Tongue Lengthening - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-03-2009, 02:18 PM   #1
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Hi, I have been thinking about lengthening the tongue on my Scamp 16 basically since we bought it a couple of years ago. I have read a couple of threads talking about lengthinging the tongue, tongue lengths, etc. , and have seen atleast one thread were someone actually did lengthen thier tongue. http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...gthening+tongue

The tongue on my Scamp I find too short for much other than a battery and a propane tank. I would like to extend it about 1.5 feet so I can add a toolbox like you would put in the bed of a truck and put my battery, propane tank, and other odds and ends in. I am not talking about adding 500lbs of tongue weight, but would like to have a little more weight on the tongue and have the ability to store a few additional things.

I had my friend who is a professional welder take a look at it, and he didn't think it would be a problem to add some length and reinforce it properly. He has built several dump trailers.

I was wondering if there is anything that I am overlooking? Will towing characteristics change?

Any input is greatly appreciated.

John Adrienne
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:38 PM   #2
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Hi John,

You are showing the link to my brothers Casita. I had lengthened my Casita before we did my brother’s.

Sense then I bought a 25’ Bigfoot and lengthened it just under a foot.

My view is it greatly improves the stability & tow-ability of some trailers. A poor-boy rule of thumb is to measure the overall length of your trailer - hitch to back bumper. Then measure the distance from the hitch to the center of your axle. If the distance to the axle is less the two-thirds, I believe it will greatly help. There are much more sophisticated formula, but they all come out about the same.

My Bigfoot was less then 2/3. Now it is much better but not perfect. We found it now tows Great. By the way, I added my Honda 2000 to the front of my Bigfoot and an extra battery, giving my two AGMs.

PS: Your plan seems aggressively long to me - 1.5 feet extra.

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Old 08-03-2009, 06:51 PM   #3
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PS: Your plan seems aggressively long to me - 1.5 feet extra.
Thank you for the reply. I was kind of throwing that number out there, not the exact length that I am planning. I was thinkng of finding the box I would use for the front and then add as much as needed to accomidate it. I think you are right and I would probably need closer to 1 foot.

So when you did the lengthening, did you just cut the end of the A frame and add an extension at that portion? I was looking your pictures and it looks like a clean job. I am probably going to talk to my friend about it again in the next few days, so any further advice it appreciated.

I am glad to hear that it tows good after lengthening. By your 2/3 calculation I should be under be under that measurement. I always wondered why Scamp axles seem to be further forward compared to some other manufacturers.

thanks again
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:12 PM   #4
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Another issue you may not have considered is that your 16' Casita currently qualifies for Permanent Trailer tags here in California. If you extend the tongue beyond 16' your trailer will no longer qualify and that'll cost ya.

Check out Roy in TO's great tongue mod entitled Adding a Tongue Box. He accomplished a lot in the existing space on his tongue. (That really sounds funny when I read it back!)

When I bought my Campster the tongue had already been lengthened. Now my trailer is about 14' long. While I have read about better handling characteristics I have no basis for comparison since this is my first trailer. I will say that others have mentioned that doing so increases the number of gravel dings on the front of your trailer. I can attest to this fact since I have several chips and even some small holes in the front to repair. Also, I'm currently installing a new front window since it was broken when I purchased the trailer and I don't know what caused this. I'm going to do a mod simular to Roy's not only to increase my tongue weight and add a storage box, but also will make a vinyl covered wooden skirt to around the elevated frame for the box to protect my trailer better.
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:12 PM   #5
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I understand what you are saying about qualifying for permanate tags, but I am not too concerned with that. I came very close to putting a box on the front already and just moving a few things around but I did not like how tight of a fit it was, and I want a box larger than the one in the thread you posted. I had a (I think it was a Kobalt) box for mini-trucks that I was going to use. I would have had to change the location of the jack and possibly cut a bracket as I recall, no I was going to have to move the location of my sewer hose, but when I had it on there I didn't like how tight everything was and it would have limited my turning angle as well.

Mike, it looks like the mod you and your brother made was to cut the existing tongue where the green line is in this picture and ADD where the pink likes are. Does that sound somewhat like what you guys did? And of coarse reinforce the heck out of it. I was taking a peak at my tongue a few minutes ago and it appears that would be the best way to do it on mine as well. I think there are some places around that sell the just the hitch portion instead of trying to cut and reuse what I have currently.

Thanks again
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:23 PM   #6
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I have always been intrigued by the Oliver Fiberglass Travel Trailer's adjustable Tongue.

Oliver Adjustable Length Tongue

Oliver Exterior Photo Gallery

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Old 08-03-2009, 09:24 PM   #7
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So when you did the lengthening, did you just cut the end of the A frame and add an extension at that portion? I was looking your pictures and it looks like a clean job. I am probably going to talk to my friend about it again in the next few days, so any further advice it appreciated.
I Modified my Casita one way and my Bigfoot differently.

