How to reduce weight of a 13 Burro - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-10-2016, 08:48 AM   #1
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Name: Bernie
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How to reduce weight of a 13 Burro

Hello!

I am looking to buy my first trailer! My tow is a Honda Element, limited to 1,500 lbs. I was thinking/hoping a Burro I found locally would work. The owner and I took it to a scale yesterday. To my surprise it weighed 1,450 lbs! Based on the reading I've done, I was expecting it to be around 1,100. It has a propane tank on the tongue, TV w/wall mount, larger battery, toaster oven and 5,000 btu window type AC. Everything else is stock. I can't figure out what is making it so heavy. When I add things for camping, it would be well over my 1,500 lb towing capacity.

The current owner has had it less than a year and hasn't made any modifications. If anyone has thoughts/ideas on how to reduce the weight, if that is even possible, please let me know.

One more thing. I just double checked the Real World Trailer Weights post. The weight of the three Burros listed is 800, 1,300 and 1,500. The post says all the trailers were loaded the way the owners normally traveled. Since this Burro was basically empty, not loaded for camping, I don't hold out much hope that it will work with my 1,500 lb limit. Since this is my first trailer, I was hoping to find something that would work with my current vehicle.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and ideas,

Bernie
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:43 AM   #2
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Gina D. hopefully will respond soon. She towed a 13' Burro for a number of years with her Honda Element. She should have some good ideas that may help you reduce some weight.


Frederick will have to tell you if he weighed the three Burros in the Real Weights thread or if they were owner supplied weights. I'd trust Frederick's to be correct, can't say for certain the others are accurate or just "assumed."


Best of luck. I hope you can make this work for you. The Burro is a nice trailer.
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:44 AM   #3
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I'd say most people discount that 800 pound figure as nothing more than an empty shell or possibly the manufacturer's dry weight, mistakenly reported as a loaded weight. Yours is likely heavier than the other two in the database because of exactly the things you listed: larger battery, AC, etc. You didn't say if yours has a fridge or an icebox.

It's always possible to lighten up a little here and there. You could ditch the AC (tough in KY!). You could downsize the battery and/or propane tank. (Watch tongue weight, though, if you take too much off the front.) Depending on how cabinet doors, shelves, and dinette table are constructed, you might be able to shave a few pounds there. Plywood is lighter than some other engineered wood products. I used plastic bins in place of shelves in the closet to save weight (see my registry). You have to think like a backpacker.

Given the number of people towing 13'ers with Honda Elements and CR-Vs (same chassis, drivetrain, and tow rating), though, I'd say the sky probably won't fall if you go a couple of hundred pounds over. I'd install an ATF cooler to protect the transmission (and service it on the severe use schedule) and brakes on the trailer. You won't want to be in a hurry, especially climbing long grades. It also depends on how many people are in your party- three's a crowd in this situation, unless the third is very small.
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Old 07-10-2016, 10:26 AM   #4
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Name: Duane
Trailer: 1978 Burro
Michigan
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Burro weight

Quote:
Originally Posted by BernieK View Post
Hello!

I am looking to buy my first trailer! My tow is a Honda Element, limited to 1,500 lbs. I was thinking/hoping a Burro I found locally would work. The owner and I took it to a scale yesterday. To my surprise it weighed 1,450 lbs! Based on the reading I've done, I was expecting it to be around 1,100. It has a propane tank on the tongue, TV w/wall mount, larger battery, toaster oven and 5,000 btu window type AC. Everything else is stock. I can't figure out what is making it so heavy. When I add things for camping, it would be well over my 1,500 lb towing capacity.

The current owner has had it less than a year and hasn't made any modifications. If anyone has thoughts/ideas on how to reduce the weight, if that is even possible, please let me know.

One more thing. I just double checked the Real World Trailer Weights post. The weight of the three Burros listed is 800, 1,300 and 1,500. The post says all the trailers were loaded the way the owners normally traveled. Since this Burro was basically empty, not loaded for camping, I don't hold out much hope that it will work with my 1,500 lb limit. Since this is my first trailer, I was hoping to find something that would work with my current vehicle.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and ideas,

Bernie

I am in the process of replacing all of the particle board in my Burro with 1" rough cut cedar (planed, glued together, cut to size, stained and sealed with poly) which is less than half the weight of the particle board.

Only good thing about particle board is it retains it shape and is cheap.
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Old 07-10-2016, 10:40 AM   #5
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Name: Bernie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I'd say most people discount that 800 pound figure as nothing more than an empty shell or possibly the manufacturer's dry weight, mistakenly reported as a loaded weight. Yours is likely heavier than the other two in the database because of exactly the things you listed: larger battery, AC, etc. You didn't say if yours has a fridge or an icebox.

