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Old 07-08-2014, 12:39 AM   #1
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Why weigh our vehicles - first topic TONGUE WEIGHT

Since I have been a member of the Forum I have been involved in several discussions about weighing our tow vehicles and trailers. To discuss what we are trying to accomplish when we weigh, the proper way to describe the results, and why all of this is so important will be the purpose of this thread. I hope every aspect of weighing will be discussed!

Let's start with the definition of trailer TONGUE WEIGHT, since it seems to be disagreed upon more often than any other.

Recently I got involved here: (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...ts-121859.html).
Instead of continuing to hijack mikekey's thread about sharing our trailer weights with each other, I thought we might continue the discussion in this thread.

Since my last post about weight measurements, #75 on mikekey's thread, I have been searching the internet for several hours in the last two days trying to determine what the definition trailer TONGUE WEIGHT really is. Some other Forum members have claimed that some hitches, the PP and HA specifically, when attached to the trailer A-frame assembly become part of the tongue weight. I see the logic in this, but do not agree.

What I found during my online search: As described by tow vehicle manufacturers, hitch manufacturers, and trailer manufacturers, the following are gleaned from some manufacture's published documents which I found online. The part between "quotation marks" is the exact wording from the manufacturer's document. Where there was a drawing in lieu of wording, the wording with no quotation marks is my description of the manufacturer's drawings.


DESCRIPTION OF TONGUE WEIGHT BY MANUFACTURER
From Ford Owners Manual – 2014 F-150
“Tongue Load or Fifth Wheel King Pin Weight - refers to the amount of the weight that a trailer pushes down on a trailer hitch.”

From Chevrolet Owners Manual – 2014 Silverado 1500
I found no written description of tongue weight in the manual, but there is a drawing in the Owners Manual showing tongue weight measured with a scale beneath the trailer tongue jack.

From Dodge Owners Manual – 2014 Ram 1500
“Tongue Weight (TW) The tongue weight is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer tongue.”

From Toyota Owners Manual – 2014 Tundra
“Tongue Weight The load placed on the trailer hitch ball.” In addition to this description, there is a drawing in the Owners Manual showing tongue weight measured with a scale beneath the trailer tongue jack.

From Pro Pride Hitch website – Towing Definitions
“Tongue Weight (TW) – The static downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler.”

From Reese Hitch – 2014 Towing Vehicle and Vehicle Accessory Application and Technical Guide
“Tongue Weight (TW) is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler”

E-Hitch website – how to determine your tongue weight
“tongue weight. This is the weight that the fully loaded trailer exerts downward on the hitch ball of the tow vehicle.”

From Airsteam Owners Manual - 2014 Classic
I found no written description of tongue weight in the Owners Manual, but there are two drawings showing tongue weight measured with a scale beneath the trailer tongue jack.

From Forest River website – Travel Trailer/Fifth Wheel Towing Guide
“Tongue Weight -The weight of the tongue as it bears down on the hitch of the towing vehicle.”


