Tongue weight & trailer size - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-05-2007, 03:11 PM   #29
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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.
Thank You Brian,
I've been trying to decide on whether to get air shocks or what to do about the situation. Your advise has been very helpful and is much appreciated. What kind of anti-sway device should I consider?(If at all).
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Old 09-05-2007, 05:22 PM   #30
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What kind of anti-sway device should I consider?(If at all).
I don't use one at all: no weight distribution system (and thus no attached "sway control" features), and no friction-type sway control device (commonly referred to as a "bar"). This is a somewhat contentious subject, and I suggest searching for "sway" in both this forum and the SiennaClub.org Towing sub-forum - allowing lots of time for the many topics which will match - and digesting for a while.

In the end, each combination of trailer, tug, and operator (that's you, loading both of them and driving the rig) is somewhat unique, and there are no general answers.
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Old 09-05-2007, 05:28 PM   #31
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I've been trying to decide on whether to get air shocks or what to do about the situation.
I have air bags (Firestone Coil-Rite), which have a few advantages over air shocks. Primarily, the bags don't require you to buy new shocks, and they apply the supporting force right where it is designed to be, at the spring mount. In any suspension in which the coil spring and shock configuration allows the practical use of the bags, I would prefer them to air shocks.
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:11 PM   #32
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I don't use one at all: no weight distribution system (and thus no attached "sway control" features), and no friction-type sway control device (commonly referred to as a "bar").
I also used none of those devices towing with my 2004 Sienna (pulling a folding aframe camper, not an "egg") and had no sway problems. Air bags, however, were necessary because I continually bottomed out. While the air bags improved things considerably, even with them I still bottomed out going in and out of certain parking lots, my driveway, campground speed bumps. I eventually stopped towing with the Sienna and moved to a tow vehicle with better clearance but I still think, overall, the Sienna is a very capable tow vehicle.

Oh, and the guys at the 4 X 4 center thought it was hilarious that they were installing air bags on a minivan!
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Old 09-06-2007, 08:41 PM   #33
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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 ...
Hello Connie
My wife Lynnette and I just made our first trip with a 13' Boller and 4 kids. Our tug was a 99 Honda van. It was a bit tight but the portability was wonderful. It could work for us long term. We are also considering the 16' Scamp for the bathroom. That would have been a plus on the trip when our youngest was ill and needed a bathroom frequently. The porta pottie would not have been a good solution in this case but in all others it would have been fine.

Here is my best suggestion. Get the best hitch your vehicle will allow. ( Likely similar to a hidden hitch), then rent a 13' rig for an outing. It will really help clarify what is needed. Less really is better in most places. If you can fit into a 13' egg you will almost not notice it behind you. If you are close enough, rent one of these and make a trip It will be worth your investment.
http://www.members.shaw.ca/brendanova/

Good luck in your search.
Nolan
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Old 09-13-2007, 01:17 PM   #34
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Keep in mind Brenda's post from July 1, 2007:

Vintage RV Rentals, Closing business after July 23.
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Old 03-03-2008, 09:11 PM   #35
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I have been after Bigfoot to release their new 2008 brochure, largely to determine the tongue weight of the new 25FB. I suspected it would be less than the 25RB, due to the RB having most of the goodies forward of the axles, such as the galley, etc. According to Bigfoot, the 25RB has a dry weight of 4660, with a tongue weight of 610 lbs. Bigfoot did respond to me by e-mail that the dry weight of my trailer is dry 5738, with a tongue weight of 420 lbs. This is much lighter on the tongue, proportionally, that its RB brethren.

If 10 to 15% tongue weight is suggested, I am somewhat short. I suppose the optional storage box on the front may have been great to load down the front, but there were no details when I made the order and I did not want to add 2 feet to the trailer length.

We are heading off for a moderately long trip next month, and I may be concerned about weight distribution.

Will light tongue weight affect stability and perhaps introduce sway?

