Tongue weight & trailer size - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-26-2007, 07:53 AM   #1
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Hi, all - more newbie help needed. In reading some of the past posts on trailer weight & tongue weight, I noticed one poster (please forgive me for not remembering names!) noted that the Casita Spirit Deluxe 17' (one of the RVs I'm considering) has a higher tongue weight for it's size than other 17' trailers. In looking thru my Kia Sedona owner's manual, rather than a specific tongue weight, it says the tongue should be no more than 10% of the total RV weight. So what's the best way to decide if my tug can handle this RV model? Obviously, in my search for the perfect egg, this becomes fairly important info!!
Thanks for your patience
Connie
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Old 08-26-2007, 08:53 AM   #2
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Hi Connie! I can see where that is confusing. The "official" website for Kia says the Sedona has a 3500 lb towing capacity. A Canadian site says the tongue weight on the '07 is 350lbs max, so presumably the owner's manual for your Kia implies that the tongue weight of a 3500 lb towed load should be no more than 350 lbs. This is obviously another owner's manual that is brilliantly written and crystal clear!

In any event, is a pretty safe bet that most vehicles rated at 3500 lbs will have a 350 lb max tongue weight rating.

Roger
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:33 AM   #3
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In any event, is a pretty safe bet that most vehicles rated at 3500 lbs will have a 350 lb max tongue weight rating.
Which a Weight Distributing Hitch can achieve for you, if permitted for your vehicle.
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Old 08-26-2007, 11:52 AM   #4
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That poster was probably myself.

The instruction to keep tongue (or hitch) weight to 10% of trailer weight is common. In the Toyota manuals which I have seen (including mine) it is expressed as a pair of upper and lower limits: tongue weight should be between 9% and 11% of trailer weight; it is also specifically given as a limit (weight carrying tongue weight maximum limit is 350 lb).

Since you can't arbitrarily decide what the tongue weight of a trailer will be - it would not be practical to stack cargo in the back of a Casita 17' until the tongue has only 10% of the weight - I think the practical approach is to simply take the maximum hitch weight limit (of the tug) as a limit for the trailer, in addition to total trailer weight. Any trailer manufacturer should publish unloaded tongue weight, and you have to guess (and/or ask current owners) how much heavier it will get with cargo, water, and propane.

This likely means towing a trailer with the tongue weight greater than 10% of the trailer weight. I don't see any problem with that. The manufacturer's guideline is likely intended to minimize tongue weight (because of the adverse effects on the vehicle structure, suspension, and handling), but as long as the vehicle's limit is not exceeded, where's the problem?

For vehicles which do not permit use of a weight-distribution (WD) system the hitch weight might eliminate some trailers.

If the tow vehicle permits use of a WD system, it will likely allow a higher hitch weight in this case - the weight-distributing tongue weight maximum limit. The same logic applies, but in addition if a trailer's tongue weight exceed the weight-carrying limit, use of a WD system becomes a requirement. That would be the case for my Sienna and a Casita 17'.

The use of a WD system does not reduce the tongue weight; it does potentially allow the tow vehicle to handle a higher tongue weight.
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Old 08-26-2007, 05:06 PM   #5
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Using WDH hitches is fine in most our cases, if needed, but seems that some people with larger pop-ups would have problems meeting tongue weights if they aren`t allowed the use of WDH's because of trailer warranty issues....seems the auto manufacturers don`t make allowances for the different trailer types.... ....Benny
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Old 08-26-2007, 05:36 PM   #6
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With the exception of the larger pickup trucks, I would expect that the automotive industry has trailer towing in general towards the bottom of their market-drivers list!

Connie, one thing that should be made very clear here is that something like a tongue weight spec by a manufacturer, and which has a heavier tongue weight per a web site, is only a baby step towards the real world of what will be attached to your tow vehicle.

Tongue weight is ultimately a percentage of the actual, loaded for camping, weight of the trailer (aka 'wet' vs the dry weight from the manufacturer) -- Depending on how big a trailer is, the weight of options and the stuf that you stuff into it and its various tanks and cupboards may be from a few hundred to the better part of a thousand pounds, and something like 10% of that additional weight should be on the tongue (or you may experience serious control issues).
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:16 PM   #7
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B sure to check the specs on your hitch because they come with specifications that indicate the MAX tongue weight and towing capacity.

