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Greetings, all. I just got back from buying a 21RS, to be pulled by my '98 Explorer- this is my first time towing anything this big, so I'm looking for any and all advise I can get.

I notice by the signatures and discussions that I've probably got the smallest TV out there, so I want to make sure its set up correctly from the start. My dealer wanted $1200 for all of the hitch equipment and installation charges, but wasn't quoting any brand names I've heard of, so I passed.

Here's some of my observations:

Does the friction-type sway control look goofy to anyone but me? Seems that friction should be for brake pads and clutch packs, not sway control. I'm leaning toward a Reese straight line dual cam setup, instead. Comments?

Everyone seems to like the Prodigy brake controller, so I'm leaning this way, too.

I'm also planning on a full brake overhaul (just to be on the safe side), a trans temp gauge (got the factory cooler, already), a cooling system flush, maybe change the water pump as preventative maintenance- it's got 70k on it. I already use synthetic fluids all around, so I should be okay in that department.

Whew, I don't know how I'm going to get to sleep tonight, but my two daughters and wife and I are sure looking forward to that first trip. Any advise or tips you can offer, I'm open to 'em! (I'll be spending the next few hours cruising this and other forums.) Thanks in advance.

-Kevin
 

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Kevin,

welcome to the forum, lots of great folks here.

$1200 seems a little high, depends on if that includes the receiver for your truck though. If it includes that, it might be in line.

I use a friction sway control with our setup and it works pretty well, but our truck is somewhat larger than yours. You probably need something more. I would recommend the equal-i-zer brand hitch because of the relatively light tongue weight of the 21rs. The dual cam needs at least 400# of tongue weight to work and the 21rs is not a whole lot over that. The equal-i-zer doesn't rely on tongue weight to work effectively. I haven't towed with one, but some others on the forum have and are happy with it.

The prodigy in most everyone's opinion is a no brainer, one of the best controllers you can get.

The maintenance you suggest is a good idea. Might want to think about a larger trans cooler than the stock one, you want to keep the trans fluid temps down. It's not an expensive upgrade and will make a difference in cooling capacity.

You might want to look into upgrading your tires if they are "P" rated passenger tires to "LT" rated light truck tires. The sidewalls are much stiffer on "LT" tires and will help a lot in controlling sway.

Enjoy your new coach, we love our 21rs.

Mike
 

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Hi Kevin, first of all welcome to the outbackers and congrats on your new Outback!

I think you made a good call saving the $1200. I am not a big fan of friction sway bars. I think a much safer way is to get a good Weight Distribution Hitch. The Equalizer Hitch has the WDH and sway control all in one, no need to add the dual cams. For $399 and free shipping its hard to beat too. You can pick one up at RV Wholesalers along with a Prodigy for $99. RV Wholesalers is a good company to buy from, many have reported good experience with them and the prices can't be beat by many.

You could also go with a Reese Dual Cam if you prefer, I just use the Equalizer so that's what I suggest. No matter which you go with I think you'll get better performance from them than using a friction sway bar. Plus with the friction bar you are suppose to remove them when backing, a bit of a PITA.
 

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Hi,

I pull a 21rs with an Envoy. My sway control is a friction bar. It does the job. Pulling from Montreal to Virginia and in numerous shorter trips it has not given me problems. You can spend much more for a better system - in this case the simple and cheap solution works (at least for me).

Ed
 

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Welcome to Outbackers, and congratulations on your new TT.

I think I would have to agree with Mike on the hitch. The Equalizer would be a little better for you, due to the lighter tongue wgt of the 21RS. I have a 26RS with a tongue wgf of 600#, so the Reese works great with my set up. I have not heard anything bad about the Equalizer from anybody who has used it, and was considering it myself until I knew what trailer I was getting. I would definately stay away from a friction type sway control with the smaller tow vehicle.

The LT tires will also help somewhat.

Tim
 

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Welcome!
We tow a 21RS with a 2000 Mercury Mountaineer with tow package....... NO problemo from a weight/ length standpoint (according to hubby who drives it!) I'll ask him what stuff we had put on the truck. I know we have sway/ brake/ weight distrib........ Not sure of brands, etc..... I'm just excited to see another small TV here! I was so discouraged from getting a TT at rv.net that I am glad I came here and got honest answers and tips.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm just excited to see another small TV here! I was so discouraged from getting a TT at rv.net that I am glad I came here and got honest answers and tips.
Yep, it's frustrating asking for advise on tow vehicles- *everyone* will tell you that you need a diesel dually or suburban, but some compromise is necessary if you're going to use it as a daily driver too. I think the 21RS is pretty well sized to a mid-size SUV, but we'll see. Frankly, I'm more concerned about the age and mileage- it's a '98 with 72k- in my experience this is when problems start to crop up on American cars. Hope this isn't the case because I'm religious about maintenance on our explorer.
 

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Howdy and welcome! Well, if it makes you feel any better, our Grand has 136k and pulls our 22' 4500lb TT with no issues. The temp goes up by about 5* or so but that's pretty normal. I, too, am pretty meticulous about maintenance and we have pretty much the same setup as far as TV size and engine / gear ratio go so I think you'll be fine. I would recommend loading up the engine, diffys, trans and transfer cases with a good quality synthetic oil such as Amsoil or Redline (provided there are no existing leaks because syn oil flows much better) and call it good. By the way, FYI - When I switched from the Mopar ATF+4 trans fluid to the Amsoil synthetic ATF my tranny guage showed a drop in temps of around 10-13*. The Redline gear oil has a lightweight shockproof gearlube (rated at 75W140) that claims to lower temps by up to 75* in heavy duty situations so I imaging it would lower temps on standard towing diffs as well.

IMHO I think you'll be ok. Your weights seem to be just about right on so I would think as long as you don't beat it, you should have a great time!

Good luck, Mike.

Mike n' Jen
'98 Grand Cherokee / Outbacker wannabe / soontobe
 

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Greetings:

Congratulations on your new rig. I have a 2002 23FBS with a dry weight of 4,500 lbs and a loaded weight of 5,300lbs. We are towing it with a 2002 Explorer with a 4.0 L, V-6. It has a tow rating of 5,500 lbs. We have a Reese 12,000 lb weight distributing hitch and a Husky friction sway control.

Last summer we went from Nova Scotia to Virginia and back. The trip included all types of roads and conditions. We did the interstates at the full speed limit and cruised the curves of the backroads with ease. We crossed Pennsylvania using Interstate 81, nicknamed "truck alley", with no problems. We did the Beltway around Washington at rush hour and survived. We also crossed the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

All this was done without incident and with very few 'white knuckle' experiences. The Explorer hauled the trailer with ease.

The only caution I would have is that the 2002 Explorer is on a wider track than your rig. Ford re-designed the Explorer after the problems with tire blowouts and rollovers. If your Explorer has a tow rating that exceeds the loaded weight of your trailer, you should be o.k.

Best regards,

Bopper

2002 23FBS
2002 Explorer
2 Adults and 2 very spoiled Cocker Spaniels
 
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