As we have the front pass through, we can put some heavier objects in there, as well as under the front queen bed. I have not checked the location of the water tank in relation to being forward or aft of the axles. If forward, a bit of water may help the tongue weight

Our tow vehicle is a 2008 Toyota Tundra with a tow rating in excess of 10,000 lbs. I have a 1,000 lb weight distributing hitch as well.

Any ideas appreciated.

Thanks, Rick
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:00 PM   #36
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Bigfoot did respond to me by e-mail that the dry weight of my trailer is dry 5738, with a tongue weight of 420 lbs.

If 10 to 15% tongue weight is suggested, I am somewhat short.

Will light tongue weight affect stability and perhaps introduce sway?
I have a similar situation to yours. I have a dual axle trailer, and my tongue weight is only 7% of my total weight, which Mike Sanders predicted would be the case when we discussed the relationship of the distance the center of the axle(s) from the hitch ball to the full length of the trailer. (The 2/3 rule). The point between the two axles does not satisfy the 2/3 rule, but the rear axle alone does satisfy it.

I have never experienced sway in my [b]Fiber Stream in over 12,000 miles of towing in the last 4 years.
I do the following:
  1. Keep the trailer's "attitude" ever so slightly nose down when adjusting hitch height.
  2. Stow cargo on the floor toward the front of the trailer, forward of the axles.
  3. Keep the cruise control set at 55 mph. Ease on down, ease on down the road.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:36 PM   #37
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Tongue weights 'set' by manufacturers are really starting points and depend on how well the manf considered stuf like full holding tanks, LP, battery, options. How one loads the trailer with personal stuf is the final step and that's when stuf may need to be moved.

We were discussing 7% vs 10-12-15% TW on Yahoo Scampers and the possibility of differences in TV wheelbase and overhang between US and Euro TVs came up.

Generally speaking, it's better to err on the side of TW too heavy, and nose too low, than the opposite. You really won't know what the true weight and TW are until you have loaded the trailer with all your stuf, ready to roll on a trip, and get actual scale weights.
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:16 PM   #38
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Tongue weights 'set' by manufacturers are really starting points and depend on how well the manf considered stuf like full holding tanks, LP, battery, options. How one loads the trailer with personal stuf is the final step and that's when stuf may need to be moved.

Generally speaking, it's better to err on the side of TW too heavy, and nose too low, than the opposite. You really won't know what the true weight and TW are until you have loaded the trailer with all your stuf, ready to roll on a trip, and get actual scale weights.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I have to check, but my water tank, I believe is forward of the axle, so with a 45 gal tank, I could certainly affect the tongue weight. I have 2 - 6 volt batteries as well, plus 2 full propane tanks should help with the tongue weight. It appears that both the black and grey water tanks are near the rear, therefore travelling with much content in them can affect the tongue weight. I think I will attempt to travel with empty tanks and move most of the cargo near the front
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Old 03-04-2008, 08:31 PM   #39
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I have a lot to say about this topic so I probably should say just a little at a time.

First off the manufacturers design and manufacture trailers with different weight, and size dimensions in proportion to each other. The design and proportioning of the each of these things affects the handling characteristics of the trailer. We as consumers get to choose from what is available. Most consumers make purchase decisions based on interior features, layout and appearance. Those things are very visible and have a huge impact on our decision making process. Most of us are not engineers and we get snowed with over simplistic formulas about percentage of tongue weight vs total trailer weight, sway bars, etc. I am convinced that many bumper pull or "tag" RV trailers are poorly designed with respect to vehicle stability and thus vehicle safety.

For this post I will make this assertion:


Tongue LENGTH has more to do with trailer stability than tongue weight.

Along with that I will also assert that the tongues in most travel trailers are too short.

That is not to say that tongue weight does not affect stability because it does. If you get into a situation where there is lift on the hitch that is very unstable and dangerous. There are many factors other than tongue weight (and length) that also affect stability.
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Old 03-04-2008, 11:44 PM   #40
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I don't know which is more important, tongue weight or length (they are both important), but the weight is the one easily controllable by the user.

