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Old 05-12-2023, 11:36 PM   #1
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Is 650 lb Tongue Weight for 21C Too Much?

My son bought a tongue-weight scale for his trailer, and lent it to me. So when we got home, after dumping tanks, but before unloading, I unhitched by lifting the trailer on the scale as it came off the hitch ball. The scale went up to c. 650 lbs.

That seems pretty high to me, though ETI lists the 21C GVWR as 5,000 lbs, and 650 is 13% of that, so maybe OK, but I rather doubt we're up to that weight, especially with empty black and grey tanks, and fresh at only ⅓ or less (and it's in the back, so should reduce tongue weight). The famous 'Trailer Weights in the Real World' spreadsheet has only one Escape 21C close to that. The trailer and TV (2013 Ford Expedition) look quite level. The Expy XL with tow package is rated at close to 9,000 lbs.

But if my tongue weight is only 10%, then I should get the trailer weighed. But where? Looking for a CAT scale on the web shows only one in the area, about 30 miles away.

We don't carry a lot of stuff in the trailer—food in the 'fridge, clothes in the drawers, light dishes and cookware in the cabinets. I do have some boards in the front box, which I should probably take out. But all told, we really don't carry more than we had with our Casita. The Fastway WDH adds something, but the heaviest part is the 14" shank (longer than usual to accommodate the Expy liftgate) and that's part of the TV weight, not the trailer's.

Should I be concerned? Tows pretty well, with no sway at all. Does pitch a little, suggesting uneven weight distribution. But it's hard to know what we can move. . .
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Old 05-13-2023, 12:31 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLynn View Post
My son bought a tongue-weight scale for his trailer, and lent it to me. So when we got home, after dumping tanks, but before unloading, I unhitched by lifting the trailer on the scale as it came off the hitch ball. The scale went up to c. 650 lbs.

That seems pretty high to me, though ETI lists the 21C GVWR as 5,000 lbs, and 650 is 13% of that, so maybe OK, but I rather doubt we're up to that weight, especially with empty black and grey tanks, and fresh at only ⅓ or less (and it's in the back, so should reduce tongue weight). The famous 'Trailer Weights in the Real World' spreadsheet has only one Escape 21C close to that. The trailer and TV (2013 Ford Expedition) look quite level. The Expy XL with tow package is rated at close to 9,000 lbs.

But if my tongue weight is only 10%, then I should get the trailer weighed. But where? Looking for a CAT scale on the web shows only one in the area, about 30 miles away.

We don't carry a lot of stuff in the trailer—food in the 'fridge, clothes in the drawers, light dishes and cookware in the cabinets. I do have some boards in the front box, which I should probably take out. But all told, we really don't carry more than we had with our Casita. The Fastway WDH adds something, but the heaviest part is the 14" shank (longer than usual to accommodate the Expy liftgate) and that's part of the TV weight, not the trailer's.

Should I be concerned? Tows pretty well, with no sway at all. Does pitch a little, suggesting uneven weight distribution. But it's hard to know what we can move. . .
Who set up your wd ? When you say pitch do you mean porpoising ? Our previous 21 c was matched to a 2004 f150 with slightly lower tow capacity matched with a pro series wd hitch. No sway at all and really no porpoising unles I removed the wd for a short run in town.
I wouldn’t say that 650 is inordinate amount of tongue weight. I was estimating our load for camping 21 c was in the neighbor hood of 4500 lbs. seems about right for this trailer.
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Old 05-13-2023, 07:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLynn View Post
My son bought a tongue-weight scale for his trailer, and lent it to me. So when we got home, after dumping tanks, but before unloading, I unhitched by lifting the trailer on the scale as it came off the hitch ball. The scale went up to c. 650 lbs.

That seems pretty high to me, though ETI lists the 21C GVWR as 5,000 lbs, and 650 is 13% of that, so maybe OK, but I rather doubt we're up to that weight, especially with empty black and grey tanks, and fresh at only ⅓ or less (and it's in the back, so should reduce tongue weight). The famous 'Trailer Weights in the Real World' spreadsheet has only one Escape 21C close to that. The trailer and TV (2013 Ford Expedition) look quite level. The Expy XL with tow package is rated at close to 9,000 lbs.

But if my tongue weight is only 10%, then I should get the trailer weighed. But where? Looking for a CAT scale on the web shows only one in the area, about 30 miles away.

