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View Full Version : My Off-Road pop-up's Multi Axis coulper installed and tested


JadeRunner
07-04-2006, 08:55 PM
I had Oleg weld on my multi-axis coupler to my pop-up last week (and replace my timing belt). As usual, Oleg and his brother did outstanding work. He cut off the stock coupler and welded on a reciever tube and beefed it up as needed.

I ordered it from Adventure Trailers. http://www.adventuretrailers.com/accessories/Accessories.html A pintle hitch has a ton of slop. This one is nice and tight. In fact it's kind of a pain to hook up the trailer, because you have to have it lined up just right. This was the only one like this I found that was available in the US. Australia has several options, but they aren't available here. I'm pleased with it.

It's kind of a joke to sell an off road trailer like this that is capable of going over rough terrain (which it does nicely), with a standard ball hitch. I know these campers have only been on the market for a few years, but I was shocked that no one in the Kettelsen Campers "community", could either could suggest another hitch option or acknowledge that the standard ball won't flex much in relation to what the trailer is designed to do. When I took off the receiver\ball from the truck, held it in my hand, put in the trailer coupler and flexed it up. It would only pivot up about 10 degrees or so. Any kind of good size ditch or water bar in a forest road would tweak the coupler apart. Which would leave your trailer stranded until another coupler could be welded on (on the trail).

I tested it out this weekend. Even though this trailer is only a 10 footer, it feels quite wide (compared to the Runner) and long on the small forest roads. You pretty much have to have pre-run the trail and know it's trailer safe before proceeding. Worrying about backing it down a tight trail and finding a space large enough to turn around kind of freaks me out.

The trail near Winter Park that I was on started to get smaller and smaller and it was new to me, so I cut my losses and turned it around where I could. I don't believe the standard ball and hitch would have cut it here. The Marlin sure was helpful for this.

I guess I have never really tested the limits of a standard ball, so perhaps I'm wrong. But, it sure was a good feeling knowing I had it in this situation.

Ric
07-04-2006, 10:26 PM
Scott,
thats sweet, Oleg is the man. we was looking at this one http://www.fleetwoodrv.com/brandtomodel/floorplan.aspx?brand=evolution&m=E2
but now i know where to get the coupler thing done at :thumb:
thankx for sharing.

Red_Chili
07-05-2006, 08:24 AM
Jeff, it looks like it mates to a standard 2" ballmount?
Pretty cool. Pricey... I might have to put my new plasma cutter to work on my popup. Its an old Viking, but it does the job. It has a lift kit...:cool: :thumb:

Sandman
07-05-2006, 09:11 AM
I've never seen a coupler like that. That's great.

JadeRunner
07-05-2006, 09:15 AM
Scott,
thats sweet, Oleg is the man. we was looking at this one http://www.fleetwoodrv.com/brandtomodel/floorplan.aspx?brand=evolution&m=E2
but now i know where to get the coupler thing done at :thumb:
thankx for sharing.

That's a good one Ric. My friend bought the E1. It's more heavy duty and better made than mine (and has hot water). But, the trade off is extra weight and it's longer. The E2 would be way too large in my opinion for our Runner's. Especially if you wanted to take it off-road.

JadeRunner
07-05-2006, 09:18 AM
Jeff, it looks like it mates to a standard 2" ballmount?
Pretty cool. Pricey... I might have to put my new plasma cutter to work on my popup. Its an old Viking, but it does the job. It has a lift kit...:cool: :thumb:

Joe\Jack\Bill or whatever your name is. :rolleyes:

I'm not sure of your question. You must have 2" recievers on both ends for this coupler.

Ric
07-05-2006, 10:22 AM
Scott,
your right, humm guess I might have to add the Super Charger, :lmao: we wont do anything this year, we are just doing research now, diffenatly want the runner to be able to pull the thing up hills.
well we still got time to figure it all out.

Romer
07-05-2006, 10:31 AM
I will have to evaluate this. I saw what Oleg did, my problem is the surge brake fluid resevoiur and the disable mechanism is right at the hitch where Oleg cut your old one off.

JadeRunner
07-05-2006, 10:36 AM
I will have to evaluate this. I saw what Oleg did, my problem is the surge brake fluid resevoiur and the disable mechanism is right at the hitch where Oleg cut your old one off.

Huh. I thought our trailers had basically the same setup. Can't you re-locate them.

