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Old 11-17-2019, 12:43 AM   #1
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Need some help understanding my scale numbers

Wondering if someone can shed some light on this, or suggest how you would adjust?

Towing a new 2020 Micro Lite 21DS with a 2003 F150 4x4 with the towing package 3.73 gears, and a Reese WDH with 800lb spring bars.

Max weights, according to the relevant Towing Guide (and the owners Manual), and the door jamb sticker:
GCWR: 13,000
Max trailer weight :8200.
GVWR: 6500
FGAWR: 3600
RGAWR: 3550

I didn't like the look of the rig the way the dealer set it up (actually, I think they didn't adjust my hitch at all, and just left it where it was from my old trailer). The trailer itself is nicely level when connected, but the truck seemed to have more wheel well gap at the front than it should - not a ton, but more than an inch difference. Also, the spring bars aren't parallel with the trailer tongue - they angle up toward the trailer by a little.

So, I ran the rig over a nearby unattended log truck scale today. Here is what I measured. All weights are with passengers and cargo.

1) Trailer attached, WDH engaged
Front Axle: 3300
Rear Axle: 3000
Trailer: 4600

2) Trailer attached, WDH disengaged (spring bars removed)
Front Axle: 3050
Rear Axle: 3450
Trailer: 4450

3: Truck only
Front Axle: 3400
Rear Axle: 2650

My initial takeaways are that the trailer is unloading the front axle by 100 lbs. Obviously not ideal. I can see that the hitch is moving 450lbs off of the rear axle and putting 300 on the front and 150 back on the trailer. Ordinarily, I would just tune the hitch by adjusting it a few degrees negative by adding a washer or two - to get the bars parallel, cinch everything up, and enjoy my newly balanced ride.

Problem is, according to this online calculator, my tongue weight, at 450lbs, is only 9% of the trailer weight. If I adjust the hitch to add 100lbs to the front axle, that is probably going to push another 50lbs back onto the trailer, and it's going to take most of that 150lbs off of the ball (assuming that I have that calculated correctly). 300lbs of tongue weight is only 6.5% of the trailer weight, and I am super concerned about running it that light.

Am I understanding the numbers correctly? Any suggestions on how to balance it better?

For what it's worth, it tows/tracks better than just about anything I have ever pulled, save for one old 3 horse trailer that clearly violated the laws of physics....

Thanks!

Qwkynuf
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:52 AM   #2
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You forgot one more important number. The Payload Capacity amount, from the yellow Tires and Loading sticker, on the driver's door side.
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Old 11-17-2019, 12:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
You forgot one more important number. The Payload Capacity amount, from the yellow Tires and Loading sticker, on the driver's door side.
My old truck doesn't have one of those. And I bought the truck new with 1/10 mile on the odometer, so it wasn't removed by a previous owner. I have a silver sticker with GVWR, FGAWR, and RGAWR only.

Isn't payload capacity calculated from GVWR and empty weight?

Edit - Found the rating online - published payload for my truck is apparently 1725lbs. Realistically though, when I weigh after a dump run I usually weigh out at 5300 with an empty bed, whatever gas is in the tank, and me in the driver's seat. So that, subtracted from the GVWR of 6500 would leave a functional payload of 1200.
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Old 11-17-2019, 07:48 AM   #4
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I am no expert by any means but....
Wouldn't the 800lb bars not have to be tensioned as much for a tongue weight only half of their rating? In other words, they may not need to be parallel?
Having the front of the truck 100lb lighter than unloaded is that big of a deal? Mine is 120 pounds lighter, although % wise it is less than on your truck. My truck empty is 8300 pounds.
I just ask because I like to learn.
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Old 11-17-2019, 09:01 AM   #5
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Tongue weight load percentages are an attempt to guess what will make the tow follow well with out wandering.


If yours tows fine , you are all set.
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Old 11-17-2019, 01:54 PM   #6
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You said after a dump run, 5300, but #3 on your weight info says 6050 truck only?
Those yellow stickers are telling one that the rating is as configured with those tires. My trucks never had one from the factory.
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Old 11-17-2019, 02:40 PM   #7
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Sometimes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwkynuf View Post
My old truck doesn't have one of those. And I bought the truck new with 1/10 mile on the odometer, so it wasn't removed by a previous owner. I have a silver sticker with GVWR, FGAWR, and RGAWR only.

Isn't payload capacity calculated from GVWR and empty weight?

Edit - Found the rating online - published payload for my truck is apparently 1725lbs. Realistically though, when I weigh after a dump run I usually weigh out at 5300 with an empty bed, whatever gas is in the tank, and me in the driver's seat. So that, subtracted from the GVWR of 6500 would leave a functional payload of 1200.
Sometimes one sticker is on the door edge and the other is nearby on the door jamb (frame).
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Old 11-17-2019, 02:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Larry-NC View Post
Sometimes one sticker is on the door edge and the other is nearby on the door jamb (frame).
I missed that the OP has a 2003, which probably doesn't have the yellow payload capacity sticker.
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:17 PM   #9
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2006 has it

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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
I missed that the OP has a 2003, which probably doesn't have the yellow payload capacity sticker.
My 2006 has it. When did they start?
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:35 PM   #10
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That is about when they started. It is just a CYA sticker brought along by all the tire problems in the late 90s and early 2000s, with passenger car tires on Explorers and others. The vehicle manufacturers often recommended low pressures of course for ride but the public being what they are never adjusted pressures for weight and consistent mountain curves. They had also reduced the rubber between layers at the request of auto manufacturers.
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by The Evil Twin View Post
I am no expert by any means but....
Wouldn't the 800lb bars not have to be tensioned as much for a tongue weight only half of their rating? In other words, they may not need to be parallel?
Having the front of the truck 100lb lighter than unloaded is that big of a deal? Mine is 120 pounds lighter, although % wise it is less than on your truck. My truck empty is 8300 pounds.
I just ask because I like to learn.
The bars should be parallel to the tongue, and the chains should be vertical (perpendicular to the bars). If the rear of the bar is above horizontal, then the top of the chain will be pulling rearward on the end of the bar - like this: __/. If the bar angles down toward the ground, the chain is pulling like this: __\. With the bars horizontal, we get a straight lift: __|.

