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Old 08-03-2015, 03:49 PM   #1
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1979 31' Sovereign
Northeastern , Kentucky
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Travel with a full load of water?

I've read that traveling with a tank full of water helps with the center of gravity with the trailer. I'm curious if it really makes a difference, since a 50 gallon tank of water weighs more than 400lbs. That seems like a lot of extra weight if the effect isn't substantial.

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Old 08-03-2015, 04:23 PM   #2
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The tank I'm my safari is under the floor ahead of the axels so adding weight there adds stability and lowers the centre of gravity, in theory.
In practice I've towed with the tank full and empty and can't tell any difference in how the trailer tows.

Normally I fill the tank of we'll need water and leave it empty if we will have full hookups. So the tank will be full on the way to the NASCAR race but empty on the way for the KOA. I try not to tow with a half empty tank because the water sloshes around but I have and couldn't feel a difference. If we ever need to cross the desert I'll have a full tank in case of emergency.

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Old 08-03-2015, 04:34 PM   #3
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My 2˘ worth…

If you're on your way to a boondocking site, traveling with a full water tank makes sense. If you're bugging out for a hurricane, it makes sense. Otherwise, it's more of a problem than it's worth.

A low center of gravity only makes a difference if you're going to slalom the trailer on a test track. Sane drivers will never maneuver so sharply that having the CG a foot lower (or whatever) would have a measurable effect on handling. As long as all of your trailer wheels stay on the ground, it doesn't much matter how high or how low the CG is.

Carrying a full water tank cuts into your load capacity. It adds to your tongue weight (unless the whole tank is behind the axles, which is seldom the case). It places more of a load on the tank supports causing them to fail sooner, and contributes to separation of the tank's vent line.

Carrying a partial tank of water is even worse, because then you have a sloshing effect, which causes your CG to move as you're towing, and makes every above problem more of a problem.

So if you're going to a campground with water, haul with your tank empty. If you're going to a campground without water, haul with it full. But always make sure it's either full or empty, never anything in between.
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Old 08-03-2015, 04:39 PM   #4
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The GVWR of my 27' Overlander is 6,200 pounds, 400 pounds of water in the fresh water tank would be roughly 7% of the total weight - maybe some effect, but not likely.
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Old 08-03-2015, 04:45 PM   #5
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I always carry enough for bathroom use only. If boon docking full tank!
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Old 08-03-2015, 05:01 PM   #6
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I look at the full water tank as it is better to have it and not need it than the not have it and need it scenario. When filled at home, we know what the water tastes like. If a mechanical issue happens and we are beside the road, there is water at hand for the toilet or to drink. Out West where we are based, there are long stretches of highways with literally no services of any kind.

The water issue would be less serious back East with exits so close together on the interstates.
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Old 08-03-2015, 05:02 PM   #7
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I do the same Joe
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:00 PM   #8
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Me too, full tank. Better to have and not need than to need and not have

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Old 08-03-2015, 06:18 PM   #9
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I often fill up full at home first. Most campsites I visit don't have a convenient spigot so am faced with hauling 6 or 7 6-gallon jugs of water to the trailer after arrival. This can cut into cocktail hour and gives me a sore arm and I get wet.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:22 PM   #10
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Full tank for me when I leave home, even if I know I'm going to a full hookup park. Never know about the future. You can always pump & dump, but if you need water, it could be hard to find.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:26 PM   #11
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Our 16' Bambi definitely tows smoother and with less bounce with a full tank (only about 20 gallons). Also, I know that our home water supply is clean and odor-free. Not so sure about a campground's.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:34 PM   #12
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I usually carry all 54 I am often boondocking for several days. This gives me at the least seven days without worry if I am careful.

The issue is not so much the fresh water but the gray tank which holds only 39 gallons...
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:45 PM   #13
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Most times I head out I do not know where I might end up. Always nice to have plenty of water on board. I usually leave my tank full, drain and refill it once a month.
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Old 08-03-2015, 06:45 PM   #14
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I've towed with it empty, full, and plenty of places in between and have never noticed any kind of difference. You're talking about, at most, a couple hundred pounds difference compared to thousands of pounds, so the difference is relatively small, and the weight is over the axles so it doesn't affect the hitch.

As to whether I fill it, it depends. Going camping to a place without water hookups? Yes, fill it, obviously. Going camping in a place with a water hookup? Don't worry about filling. But I do keep some in it at all times during the season so that we have water to wash hands, etc. while on the road (probably a third or so). But it's not a decision to make sure I have X gallons in it - it's more of a situation of what's left after we used it for a weekend without hookups, until the next time we are camping without a water hookup.

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