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Old 04-03-2010, 08:28 AM   #1
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Eliminate WD issue with water!

Might be a crazy idea (i will surely get grilled for it) but let me know what you all think about this.

I have come to realize that a vast majority of AS owners will not recommend towing a large AS (25ft and up) without a large TV (3/4 ton, long wheelbase, huge SUV or pickups). The main reason is obviously safety. That being said, a lot of AS potential buyers, including me, are faced with the dilemma of adding to the purchase the cost of a new TV which could ultimately be a killer to some of us.

Sway can be "controlled" with proper equipment regardless of the TV so long it is not a featherweight TV. Braking of the AS can also be controlled with proper equipment on the TV and AS. The real issue always seems to lie in the WD, or, correct me if I am wrong, the tongue weight which squashes the rear axle of the TV and lifts up the front, hence, loss of control therefore danger.

Now comes my thought. What about installing a ballast system in the rear of the AS to transfer some of the weight of the tongue to the axle of the AS by balancing it. You can buy a 400 pound ballast from any wake boarding manufacturer with a 12 volt two way pump. To avoid adding weight to the AS, the pump could transfer the 50 gallon fresh water tank of the AS (about 400 pounds) to that bladder while towing and transfer it back to the original tank by the AS axle while parked. You will just need to fill up your fresh water tank each time you tow long distance. For example, you would reduce the tongue weight of an International 27/28 by 50%.

Is that CRAZY or not????
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:40 AM   #2
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Light hitch weights are the major cause of trailer sway. If moving some weight to the rear would eliminate problems, trailer companies would just put the fresh water tank in the rear. You should have around 12% - 15% of the total trailer weight on the tongue for a safe ride.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:42 AM   #3
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While the thought isn't crazy, the issues you're trying to address are much more complex than merely transferring weight will resolve.

Roger
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:46 AM   #4
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

I think that the point of weight distribution equipment is to transfer some of the trailer's tongue to the front axle of the tow vehicle, not to reduce the tongue weight of the trailer. Tongue weight is one of the forces that contributes to a stable towing combination. I'm afraid that reducing tongue weight by adding weight to the trailer behind the axle(s) would be counter-productive, if not dangerous

Brian
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
I think that the point of weight distribution equipment is to transfer some of the trailer's tongue to the front axle of the tow vehicle, not to reduce the tongue weight of the trailer. Tongue weight is one of the forces that contributes to a stable towing combination. I'm afraid that reducing tongue weight by adding weight to the trailer behind the axle(s) would be counter-productive, if not dangerous

Brian
Agreed but the goal is to still keep some tongue weight (about 400 lbs). This mitigation could create a much larger range of vehicles for towing. You don't think that 400 pounds is enough tongue weight? Between this weight and proper hitch ball "lock/hold" (however you would call it) i can't imagine what could possibly pull vertically the tongue out of the ball.
Moreover, if the braking system is properly set up (probably installing heavy duty break discs on the AS), couldn't the trailer almost stop by itself, therefore reducing the need a centralized weight on the tongue.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:09 AM   #6
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Light hitch weights are the major cause of trailer sway. If moving some weight to the rear would eliminate problems, trailer companies would just put the fresh water tank in the rear. You should have around 12% - 15% of the total trailer weight on the tongue for a safe ride.
Possible but from what i understand there is a lot of hardware available to prevent and correct sway. They seem to be effective from low tongue weight (400 lbs) to high weight.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:15 AM   #7
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I'd rather be a little heavy on the tongue than light. Never have been able to figure out why AS put fresh water tanks all the way forward and waste water tanks all the way aft. You would think the tanks would be placed near or over the axles to prevent all of the frame separation problem. To me it's like breaking a twig over your knee when the tanks are fore and aft.
Not only that but as the tank levels vary, typically getting lighter in the front and heavier in the rear. If you have a 30 gallon tank in the front and it's full, that's about 250 pounds of tongue weight. When you use the water the majority goes to the tanks in the rear. If you have a 30'+ trailer, that's a pretty dramatic weight shift. Especially with all of the talk about being careful to pack things where the weight is balanced throughout the trailer. When you transfer 250# of water as mentioned above, I can't get too concerned about a 5# bag of sugar or the weight of the appliances.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:15 AM   #8
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Agreed but the goal is to still keep some tongue weight (about 400 lbs). This mitigation could create a much larger range of vehicles for towing. You don't think that 400 pounds is enough tongue weight? Between this weight and proper hitch ball "lock/hold" (however you would call it) i can't imagine what could possibly pull vertically the tongue out of the ball.
Moreover, if the braking system is properly set up (probably installing heavy duty break discs on the AS), couldn't the trailer almost stop by itself, therefore reducing the need a centralized weight on the tongue.
You missed the most important point above. ALL TRAILER TONGUE WEIGHTS must be at least 10% of the overall weight of the trailer in question. Failure to have this amount of tongue weight will result in uncontrolled sway. This rule holds with single axle utility trailers all the way to the 36 fters. And it becomes even more important as the weight of the TV lessens with respect to the trailer.