It's always possible to lighten up a little here and there. You could ditch the AC (tough in KY!). You could downsize the battery and/or propane tank. (Watch tongue weight, though, if you take too much off the front.) Depending on how cabinet doors, shelves, and dinette table are constructed, you might be able to shave a few pounds there. Plywood is lighter than some other engineered wood products. I used plastic bins in place of shelves in the closet to save weight (see my registry). You have to think like a backpacker.

Given the number of people towing 13'ers with Honda Elements and CR-Vs (same chassis, drivetrain, and tow rating), though, I'd say the sky probably won't fall if you go a couple of hundred pounds over. I'd install an ATF cooler to protect the transmission (and service it on the severe use schedule) and brakes on the trailer. You won't want to be in a hurry, especially climbing long grades. It also depends on how many people are in your party- three's a crowd in this situation, unless the third is very small.
Thanks!

It does have an old Dometic 3 way fridge and a stove. I was thinking I could replace this and remove all the fixtures for when running on propane with a dorm style fridge. I don't think this would save a tremendous amount of weight though, since I'd have to add in the weight of the dorm fridge.

I could remove the stove along with the propane tank on the tongue. I can get away with a small camp stove and would allow using it outside. This would make the trailer fairly bare bones, but it would just be me and a small dog most of the time.

Thanks again everyone and please keep the ideas coming!
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernieK View Post
Thanks again everyone and please keep the ideas coming!
Don't forget about the water. I don't know if the Burro has a fresh water tank and or grey water tank and what size, but at 62.4 pounds per cubic foot, or 8.35 pounds per US gallon, that could be significant.

With respect to the fridge, I just replaced an old Dometic with a new 110v/propane model of essentially the same size, and the new model was at least 1/3 lighter.

A 110v dorm fridge will limit your options on camping significantly, requiring electrical hook-up or a generator all the time.

Vic
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:23 AM   #7
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Name: Bernie
Trailer: Researching Options
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I'd say most people discount that 800 pound figure as nothing more than an empty shell or possibly the manufacturer's dry weight, mistakenly reported as a loaded weight. Yours is likely heavier than the other two in the database because of exactly the things you listed: larger battery, AC, etc. You didn't say if yours has a fridge or an icebox.

It's always possible to lighten up a little here and there. You could ditch the AC (tough in KY!). You could downsize the battery and/or propane tank. (Watch tongue weight, though, if you take too much off the front.) Depending on how cabinet doors, shelves, and dinette table are constructed, you might be able to shave a few pounds there. Plywood is lighter than some other engineered wood products. I used plastic bins in place of shelves in the closet to save weight (see my registry). You have to think like a backpacker.

Given the number of people towing 13'ers with Honda Elements and CR-Vs (same chassis, drivetrain, and tow rating), though, I'd say the sky probably won't fall if you go a couple of hundred pounds over. I'd install an ATF cooler to protect the transmission (and service it on the severe use schedule) and brakes on the trailer. You won't want to be in a hurry, especially climbing long grades. It also depends on how many people are in your party- three's a crowd in this situation, unless the third is very small.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor Benz View Post
Don't forget about the water. I don't know if the Burro has a fresh water tank and or grey water tank and what size, but at 62.4 pounds per cubic foot, or 8.35 pounds per US gallon, that could be significant.

With respect to the fridge, I just replaced an old Dometic with a new 110v/propane model of essentially the same size, and the new model was at least 1/3 lighter.

A 110v dorm fridge will limit your options on camping significantly, requiring electrical hook-up or a generator all the time.

Vic

Thanks Vic,

It does have a fresh water tank, but I was not planning to use it. I'll carry a few jugs with me and then fill them up at the campsite. Or hook up to their water. I'll use a jug as the grey tank or get a portable grey tank. Hopefully I'll be able to keep water to a minimum while actually pulling the trailer.

If I go with a 110 fridge, when not at a campsite I'll need a cooler!! Thanks for the info on the weight savings of your new Dometic. That may be worth it down the road!

Thanks,

Bernie
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:53 AM   #8
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Name: bob
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New York
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We have towed our 13 foot Uhaul, which is very similar to a Burro, about 8000 miles with a Honda CRV. We have removed the water tank, stove, furnace, and propane tank. We replaced the icebox with a dorm fridge. Items weren't removed for weight reduction, but because we didn't use them. Depends on your type of camping as to what you need in the trailer.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:04 PM   #9
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We have a 1973 amerigo. Our Tow Vehicle (TV) capacity is 3600.

Empty, the tongue weight was 90 lbs. (I mean EMPTY.)

As we filled it, that tongue weight came up. Finally, without our clothes and food, the trailer weighed about 2200 lbs, the tongue weight was 180. That's wrong. We'd lightened the front end too much.

So we packed heavy in the front and took out even the throw cushions in the back.

They're not kidding when they say to watch that tongue weight ratio! If you're butt-heavy, you'll fishtail and can lose control of the car.

Best luck. Don't discount every single ounce of saved weight. After we got back from our 4th of July camping trip (our first in this rig), we weighed the LAUNDRY. It was 44 pounds! Unbelievable. Then I washed it. 22 pounds.