We don't carry a lot of stuff in the trailer—food in the 'fridge, clothes in the drawers, light dishes and cookware in the cabinets. I do have some boards in the front box, which I should probably take out. But all told, we really don't carry more than we had with our Casita. The Fastway WDH adds something, but the heaviest part is the 14" shank (longer than usual to accommodate the Expy liftgate) and that's part of the TV weight, not the trailer's.

Should I be concerned? Tows pretty well, with no sway at all. Does pitch a little, suggesting uneven weight distribution. But it's hard to know what we can move. . .
Two thoughts on your weighing:
1) "unhitched by lifting the trailer on the scale".
2) "the trailer looks quite level"

Try this all again, but after the unhitching and the trailer is on its own. First check the level on the trailer to make sure it is fully level. Another unattached level might add to the certainty. Then don't weigh while lifting off the tow vehicle. Just weigh it while stationary. Some scales can be put in the ball socket. You want to be that far forward to get an accurate reading.

Options for free weighing: every metal recycling place will have a scale, and you could catch one of those places at a slack time. Also some town dump or recycling centers will have scales that may not be very busy. A few states leave their Interstate highway scales on, even when closed. If you can find one of those, you can play around to your heart's content. Hitched, unhitched, axle by axle, etc.
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Old 05-13-2023, 07:58 AM   #4
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More than likely your 21C weighs around 4,500#'s. Your hitch weight should be a minimum of 10% (450#'s), but I want ours closer to 15% (675#'s). Your 650#'s is OK, so I wouldn't worry about it.

We don't pack any heavy items to keep the tongue weight down. Some campers actually need heavy items in front to get the tongue weight at 10-15%, but don't find out about the need till they've flipped their rigs from too light a tongue.

If you have a pair of 6v flooded batteries they weigh 120-130#'s. By switching to lithiums you can eliminate 60-70#'s, of which around 50% is carried on your tongue, and move them inside your camper to get a few more pounds off your tongue. About 10 years ago we purchased a Sherline Tongue Scale and feel much better about our tongue weights. A tongue scale is a cheap investment to properly load your trailer.

I don't want a WDH that totally eliminates sway. We've had a couple of Equalizer hitches that basically locks your trailer to your tow vehicle, eliminating porpoising at the cost of a stiff ride. BTDH! If the trailer only porpoises 2-4 times I don't worry.

I'd take a few trips first to see how you'll eventually load your trailer and what your tongue will eventually weigh. We always travel with a full fresh water tank, empty grey tank if possible, and half of the time with 50% or less in the black water tank. Works for us.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 05-13-2023, 08:32 AM   #5
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Places to get the rig weighed
Rock quarries
Public landfills
Grain elevators
DOT Scales
Cost in Iowa to get that done about a dozen or 18 home made chocolate cookies and a smile. (If there’s a lady in the scale and you’re good looking like me.) Call ahead or better yet make arrangements in person for when they are not busy.
Like Bill stated, scale post goes under the ball.
I jack ours up with the power hitch. Then set the floor Jack under the coupler with the sherline scale in the (cup) on the floor jack and adjust the rigging till the coupler comes down onto the scale post. And the trailer is level by an independent level. This is done on a dead flat concrete floor in our Escape garage.

I have quite a bit of equipment in the front box, a Casper mattress on the bed and several things in the front side box. I have 6 gallons of water in the water heater and travel with 10 gallons of water in the Fresh water tank.
All that said, I have 500 lbs on the hitch and a total trailer weight of 4360 on the certified quarry scale.
That’s my procedure which has worked well for 10 years now. The Sherline scale with the 1,000 lb dial and the instruction book works well.
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldwave View Post
Who set up your wd ? When you say pitch do you mean porpoising ? Our previous 21 c was matched to a 2004 f150 with slightly lower tow capacity matched with a pro series wd hitch. No sway at all and really no porpoising unles I removed the wd for a short run in town.
I wouldn’t say that 650 is inordinate amount of tongue weight. I was estimating our load for camping 21 c was in the neighbor hood of 4500 lbs. seems about right for this trailer.
Not sure 'porpoising' is the right term. Usually some uncomfortable bouncing when I hit a bump or dip. Does not persist past the event.

