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Old 04-10-2016, 08:00 PM   #1
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Real world tongue (hitch) weights

We're looking for a late 90's/early 2000's 34' coach, which has a gross weight of 9800 pounds. I understand that I should have 10-15% of that weight on the tongue (hitch), which means 980-1470 pounds. I also have been told that Airstream says the tongue (hitch) weight should be no more than 1000 pounds, which means that I actually would have a 20 pound window (980-1000 pounds) for our coach. True? I've also heard that those heavier coaches do permit somewhat more on the tongue, especially since the 34' SO models have a gross weight of 12,000 pounds (but they are too new for our budget).

So what does a real-world 34' coach have for weight on the tongue?
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Old 04-12-2016, 08:17 PM   #2
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The tridem has a low TW. Lower than a shorter OAL tandem.
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Old 04-13-2016, 05:46 AM   #3
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slowmover, you are saying that our 34' coach will have a tongue weight that may well be less than 10% of gross weight? Interesting.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:10 AM   #4
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I scaled the '07 34' SO trailer and the F-250 the other day and weighed the steer, drive, and trailer axle weights three times with various tensions on the weight distribution bars. I was very disappointed with the small amount of weight which was transferred. I have recently pulled the spring bar links up two adjustment holes due to the small amount of weight transferred and will get another set of weights with the various jack bar settings soon.

As other posters have mentioned, the tongue weight is WAY over the Airstream published numbers. AS specs list the tongue weight as 1250 lbs. The measured weight at the CAT scale was 1540 lbs. This weight included full fresh water, the electric jack, a Hensley hitch, flag holder, full 40 lb tanks, and nothing in the gaucho pull drawer except for rain gear and one flashlight. That 290 lbs above AS specs is a large number when it is not expected. I am still within Tow Vehicle specs, but not much safety factor left. It has been my experience that generally the AS specs are on the light side. The trailer was loaded ready for long term camping, but nothing stowed forward of the front axle.

My readings are a perfect example of why it is important to weigh any new purchase AS (new or used) if the buyer's Tow Vehicle is getting close to the manufacturer's limit. I was certainly surprised when the F-250 AND the Airstream weighed in as heavy as they were.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:56 PM   #5
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Hi David,
I went out a few minutes ago and put my Sherline Scale in the coupler and it weighed about 990 lbs give or take a few. Last time I had the rig on the CAT scale the trailer weighed 9800 total. It has varied both tongue and axle weight plus 200 lbs on both depending on how much is loaded where and what hitch I had on. The weight today was with the cams and bars of a Reeses hitch but not the stinger which is a very heavy Class V. When I had my Hensley on it, it added about 200 lbs at the hitch.
Hope that helps,
Joe
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Old 04-13-2016, 03:23 PM   #6
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Thanks, Joe. If I'm reading you correctly, we should expect that tongue weight will be pretty close to 1000 pounds, or maybe a couple hundred over if the hitch assembly weighs more than average.

We've been looking at used F250s, but maybe we should expand that to the F350. We've coming from a 40' MH with pretty full basement compartments, and most of that stuff will have to ride in the truck.
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Old 04-13-2016, 03:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH View Post
AS specs list the tongue weight as 1250 lbs. The measured weight at the CAT scale was 1540 lbs. This weight included full fresh water, the electric jack, a Hensley hitch, flag holder, full 40 lb tanks, and nothing in the gaucho pull drawer except for rain gear and one flashlight. That 290 lbs above AS specs is a large number when it is not expected.
Isn't the Hensley 200 lbs? How much is the flag holder?

What were you expecting?
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Old 04-13-2016, 04:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
Thanks, Joe. If I'm reading you correctly, we should expect that tongue weight will be pretty close to 1000 pounds, or maybe a couple hundred over if the hitch assembly weighs more than average.

We've been looking at used F250s, but maybe we should expand that to the F350. We've coming from a 40' MH with pretty full basement compartments, and most of that stuff will have to ride in the truck.
For two years I towed my 34 with a F-150 that had a payload a little over 1700 lbs. I was always bumping up to the max payload and consistantly over the 4050 lbs of the rear axle. And that was really watching what I put in the truck.When looking at new trucks, the F-250's with the trim I wanted had payloads of 2300 lbs give or take a few.
I knew I wanted to take everything I already was taking plus:
250 LB Topper
200 LB 2 Kayaks and Hullavators racks
192 LB to extend the fuel tank over the 26 Gal on F-250
150 LB for other stuff I just want to take.
So with all that, I would be over the payload of the F-250 and probably need to put airbags or helper springs to prevent the rear end sag of the truck. I just made sense for me to go with the F-350. The price was very close and I don't think the ride was much different. The good thing about having the F-150 and trying to make it work was all the time I spent on CAT scales. Ms. Noggin hated stopping just to run over the scales. I'll have to wait until I'm traveling solo before I can pull back in.
Good luck in your search.
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Old 04-13-2016, 05:55 PM   #9
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34 is "low" due to triple axle and their placement. But I wouldn't expect less than 10%.

12.5-13% is considered an ideal. The benefit of a higher TW , say15%, really isn't that great versus the burden placed on the TV.

Do a quality "empty" CAT Scale reading with no gear, just full fresh water and propane. Consider this reading to be the true empty weight.

