Trillium outback tongue weight - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-17-2020, 03:25 PM   #1
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Trillium outback tongue weight

I’m writing at the suggestion of a fellow member who noticed my perplexity elsewhere. Our trillium outback weighs 909 kg unloaded - a number we confirmed at a commercial truck scale. When we measured the tongue weight ( in reaction to an alarming sag in the tv rear) we got a figure of 340 pounds! I had jacked up the trailer at the tongue and lowered the jack foot onto a board to distribute the weight across a bathroom scale. Our driveway slopes very slightly so that the trailer is pointed down ward. There are two standard deep cycle batteries, and the frame accommodates two 20 pound propane tanks. The odd thing is that removing the tanks, and even the batteries had no significant effect on the reading on the scale. We are in the market for a new tv, and our choices are being dictated by the tongue weight issue. Really appreciate any suggestions, advice or insights,
Iain
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Old 04-17-2020, 03:42 PM   #2
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Take it back to a commercial scale. Get an axle weight, all three axles. Then disconnect and get a weight of just your TV, with trailer parked elsewhere in their lot. The difference in your truck weight with and without trailer is your tongue weight. Then ADD that tongue weight to your trailer axle weight and you have your trailers weight. I bet what you think is trailer weight is just the weight of the axle. Pull the propane tank and battery and reweigh everything the same way.

If what you call your trailers weight is actually just the trailers axle weight, then your tongue weight is not that far off. 10 to 15% is the norm.

Making decisions based on a “Kentucky windage” tongue weight when you can easily get an accurate tongue weight is a bad ideas IMHO.
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Old 04-17-2020, 03:52 PM   #3
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Your description of what’s on the tongue does explain some of the difference. One battery and one LP tank is more common on no-bath 13’ers you have twice the LP weight and twice the battery weight (almost three times if they’re 6V GC2 batteries). That accounts for 80-120# more than what I carry on my tongue, depending on battery type.

If you need and want all that power and fuel, then look for a tow vehicle with a 350# tongue weight rating, or consider reducing your tongue load by eliminating and/or moving some of it.
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Old 04-17-2020, 04:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Your description of what’s on the tongue does explain some of the difference. One battery and one LP tank is more common on no-bath 13’ers you have twice the LP weight and twice the battery weight (almost three times if they’re 6V GC2 batteries). That accounts for 80-120# more than what I carry on my tongue, depending on battery type.

If you need and want all that power and fuel, then look for a tow vehicle with a 350# tongue weight rating, or consider reducing your tongue load by eliminating and/or moving some of it.


Thanks for the tip Jon. I know that the two tanks is overkill and last summers trips involved only one tank - quite enough, even with running the furnace. What would you suggest as a replacement
for the two six volt batteries? We have a solar setup, so charge life is not an issue...
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Old 04-17-2020, 04:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
Take it back to a commercial scale. Get an axle weight, all three axles. Then disconnect and get a weight of just your TV, with trailer parked elsewhere in their lot. The difference in your truck weight with and without trailer is your tongue weight. Then ADD that tongue weight to your trailer axle weight and you have your trailers weight. I bet what you think is trailer weight is just the weight of the axle. Pull the propane tank and battery and reweigh everything the same way.

If what you call your trailers weight is actually just the trailers axle weight, then your tongue weight is not that far off. 10 to 15% is the norm.

Making decisions based on a “Kentucky windage” tongue weight when you can easily get an accurate tongue weight is a bad ideas IMHO.


So, just to confirm, I weigh tv and trailer as a single unit, then weigh the tv on its own, with the difference in the two being the trailer weight. But I’m not clear about how I derive the tongue weight from that procedure,
Iain
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Old 04-17-2020, 04:41 PM   #6
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Many commercial scales (truck stops) will give you axle weights. So when I pulled in with my truck and trailer, I got three weights: truck steer axle, truck rear axle and trailer axle. I then dropped my trailer off in their lot and immediately got back on the scale and got a truck steer axle and a truck rear axle weight. The difference in the weight of my truck was my tongue weight. I added that to the trailer axle weight.

In my case my truck got ~ 200 pounds lighter.

Now if you have a weight distributing hitch, it’s more complicated.
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:41 AM   #7
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Agree, start with an accurate tongue weight in your current configuration. You said removing the LP and batteries did not make much difference, which suggests measurement error.

At 909 kg, or about 2000 pounds, your target tongue weight should be 200-240# (10-12%), or about 90-110 kg. That's still somewhat high for an Outback, with a 200# rating.

If you're still high after getting confirmed weights, you can consider options. What do you use propane and battery power for? You've got a lot of both for a small trailer. A full 20# LP tank weighs about 35#, and each 6V GC2 battery weighs about 60-65#. Do you have a 3-way absorption fridge or a 12V compressor fridge?

