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Old 12-08-2016, 08:30 PM   #1
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Are hitch weight and tongue weight the same thing?

The more I read about this stuff the more confused I get. I am retiring next year and I have never towed anything in my life. The spousal unit and I are smitten with an airstream 19 foot Bambi and the specs say that it has a hitch weight of 550 pounds.

If possible we would like to tow it with a 2017 4 wheel drive Honda Ridgeline but the specs for that say it has a maximum tongue weight of 500 pounds. Does that mean that we should not tow the 19 foot Bambi with this TV?

Thanks so much for your help.
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Old 12-08-2016, 09:07 PM   #2
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Same thing. You ought to be able to have more capacity with a weight distribution hitch. I know a few on here tow with Ridgelines, with the proper setup you'll do fine. Hopefully they'll chime in and let you know details.


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Old 12-08-2016, 10:05 PM   #3
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I agree... hitch weight is the same as tongue weight. Based on the just the numbers you will be exceeding the specifications of the Honda.

However, don't let that by itself dissuade you. Andrew T owns Can Am RV in London, Ontario and has a wealth of experience on vehicle tow ratings and real-world towing ability. Contact him via Private Message on Air Forums or look up his phone number and give him a call. Andrew T frequently posts on Air Forums and will likely be familiar with the capabilities of the 2017 Ridgeline.

Good luck.
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Old 12-08-2016, 10:08 PM   #4
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Airstream lists the weight carried on the tow vehicle receiver as hitch weight. I think. But the Owners Manual shows how to weigh this by placing a scale under the tongue jack. The tow vehicle receiver and the tongue jack carry their respective weights at different positions on the tongue, and will therefore yield different weight measurements.

You will need a weight distribution hitch for this Ridgeline/Airstream combination. That means the force on the truck's receiver will be more of a lifting and twisting force when the weight distribution hitch is engaged. Your concern ought to be whether this vertical twisting force is more than the hitch can handle.

There's a good chance it will be, but the solution is what generations of Airstreamers have done and that is to replace the hitch with a stronger hitch or reinforce the one you have.

When I have had questions about towing and hitches I have asked (most probably) North America's best Airstream hitch and towing shop and second generation Airstream dealership Can-Am Rv in Ontario. They have always responded with excellent advice and recommendations, and have set up thousands of similar vehicles to yours for towing.

http://www.canamrv.ca/towing-expertise/contact/
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Old 12-08-2016, 10:34 PM   #5
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Also - a weight distribution hitch does not significantly reduce the tongue weight of the trailer.

It distributes the load of the trailer tongue by applying torque to the receiver on the tow vehicle. It doesn't actually change the weight applied to the receiver, the weight is still there, along newly found torque that drives the nose the tow vehicle down.

magic! well physics .. but kinda like magic!

PS its true that in the dynamics of applying torque to the receiver will transfer some weight back to the trailer axles... but it's really not significant enough to "count on" when it comes to reducing tongue weight... In fact... all that torque actually puts more stress on the receiver vs. dead weight without a distribution hitch...
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Old 12-08-2016, 11:19 PM   #6
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I have a 2011 Ridgeline and pull a 20' '72 Argosy, about the same weight as the 19' Bambi if Airstream is to be believed. For the previous generation Ridgeline, Honda does not recommend using a weight distribution hitch. I believe the new generation Ridgeline you own is the same. If that's the case, and you were to have an issue with anything drivetrane or frame related, you'd probably have an issue with your warranty.
I'd check around and find out if the stated tongue weight is accurate, and if that is with all fluids or not. In reading posts on this forum my understanding is that it's a dry weight, and perhaps even understated at that. Adding propane and water and whatever else you need to camp increases the tongue weight and more.
The Rigeline is a very capable well made vehicle, and I like mine so much I'm keeping it until it falls apart. But, I'd be pretty cautious about what you pull behind it and don't exceed Honda's recommendations. My 2c, and worth every penny
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Old 12-08-2016, 11:32 PM   #7
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I was in the same situation as the OP. My Model X has a 500 lb tongue weight limit, and the desirable 19' Flying Cloud has a 550 lb hitch weight. I decided against the FC for the weight reason as well as aerodynamic drag reasons (the 22' Sport has a narrower profile, more in line with my vehicle).

However, I did give myself a lesson on WD hitches and the various opinions about their use with unitary body construction vehicles. OP's Ridgeline has a hybrid frame and seems to be in the "safe from ambiguity" zone with regard to using a WD hitch. That said, I don't believe it allows OP to safely tow anything greater than the tongue weight specified. I'm guessing Can-Am will feel differently, so it's worth reaching out to them.