Previous owner helped set up the E2 hitch, pretty much the same as on his Tundra, except for the longer shank (to accommodate our liftgate. Rig looks like this (at handy rest area on I84E in CT between Waterbury and Hartford, which has separate parking area for campers):
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:18 AM   #7
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My 2021, 21NE weighs close to 5,000 lbs when I leave on a trip with full propane, full fresh water tanks, and ebike on back of the trailer. I watch weights closely. I tow with SUV and no WDH so the tongue is riding on the tow vehicle suspension. With full fuel the tow vehicle is about 450 under GVWR, 800 under GAWR rear and 600 under GAWR front. Tow load is 65% of tow vehicle rating. I carry quite a bit like tools, extra water and camp accessories in the tow vehicle.

To weigh the tongue the trailer needs to be parallel to the the ground under the axles so that both axles are exerting the same support. The ground should be level.

The tongue needs to be weighed at the ball cup, not the trailer jack. The tongue weight varies significantly as the trailer tilts forward and aft on the axles.

Recently I weighed the tongue under different loading conditions. The two 5 gal propane tanks were full.

680 lbs, No fresh, hot or waste water, no bike rack.
588 lbs, 30 lbs change, Fresh water tank full.
575 lbs, 13 lbs change, Hot water tank full.
549 lbs, 26 lbs change, Bike rack (1-UP double heavy duty).
514 lbs, 35 lbs change, ebike (without battery).
total 104 lbs change
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill and Earline View Post
Two thoughts on your weighing:
1) "unhitched by lifting the trailer on the scale".
2) "the trailer looks quite level"

Try this all again, but after the unhitching and the trailer is on its own. First check the level on the trailer to make sure it is fully level. Another unattached level might add to the certainty. Then don't weigh while lifting off the tow vehicle. Just weigh it while stationary. Some scales can be put in the ball socket. You want to be that far forward to get an accurate reading.

Options for free weighing: every metal recycling place will have a scale, and you could catch one of those places at a slack time. Also some town dump or recycling centers will have scales that may not be very busy. A few states leave their Interstate highway scales on, even when closed. If you can find one of those, you can play around to your heart's content. Hitched, unhitched, axle by axle, etc.
Thanks, B&E— I just noticed the Sherline scale attachment that lets you weigh the tongue at the ball socket. So I'll try that. I always use a carpenter's level to check trailer level; actually a tad off right now; will adjust.

Have to do some searching around for scales I can use.
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:29 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=

To weigh the tongue the trailer needs to be parallel to the the ground under the axles so that both axles are exerting the same support. The ground should be level.

The tongue needs to be weighed at the ball cup, not the trailer jack. The tongue weight varies significantly as the trailer tilts forward and aft on the axles.

Recently I weighed the tongue under different loading conditions. The two 5 gal propane tanks were full.

680 lbs, No fresh, hot or waste water, no bike rack.
588 lbs, 30 lbs change, Fresh water tank full.
575 lbs, 13 lbs change, Hot water tank full.
549 lbs, 26 lbs change, Bike rack (1-UP double heavy duty).
514 lbs, 35 lbs change, ebike (without battery).
total 104 lbs change[/QUOTE]


YES!, you can lighten the tongue by transferring some heavy items from say your storage bin, to the back(even inside hatch). The farther back behind wheels(pivot point). Think Teeter Totter. As most can tow the weight fine, it's where you load it.
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perry Butler View Post
More than likely your 21C weighs around 4,500#'s. Your hitch weight should be a minimum of 10% (450#'s), but I want ours closer to 15% (675#'s). Your 650#'s is OK, so I wouldn't worry about it.

We don't pack any heavy items to keep the tongue weight down. Some campers actually need heavy items in front to get the tongue weight at 10-15%, but don't find out about the need till they've flipped their rigs from too light a tongue.

If you have a pair of 6v flooded batteries they weigh 120-130#'s. By switching to lithiums you can eliminate 60-70#'s, of which around 50% is carried on your tongue, and move them inside your camper to get a few more pounds off your tongue. About 10 years ago we purchased a Sherline Tongue Scale and feel much better about our tongue weights. A tongue scale is a cheap investment to properly load your trailer.

I don't want a WDH that totally eliminates sway. We've had a couple of Equalizer hitches that basically locks your trailer to your tow vehicle, eliminating porpoising at the cost of a stiff ride. BTDH! If the trailer only porpoises 2-4 times I don't worry.

