Towing, Hitching and Tow Vehicles Discussions about tow vehicles, tow systems, hitching, leveling, jacks and more.
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Old 07-22-2017, 06:55 PM   #1
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Default Fun at the Cat Scale

I read on the internet too much. It seems like most rvers feel you can't tow much with a 1/2 ton truck because of the tongue weight and the small payload numbers. Well I told my wife I think we either need to get a different camper or a bigger truck. So I took my Little Tundra and my big 24 foot Hi-Lo FunChaser to the Cat Scales. I needed to go across the scales 3 times. First time with distribution bars hooked up, then with them unhooked and the last time just the truck. I was suprised. The trailer had a full load of water and propane, the only thing missing is clothes and food. The truck had a full load of fuel and the wife and I. Total weight of the camper including tongue weight is 5040 lbs. 780lbs is the tongue weight which is an incredible 18.5% with the only way to lower is to change to 20lb lp tanks and not to carry water even though water only drops 90lb from the tongue weight. With the WD hooked up the front axle rate was 2980lbs and I'm allowed 3500lbs and truck only was 3060lbs so I'm 80 lbs lighter on the truck with the WD hooked up. Not Bad. The rear axle rating is 3650 lbs. With WD I'm at 3080lbs and truck only is 2460lbs so I'm 570lbs under on the rear. Now we come to payload, truck sticker say 1309 lbs. With the WD hooked up the total weight of my truck is 6060 and my gross vehicle rating is 6300 which includes payload so subtracting one from the other I have 240lb payload left. Not a lot but better than none. The last weight is Gross Combined Weight Rating which is for the truck and trailer combo which is 11800lbs and we are at 10560lbs. So this made my wife happy that we can keep the camper and me happy as I can keep my 2006 Tundra.
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Old 07-23-2017, 12:46 AM   #2
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Gary, the only thing that bothers me in your post is that you are REMOVING axle loading on the front axle with your WDH. That's not a good idea. Your steering is from the front wheels and most of your braking is from the front disks too. Removing weight from the front end reduces traction and braking effectiveness. A minor consideration is that your headlights are pointed up a bit. AND, with weight off the front end, your alignment is probably off when towing.

So, you've ADDED 620# to the rear axle and subtracted 80# from the front axle. I highly recommend you shorten your chains (or what ever you have on your WDH) to transfer at least 300# to the front axle. If you carry cargo in the bed of your truck, transfer more.

Doing this will increase the amount of cargo you could load in the bed of your truck and will restore your steering handling, braking, front end alignment and headlight aim.

Ideally, the WDH should distribute the tongue weight evenly over both truck axles.

But, your truck is clearly not overloaded. Mine is MUCH heavier with its 4WD, bed cap, SuperCrew cab design and so on. I don't think I'd be able to tow your trailer without exceeding the axle limits on mine.

P.S. That's a VERY low mileage Tundra! DO you mean 26K miles or 260K? I've got 27K on my 2014 truck!

- Jack
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Old 07-23-2017, 07:28 AM   #3
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Jack, I thought for sure I would have to sell the camper, never thought it would scale out like it did. Before I went to the scale I did the old method of measuring the height of the fenders and it was real close, within an 1/8". Eyeing it over, the truck and camper are level with the ground as far as I can tell. I really should get a new WD hitch because mine is a no name and I have no idea what weight the bars are. Too many rv'ers including myself are guessing their weights and as I found out that doesn't work. If I hadn't weighed the truck and camper the camper was going to go.
The Tundra actually has just under 28000 on it now. The first 10 years of its life it mostly sat because I had a 90 toyota 4x4 I drove to work. Having retired in January we got rid of 2 of the 5 vehicles we had and now the Tundra will get used more, so the miles will start piling up.
One last thing if anybody is reading this, don't be like me, take it to a scale, and find out for sure what your weights are, it will take a load off your mind. Scaling costs at a cat scale is first weigh $11 and a reweigh is $2 and if you use a smart phone there is an app for that
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Old 07-23-2017, 09:09 AM   #4
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Gary, you've clearly got a true Garage Queen there in your Tundra. I hardly drive my truck except to tow the trailer and haul things from Home Depot or to the Landfill and I still put about 5000 miles per year on it.

One small correction to your tongue weight math: 15% of 5040 is 756. You're only 24# over that, so you're just barely over 15%.

But, you're still carrying most of the additional trailer weight on the rear axle, so I'd make the WDH do what it was designed to do.

I think it's interesting that if you add your two axle weight limits, you get 3500 + 3650 = 7150# Yet, your truck's GVWR is only 6300#. For some reason, Toyota wants to keep you 850# below your axle limits! My Ford does the same, but the difference is much smaller.

I don't pretend to understand why these differences should exist, but they do.

