Weight Distribution - Fiberglass RV

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Old 08-06-2007, 05:36 PM   #1
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Trailer: Trails West Campster
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(I had originally posted this under the Chat section, but thought it might more appropriately go here.)

Hi Pete

Thank you for your post. I was just looking for information regarding bike racks and came across this discussion. I was going to put a hitch on the back of my trails west for 3 mountain bikes, but am reconsidering after reading your comments. We have 3 kayaks and 3 bikes we like to take with us when we hit the road. The kayaks go on the roof of my subaru.

Presently we can fit two bikes inside the trailer. I took a yakima bike rack bar and ran it between the two benches. I can remove the bar when we aren't using the racks. The forks lock into the rack and the weight of the bikes is essentially over the axle. It is a hassle getting the bikes in and out of the trailer. Also, now that I repainted, etc., I am more picky about dragging the bikes in there. Even with that arrangment, we are one bike short.

So, I was considering getting a hitch on the back and putting the bikes back there. We could remove the rack when we reach our destination, as the Trails West campster has the door to the rear. But, we trailer primarily on curvy mountain roads as we live in Yosemite and are going from one side to the other of the park, i.e, Mammoth and back to Yosemite. Causing this trailer to sway would not be a good thing, as I don't have a sway bar.

I looked at the option of the rack on the hitch receiver (a sleeve essentially that fits over the 2 inch reciever, but it says you need at least 10 inches of reciever, which reduces tongue weight by 50%. My subaru rack says maximum tongue weight is 200 lbs as it is. So that option is out.

My question to you would be, how do I figure out what my tongue weight should be for my particular trailer. I know the hitch can handle 200 lbs, but how do I figure out what is should be for my trialer?

Also, I would like to raise my trailer because I can't really go over any dips without bottoming out. If I turn down a few forest service roads, even very slowly, I sometimes hit the bottom of the bolts on the axle. Do you know if I could turn those horseshoe looking springs upside down and put the trailer higher. If I had someone do that for me, does that cause any sway/other problems I should know about.

Thanks for letting me pick your (and anyone else's who would chime in) brain on this topic. You seem to have given the weight distribution some thought.


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Old 08-06-2007, 07:56 PM   #2
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The way to determine tongue weight is to actually weigh the loaded trailer on a commercial scale and then take 10-12% of that number as the tongue weight.

Understand that what's printed on the hitch and what your owner's manual says may be different; like a chain with different links, the weakest (lowest) number will be the one that applies.

Presuming your trailer has a leaf spring axle, it should be possible to do what's called a 'spring-over' (aka under-slung aka axle "flip"'), where you undo the fasteners and remove the axle from over the springs to under the springs. You will raise the trailer frame and body by roughly the thickness of the axle plus the spacer, but the axle will still have the same road clearance.

Dexter sells kits to do this; you have to be sure the axle can't rotate in the new position (might take a custom spacer or bracket welded up) and be SURE the axle in the new position can travel no further than it did in the old position (install frame bumpers) or you risk breaking springs (Been there, did that twice before it dawned on me what was happening). Use new U-bolts, nuts, etc., because some are the thread-locking kind and removing them strips a lot of the threads.

In addition to the lift from the spring-over, you may be able to put on larger wheels/tires which can raise everything by one-half the diameter difference between the old and new tires.

For the record, when you used the term 'sway bar' I think you meant 'anti-sway control'. A sway bar is a suspension component that goes under the tow vehicle or trailer whereas an anti-sway control goes between the TV and trailer.
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weighing, weight

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