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Old 04-05-2017, 09:31 PM   #1
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Possible New SunLine Owner

Hello everyone! My name is Steve and my wife and I are looking at our first travel camper. It is a 1988 Sunline Saturn that's dimensions (we are told) is 8' x 10'.
We were wondering if we could get some feedback on this camper before we go pick it up this weekend. It is in, what I would say is, very good condition for a 1988 model. I was told the first owner kept it inside most of its life. We were looking for a ready to move in and go camper and we really hope this is the one for us.

I hope it is ok to post the craigslist link as that would be the only current way I know how to get pictures onto here.

https://allentown.craigslist.org/rvs/6074226575.html

Going off the pictures, can anyone tell me what exactly it is. I found a picture on google images of a T1350 that seems to be pretty darn similar but I was hoping for more precise clarification. I know I can just look at the title but I would just love any and all feedback from each of you that you're willing to give a younger couple with their first camper.

Thank you, I look forward to hearing back from you!
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Old 04-05-2017, 10:19 PM   #2
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Yes it is a 1350. That was the same model I owned back in '88 -my very first Sunline!. If you dont require an adequate size bathroom and you dont carry too much extra stuff it can be fun. I personally dont like using my table for a bed! It can get very tight in there very quickly. That being said, its a nice little unit but in my opinion, priced too high--$2000 would be more like it.
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Old 04-05-2017, 10:22 PM   #3
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Hi Steve,

A big Welcome to you and your wife. Congrats on your new camper! Exciting times for sure.

This can help on how to identify the model. Since you know it is a 1998, look at the top of the forum screen. There are "Tabs" across the top just inside the blue colored area. There is one tab called "FILES". That word set it actually a hot link. When you are logged in, click it and it will take you into a large files section of PDF's and other great info.

Look for "Sunline Brochures". Go into that subsection and scroll until you find the 1998 model year and then down load a 98 Sunline brochure. Look at the floor plans in the brochure and then match up what you saw and you can see the model number and a number of good things about the camper.

This should get you what you need, then you can tell us what model you have.

Good luck this weekend. We like pics here too. You are welcome to show off your camper any time.

John
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Old 04-06-2017, 08:16 AM   #4
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Thank you for the feedback Janalee, I really appreciate it. If it was your first then it must mean it will make a good first for us! I thought it was priced a little high too and am prepared to offer less. With the variety of trailers we've been looking at though, we've been seeing project trailers all the way up to $2000 so to pay a little more for a complete ready to use one seemed reasonable to us. The owner that has it now prepared it to live in it year-round and has since met her bf that she decided to move in with instead.

JohnB thank you very much for the detailed instructions. It was very helpful and I have since found out that it is definitely a 1350 layout as Janalee said. I am having trouble getting the brochure to download to my PC so I decided to do it on my phone and everything is a little distorted so once I get that figured out I'll definitely look into all the details it has to show.
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:17 AM   #5
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Hi,

If you still keep having issues downloading files on your PC, let us know some details about it and we can have Admin check if they know something. Would need to know, PC type (Mac or Windows based) , what version of Windows or Mac you have as a starter.

Also to note in case you where not, you have to be logged in to be able to download files. Only club members logged in can down load. There is also a timer to limit how fast download can occur one after the other. If you are trying to do too many files all at once, it will slow you down. If this happens, just wait a little between file downloads.

Good luck this weekend.

John
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:30 AM   #6
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Thank you again John. I have a Macbook Air and it turns out it just needed an update. Once I completed the PC update everything worked without an issue. Going off the downloaded 1988 brochure, I have to assume that the owner's listed dimensions were a bit off at 8' x 10' and that this T1350 Saturn series must be 13'10"L x 6'3"W.
Also, I have been going through most of the towing threads on here related to a 1350, and being new to the towing setup I see it is quite extensive to figure out what works and what doesn't. I did find your Sticky from 1/5/2010 and have to thank you for putting in all that work. After reading your thread and from my experience, I feel comfortable in determining the mass majority of measurements and weights. One part of it I am confused by is the tongue weight. Could you please shed some light on this for me?
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sncej20 View Post
Thank you again John. I have a Macbook Air and it turns out it just needed an update. Once I completed the PC update everything worked without an issue. Going off the downloaded 1988 brochure, I have to assume that the owner's listed dimensions were a bit off at 8' x 10' and that this T1350 Saturn series must be 13'10"L x 6'3"W.
Glad you have your PC working. Good. The dominions of your camper, yes many times folks do not know the actual spec dimensions so they estimate them OR they sometimes estimate what the camper box is. The 13'10" long Sunline calls out, is from tow ball to back bumper. To get the camper box size it would subtract the camper towing A frame (hitch) part which on that little camper may be in the 3 to 3' 6" range.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sncej20 View Post
Also, I have been going through most of the towing threads on here related to a 1350, and being new to the towing setup I see it is quite extensive to figure out what works and what doesn't. I did find your Sticky from 1/5/2010 and have to thank you for putting in all that work. After reading your thread and from my experience, I feel comfortable in determining the mass majority of measurements and weights. One part of it I am confused by is the tongue weight. Could you please shed some light on this for me?
Thanks for the good words and glad the towing post helped you. Any questions ask away. Many others here on the forum are also good at towing help.