Vic stuff
07-05-2006, 10:49 PM
Seriously looks nice, the main reason anyone at ketelsen didnt give you any more info is we can't, the trailer is not designed for "offroading" it was built in the mind that you would be going down a dirtroad and hit an occasional bump, going "offroad" technically will void some warranties. im not trying to defend our dealership, just tellin you that we are trying to cover our asses by not telling you how to take your trailer off the beaten path. trust me some of us know what it takes at the dealership to have an "offroad" trailers 1 guy has an older "Coleman Colorado" on 31" x-terrains, but he still wont take it "offroad" because he know it will be tore apart in a couple of years. Like i said we have to cover our asses and keep in mind the ability to now take it "offroad" is going to mean more basic maitenance. ie tightening screw more often, cabinets will take more of a beating, etc.

Rzeppa
07-05-2006, 11:45 PM
Pricey... I might have to put my new plasma cutter to work on my popup. Its an old Viking, but it does the job. It has a lift kit...:cool: :thumb:Your plasma cutter has a lift kit??? THIS I gotta see ;-)

Red_Chili
07-06-2006, 08:22 AM
My plasma cutter has a lift kit and 35s...:cool:
And my old Viking popup does too.
Besides, I had CruiserDan do some voodoo thingamajig and now my old Viking popup has articulation too, and a locking diff. And, now I get 45* of angle out of the 2" ballmount. And it attracts big game to camp, saving me days, days of muscle pain from chasing edible varmints all over a mountain.

It just would not do to downgrade it to one of those as-yet-unpaid-for newfangled things. I think the voodoo would make the new one's rivets dematerialize at the most inopportune time.

JadeRunner
07-06-2006, 10:00 AM
Seriously looks nice, the main reason anyone at ketelsen didnt give you any more info is we can't, the trailer is not designed for "offroading" it was built in the mind that you would be going down a dirtroad and hit an occasional bump, going "offroad" technically will void some warranties. im not trying to defend our dealership, just tellin you that we are trying to cover our asses by not telling you how to take your trailer off the beaten path. trust me some of us know what it takes at the dealership to have an "offroad" trailers 1 guy has an older "Coleman Colorado" on 31" x-terrains, but he still wont take it "offroad" because he know it will be tore apart in a couple of years. Like i said we have to cover our asses and keep in mind the ability to now take it "offroad" is going to mean more basic maitenance. ie tightening screw more often, cabinets will take more of a beating, etc.

Hey Vic,
Thanks for chiming in, I guess I understand the reality of your position as the middlemen between Starcraft and the customer. No easy answers I suppose. But, it's still not fair to the consumer.

My friend for example, just bought a new Tacoma TRD and the Fleetwood E1. He's not a wheeler like I am by any means, but he gets out a lot and certainly plans to take his setup on a lot of back roads and through streams crossings etc. He will at some point keep pushing it and encounter something that could snap his coupler and leave him stranded. He was surprised to hear my speal about how a coupler was needed. So he asked the Ketelsen guys and they told him that they have never heard of such a problem and they have been in the business for many years etc.. So in his mind he doesn't think it's a problem. And if he has a problem with this he will expect Kelelsen to fix it under warranty since it is designed to go off-road. They could have just acknowledged that the trailer is capable of going over terrain that is way beyond the capabilities of the coupler and that it up to him to upgrade it. But, I suppose to your point, there are other issues and liabilities that go along with saying that.

In terms of screws coming loose when off-roading. Isn't traveling on a bumpy dirt road for 28 miles to Deep Lake in the Flat Tops much worse that flexing it off-road? People take their normal pop-up's up there all the time. With one axle, the flex and wear and tear by going slow over when off-roading doesn't seem to be an issues. Scraping the sides and ripping off the awning is the issue IMO.

So I guess, I blame Starcraft (and Fleetwood) for not addressing the potential issues in form of disclaimers or whatever and educating the Kelelsens of the world how to respond to customers regarding the capabilities and expectations of this thing.

Starcraft definitely sells this thing as an off-road trailer. I took this quote from their website.

Starcraft’s all-new RT series of folding camping trailers can go almost anywhere, from campgrounds to wilderness trails, to mountain peaks. Three main features set the RT apart: a 6” tube frame, 15” radial mud rover tires, and heavy-duty shocks, all designed to absorb bumps, provide off-road stability and rough terrain ground clearance.

Red_Chili
07-06-2006, 12:02 PM
Couldn't a fella just put a rotational device / coupling pivot between the trailer and the ball hitch, on the trailer tongue itself? Seems fab-able. It would allow the standard ball mount and only affect the trailer itself.

