Effects of heavy tongue weight

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Gerry R

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As is fairly well known toy haulers tend to be heavier than similarly sized travel trailers, this also applies to tongue weight. Our 22 ft K2 bumper pull toy hauler weighed in at a little more than 6,000 lb on the axles (both are 5k so 10k capacity) and 1,100 lb of tongue weight. Recently we decided to extent the tongue 24 inches to accommodate our 3k Yamaha generator and a fairly good performing compressor, plus a box to hold our blocking for the corner stabilizers, air house and some wheel chocks. Our two batteries remained next to the trailer front but the propane bottles got moved forward about a foot. The result was the tongue weight is now at 1,550 and axle weight is 6,550 with all figures without water or our ATV, which works out to about 18% on the tongue. Because the axle placement favors the rear I figure loading our one quad or even our RZR would add most of the weight to the axles but until I can get a break in the weather I can only guess based on prior weighings. I knew that our old Eaz-lift hitch rated at 1,000 lb max tongue weight would be well beyond its capacity so I bought a new Reese trunnion style rated at 1,500 tongue weight. Sorry for the long lead in but my question for you experts is what effect that much tongue weight might have for towing. I should state my TV is a 2004 Dodge lwb dually diesel so I'm not worried about overloading the rear axle. But I have weighed it and found the actual tongue weight by first weighing the truck with just me and then adding the trailer and subtracting. Twice now I've towed it about 50 miles up to the scales and back and it seems to tow very straight and easy but still I'd be interested hearing what you think.
 

Lou Schneider

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As long as you don't break the hitch, more tongue weight should improve the stability of the trailer.  It means you've moved the trailer's center of gravity further forward.

Light tongue weight means the CG is closer to the trailer's wheels.  That's when things get dicey.
 

SargeW

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From what you describe, the weight on the trailer most likely will not be the issue.  As Lou said, the trailer will track just fine with the load on the front of the hitch.  And your dually most likely has plenty of weight carrying capacity to handle the weight. 

So the real questions left are two. Is the hitch on the truck rated to carry 1500# on the ball?  And the other result will be that on a bumper pull even with a weight distributing hitch, you will probably unload some of the weight from the front axle.  This can make towing with a fully loaded rig a little dicey on wet or icy roads.  If you have an on board exhaust brake, you may need to be extra careful about using it when the roads get slick. 

I used to tow a 5ver with the same model truck you have, but mine was a six speed.  With the weight over the rear axle on the dually, stability was never a problem.
 

mylo

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Gary RV Roamer said:
Agree with Lou - more tongue weight makes the tow more stable, i.e. reduces vulnerability to sway. As long as the truck remains level and the receiver can handle it, you should be fine.

Yeah, but at some point, doesn't the extra tongue weight screw up the balance on the pickup truck - putting more weight behind its rear axle, and destabilizing it (slightly?) at speed? The effect is probably tinier than overloading the rear of the toy hauler - but still... Shouldn't some effort be taken to redistribute some of the "fixed" weight in the trailer, so the tongue weight is closer to the optimum ratio?


Mylo
 

Lou Schneider

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The issue with weight on the rear of a toy hauler is moving the center of gravity over or behind the trailer's axles.  You really don't have that issue with a truck - given the ratio of the wheelbase to rear overhang, with 4000 lbs on the front axle you'd have to put 12000 lbs on the hitch before the truck's CG does the same.

A more practical issue is removing weight from the truck's front end, and that's what the equalizing hitch is designed to counter.  It transfers weight to the front end of the truck by forming a bridge between the truck and trailer, forcing the truck's nose down and compressing the front springs so they apply more weight to the road.

The bars need to be adjusted for the tongue weight - ideally the truck should keep the same attitude fore and aft with the trailer connected as it does solo.  i.e. all 4 corners should settle a like amount.

If the bars are adjusted too loosely, the truck will indeed end up nose high/rear low with less weight on the front end and this can cause handling problems.

Or going the other way, if the bars are adjusted too tight, you can actually lift weight off of the truck's rear axle with the resulting loss of rear axle traction.  Trailer Life demonstrated this in spectacular fashion back in the late 1960s by hitching a trailer to a front wheel drive Oldsmobile Toronado, cranking up the equalizing bars and removing the car's rear tires, so there was nothing except the hitch and sway bar between the front axle of the car and the trailer axles.  Then they took the rig for a run on the Southern CA freeways.  Except for turning radius issues caused by the resulting long wheelbase the car and trailer performed fine.
 

Gerry R

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I forgot to mention that I replaced the wimpy OEM Cat IV receiver with a B&W Cat V hitch rated 1,600/16,000 so the hitch should be up to it.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Yeah, but at some point, doesn't the extra tongue weight screw up the balance on the pickup truck - putting more weight behind its rear axle, and destabilizing it (slightly?) at speed?

That's why a heavier weight distributing hitch was stipulated - to equalize the load on the truck so that it stays in balance (level).
 

mylo

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Gary RV Roamer said:
That's why a heavier weight distributing hitch was stipulated - to equalize the load on the truck so that it stays in balance (level).

Ah, gotcha. I must have missed that.


Mylo
 

warsw

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Not knowing a lot about toy haulers I have kinda a thought in question form.

Aren't all toy haulers extremely tongue heavy until they are loaded? I thought they were set up that way so when loaded they were balanced right. No?

I was thinking that the weights needed to be checked when loaded not mty. If you set up a WD hitch when there is no cargo in the toy hauler then it would be way off when loaded. Do I have this wrong?
 

Gerry R

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[quote author=warsw link=topic=59063.msg542857#msg542857 date=
Aren't all toy haulers extremely tongue heavy until they are loaded? I thought they were set up that way so when loaded they were balanced right. No?

I was thinking that the weights needed to be checked when loaded not mty. If you set up a WD hitch when there is no cargo in the toy hauler then it would be way off when loaded. Do I have this wrong?
You are correct basically but I've owned two bumper pull toy haulers and while similar they do load differently because of design and layout. My old one had the fresh water located forward where this one is placed straddling the axles and the first had a 17 gallon fuel station, this one carries 36 gallons. My experience in loading our Polaris RZR in the TH leaves its front over the leading trailer axle with the rest rearward. In weighing between empty and with the RZR loaded it only seems to make at most 150 lbs difference in tongue weight, not as much as you might think. We often load our RZR in the truck bed then load our 800 Can-Am in the toy hauler and that makes about 80 lb difference in tongue weight over empty but results in our rear axle weight of 6,500 lbs, still well within our truck's 9,350 max.
 
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