Joe in Canada

trailer weight question

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A went to a 3 day vintage touring event up here and had my Wells Cargo car hauler there. A fellow was looking at it and asked me if the tongue weight was heavy seeing it is 56 in. long tongue. I was thinking it would be lighter when thinking of leverage. If you position the car with the motor in front of the axle for proper balance  you should not need sway bars as I never use them and I do not use load levelers on the hitch. I have 10,400 lb. cap. torsion suspension that is an overkill. But after bending an axle  with 7500 lb. cap. of my open trailer a few years ago on 81 in PA coming home from the Vintage Tour I go heavier now. Do the heavier capacity trailers have a longer tongue to help balance and is it a heavier tongue weight because of the longer length?

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It appears you are using the “by guess & by golly” weight distribution methiod.  When you buy a travel trailer, it is built with a tongue weight equal 10 to 15% of the trailer.  When the hitch weight gets heavier, you need equalizer bars to distribute the tongue weight to the front wheels & back to the trailer wheels.  

 

When the tongue weight is too little, the trailer can sway sideways back & forth till you slow down or flip over.

 

(1) load your trailer & weight it without the tow vehicle attached.

(2) Next weigh the tow vehicle without the loaded trailer.

(3) Attach the trailer to your tow vehicle & move the only the tow vehicle wheels on the scale.

(4) Subtract the tow vehicle (2) weight from the tow vehicle attached to trailer (3) giving the tongue weight.

(5) Divide the tongue weight (4) by the trailer weight (1) giving percentage of hitch weight.  This should be in the 10 to 15% range.

(6) Move the car forward or back to attain 10 to 15% tongue weight.

 

The tow vehicle & trailer should be even height front to back.  If it sags at the ball, you are a candidate for equalizer bars.  With the bars, you can load the car closer to the front with a 15 to 20% tongue weight.

 

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2 hours ago, Joe in Canada said:

I was thinking it would be lighter when thinking of leverage.

 

I think you are right.

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A longer tongue allows better control when backing.

 

With more steel, a longer tongue will add weight to the tongue at the ball.

 

The tongue weight calculation is to use the distance from the ball to the axel & the percentage of distance the weight is from the front.  we need the cargo area length & the tongue length for both trailers.  We will also need the distance the axle is from the ball.

Edited by huptoy (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, Joe in Canada said:

  you should not need sway bars as I never use them 

 

Why would you think that you don't need a sway control bar? A sway control is the best $65 you can spend if you plan on towing any distance at highway speeds on the interstates. 

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I have an open and an enclosed trailers for the past 35 years. My 2500 GMC tow vehicle that I has 130,000 miles on has never had a sway bar on it. I have hauled from above Lake Ontario as far as Texas, Arizona and New Mexico more than 30 times over the years.   Have hauled my 30 Cadillac to different events on the eastern seaboard. Going to Mississippi in Nov. for the AACA Sentimental tour hauling an open trailer down there. Will take four days driving there and back and will not have a sway bar on. I hauled to the Glidden tour to New Hampshire 2 years ago where they have serious hills and no sway bar . If you are not sure of how you load your trailer by all means put one on.  You may need if your tongue weight is light and your trailer is trying to pass you when going down hill. An old picture coming home from Texas and notice the hitch.

  That is a nice scale that could come in handy.

2007-05-08 2013-03-17 001 008.jpg

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2 hours ago, Joe in Canada said:

That is a nice scale that could come in handy.

You know I used to only use high speed steel cutters on my machines one of my friends told  me use carbide but I said high speed steel works grate .one day I used some carbide end mills and wow but rely expensive 150. each high speed 35. but now  no going back . So now when one of my buddy's suggest something that's new I am more likely to try it and if it don't work  so well I would skip it but thin I would know for sure . I had never thought about it but now I am going to try a equalizer bar .

 

6 hours ago, huptoy said:

equalizer bars.

  

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15 hours ago, Joe in Canada said:

But with a longer tongue does it increase the tongue weight is my question. You see trailers with different tongue lengths.

 

Joe,

The longer tongue is also call a "Motorhome Tongue" or truck tongue.   When towing a trailer with a wide tow vehicle like a Motor-home or truck with a wide body, you need the extra tongue length when backing to avoid the dreaded "jackknife"    (Learned from experience)    I don't think it changes the tongue weight unless it might lessen it with the vehicle on the same spot on both trailers, because the fulcrum point changes.

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3 hours ago, Paul Dobbin said:

 

Joe,

The longer tongue is also call a "Motorhome Tongue" or truck tongue.   When towing a trailer with a wide tow vehicle like a Motor-home or truck with a wide body, you need the extra tongue length when backing to avoid the dreaded "jackknife"    (Learned from experience)    I don't think it changes the tongue weight unless it might lessen it with the vehicle on the same spot on both trailers, because the fulcrum point changes.

Thanks Paul for the input on the wider tow vehicle. I learned something but still unsure of the tongue weight.