Red_Chili
07-06-2006, 12:07 PM
I guess that would not handle the fore/aft of going over a very large erosion control hump or boulder. Hmmm... wheels turning... smoke rising from my ears...

nakman
07-06-2006, 06:07 PM
Well, I think this hitch is super cool, but I'm going to see how long my "stock hitch" lasts before upgrading. What we need to do is have more "camper runs" where we can all incrimentally test our limits, then drink beer for 6 hours afterwards to form hypotheses. Would be cool to video each other doing some obstacles too, I'd like to see if the trailer suspension ever actually flexes, or when it does is it just because the hitch ran out of twisty travel?

For now I'll trust my trail-fab skills enough to be able to drag a broken trailer out of whatever I get myself into, or at least snatch block it off the trail to set up camp until help arrives. And when I'm camping with just the family, I won't be going anywhere that requires any magic dashboard buttons to be depressed... :rolleyes:

Romer
07-06-2006, 06:42 PM
Huh. I thought our trailers had basically the same setup. Can't you re-locate them.

Here are pictures of my hitch. I am sure I could relocate and redo some of this stuff, but it's not as simple as yours. I have surge brakes so my reservoir is in the assembly along with the sensor cable to engage the brakes should the hitch come undone.

Vic stuff
07-06-2006, 07:18 PM
Hey Vic,
Thanks for chiming in, I guess I understand the reality of your position as the middlemen between Starcraft and the customer. No easy answers I suppose. But, it's still not fair to the consumer.

My friend for example, just bought a new Tacoma TRD and the Fleetwood E1. He's not a wheeler like I am by any means, but he gets out a lot and certainly plans to take his setup on a lot of back roads and through streams crossings etc. He will at some point keep pushing it and encounter something that could snap his coupler and leave him stranded. He was surprised to hear my speal about how a coupler was needed. So he asked the Ketelsen guys and they told him that they have never heard of such a problem and they have been in the business for many years etc.. So in his mind he doesn't think it's a problem. And if he has a problem with this he will expect Kelelsen to fix it under warranty since it is designed to go off-road. They could have just acknowledged that the trailer is capable of going over terrain that is way beyond the capabilities of the coupler and that it up to him to upgrade it. But, I suppose to your point, there are other issues and liabilities that go along with saying that.

In terms of screws coming loose when off-roading. Isn't traveling on a bumpy dirt road for 28 miles to Deep Lake in the Flat Tops much worse that flexing it off-road? People take their normal pop-up's up there all the time. With one axle, the flex and wear and tear by going slow over when off-roading doesn't seem to be an issues. Scraping the sides and ripping off the awning is the issue IMO.

So I guess, I blame Starcraft (and Fleetwood) for not addressing the potential issues in form of disclaimers or whatever and educating the Kelelsens of the world how to respond to customers regarding the capabilities and expectations of this thing.

Starcraft definitely sells this thing as an off-road trailer. I took this quote from their website.

Starcraft’s all-new RT series of folding camping trailers can go almost anywhere, from campgrounds to wilderness trails, to mountain peaks. Three main features set the RT apart: a 6” tube frame, 15” radial mud rover tires, and heavy-duty shocks, all designed to absorb bumps, provide off-road stability and rough terrain ground clearance.


seriously the screws comin loose thing, if you actually offroaded your 10rt youre trailer will probaly be in a lot worse shape than just a few screws loose because the floor will flex with the frame, i know it sounds weird but trust me we have people bitching at us all the time that all their cabinets are coming loose from the floor, blah blah blah because al they did was run it down a dirt road for a couple of miles. if a manufacturer would actually build a trailer for its intended purpose, no one would buy em because they would be outrageously priced, lol. honestly the biggest problems with towable units is that they are towed, they are going to have little things come loose, dirt is going to get inside a little bit, THEY ARE NOT PERFECT! seriously though as long you keep up on small maintenance items, such as screws, fastners, etc. you shouldnt have any problems. keep in mind i am not telling you to go out to a tough trail and tote your trailer with ya and see how she does because im bettin you may not like the end results, but it may fare ok too, like i said. as long as youre keepin it "real" youll be just peachy! on a side note jade if ya have any probs ya wanna discuss away from the forum with your popup and would like to chat with me PM me and i can help as much as possible.

nakman
07-06-2006, 07:26 PM
Hey Vic, FWIW I think it's cool you work at Kettleson's and even cooler you are up here on our forum responding to this stuff. We'll keep the camper questions & mod write-ups coming, thanks! :cheers:

Vic stuff
07-06-2006, 07:47 PM
Hey Vic, FWIW I think it's cool you work at Kettleson's and even cooler you are up here on our forum responding to this stuff. We'll keep the camper questions & mod write-ups coming, thanks! :cheers:

no prob, just want people to understand where we have to come form for liability reasons. if anyone has questions regarding travel trailers/fifth wheels/popups lemme know ive worked on all of em, dont work on popups as much as i use to (2 years ago) but still know plenty on em. im actually certified by Fleetwood (visited the popup plant in PA 3 years ago) and RVIA
Master certified.