I'd take a few trips first to see how you'll eventually load your trailer and what your tongue will eventually weigh. We always travel with a full fresh water tank, empty grey tank if possible, and half of the time with 50% or less in the black water tank. Works for us.

Enjoy,

Perry
Thanks, Perry— Our flooded 6v batteries are in the back left, under the rear dinette bench. I don't notice any significant difference when the tanks are full, empty, or in-between.

The scale my son purchased is indeed a Sherline. Followed your link and discovered a very informative manual with general advice about towing—I recommend it to others.
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowa Dave View Post
Places to get the rig weighed
Rock quarries
Public landfills
Grain elevators
DOT Scales
Cost in Iowa to get that done about a dozen or 18 home made chocolate cookies and a smile. (If there’s a lady in the scale and you’re good looking like me.) Call ahead or better yet make arrangements in person for when they are not busy.
Like Bill stated, scale post goes under the ball.
I jack ours up with the power hitch. Then set the floor Jack under the coupler with the sherline scale in the (cup) on the floor jack and adjust the rigging till the coupler comes down onto the scale post. And the trailer is level by an independent level. This is done on a dead flat concrete floor in our Escape garage.

I have quite a bit of equipment in the front box, a Casper mattress on the bed and several things in the front side box. I have 6 gallons of water in the water heater and travel with 10 gallons of water in the Fresh water tank.
All that said, I have 500 lbs on the hitch and a total trailer weight of 4360 on the certified quarry scale.
That’s my procedure which has worked well for 10 years now. The Sherline scale with the 1,000 lb dial and the instruction book works well.
Iowa Dave
Thanks Dave— I tend to put heavier stuff (like tools, except for HD torque wrench) in the Expedition. Otherwise our load sounds much like yours. Going to try using the Sherline correctly this time and see what results.
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Old 05-13-2023, 11:25 AM   #12
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You’re welcome. If I think k about it and really need to move weight around I can do it a little bit at a time with some trade offs and some judicious lightening. Small dense heavy things are convenient in the front box but wouldn’t have to be there. Like a ball peen hammer, x chocks, 1/2 inch ratchet,
Stabilize crank and spare crank for power jack, anderson levelers etc. they could go in rear access box or tow vehicle.

It’s pretty normal for the tow to dip once or twice till the suspension rights things but a rhythmic up and down, pivoting at the hitch , started by control joints in paving, poorly executed road building . expansion joints on bridges or even gusts of wind that don’t stop quickly is “Porpoising” to me.

Side to side motion that takes driver correction is “sway” to me and I can’t stand that at all. Rita is careful with side to side loading, keeping heavy stuff low and over the axles.
Though I’m not a big fan, canned beer is lighter than bottles. If your destination is near a town with a good grocery store you can avoid some food weight till you get where you’re going .
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Old 05-13-2023, 12:22 PM   #13
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Be careful using the Sherline scale. It can give incorrect readings as this picture shows. At least mine does. In this case it is 100 lbs light.

To avoid this problem, shake the tongue back and forth while the tongue is sitting on the scale. Don't ask me why I use 2 scales, I just do. The Sherline fits the cup and the flat scale on the bottom doesn't. Maybe I don't completely trust the Sherline after my first experiences with it.
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Old 05-13-2023, 12:25 PM   #14
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One other thing about midway owning the f150 and 21 c I replaced my shocks with Bilsteins. It improved the ride significantly. Not sure of the age or condition of your suspension. I never had side to side sway and bouncing that concerned me. The only issue with that rig was going over Vail pass where my top speed was 45. Other than that it was a fine tow. Really almost the. Same vehicle as yours with engine and tranny, though you might have more than a three speed over drive. The 21 c was a very stable trailer and sway was never an issue with us.
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Old 05-13-2023, 09:15 PM   #15
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One other thing about midway owning the f150 and 21 c I replaced my shocks with Bilsteins. It improved the ride significantly. Not sure of the age or condition of your suspension. I never had side to side sway and bouncing that concerned me. The only issue with that rig was going over Vail pass where my top speed was 45. Other than that it was a fine tow. Really almost the. Same vehicle as yours with engine and tranny, though you might have more than a three speed over drive. The 21 c was a very stable trailer and sway was never an issue with us.
My 2013 Expedition shocks are the originals (mileage only 89k as of now); mechanic says they show no sign of leaking or other problems. I do think of replacing them. Then, I'm running my General Grabbers at 40 psi, about 5 over the recommended on the tires, and that doubtless makes the ride harder.

