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Old 12-08-2015, 01:00 PM   #1
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Questions about weight distibution

Hi, first of all, these forums have been a great help!

I'm thinking about getting my first Airstream next year & have some questions for anyone that has experience with what I'm going through.

I have a new Touareg TDI with towing capacity of 7716/617 lbs. I live in a condo downtown with 1 parking space so another tow vehicle isn't an option & being new, I don't want to make any alterations to the car. I'm in Austin, TX so no mountains close.

I'd like to get an Airstream big enough to "live" in for up to 2 weeks at a time locally a few weeks a year (within 50 miles of where it's parked) with maybe a few longer weekend trips (up to 600 miles each way) a year. My biggest issue: the tongue weights of the models that work for me. Also, I have 2 big greyhounds that need lots of couch space & wide aisles to turn around so no models with side dinettes.

The models that look like they would work are the 23D, 25FB Twin & 27FB Twin. My preference would be the 25FB Twin (with mods - remove front nightstand & add a couple mattress height cushions & a removable support to make a removable huge king up front & remove the dinette table).

Questions:
1. How easy is it to remove the front nightstand without breaking anything?

2. Is it possible to move the front batteries to the back (either AGMs under dinette cushion or better - modify the rear trunk to hold them) for maybe 150 lbs off the tongue weight?

3. Ok to travel locally for short distances at lower speeds without a WDH & only use it on the highway?

4. Would the 27FB be a better choice with the lower tongue weight? I'd like to get the tongue down to around 550 lbs before any WDH considering the good ones look heavy. Also, I'm used to travelling light on longer camping trips so I would be at the low end of the GVWR.

5. How much would removing the inverter help? I don't think I would ever use it as I'll always be plugged in & if there was a TV emergency I've got an iPad! I could also remove 1 LP tank - I would assume that's 55 lbs right off the tongue weight.

Thanks for any info!
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Old 12-09-2015, 04:47 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by da7id View Post
Hi, first of all, these forums have been a great help!

I'm thinking about getting my first Airstream next year & have some questions for anyone that has experience with what I'm going through.

I have a new Touareg TDI with towing capacity of 7716/617 lbs. I live in a condo downtown with 1 parking space so another tow vehicle isn't an option & being new, I don't want to make any alterations to the car. I'm in Austin, TX so no mountains close.

I'd like to get an Airstream big enough to "live" in for up to 2 weeks at a time locally a few weeks a year (within 50 miles of where it's parked) with maybe a few longer weekend trips (up to 600 miles each way) a year. My biggest issue: the tongue weights of the models that work for me. Also, I have 2 big greyhounds that need lots of couch space & wide aisles to turn around so no models with side dinettes.

The models that look like they would work are the 23D, 25FB Twin & 27FB Twin. My preference would be the 25FB Twin (with mods - remove front nightstand & add a couple mattress height cushions & a removable support to make a removable huge king up front & remove the dinette table).

Questions:
1. How easy is it to remove the front nightstand without breaking anything?

2. Is it possible to move the front batteries to the back (either AGMs under dinette cushion or better - modify the rear trunk to hold them) for maybe 150 lbs off the tongue weight?

3. Ok to travel locally for short distances at lower speeds without a WDH & only use it on the highway?

4. Would the 27FB be a better choice with the lower tongue weight? I'd like to get the tongue down to around 550 lbs before any WDH considering the good ones look heavy. Also, I'm used to travelling light on longer camping trips so I would be at the low end of the GVWR.

5. How much would removing the inverter help? I don't think I would ever use it as I'll always be plugged in & if there was a TV emergency I've got an iPad! I could also remove 1 LP tank - I would assume that's 55 lbs right off the tongue weight.

Thanks for any info!
We have a 23' and there's no passing each other in the aisle. I'm not sure if a 25' would be better and a 27' is probably too much for your TV.

I can't say anything about the night stand but most things in our AS just screw down, but you might have to remove something else to remove the night stand and that something might need support from the night stand

Moving batteries just temporarily to another location might be doable but not a permanent fix. All the internal connections feed from the battery box to the converter, inverter and other things. Rerouting would be huge if not impossible, my opinion.

I don't move my trailer without the WD hitch and my towing capacity is 7,000 lbs. It takes me less than 5 minutes to get it all hooked up and then I feel better about the drive, even locally.

If you lower the tongue weight you need to remove more overall weight. If you have the tongue weight too low, you're going to have serious sway because the weight in the back will remain the same; worse if you put the batteries back there. Dropping that much on the tongue is quite a bit.