Ha ha, just kidding. It was drier, so weighed 43 pounds.

We removed the old (heavily corroded) fridge and stove and use an ice chest and butane portable cooker, plus we have a small microwave inside were the old stove was. Paul was able to lift both appliances--barely--so we're figuring less than 100 pounds each. The ice chest can be put in the car, if necessary; the microwave weighs around 20 pounds.

Next we're going for six nights, twice as long...we're planning to wear our clothes for at least two days per shirt...hoping to keep the total weight and volume down. Also, we'll shop more often (being near towns) rather than taking three days worth of provisions all at once. And as for water...we took bottles of water, and found we used (with two small dogs) 5 1/2 2-liter bottles in 3 days. One of those days I washed my hair--3/4 of a 2-liter bottle for that. We'll be near showers this time, so that'll help.

Best luck. It can be quite engrossing and fun to figure these things out.

By the way--our deep cell marine batteries (2 on the tongue) weigh 45 pounds each. The closer to the ball hitch, the more each pound "counts." Think of a seesaw, with the wheels/axle as the pivot point. The closer to the axle, the less it counts as tongue weight. ON the axle, it is tongue weight neutral. Hence, our main storage closet is right on the axle; the galley straddles the axle on the other side.

But don't go too light on the tongue, as I said before and others have said before me and will say after me. 10 - 15% of total weight must be on the tongue.

BEST! Welcome to the world of balancing a little egg on your tongue!
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Old 07-10-2016, 01:14 PM   #10
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Is the 1500 lb weight limit based on the information in your owners manual? I ask because when I look up tow limits on sites such as Edmunds.com I get the lowest tow weight. My Subaru Outback is rated a 1500 lbs but, per the owners manual, if the trailer has brakes the tow limit jumps to 2700 lbs. Regardless, if you tow with any lighter vehicle, I would recommend trailer brakes.

Where did you have the unit weighed? Make sure you are using a commercial scale that is state certified for commerce on a regular basis. Was the trailer weighed separately, or attached to the tow?

I would hold off on deleting original equipment until you address the options.

Do the toaster over and TV operate off of AC? If so, was the PO running them off of the battery via an inverter?

If yes to both, get rid of them and go to a smaller battery. You said you had a large battery. What is the BCI group size? Approximate weight of common 12 volt deep cycle batteries, based on one common brand, are Group 24- 45.5 lb, Group 27- 54.9 lb, Group 29- 60.6 lbs.

The important thing consider when sizing batteries with size is your estimated usage. Beside looking at TV and oven, you want to install all LED bulbs in the fixtures. You can also convert the ceiling vent fan, if so equipped, with a pulse width modulated controller. The 3 way switch on most of them uses resistors to slow down the fan speed, so whatever the speed, you are using the total 2.5 t 3 amps that the motor is rated for. The PWM controller will also give you infinite control of fan speed.

Using my battery monitor, I usually set the PWM controller on mine to draw about .5 amps, and then use the on off switch to turn the fan on and off. Except when cooking, or if the trailer has been closed up all day, the .5 amp setting keeps the trailer comfortable.

Check the production date on the 3 way fridge, you may actually have one of the newer, lighter models.

When camping, you want to operate the fridge on LP which is a very light draw. I believe you have a two burner stove. Once again LP consumption is relatively light, depending on usage. By going to a 10 or 11 lb tank from a 25 you will save significant weight.

I switched from a 25 lb to an 11 lb tank to lower overall weight and tongue weight. My 25 lb tank had a tare weight of 18 lbs, so full it weighs in at 43 lbs. The 11 lb tanks tare weight is 13.3 lbs so full it weighs 24.3 lbs.

That AC weighs 40 lbs or so. Depending on where you camp, you may or may not want to keep it. Tongue weight wise, lot has to do with where it is mounted. I don't need mine in the mountains, but down in the Gulf Coast states, it's a necessity.

Also, as regards tongue weight, make sure all of your tongue mounted items are mounted as close to the trailer as possible.
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Old 07-10-2016, 03:21 PM   #11
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After all the other responses are considered: You don't need to be paranoid about the 1500 lb limit. Engineers have a tendency to be conservative, and allow for some "plus or minus" on such things.
You can probably pull more than 1500 lb, if you pay attention to weight distribution, and learn how to downshift on uphill grades - to not overheat your transmission- and on long downhill grades to not overheat your brakes.
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Old 07-10-2016, 04:32 PM   #12
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Name: Steve
Trailer: casita 17 SD
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Weight

I completely agree with Wayne. I think the biggest issue is being able to stop when you are towing . Adding brakes and a controller and 7 pin wiring might be a significant expense. Another option to consider might be upgrading to a Honda Pilot . That would allow you to leave the camper as it is and just hitch up and go camping. There are lots of good used Pilots out there.
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