[b]17’ CASITA
On my Casita I welded in a 3” (1/4” wall) square tubing across the tongue about half way back. Then welded in a NEW tongue down the center and extended it the length I wanted. This was the easiest way to get what I wanted. Couplers come to fit 3” tubing.

[b]25’ BIGFOOT
When I decided to lengthen my Bigfoot, I needed space in side for my Honda 2000 generator. Also, I wanted to be able to continue to use the “doghouse” over everything on the tongue so it ‘looks’ stock. The doghouse normally fits over the outside of the 2” X 6” square tubing frame rails. By making new 2” X 6” square tubing over lap some, it gave me good welding distance and also gave me room inside for the generator. The doghouse fits nicely on top of the new extended frame tubing and normally on the stock frame rails. Thus the tongue still ‘Looks’ pretty stock. This modification gave me about 8” of new tongue length. (I hope this makes sense.)

Attached is a drawing of a stock Casita, my Modified Casita, and my Modified Bigfoot.

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Old 08-03-2009, 09:33 PM   #8
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Mike, it looks like the mod you and your brother made was to cut the existing tongue where the green line is in this picture and ADD where the pink likes are. Does that sound somewhat like what you guys did? And of coarse reinforce the heck out of it. I was taking a peak at my tongue a few minutes ago and it appears that would be the best way to do it on mine as well. I think there are some places around that sell the just the hitch portion instead of trying to cut and reuse what I have currently.
YES, you got it. The pink is the new 3" square tubing with 1/4" wall thickness.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:05 AM   #9
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Thanks again for the replies. That does make sense especially with the pic you posted with the 3 variations.

That being said I think that the modified Casita seems like the way that I will more than likely go. It seems like it is a pretty straight forward design and would be plenty strong. I still think that if/when I go that route I would reinforce the rest of the A frame.

Do you recall where you bought your ball-coupler? I think that is what the part is called anyhow.

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Old 08-04-2009, 01:10 AM   #10
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Do you recall where you bought your ball-coupler? I think that is what the part is called anyhow.
My local steel yard sells couplers. I have seen them at our two local trailer dealers too.

Let us know what you end up with. Post your pictures.

Here is another source: http://shop.easternmarine.com/index.cfm?fu...;categoryID=215
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:44 PM   #11
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I'm glad to hear the tongue extensions have worked out satisfactorily, as I would expect them to have strength problems.

There is some good evidence, supported by Australian government trailer regulations, that the critical load on a trailer tongue is the bending moment at the front end of the body - which is exactly where some forum members have reported frame cracking on older trailers. Lengthening the tongue increases this bending moment (I'll give the numbers if anyone wants) and so makes failure of the tongue more likely.

If the trailer manufacturer has built the frame with a big margin of safety, then eating into this margin by lengthening it may be reasonable. However if you think the manufacturer made the frame as lightly as they could, then there won't be any spare strength to use up and the weakening effect of a tongue extension may be inadvisable.

To lengthen a tongue, and keep its original margin of safety, would require reinforcement of the tongue over its whole length and back under the body, say, halfway to the axle. Which is a pretty major task, but not impossible.

A bit like emergency braking, it's easy to believe that tongue strength is sufficient if the trailer tows satisfactorily - but that may just mean that the extreme event that will test the strength hasn't happened yet.

Andrew
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Old 08-05-2009, 05:35 PM   #12
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Excellent points Andrew.

In my case I had my friend, an steel construction engineer for ship building and nuclear power plants, review my intent before I modified my trailer. He did stress calculations and said I was good to go. After the work was done I had a trailer builder also review the finished project to be sure.

Both said the modification was way over built.
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Old 08-05-2009, 05:56 PM   #13
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One rule of thumb I have gone by when making trailers to tow with motorcycles, is as follows: never make hitch to axle less than 1.5 times track width. I have seen trailers with shorter tongue length (to make them as short as possible), but have found that they 'hunt' badly. A lot of the older cheap tent trailers are like this. When you follow one, the combination looks like a dog wagging its tail.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:14 PM   #14
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Just a note about dimensions for trailers...

A welder friend of mine, I greatly respect, uses this formula when building a trailer.
Measure the length of the box. Place the axle 1 inch back from center for every foot of the box.
Thus: 8 ft. box, the center of the axle moves back 8 in. from center.

The tongue is half the width of the trailer. This gives enough room to make tight turns, because the hitch sticks out several inches.

So a 8ft. long X 6ft. wide trailer would have a 3ft. tongue. Take the tongue (3ft.) plus half the box (4ft.) plus the set back of the axle (8in.) Equals 7’ 8” from the hitch to the center of the axle (84”). The over-all length of the trailer would be 11ft. (132”).

This strategy yields the axle back 63%. Remember I was told, “Make the axle set back 2/3 the overall length of the trailer and you won’t have any trouble with sway.” Both strategies are within 3”.

Simple but Interesting huh?

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