Tongue weight & trailer size - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-27-2007, 09:16 AM   #15
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Of course, it goes the other way too - if I know I can only carry, say 600#, then that's what I'd limit myself to. Obviously, the tanks hold however much they hold, at 8# a gallon (even black water, BTW??)...
Yes, you can carry as little water as you'd like, with the following notes:
  • many of us tow most of the distance with almost no water in the tanks, and fill at the campsite or nearby; on departure, we dump at the campsite or nearby
  • leaving some water in the fresh tank is better than expecting the pump to re-prime each time
  • enough water for a toilet flush or quick cleanup after lunch at a rest stop is nice to have
  • the water heater (if you have one) should stay full for convenience (to avoid bleeding the air out after refilling) - that's usually 6 gallons
  • black water weight is usually not considered: the assumption is that it is no more than the freshwater weight, and the black and grey tanks are empty when the fresh tank is full, then contents just move (in some cases quite indirectly...) from the fresh tank (and food storage) to the grey and black tanks
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:24 AM   #16
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While it's nice if you can treat the tow vehicle as an accessory to the trailer, many people do not have that luxury. The perfect tow vehicle is unlikely to be the best choice for the rest of the time, and if "the rest of the time" is 50 weeks of the year, then a reality check is in order.

I agree that a 3500 lb limit (the same as my Sienna) leaves a lot of choices in our class of trailer. There are two load factors which may eliminate a significant number of options:
  1. the tongue weight, as we have been discussing
  2. the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of the tug
The GCWR, which is the allowed maximum of the total of the loaded tug and loaded trailer, limits the passenger and cargo load which can be combined with the trailer. In the extreme case (most trucks and truck-based SUVs), if you really tow at the published maximum trailer weight, the GCWR limits the tug to carrying nothing but the driver.

For many minivans and similar vehicles, the trailer rating (apparently 3500 lb in this case) can be combined with significant passenger and cargo load, but not as much as without the trailer.
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:30 AM   #17
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Another factor in the chicken-or-egg selection discussion is that many vehicles have a very similar trailer-towing capacity, at 3500 lb total and 350 lb hitch weight. Go just a little over that, and a large range of vehicle choices disappear. Is the extra feature in the trailer really worth it?

Take this to an extreme, and you arrive at 15,000 lb fifth-wheel trailers (hey, we can just by a tug to suit it) and "one-ton" dually pickups or custom haulers as tugs. What's another $70,000 (Canadian)? Seriously, while this kind of rig is not quite mainstream, it barely gets noticed around here.

We picked our van for entirely different reasons, with no intention to tow a travel trailer. Although it limits our trailer choices, I would still rather have my current situation than have a much bigger tow vehicle just to handle a Casita 17's tongue weight.
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Old 08-27-2007, 04:56 PM   #18
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Brian has stated it perfectly - in reality, my van was not purchased to tow, but to drive my dogs to field trials & dog shows, and occasionally, carry just people, tho then they have to ride in the dog crates! The idea of the camper came just recently, and I do love the van, (in addition to getting a FANTASTIC buy on it on EBay) so don't want to trade it in order to tow something. What seems to make the most sense to me after these discussions, is to downsize the RV so it safely fits my towing capacity, especially while I decide whether this is one of "my things" or not. I suspect I'll like it just fine, and can certainly "make do" with a 16' trailer instead of a 17'! Then after while, I could move up if so needed. In truth, I feel blessed to be situated financially so that I can do these things at all, and appreciate all the advice you kind folks have given me so far!
Thanks again
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Old 09-01-2007, 09:09 AM   #19
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[*]black water weight is usually not considered: the assumption is that it is no more than the freshwater weight, and the black and grey tanks are empty when the fresh tank is full, then contents just move (in some cases quite indirectly...) from the fresh tank (and food storage) to the grey and black tanks[/list]
When considering tongue weight the freshwater/blackwater "balance" might be very important. I am not aware of the Casita layout but in my 21' Bigfoot the water tank is in the very front of the trailer, and the waste tanks are in the rear. Therefore moving the 250 to 300 lbs of water weight between these tanks in various amounts (while not changing trailer weight) has a tremendous effect on the tongue weight and safety of towing this trailer. I think in a perfect world trailer, transferring weight between these tanks would not change tongue weight (tanks are located over axles??) but at least in my trailer that is far from reality, they are like ballast weight tanks and their levels have to be considered. Ed
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Old 09-01-2007, 10:32 AM   #20
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Ed's point is quite important. I meant that waste water was not considered in the total weight calculation, and I should have said that explicitly.