Edited by Joe in Canada (see edit history)

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Hauling collectibles for more than 55 years - open and closed - in all parts of the US, Canada, and Mexico-

Once I tried my first Equalizer Hitch, I learned what I'd been missing.

The safety,

The smooth ride without Up-and-Down Bounce,

The 30 ft wheelbase,

The relative Peace of Mind

Easy addition of an Anti-Sway Bar (although I personally rarely use mine). I load with 20% weight forward of trailer axle centers and have essentially no sway, and could even do quick maneuvers when necessary, and the trailer just follows.

 

The hitch functions properly as a Horizontal Pivot, but does not have to be a constant Vertical Fulcrum / Hinge.

 

An additional benefit is that proper load is maintained on the tow vehicle's front axle so the steering does not become extremely light or vague, as can be the case with excess tongue weight.

Edited by Marty Roth
typo (One = Once) (see edit history)

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For around town towing the trailer & stuff, I do not use the equalizer hitch, but every time I go out of town, I always use it.  Makes the towing a much easier and enjoyable.  Handles a lot better. 

 

Agree with Marty.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)

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For Marty & Larry,  The Equalizer hitch is even more effective to improve towing than the Anti sway bar, especially when the tow vehicle is a light weight.  But tongue weight or lack there of

is what gets people in trouble.  To much makes steering unstable, not enough lets the trailer push the towing vehicle around.

Towing 57 Cadillac on a trailer with a F-150 years ago, it turned the towing vehicle and the towed trailer 180 degrees.  Fortunately we hit nothing but grass.  (To much tongue weight)

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A longer tongue:

 

Reduces the chance of the trailer hitting the tow vehicle on tight turns

Can provide space for storage box

 

A weight distribution style hitch should always be used to equalize & distribute the load

 

 

Jim

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22 hours ago, Paul Dobbin said:

For Marty & Larry,  The Equalizer hitch is even more effective to improve towing than the Anti sway bar, especially when the tow vehicle is a light weight.  But tongue weight or lack there of

is what gets people in trouble.  To much makes steering unstable, not enough lets the trailer push the towing vehicle around.

Towing 57 Cadillac on a trailer with a F-150 years ago, it turned the towing vehicle and the towed trailer 180 degrees.  Fortunately we hit nothing but grass.  (To much tongue weight)

 

AGREED !

 

I always use the Equalizer, and the Anti-Sway is a positive addition, but I only use it in conjunction with the Equalizer

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 I set up a F350 with a heavy trailer using a load leveling hitch.

 I ended up with both the trailer and truck level, and the truck down 1" evenly on both ends.

 This made for much better steering.

 

 I still remember the ad for load leveler using an Olds Toronado driving with the rear wheels removed. Now, that's weight transfer!

Edited by Roger Walling (see edit history)
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On 6/15/2018 at 1:08 PM, Roger Walling said:

 I set up a F350 with a heavy trailer using a load leveling hitch.

 I ended up with both the trailer and truck level, and the truck down 1" evenly on both ends.

 This made for much better steering.

 

 I still remember the ad for load leveler using an Olds Toronado driving with the rear wheels removed. Now, that's weight transfer!

 

I did the same thing with our 1967 Citroen DS-21 and my father-in-law's 22ft boat on a dual axle trailer - took off the rear wheels of the FWD Citroen and drove 120 miles from Grand Isle to New Orleans - and saw some very surprised people along bayou LaFourche and US-90.

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On 6/15/2018 at 1:08 PM, Roger Walling said:

 I set up a F350 with a heavy trailer using a load leveling hitch.

 I ended up with both the trailer and truck level, and the truck down 1" evenly on both ends.

 This made for much better steering.

 

 I still remember the ad for load leveler using an Olds Toronado driving with the rear wheels removed. Now, that's weight transfer!

 

I did the same thing with our 1967 Citroen DS-21 and my father-in-law's 22ft boat on a dual axle trailer - took off the rear wheels of the FWD Citroen and drove 120 miles from Grand Isle to New Orleans - and saw some very surprised people along bayou LaFourche and US-90.

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When it comes to towing SAFELY, proper equipment is key like others here have mentioned.

I use a Reese Straight Line Hitch with Dual Cam sway control. That along with proper loading of the various vehicles I tow makes for a level trailer,  well distributed load and no sway from cross winds or passing tractor trailers.

 

Since no one else has mentioned in in this thread.... One should also read the owners manual for one's tow vehicle. Depending on the tow vehicle, some of them now REQUIRE a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH) when the trailer/tongue weight is over a certain weight. It seems some factory installed hitches have a limited "weight carrying" capacity (i some cases 5,000 lbs) when one does not use a WDH. Failing to use a weight distributing hitch can have costly consequences in all sorts of ways.

 

It is good to know that many AACA members place a high priority on towing Safely as evidenced from posts in this thread and numerous conversations I have had with other AACA members at meets and the Annual Meetings over the years.

