A trailer hitch. It seems like such an easy thing. You just have it professionally installed, and then that is it, right? Nope. Well, not for us. This was our first trailer hitch and we were going in blind. We wanted to do this on our own.
The 2008 Mercury Mariner can pull up to 3500 lbs only if it gets a “factory installed trailer hitch” (according to the owner’s manual). We wanted to do everything the correct way since we were going to be pulling a trailer for one year around the entire country. So, we contacted the Ford dealer where we purchased our vehicle and made an appointment to get the actual factory tow package. Rather than paying $200 for a simple trailer hitch, we ended up paying a little over $600. The dealership also had to cut into our back bumper. We were set. Or so we thought.
We arrived at Camping World, so excited to pick up our pop-up. We were given a 2 hour set up and take down demonstration, which was great. We never realized how much work a pop up was. Getting it de-winterized, installing propane tanks, controlling the water pressure, learning about pilot lights, carbon monoxide detectors. . .it’s a big responsibility! Call us crazy, but we thought that owning a pop up was basically a tent that you could hook up into electric/water and be good to go! Were we ignorant? Yes. But, we knew this entire process would be a learning process.
So, to continue with our “hitch”. After our 2 hour demonstration, we backed the Mariner up so the employees could hook up our pop up to travel home. The employee was confused. We had no ball on our hitch. What? I thought that was provided. Or something. Nope. Should have come with our installation. Okay. So we take the 45 minute drive back to the dealer to find out why our $600+ did not include a ball. Oh, that’s not included with installation. We purchase that on our own across the street at Farm & Fleet. Oh. So now we already feel totally out of our league. We purchase the necessary equipment and head back to pick up our camper.
The employees hooked up the camper. They then realized that not only do we have a 4 prong plug when we need a 7 round, but we don’t have a brake controller. The camper has electric breaks. What? I don’t even know what that means. Apparently trailers over a certain weight have electric brakes that need a controller hooked up to control the amount of electricity that flows to the camper to help with stopping power. Hmmm. We drove home again without our camper. Defeated. Stressed. Ugh.
The next day we stopped at our local mechanic. The owner was not sure what we were talking about so we drove to another local mechanic. He directed us to an amazing company- I-90 Truck and Trailer. As soon as we walked into the place, the employees were so friendly and helpful. They knew immediately what we were talking about and were able to make us an appointment for the next morning.
The next morning I arrived at I-90 Truck and Trailer and was given the choice of brake controller that I wanted installed. The employee explained each one and told me which one they preferred (which was middle range). I went with that one. I was then called into the shop to choose which place I would like my brake controller installed on my dash. How great is that? I chose the place that I thought would work best for us. Four hours later, our brake controller was installed. We drove to Camping World and finally left with our new “baby”.
But our brake controller didn’t seem to be working on the 45 minute drive home. Our brake lights and turn signals worked, but not the actual braking. Gah!! Were we doing it wrong?! So, on our way home we stopped back at I-90 Truck and Trailer to see if it was an issue with our newly installed brake controller. Nope. It was because the wires in the plug of our pop up to our hitch were corroded. So, being the amazing employees they were, they proceeded to fix the wires inside for us. They charged us only for the materials and waived the labor fee because we had just been in that morning to get our brake controller installed. Go local. It always pays to go local.
Finally, our pop up was “home” in our storage unit that we had rented. Our plans were becoming real.
That brings us to today. We still have so far to go, but it seems a few of the biggest hurdles are past now. We are renovating a little of the interior with fresh paint and new fabrics to really make our pop up feel like home. That and cleaning out our entire apartment are the two biggest tasks that we have left. I just cannot wait to be on the open road.