Tongue weight Part Deux - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-26-2006, 12:45 AM   #1
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if your trailer tongue weight is higher than your cars specified maximum?

I am not talking tons, like what would be need to snap your rear axle at load drop on the ball, but slightly over? If your trailer is balanced and tracking good, but the weight is higher, what can result in damage to the vehicle?

Every mechanic I have talked to has said "Nothing.. you might wear out your shocks a bit faster". Also giving the caveat of not overdoing it.

Anyone wreck thier rig from tongue weight?
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Old 05-26-2006, 07:19 AM   #2
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if your trailer tongue weight is higher than your cars specified maximum?

I am not talking tons, like what would be need to snap your rear axle at load drop on the ball, but slightly over? If your trailer is balanced and tracking good, but the weight is higher, what can result in damage to the vehicle?

Every mechanic I have talked to has said "Nothing.. you might wear out your shocks a bit faster". Also giving the caveat of not overdoing it.

Anyone wreck thier rig from tongue weight?
The tires will be the first to go!
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Old 05-26-2006, 08:18 AM   #3
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Anyone wreck thier rig from tongue weight?
Excess tongue weight, will take the necessary load off the front end. This will affect your ability to control the vehicle properly. I'm confident that someone somewhere has wrecked their rig because of this.

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Old 05-26-2006, 09:36 AM   #4
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Anyone wreck thier rig from tongue weight?
Those solar panels starting to weigh you down?
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Old 05-26-2006, 09:46 AM   #5
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Yes, when the sun is riding along with you, you have weight issues.

This is actually the reason I asked, but wanted to keep it generic for everyones input and all our education.

The panels ride in the rig, leaning forward from over the axle to the goucho.. so some of the weight is distributed back, some forward. I have no tracking or traction issues, but I know I am past the limits now.

BUT..as I said, it's more or less a genric question.
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Old 05-26-2006, 10:01 AM   #6
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Roy's hit one nail on the head. Each vehicle is designed to take a certain amount of excess weight at the back, and still provide enough weight on the front end to keep the steering tires in good contact with the pavement. I once used a friend's Ford Crown Victoria to haul my trailer (that i normally towed with a highly sprung F150)across a campground. The tongue weight was such that the front wheels were barely in contact with the ground, and the hitch was almost in contact with the ground.

The other issue is the design strength of the receiver hitch on the tow vehicle itself, particularly the vehicle receiver hitch attachment points and bolts. Some receiver hitches will have two numbers, with and without weight distributing hitches.

There are two aspects to interpreting tongue weight, the trailer's, and the tow vehicle's. Most home methods for calculating it are based on the trailer (using a bathroom weigh scale and 4" x 4", etc). Although this method give a good number, it isn't the whole story, especially with a weight distributing hitch. The best way to get a proper idea is as follows:

On your next trip out with the unit fully loaded, plan to stop at the local truck weigh station.
<blockquote>First Configuration: Weigh the entire train, tow vehicle & trailer, axle by axle.
Second Configuration: Park the trailer nearby (most weigh scales have extensive pads), and with the same passengers in the vehicle, weigh the tow vehicle axle by axle.</blockquote>

This gives you all the numbers you need.
<blockquote>1. Check the tow vehicle's total weight in the first configuration, is it within the GVWR numbers on the driver's door. You can also check the weights axle by axle.
2. The total difference between the first and second configuration is the total loaded weight of the trailer. Compare that to the trailer axle GVWR limits. Also compare to the vehicle's tow limits and hitch calss rating.
3. Now, add together the tow vehicle's axle weights in the first configuration, and subtract the total weight of the second configuration. This is the trailer tongue weight, and the additional weight transferred to the tow vehicle. Compare this difference to the proper hitch rating.
4. The trailer tongue weight should be 10% to 15% of the total trailer weight in point 2 above.
If it is much more, the trailer is likely towing front down, and transferring too much of the trailer weight to the tow vehicle, and risking hitch damage on bumps. As well, yuou may be exceeding the hitch tongue weight rating, and risking breaking the hitch from the tow vehicle.
If it is much less, it is likely towing front up, giving poor towing and risking trailer bumper damage. On a really rough road, this could seriously damage the whole hitch assembly.</blockquote>

If you do not exceed the above limits, you are fine.

If you exceed the hitch tongue weight, and the trailer tongue weight is 15% or more of the trailer total weight, you are very likely towing in a front down configuration. Raise the ball height to transfer more of the trailer's weight to its own axles. Hopefully you have one of the adjustable bolt together ball mount units with two bolts, or you will have to purchase a new ball mount.

