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Old 11-18-2003, 12:09 AM   #1
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Question on weighting tongue load

Newbee. Proud to be counted among the Airstreamers of this land. I have a 1969 Ambassador, 29'. My Airstream was gutted and turned into a mobile recording rig. It wighs around 6000 pounds loaded now. However due to the layout, a lot of the weight is in the back, and causes slight "porpoising" (the ass-end of my truck goes up and down). A guy at an RV shop recommended getting a box for the hitch (I removed my propane tanks) and sandbagging it. I found this box below, it looks like it could fit. Any other suggestions? Also, should I be using the torsion bars equipped with the trailer? BTW, If you'd like to see my rig, got to: Thanks!
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-Will Shanks
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Old 11-18-2003, 05:47 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

Interesting use of an Airstream for sure. The biggest issue you are fighting is the tounge weight. Your RV shop guy is right that you could counterbalane the rear weight by adding weight to the tounge. This creates tremdous stress on the mid section of the frame though and I would be concerned that in a short time you could have 2-14.5 foot Airstreams Using the torsion bars will greatly reduce the porpising, but even with that there is still the fact that there is a large amount of weight aft of the wheels.

Placing the weight inside the coach and over a larger portion of the frame would really be the way to go. How light is the tounge? Have you weighed it? If inside is not an possibility then I would go for underneath where the spare tire would have been. This would be right under the floor of the lounge. It gets the weight back on the frame and spead over a larger lenght of the frame itself. Having a heavy weight right on the tounge in a small footprint is to me, a recepie for disaster.

The other concern I would have is how well the frame is braced aft of the wheels. In this shell style there were troubles with the frame sagging aft of the whels due to too heavy tanks in the rear. I do not know how heavy the installed gear is, but I would bet it weighs more that the tanks that were OEM did when full.

There is a frame kit available. There is a member here who has DIY'ed it.

Not to sound all doom and gloom, just looking at the issues that the weight imbalance can cause.

Brett G
WBCCI #5501 AIR # 49
1978 Argosy 28 foot Motorhome

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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Old 11-18-2003, 09:48 AM   #3
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Neat adaptation of Airstream trailer. Have forwarded to my son who works for All Media Guide in AA Mich and has a band who are working on there third CD.
As to your question of tongue weight, it should be between 10 - 15% of the gross trailer weight with 12% considered ideal. Therefore if your trailer weights 6000 lbs. the tongue weight should be around 720 pounds. The best bet might be to add and distribute the weight under the front sofa. I have done this with mine as it had light tongue weight from the factory. I have had weight bags made from heavy vinyl and filed with lead shot. Each bag weighs 25 lbs. The bags are about 6" x 12" x 3". We also had this type bag at Chrysler which we used for ballast in test vehicles. A good awning supply in your area would be able to make them for you. This is an easy way to add weight under the sofa and spread the weight out across the front and not have it concentrated all in one place. The box you show on the rear of the truck might work if mounted on the trailer "A" frame, but I would be concerned depending on the amount of weight we adding. Adding weight on the back of the truck will not work. I would also use the weight distribution bars and would recommend the Reese dual cam sway control, to eliminate sway.
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Old 11-18-2003, 10:02 PM   #4
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Let's step back a minute and think this through. This thread is dropping to the bottom of "The Last 30 Posts..." and you may go forward without learning about how to get a safe tow. I would suggest plenty of research.

apple_1 (Jim) is leading you in the right direction talking about tongue weight. Your trailer's original dry weight was 4715 pounds. You've stripped and modified that -- not the point. Your trailer's listed tongue weight is 570 pounds -- your trailer will not tow safely until you have complied with this spec (or get close at least). Do you know what the Net Carrying Capacity or payload weight should be? That will be the number of pounds you can go over your dry weight. Period.

Go to Airstream's Customer Service/FAQ page and read the Weight Rating section at the bottom. Understand it backward and forward please!

An airplane carries most of its weight (cargo and fuel) centered over the wing (axle in our case). That also makes your frame happy. Putting a bicycle on the back bumper can lead to frame damage (moment arms etc -- you do the math, or rather I cannot -- but the point is important). What weight does your studio set-up add back there? Would I try to balance one problem with extra tongue weight? I don't think so.

Do searches on 'frame separation' and maybe take the advice about strengthening. Do a search on 'CAT scale' and figure out how to measure weight distribution on each axle of your tow vehicle, trailer and the hitch.

Just starting points -- This advice is all worth what it cost you (free!), but the repetition of sound points is what this forum is all about.

Best of luck -- stick around, and welcome aboard!

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 11-19-2003, 05:09 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I guess I need to do a bit more research. But after doing tha math, my trailer actually weighs 5120 lbs. (a little less), but yes, most of the weight is behind the axle. I'll check out the info on CAT scales and the frame kit.
-Will Shanks
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