Red_Chili
07-07-2006, 08:36 AM
Hey Vic- do you do canvas repairs? I have that old Viking beast, hasn't come too loose yet :D but it has some tears.

Vic stuff
07-07-2006, 07:05 PM
personally no and we sublet it all outside of the dealership, i can get the info for the place we go to for ya though!

nakman
08-10-2012, 11:19 AM
Question for guys with this coupler thing... How do you hook it up? Do you have to back up and be exactly lined up to the receiver on one end or the other? How many times in and out of the truck does that take?

SteveH
08-10-2012, 01:20 PM
I tell people that popup campers are designed like Chrysler products of the 1970s - you need to frequently tighten screws and you're supposed to trade it in every now and then. I hate to image how my '93 Starcraft popup would hold up offroad, based on the damage that happens from vibrations of cross-country trips.

nakman
08-10-2012, 02:48 PM
Completely agree, Steve. In my case I've rebuilt half of the interior anyway, so don't have any issue with adding the occasional drywall screw here and there to make things tight again. I'm in the process though of converting my popup to a toy hauler, and am considering moving past the traditional ball hitch to one of these swivel types, like Lock-N-Roll or similar. http://www.locknroll.com/

But I'm curious how you actually hook it up- with a receiver essentially on both ends, do I have to do some elaborate docking maneuver? Like on Encounter at Farpoint when Riker had to dock to the saucer section manually... I'm not sure my backing skills are up to that, even with the camera.

nakman
08-10-2012, 03:34 PM
Ok I called them and answered my own question. There's a doodad that drops into a thingamajig... so it's similar to a normal hitch in terms of aim, etc. he also confirmed that these are good for 500-600 pounds of tongue weight. Also said he sees a lot of returns on the Adventure trailer hitches, this lock n roll is a superior setup, etc. I think I am going to go for it

Romer
08-10-2012, 03:39 PM
I liked the Multiaxis coupler that Adventure trailers makes. Had it on the trailer I had before the kimberley

http://www.adventuretrailers.com/coupler.html

With a standard trailer you have to get the hitch on the ball. The way I did it with this one and the kimberley hitch (which is similar) is i don't seperate the coupler but get the reciever started in the slot on the truck. There is more room to work with the movement of the coupler.

When I had my camper with the hitch ball, still would have to man handle the trailer a bit getting on the hitch. Still need to do a little of that here. I don't think its any worse and actually easier

You could also seperate the coupler and do it that way.

74fj40
08-11-2012, 08:09 PM
im gay

Corbet
08-11-2012, 09:18 PM
I helped Paul May hook up his AT once with the coupler. Its not really much harder than a standard ball IMO. I'm considering one for my R/T10 as I hate the ball mount personally.

corsair23
08-15-2012, 12:42 PM
Ok I called them and answered my own question. There's a doodad that drops into a thingamajig... so it's similar to a normal hitch in terms of aim, etc. he also confirmed that these are good for 500-600 pounds of tongue weight. Also said he sees a lot of returns on the Adventure trailer hitches, this lock n roll is a superior setup, etc. I think I am going to go for it

Tim, I went with the Max Coupler. I went this route after reading a write up on Expedition Portal about a guy that built up a M416 and bent a lock-n-roll after one outing. This was a couple years back...I think it was Dieselcruiserhead in Utah.

Anyway, I picked up the Max Coupler from Siera 4x4 Trailers for less than from AT. Relatively easy to hook up but it does require a little more alignment than just a ball. In the pics you see the red bushing in the tube...the tube/red bushing slips down between the sides of the end that bolts to your typical ball mount. You have to check this periodically to ensure it is tight enough to not come loose but not so tight that it impedes turning. I think Dave K. has a Max Coupler on his trailer.

If you have a light trailer you can roll the trailer up to the truck and install the ball mount into your hitch, or vice versa, or have both ends un-coupled and couple them. Various options.

