Weighing the Tongue - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-26-2012, 12:23 PM   #1
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Name: will
Trailer: Currently Shopping
Washington, D.C.
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Weighing the Tongue

Looking at towing with my V6 front wheel drive ford escape, and am concerned about ensuring I have the proper tow weight. I am not planning on putting in a weight distribution system. I plan on purchasing a TT with a gross weight of less than 2500#s. I have purchased the following hitch:

Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Receiver - Custom Fit - Class III - 2" Draw-Tite Trailer Hitch 75118

Some questions:

-Do I need a weight distribution system? What about Sway bars?
-How do I measure the tongue weight without buying a $130 dollar gauge or going to a commercial scale? Could I just put some wooden blocks on a bathroom scale and lift the tongue end onto that?
-Where do people weigh their TT and TVs? Can I go to a truck stop and weigh them there?

Thanks!
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:49 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wklose99 View Post
Looking at towing with my V6 front wheel drive ford escape, and am concerned about ensuring I have the proper tow weight. I am not planning on putting in a weight distribution system. I plan on purchasing a TT with a gross weight of less than 2500#s. I have purchased the following hitch:

Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Receiver - Custom Fit - Class III - 2" Draw-Tite Trailer Hitch 75118

Some questions:

-Do I need a weight distribution system? What about Sway bars?
-How do I measure the tongue weight without buying a $130 dollar gauge or going to a commercial scale? Could I just put some wooden blocks on a bathroom scale and lift the tongue end onto that?
-Where do people weigh their TT and TVs? Can I go to a truck stop and weigh them there?

Thanks!
If you're buying a small (13') trailer a weight distribution hitch is a no-no. The weight distribution system will overload the trailer axle.
Tongue weight can be done with a bath room scales. I cut a piece of hand railing I had laying around so the with it on scales and up in the coupler the trailer was close to level. Then all I had to do was jack up tongue jack high enough to get the piece of wood in place then lower the tongue jack to put the tongue weight on the bath room scales.

I don't know much about the DC area, but truck stops will usually have scales that for a fee you can get certified weights. Here the highway truck scales the scales are always active and with they're not weighing trucks you can just pull in and weigh.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
If you're buying a small (13') trailer a weight distribution hitch is a no-no. The weight distribution system will overload the trailer axle.
Tongue weight can be done with a bath room scales. I cut a piece of hand railing I had laying around so the with it on scales and up in the coupler the trailer was close to level. Then all I had to do was jack up tongue jack high enough to get the piece of wood in place then lower the tongue jack to put the tongue weight on the bath room scales.

I don't know much about the DC area, but truck stops will usually have scales that for a fee you can get certified weights. Here the highway truck scales the scales are always active and with they're not weighing trucks you can just pull in and weigh.
Awesome, thanks.

So would sway bars do me any good either?
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by wklose99 View Post
Awesome, thanks.

So would sway bars do me any good either?

I've never used anti-sway bars. I believe they're a negative and it's much better to maintain proper trailer balance then sway doesn't become a problem. Some swear by anti-sway bars, but I think they mask a problem that needs to be corrected and an anti-sway bar is a false sense of security. Others will say differently.
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:13 PM   #5
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We've had several trailers from 13 ft to 31 ft over the last 40+ years and never had a sway control nor have we EVER had sway. Personally I just can't see how those friction sway things can do any good. You have to turn corners and the sway things have to be able to slide. I think (without any experience with them) that they could very well be a waste of money.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:50 AM   #6
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Jim Palmer, the designer and builder of EggCampers told us not to use sway control with our new trailer, and sway has never been an issue. Our new truck has built-in sway control, but I don't know how that compares with the use of anti-sway bars.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:33 PM   #7
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I had one moment of sway with my 13' and that was too much weight in the far back, and too tall a ball mount.

If your not over weight, have a good hitch set up, and have a well packed load I think you'll be fine. In my not so extensive experience.

I'd love a tongue scale, but they are 10 times what bathroom scales cost!
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:13 AM   #8
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I agree with Bob. If you distribute items in the trailer such that you have about 10% of the loaded weight on the tongue then sway shouldn't a problem. We've never had an issue with sway in our EggCamper. Jim Palmer also told us not to use a weight distribution hitch, and I don't.

In my previous vehicles (2002 Sienna and 2010 4Runner), the tongue weight (approx. 220#) wasn't an issue. But, when I got our 2011 Sienna, the ground clearance was much lower, even lower than the old 2002, and I had to add air lifts in the minivan's rear springs. They leveled it right out.
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:07 AM   #9
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with small trailers sway bars and leveling systems can be over kill. you can usually make it ride fine by moving weight around, i tow with a jeep liberty, almost the same as an escape, with two bikes on the rear of the tailer o noticed i was light on my tongue,, strapped a five gallon drinking water can to the battery box and it straightened right up. normaly just sitting it on the floor by the couch does it,, but the bikes and carrier added extra in the rear.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:54 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Some swear by anti-sway bars, but I think they mask a problem that needs to be corrected and an anti-sway bar is a false sense of security. Others will say differently.
Not me I suspect the majority who tow 16' and under trailers would agree with you Byron. If a trailer is correctly stowed and it matches weight & tow spec wise to the tow vehicle there shouldn't be a need for an anti-sway bar. Just did a rally with over 50 trailers and I do not believe any of them had anti-sway bars on trailers 16' or under.
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Old 06-28-2012, 02:09 PM   #11
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I wondered if there was a hitch load limit for the Escape since my Flex has a 200 pound limit before calling for weight distribution. I didn't see any such limit for the Escape.

However your Escape probably comes with a mini-spare tire (as does my Flex) and Ford does not recommend you tow with the minispare installed. This came up for me as I recently blew out a tire on a camping trip. Not while towing, thankfully.

I'll let the usual suspects tell you that it's all an OEM conspiracy...
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