I usually dolly down the landing jack on a pad by itself. One has to do a calculation based on how far back it is from the ball receiver. It's a check against the Sherline scale (which I recommend).

Folks get overly concerned with weight. It's relative, not absolute. For those of us who load for full time (tools and such) it's more to do with where to place those heavy things, truck or trailer. And then, where.

I load my vehicle solo to achieve an all around balance. But, hitched, some things go in the trailer. With time at the scale, I know where to place them.
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Old 04-13-2016, 07:35 PM   #10
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Thanks, slowmover. Those numbers are exactly what I need to figure out whether we can use an F250 or need to step up to an F350. We're looking at 08-11, and there really isn't much difference in price.
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:18 PM   #11
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The above posts are the reason I always liked the 3/4 ton pickups with the diesel engine, we are currently in northern California on 101, there are some good pulls up here.....
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Old 04-14-2016, 10:32 AM   #12
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My Flying Cloud manual states that "TW, in no case more than 1000 lbs."
That is measured at the screw jack post. So it reasons that by measuring the TW at the coupler would show less, due to the longer moment arm.
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Old 04-14-2016, 12:13 PM   #13
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Our TW always comes in somewhere between 975 and 1100, depending on tanks and propane and precious treasures stored in the front drawer. We pull with an F250 with the heavier springs. (Sorry I can't remember the rating on them, but it's the spring boost that Ford offers.) Our rig is pretty level when hooked up, so I'm satisfied with it. If I were buying a pre-owned truck with minimal price difference, I might consider a 350. I guess it depends on just how much towing you plan to do.
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Old 04-14-2016, 02:57 PM   #14
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"I guess it depends on just how much towing you plan to do." We're full-timers, currently in a MH. We're not moving as much as we had originally planned, which is why we're switching to an Airstream. One of the ways we occupy our time is helping our churches with building projects, so I carry 2-300 pounds of tools. All of the stuff that is in the two basement bays of the MH will have to go in the truck, so I'm figuring on about 1500 pounds of stuff plus the shell and any racks or shelves I build to make access to the stuff easier. Then add on the 1000 pounds +/- for the Airstream and you see why I'm thinking that I need at least an F250, if not an F350. We're looking at 08-11 model years, and I know there were some major changes made in 2011.
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noggin View Post
Hi David,
I went out a few minutes ago and put my Sherline Scale in the coupler and it weighed about 990 lbs give or take a few. Last time I had the rig on the CAT scale the trailer weighed 9800 total. It has varied both tongue and axle weight plus 200 lbs on both depending on how much is loaded where and what hitch I had on. The weight today was with the cams and bars of a Reeses hitch but not the stinger which is a very heavy Class V. When I had my Hensley on it, it added about 200 lbs at the hitch.
Hope that helps,
Joe
Wut's a "CAT scale"?
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:10 PM   #16
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Smart-aleck answer: a scale that weighs cats. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Seriously, it is a scale that over-the-road truckers can use to weigh their rigs so they know how much overweight the rig is. They are located at many truck stops, and there is lots of room around them. Cost is $10-20 for the first weigh, and subsequent weighs (at the same time) are much less. You can get weights for each axle. Triple axle coaches will probably have to do at least two weighs, since I don't think they are set up to handle three axles, but I may be wrong. It has been a while since I took our coach through one.
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelGoddard View Post
Wut's a "CAT scale"?
Certifide Scales
https://catscale.com/
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:53 PM   #18
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Our 2013 25FB International Serenity literature tongue weight is 833 pounds. With the street side and rear awning dealer installed, a dealer installed 155 watt solar panel, full fresh water and and propane tanks and the Hensley Arrow hitch head installed, the Sherline scale report a 1,150 pound tongue weight. Loaded for camping ands heavy stuff placed under the rear dinette, we had a 1,175 pound tongue weight and the trailer weighed 6,800 pounds out of the 7,300 pound GVW.

After our massive modifications including the four 92 pound lifeline 6ct batteries installed on the tongue in a custom stainless steel enclosure, the 773 pound literature tongue weight of out 2014 Classic with full 40 pound propane tanks a a ProPride hitch head was 1,375 pounds. After replacing the four Lifeline batteries (12Vdc 600 amp-hour 50% of the power usable) and their enclosure with a 168 pound lithium iron phosphate battery (12Vdc 600 amp-hour 90% of battery power useable) installed under the front sofa, the tongue weight is now 1,175 pounds.
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Old 04-14-2016, 07:54 PM   #19
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If you take the Airstream published weight for the particular model you'll be close enough for selecting a truck. Loading will increase the hitch weight and your weight distribution hitch will distribute near that amount among the truck/trailer axles.

If the Airstream has been modified, it may be lighter or heavier than published weight, you need to weigh it. If you load the Airstream heavy in front it will increase hitch weight, if you load it heavy in back it will decrease.

The much harder question to answer is what load you must carry in your truck. The Airstream hitch weight is much more consistent and easier to estimate.

Selecting weight distribution bars, you can estimate your hitch weight, and you must also add the weight carried in the truck's bed behind its rear axle. The w.d. hitch has to lift both.
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Old 04-15-2016, 07:54 AM   #20
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Sean recommended the 1,400 pound bars for the ProPride when we installed it. That was the appropriate rating. The 1,000 pound bars on the Hensley work well with the 968 pounds tongue weight of the 23D.
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