The (new to me) Wicked Fricken Big Tow Rig
I think single most common question I get about the Wicked Tiny House isn't even about the house, it's about what I tow it with. So, lets start at the beginning!
When I was thinking about buying the tiny house frame, my only vehicle was a 1998 Subaru Outback, obviously not a good tow vehicle for a 22' trailer, so it was also time to buy a truck. Needless to say, it's a long story, so I'll do it in list form instead to keep it short.
1.1 - Drive to Augusta, ME
1.2 - Look at tiny house in Augusta area, put $300 down payment to hold the house
1.3 - Look at truck in Augusta area, put $500 down to hold truck
1.4 - Drive to Massachusetts to buy new (to me) Subaru Outback to replace current 1998 Outback (254,000 miles)
1.5 - Drive to a U-Haul store in Rhode Island to get the only trailer hitch in New England that fits the new truck
1.6 - Drive back to Augusta. Stash trailer hitch in woods next to Hannaford (supermarket)
1.7 - Drive back to Bangor
2.1 - Ride motorcycle to Augusta area to pick up the new (to me) truck
2.2 - Put motorcycle in back of truck
2.3 - Drive to Hannaford in Augusta. Retrieve trailer hitch from the woods. Install on truck in Hannaford parking lot.
2.4 - Drive to pick up the tiny house
2.5 - Haul the tiny house and motorcycle back to Bangor with the truck.
PHEW! Makes me tired just thinking about those two days! The truck I ended up buying was a 2000 GMC Sierra 2500 (non-HD) with the 6.0L motor with 251,000 miles on it. It was a rust bucket, but only had two previous owners, had been well maintained and was in great mechanical shape. I'll guess that the weight of the tiny house was around 5,000 pounds when I bought it, well within the towing capacity of the truck. The truck towed the house ok, but going over 50mph was a challenge because the house acted as a huge sail. Here's an early picture of the tiny house and truck.
As the house got heavier and heavier, even moving it around town became a challenge. The first long trip after adding lots of weight to the house was to Mark's house to add the brakes. The trip included about four miles of interstate driving and it was downright terrifying. Anything over 40MPH and the house would start to sway. It pushed the truck all over the road. I straddled the breakdown lane and driving lane so I had enough room to roll with the swaying without going into the passing lane. That was the point I knew I would need a bigger truck if the house was ever going to leave Bangor.
I bought a weight distributing trailer hitch, which helped some, but it was still nerve racking to drive on the highway. I kept an eye out for something bigger, but I wasn't having much luck finding anything in my super cheap price range. Eventually, I found a 2001 Ford F-550 turbo diesel about 2 hours away for $5,600. I rode out to take a look, and it was a rust bucket. During the test drive, it had major issues. Smoke, lack of power, noisy suspension, and a bunch of other things. I wasn't interested, but during the ride, we passed another F-550, so I took a look at that one. It was owned by an older farmer who was the second owner, and he had only put 87 miles on it so far this year. It started right up, ran great, had no rust, had a huge dump body, and had full maintenance records. It was outside my planned price range, but the price was fair, and it seemed to be a great truck. I bit, and drove it back to Bangor two days later. (PS, have you figured out that nothing that I need is EVER in Bangor?)
There she be! It's a 2001 Ford F-550 with the 7.3L PowerStroke diesel, 2 wheel drive, 6 speed manual transmission, dual rear wheels, 4.88 rear end, a dump body, and 186,000 miles. The truck has a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 30,000 lbs, so by subtracting the weight of the truck (12,020 lbs!!!!), we find that it can tow/haul a total of 17,980 lbs, which is WAYYYY more than the tiny house weighs!
Today, I towed the house for the first time with the new truck, and WOW, what a difference. At 50MPH. there was no sway, and although I could certainly feel the house behind the truck, it really didn't impact the driving characteristics of the truck, other than slowing down acceleration a bit. I feel a lot more confident moving the house around now. The truck was definitely worth the money.
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