Weight distribution measurements - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 08-27-2009, 09:11 PM   #1
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Weight distribution measurements

In BC you can use the Ministry of Highways scales that are beside the highways for free. When the scales are open, all the commercial vehicles have to stop there, and you don't want to interfere with truckers. I don't know the scale hours, but I used the one west of Yahk on a Monday the 17th, but on Monday the 24th it was open, and trucks were lined up to use it.

The scale a few kilometres west of Midway is always "self-serve."

Our tow vehicle is a 2009 Toyota RAV4, AWD, V6, base model. The trailer is a brand-new 2009 Escape 17B. Eastbound, I was in the tow vehicle for weighing. Westbound I was not in the car. The two propane tanks were near-full. Westbound, the fresh water tank was full, but the other two were about empty. Westbound, one of the 15-kg dogs spent most of the time in the driver seat, but he might have been in the back for some of the measurements. The scale seems to be good to about +/-20 kg.

When I was eastbound, I drove over the Midway scale. Front axle: 1140 kg, rear axle 910 kg, trailer axle 1130 kg. This was with the weight distribution hitch set as Reace told me. I was concerned because the front axle was carrying so much weight compared to the back. Before the next driving day, I slackened the chains by one link. The rig seemed to handle more comfortably, but as Jim Bennett observed with a casual glance at a photo that gbaglo posted, the front of the trailer was riding very low. I drove over the Yahk scale, and saw, front axle: 1070 kg, rear axle 1010 kg, trailer axle 1020 kg.

I planned my trip home to include a longer stop at the Midway scales. I pulled the front wheels onto the scale, and set up the hitch with five different settings. Then I pulled forward and repeated the process for the other axles. With zero links hanging, the chains were slack. Reace had set me up with four links hanging. I could not get five links to hang without cranking down the post, and I did not have the time for that. I was there for the better part of an hour, delayed because I got out of the way of a couple of trucks that pulled up behind me. Those guys are trying to make a living, while I am just fooling around with my new toy.

I also disconnected the trailer, and ran the RAV4 through the scale with the heavy ball still atttached.

Here are the results. Weights are in kilograms. (Yes, I know. Really they are masses.)

[center]Number of links hanging free -[center]- Front Wheels -[center]- TV Rear Wheels -[center]- Trailer Wheels -[center]- Total Weight -[center]- Front/Rear ratio

[center]Tow Vehicle[center]1020[center]860[center]1880[center]1.19

The two-link rear axle number is back-calculated.

As you can see, the front-rear ratio with four links hanging is close to that of the unloaded tow vehicle. So I returned the vehicle to the settings that Reace had originally recommended. I still think that the slacker setting is a bit more comfortable, but I think that the tighter setting gives me better handling and braking. It will certainly reduce the number of times the hitch grinds over curbs.

From the above data, you can also calculate the trailer weight and hitch weight. You use the total disconnected RAV4 weight and the slack chain measurements. Hitch weight is irrelavant for weight-distrubuting hitches, though.

Total TV weight1880 kg
Total slack chain weight3120 kg
Axle weight1100 kg (2420 lb)
Total trailer weight1240 kg (2730 lb)Total slack chain weight - Total TV weight
Hitch weight140 kg (310 lb)Total slack chain weight - Total TV weight - Axle weight

Hitch weight as percent of trailer weight - 11%


Ron Stewart
Tsawwassen, BC

2009 17' Plan B
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:29 PM   #2
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Location: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B - "Toad". '08 Toyota RAV4 V6
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Re: Weight distribution measurements

Home again, eh Ron?

My trip over that scale at Yahk read 1080kg ( front ) 970 ( rear ) 1280 ( trailer ). I have two links hanging.
As I mentioned in another post, I think the RAV is front-wheel-drive when the 4x4 traction isn't required ( as sensed by the vehicle ). So it's basically front-wheel-drive and thus you should have more weight on the drive wheels. Your thoughts?


2009 Escape 17B "Toad"
2008 Toyota RAV4 V6 Sport
North Vancouver, British Columbia

What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:51 PM   #3
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Re: Weight distribution measurements

On reflection, Glenn, I agree with you. Especially when you consider that my RAV4 has 20% more weight on the front than the rear in a non-towing configuration.
Ron Stewart
Tsawwassen, BC

2009 17' Plan B
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