The 22FB has a tongue weight of 393lbs, FWIW.
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:46 AM   #8
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When they set up my 19' and weighed it the tongue weight was over 800 lbs, not 550 as stated in the manual. I thought I heard the guy say more like 900. My Grand Cherokee had a 500 lb tongue weight limit.

The WD adds a torque to the weight already on the frame. Make sure you understand this before towing with a unit body vehicle like a Honda. And remember they rust...
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Old 12-09-2016, 06:09 AM   #9
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Like Countryboy59 said, there is advertised tongue weight and then there is YOUR actual tongue weight. My advertised is 860 and my actual is 1000#. Aside from that, you have to consider the capabilities of the tow vehicle for there is more than tongue weight to consider. Engine, transmission, cooling, brakes, etc., all are impacted and need to be able to meet the need. I actually get ticked when I read where people are told they can tow with vehicles not capable with a few hitch/frame modifications. My friends bought a 27' travel trailer and a new Honda Odyssey to tow it with. They were told that with proper modifications, they could easily tow it. They took the Honda to a special place and paid a lot for a frame member vehicular modification and then a WD hitch. The Odyssey transmission failed while they were out west and then they were stuck out of warranty (because they were over manufacturer rating- dealer knew because of hitch) putting a transmission in a new vehicle. They sold the trailer and Odyssey and bought a motorhome. The only way I would do such a thing is if the one modifying the vehicle guaranteed not only their work but that there would be no failures of any vehicular motor train/cooling component while towing during warranty period or for so many miles towing (something like that). If they would not do that, then their promise would mean nothing. You can pull about anything with a vehicle but will it have durability?
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:19 AM   #10
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You can buy a Sherline scale to weigh the tongue weight of your trailer or go to a CAT scale. You should plan on the actual tongue weight being at least 100#-200# more than the weight Airstream advertises.

As others have said tongue weight does not change with application of weight distribution hitch. What weight distribution does is that it changes the effect of tongue weight on axle weights. Your hitch receiver still has to be rated to carry the dead weight you measured via Sherline scale.

I agree with folks cautioning you about hitch modification. I asked some of the members who have done the hitch modification a simple question: Does the shop certify that the reinforced hitch is rated to carry the heavier tongue weight? You could hear the crickets.
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:48 AM   #11
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We are sooo bipolar here, lol! If you asked if it was safe to pull a 27’ with an F-150, you’d get a chorus of guys screaming, “NOOOOOOO!!!!! You hafta have a ¾ ton!!!” even though today’s properly equipped 150 will outpull every 10 yr old ¾ ton gasser on the road. (Yes, it’s true. There are ZERO 10 yr old ¾ ton gas powered trucks on the road that have higher tow numbers than a new tow-ready F-150. (And nearly every 2nd gen Toyota Tundra does too.) )

The best policy is go by the stated numbers. They are there for a reason. Don’t exceed your tongue, GVWR, CGVWR, or GAWR numbers.

Honda Ridgeline is an excellent truck. I wish I had one. But there are many better choices for tow vehicles.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
I agree... hitch weight is the same as tongue weight. Based on the just the numbers you will be exceeding the specifications of the Honda.

However, don't let that by itself dissuade you. Andrew T owns Can Am RV in London, Ontario and has a wealth of experience on vehicle tow ratings and real-world towing ability. Contact him via Private Message on Air Forums or look up his phone number and give him a call. Andrew T frequently posts on Air Forums and will likely be familiar with the capabilities of the 2017 Ridgeline.

Good luck.

Expert advice is the way to go. Family owned RV dealership and has set up more than 10,000 trailers with tow vehicles. None better.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:43 AM   #13
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I would like to thank everyone for their comments. Since I have not yet purchased the Ridgeline, I will move on and look at other options for a TV. When I look at what everything is going to cost I am already questioning my sanity but I do not want to buy a TV that is not up to the task and compound my budgetary woes.

Too bad, my wife loved the Ridgeline
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:46 AM   #14
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There are some members here with no relevant towing experience who have little to do but tell others what they can't do. And diss us who learn what our tow vehicles and Airstreams can do by expert advice and experience.

I've been traveling the country with campers for 50 years; in perspective this Ridgeline with it's stability, power and multi-speed transmission would have been a miracle for small travel trailers. If the hitch was determined to be light, we would have built one that was stronger. And figured out how to strap it on there. Some have moved in with the helpless generation, join them if you wish.

This forum is an extraordinary tool for purchase, restoring, maintaining and use of Airstreams. When you want expert towing advice go to the towing experts, and go to internet forums for entertainment.
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