The following statements are mine, but based on the facts, as I understand them, that I have read in manufacturer's published data. I invite you please comment (without getting into hostile arguments, let's keep it civil as possible) If you disagree, please provide manufacturers' published data or some reliable source to support your statements:
  1. Manufacturer's written or drawn information (without exception that I have found) for tow vehicles, hitches, and trailers indicate the definition of TONGUE WEIGHT is the vertical dead weight of the trailer tongue where it bears on the ball and/or hitch.
  2. The purposes of determining trailer TONGUE WEIGHT:
    1. To determine if trailer TOUNGE WEIGHT exceeds the weight capacity as designed by the trailer manufacturer.
    2. To determine if the trailer TOUNGE WEIGHT exceeds the ball manufacturer's specified weight for the ball. Every ball has its own separate rating for trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
    3. To determine if the trailer TOUNGE WEIGHT exceeds the hitch manufacturer's specified weight for the hitch. Every hitch has its own separate rating for trailer TONGUE WEIGHT
    4. To determine if the sum total of the TOUNGE WEIGHT, weight of the ball, weight of the hitch, and weight of the sway control exceed the capacity of the tow vehicle's hitch receiver.
  3. Dead weight of the hitch ball, the hitch, and/or sway control never becomes part of trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
    1. Exception: The weight of any part of a hitch or a sway control which is permanently welded or bolted to the trailer, left in place when the ball and hitch are disconnected and/or removed from the trailer, does become part of the trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
    2. When it is not practical to remove the ball and/or hitch when measuring the trailer TONGUE WEIGHT on a scale, the weight of the hitch and ball must be deducted from that weight when calculating trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
    3. The ball, hitch, and sway control devices are cargo, which is added to and/or becomes part of the tow vehicle's payload weight.
    4. The sum total of the TONGUE WEIGHT and the weight of ball and hitch is used to determine the load on the tow vehicle's hitch receiver. I do not know the proper name (or terminology) for this sum total weight, but I do know it is not trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
  4. Dynamic or live loads are not used additionally to calculate or adjust the dead load of TONGUE WEIGHT.
    1. Rotational loads of torque on the ball, hitch and/or receiver, created by tensioning the weight distribution, are not considered when measuring trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
    2. Vertical loads, created by tensioning the weight distribution spring bars, downward on the hitch ball and/or downward on the brackets mounted on the A-frame, are not considered when measuring trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
    3. Transferred loads, weight transferred from the rear axle of the tow vehicle, then distributed onto the tow vehicle front axle and trailer axles, are not considered when measuring trailer TONGUE WEIGHT.
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:36 AM   #2
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I got a PM, from a fellow forum member, telling me to "keep it simple". I whole heartedly agree.
Though, it takes a lot of "blah blah" to refute incorrect info that has been put forth elsewhere in this forum. It enables one to get to that point of information that should be so simple.
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Old 07-08-2014, 11:46 AM   #3
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Tongue Weight. It all depends on who and what they want it to define. The manufactures Tongue Weight is the load extended to the ball as the unit left the factory. Other than that day that number is useless and nothing more than an advertising statement. Every trailer out there has had modifications to the trailer that change that number. Gas tanks, WD hitch assembly, electric jack, plus load inside the trailer all effect the tongue weight. You are interested in the resulting weight before you leave the house

What you should be interested in is the weight placed on the ball before you make any adjustments in the hitch. That is the number that tells you if you have exceeded the receive rating or axle bearing ratings. While you can reduce the weight on the rear axle with hitch adjustments you want to be sure that the net number is within the 10 to 12 % of the gross trailer weight to insure proper handling while towing. Yes a WD hitch will effect sway but there is no reason to go beyond the accepted design recommendations.

PP and HaHa discount the fact that their hutches are included in the tongue weight. That is smoke and mirrors. That 100+ pounds is loaded directly on the TV.

Vehicle manufactures only give suggestions for tongue weights limits based on coupling to ball loads and do not take any form of WD hitch into consideration.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:32 PM   #4
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Tongue weight. I think keeping it simple is

1) What is the tongue weight for selecting weight distribution bars?

I want to be able to distribute an equal amount to our 2012 Ram 1500 axles (some will go to the trailer axles). Add the Airstream hitch weight from their specification, my ProPride hitch weight, and anything we may carry in the truck's bed behind the rear axles. These are the weights the w.d. bars should be able to distribute, so we need ProPride 1400# w.d. bars. We get a smooth ride with good handling and braking in varied weather and traffic conditions.

2) How much does the loaded Airstream add to the loaded truck payload?

Pull the truck and Airstream onto a truck scale so the truck's axles are on, but the Airstream's axles are not. Weight distribution set and trailer level. Weigh it. Then disconnect the hitch from the truck and weigh again. The difference is the payload the trailer adds to the truck.
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
PP and HaHa discount the fact that their hutches are included in the tongue weight. That is smoke and mirrors. That 100+ pounds is loaded directly on the TV.
THANK YOU for responding!
That is exactly one of the points I was trying to make. Load of the hitch is on the tow vehicle as payload, not on the trailer tongue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Tongue weight. I think keeping it simple is

1) What is the tongue weight for selecting weight distribution bars?