In my Boler, the freshwater tank is immediately behind the axle, the greywater immediately in front of the axle, and the black tank is further forward than that (and on one side), so if I start with the fresh tank full, the weight shifts forward with use, increasing the tongue weight.

I notice that the new Oliver Legacy uses long and thin tanks, side by side along the length of the trailer floor, perhaps in some part to reduce the fore-aft shift. I would be concerned about the contents sloshing from end to end, causing dynamic shift when the tanks are partially full, but that's only speculation.

I have heard of stacked tanks, on top of each other, but I don't know of a specific example and I would expect it to present several design challenges.
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Old 09-02-2007, 06:00 PM   #21
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On my old Jayco, the water and LP were way forward of the axle, while the gray and black tanks were behind the axle, with food storage above the axle. As the water, LP and food migrated to the black and gray tanks, there would have been a definite shift in balance, however I tended not to use the trailer facilities when campground facilities were available.

I noticed that a very similar model made by Sunline was better designed, having all the liquid tanks much closer to the axle (in fact, the fresh tank was over the axle).
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Old 09-02-2007, 07:17 PM   #22
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Quote:
(1) in my 21' Bigfoot the water tank is in the very front of the trailer, and the waste tanks are in the rear.

(2) I think in a perfect world trailer, transferring weight between these tanks would not change tongue weight (tanks are located over axles??)
(1) I think that that you can quickly figure out the layout of the water tanks by observing the location of the bathroom.
My Fiber Stream is configured similarly to Ed's Bigfoot. If you stand in the center of my trailer, over the forward axle, facing the tongue:
*The fresh water tank is in the left front corner, under the left bunk, but above the floor. The water heater is "behind" it (nearer to you) with the pump between them.
*The Black tank is below the floor of the bathroom, at the extreme rear of the trailer, below the toilet and shower.
*The Gray tank is below the floor of the kitchen, just forward of the black tank, but still behind you and the axles.

(2) Gina's 17' widebody Burro has the bathroom on the right side near the middle of the trailer. (The right wheel well protrudes into the bathroom) [b]All 3 of her tanks are below the floor, grouped near the center of the trailer.
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:28 PM   #23
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Actually, my fresh tank is behind the axle and to the rear a bit. Hot water tank is slightly in front of the axle.

Both my black and gray are in front of the axle, and almost side by side. They are indeed, under the floor between frame members, and clustered as close to the axle as they can be.
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:09 PM   #24
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Hi all,
Like Connie, I have yet to purchase my "egg". I have been looking at the Escape trailer from Canada, but am concerned that I will "bottom out". My hitch is only 8" from the ground. The top of the ball when the hitch bar is in is 17 1/2". That is without being hooked up to anything. It is a class II factory installed one on my '05 Toyota Sienna. As the receiver is only 1 1/4", I am also considering changing it to another class II with a 2" receiver. American Sport Trailer (Genesis) is also going to be producing one with an inside kitchen, but as yet the specs are unknown. I would welcome any and all helpful advice.
Thank You,
Sandra
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Old 09-04-2007, 04:13 PM   #25
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The latest Good Samís Highway magazine has a good article concerning tongue weight and packing the egg for correct tongue weight to minimize sway.
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Old 09-04-2007, 06:21 PM   #26
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... am concerned that I will "bottom out". My hitch is only 8" from the ground. The top of the ball when the hitch bar is in is 17 1/2". That is without being hooked up to anything. It is a class II factory installed one on my '05 Toyota Sienna. As the receiver is only 1 1/4", I am also considering changing it to another class II with a 2" receiver...
The nice thing about our Siennas, compared to a typical SUV, is the low hatch opening and retract-into-the-floor third-row seats. The problem, is that the nice low hatch opening and seat well leave the bumper low and the hitch lower.