I like to picture the WDH setup like a wheelbarrow. Look at your truck from the side, and imagine the front tire as being the wheel of the wheelbarrow. The rear tire is the legs that the wheelbarrow rests when not in use, and the spring bars are the handles. Your trailer tongue is resting on the back lip of the payload area.

Initially, almost all of the weight is resting on the legs (back tires). If you straddle the tongue and start lifting on the handles, weight comes off of the legs and is transferred to you and to the front tires. In theory, you could lift the back tires completely off of the ground and tie off the handles to the tongue, and carry *all* of the weight on the trailer and your front tires.

As far as why being -100lbs is bad, we want the truck to handle as well as possible, which means maintaining as much of the factory steering geometry as possible. Raising the front of the truck reduces the contact patch available for steering and braking, and can also introduce positive camber (tires tilt outward at the top) - which can increase tire wear at the outside shoulders, reduce cornering limits, and make the steering feel light and twitchy. In addition, unloading the front tires reduces caster angle, which will also contribute to the light and twitchy feeling.

100lbs isn't the end of the world, and as I mentioned, it drives nice. But loads change in various ways as we move stuff around in the trailer, so why would I want to start out knowing that it's wrong?


Quote:
Originally Posted by aircommuter View Post
You said after a dump run, 5300, but #3 on your weight info says 6050 truck only?
When I go to the dump it's just me, and I don't haul a bunch of extra stuff that I am going to turn around and take home again. When I weighed with the trailer yesterday, I had the wife and dog, a few sticks of firewood in the bed, and all of the various and sundry things that we typically take camping. I wanted the truck loaded the way I would have it for actual camping. Apparently all of that stuff adds about 700 to the truck.

Also, I noticed that the scale that I used seems to round to 50lb increments, but I don't know whether it's all up (101=150), all down (199=150), or actual rounding (124=100, 126+200). So I will probably need to do all of this again with a more accurate scale...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FFred View Post
Tongue weight load percentages are an attempt to guess what will make the tow follow well with out wandering.


If yours tows fine , you are all set.
True, but that guess is made based on millions of data points of historical statistics.

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Originally Posted by Larry-NC View Post
Sometimes one sticker is on the door edge and the other is nearby on the door jamb (frame).
I promise - it's just not there. I'm not sure when those were added, but mine only has a silver sticker with axle ratings and gross vehicle weight. Apparently the yellow stickers weren't required until mid/late 2000s.

I know that newer trucks are better in almost every way, but my 2003 is paid for. I ordered it out of the book, waited 3 months for it to be built, watched it roll off of the truck, stood there for the entire PDI, and drove it off of the lot with 000,000.1 on the odometer. I know exactly how it has been maintained. Every time I think about upgrading, I realize that I am either looking at a $500+ payment for a new truck, or a bunch of unknowns for a used one. It still runs great, so....
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:51 PM   #12
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Chevrolet added payload stickers in 2004. Not sure about other manufacturers.
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Old 11-17-2019, 04:26 PM   #13
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My 2002 E-350 did not have one
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Old 11-18-2019, 01:30 PM   #14
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I'm not sure you even need a WDH for this light of a trailer. Having your front axle 350 lighter will affect where your headlight beam hits if you drive at night unless your truck has them adjustable. Other than that, I'd go for a stabilizer type hitch or if your WDH has stabilization, relax the weight shift bars and crank down the stabilization adjusters.
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Old 11-18-2019, 06:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwkynuf View Post
The bars should be parallel to the tongue, and the chains should be vertical (perpendicular to the bars). If the rear of the bar is above horizontal, then the top of the chain will be pulling rearward on the end of the bar - like this: __/. If the bar angles down toward the ground, the chain is pulling like this: __\. With the bars horizontal, we get a straight lift: __|.
.
I'll have to double check but I recall my WDH indicating that the bars should be tensioned to achieve weight distribution as desired. Then to move the brackets on the trailer fore or aft to get the chains perpendicular to the trailer frame. Not the bars.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:41 AM   #16
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I looked and that is exactly what it says. Also, according to Fords published data on using a WDH, the fender height should not be the same as unloaded when using a WDH as that means the rear is being lightened too much. There is a little formula they have but essentially half way between unloaded and loaded w/ bars unattached.
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Old 11-19-2019, 12:21 PM   #17
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I looked and that is exactly what it says. Also, according to Fords published data on using a WDH, the fender height should not be the same as unloaded when using a WDH as that means the rear is being lightened too much. There is a little formula they have but essentially half way between unloaded and loaded w/ bars unattached.

I saw that too I'm running just 40 lbs lighter 1/8" difference on the front but 820lbs heavier on the rear axle with the WDH engaged. Tows nice even with oncoming semis on a two lane road.
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