The inverter is nothing on the tongue weight, not worth the effort.
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Old 12-10-2015, 08:13 PM   #3
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Conventional wisdom would call for a tongue weight of no less than 10% of the total trailer weight (including all cargo and fluids) regardless of what the unloaded tongue weight is. This assures the center of gravity of the trailer is far enough ahead of the axles to minimize dynamic instability of the trailer and tow vehicle due to disturbances.

In order to achieve a tongue weight that does not exceed your 617 lbs receiver capacity, you would need to look at a trailer that grosses about 5000-6000 lbs. Remember that your hitch weight also counts as weight on the receiver.

Have you considered the Sport 22FB?
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Old 12-10-2015, 09:06 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forums!

I agree with Mach5--tongue weight should be at least 10% of the total weight for stability, and 15 or 20% is even better.

We have a 1980 Caravelle 22 ft which only weighs 4,000 pounds gross. I believe the current Sport 22 ft is about the same weight, which would be well within your tongue weight rating. But, both our Caravelle and the Sport are "narrow body" trailers--7 1/2 feet wide--which might be a little tight with your dogs. (We travel with 3 dogs and a "dog jam" in the center aisle is a frequent occurrence. But we're all used to it.)

Older Airstreams are significantly lighter than current models so if you would be willing to consider a vintage model you could probably stay within your weight range. From the late 60s thru the 90s the standard width was 8 ft so there are plenty of models wider than the Sport and Caravelle.
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Old 12-10-2015, 09:43 PM   #5
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Get a 2012-2013 Flying Cloud 25 Rear Twin Bed. Using a power screwdriver take out all the front dinette and lounge furniture and table (took me an hour) and store them to reinstall if you ever wish to sell it. The front of the trailer will be wide open and light weight.

Build a small enclosure over the converter/charger by the fridge, and a couple of relays and wiring under left front window. Get yourself a comfortable recliner chair in the left corner, a drop-down table under the side window, and something to make the dogs comfortable on the remaining floor (which is substantial).

Get a simple Eaze-Lift weight distribution hitch and two separate friction sway control bars (never leave home without them), have it set up professionally, and hit the road as far as you wish to roam, you'll be comfortable for a week or a year.
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Old 12-11-2015, 12:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by da7id View Post
I have 2 big greyhounds that need lots of couch space & wide aisles to turn around so no models with side dinettes.
Sorry, I seem to have skipped right over that requirement when I recommended the Sport 22. Given your desire for a low tongue weight, I am afraid that you may not find what you are looking for in a newer trailer, unless, as previously suggested, you gut one of the 8-1/2' wide ones.

One more thing to consider is whether or not your receiver is rated for a weight distributing hitch. I believe other Touareg drivers are reinforcing their receivers for one reason or another. Plenty of opinions in the Towing section on that subject to support pretty much any position you want to take.
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Old 12-11-2015, 01:52 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies!

I only plan on staying at parks with dump facilities so I would be driving with empty tanks & I think I would keep the load - clothes, dishes, food, etc. down around 200lbs - certainly under 300lbs. I'm used to backpacking & travelling light so I don't think that would be a stretch. On a 25FB that puts me at 5500lbs base weight + 300lbs cargo + 200lbs WDH - say a ProPride 3P - seems like I don't need the WD function much but then I wouldn't need to worry about sway so much, right? So a total trailer weight of 6000lbs. So as long as the tongue weight is at least 400lbs + 200lbs for the ProPride then I would be at 10%. Am I not thinking about this correctly?

The other option would be the 23FB - which has a very low tongue weight anyway & remove the dinette & just put a lounge instead - any idea if airstream sells "parts" - like say the complete 66" lounge section from a 23D? I've attached a pic - that could work & would only have a tongue weight of 467lbs or ~412lbs with 1 propane tank removed or 612lbs with the ProPride hitch on a 6000lbs GVWR

I like the 25FB Twin much better but I guess I'll go look at the 23FB also.
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Old 12-11-2015, 02:14 PM   #8
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You should verify with some of the 25' Airstream owners, but based on what I've read the tongue weight pushes 1000. Apparently, 25's have one of the heaviest tongue weights, even more than many bigger/heavier units.
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Old 12-11-2015, 02:29 PM   #9
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You'll never get the tongue weight a FC 25 FB down to 300 lbs, and even if you did the ProPride is not going to add 200 lbs to the tongue because most of the ProPride's weight is carried by the tow vehicle's receiver. Although the horizontal pivot point of the trailer is projected forward to the tow vehicle's rear axle, the vertical pivot point remains behind the ProPride hitch head. I would think things would be unstable, especially susceptible to porpoising.

