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Old 06-29-2014, 12:54 AM   #1
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Help me reduce tongue weight

Step 1 - wife talked me into a Flagstaff 228. Already tongue heavy, then she insisted on the hot water and shower package

Step 2- I bought a Toyota Tundra pickup. Figuring this would be able to handle the weight, I upgraded to 2 lP tanks and 2 batteries on the Flagstaff.

Step 3 - Put a topper on the truck (another ~150 lbs) and loaded up with fairly minimal camping supplies (bikes, kids crap, cooler, etc) and a camper hitched up full of water. Swing by the local scale and realize I'm pretty close to max. payload, and will be over once the kids get older and put on weight / bring more stuff.

So, besides making a couple poor product choices, I'm looking for any creative ideas on reducing tongue weight. I've already re-arranged things in the camper to put the heaviest items behind the axle. Now I'm looking at:

1. Pack more stuff in the camper instead of the truck.

2. Going back to 1xLP and 1xBattery. I'll leave the 2nd battery box on the tongue so I can bring a second along when needed (like for a week in Yellowstone). I won't run them in parallel, but rather switch between the two.

3. Quit hauling my hot water heater full.

4. Placing a bike rack on the roof of the popup, more towards the rear, to get that weight out of the back of my truck / payload. But drilling holes in my roof makes me nervous.

5. Move the battery to the rear, such as under the dinette. I know you need a vented box and maybe AGM would be better. What's people's experience here?

Anything I'm missing?
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:07 AM   #2
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1. I wouldn't worry about it.

2. I wouldn't skip on the LP and battery, LP you'll be caught empty when the wife is halfway through her shower.

3. Sure, 6X8.3=49.8 that won't be bad to lose and can be regained later.

4. Can it be bumper mounted?

5. You can. Me? I'd carry the extra battery there for transport then drop it in the hole up front once you arrive. If you do, AGM or not, I'd mount it in a sealed, vented box. Batteries tend to gas when active, even an AGM has vents.

And I wouldn't worry about it. They'll gain what, 125 lbs each on average (I'm totally assuming since I don't know your kids.) over the next decade? Will you keep that TV that long?

So I say your choices are fine, especially since you're good now. Go camping, it'll be OK.
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:11 AM   #3
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I would not rearrange all the heavy stuff behind the axles. Lightening the tongue and putting heavy stuff in the rear can and will cause a sway condition. For now, you are within spec and as long as the tundra handles well, I say camp on.
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:46 AM   #4
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Are you using a WDH?
You can mount the batteries over the axle inside. They sell vented battery boxes.
Air springs can be added for sag, but the WDH should take care of that.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:39 AM   #5
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Is his the trailer you have?

228 - MAC/LTD Series

Dry Hitch Weight 331 lbs. (150 kg)
Axle Weight 1,719 lbs. (780 kg)
Unloaded Vehicle Weight 2,050 lbs. (930 kg)
GVWR 3,016 lbs. (1,368 kg)
Cargo Carrying Capacity 966 lbs. (438 kg)
Box Size 12' (3.7 m)
Exterior Open Length 23' 10" (7.3 m)
Exterior Closed Length 17' 2" (5.2 m)
Exterior Closed Height 4' 9" (1.4 m)
Exterior Width 85" (2.2 m)

Also what year, model, engine size etc etc of your Tundra? And are you using weight distributing hitch as mentioned by BigBaron? What is the weight of the trailer tongue when loaded?
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:59 AM   #6
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If your tongue weight is under 400 lbs: Reese Light Duty Weight Distribution System w Sway Control - Trunnion - 4,000 lbs GTW, 400 lbs TW Reese Weight Distribution 66557

If over a 400 lb. tongue weight: Reese SC Weight Distribution System w Sway Control - Trunnion - 10,000 lbs GTW, 600 lbs TW Reese Weight Distribution RP66151
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Old 06-29-2014, 10:39 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the advice.

I am being very careful when loading the trailer and have no sway problems given my tongue weight is running close to 15% (420-440 lbs).

My 2013 Tundra 4x4 CrewMax doesn't need a WDH unless I go over 500 lbs. The rear is a tad bit sagged down when fully loaded, but not enough for that issue to be of concern.

So, I don't think a WDH hitch will really help me, but actually would add more weight and take away from totally payload capacity.

Oh and the wife insisted on the shower but has and will never use it. I tried to explain to her in advance that we couldn't bring enough water to enjoy showers. At any rate, that is both dead weight and not to be considered for our needs.

