Realistic Tow/Cargo Weights - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-10-2007, 04:09 PM   #1
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Hi Everyone,

Because we'd like as much interior room as we can safely tow, we'd really love to get a 2006 or older 21 footer Rear Bed Bigfoot (the ones that still had the 8' wide exterior), but are still trying to determine if we could safely tow one!

Bigfoot 21' Rear Bed models: Dry wt = 3900 lbs. w/ avg optional equipment. Curb wt (full liquids, no cargo) = 4,200 lbs.
(GVWR 7500 lbs., but we can't imagine adding 3,300 lbs. of cargo)!

Our Frontier truck: 4.0 L V6, 261 HP, 281 torque, wheelbase = 126", curb weight= 4502, max tongue load = 610 lbs., GVWR= 5600, GCWR=11,133, max tow = 6100 lbs. We don't want to max out the tow truck, so were hoping to keep the total towed weight to at least 500 lbs. under the truck's max tow capacity (i.e 5,600 lbs).

We are likely to go out for no more than 10 days at a time but do want to be able to boondock, so expect to buy a generator at some point. Apart from a generator, a laptop, maybe a flat screen TV, some CDs, 10 days' worth of food and possibly carrying some extra water if boondocking, I can't think of anything really heavy that we'd bring along (I already counted the weight of two 60 lb. kayaks included into the truck's GWVR of 5600 lbs.).

Is 1,200 lbs. too large a cargo estimate for 2 people for 10 days? I was trying to be generous to avoid underestimating the weight we might carry, but this estimate puts us just 100 lbs. shy of our truck's GCWR, which seems unwise and excessive. It seems to me in an older post that someone said that 600lbs. was plenty of cargo for 2 adults for a 3-4 day trip, but what about a 10 day trip?

Does anyone out there own a 21 footer rear bed model---could you confirm what the actual curb weight is for a unit with AC and other important options included?

The more research we do, the more questions we seem to have ... thank you all for humoring us.

Val
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:44 PM   #2
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Val, I think you're significantly under-rating the dry curb weight of a 21' RB Bigfoot based on my experience with my 25'. I guesstimated some weight values based on the average weight table supplied by Bigfoot and the actual weight of my 25' for a "real world" estimate of curb weight "as equipped" for a 21 RB here. It's still a best guesstimate, but it's probably not too far off real-world weights.

Roger
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:01 PM   #3
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Val, I think you're significantly under-rating the dry curb weight of a 21' RB Bigfoot based on my experience with my 25'. I guesstimated some weight values based on the average weight table supplied by Bigfoot and the actual weight of my 25' for a "real world" estimate of curb weight "as equipped" for a 21 RB here. It's still a best guesstimate, but it's probably not too far off real-world weights.

Roger
Thanks, Roger, that's what we needed to know. I had gotten those estimates from the RV Consumer's Guide ratings CD (which says the curb weights are for models with "average options installed"...wasn't sure what that meant). One owner told me that he "thought" his was only 3500 lbs. dry and 4400 lbs. "loaded," but he didn't confirm if that "loaded" meant dry with all the options, or the curb weight... makes it a little challenging to know what the real deal is!

It does sounds like these models are going to be too heavy for us. Despite several dealers and a couple sellers telling us that we'd have "no trouble" towing it with our truck, I had that little niggly feeling that this might not be the case in the real world. On paper everything looked like it could work, and it's hard to know when one cannot get the actual trailer weight, but your real world experience gives us a good indication that the curb weights are much heavier than the estimates would have us think.

Thank you very much!
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Thanks, Roger, that's what we needed to know. Sounds like these models are going to be too heavy for us. Despite several dealers and a couple sellers telling us that we'd have "no trouble" towing it with our truck, I had that little niggly feeling that this might not be the case in the real world. On paper everything looks much lighter, and it's hard to know when one cannot get the actual trailer weight, but your real world experience gives us a good indication that the curb weights are much heavier than estimates would have us think.

Thank you very much!
Hey Val, Since we are both in the market, and we are both leaning towards Bigfoot, and we both have the same truck (expect I think you said yours is a NISMO, mine's the LE) just thought I'd let you know that I'm convinced that I don't want to go larger than a 17'er. The one I am considering has 3500 lbs. on the sticker. Add people, camping gear, bikes, water, etc. and you are pushing that weight up quickly. I towed my Boler with my Rav4 near it's maximum capacity, and I could sure feel it, especially on hills.
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:24 PM   #5
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Just an FYI, the later model Bigfoot trailers all have a sticker somewhere in them (usually the closet or inside a cabinet) that gives the actual weight of the trailer "as equipped". It's something to look for.

The 1500 series 17' trailers had a curb weight of around 2800 lbs, and a GVWR of 3500 lbs. The 2500 series 17.5' trailers have a curb weight of around 3500 lbs and a GVWR of 4300.