Here are some links:

http://www.reno4x4.com/forum/showthread.php/39526-We-are-a-dealer-for-the-quot-MAX-COUPLER-quot

http://www.sierra4x4trailers.com/category/products/

The guy I dealt with back in Aug 2010, assuming he is still there. I paid $225 + shipping

Chris Dickerson
Sierra 4x4 Trailers LLC
1482 Southgate Dr. Unit 109
Gardnerville, NV 89410
775-783-0700

www.Sierra4x4Trailers.com (http://www.sierra4x4trailers.com/)
info@sierra4x4trailers.com

Rezarf
08-15-2012, 12:53 PM
I run a lock and roll on my trailer. It is a breeze to hook up. No harder than a ball if you ask me. And as long as your tongue weight is correct you should be able to man handle the trailer onto the hitch without issue. I find the articulation actually more forgiving than getting the ball dead on.

FWIW, the quietness of this hitch is worth it alone. I have a couple 1000 miles on mine and it is super tight and quiet as the day I brought it home. I use a little high pressure grease smeared onto the bearing surfaces before heading out and it tows like a quiet dream. If you have ever driven a pintel hook, then a ball hitch, and realized the difference in slop and noise... there is the same reduction in slop and noise AGAIN from the ball hitch to the lock-n-roll.

Tim, feel free to come check mine out in person, or give it a run on your little trailer sometime, the only issue is you will need to receivers to run this setup. If your trailer sees dirt at all this thing is worth it.

nakman
08-15-2012, 03:00 PM
im gay

This made me laugh out loud. Not sure if it was your official coming out, or maybe your girl friend was on your computer and did a funny... or perhaps you're just really witty. in any case :bowdown: :lmao:



Ok onto the other comments, thanks guys. Jeff the dude at LocknRoll said he just improved his design, the part numbers he gave me aren't even on his web site. I'm thinking he must have addressed whatever was happening... also what I'm looking at doesn't have a receiver on the trailer side, it's more of a weld-on deal.
http://www.locknroll.com/images/products/bigger/208-copy.gif

I like of like the added security benefit... you'd have to get creative to hork my trailer without the mating part, ya know?

Drew that's cool you have one, given that you're a mile away with some experience pretty much clinches it.. you'll have to hook this bad boy up to the Sequoia some time when I get it all built up. ;)

Corbet
04-17-2013, 01:26 PM
Bringing this back up to the top.

I ordered a Max Coupler yesterday and plan to weld in the receiver to the Starcraft 10R/T next week in prep for CM13.

I looked at the Lock and Roll as well. Dave Druck prefers that on his teardrop. It looked like there were a few failures with that unit when using the bolt-on version to a standard drop receiver. Dave uses the welded receiver/coupler. He had too many failures with the Max Coupler and switched.

I believe either coupler choice would be a good one at this point.

Anyway as I don't know how much drop I'll need at this point so I chose the Max Coupler. Purchased from So-Cal Teardrops for $235 to my door. Better pricing than AT. Its a new and improved model what ever that means. Will post pics when done.

74fj40
04-17-2013, 02:08 PM
Lol just saw this. Must have been my roomate...
:rolleyes:


This made me laugh out loud. Not sure if it was your official coming out, or maybe your girl friend was on your computer and did a funny... or perhaps you're just really witty. in any case :bowdown: :lmao:



Ok onto the other comments, thanks guys. Jeff the dude at LocknRoll said he just improved his design, the part numbers he gave me aren't even on his web site. I'm thinking he must have addressed whatever was happening... also what I'm looking at doesn't have a receiver on the trailer side, it's more of a weld-on deal.
http://www.locknroll.com/images/products/bigger/208-copy.gif

I like of like the added security benefit... you'd have to get creative to hork my trailer without the mating part, ya know?

Drew that's cool you have one, given that you're a mile away with some experience pretty much clinches it.. you'll have to hook this bad boy up to the Sequoia some time when I get it all built up. ;)

Corbet
04-17-2013, 03:00 PM
Lock and roll definitely has way more options to offer the user the best possible solution.

Corbet
04-23-2013, 11:29 PM
So I welded the receiver tube in tonight. Funny as I have the exact same pop-up as originally posted. I added a little more length to prevent my spare tire from contacting the propane tanks and tongue jack. But basically the same mod. I boxed in the bottom of the tongue and placed a support brace below the receiver to add additional strength.

3273532736

Red_Chili
04-24-2013, 10:49 AM
Funny as I have the exact same pop-up as originally posted.
And it was the exact same pop-up that inspired me to buy the pop-up that you bought from me... :lmao:

Corbet
04-24-2013, 05:51 PM
Tested out the max coupler today. My only complaint is hooking it up solo. I'm going to guess that Lock and Roll is easier solo. My camper is too heavy to lift the tongue and move it by hand. So lining up the pin is a PITA. But once connected everything works great. 327413274232743