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Old 10-05-2014, 03:26 PM   #1
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Tongue weight with WDH conundrum

I recently got my 2014 International Signature 25FB ONYX weighed and the tongue was 1100 lbs . My Armada has a max hitch weight of 910 and the class IV hitch tops at 1000 lbs.

I know the tongue weight is over a class IV hitch rating without a WDH, but is it fine when you're using one?

If you're using a weight distribution hitch (Reese) with 800 lbs bars does that mean 800 lbs are transferred off the hitch or is it still the full 1100 lbs on the hitch?

I'm so confused.
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:16 PM   #2
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The only tongue weight that matters is the weight added to the Armada after hitched with weight distribution applied. The only way to get that weight is to take it to a truck scale with Airstream hitched and weight distribution applied.

Put the truck on the scale with the trailer axles off the scale to get the hitched truck weight. The unhitch the trailer and weigh the truck again to get the truck unhitched truck weight. The difference is the weight actually added to the Armada. It will most probably be less than your previous tongue weight number because some of the weight will be distributed to the trailer axles by the w.d. hitch.

While at the scale there are some other useful numbers to get to ensure the truck is not otherwise overloaded. The Armada is similar to a half-ton truck which means when your 25' Airstream is hooked up you are quite limited on additional weight in the truck. There should be a payload weight not to exceed in the driver's door jamb.

Our solution is to load the truck very lightly and forward of the truck's rear axle to assist weight distribution when the trailer is on, putting most of our limited gear in the Airstream, bicycles on the back of it on the Airstream approved Fiamma bike carrier.
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:16 PM   #3
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No the bar numbers are just a rating system not an indicator of weight transfer.

I question that tongue weight for that small a trailer. How was it done? A well designed tongue weights is generally between 10 and 12 % of the trailer weight. If you are using a bathroom scale make sure you ubderstand the formula for calculating the weight.
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
The only tongue weight that matters is the weight added to the Armada after hitched with weight distribution applied. The only way to get that weight is to take it to a truck scale with Airstream hitched and weight distribution applied.

Put the truck on the scale with the trailer axles off the scale to get the hitched truck weight. The unhitch the trailer and weigh the truck again to get the truck unhitched truck weight. The difference is the weight actually added to the Armada. It will most probably be less than your previous tongue weight number because some of the weight will be distributed to the trailer axles by the w.d. hitch.

While at the scale there are some other useful numbers to get to ensure the truck is not otherwise overloaded. The Armada is similar to a half-ton truck which means when your 25' Airstream is hooked up you are quite limited on additional weight in the truck. There should be a payload weight not to exceed in the driver's door jamb.

Our solution is to load the truck very lightly and forward of the truck's rear axle to assist weight distribution when the trailer is on, putting most of our limited gear in the Airstream, bicycles on the back of it on the Airstream approved Fiamma bike carrier.
I think you are confusing payload with tongue weight. How much of vehicle's payload is consumed by the trailer tongue weight is decided (as you mentioned) at the scale with weight distribution applied. However, the TV's hitch must still be able to support the dead weight of the trailer tongue.

For example, let assume the tongue is 1200#. With WD applied you transfer 300# off of the TV's rear axle (say, 200# goes to the front axle and 100# to trailer axles). Hence, the tongue weight consumes 1100# of your payload (only the 100# that is on trailer axles can be deducted from the 1200# total). Still, you need a hitch rated for 1200# (or more). That does not change with WD. If anything, WD puts MORE pressure on the hitch, not less.
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Old 10-05-2014, 05:15 PM   #5
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Actually, the torque applied to the WD hitch by the bars serves to reduce the torque applied to the receiver by the trailer tongue through the ball. But your basic statement is correct. You can only count the weight transferred to the TT as a reduction in tongue weight. If you weigh the TV steer and drive axles on the front two platforms of a CAT scale with the trailer attached and WD engaged, and then weigh the TV without the TT attached, the difference is the tongue weight, at least the weight that the TV hitch cares about. It is not the tongue weight applied to the ball of the WD hitch. To get that you need another set of weights with the trailer attached and WD not engaged.


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Old 10-05-2014, 05:35 PM   #6
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Nothing will ever reduce the tongue weight unless you take something out of or off the trailer. It is what it is.

You can cause the effect of that weight to appear to be supported elsewhere, transferred to the tv and the trailer axles. This did not reduce it. Actually a WD system increases the static load on the ball as a reaction to the downward force the WD applied to the tongue of the trailer. But the limiting factor for you purposes is the actual tongue weight. That is why we questioned your posted tongue weight. I appears high and beyound what one would expect fot that size trailer.

The receiver will have 2 ratings. One for max trailer weight when using a WD hitch and one for max carrying weight of a trailer without a WD system. Each rating will have a limit for max tongue weight. There may also be a statement that they will change depending on vehicle equipment. The max conditions are dictated by the suspension of the tv, how the trailer weight will effect the steering control of the tv, and the mechanical limits of the receiver.



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Old 10-05-2014, 05:49 PM   #7
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Any attempt to simplify this subject will quickly be dismissed, in the direction that any half-ton truck or lesser vehicle is ineligible to tow a modern mid-sized Airstream. Yet we who have them all do.