Roger
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Hey Val, Since we are both in the market, and we are both leaning towards Bigfoot, and we both have the same truck (expect I think you said yours is a NISMO, mine's the LE) just thought I'd let you know that I'm convinced that I don't want to go larger than a 17'er. The one I am considering has 3500 lbs. on the sticker. Add people, camping gear, bikes, water, etc. and you are pushing that weight up quickly. I towed my Boler with my Rav4 near it's maximum capacity, and I could sure feel it, especially on hills.
Hey Lainey,

Thanks for your input, especially being similarly equipped in terms of tow vehicle... and I think your LE can actually tow a little more than our NISMO because it doesn't have the extra 200 lbs. of off-road and 4 x4 suspension equipment.We may very well end up with a BF 17G, though we really wish Bigfoot could have adjusted the layout in order to make the gaucho at least 52" instead of 42" because we want a full-time bed and eating area. We looked at a Casita and found the interior to be too narrow for us (we are 5'10" and 5'7" and like a little more elbow room). Since the Scamp and Escape are the same width as the Casita, that leaves Bigfoot.

Was the 5,000 lb. sticker weight on the fifth wheel you looked at the dry weight or curb weight? If so, I can see why you passed it up...though it looked very peachy!

Please let us know what you end up with and how it tows!

Val
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Just an FYI, the later model Bigfoot trailers all have a sticker somewhere in them (usually the closet or inside a cabinet) that gives the actual weight of the trailer "as equipped". It's something to look for.

The 1500 series 17' trailers had a curb weight of around 2800 lbs, and a GVWR of 3500 lbs. The 2500 series 17.5' trailers have a curb weight of around 3500 lbs and a GVWR of 4300.

Roger
Ahh... so the owners should be able to look at that sticker and tell us something useful!

The 1500 series 17' trailers? I thought all the 1500 series were truck shell campers... is that not accurate?
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:34 PM   #8
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The manufacturer's dry weights are useless for deciding what tow vehicle is required. There is no consistency in what constitutes "dry" - and options will add a lot of extra weight. Most people don't realize that the spare tire, battery, awning or any of standard "features" are often not included in the dry weight. Once you start adding the real "options" the weight increases in a hurry. Then add the water, (don't forget the full hot water tank), residual liquids in grey and black tanks, propane, food, tools, lawn chairs, BBQ, camp stove, dishes, pots pans, cleaning supplies, bathroom supplies, towels, clothes, bedding, small appliances, books, electronics, extension cords, hoses, flashlights, spare batteries, spare parts, axe, shovel, jacks, blocks and wheel chocks, tarps, ropes, poles, etc, etc. - suddenly you are maxxed out. What's worse is that the bigger the trailer, the more "stuff" you will pack.

I feel that the trailer GVW is a more useful rating to use as a rough guide, since trailers often nearly equal or exceed it when they are really full of supplies. The only way to know for sure is to actually weigh the unit and factor in the tongue load to discover the true weight.

Most people, myself included, are suprised to find that the trailer is far heavier than expected. Both of the single axle FG trailers I have owned slightly exceeded their GVW rating when I actually checked.

The other problem is that just because you weighed your trailer last year, don't assume it is the same today. There seems to be a natural accumulation of small items that make the darn thing heavier every year!

Perhaps an owner of a well-equipped and fully loaded 21 Bigfoot will "weigh in" on this issue, but I think Roger's estimate is probably close to the mark.



Steve.
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:43 PM   #9
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The 1500 series 17' trailers? I thought all the 1500 series were truck shell campers... is that not accurate?


No, the 2004 and earlier 17' Bigfoots were all 1500 series, the 2500 series 17.5' started production in 2005 when the 17' was discontinued.
The 1500 series refer to 1" R6 insulated walls while the 2500 series feature 1 1/2" R8 walls. Bigfoot still manufactures 1500 series truck campers along with 2500 series units.


Steve.
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Old 07-10-2007, 10:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
I feel that the trailer GVW is a more useful rating to use as a rough guide, since trailers often nearly equal or exceed it when they are really full of supplies. The only way to know for sure is to actually weigh the unit and factor in the tongue load to discover the true weight.
I agree that published weights are problematic, and actual weights as measured by someone with a real trailer are much more useful. Having said that, many owners drive the rig over the scale and report the trailer axle weight as if it were the total for the trailer, forgetting the tongue weight which Steve mentioned. In a 4000 lb trailer, that's going to be at least 400 lb, and more likely 500 lb or more.

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is a useful indication of the worst case, but the difference between the trailer's actual gross weight and the rating - the available cargo capacity - varies radically. Many trailers are built with just enough axle capacity to pack a few clothes, but as Val mentioned the 21' Bigfoot is at the opposite extreme, and some potential buyers have been scared off by thinking that trailers rated this way will actually weigh far more than they do.
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Old 07-10-2007, 10:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Bigfoot 21' Rear Bed models: Dry wt = 3900 lbs. w/ avg optional equipment. Curb wt (full liquids, no cargo) = 4,200 lbs.
(GVWR 7500 lbs., but we can't imagine adding 3,300 lbs. of cargo)!

