Tongue weight or hitch weight - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-15-2012, 04:49 PM   #1
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Tongue weight or hitch weight

I have always made the assumption that the weight of the trailer and cargo plus the tongue weight are added to get the total weight under the trailer weight rating. The 2510 lbs. Given by Escape for the 19' dry weight has those added. Of course, the 2510 is not in the real world. The dry weight would be close to 3000 lbs. after adding AC, insulation, front box, TV, microwave, etc.

So what I thought was that if the trailer is loaded to 3400 lbs,, then we add 400 for the tongue weight, we would have a total of 3800.

I was reading, however, and have a seen it before, that the tongue weight actually belongs with the tow vehicle. I have seen it set out very plainly that the gross vehicle weight includes people, fluids, cargo and the tongue weight. This makes sense since the tongue weight is right there by the tow vehicle. They made it clear that the trailer weight did not include tongue weight but only the trailer and its cargo.

I have always expected to add that 400 to the 3400, for instance. The 19' has a gross weight rating of 4000 lbs. When people weigh their trailers (I know the weight master will check in on this) they are indeed adding the two together. That would mean that if your tongue or hitch weight is 400 lbs., that is 400 lbs. Less you can put in the trailer. (Perhaps tongue weight and hitch weight are not the same? I don't know about that, )
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:56 PM   #2
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Sherline scale tongue weights

The other interesting thing we found was that if our trailer is level, it has a certain tongue weight, say 400. If we lower the tongue an inch and a half or more, the tongue weight decreases. We expected it to increase.

An explanation I saw for this is that, if you raise the hitch ball, weight is taken off of the front axle of the trailer and more weight is transferred to the tongue. The tongue weight is then higher when you raise the hitch ball, lower when you lower it.
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Old 04-15-2012, 06:00 PM   #3
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I believe the Escape 19 has two axles. Do you think the counterintuitive fizix is peculiar to trailers with tandem axles? Wondering because I read a post in another forum indicating a smilar surprise on the part of owner of a large utility trailer loaded with a cat and blade. I've also done the "thought problem" in which I thought about changes in the gravitational vector until . . . I got a headache and the assumption that lowering the hitch end would increase tongue wgt. in a simple llinear fashion. If you are correct, it's a bad assumption.

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Old 04-15-2012, 06:05 PM   #4
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In theory the higher the tongue above the axle, the less the tongue presses down on the hitch ball. In actual practice this doesn't matter as the tongue can't get enough higher or lower than the axle to make any difference.

Trailer weight is axle plus tongue weight. This compares to the max trailer weight the vehicle mfr specifies.

The gross weight the vehicle can carry equals you and your stuff and the tongue weight. That is how much weight the vehicles wheels are carrying.

This vehicle will also have a max tongue weight specified. Some will have additional notes about weight distributing hitches, sway control bars and trailer brakes.

All these need to be considered when matching a trailer to a tow vehicle.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:20 PM   #5
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Cathy,
You are confusing dry weight which is weight of trailer without any options with wet weight which is from factory with options plus liquid like propane. In your case that number is 3400# which you then add your personal items to achieve gross capacity weight of trailer, not to exceed 4000#. The 3400#is comprised of 2 parts, axle weight 3000#and tongue weight, 400#. This is where your axle capacity should not be exceeded. Together they total 3400 #. This number will increase depending on additional items and water in your tanks you may have onboard but should not exceed 4000#.
You are correct in saying the tongue weight is being carried by your tow vehicle and is part of it's gross combined weight capacity with fuel/passengers. Again not to exceed it's capacity.
Hope this helps...
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:30 PM   #6
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Jim, I have incorrectly thought of the dry weight as being that with all options on the trailer but before adding personal items, in other words, about 3000 lbs. The correct dry weight is 2510 but practically everyone adds a long list of options bringing the weight to 3000 or more before adding any personal items or fluids.

I assume our weight with options to be 3000 by others' weights with almost exactly the same options. We then weighed everything we put in and that was 407. The 407, however, also included 66 lbs for the ball mount plus hitch bars but did not include some water or propane. We will get the correct weight on a truck scale.

My question is based on your answer that the tongue weight is indeed carried by the vehicle. Why then would I include the tongue weight when figuring how much weight I can put in the trailer? Why would the tongue weight be used when figuring the vehicle's loaded weight and again when figuring the trailer's loaded weight? Or is it?? I see that it makes sense for the manufacturer to have to give it but why would I use the same weight twice?
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:48 AM   #7
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You are not using it twice, it is part of the trailers overall weight which should not exceed specifications that is transferred to your tow while towing, but is static while unhooked. Once you are loaded, go get the unit weighed and you will get the data showing axle weight and gross combined weight and other numbers.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:09 AM   #8
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Here are 3 thing you can measure:

Tow vehicle Weight.
Trailer axle weight = Trailer Gross Axle Weight (Trailer GAW). Compare to GAWR in trailer specs.
Trailer tongue weight. Compare to Max Tongue Weight in tow vehicle specs.

