Reducing tongue weight

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by Steve in Denver, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. Steve in Denver

    Steve in Denver Member

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    Sep 1, 2018
    My 2016 Starcraft 1222 trailer has a dry weight of 1870 lbs and a hitch weight of 250. I have not yet weighed the trailer, but I was able to weigh the hitch weight and it was appx 300 lbs. The discrepancy between specified and actual hitch weight is likely due to the battery and propane tank.

    Since I haven't actually weighed the trailer, I will guesstimate that the current weight is about 2000 lbs, which makes the hitch weight about 15%. My understanding is that 10-15% is the range to shoot for, so I would be at the top end of the range. I would prefer to be closer to 10-12.5% to reduce the hitch weight on the tow vehicle.

    I will add some weight to the trailer with gear, water, etc., so I have to plan for that as well. I would say the lightest the trailer will ever tow is 2000 lbs, and the heaviest would be 2500.

    So a hitch weight of 250 would be 12.5% of 2000, and 10% of 2500.

    Ideas for reducing the hitch weight:
    1. Travel with the battery and / or propane tanks inside the camper, behind the axle. This would take some work up front and be a bit of a pain each time we set up and tear down, but it could represent a big reduction in hitch weight.

    2. Distribute my gear to the back of the trailer as much as possible. Unfortunately a lot of the storage is toward the front of the trailer, so I may not be able to put enough in the back to make a big difference - also the rear storage is mostly on the right side of the camper - not sure if left/right weight distribution is critical.

    3. Carry some ballast weight (dumbbells, weight lifting plates) at the back of the trailer.

    4. Small things. Put the front table on the back slide out while traveling, put the metal slide out braces toward the back, etc.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

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    If I were you, I would load up the camper as though you were heading out for a weekend, and go get it weighed. That way you'd know where you stand. Dry weight is kind of an imaginary number. There's no guidelines as to what it might include. For example, it may or may not include commonly ordered options (furnace, refrigerator, battery, propane, etc.) It almost never includes an air conditioner. If you start transferring weight based on guesses, you could make the handling worse.
     
  3. mattlreese

    mattlreese Member

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    I agree with @eloeson1. Plus the last thing you want to do is have tongue weight too low which is by far worse for handling.
     
  4. Shaman1

    Shaman1 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with eloeson1 and mattlreese. Load it for camping and pull it. You might find it's already "perfect" for you.
     
  5. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    For me to justify the added weight of a second battery, I replaced my propane tanks with the new fiberglass type. In the end, I think I added 5 lbs to the tongue.
     
  6. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the others. Start with your actual weights. Then you can move things around for the best handling. You may find that closer to 15% works better than closer to 10% for your combination and driving habits whereas someone else may find differently.

    I know when I had my Dakota, the weight I added behind the rear axle needed to be much greater than with my Durango to provide better traction, etc.
     
  7. Arruba

    Arruba Active Member

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    I'm curious, is your desire to reduce the hitch weight due to poor handling, hitch capacity of your tow rig, or simply that you just want it lighter, (closer to the 250 spec)? As suggested, load and weigh, then decide. The final weight distribution can have profound effect. For example my hitch weight gets a little lighter with a full tank of water than when empty.
     
  8. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    I keep a lot of gear on the roof and that relieved the minivan and brought a little tongue weight relief. Kept doing it with the Tahoe for more room inside the truckster.

    Talking all the Grills, chairs, folding table, fire pokers, outside type gear stuff. It's not light on the hitch, but she ain't heavy either. Just a thought if you are concerned. If you look, mine is bolted to wood rails, rubber strips under it and strapped down with more than anyone could ever require. Rack also sits behind the axle line, see the side view.

    DSC00861.JPG

    DSC00860.JPG
     
    Orchid likes this.
  9. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    Be careful shifting the weight to the back of the camper...

     
    WVhillbilly and Fred1diver like this.
  10. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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    Be aware that any weight in your vehicle behind the rear axle is also tongue weight as far as your tow vehicle is concerned. They may call it cargo weight but then you could call tongue weight cargo weight.
     
  11. Shaman1

    Shaman1 Well-Known Member

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    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    Tombiasi that's not quite right. It certainly represents the towing weight regardless of how the trailer is loaded. The tongue weight represents the downward force on the tow vehicle at the hitch. That's why the tow weight maybe 3000 pounds and the tongue weight only 200 to 400 pounds.
     
  12. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    The tongue weight and any weight behind the rear axle do the same thing - they put weight on the back of the vehicle.
     
  13. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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    Nobody said anything about towing weight. We were speaking about tongue weight. I stand by my statement.
     
  14. Steve in Denver

    Steve in Denver Member

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    Sep 1, 2018
    I appreciate the replies, all. The desire to reduce the tongue weight is because it is already about as high as I would like....and possibly greater than 15% of the trailer weight, depending of course on how much the trailer actually weighs.

    If i add more weight to the trailer, I don't want to increase the tongue weight further, hence I'm trying to figure out how to reduce it.

    My TV is a sienna minivan...as I understand it there is no specified maximum tongue weight. My hitch is good for 525 lbs (I think)...but the Siena rides low, and the weight cusee the rear to squat...

    I just installed some air springs, so that should help, but I still would prefer to have a lower (but still safe,) tongue weight.
     
  15. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    Actually there is a maximum tongue weight. It is your payload (GVWR - curb weight) - passenger and cargo weight in the vehicle (do not count the trailer or cargo in the trailer). What is left is the maximum weight for your tongue weight (including hitch, WD, etc).
     
  16. Dingit

    Dingit Active Member

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    Do you need 2 propane tanks? My popup has 2. My truck camper has 1. One is plenty. What the heck is all the propane for?
     
  17. Steve in Denver

    Steve in Denver Member

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    Sep 1, 2018
    I dont know if I need two tanks or not, but a few reasons if why I could:

    1. A week long trip in colder weather. Hot water heater and furnace, even if used saringly, could require a good bit of propane.
    2. Saves the headache of needing to refill a 1/3 full tank before a trip...if you have 2 tanks, you always travel with at least 20 lbs of propane, and only ever refill empty tsnks.

    But since I have been camping exactly zero times in a pop up, I'm not sure if this is really a factor.
     
  18. Steve in Denver

    Steve in Denver Member

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    Sep 1, 2018
    Yes, there is the implied limit, but that's not a factor in my case. I was saying that there is no specified maximum as you find with other vehicles. In any case, with a tow rating of 3,500 even using 10% would be 350, and I'm trying to stay below that (since I'm only planning to tow 2500 max I figure I could get away with 250-300).

    Maybe I'm overthinking things, and my new air springs could help a lot with the rear end sag issue (my primary concern) I might take it to some scales today to get real numbers, as well.
     
  19. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    Do you mean your vehicle has a maximum way above what trailer could possibly have?

    Again, no vehicle has a specified maximum because it's dependent on how you load the tow vehicle - but there is always a maximum.
     
  20. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    You water heater won't use much at all. I run my fridge and water heater the entire time and, with minimum 2 hot meals a day minimum, can go about 30 days on 15gal.

    The furnace can go through it much much quicker.

    I agree with number two. I have the one 40lb (15gal) tank on the clipper and have had to go find propane during mid trip. Fortunately, it didn't do run out when I was 2-1/2 hours away from a town. The FnR has two 20gal tanks and I do exactly that - keep one full and fill when one is empty.
     

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