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Old 11-06-2006, 04:11 PM   #1
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Reducing Tongue Weight by Loading Rear of AS

Can the effective tongue weight on a 25 Classic or Safari be lessened by loading the rear of the trailer with gear? The twin bed models have great space between the beds for this purpose.
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Old 11-06-2006, 04:17 PM   #2
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The tongue weight will decrease as weight is added behind the axel.
Will this cause problems, you bet!
The most common cause of sway in a trailer is lack of weight on the tongue.
I had this happen to me years ago with a popup trailer that I loaded with heavy stuff in the rear. The trailer was uncontrollable at freeway speeds. I realised what I had done, moved some stuff around and the sway was gone.
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Old 11-06-2006, 04:50 PM   #3
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Don't do it

I am no expert, but the best place to load weight in the traler is in the middle over the axles and balanced side to side. It is not a good idea to try to decrease the tongue weight by overloading the rear. Balance weight is always better for safety and reliabilty. After you load your AS correctly, the tongue weight should be consistent with your trailers original tongue weight figure plus additional weight based on how much you loaded your AS. The general rule is that the tongue weight should be between 10% and 15% of the total weight of the trailer.

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Old 11-06-2006, 04:58 PM   #4
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Thumbs down Decreasing tongue weight

This my be helpful. I bought a 25' Airstream that had been transported to Germany and back. While in Germany, weight was added to the rear bumper(almost 300 lbs of steel plates). All to lower the tongue weight to meet German standards, which was a wt of under 150 kilos (about 330 lbs or there abouts).
Net result was the previous owner had the trailer go out of control, jack-knife and damage several body panels.
I then entered the picture and picked the trailer up for a song (or so I thought). The repair work was done at P&H in Helena, Ohio and I had the axles realigned at the Airstream factory. The good news is I now have a like new trailer (also had it stripped and clearcoated by P&H), bad news is the cost was over $13,000 plus the purchase price.
In short I would load the trailer as the owners manual recommends (in the middle of coach, I think) and not get creative.
No one was injured in this instance but they were lucky.
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Old 11-06-2006, 06:19 PM   #5
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From the smallest U-Haul to Airstreams, the location of axles on American made trailers dictate that 10-15% of the gross trailer weight must be on the tongue. If you go below 10% you can reach major instability that is absolutely awful to experience. It isn't too noticeable at low speeds; ie, below 30mph. The trailer starts swaying and you're lucky if the hitch holds up or both TV & trailer don't end up in the ditch. The closest analogy would be to take a paper airplane and try throwing it backwards.

In the article on the Airstream Europe projects, "Airstream Life" noted that Euro requirements are different as kenny2 says. Axle location is different, tongue weight is much lighter, and their hitches are really different by our way of thinking -- they don't have weight distribution the way we'd define it.
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Old 11-06-2006, 07:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FranzB
Can the effective tongue weight on a 25 Classic or Safari be lessened by loading the rear of the trailer with gear? The twin bed models have great space between the beds for this purpose.
Can you do it? Yes. Should you do it? No.
It will make a horribly unstable rig. One of our local RV dealers misloaded a fifth wheel trailer this way once, and the rig didn't get a mile up the road before it had flipped. The owner of the rig was seriously injured, and the trailer and tow vehicle were totaled.
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:07 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for the great advice. I've modified my choice of Safari model to one with a lower hitch weight to stay within TV payload specs and thus eliminate the need to dangerously rear load the trailer.
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:15 PM   #8
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Good results

Quote:
Originally Posted by FranzB
Thanks to all for the great advice. I've modified my choice of Safari model to one with a lower hitch weight to stay within TV payload specs and thus eliminate the need to dangerously rear load the trailer.
Always glad to see smart people asking smart questions, getting smart answers and then making a smart decision. Good job FranzB.

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Old 11-06-2006, 08:21 PM   #9
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U-haul recommends that 65% of weight be in front of the axle ON ANY SIZE TRAILER.
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMEMACHINE
Always glad to see smart people asking smart questions, getting smart answers and then making a smart decision. Good job FranzB.

John

John, You're too kind.

Regards,

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Old 11-06-2006, 09:59 PM   #11
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that's all well and good but the point is....