The factory hitch weight of a FC 25 FB or RB is going to be 800-900 lbs, I wouldn't attempt to remove stuff to lower it below 740 lbs, or 10% of it's GVWR of 7400 lbs. to ensure trailer stability. Same with the FC 23 FB, which starts with a relatively light tongue weight, but tends to load heavy in front because that's where most of the storage is.
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:06 PM   #10
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Question Something doesn't calculate.....

....all that $$$$$ spent on a new AS that will be substantially changed just to achieve a lower TW & GW, so it can be toed by a specific vehlittle.

Do NOT rely an the factory published weights.
Add 1000-1500 trlr weight and 250-350TW.

There is a very good chance that the first AS will not be the last. Any mods that you make now will also need to please the new owner down the road.

My 2 scent's.....get the largest you can without any major modifications.

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Old 12-11-2015, 03:07 PM   #11
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Our 2013 25FB International Serenity factory literature tongue weight of 833 pounds changed to 1,150 pounds after we installed the Hensley hitch head and the dealer added a street side and rear awning. The factory optional 600 watt inverter was right at the front and totally useless, especially with the two stock International Lead Acid batteries. That weight also reflected full fresh water tank and two full 30 pound propane tanks.

I loaded tools and such at the rear of the street side cabinetry and we were careful with where we put all the kitchen stuff and despite these efforts, the tongue weight ready to camp was now 1,175 pounds.

I had driven the 4,400 mile round trip in seven days from Phoenix to CanAm in London, Ontario to have the factory receiver reinforced on my 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI diesel and the Hensley stinger tweaked by being shortened around five inches and a new lock bolt hole drilled as well as a small bend in the 2x2 steel stinger bar to help preload the weight distribution bars.

I picked the trailer up in Los Angles and drove it to Phoenix though the mountains associated with I-10 and especially the climb East bound out of Palm Springs, CA. Since the trailer was otherwise new and empty, the Mercedes 3.0L diesel had no issues and shifted down to 5th at 2,200 rpm for the long climb out of Palm Springs. I maintained 55 mph for the entire trip, but after crossing into Arizona the big rigs sped to at least the posted speed limit of 75 mph. I could see them approach and could sense the bow wave, but neither the trailer nor the car were moved as the trucks went by.

My wife joined me in the ride to the scales fully loaded for camping and the scales reported the Mercedes axles were overloaded. That was a bummer, we acquired a left over 2012 Dodge Ram 2500HD with Cummins diesel and the tow vehicle issues vanished. We are using the same Dodge with the 31' 2014 Classic with no issues, but we installed a Pro-Pride hitch. (Second generation Jim Hensley design)

We then acquired a 2015 23D International Serenity and had the original Hensley installed. I went from the East coast dealer to CanAm and we tweaked the complete rig of the 23D and the existing Mercedes. I have driven the rig across the Cat scales again after all the modifications and loaded for camping and with my wife in the car as well and the axle weights are well within limits on the Mercedes. The 23D and my vintage Mercedes ML with the 3.0L V6 diesel are a perfect match and will allow us to visit any older Western trailer park where only small rigs can park.
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:26 PM   #12
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Thanks - I was really shooting for a 400-450 tongue weight before WDH - not 300. But without a WDH 600-650 would be ok.

I've pulled big sailboats before but never a travel trailer so I'm not familiar with how they tow differently.

I was thinking a lighter tongue weight with a heavy WDH like the ProPride would be safer than a heavier tongue weight with just sway bars. But I have no experience with either & could certainly be wrong.

If I don't need to figure in the WDH weight then I can adjust my tongue weight assumptions.

I know the Touareg/Cayanne used to have a max hitch weight of 770 & that nothing mechanically has changed but I'd rather not exceed the stated max of 617 by much while it's under warranty.

It seems like overloading the front of the 23FB with storage would be quick & easy to fix with a tongue scale before towing & would be easy to keep under the 617lb max.

I guess maybe you can't have your cake & eat it too. I'd really like to keep looking for some creative solutions before giving up on a new trailer though.

I've done a fair amount of cabinetry work in a large sailboat so the possibility of getting an older model and gutting it could work also - I do like all the new conveniences & I have a real job & don't need another one.
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:36 PM   #13
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Thanks Switz. I think our TVs should be similar with similar tow ratings - I don't think the car would have any trouble pulling a much bigger load than what I'm planning. I really like the 23D & that's what I was initially looking at before I saw the 25FB Twin.

I may just wait & do the Cayanne modification & ProPride in a few years once it's out of warranty.
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:38 PM   #14
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Don't get a pro pride to make up for an improperly balanced trailer. As good as the hitch us , it can't make up for a dangerous tv trailer combo. Best bet is advice from can am rv.
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