- Jack
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Old 07-23-2017, 12:32 PM   #5
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Jack, I agree can't figure out how the Ford, GM, RAM come up with their numbers. I think it's one upmanship.
This is how I came up with 18.5% tongue weight, maybe I did it wrong . I took the total weight of the camper 5040lbs subtracted the tongue weight of 780lbs which left me with 4260lbs multiplied that by 18.5% and came up with 788lbs tongue weight.
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Old 07-23-2017, 01:12 PM   #6
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No, you want to know what percentage of 5040 the 780 is. So, you divide 780 by 5040 and multiply that result by 100, giving 15.5% (rounded off). This makes sense if your fresh water tanks were full and you have larger 30# propane tanks. If you lose 90 + 20 = 110# with an empty fresh water tank and 2-20# propane tanks, your tongue weight percentage would be about 670/4930 x 100 = 13.6%.

My trailer's fresh water tank and hot water heater (36 gals) is right at the front of the trailer. So if they are full, it adds about 200# to the tongue weight. (Water is 8.345# per gal.) Your tank must be further back? Ideally, so that tank weight would not change the tongue weight, it should be over the trailer axle(s).

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Old 07-23-2017, 02:26 PM   #7
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Jack, my fresh water tank is all the way at the front too. I used a bathroom scale and boards to weigh and with the tank full I had 750lb and when I emptied it I had 660lb even though the 30 gallons of water weigh 250lb. I thought the weight without water would have dropped more the 90lbs but it didn't.

Ok, I see now on the tongue weight is a percentage of the total weight of the camper even so that's a lot of tongue weight. I'd like to see 12% that would give me a little more payload and every pound counts.
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Old 07-23-2017, 03:07 PM   #8
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Gary, I tried the bathroom scale trick too, and built the lever part VERY carefully. It gave me a tongue weight that was about 100# too high as I recall. Not believing it, I spent money and bought a Sherline trailer tongue weight scale: https://www.amazon.com/Sherline-LM-1.../dp/B007REJTGI I paid less than this price as I recall, but was happy to find out the TRUE tongue weight.

I needed that because I wanted to move the axle forward, and had to have precise figures so I could tell how much I could move it forward. Then, I wanted to get the exact weight again afterwards.

You COULD determine the weight by connecting the trailer to your TV hitch WITHOUT using the WD load shifting bars, and then measuring the trailer axle weight on the third CAT scale. Then, you subtract that weight from the TOTAL trailer weight and you have the tongue weight. You need to keep the WD bars out of the system here, because they not only shift tongue load forward on your TV, but they also add to the loading on your trailer axles. (To lift the rear of your TV, the weight is distributed to both the front axle and the trailer axles. Think of what would happen if you could actually lift the rear axle of the TV OFF the ground to visualize why this is true.)

I suspect your fresh and hot water tanks add close to 200# to the tongue weight, like mine does.

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Old 07-23-2017, 03:11 PM   #9
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Jack- Just my two cents worth- I'm not sure you can get the percentage of the tongue weight down to 12% by messing with the WDH and still maintain decent "tow-ability". As jack can attest, they just set the axles too far back on the hi-los , I think, to get into a more favorable percentage on the tongue. I remember reading on one of the other rv forums that the contest for "low tongue" weight among trailer mfgs was resulting in placing the axles at a point where sway and porpoising was an issue with many of the newer trailers. I'm running about the same tongue weight, maybe a bit more, as you are with my 21 footer. I agree with Jack that you want the front end back to where it is before you hitch a trailer to it and load the bed. After that, I wouldn't concern myself with the actual percentage. I have obsessed over this myself up to the point that a few years ago I weighed everything, chairs, food box, 12 packs, EVERYTHING,- that i put into the bed with a hanging meat scale ( its interesting to see how that stuff adds up). I finally got to the point where if i was with-in specs most of the time I decided to quit worrying about it. I wouldn't sell that Tundra, either, and I thing their "curb weight" for those years was a lot less than,say, the F150 Lariat I had of the same vintage. I replaced that vehicle because of payload, but mostly because of lack of power. If you are happy with Tundra I guess I would try and make it work by paying more attention to what I was hauling. I almost never haul with the water tank filled unless I forget to empty them when I leave a campsite.

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Old 07-23-2017, 03:53 PM   #10
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Quit "educating me about the different weights and allowances! You make me nervous!

For Years now, I've been Loading my 2176B to the Hilt just making sure the Top would clear when down. And, with my old Load Leveler Hitch, making the TV & Hi-Lo as Level as I could with the Chain Links [the 2100TFB has the newer heavier style with the Bars where you adjust the Brackets on the Hitch Frame, which I may have to adjust a bit more yet.]

Checking the Chevrolet Allowances recently, I "think" I've always been within the limits, but now, probably over? But I've always loaded up with Firewood (over the axles), and had the Fresh Water Tank Full of Farm Well Water along with another 22 Gallons in the Rear Bath Tub with all the Chairs filling up the Bathroom area. As well as at least 4 Full Coolers, wood blocking for other campers (to Level them out for additional "level Tent spaces, etc. Perhaps why they call me Campaw {formerly just Camp Dad}), barbecue, tables, Poles, extra sleeping bags, etc.

This year, I'm going to go weigh at my neighbor's and at least find out close to what I've been doing for so many years. Last year is the 1st time I ever had a Flat trailer tire, and it was just worn out.
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