If you are determined to tow something with a tongue weight far to heavy for your vehicle, look no further. Northern Tool sells this device that gives U a 3000lb tong weight.
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/sto...ssearch=3377825
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:02 PM   #8
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Where's the kitchen on that dolly, because it must have one at that price.
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Old 08-26-2007, 07:09 PM   #9
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Hi - thanks for all the input. I don't even have a hitch yet as I didn't want to get anything till I had this all figured out ( or at least as much as I need to get started.) I don't want to tow anything heavier than recommended since I don't want to tear up my van. I'm mostly trying to understand what the max size RV I can tow would be, and I do see that the wet weight could be considerably more than the dry. Knowing the size max helps me as I search - for instance if a 17' Casita will be too heavy when loaded, then I'll look for a 16'. The difficulty seems to be in finding out just how much these things actually weigh including hitch etc, allowing for the differences in the amount of stuff one carries. Have you all found that the manufacturers listing of the weights are accurate? 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??), but the rest is somewhat negotiable, I'd imagine.
Thanks all!
Connie
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:28 PM   #10
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Manufacturer weights are not accurate for a fully loaded RV. For the 17' Casita, plan on 3,000 lbs. tow weight and 500 lbs. hitchweight.
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Old 08-26-2007, 10:59 PM   #11
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If you are determined to tow something with a tongue weight far to heavy for your vehicle, look no further. Northern Tool sells this device that gives U a 3000lb tong weight.
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/sto...ssearch=3377825
That looks similar to a "slip dolly" that was used in this movie.
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Old 08-27-2007, 12:14 AM   #12
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Hi, all - more newbie help needed. In reading some of the past posts on trailer weight & tongue weight, I noticed one poster (please forgive me for not remembering names!) noted that the Casita Spirit Deluxe 17' (one of the RVs I'm considering) has a higher tongue weight for it's size than other 17' trailers. In looking thru my Kia Sedona owner's manual, rather than a specific tongue weight, it says the tongue should be no more than 10% of the total RV weight. So what's the best way to decide if my tug can handle this RV model? Obviously, in my search for the perfect egg, this becomes fairly important info!!
Thanks for your patience
Connie
The best place to find out what you are able to tow is the owners manual of your vehicle. It should specify a maximum tow weight plus a maximum tongue load for a specific type of trailer hitch (Class III, Class IV, etc). Specifying tongue weight as a percentage of the RV weight without setting a limit on the maximum towed weight is meaningless. If you can't find it in the owners manual, you need to contact the manufacturer and have them provide the info. You are wise to try to find this info BEFORE you select a trailer.
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:13 AM   #13
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Have you all found that the manufacturers listing of the weights are accurate?
No. Not by a long shot.

Some reasons why the published "unloaded" weight always seems to be low:
  • it does not include optional equipment (even the battery and propane tanks are often optional), even factory-installed options which you might think were standard equipment
  • it does not include water, propane
  • it does not include your cargo
  • it assumes standard construction, but in actual construction of the trailer a little extra material always seems to be used
  • in used trailers, there are usually modifications by the owners, which invariably add weight
  • manufacturers are often optimistic
My Boler is about 10% overweight compared to the factory specs. Past discussions suggest that recent weights published by Bigfoot are relatively accurate, but older specs from most manufacturers are substantially low.
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:14 AM   #14
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You are wise to try to find this info BEFORE you select a trailer.
Actually, I'm of the opposite camp. Most folks tend to keep their trailer much longer than their tow vehicle. I'm of the opinion that folks are happier longer with their purchase if they find the trailer they want, and THEN figure out what they need to tow it with. In this case, apparently Connie isn't up for that.

The good news is that most of the 16' and below (and the Burro 17 and the Bigfoot 17' trailers) all have a gross vehicle weight of 3500 lbs or less, and most of them will have tongue weights at or below 350 lbs so the field of fiberglass trailers for Connie is pretty wide.

Roger
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