Now to tongue weight, first off what is what we call tongue weight or hitch weight. The entire camper weight (everything) is known as Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW. There is a rating of max weight for the camper and that is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR. I mention these as tongue weight/hitch weight relates to the GVW.

Tongue weight is the weight or force acting down (normally) on the camper ball coupler held up by the tow ball on the back of the tow vehicle. If we put a scale directly under the camper ball coupler, it would read the tongue weight. So that is where and what the weight is called, tongue weight or hitch weight.

For stable towing, meaning the camper will tow straight ahead and not sway all over just being pulled straight ahead, the loaded tongue weight needs to be in a certain percentage range of the GVW to tow stable.

If you have zero tongue weight, meaning the camper is so perfectly balanced there is no up or downward weight at the ball coupler, the camper will wander in any direction very easily by any small disturbance. And if the tongue weight is negative, less then zero means the front end of the camper will pop up in the air until the back of the camper hit the ground, that is real bad. Think of this like a teeter totter. The axles is the pivot. We always want the front of the camper heavier then the back.

To create a stable towing camper, you need the tongue weight to be heavy enough to keep the front of the camper down so it will not get easily pushed around by side winds or other disturbances when towing it forward. There is pre-established ratings that 10% is the minimum and ideally it gets no more then 15% tongue weight per trailer GVW. (Gross Vehicle Weight) Less then 10% can become unstable towing very quickly and greater then 15% while more stable, can some times overload the tow vehicle if it is so heavy.

Putting numbers to this, if the camper weighs 1,680lb empty like the 88 brochure says on the T1350, and it has a "dry" (empty camper) hitch weight or tongue weight of 145lb. This is 145/1680= 8.6% dry tongue weight. That is for an absolute empty camper, no battery and no propane in the LP tanks and no camping gear inside.

If I put a 65lb battery on the front, the tongue weight might increase by 50lbs. (it is not directly over the ball coupler so it is not all held by the tongue, the tires holds some too, about 15#) that 65# is added to the GVW, so 65+1,680= 1,745# GVW And if we add 50# to the tongue, 145+50= 195# tongue weight. Now 195/1,745=11.2% loaded tongue weight. With the battery added, the camper will now tow more stable.

The same thing applies when you add camping gear. You do not want to add all the camper gear at the back wall of the camper. The camper is like a teeter/totter, if you load too much camping gear in the back, the front will pop up, not good.

For campers which is a special kind of trailer where camping gear can easily be moved around, it is recommend that 12% to 15% loaded tongue weight per GVW be used as a guide. That 12% is a low target and allows one small gear move by accident that could be against you and not be a problem. You saw the battery changed the towing percentage from not great to much better. A very heavy ice cooler weight of 75# on the back wall can affect a very small camper much more then a bigger heavy camper.

The 88 T1350 has a GVWR of 2,500#. Using that rating as a max weight, 15% is then 2,500 X 0.15= 375# would be the loaded tongue weight at 15% and if at the 12%, 2,500 X 0.12= 300# Your tow vehicle needs to be able to handle both those weights.

And, if the GVWR is 2,500# and the empty camper is 1,680# that means 2,500 - 1,680 = 820# of camping gear max can be added to the camper. Including the battery and the LP gas in the tanks. Your goal is to load the gear to so the tongue weight ends up being between the 12 to 15% range of loaded GVW.

Your head may be swimming in numbers right now. Sorry if it is, I tried to break it down to show you why, where it comes from and how to get it.

Does that now make more sense? If it does, then you just need to keep your camping items you add under the max limit and enough loaded in the front of the camper to balance out the items in the back.

If you need help on how to get that proper balance, let me know, I'll type another note.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 04-06-2017, 11:54 PM   #8
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Wow John, to be honest with you, that couldn't have been written any clearer. It is very obvious that you have explained this to all experience levels. I followed along with it no problem. Thank you very much sir. I really appreciate all the time you took to customize that to my needs as well.
Another general question I have come up with is regarding TV towing capacity. Some things in life you hear limits or capacities but with personal experience you may find out that they are extremely conservative. Is it ever that way when discussing a TV's towing capacity or is that one of the more strict limits that should always be followed?

Thank you so much for your time,

Steve
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Old 04-08-2017, 01:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sncej20 View Post

Another general question I have come up with is regarding TV towing capacity. Some things in life you hear limits or capacities but with personal experience you may find out that they are extremely conservative. Is it ever that way when discussing a TV's towing capacity or is that one of the more strict limits that should always be followed?

Thank you so much for your time,

Steve
Hi Steve,

Thanks for the good words on the tongue weight. Much appreciated.

To the towing capacity question, this has been a much debated topic on many camping forums, just not here so much on Sunline Owners Club. We have a lot of very experienced towing folks here and many have lived through underrated situations and try to help others not make some of those same mistakes. Here are some things to think through as you come to your decision as you hitch up and take the camper out.

