Tongue-weight and level when towing - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-08-2007, 09:41 AM   #1
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I've done this before but it has been awhile. To determine tongue weight, I measure the height the tongue sits when hitched to my TV, then put it on the scale and jack it up to that height? Correct?

Second, when I was towing I thought my trailer was pulling the back of the car down a bit too much. I bought the hitch mount to work with my boat trailer. Do I want one that raises the hitch ball more to make it closer to level? I can get one inch by flipping the hitch mount over (remounting the ball from the other side) or I can get one that lifts more. Mine is shaped like this ------_

I could also redistribute weight somewhat- I had two exercise pens (about 30 lbs each) in the back of the Subaru that could go to the back of the trailer, but I'm not sure that's a good idea. They might be able to go forward in the Subaru as well. I also carried the spare for the trailer in the back of the Subaru but I'm about to put a spare tire carrier on the trailer- tongue weight is going to help me decide whether to put it on the front or the back of the trailer.

Any feedback from the experts?

Bobbie
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Old 09-08-2007, 10:00 AM   #2
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Bobbie, I'm far from an expert, but I have learned that it's better for tug and tow when the trailer is towed as level as possible. It's best for the trailer's frame, axles, refrigerator, etc. It's been said the tongue weight should be 12-15% of the total trailer weight. So, I'd think you'd start by weighing the trailer, then placing things forward or to the rear of the trailer to keep that percentage. Folks have found if they stay within these limits, they get better fuel mileage too.
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Old 09-08-2007, 10:31 AM   #3
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Quote:
I bought the hitch mount to work with my boat trailer. Do I want one that raises the hitch ball more to make it closer to level? I can get one inch by flipping the hitch mount over (remounting the ball from the other side) or I can get one that lifts more. Mine is shaped like this ------_
If you still tow the boat trailer, it would be more convenient for you to get a separate ball mount (ball included) that has the correct height for your Trails West. Rearranging the ball gets old really quick.
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:42 AM   #4
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If you still tow the boat trailer, it would be more convenient for you to get a separate ball mount (ball included) that has the correct height for your Trails West. Rearranging the ball gets old really quick.
That's pretty much what I was thinking. I have the new ball, just need a new mount. If I get one that lifts the trailer tongue a bit it should level us off. Then I can just use whichever one I need instead of having to switch back and forth.

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Old 09-08-2007, 12:03 PM   #5
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The ball mount is definitely the way to adjust trailer attitude, once tow vehicle ride height is established.

If the back of the car is really riding too low, you can't really fix that with a ball mount. Without an adjustable suspension (such as air springs), the only way to change the height is by changing the load. That means changing the tongue weight (and there can be problems reducing that), or reducing or moving load in the car.

A taller ball mount will lift the trailer tongue, which reduces the tongue weight a bit, but it shouldn't be a big effect, so you need to move something to significantly change the load on the car.

I like the idea of moving cargo further forward in the car. When towing our Boler with our van, I put the heaviest cargo forward in the second-row seating area (we leave the seats out).

Once the load on the car is established, then the ball mount can be chosen to correct the trailer attitude. I have two: one for my Boler, and one for my utility trailer. They have different size balls, but even if they used the same size I would keep two separate mounts, each with it's own ball left installed in it.
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Old 09-08-2007, 12:07 PM   #6
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I'm off soon to purchase a new mount. I'm going to jack the trailer to level, in the garage, on a level surface, and measure the height, so I know how much lift I want to level the trailer. Then if it pushes the car down to much, its a matter of adjusting the load.

Bobbie
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Old 09-08-2007, 12:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
I've done this before but it has been awhile. To determine tongue weight, I measure the height the tongue sits when hitched to my TV, then put it on the scale and jack it up to that height? Correct?
Maybe.

Matching the towing height is right, but it sounds like the plan might be to support the tongue with the jack on the scale. If so, you'll get the weight carried by the jack, which will be less than that carried by the hitch, because the jack is further back.

It's a relatively small correction, but to get an accurate tongue weight you need to either
  • directly measure the tongue weight by supporting the tongue with the coupler resting on some sort of stand (which in turn sits on the scale); or,
  • measure at the jack then adjust for the relative distances from jack to centre of mass and coupler to centre of mass... maybe a 10% difference.
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Old 09-08-2007, 01:27 PM   #8
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Maybe.

Matching the towing height is right, but it sounds like the plan might be to support the tongue with the jack on the scale. If so, you'll get the weight carried by the jack, which will be less than that carried by the hitch, because the jack is further back.

It's a relatively small correction, but to get an accurate tongue weight you need to either
  • directly measure the tongue weight by supporting the tongue with the coupler resting on some sort of stand (which in turn sits on the scale); or,
  • measure at the jack then adjust for the relative distances from jack to centre of mass and coupler to centre of mass... maybe a 10% difference.
Good point. I think the jack in this case is so close to the coupler that I'm not going to worry about it. (It is right behind the coupler.

Bobbie
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