I want to be able to distribute an equal amount to our 2012 Ram 1500 axles (some will go to the trailer axles). Add the Airstream hitch weight from their specification, my ProPride hitch weight, and anything we may carry in the truck's bed behind the rear axles. These are the weights the w.d. bars should be able to distribute, so we need ProPride 1400# w.d. bars. We get a smooth ride with good handling and braking in varied weather and traffic conditions.

2) How much does the loaded Airstream add to the loaded truck payload?

Pull the truck and Airstream onto a truck scale so the truck's axles are on, but the Airstream's axles are not. Weight distribution set and trailer level. Weigh it. Then disconnect the hitch from the truck and weigh again. The difference is the payload the trailer adds to the truck.
THANK YOU for responding.
1) Good point! I missed mentioning the selection of spring bars based on tongue weight. That should have been item 5 under the purposes for determining tongue weight.
Though, I've do not remember reading that one should include the weight of the hitch in addition to tongue weight when selecting those bars! Can you point me toward PP's literature that says to do this? I have read their install guide, but not much else. I might have missed it.

2) I've weighed many times, so I'm familiar. Still, I'm hoping to learn more and share what I have learned. This will come up again in a future topic in this thread.

One of my goals: when this thread is done, someone new to towing can come here, read through and learn quickly. And, be able to take what they learn and quickly apply it.
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A W Warn View Post
THANK YOU for responding!

One of my goals: when this thread is done, someone new to towing can come here, read through and learn quickly. And, be able to take what they learn and quickly apply it.
That would be me, and I thank all of you for your time, insight, and shared experiences.

I know after reading this thread (and others) that I'll get it right!
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Old 07-09-2014, 04:54 PM   #7
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Why we weigh our vehicles - 2nd topic - Choosing Weight Distribution

[QUOTE=dkottum;1479757]Tongue weight. I think keeping it simple is

1) What is the tongue weight for selecting weight distribution bars?

I want to be able to distribute an equal amount to our 2012 Ram 1500 axles (some will go to the trailer axles). Add the Airstream hitch weight from their specification, my ProPride hitch weight, and anything we may carry in the truck's bed behind the rear axles.
QUOTE]

Doug,

Thanks for pointing something out to me that I did not know. At first I thought you were saying adding hitch weight to tongue weight was unique for hitches like the PP or HA. I was wrong! After corresponding with Sean at PP and researching online I realized what you were trying to tell me. Your statement made me learn I have been calculating incorrectly for as long as I have been using weight distribution. (30+ years). Luckily I had the correct spring bars, even though my calculations were wrong!

I think the intent is not to use the manufacturer's stated trailer tongue weight or empty trailer tongue weight, but the actual trailer tongue weight when loaded, when making these calculations.

What I learned:
The weight of all the gear added behind the rear axle of the tow vehicle (cargo in the bed, the ball & hitch, the sway control) should be considered in addition to trailer tongue weight when choosing the correct spring bars for a weight distribution system.


The statement below is copied/pasted from E-HITCH.COM:
"If you want to use a weight distribution system, remember to include the weight of any gear you might load behind the rear axle of the tow vehicle. You should add the weight of this gear to your tongue weight to select a weight distribution system of the proper size."
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Old 07-09-2014, 05:08 PM   #8
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Glad that is cleared up. I've been searching for that same answer.
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Old 08-20-2014, 06:03 PM   #9
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Cat Scale weight results calculator

I created an Excel spread sheet to help me quickly analyze the results when weighing at the Cat Scales. I have adapted it for PP & HA users (correctly I hope). For some reason the document will not attach to this post.