IF the trailer weights 6000lbs and has a tongue weight of nearly 900lbs loading CAN influence this number....

it is possilble with careful packing (like not putting 5 cases of beer up front)...

to reduce the tongue mass and still not violate the 10% rule....

my 34 factory tongue weight isn't much more than the 25 classic franzb was considering....

fully loaded my 34 weights nearly 11,000lbs. i've weighed the tongue while moving stuff inside the trailer....still keeping it over or near the axles...

tongue weights vary several hundred lbs upto 1500lbs....which is over the limits for my hitch.

so i load the trailer to achieve a tongue mass of 1100-1200lbs exactly....

moving cases of water, beer, coffee and tools, or holding waste in a tank longer, to make this variation...

mass doesn't have to be as far back as the bumper to accomplish this variation...

franzb...
i agree with what roadkingmoe posted in your other thread....
find the trailer model you really like and get it. don't buy something to fit the titan....unless you only plan to camp 1-2 times per year.

if you really want a specific unit, not getting that unit will haunt you every camping trip....all the time.

and you still won't be able to carry toys or much gear in the titan, without being over limit...

yes dealer can do the bunk bed conversion...will they? only if you pay for it....

if ya want the bunks have the factory do the bunk option... and get it done right.

cheers
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Old 11-07-2006, 12:57 AM   #12
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Don't make your Airstream a teeter-totter

I have to agree with azflycaster:
Don't try to take the weight off the tongue by adding it to the back. I produce a home show for the local homebuilder's association. When we were wrapping up one show a few years ago, I told the crew to load some displays into the back of a covered utility trailer. Later in the day, I stopped by the venue, hitched up and headed out (Yep, I forgot to open the trailer and inspect the load).

All the light weight stuff was in the nose, and all the heavy displays were set just inside the back doors. I climbed a hill leaving the site...then started down the other side. Doing about 50 mph the trailer decided it was in control. At first I was sure I had blown a tire as the trailer was swinging trying to pass the truck on the left, then on the right. I managed to get it settled down, and after getting back on flat road, pull over and check. No blown tires.

I took it easy to my destination and parked it. Unhitched, I discovered there was almost no weight on the hitch the way it was loaded.

No damage, but the lesson was learned - I always check the loading before leaving.

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Old 11-07-2006, 07:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FranzB
Thanks to all for the great advice. I've modified my choice of Safari model to one with a lower hitch weight to stay within TV payload specs and thus eliminate the need to dangerously rear load the trailer.
If you are splitting hairs on tongue weight, me thinks you may be dangerously overloaded with you choice of TV and TT???
I would suggest a little further investigation of you choices...
No one here wants to have you attempt something dangerous. See the posts above about sway, tipping over etc.
Towing an AS (or SOB) can be a safe, and certainly enjoyable endeavour. Proper selection of a TV is paramount.

What ever questions you may have, there are many experienced folks on this board willing to help.

Bill
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Old 11-07-2006, 08:19 AM   #14
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I would agree with 2air' -- you should be able to put some body english on your loading and any normal camping load placed aft should not reduce tongue weight below 10%. The published tongue weights as a percent of UBW are 12+% for the Safari 25, 10+% for the Safari 25 SS, and 11+% for the Classic 25.

You should rely on an actual weight measurement of your loaded trailer. Your manual will show how to weight the hitch with a bathroom scale but you'll also need to know the loaded trailer's weight too. (search on CAT scale, especially noting 2air's thread)

Having noticed your other thread with questions about the SS:
1. Experience with owners of that unit suggest the Hehr Safari windows can be disliked in the long run. Only a bottom portion of the window can open and circulation is nothing like the hinged-at-the-top windows of the Classics or Special Editions. My old Argosy windows have top hinging and I love 'em! Our 25' Special Edition easily sleeps a 3rd tall person on the roadside couch while leaving the dinette free -- but there won't be any of this most popular model sitting around dealer lots with closeout discounts.
2. At least the SS corner bed is 6" wider than the 19' Bambi corner bed, but these corner beds have to be laid in to fully realize how much space the person against the wall loses. Don't just do this over the phone -- IMO you need to see & "feel" the trailer to buy into the proposition.

Otherwise ... loading with the SS starts out about 100# less than the Classic. Please do the math.
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Old 11-07-2006, 10:55 AM   #15
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After spending hours yesterday re-analyizing floorplans and our immediate camping needs, the Safari SS w/ bunk is our best choice- better than the the Classic or Safari 25 w/ twins. Additionally we do not want a trailer in excess of 25 ft.

-The dinette is a feature we would like and most people on these forums feel strongly about having that feature.

-I'm 6'3" 235lbs. and while I can FIT on the twin bed, I do roll over frequently and think a wider bed (I'll be on the bottom bed in the SS) and one without the elbow whacking nightstand would be preferable.

-Based on months of watching inventories at dealers, RVTrader, Ebay, etc. the twin bed models are CLEARLY the least popular- didn't used to be, but are now. This DOESN'T mean that you avoid one if you want one, this DOES mean that most people prefer non-twin confirugations. Resale- I would venture to guess that if I roll into a dealer in 5 years and want to trade in my Safari SS they would be much more interested in it than a twin bed model.

-We have all winter to search inventories and try to find the DEAL. There ARE deals on all models including Safari SS- instock or special ordered. Diligence, patience and cash deal/no trade are virtues to understand, respect and utilize.