For sure, if the TW is too far off, the trailer will tend to have bad sway, even without the help of passing trucks, and as we could see from that UK simulator, it gets worse if induced at speed.

It costs about $10 at a commercial scale to get two weighings. You load the trailer as if for a trip (dry weights are a waste of time). You pull on the scales and weigh all three axles, each on a scale platform. You pull off, drop the trailer and go back for the weight of the two axles. A little subtraction will yield the tongue weight and a little division will yield the %. Then you know and can adjust if needed.

Stuf like tongue length is part of what I call 'tow geometry' and it goes like this:


1. Long wheelbase on TV is good (axle to axle);
2. Short overhang on TV is good (rear axle to ball);
3. Long trailer tongue is good (ball to axle);
4. Short trailer overhang is good (axle to bumper);

because they all affect the leverage of trailer sway on the tow vehicle. Generally, they are more or less fixed, however, receiver hitch mounting and ball mount length may be adjustable (a few inches here can make a surprising difference). Also, it's possible to extend a trailer tongue (saw one once extended for a bike rack and it also made for good towing and backing).

Actually, TV overhang (front axle to bumper) is better when long.
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Old 03-05-2008, 12:34 PM   #41
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Pete's four points capture the basics of towing geometry very well. Those basics are all four very important. These things in combination are foundational in determining the stability and safety of the combined vehicle. They are more or less fixed during manufacturing of the individual vehicles. The consumer should consider them when evaluating purchases or "building the rig". Most of us are not able to modify our vehicles after we get them. If we understand towing geometry we can choose vehicles that best confirm to Pete's four points.

There are other factors such as aerodynamics, axle, brake, suspension and hitch design and capacity. Then there is the amount of weight and the way loads are placed on the vehicles.

To expound on the topic of tongue weight I will attempt to paint a picture with words. Let me describe a hypothetical trailer. This trailer has a 20 foot long body and a tongue that extends two feet in front of the body. The axle is placed 60/40 with 60% or 12 feet of the length of the body in front of the axle and 40% or 8 feet of overhang behind the axle. This trailer weighs a total of 5000 pounds. It has the "ideal" weight distribution of 4400 pounds on the axle(s) and 600 pounds or 12% of the weight on the ball of the hitch.

Now let me (as the manufacturer of this hypothetical trailer) add a magic component. That magic component is an extendable and retractable tongue that is extended or retracted by means of turning a crank. The tongue is two feet long at the short position and it can be extended eight feet to make it ten feet long at the long position. To make it even more appealing I am fixing it so the operator can choose any length between the two extremes.

This vehicle has an ideal 12% "tongue weight" of 600 pounds at the two foot position. It will obviously have much less than 12% or 600 pounds of tongue weight at the ten foot position. In fact it is going to have much less than the minimum 10% tongue weight specified by the "experts".

Now let me ask these questions:

1. What would those weight figures be with the tongue extended to the ten foot length?
2. How would the stability and handling characteristics on the highway be affected by extending the tongue to the ten foot length?
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Old 03-05-2008, 12:58 PM   #42
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Here in the West, the extendable tongue is not hypothetical, it is reality. Gravel trucks tow four-wheel trailers with extended tongues. Some are adjustable, some are not. But they are not load bearing, except to support themselves, they are load-pulling. This differs a bit from typical RV trailer tongues.

The recommended tongue weights recommended by 'experts' apply generally to most RV trailers manufactured in North American and are only a Rule of Thumb. They are a starting place, and that's why one sees a range. My experiences reading a number of RV groups is that an incredible number of trailer owners or would -be trailer owners have no idea about what they are doing. And when they come onto an RV group and start asking questions, they will often get the advice to add a friction sway bar...

I suspect the reason RV manfs don't make adjustable tongues is both structural and marketing (What is the true length of the trailer? Is the customer being 'cheated'? etc.).

Interestingly, the setup with great towing geometry, the 5W or Gooseneck hitches, also have the highest 'tongue' (aka pin) weights (15-25%).


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