Should I be concerned about tongue height? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-07-2018, 11:29 AM   #1
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Name: Nigel
Trailer: Scamp 13
Minnesota
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Should I be concerned about tongue height?

I recently bought a 1997 Scamp 13. The owner manual says my TV hitch should have 18 inches to the top of the ball. However, with my Scamp empty and leveled on its trailer stand, the top of the ball receptacle is only 14 inches high. I have only towed the trailer a few miles (after I bought it) and will be taking a long trip next week. Should I be concerned or have anything checked out before I leave? Thanks.
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Old 01-07-2018, 11:39 AM   #2
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Not a problem. I haven't measured, but I think mine is less than 18", too. I had to buy a drawbar with more drop to get a level tow. I suspect your axle has settled over the years as the rubber inside the torsion tube compresses. It wouldn't be a bad idea to check the axle, but as long as there is sufficient clearance (can you fit your fist on top of the tire inside the wheel well?), you're good to tow. Torsion axles generally last 15-20 years, and can roll on well beyond that with gradually diminishing ride quality. A harsh ride characterized by excessive bouncing is one clue the axle is near its expiration. Uneven (inside) tire wear is another.

I would be more concerned about the condition of tires and bearings. Check the tire dates (6-7 years max), and if the previous owner hasn't recently repacked the bearings, or if you're not sure, I would have them serviced before your trip.
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Old 01-07-2018, 11:52 AM   #3
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Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
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Originally Posted by nigeleccleston View Post
I recently bought a 1997 Scamp 13. The owner manual says my TV hitch should have 18 inches to the top of the ball. However, with my Scamp empty and leveled on its trailer stand, the top of the ball receptacle is only 14 inches high. I have only towed the trailer a few miles (after I bought it) and will be taking a long trip next week. Should I be concerned or have anything checked out before I leave? Thanks.
Hitch up and load up the trailer and the tug for your trip, or with similar weight, and check that the trailer is close to level when they are on level pavement. If it is, your ball height is fine. I suggest loading the trailer and tug because higher weight on the tongue will drop it a little - how much depends partly in the rear end of your tug, but it won't be a lot so if its level unloaded, it will likely be fine properly loaded also. The axle might be a factor also with the older camper but for ball height, a level the trailer while hitched is what you want.
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:43 PM   #4
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Yes you should be very concerned about tongue weight on the hitch.

An improperly loaded tongue weight (light or heavy) can cause trailer instability and trailer sway issues when driving/pulling the trailer.

As suggested above load the trailer and vehicle with your "Stuff" and do some checking. Your hitch has a rated tongue weight that generally will exceed your actual tongue weight HOWEVER that still does not mean the combination will be safe to drive. You did not specify what your tow vehicle is so I can only suspect it's not a F150 or similar PU truck and therefore is probably a smaller SUV or car.

I am sure this will get everyone's panties in a wad however no time like the present to load it up, hook it up, take it out, drive slow and see what happens!
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Old 01-07-2018, 02:26 PM   #5
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Thanks Jon, the fist test shows I have sufficient clearance. I'll check the hubs after some driving.
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Old 01-07-2018, 02:26 PM   #6
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Yes you should be very concerned about tongue weight on the hitch.

An improperly loaded tongue weight (light or heavy) can cause trailer instability and trailer sway issues when driving/pulling the trailer.
The OP was asking about tongue height. Not tongue weight.
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Old 01-07-2018, 04:57 PM   #7
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Thanks Jon, the fist test shows I have sufficient clearance. I'll check the hubs after some driving.
Check again after you're all loaded. Gordon's comment about the hitch height changing a little as you load up both trailer and tug is good. I wouldn't rush out and buy a new drawbar until you have checked for a level set-up when fully loaded and hitched (don't forget passengers).

Regarding bearings, I wouldn't wait until you're on a long trip and rely on checking hub temperature to determine if there's a problem. If they do happen to get hot, you're pretty much stuck fixing them in place. You can raise each side on a jack and check for noise and looseness (spin the wheel and listen for any noise or roughness; grab the sides and try to move the wheel back and forth). But really, if you can't satisfy yourself from the previous owner that it's been done recently (say within two years), it's one of those better-safe-than-sorry things.
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Old 01-07-2018, 06:29 PM   #8
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Gee you mean I should actually read what the post says and not what I "think" it said?

Thanks for heads up. That beer sure was good when I was writing my response!
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Old 01-07-2018, 06:59 PM   #9
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Gee you mean I should actually read what the post says and not what I "think" it said?

Thanks for heads up. That beer sure was good when I was writing my response!
If it makes you feel any better, the first time I scanned the post, thats the way I read it also. Isn't it funny how our brains see what they expect to see. But having an older eyeglass prescription, I tend to re-read a lot and caught my mistake. But beer at 1:43 PM? Maybe we should have a talk...

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Old 01-07-2018, 08:29 PM   #10
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Sunday, Football, Beer @ 1:43 PM.

Ain't life great???
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:39 PM   #11
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Sunday, Football, Beer @ 1:43 PM.

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Old 01-07-2018, 09:25 PM   #12
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The easy answer is no.. 14 is very average.. put a hitch on the TV that has the proper drop / or rise.. you want the trailer level. I built the boler frame to be 12" from the ground at level.. Did this because it's quite likely that a smaller TV will be used. Here's a photo of it hooked to my 3/4 ton truck. You can see it's just slightly too high..
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:04 PM   #13
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Name: Ed
Trailer: Casita 17 ft SD
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Tongue Height

Tongue height, tongue weight, (Da), trailer level, and the weight on the tow vehicle front tires, (steering), are all life safety issues. Driving down the road, hitting a bump and loosing steering control is very exciting and can add to that bucket list of things to do that you wish you hadn't.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:06 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=Jon in AZ;677991] Torsion axles generally last 15-20 years, and can roll on well beyond that with gradually diminishing ride quality. A harsh ride characterized by excessive bouncing is one clue the axle is near its expiration. Uneven (inside) tire wear is another.
-------------------------------------

Jon, and 'fiberglas friends', since we pretty well covered the height problem, I hope I won't be hijacking the Thread if I bring up a related axle issue. My '93 Scamp is fairly old but spent much time in storage, and its axle seems to have a good height and lots of 'life' left in it. But tires wear out only on the OUTSIDE . Has anyone run into this problem ?? The outside edge wears out within 5-8 k miles (?), but the rest of the tire shows little wear. Bent axle possibly ? Certainly not inflation. Any first hand experiences ? David in Fresno and Sonora.
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