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Old 07-07-2013, 02:59 PM   #1
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load balancing your 19

I'm pulling my 19' without a weight distribution hitch. I'm still getting comfortable with the rig, so I'm proceeding carefully...

One concern I have is getting the tongue weight right. I suspect I was rather light on the front for our last trip. I need to get a scale to measure, but in the mean time I'm trying to figure out how to shift more weight to the front.

I'm not sure how I can make effective use of all the storage under the bed without getting the tongue too light. I'd also like to be able to travel with a full fresh water tank, but that too is right at the back.

I've got the front storage box with a single battery in it. Aside from the battery, it's limited to 100lbs. I've probably got about that much weight in it already.

The storage under the dinette benches is awkward to get to, and one of them has all the electrical infrastructure, which I need to be careful not to damage. I've got 4 gallons of fresh water stored under these benches (we're fussy about our drinking water, so bring R/O water for drinking and making coffee/tea), plus a tool kit and some other heavy stuff.

With the 19' and it's tandem axles, if I travel with the trailer a little high in the front, that should put a bit more weight on the tongue. But running high in the front goes against conventional wisdom for avoiding trailer sway, so I don't know if it's a good idea or not.

What do you do to make sure you've got enough tongue weight on your 19? If you want to store a heavy weight under your bed, how do you counter it?

Or maybe I'm worrying about it unnecessarily? Has anybody measured the tongue weight of an empty 19? Of a 19 with full fresh water tanks?
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:00 PM   #2
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hmmm... while I'm on this subject, what's the effect of a weight distribution hitch on desired tongue weight? If you're using a WDH, do you still want a tongue weight (before the WDH is tensioned) of 10-15% of your trailer weight?
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
If you're using a WDH, do you still want a tongue weight (before the WDH is tensioned) of 10-15% of your trailer weight?
Yes. The weight on the tongue is not important in itself; it is the visible evidence of the position of the centre of mass (or "balance point") of the trailer, relative to the axle... if the mass were centred at the axle, the trailer would balance with no weight on the tongue. A trailer is more stable with the centre of mass ahead of the tires.

The effective axle position for a tandem is midway between the two axles... assuming that the axle loads are nearly equal, which means that the trailer isn't tilted.

Using a WD doesn't change the fundamental dynamics, so it doesn't change the desire to have a reasonable centre of mass position, seen as a reasonable tongue weight.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:00 PM   #4
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... I'm trying to figure out how to shift more weight to the front.
Since the concern appears to be stability, I would more concerned about getting mass away from the ends rather than getting it to the front. In practice, that means it is more useful to get a mass off the tail end than moving something from the middle forward, even though both would have the same effect on tongue weight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
With the 19' and it's tandem axles, if I travel with the trailer a little high in the front, that should put a bit more weight on the tongue. But running high in the front goes against conventional wisdom for avoiding trailer sway, so I don't know if it's a good idea or not.
Yes, raising the front puts more load on the tongue, but not by moving the trailer's centre of mass forward; instead, it effectively moves the axle position rearward by making the trailing axle carry more load than the leading axle. This might be okay, except that it is easy to overload the trailing axle and the leading axle tires will scrub more. I would not deliberately cause unequal axle loading.

In the ridiculous extreme - and I realize no one is proposing to go there - the leading tires don't touch at all and the trailer become a single-axle with the axle set unusually far back... like a Casita 17', but even more extreme.

The warning against running with the tongue high is mostly for single-axle trailers: with any trailer lifting the front shifts the mass a bit rearward (like tipping a wheelbarrow forward, in reverse) which is bad for stability, but a single axle doesn't shift the axle load rearward when this happens like a tandem does. There is also a suspension geometry issue with trailers using a beam axle on leaf springs, but that doesn't apply to any Escape.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:07 PM   #5
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All Escapes carry the spare on the rear (which is the conventional location for travel trailers, including my Boler). Moving that spare to anywhere nearer the axle, and especially forward of it, will concentrate the mass closer to the balance point and increase stability; it will also move that balance point forward, increasing both stability and tongue weight.