 

However, from what I saw at the recent AGNM in Greensburg, there is still room for improvement when it comes to proper equipment and properly using that equipment in order to tow Safely. I won't go into details or post any photos here but let's just say I saw some tow vehicles squatting at the hitch ball under WAY TOO MUCH WEIGHT (ie no WDH and a load that either was not balanced or could not be balanced) which without a doubt compromised the tow vehicle's handling and the safety of it's occupants. Could moving the car on the trailer have helped to correct the overloaded hitch in some cases? Probably. Would a WDH setup helped in some cases, Definitely. In one particular case moving the car on the trailer was not possible given the size of the car and the trailer. Given the construction of the tow vehicle towing that trailer a WDH probably could not have even been used.  Still not a safe way to tow.  What I saw in the host hotel parking lot is all the more reason for AACA to continue to have Trailering seminars at the Annual Meeting. If somehow trailer seminars could be held at National Meets that would be even better although that would not be an easy task. A seminar in the trailer parking area at meets, with real world examples of trailer dos and don'ts would be very informative especially to those new to towing.

 

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51 minutes ago, charlier said:

When it comes to towing SAFELY, proper equipment is key like others here have mentioned.

I use a Reese Straight Line Hitch with Dual Cam sway control. That along with proper loading of the various vehicles I tow makes for a level trailer,  well distributed load and no sway from cross winds or passing tractor trailers.

 

Since no one else has mentioned in in this thread.... One should also read the owners manual for one's tow vehicle. Depending on the tow vehicle, some of them now REQUIRE a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH) when the trailer/tongue weight is over a certain weight. It seems some factory installed hitches have a limited "weight carrying" capacity (i some cases 5,000 lbs) when one does not use a WDH. Failing to use a weight distributing hitch can have costly consequences in all sorts of ways.

 

It is good to know that many AACA members place a high priority on towing Safely as evidenced from posts in this thread and numerous conversations I have had with other AACA members at meets and the Annual Meetings over the years.

 

However, from what I saw at the recent AGNM in Greensburg, there is still room for improvement when it comes to proper equipment and properly using that equipment in order to tow Safely. I won't go into details or post any photos here but let's just say I saw some tow vehicles squatting at the hitch ball under WAY TOO MUCH WEIGHT (ie no WDH and a load that either was not balanced or could not be balanced) which without a doubt compromised the tow vehicle's handling and the safety of it's occupants. Could moving the car on the trailer have helped to correct the overloaded hitch in some cases? Probably. Would a WDH setup helped in some cases, Definitely. In one particular case moving the car on the trailer was not possible given the size of the car and the trailer. Given the construction of the tow vehicle towing that trailer a WDH probably could not have even been used.  Still not a safe way to tow.  What I saw in the host hotel parking lot is all the more reason for AACA to continue to have Trailering seminars at the Annual Meeting. If somehow trailer seminars could be held at National Meets that would be even better although that would not be an easy task. A seminar in the trailer parking area at meets, with real world examples of trailer dos and don'ts would be very informative especially to those new to towing.

 

 

Charlie, you offer a very positive thought with regard for greater safety when towing, as well as the suggestion for a TRAILERING SEMINAR AT MEETS .

Unfortunately, those who should take advantage of such an offer are likely the very ones who will ignore it and go blissfully on their way. One can only hope that neither they, nor others are ultimately harmed by their areas of lack.

 

My Dad used to say that some folks, unaware of potential concerns, were "Just Sitting There - Fat,  Dumb, and Happy", and unprepared for crisis. Defensive Driving, both on the road, as well as in pilot training come to mind.

 

Thank you again , Charlie, for your post and your thoughts with regard to the possible offering of a seminar at meets.

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28 minutes ago, Marty Roth said:

 

Charlie, you offer a very positive thought with regard for greater safety when towing, as well as the suggestion for a TRAILERING SEMINAR AT MEETS .

Unfortunately, those who should take advantage of such an offer are likely the very ones who will ignore it and go blissfully on their way. One can only hope that neither they, nor others are ultimately harmed by their areas of lack.

 

My Dad used to say that some folks, unaware of potential concerns, were "Just Sitting There - Fat,  Dumb, and Happy", and unprepared for crisis. Defensive Driving, both on the road, as well as in pilot training come to mind.

 

Thank you again , Charlie, for your post and your thoughts with regard to the possible offering of a seminar at meets.

 

Marty,  You hit the nail squarely on the head when it comes to those who could benefit most from information about safe trailering presented in a easy to understand, thoughtful way at an AACA Meet. Logistically speaking doing such a seminar would be a challenge as would getting people to attend. Sadly I see so many people on the roads today that fall into the group you mentioned and it is downright scary. Even more so when they create a dangerous situation that someone towing has to deal with in order to avoid/prevent an accident. 

 

On a brighter note, the trailer seminar at the 2018 Annual Meeting was GREAT. The way the presenter covered trailering basics and let the audience ask questions and share ideas really added to the educational experience. It may not be possible or practical to hold this seminar each year at the annual meeting but hopefully it can be held periodically for the benefit of both new and experienced people who tow a trailer.

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