-I fully understand the differences between the Classic & Safari lines. The Classic is better- no question. I't's also heavier, more expensive and, MOST IMPORTANTLY doesn't offer the floor plan we really want.

Virtually everyone has said "Buy the trailer you really want." After exhaustive research we believe that the Safari SS is the one "we really want." Fortunatley we have months to let that reonate before we need to make a move. The Classic deal needs to be consumated within 72 hours.

THE question to ponder. If we had a Duramax/Allison in the garage would we choose the Classic 25. At this point I think we would choose the Safari SS.
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Old 11-07-2006, 11:38 AM   #16
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tongue weight

Okay, I'm a little confused by all the "don't do it" replies. If he has a very high tongue weight and the trailer is within gross weight and he moves some items rearward and now has an acceptable tongue weight why is the trailer all of a sudden going to crash? I fly helicopters and we do this all the time. To me tongue weight is a groundpounders way of saying you have a forward center of gravity. If he has an observed tongue weight of say 1200 lbs and shifts 200 lbs aft and sees a new scale reading of 900 lbs, why is the trailer going to go out of control? I thought correct tongue weighting was the way we kept "sway" under control. I realize that putting 1000 lbs on the rear bumper will screw things up, but shifting weight aft of the tongue and then checking the new tongue weight is what he's talking about. Please help me out if I'm wrong
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Old 11-07-2006, 11:53 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wasafari
Okay, I'm a little confused by all the "don't do it" replies. If he has a very high tongue weight and the trailer is within gross weight and he moves some items rearward and now has an acceptable tongue weight why is the trailer all of a sudden going to crash? I fly helicopters and we do this all the time. To me tongue weight is a groundpounders way of saying you have a forward center of gravity. If he has an observed tongue weight of say 1200 lbs and shifts 200 lbs aft and sees a new scale reading of 900 lbs, why is the trailer going to go out of control? I thought correct tongue weighting was the way we kept "sway" under control. I realize that putting 1000 lbs on the rear bumper will screw things up, but shifting weight aft of the tongue and then checking the new tongue weight is what he's talking about. Please help me out if I'm wrong
I believe the motivation was to modify tongue weigth in an attempt to reach an acceptable weight in a marginal situation. If I were over by 100#, I would not want to try to shift 101# off the bumper by playing with weight inside the trailer.
When loading a vehicle, which has proper capacity (not borderline) do many of us place items in particluar spots inside to achieve or maintain proper tongue weight (read; sway control) and good balance?
You bet!

But I would not use weight shifting as a way of obtaining less hitch weight in order to stay under that rating with a marginal TV.

To the original poster; have you factored in the WD hitch?
I saw no mention in your posts and this will effect your ratings...
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Old 11-07-2006, 12:02 PM   #18
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This thread has had a variety of responses, it seems as though it stems from responders perceptions of the original question. Is he talking about loading (overloading) the bumper area or merely shifting a little bit of cargo aft to acheive the CORRECT tongue weight. My read is that it is the latter. Don't we all do that?
Go back and re-read 2Air's response and Canoe Streams response. IMHO they are both well thought out and go to the original question.
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Old 11-07-2006, 02:11 PM   #19
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I apologise in advance to those with a good understanding of basic applied math. They should ignore the rest of this post.
The original post talks of placing items to the rear of the axle to lessen the tongue weight. I would never do this, but I would happily move items within the area in front of the axle to achieve the correct tongue weight. If these choices are examined purely in terms of centre of gravity, there would appear to be no difference in the two procedures. However, IMHO, the vital difference is in terms of what we call "moment of inertia". Put one of your twin grandkids at each end of a 10 foot seesaw. The kids each weigh the same. The centre of gravity of the combined kids is at the center of the pivot of the seesaw. Pump one end of the seesaw up and down with your hand, and see how much effort is involved. It takes a fair effort.You are feeling the "moment of inertia" of the system. Now get the two kids to slide into the center, so they are both sitting as close to the pivot as possible. The center of gravity of the kids and seesaw is still in the center. Take hold of the end of the seesaw again, and pump it up and down. Much easier! You are feeling a lesser "moment of inertia".
When a trailer is rolling (the roof moving from side to side), yawing (we Airstreamers call this "swaying"), or pitching (the hitch coupling moving up and down as we drive over a bump), the moments of inertia of the trailer about its axes crucially affect its responses to outside influences such as passing semis, gusts of wind, uneven road surfaces. (The three axes are: front to back, left to right, and top to bottom)
It's rather more complex than examining the position of the center of gravity, IMHO. The above seeks to explain why I won't place anything heavy behind the axles, and will adhere very precisely to the recommended tongue weight and position of heavy loads, as recommended by the skilled Airstream engineers in the owner's manual.
Nick.
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Old 11-11-2006, 12:18 PM   #20
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Well said

nickcrowhurst has summed it up well. It's all about balance, the rules were written a long time ago, just follow them and all will be fine.

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