level the rig side to side and/or front to rear, it helps to have a dozen or so of these to build platforms so you don't over extend the stab jacks. https://smile.amazon.com/Camco-Stabi...1085630&sr=8-5
You can buy them in larger quantities. I believe I have 16 individual pads, and that's just enough when boondocking.
~ What to do with Grey Water: You'll notice that your grey water tank fills alarmingly quickly. Well, it's just dishwater and water from hand washing. A bit of soap (surfactants are good for the soil), some coffee grounds, some food particles, and, well, in fire-prone California, precious water. If laws don't prevent it, get a 5 gallon bucket and use it to capture grey water and haul it to some thirsty trees.
~ Bear spray: Get a couple.
~ Generator: Let's face it, I've been to Sacramento in the summer, and it hit 115 degrees in the shade. You can be a park queen when the weather is so hot, so you can run your AC on shore power. But if you boondock, sooner or later, you're going to need a generator. A 2000 watt inverter generator will barely cut it so long as you add a hard start kit to your AC. https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=rv+ac+h...ss_ts-a-p_3_16
But you'll have no power left over for anything else. If you have money to burn, get a Honda or a Yamaha. For less than half the price, you can buy a Predator from Harbor Freight, or one of a zillion other good brands, Generac, Cummins Onan, and myriad others with less prestigious names. Champion is a great compromise between price and quality. But if you boondock, you need a generator.
~ Battery: Your dealer is going to give you a puny group 24 marine battery. This is enough for a park queen and an occasional overnight boondocking. But pay the difference for a much more suitable battery...a group 31 deep cycle 12 volt. Example: https://www.batteriesplus.com/produc.../sli31dtmagmdc
The dealer's battery is worth about $100 to $110. Pay the extra $150, and get a better battery...or tell him to keep his battery and you'll bring one of your own...and get the value of the battery as a credit.
A group 24 marine battery will claim about 75 amp hours (AH) of capacity...max. You get to use half. So you get 35 to 37 AH.
The group 31 will give you about 50 USABLE AH.
This is still the bargain basement for batteries, but it's an improvement over the chintzy thing the dealer wants to give you.
I have 2 x 6 volt GC2 golf cart batteries on the tongue of my rig. Wired in series to provide 12 volts. https://www.batteriesplus.com/productdetails/sligc115
A pair of these gives me 115 USABLE AH.
Solar: Well, you'll want to add solar soon enough. That's another discussion. I have 400 watts of solar on the roof of my rig. Combined with the two golf cart batteries and the cool mountain weather, the only time we use our generator is to run the microwave or the espresso machine. Yes, we rough it. Anyway, solar is a whole 'nuther discussion...after the boondocking bug bites.
Sewer Hose: This is a very good sewer hose...stinky slinky. The one in the "intro kit" the dealer gives you will not hold up well if you use it much.
And these are might nice when handling the nasty stuff: https://smile.amazon.com/Powder-Free...xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==
Brands. Camco is not perfect, but they make good stuff. My wheel dock, for example, is now on its third camper! It has served me well for over a decade. Their yellow plastic stuff is sturdy and long lasting. Overall they do pretty well. Valtera is good on the plumbing stuff...especially drain/dump plumbing.
Last tip: Campers are a whole house, on wheels, that you drag all over the place, including on roads like I describe above. Everybody has had the experience of getting setup, opening the door and finding some random screw on the floor. It happens. You pay $25K for a complete home on wheels and then torture it on the roads, and things come apart. Rumor has it that $120,000 Airstreams suffer the same fate. What to do? Go in for warranty repairs? Fuggeduboud it. They'll just reinstall the screw and it will be on the floor by the time you get home.
Solution?: Gorilla glue acts like LocTite does on nuts and bolts. So, get some "single use" size Gorilla Glue https://smile.amazon.com/Gorilla-Cle...s%2C200&sr=8-2
. It's activated by water, so use a Q-tip to apply water to the hole, dip the screw in water, add a tiny bit to the threads, and screw it in.
What to do if the hole is stripped out a bit and too large. Bigger screw. I keep a plastic parts box https://smile.amazon.com/Massca-Hard...1086533&sr=8-8
with a wide assortment of different sized screws, bolts, nuts, nylock nuts, cotter pins, and so on. STAINLESS ONLY. They don't rust, they're compatible with aluminum, and they are good inside and out. The extra cost is worth it. I have screws up to #14 for leg bases, and LOTS of screws in the sizes used in assembly.
You need a cordless drill with a 3/4" adapter to run your stab jacks. https://smile.amazon.com/Camco-Chem-...086726&sr=8-11
Well, if you have the drill, bring along some decent drill bits. https://smile.amazon.com/Milwaukee-4...s%2C227&sr=8-3
And bring a Philips driver for the drill and an oddball bit set to deal with weird fasteners you may encounter in the rig. https://smile.amazon.com/Milwaukee-4...1087002&sr=8-8
Combined with a modest but decent set of tools, you should be able to cope with more or less any problem that arises so it doesn't ruin your trip.
I could go on for many more pages, but you'll get lots of good advice from others. These are my must haves for an enjoyable, reliable camping trip.
I can't resist...one more thing. In the wildfire-prone west, campfires are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Fire bans are almost constant. What's camping without a campfire? A propane fire pit is the answer.
We bought ours due to fire bans. Now we feel it's superior to a wood fire: no smoke, no sparks, turns on and off with a knob, and it's cheaper than convenience store firewood. I will pay for itself in a season. We get two full days of fires out of a single 5 gallon propane tank. We do NOT use the tanks on the RV, because the fire pit consumes 58,000 BTU per hour in propane on high. That's enough to starve the RV appliances...such as the furnace on a cool night. Your furnace, by comparison, probably consumes 20,000 BTU per hour.
We wouldn't be without ours. Take a swim in a cold mountain lake and come out to sit by an instant fire to warm up? Heaven.
Warning: There ARE fire bans so restrictive that they prohibit use of propane gas grills and similar appliances outside. The fire pit is in compliance until you get to one of those stage 3 bans. Also, sometimes you'll get the hairy eyeball from other campers who think you're violating the fire ban. When they come to investigate, their anger turns to jealousy when they realize you have a legit campfire and they don't.
I'm done. If you've read all of this, you have earned an Associates Degree in BS.