If the trailer is towing well and level, and you exceed the hitch tongue weight, try different trailer loading schemes, reducing what you put at the front of the unit, and loading either the back, or above the axles.

When I first started trailering many years ago, a wise man recommended this procedure, and it has never steered me wrong.

Victor
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Old 05-26-2006, 10:42 AM   #7
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Excess tongue weight above the rated limit will also put a strain on wheel bearings and suspension beyond the design limits.

For a rough idea of how tongue weight affects the front end measure the rear axle to hitch ball distance and divide by the wheelbase. Express as a percentage and subtract that from the normal front weight.

My tongue weight limit is 350lbs, and the current loading is most often in the 250lb range. I don't need no steeenking weight distribution hitch (considering that I use airbags).
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Old 05-27-2006, 12:08 AM   #8
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Just to be clear, Air Bags are springs and will not transfer any weight from the rear to the front, any more than helper springs or stiffer springs will do. If anyone wants to prove this to themselves, take the rig and a portable compressor to a scale -- Put the front axle on the scale, let the air out of the air bags, then inflate them to their max and deflate them to where they started -- Note how much the front weight doesn't change...

If you want to take tongue or rear cargo weight (or both) off your rear and put it back on the front, you either have to move some stuf (spare tire to front bumper, etc) or use a real WDH.

Not to say that air bags are a bad thing; they will make the body (NOT the suspension) of your TV level and will add a degree of stiffness to the rear suspension, which helps in controlling sway.

BTW, a WDH properly applied will make the TV "sink" towards the ground equally in front and rear from its original unloaded/unhitched level. IOW, if the rear drops six inches, the front should drop six inches.

Back to the original question, some mild overload (say 10%) shouldn't be particularly dangerous, but putting 300 lbs on a TV rated for 200 lbs would likely not be a good thing. It would help to keep the rear tires at max pressure. It would also help to keep the heavy stuf in the trailer as low and close to the axles as possible to reduce sway and porpoising.

Cargo in the rear of the TV, while not affecting the hitch or its attachment to the TV, will affect front end lift and subsequent steering control and tire wear.
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Old 05-27-2006, 10:07 AM   #9
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Pete makes an excellent point.

Make sure your tires, trailer and tow vehicle are load-rated for ther weight on that axle. When I towed a heavy trailer with an F150, for that tow vehicle, there were no "P" tires and onlt a few "LT" tires that had sufficent load capacity for that load.

The maximum tire load info can be found on the tire sidewall. Note that it is specified at an air pressure, usually maximum tire pressure. It is only valid for that pressure. A lower pressure may give a softer ride, but the load carrying capacity is reduced.

Victor
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Old 05-27-2006, 10:55 AM   #10
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Gina we have a similar setup to you (13ft scamp/element) and have experienced no problems whatsoever. The Element and class 1 hitch can safely accommodate up to 200lbs hitch weight. I would say if you are over 210 start to be concerned. The previous advice about keeping your cargo low and over the axel is good advice. I have also moved heavier items out of front of our trailer to the back bed area to distribute the weight further back. The ratio of hitch weight to trailer is 10%. So if your trailer is 2000lbs loaded and ready to go then the hitch weight should be 200lbs. Your Burrow doesn't weigh 2000 does it? If it does it needs to go on a diet. Our trailer loaded is around 1600. By loading the heavier items in the rear we can get our hitch weight in the 150lb range which is perfect.
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Old 05-27-2006, 11:02 AM   #11
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At last weigh in, with 2 weeks worth of junk.. and most of it soaking wet by the time I got to a free Oregon scale..

1450.

I don't usually carry that much junk tho, so no doubt, it's a bit less now.
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Old 05-28-2006, 06:46 AM   #12
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Gina, was that 1450 lbs with or without the Element?

Roger
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Old 05-28-2006, 07:46 AM   #13
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Most of this discussion has been on overweight on the tongue, if you want to get into an uncontrolable sway situation then make the tongue too light by throwing everything towards the back. There was an excellent article about weight distribution posted on one of these sites a while back that went into this. You are better with more weight on the vehicle (10-15%) of trailer weight without going over the TV's limit than having too much aft. hope this makes sense
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Old 05-28-2006, 08:27 AM   #14
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Here's a link to the Sherline site...the folks that make a great trailer tongue weight scale:
Trailer Loading and Towing Guide
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