Is there anywhere under the floor that could accommodate the spare? It would be difficult to access, ground clearance would be a concern, and there just may be no way to fit it in... I haven't seen under the floor of a 19'. My (not moulded fiberglass) fifth-wheel trailer has the spare under the floor, between the frame rails, behind the ale.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:21 PM   #6
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The tongue weight on my 19' was 340# with 1/3 full fresh tank and empty waste tanks. I had the front box with maybe 125# of stuff and an oversized battery. It can hold 100# plus another 120# batteries. My front under dinette storage was full on both sides. My under bed had 4 tupperware full of grills,clothes and other stuff. I had no sway. Get your self a Sherline tongue scale to take the guessing away.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:52 PM   #7
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Get your self a Sherline tongue scale to take the guessing away.
Yup, I think that's the answer... Unless there's a problem I don't want to go to the extremes of shifting the spare tire or similar. At this point I don't know if I even have a problem, or if I'm just being overly sensitive while getting used to a new situation.

We have a trip planned for the start of September where we'd like to use the bike rack, so I need to get this settled before then.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:56 PM   #8
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Get the 0-1000 lbs scale model, easier to read! they have 3 models
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Old 07-07-2013, 05:18 PM   #9
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Yup. Ordered... Might make it here before our next trip, next weekend.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:33 PM   #10
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It's a toss-up as to whether a Sherline is worth it. We are about to use ours again but have to go to a truck scale to get the loaded weight since tongue weight alone is worthless.
We can get the loaded and tongue weights at a truck scale as well as the weights with and without the WDH to see what weight is being transferred.

We have never had a tongue weight on our 19' less than 400 lbs.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:38 PM   #11
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It's a toss-up as to whether a Sherline is worth it. We are about to use ours again but have to go to a truck scale to get the loaded weight since tongue weight alone is worthless.
We can get the loaded and tongue weights at a truck scale as well as the weights with and without the WDH to see what weight is being transferred.

We have never had a tongue weight on our 19' less than 400 lbs.
So can you post some of your truck scale numbers you have received in the past?
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:39 PM   #12
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Once you get a good idea of what your total weight is, it will not change much unless you carry different things. For us, with the exception of how full the tanks are, I would bet every trip varies no more that 100 lbs with gear. The scale will help you monitor the loading, but then if you find what works good, and keep loading it the same way, not that great of a need to check anything at all.

That said, I really do need to check these weights, I have not done it in 4 years, since I got the trailer.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:41 PM   #13
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Too bad a Sherline scale can't be rented.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:44 PM   #14
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I always carry mine and let others use it when asked at cg or rallies!!
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:32 PM   #15
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Yes, a truck scale can be used to determine tongue weight; however,
  1. one method is to measure the tongue directly, but that requires unhitching and re-hitching directly on the scale, which would not be acceptable in many cases
  2. the other method is to compare tow vehicle axle loads with and without the trailer, not using a WD system - this doubles or worse (depending on how many axles fit on the scale together) the scale error, as well as introducing error due to the wrong hitch height for those using WD

Although consistent loading would eliminate the need for checks at loading time, some of us are not consistent enough to count on that. I would rather find out about a tongue weight issue at home while still loading rather than on the road at a scale (or not at all).

The only problem that I see with renting a Sherline scale is that it isn't expensive enough to bother. Having said that, I didn't buy one... my tongue weight is within bathroom scale range, and I also assembled something approximately equivalent to the Sherline from cheap locally available parts.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:59 PM   #16
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I ordered a Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scales LM-1000 - 1000lb Scale at $146 bucks yes it is pricey that said so is my insurance deductible and costs associated with an accident with the possibility of being at fault. I figure it is small enough to fit anywhere can set it up and check before leaving for a trip and coming back from a trip. Just my 2 cents.

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Old 07-08-2013, 06:08 PM   #17
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I wouldn't say that tongue weight alone is useless, since it's not too hard to make a reasonable estimate about total weight -- particularly if you've taken your trailer to a scale before. The tongue weight scale lets you see the impact of filling your water tanks, shifting load around, etc.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:09 PM   #18
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Bought one this morning. Shipped from NY to Ca. plus Ca tax total was $129.26. Sherline products
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:15 PM   #19
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I always carry mine and let others use it when asked at cg or rallies!!
Any chance you're swinging by the Pacific North West in the next 24 hours?
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:27 PM   #20
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I think our last loaded weight was 3520, almost exactly the same as the previous time. (Note that our weight is light compared to what most people are reporting for their 19's since others have had 3800 and up to 4000 and maybe even over the max.)

Our WDH has transferred 100 pounds back to the trailer and 180 up to the TV front axles. Had almost exactly the same on that before.

Our Sherline weights differ by 20-40 lbs. From the truck scales.

We never travel with a full water tank but also do not travel with full propane tanks so some people might use those to balance each other. We put a load of books, RV directory and the like, on the floor up front to help out the tongue weight a little. We don't want weight in the electrical bench.
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