My really issue is total payload of the truck with a family of 4 and all the "stuff" that comes with that. I was spoiled growing up with ¾ ton trucks on the farm and, ignorantly, didn’t think to run the numbers on a half ton truck pulling a popup camper. My guess is that 90% of the vans, small SUVs, etc. on the road pulling these pups are dangerously overweight – and I try to avoid them at all costs!
I can't make my wife/kids weigh less, and I've paired down the "stuff" we bring to a minimum, so now I'm looking at trying to redistribute weight on the trailer to make the trailer's axles carry a tad bit more of the load and free up more payload capacity on the truck.

I do have the 228 referenced. When I bought it, the dealer weighed it with hot/cold water full, one LP and one battery. Tongue weight was 420 lbs. Placing the battery under the dinette brought that down to 365 lbs, although I opted not to do that at the time given my lack of knowledge on the downsides of putting a battery inside.
My problem is also reliably weighting things. There's a gravel pit near me, but every day their scale is a bit different. For example, they're telling me tongue weight for 2xLP and 2xbattery with fully loaded hot/cold water is 440 lbs. I don't see how that is possible given only 1 LP and 1 battery was 420 lbs at the dealer. I'm looking at the Sherline tongue weight scale, but reviews mention it is somewhat inaccurate, and I'd still be left with an issue in reliably weighing my truck.

Here are my calcs:

Truck GVWR: 7,200 lbs
Truck base curb weight (spec): 5,625 lbs
Additional options (tow pkg, skid plate, etc. from sticker on door jamb): 60 lbs
Topper and roof rack: 145 lbs
Truck curb weight with options: 5,830 lbs.
Truck curb weight actual (weighed at scale): 6,000 lbs.

Resulting Payload Capacity: 1,370 / 1,200 (spec / actual)

Payload inside truck: 800 lbs (2 adults, 2 kids under 6, 4 bikes, 4 bags, food+cooler+ice, dry food, etc)

Leftover payload for tongue weight of trailer: 400 - 570 (depending on spec numbers versus actual scale measurement, which again could be inaccurate)
And I don’t really like being maxed out on payload – would much rather have a hundred pounds or so to spare for rounding errors.
FYI I've got a good 300 lbs of carrying capacity left on the camper.

So, going back to those original numbers by the dealer, just 1 LP and 1 battery was 420 - so I'm at least going back down to that configuration and probably emptying the hot water tank each trip (which is a pain to remove the annode each time). I'm then looking at things like moving the bikes on top of the camper given its remaining payload capacity. At a minimum I’m putting some bags and other easy items inside the camper right over the axle.
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:18 PM   #8
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A wdh actually will transfer some of the weight back to the trailer as well. You could go with a light weight set up like the Anderson hitch. If you are sagging and that close on hitch weight, I would really go with a wdh. Otherwise you can risk overloading your hitch causing potentially causing hitch failure.
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anaro View Post
A wdh actually will transfer some of the weight back to the trailer as well. You could go with a light weight set up like the Anderson hitch. If you are sagging and that close on hitch weight, I would really go with a wdh. Otherwise you can risk overloading your hitch causing potentially causing hitch failure.
Agree, get a wdh and forget about removing weight or shifting the load. If 400+ lbs makes the TV sag even a little, you need the wdh and a sway control. JMO.
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:27 PM   #10
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I thank you all very much for your advice, but as an engineer who also towed cattle and horses as a young adult, I beg to differ on the benefits (in this situation at least) of a WDH. It does not elleviate tongue weight. It simply transfers more of that tongue weight to both axles on the tow vehicle by pulling up on the tow vehicle. The weight is still there as payload, it's just distributed more evenly to the front axle as well. I suppose raising the camper up might distribute a slight amount of weight to the camper's axle through a revised center of gravity, but not much...and I could do the same thing purely for the camper's sake by getting a higher riser hitch bar.

Also, to clarify - my tow vehicle is not sagging excessively. Just a "tad" bit of sag like you'd expect with hitching any trailer up. When looking at the setup hitched, the truck looks very level.

Also, to clarify, my problem is not tongue weight on the hitch itself...which for the Tundra can hold WAY over 500 lbs. My manual doesn't require a WDH until a 5,000 lb trailer, or 500 lbs tongue weight - and that's simply to distribute more load to the front axle, not to reduce tongue weight. I'm going to get down to around 400 by removing the 2nd LP, 2nd battery, and not filling the hot water. So, I don't think I need a WDH. On the contrary, it will only add tongue weight.

Rather, I'm trying to further lessen the number of pounds my truck takes on as "payload" through either the hitch/tongue weight or what's inside the truck bed. So things like making the 228 slightly less tongue heavy (more in the 10% range) would be great. Or transfering the bikes to the roof of the pup so the trailer's axles are carrying it, not my truck's as payload.

I just can't see how most people who roll into the campground with a family of 4, bikes, a canoe, and tons of other crap aren't over their payload capacity...as the Tundra isn't unlike most other 1/2 ton trucks, and certainly those in small SUVs and mini vans have got to be dangerously over.
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