Here are some calculated numbers you can compare to ratings:

Vehicle weight + Tongue weight = Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). Compare to GVWR in tow vehicle specs.
Tongue Weight + Trailer axle weight = Trailer Weight. Compare to Max Trailer weight in tow vehicle specs.
Vehicle weight + Tongue weight + Trailer axle weight = Gross Combined Weight (GCW). Compare to GCWR in tow vehicle specs.


Other than weighing the tongue, the tow vehicle and trailer should be measured loaded up with your stuff (car and trailer) and the weight distributing hitch connected.

Weasel Words: I believe each tire, tow and trailer, should be weighed individually and compared to the weight allowed at the tire pressure you're using. If you measure only the axle you're assuming that each tire is carrying half the axle weight and actual weight is rarely distributed evenly left to right. You can be under the axle rating but over on one of the tires.

Note: I've made a number of corrections after first hitting send so my apologies to those flaming me who are reacting to an earlier version.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:11 AM   #9
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well said, thanks
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:12 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Cathy
The other interesting thing we found was that if our trailer is level, it has a certain tongue weight, say 400. If we lower the tongue an inch and a half or more, the tongue weight decreases. We expected it to increase.

An explanation I saw for this is that, if you raise the hitch ball, weight is taken off of the front axle of the trailer and more weight is transferred to the tongue. The tongue weight is then higher when you raise the hitch ball, lower when you lower it.
Exactly right, Cathy. When you have a single axle, like a wheelbarrow, as you lift, weights gets shifted forward so there is less weight on your arms. However, if you have two axles, like a car, as you lift on the front bumper there is more and more weight in your arms. The reason why is that the weight used to be on the front axle.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:52 AM   #11
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Jack and Jesse, that double axle seems to turn the rules upside down alright. It takes some thinking to see what's happening.

Okay, Jim and Steve, I have it. That is what I was looking for. Thank you. I know we are well under our GCWR and we should be within the others. Just wanted to get it all straight.
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Old 04-16-2012, 11:06 AM   #12
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Cathy if you go to the Bandon meet this summer you can have your trailer weighed. Its a great way to find out what you really have in it and what the weights are per side. Its often a big surprise to people to find out how much their trailer really weighs and how it is distributed in the trailer. I wish more folks would have their trailers weighed at the meet. I once followed a trailer for a few miles to the meet and by the trouble they had on the last hill to the meet I wondered if it was over tow capacity of the vehicle and the way the trailer appeared to be heavy to one side & if that might cause problems at higher speeds ....... when we got to the meet they unfortunately didnt get the trailer weighed ..... dont know why as its a free service.

Looking at the Real World weights of the 19' Escapes that Frederick has weighed so far at Bandon with gear in them you can expect the trailer to come in at a total weight of between 3650 & 4000lbs. Of course we all carry different stuff & its not known which trailers had water in the tanks or not or who is carrying cast iron pots ;-) so there is going to be a wider range in weights.

Real world weights here
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Old 04-16-2012, 11:58 AM   #13
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It's really very simple when you take it in its individual parts. The tongue weight is the weight that presses on the hitch, ball, pintle whatever. The tongue weight maximum is described by the vehicle manufacturer. The trailer tongue weight is variable according to load and balance. Like a teeter toter with axles as a fulcrum. Things start to get complicated when you put the vehicle and the trailer together. Too much on the hitch you lose steering geometry by levering the front wheels up in the tow vehicle. To little tongue weight you're actually lifting the back of the tow vehicle and could actually lose traction with a rear wheel drive vehicle. In either case the sway and instability when moving is unforgettable as well as scary dangerous. The ideal is when both chassis are set at equal heights and the trailer balance on the hitch is the rated trailer tongue weight. If you want to get a headache thinking about the force vectors try doing a load balance study for the fighter attack aircraft capable of pulling 8 G's.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:58 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Alan S. Illinois View Post
It's really very simple when you take it in its individual parts. The tongue weight is the weight that presses on the hitch, ball, pintle whatever. The tongue weight maximum is described by the vehicle manufacturer. The trailer tongue weight is variable according to load and balance. Like a teeter toter with axles as a fulcrum. Things start to get complicated when you put the vehicle and the trailer together. Too much on the hitch you lose steering geometry by levering the front wheels up in the tow vehicle. Too little tongue weight you're actually lifting the back of the tow vehicle and could actually lose traction with a rear wheel drive vehicle. In either case the sway and instability when moving is unforgettable as well as scary dangerous. The ideal is when both chassis are set at equal heights and the trailer balance on the hitch is the rated trailer tongue weight. If you want to get a headache thinking about the force vectors try doing a load balance study for the fighter attack aircraft capable of pulling 8 G's.

And then there is the single most dangerous thing you could do: Too little tongue weight on a FRONT WHEEL DRIVE vehicle - when it lifts the rear wheels of the FWD tug - you lose ALL control - the trailer puts the rear of the tug wherever it wants, meaning you are now "pointed at" whatever is there. Murphy's Law states, very clearly - that there are only two possible outcomes:
1) you are pointed at whatever is most likely to kill you, or
2) you are pointed at whatever will sue you for the most in damages!


too little tongue weight is - at least in my simplistic view - FAR more dangerous than too much! (not sure there is such a thing as too much!) Too little tongue weight, however, is way too easy to achieve!
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