Our Frontier truck: 4.0 L V6, 261 HP, 281 torque, wheelbase = 126", curb weight= 4502, max tongue load = 610 lbs., GVWR= 5600, GCWR=11,133, max tow = 6100 lbs. We don't want to max out the tow truck, so were hoping to keep the total towed weight to at least 500 lbs. under the truck's max tow capacity (i.e 5,600 lbs).
Wow, Val, you must have read my post in another topic asking for a pile of numbers...

The maximum towing capacity quoted by Nissan is just an optimal case, unrelated to reality, so instead of starting from there I would start from GCWR and work down to how much [b]cargo capacity you might have while towing the 25B21RB...
Code:
**GCWR** 11,133
- curb****4,502
- trailer 4,600 (Roger's estimate, dry and no cargo)
=******** 2,031 lb remaining capacity.
That's for all passengers, cargo in the truck, hitch system, and water+propane+cargo in the trailer. Well, maybe the WD system is in Roger's big options allowance...

Is that enough? We carry about 600 lb in the trailer, including some water in the tank (I don't want it to run dry, but don't tow with it full), a full water heater, and our cargo. In a longer trailer, maybe more stuff accumulates. Add two of us and (too much) cargo, and we would fit within the limits. I can't say whether anyone else would.

The [b]tongue weight limit of 610 lb seems more than adequate versus Roger's estimate of tongue weight in the other topic.

The [b]rear axle load can't be calculated because we don't know what it is before adding the people, cargo, and trailer; we also don't know the limit. Hopefully it's not a problem, and with a tongue weight decently under the truck's limit that seems likely. I would still check it before making a final decision.

The part I don't understand is how Nissan came up with only 6,100 lb of towing capacity. Usually they assume nothing but an under-200 lb driver in the truck, so they would calculate something like this:
Code:
**GCWR** 11,133
- curb****4,502
- driver****175
=******** 6,456 lb max towing
I think I have a Nissan brochure for the current Frontier - I'll have a look and see if I understand what's going on.

Sorry about the funny "code" blocks - they just display the text as entered and allow the numbers to line up better in the calculations.
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Old 07-10-2007, 11:30 PM   #12
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I think I have a Nissan brochure for the current Frontier - I'll have a look and see if I understand what's going on.
Sorry about the funny "code" blocks - they just display the text as entered and allow the numbers to line up better in the calculations.
Wow, Brian, you never cease to amaze me... first you reposted my messy link (in a different thread) in a clean, neat and user-friendly way, and now, you've taken all that data and actually made some sense of it?!

It was my understanding that the tow rating of 6100 lbs. is based on our Frontier being a Crew Cab and a 4 x 4 NISMO off-road version; both features cut down the otherwise higher max tow rating. Using your calcs, I still think we'd be too close to the GCWR in the 21 RB, because I wanted to factor in the possibility that if we were boondocking we might possibly have to haul full liquids at least for a small distance (or do most boondockers first get the trailer situated, then go fetch water with their tow vehicle and return to the trailer to fill up the water tanks?):

1 driver + 3 passengers (never know, we might invite a couple friends along once a while)
Full tank of gas in the truck
2 kayaks
miscellaneous cargo
the tow receiver hitch + Equalizer system
= about 900 lbs.
If we figure about 700 lbs. of trailer cargo (assuming we might have more in our water tanks), then we are at 1,600 lbs., which leaves a little over 400 lb. "margin."

I dunno...still seems a bit iffy, because I get the sense that Steve is right... it's easy to forgot to factor something in... an air compressor for the truck tires, a generator....The only solution I could think of that might make a 21 workable with this scenario was to buy one and remove some of the heavier stuff that we wouldn't use...but we couldn't think of much to take out beside the dinette.

Val
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Old 07-11-2007, 05:34 PM   #13
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The rating I forgot to consider is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
Code:
**GVWR****5,600
- curb****4,502
- stuff**** 900 (Val's estimate, above)
- hitch wt**450 (Roger's estimate, other thread)
=**********(253 lb) over truck capacity.
Yep, that's over the allowed gross vehicle weight. The 900 lb may be higher than necessary, but I don't think the desired margin is going to be here even with some adjustment.
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Old 07-11-2007, 05:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
It was my understanding that the tow rating of 6100 lbs. is based on our Frontier being a Crew Cab and a 4 x 4 NISMO off-road version; both features cut down the otherwise higher max tow rating.
The calculation I did to come up with 6456 lb is also based specifically on the NISMO 4x4 Crew Cab, because the quoted curb weight (4502 lb) matches the 2006 brochure spec for that specific model. While there are 14 variations of the Frontier listed in that brochure, there are only 5 towing limits, since the limits disregard trim package. I think the tow ratings are set at the lower of the possible trim packages, and rounded down, but that's the conservative way to go and it's not a huge deal anyway... as long as the right GCWR is used (that's only implied in the brochure, not explicitly stated).

It's a good point: big cabs and option packages do add weight which has to be carried just as cargo does. What I find surprising is how little 4WD adds to current pickup trucks - less than 200 lb in the case of the Frontier, and mostly in the front (while the rear axle is the one likely to be limiting in capacity).
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