Adding weight to the rear of the trailer to reduce tongue weight is the direct opposite of this rule.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:18 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by gamana View Post
Agreed but the goal is to still keep some tongue weight (about 400 lbs). This mitigation could create a much larger range of vehicles for towing. You don't think that 400 pounds is enough tongue weight? Between this weight and proper hitch ball "lock/hold" (however you would call it) i can't imagine what could possibly pull vertically the tongue out of the ball.
Moreover, if the braking system is properly set up (probably installing heavy duty break discs on the AS), couldn't the trailer almost stop by itself, therefore reducing the need a centralized weight on the tongue.

As Richard pointed out, the tongue weight really needs to be at least 15% of the trailer's gross weight. If you have 400# of tongue, it needs to be on about a 2800# trailer.

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:19 AM   #10
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My experience has been with a friend towing a flat utility trailer with a number of objects on it -- the heaviest being the last thing to put on the rear. By 30 mph it turned goosey and at 40 he had to pull to the side of the road. The trailer was all over the road -- best comparison I've come up with is to try to throw an arrow backwards with feathers first. It will try to switch ends in mid flight. Tongue weight has to be simple fraction of trailer gross weight as azflycaster points out. (I've heard 11-13% but the idea is the same)

It's interesting to note that caravans in Europe have lighter proportional tongue weights. But note how the axle is slightly closer to midships on the frame -- Bambi 422 < Gallery < Product Family | Airstream Europe : Airstream Bambi 422 Gallery. Hire an engineer and rent some test track time if you want to try this out. Don't try this at home...
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:19 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by gamana View Post
Agreed but the goal is to still keep some tongue weight (about 400 lbs). This mitigation could create a much larger range of vehicles for towing. You don't think that 400 pounds is enough tongue weight? Between this weight and proper hitch ball "lock/hold" (however you would call it) i can't imagine what could possibly pull vertically the tongue out of the ball.
Moreover, if the braking system is properly set up (probably installing heavy duty break discs on the AS), couldn't the trailer almost stop by itself, therefore reducing the need a centralized weight on the tongue.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What Roger said is correct this is a much larger issue that includes many things besides trailer balance empty and loaded. You are only looking at 1 thing of that mutiple equation. But lets look at the 1 point you are talking about which is adding and then moving weight back and forth to stop sway, now you have actually added to the problem and created another; by adding the water you now have more weight to control in a sway, not to mention you have changed the braking because you have added more weight, you also have added extra stress to the frame of the AS.
The sway issue is not only in the trailer but in the TV as well, and what ever you do effects other things such as brakes, engine, handling carristics, etc.
What you said about the size of the TV is not only a weight distribution issue but a TV heavy enough to handle the weight of the trailer.

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:44 AM   #12
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You missed the most important point above. ALL TRAILER TONGUE WEIGHTS must be at least 10% of the overall weight of the trailer in question. Failure to have this amount of tongue weight will result in uncontrolled sway. This rule holds with single axle utility trailers all the way to the 36 fters. And it becomes even more important as the weight of the TV lessens with respect to the trailer.

Adding weight to the rear of the trailer to reduce tongue weight is the direct opposite of this rule.
Yes, I have read this. This rule has been followed for many many years. Without saying it is wrong, I am still wondering if recent sway control/correction equipments have altered this rule?

From what I read, the best way to control a sway is by apply brakes on the trailer, not the TV. Therefore, couldn't a hitch sway control, an enhanced braking system and a sway corrective system like the Ford is using, control the sway? And if it is the case, lightening the tongue will indeed increase sway but if it is controlled in a proper manner, why wouldn't it work? In other words, could today's technology "handle" the sway in such a manner that it is not such a priority to eliminate it entirely?
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:45 AM   #13
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your understanding of towing dynamics is missing a key piece, here, and that is that the trailer has to be "leaning toward the front" in order to track straight. (I believe its that the "center of mass must be forward of the center of gravity", but I'll let the engineers among us correct me if I'm wrong). Think of a badminton birdie--when you hit it, it immediately changes direction...the heavy part goes forward. If it wasn't weighted at one end, it would just flail around randomly, and that is what would happen to a trailer (or any other vehicle...like my old VW bus ) if it was balanced equally, or with more weight aft of the center of gravity.
If you want to limit your tongue weight to 400lbs, you need to limit your trailer's gvw to 4000lbs. A wd hitch will not overcome a seriously (constantly) unbalanced trailer. What it does is dampen or impede slight movements to prevent an oscillation from occurring. This "sway" can be induced from different sources (wind, passing trucks, etc), and the hitches have various methods of preventing or eliminating that. What can also happen is that when you drive over a dip, or pitch up or down on a hill, this can suddenly change the balance of the trailer, and in that short moment in time, it'll suddenly start imitating the badminton birdie, beyond the level that any wd hitch can stop.
If you were to take a little, lightweight utility trailer, attach it to the biggest, heaviest pickup truck you can find, and then put a few anvils in the back of the trailer, as soon as you get above 20mph, the trailer will start wagging like a golden retriever's tail, until it flips over or twists right off the truck. The size, weight, wheelbase of the tow vehicle has nothing to do with this. Those attributes will help prevent a complete loss of control of the tow vehicle, but they don't do anything irt preventing a trailer from "swaying" in the first place.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:45 AM   #14
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Might be a crazy idea (i will surely get grilled for it) but let me know what you all think about this.

............................................
With no disrespect intended, What I think about this is:

If you think there is even a slight chance that this is a good idea, you better do a bunch of reading about trailer loading before you tow.

On the other hand, if you are trolling:

Good job.

Regards,

Ken
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