I have added some instructions to make it easier for others to understand how to use it. It works like this:

  1. First section - enter data in blank spaces = the specified maximum load limits for your tow vehicle, trailer, and your hitching equipment.
  2. Second section - enter data in blank spaces = your Cat Scale results
  3. Third section - results are automatically calculated by the spreadsheet.
If anyone would like to try it, PM me and I will be glad to email it to you. Or, can someone (moderator?) tell me if I can attach Excel to a post so I can share it.
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Old 08-20-2014, 07:15 PM   #10
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From the truck's perspective, it seems to me that the difference between the weight measured on the tow vehicle's axles without any components of the WD installed and the same weight with the trailer connected and WD engaged is the tongue weight. If weight is placed on the hitch it should be measurable at the tow vehicle axles. At least with an Equalizer hitch it seems that the torque applied by the WD bars serves to reduce the torque generated by the tongue weight and thus the effect of the weight applied to the truck receiver.

That said, I think the static tongue weight of the trailer as measured with a scale is the number to use when selecting a hitch head because that is the weight applied to the ball on the head.

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Old 08-21-2014, 12:42 PM   #11
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for my 1,000th post

For my 1,000th post. I am attaching the spreadsheet I created to analyze results of weighing my trailer using Cat Scales.
My intent is to measure the load on every component of the tow vehicle, hitch, sway control, and trailer which has a load rating. And, to measure the ratio of trailer to trailer tongue load. I hope it is helpful.

If you find something that is incorrect, or have suggestions for improvement, I am always open to change.
Attached Files
File Type: xls Towing weight calculator and result analyzer.xls (31.0 KB, 163 views)
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:06 PM   #12
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Alan suggested changes would be in Section 1 you could automate data points such as the Max Payload by using the weights from the third weigh against the GVWR. There are a few such calks that could be automated. Similar spreadsheet to the one I have published several times. Only weights I don't have are for all of the ProPride pieces. But the results get to the same place. Mine was based on the PP instructions from awhile ago.
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Old 08-21-2014, 07:02 PM   #13
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Alan,

It seems to me there is a fundamental disconnect between the definitions of "tongue weight" summarized in your Post #1 and the definition of "tongue weight" embodied in your spreadsheet.

I find nothing in any of the sources for "tongue weight" cited in your first post which states or implies that "tongue weight" is the downward force acting on the hitch when weight distribution is applied.
To the contrary, I believe every one of those sources intends for the "tongue weight" to be measured free from any effects of WD.

The values for "trailer tongue weight" presented cells F71, F73, and F85 are based on the value in cell F67 which is calculated as (G45+I45)-(G49+I49).
The sum of G45+I45 is the TV's GVW with WD tensioned.
The sum of G49+I49 is the GVW of TV only.
In essence, you have deducted the load transferred to the TT's axle(s) from the tongue weight.

Therefore, it seems to me that your spreadsheet's definition of "tongue weight", which does include the effect of WD, is in conflict with the results of your research presented in Post #1.

IMO, the term "tongue weight" should be defined as vertical load, resulting from weight of trailer and cargo, as applied to the ball.
I agree with including the weight of any accessory which essentially moves as part of the trailer -- such as a friction sway bar.
I would argue that only 50% of the weight of WD bars should be included as tongue weight since the front part of a WD bar moves as part of the TV while the rear part moves with the TT.
For the HA/PP hitches, I would consider the weight of the drawbar and lower (front) unit as part of the TV, the weight of the upper (rear) unit and strut/yoke assembly as part of the TT, and would distribute the weight of the linkage bars and WD bars equally between TV and TT. For simplicity, I would allot 50% of the total weight to the TV and 50% to the TT.

I respect and applaud all of the effort you are putting into defining these important terms. My remarks are offered in an effort to promote understanding and agreement and are not meant as a negative criticism of your work.

Ron
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Old 08-21-2014, 07:32 PM   #14
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Ron & Gary,

I appreciate the input! Critique is good.

I appreciate you pointing out the formula error. I'll look at it in more detail. In my working days I dealt with spreadsheets like this on a daily basis. Guess I've gotten a little rusty, starting my 5th year of retirement.

The vehicle industry clearly defines trailer tongue weight, I tried to represent that. Though, I wanted my spreadsheet to show the load rating and/or the actual weight of each component. Since there seems to always be contention where some loads should or should not be applied, I thought I would not apply portions of the hitch or sway to one category or another. The user can shift those loads/weights to suit themselves.

Thanks again!
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