It is not the downward weight that challenges our hitches, it is the upward twisting the weight distribution bars apply attempting to distribute (lift) tongue weight towards the front axle. This is best remedied by loading the truck (including tongue weight) within payload limits, and as much of that weight forward of the truck rear axle as possible to ease the task of the w.d. hitch.
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Old 10-05-2014, 05:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenXair View Post
I recently got my 2014 International Signature 25FB ONYX weighed and the tongue was 1100 lbs . My Armada has a max hitch weight of 910 and the class IV hitch tops at 1000 lbs.

I know the tongue weight is over a class IV hitch rating without a WDH, but is it fine when you're using one?

If you're using a weight distribution hitch (Reese) with 800 lbs bars does that mean 800 lbs are transferred off the hitch or is it still the full 1100 lbs on the hitch?

I'm so confused.
You have the ability to change your trailer's tongue weight.
You can reduce tongue weight by moving things (weight) from the front of the trailer toward the rear of the trailer. For example: A loaded storage bin could add ~100 lbs to tongue weight if carried 6 feet in front of the axles. If that same load is moved 6 feet behind the axles, the rebalancing removes ~200 lbs of tongue weight, but does not change the gross trailer weight.

As you load the trailer try to place heavy things near the floor. Lighter things should be loaded in the upper cabinets. Try to concentrate most load directly over the axles.

add edit:
Nissan has a towing guide that you can download. There's some good reading there that will help you understand your vehicle's capabilities.
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Old 10-05-2014, 06:08 PM   #9
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Lets not turn this thread into arguments about trucks.

The OP's concern is that the tongue weight of the trailer is more than the hitch rating. I think its a valid concern. My understanding is that the tongue weight must be less than the hitch rating regardless of the whether WD is applied or not. As HowieE said, tongue weight does not change with application of WD.

GenXAir: how did you weigh the tongue weight? You could use a Sherline scale to measure the tongue weight accurately (Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scales) or you could go to a CAT scale. Just note the tongue weight at the coupler is slightly less than the tongue weight measured the jack. Its usually ~ 95% or something. If you want accurate ratio, its X/Y where X is the distance from the jack to the middle of trailer axles, and Y is the distance from the coupler to the middle of trailer axles.

BTW, Sherline website also has a towing guide, which is very useful. Trailer Loading and Towing Guide
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Old 10-05-2014, 06:53 PM   #10
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GenXair, here's the simple answer. You've got good towing equipment. Have a knowledgeable shop set up your Reese 800# hitch or you can do it yourself following Reese's instructions. Load your Airstream and Armada with weight appropriate to your payload (forward in the truck, balanced fore/aft and side to side as best you can judge) in the trailer, and go camping.
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Old 10-05-2014, 07:05 PM   #11
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I would echo the post above. The Armada hitch is pretty good and I doubt you will have a problem with it. We generally reinforce them but it is not critical like it is with some vehicles.

We do on occasion reduce the hitch weight on some Airstreams. There are three things that are relatively simple to do.

Change to P235/75R x 15" Michelins so you likely never get a flat. Then remove the spare tire and carrier. The Michelins will carry the Airstream on three wheels if you ever do get a flat.

You can change your LP tanks from 30's to 20 lb tanks, gives you a handy storage area in the cover for bulky light items.

Remove the batteries and change to AGM batteries (which don't gas). Install the AGM batteries under the rear dinette seat.

These three changes will get you down to the 900 pound range.

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Old 10-05-2014, 07:49 PM   #12
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I think Andrew T's suggestions to reduce the tongue weight to be within the rating of the hitch makes sense. I also find it irresponsible to suggest to someone (specially someone new to the forum) to just ignore the hitch rating and go camping -- Nothing good comes out of putting your head in the sand and wishing for the best. Doug obviously believes exceeding the hitch rating by 300# is "fine". I would not make a recommendation to others that might get them in trouble.
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:22 PM   #13
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GenXAir can you shed more light on how your weight was determined? Your post as is doesn't really give enough information to be useful in offering you a solution. All of the posts have great information but you haven't given us enough of a starting point. How was it weighed, do you have a WD system (you mention Reese, is that what you have), are all data points that would help.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:38 PM   #14
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WOW!!! I wasn't expecting for so many folks to take the time to post a reply on a Sunday. Thanks. I feel special.

After reading everything that was posted it seems the consensus is the trailer tongue weight is still what it is with or without the WDH. My understanding from this is that the WDH just moves some weight from the rear of the TV to the front and some back to the trailer, but doesn't remove, and may add, weight from the hitch. Is that right?

To answer a few of your questions. I did have it weighed at a CAT Scale. Unfortunately I didn't weigh the TV axles separately so I can't give you individual axel weights, but I can give you the GVW, unhitched 4960# & hitched 5440#. That's an added weight to the TV of 480#. Trailer weight 7,520#. The gross combined weight was 12,500#, well below the Armada's max of 14,700#.

HowieE-
I'm just as surprised as you are about the tongue weight to trailer length. The owners manual has it listed as 833# but that doesn't include batteries or the two 30gal tanks or the few things I have in the side compartment. It's crazy that my size trailer of this line has the heaviest tongue.

Andrew T-
I really like your suggestions and will implement them come next travel season. It beats trying to sell my ride and spending more money on a truck. As for the AGM batteries do you mean to carry them under the rear dinette seat or really install them? If you did suggest to instal them wouldn't that require lots of rewiring?

If my only option is to reduce the tongue load then how essential is it to have batteries on a trailer if I'm always plugged in? Has anyone tried it?

Thank you all for your input.

-Alvin
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