Never fear, there are solutions. Personally, I use air bags added inside the rear springs of the van, to keep it from sagging lower under load, thus avoiding bottoming problems.

That factory hitch, although it has only a 1.25" receiver box, is plenty strong and has better clearance than 2" hitches, so if you don't need to use a weight-distributing hitch (and if you keep tongue weight under 350 lb you don't), I suggest staying with it.

Regardless of the hitch, watch for interference between the hatch and the jack on the tongue of the trailer. Keeping the suspension up, to avoid needing too high a rise in the ball platform, helps. My hatch just barely clears the jack handle on my Boler (which has a 16" top-of-ball height)... and then only if I leave the handle in the down (6 o'clock) position.

Sandra, for any more detail specific to the Sienna as a tow vehicle, I suggest checking out the Towing sub-forum of SiennaClub.org? - it's a forum very much like this one, but for Sienna owners instead of moulded fiberglass trailer owners. Some of us are in both.

If I were willing to pay for a new trailer when we were shopping, not even sure if we would like this type of RV, I might have bought the Escape 17... but we went cheap and old!
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:09 AM   #27
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The nice thing about our Siennas, compared to a typical SUV, is the low hatch opening and retract-into-the-floor third-row seats. The problem, is that the nice low hatch opening and seat well leave the bumper low and the hitch lower.

Never fear, there are solutions. Personally, I use air bags added inside the rear springs of the van, to keep it from sagging lower under load, thus avoiding bottoming problems.

That factory hitch, although it has only a 1.25" receiver box, is plenty strong and has better clearance than 2" hitches, so if you don't need to use a weight-distributing hitch (and if you keep tongue weight under 350 lb you don't), I suggest staying with it.

Regardless of the hitch, watch for interference between the hatch and the jack on the tongue of the trailer. Keeping the suspension up, to avoid needing too high a rise in the ball platform, helps. My hatch just barely clears the jack handle on my Boler (which has a 16" top-of-ball height)... and then only if I leave the handle in the down (6 o'clock) position.

Sandra, for any more detail specific to the Sienna as a tow vehicle, I suggest checking out the Towing sub-forum of SiennaClub.org? - it's a forum very much like this one, but for Sienna owners instead of moulded fiberglass trailer owners. Some of us are in both.

If I were willing to pay for a new trailer when we were shopping, not even sure if we would like this type of RV, I might have bought the Escape 17... but we went cheap and old!


Thank you both for the kind and helpful response.
I met a couple in Eureka, CA who purchased an Escape, however they had a Highlander and the bought the weight-distribution hitch option. My hitch and bar as it came from Toyota will not handle that. Do you think one of those single sway gadgets will be enough?
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:29 AM   #28
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... they had a Highlander and the bought the weight-distribution hitch option...
While the Highlander and Sienna share the same drivetrain and some other components, and are of similar width and weight, there is one significant difference: wheelbase. The Sienna has a longer wheelbase, without much more rear overhang, so hitch weight has less effect on it. While the factory hitch weight ratings are probably the same for both vehicles, the Sienna should have less need for a weight-distribution system than the Highlander.

The rear suspensions of the two vehicles are also completely different; while this may make no difference to towing performance, it does change the options for added air springs. Inexpensive air bags are easily installed in the Sienna, but there is no equivalent for the Highlander's suspension, so Highlander owners do not have this option if they want to boost up the rear a bit.
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