But since it sounds like you are considering a new tow vehicle anyway, there are lots of good choices with ratings in the 3500/350# range, which would give you very comfortable margins all around. That includes the new 2020 Outback with the turbo engine from the Ascent.
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Old 04-18-2020, 08:46 AM   #8
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When the weather is good, propane use is negligible - no furnace, cooking outside - and solar seems to keep the 12 volt fridge topped up. So I could definitely shed a lot of excess weight there. Thanks for the tips guys. I’d still like to find a method that produces an accurate tongue weight while the trailer is at home though...
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Old 04-18-2020, 09:04 AM   #9
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Sherline scale costs money, but it is accurate. If you get one, make sure you order the 1,000 lb. gauge, not the 2,000 lb. If a 500 lb. gauge is available, it would be even easier to read for the weight you are measuring.
https://www.sherline.com/product/she...-weight-scale/
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Old 04-18-2020, 09:28 AM   #10
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Agree. If you're going to try to shed weight and keep the Outback, the Sherline would be a worthy investment. Always weigh the tongue on a level surface.

With a 12V fridge, I'd sure hate to shed the 2@6v battery set-up, though. It could save your food if you encounter a few days without sun. That's about $300 worth of batteries you've got, and with good maintenance, they'll last a lot longer than a single 12V. Of course, when replacement is called for, that would be the time to consider whether you really need that much battery.

Downsizing to a single LP tank seems like a first step. Since you don't have a propane fridge, I wonder why it was built with two, unless someone was planning winter camping with heavy furnace use.
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Old 04-18-2020, 01:47 PM   #11
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Just to clarify, is Outback the trailer or the tow vehicle? I don't understand why you can't get an accurate tongue weight with your bathroom scale. As fat as folks have gotten surely the scale is good for 300+lbs. You can also split the weight in half with the scale at one end of an equally distanced board.
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Old 04-18-2020, 02:32 PM   #12
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Trillium outback trailer is hauled by Subaru Outback. As regards weight conundrum, I guess s my next step is to confirm the scales I’m using are accurate...
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:07 PM   #13
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Why not just use a hanging crane scale on the tongue. One for hunting check amazon, Sporting goods stores, Home Depot. It should give you accurate downward weight. One that is rated up to about 660 lbs should work fine.
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:40 PM   #14
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Why not just use a hanging crane scale on the tongue.

You could probably hang it from the bucket of a front end loader.
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Old 04-25-2020, 10:52 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Agree. If you're going to try to shed weight and keep the Outback, the Sherline would be a worthy investment. Always weigh the tongue on a level surface.



With a 12V fridge, I'd sure hate to shed the 2@6v battery set-up, though. It could save your food if you encounter a few days without sun. That's about $300 worth of batteries you've got, and with good maintenance, they'll last a lot longer than a single 12V. Of course, when replacement is called for, that would be the time to consider whether you really need that much battery.



Downsizing to a single LP tank seems like a first step. Since you don't have a propane fridge, I wonder why it was built with two, unless someone was planning winter camping with heavy furnace use.


Since my last writing, I patiently lined up at Princess Auto (a Canadian Ali Baba’s cave stuffed with gizmos and gadgets) with my fellow tinkerers at six feet intervals. Purpose: buy an on-sale tongue weight scale, 20 bucks. You can imagine my delight when I lowered the tongue on to the scale and it stopped at 200! I was on my way into the house to relay the great news, when it occurred to me: 200 what? Of course, being sold in Canada, it measures both imperial and metric, with the latter being the figure I’d read. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
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Old 04-25-2020, 11:00 AM   #16
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Surely not 200 kg?! That's about 440#, more than most 17' Casitas, which are known for high tongue weight. You don't have the rear stabilizers lowered by chance? What do you get with batteries and propane tanks removed?
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Old 04-25-2020, 11:16 AM   #17
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Surely not 200 kg?! That's about 440#, more than most 17' Casitas, which are known for high tongue weight. You don't have the rear stabilizers lowered by chance? What do you get with batteries and propane tanks removed?


As it happens, they are lowered. It didn’t occur to me that they’d be a factor!
I was puzzled by the negligible difference in measurement when I removed propane tanks and batteries - and these things are heavyweights. Back to the driveway when the rain stops...
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Old 04-25-2020, 12:07 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dyquen View Post
As it happens, they are lowered. It didn’t occur to me that they’d be a factor!
I was puzzled by the negligible difference in measurement when I removed propane tanks and batteries - and these things are heavyweights. Back to the driveway when the rain stops...
Now we're getting somewhere! Rear stabilizers take weight off the wheels and transfer it to the stabilizers and the tongue. How much is anyone's guess. Crank 'em up and try again.
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Old 04-26-2020, 03:31 PM   #19
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Now we're getting somewhere! Rear stabilizers take weight off the wheels and transfer it to the stabilizers and the tongue. How much is anyone's guess. Crank 'em up and try again.


Well, that certainly made a difference! With just the batteries on the tongue, the weight is a hefty #308, and without, a shade under #220. We really need the 12 volt for the fridge, because we seldom camp at places with power. The next challenge is to find a combination of solar charge and light weight battery that will keep the fridge ticking over. And thanks for hanging with me on this one!
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Old 04-26-2020, 04:06 PM   #20
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Ooops, time for a new tow vehicle!
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