It has taken me two months or more to get the right components purchased for the right price and for Steve to be able to install himself. Everything I have read points to a price of around $3000+ for a tow system with at least $1200 of that being labor. I had checked with the local Camping World to find out how many hours it would take to install a tow package and they told me 10 or 11 and their hourly rate is $129 + 10% for shop supplies. No way.
I was stuck for quite a while on what braking system to get for our tow vehicle – a 2003 Chevy Tracker. First I purchased an Invisi Brake which cost $900. THEN, I took it to an RV garage nearby who only charges $100 an hour but they told me the install would take about 9 or 10 hours. So I returned the Invisi Brake. More researching, more pulling my hair out. Then I saw a recommendation from a technician at an online hitch business that said a 2003 Tracker is light enough that no supplementary braking system is needed. Legally, a braking system is required in most states if the towed vehicle weights 3,000 pounds or more but the Tracker weighs 2,600. California, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and maybe one other state require braking systems for vehicles weighing 1,500 or more. We will cross that bridge later.
Steve installed the Blue Ox base plate in the Tracker which took him one day. I bought a Blue Ox Alpha tow bar (and cover) that is easy to use and in fact there is a video for it on etrailer.com For the time being, we just have magnetic lights to put on top of the Tracker (about $40) instead of having lights wired in. Steve ordered a 2” drop hitch which arrived just the day before we set off on our camping trip last week……whew! And he bought some locks for the hitch. All in all, this setup cost around $1300.
We drove about 250 miles round trip over the 4th long weekend to our camping place and had no problems – in fact it was hard to tell that there was a tow behind us. I drove part of the way back and it was a piece of cake. The best part was setting up Tulip for four days and not having to break camp to go places. We were coming and going constantly in the Tracker and saw much more than we would have otherwise.