There are 2 towing capacity ratings.

1. The vehicle weight ratings.

Both front and rear axle ratings, GAWR-FF and GAWR-RR (Gross Axle Weight Rating - front & rear) These are the limits manufactures set for what the vehicle they build can hold up and respond to all the tests they had to pass. On the axles ratings, they know the weak link in the system and ratings have to account for it. On the rear axle, it might be the bearings in the axle, the axle cooling capacity, the springs or even the tires etc. As vehicle users, we really do not know what the weak areas are. Same for the front axle.

The rating limit they state is the limit. There is no excess user approved fudge to these numbers. The market is so competitive in the truck market, they are all trying to out do the next guy. But they have to be accountable for the limits they set. Now granted if you are slightly over the vehicle limit by a very small amount, it is not going to break immediately. But depending on how far over, it can and will in time.

The max GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is an overall weight rating which is less the the addition of the 2 axles generally. They give you some freedom to load the vehicle front to back with a higher axle rating however the GVWR trumps the axle ratings as an entire vehicle rating. The vehicle is built to be able to handle that much weight in all conditions (including towing) of the tests the manufacture does. Again, it is their max rating that they have to stand behind.

There is no real rating for how to control a TT by the vehicle in the vehicle ratings, but it is part of the weight ratings. If the loaded tongue weight of the TT is higher then the vehicle can handle, either on an axle rating or the GVWR, that is not good. The high profile TT with often high loaded tongue weights can push the vehicle in ways that the vehicle cannot control as it is over one of those limits. Steering can be affected, stopping, skidding or side roll to name a few.

2. The next ratings are pull ratings.

There is the GCWR, (Gross Combined Weight Rating) and this is pull limit rating for what the engine, transmission and the rear axle can withstand given the tests they compare it to. It is the limit. If you exceed this limit, and again depending on how much, things can and will start to degrade much faster over time. Yes, on a level road you may be able to pull more, but these tests include certain grades of climbing and sustaining the climb. They have to create the rating for all conditions. You may be able to tow many pounds over the rating on level ground, but if you start doing hills or mountains soon the weak link in the system will rear it's ugly head. The rear end went out, the tranny, the engine overheats.

A bigger issue is there is no Travel Trailer specific rating. Several trucks have a 5th wheel rating but not a travel trailer rating. Travel trailers fall into the general trailer category. Open trailers, flat bed, close cargo trailers, boat trailers etc. Travel trailers have a lot of square feet exposed to the wind that creates a lot of drag. And that drag needs power to overcome it. We nick name this on a TT as "Your towing a brick wall back there" and the fuel mileage reflects it.

Many manufactures use 60 sq. feet of frontal area of the trailer as a limit. But some are smaller then that. Ford tells you that number in their towing brochures. Other manufactures have it, they just do not list it easy to find. If you exceed this frontal area rating, then you should leave some reserve capacity of the truck pull rating to be consumed by the frontal area of wind drag. Some folks rule of thumb is 20% others, 15% some 10%. If we know the tow vehicle and trailer we can suggest which better fits your situation. Personal experience helps on this percentage factor as there is no hard rule on this with the manufactures. If you are over the frontal area limit, vehicle performance may be degraded is all they will say that I have seen.

So by the raw weight, if your truck is rated at a GCWR of 12,000#, and your at 12,000# with the truck and the camper, you can still have issues with overheating of the engine etc due to the wind drag which many times exceeds the frontal area number on a TT. Towing a boat or open trailer while the weight is OK, it does not have the drag.

The manufactures also have a liability on them to rate a vehicle as safe to be used within the limits they state. This becomes an issue if the user is exceeding the ratings and ends up in an accident while towing. Where you may not have caused the accident, the other parties lawyer may use the fact against you, you where operating the vehicle outside the manufactures limits and you then have some level of fault against you. This is not a good place to be in.

I myself believe in the limits. I also take my camper in all kinds of towing conditions on public roads and we do a good quantity of towing. Your camper towing experience will be so much better and more enjoyable when you are inside vehicle limits. If you decided to be outside 1 or 2 of the limits and getting away with it, sooner or later you will end up in a situation that is not pleasant. The more towing you do, the more conditions you create to challenge the limits you are short on.

What I'm saying short and sweet, the limits specified by the manufacture are the max limits. Anyone short of the manufacture has no science based proof behind that they can recommend to the open public to exceed the ratings and be accountable for it.

Hope this helps and glad to explain more as needed. If you have any towing or hitch questions, feel free to ask. We are here to try and help the best we can.

Did you pick up the camper this weekend? How was it?

John
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Old 04-08-2017, 03:28 PM   #10
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Again John, thank you so much. I skimmed your most recent post for now as today went much differently for us than expected but I will be sure to take it all in consideration when it comes to which TV we decide to use/buy. I am planning on making a brand new post with a little story for our first sunline trailer experience today, stay tuned!
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