The Expy has a 6-speed auto transmission; it's heavier than the comparable F-150 (cargo limit only 1,475), but with only two of us, we can carry a fair amount of gear. And of course with seats up, it'll hold 8.

The E2 WDH really eliminates any sway. Re what Dave says about 'porpoising', I'll have to look more closely at how long we get any bouncing after the initial jolt when we hit a bump. I may be magnifying the problem, if any.
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:23 PM   #16
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My 2013 Expedition shocks are the originals (mileage only 89k as of now); mechanic says they show no sign of leaking or other problems. I do think of replacing them. Then, I'm running my General Grabbers at 40 psi, about 5 over the recommended on the tires, and that doubtless makes the ride harder.

The Expy has a 6-speed auto transmission; it's heavier than the comparable F-150 (cargo limit only 1,475), but with only two of us, we can carry a fair amount of gear. And of course with seats up, it'll hold 8.

The E2 WDH really eliminates any sway. Re what Dave says about 'porpoising', I'll have to look more closely at how long we get any bouncing after the initial jolt when we hit a bump. I may be magnifying the problem, if any.
6 speed is a lot nicer than the original 4 speed. Of course it was 9 years newer and lots of improvements in that drive train that got a lot of criticism. Of course many people neglected oil changers which was a deadly mistake for that engine. I sold mine at 90,000 and the engine sounded like it did when I bought it at 37,000. Oil changed ever 3 to 5000. Even with shorter payload, the tongue weight is not much of an issue. One thing I did learn about trailer tires is they have different load ratings for the psi. My endurances have a load rating from 35 psi to 80. Pick the load of your trailer weight from the load table and run the psi at that and the ride will not be as bouncy. My trailer is significantly heavier than yours and I’ll running at 55 lbs versus the max which is 80. It may make a difference. Consult the load tables for your tires you may be surprised, I was
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Old 05-13-2023, 10:56 PM   #17
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6 speed is a lot nicer than the original 4 speed. Of course it was 9 years newer and lots of improvements in that drive train that got a lot of criticism. Of course many people neglected oil changers which was a deadly mistake for that engine. I sold mine at 90,000 and the engine sounded like it did when I bought it at 37,000. Oil changed ever 3 to 5000. Even with shorter payload, the tongue weight is not much of an issue. One thing I did learn about trailer tires is they have different load ratings for the psi. My endurances have a load rating from 35 psi to 80. Pick the load of your trailer weight from the load table and run the psi at that and the ride will not be as bouncy. My trailer is significantly heavier than yours and I’ll running at 55 lbs versus the max which is 80. It may make a difference. Consult the load tables for your tires you may be surprised, I was
OW, the Generals are on the Expy, not the trailer. Escape tires are I think originals—can't recall the name, and it's almost 11pm so I'm not going out to look. Seem fine, but I probably should think about replacing next year. I'm running them at 55-60 psi. What 'load table' are you referring to for the trailer tires? With four wheels, each tire would carry only a quarter of the load—right?

Our Casita was a lot more bouncy than our Escape, that's for sure.
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Old 05-13-2023, 11:31 PM   #18
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OW, the Generals are on the Expy, not the trailer. Escape tires are I think originals—can't recall the name, and it's almost 11pm so I'm not going out to look. Seem fine, but I probably should think about replacing next year. I'm running them at 55-60 psi. What 'load table' are you referring to for the trailer tires? With four wheels, each tire would carry only a quarter of the load—right?

Our Casita was a lot more bouncy than our Escape, that's for sure.
Yes the load table will be for the trailer tires. I have Endurances on my trailer. Look up the tire manufacturer and model, I think it’s a required document that is published. It will be the total load on the 4 tires.
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Old 05-14-2023, 12:30 PM   #19
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If you want to get picky…there may be a tongue weight limit printed on the trailer info sticker in the closet as there is on my 2018 - 19. I am at that limit.
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Old 05-14-2023, 01:14 PM   #20
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If you want to get picky…there may be a tongue weight limit printed on the trailer info sticker in the closet as there is on my 2018 - 19. I am at that limit.

That is the load you can carry on the tongue? Propane tanks, storage box, batteries, etc.?
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