2006 Rockwood 2280 tongue weight - long read
This is a long read but I'm needing advice/help on a towing problem I have.
I wanted to know what others have to say about the tongue weights on a 2006 Rockwood 2280 12' pop up trailer.
I'm currently towing this pop up with a 2006 Honda Odyssey Touring (Canadian model without the stupid PAX run flat tires) and my vehicle is equipped with the factory towing package that allows me to tow up to 3500 lbs with a 350 lb tongue load.
I have a family of 4, my wife, my two little kids (4 and 2 year old) and myself so I've taken the conservative approach and limit myself to tow up to a maximum of 2800 lbs - lower than honda's estimated maximum of 3050 lbs with 4 vehicle occupants.
What confuses me about towing and this has been an ongoing concern for me is that my Odyssey although has plenty of power to tow MOST pop ups that it really wasn't designed to tow something quite this large. Why do I make this comment even though I've already clocked at least 1000+ kms of towing?
The original sales brochure and even the half man door for the trailer clearly states the dry hitch weigh as being 255 lbs. I understand that 255 dry weight doesn't tell the whole picture when you consider that you can easily tack on another 70 lbs on the tongue just by filling the propane tank and installing a battery. That really makes my dry hitch weight more like 325 lbs (dealer tells me Forest River already considers the empty propane tank as part of the factory tongue weight calculations).
Today after towing the trailer back loaded from our weekend camping trip I decided to take the Odyssey and the 2280 to a CAT certified platform style weigh scale where I have to pay a fee to get my official papers on the weights. Much to my surprise my van's rear axle weight was exceeded by about 65 lbs and my tongue weight on my 2280 weighed in at 460 lbs!
This is very concerning for me as the 460 lb tongue weight is a LOT higher than what my factory hitch receiver is rated for. This clearly is a HUGE safety issue and I didn't initially catch it b/c I was under the presumption that tongue weight was small proportion of what was loaded ahead of the trailer's rear axle. i even did a re-weigh just to make sure I didn't have any measurement errors and triple checked to make sure the trailer was level when I weighed it on its own.
We hardly had anything heavy in the trailer and I would imagine that even with everything that was inside that it wouldn't have been more than a few hundred pounds of cargo at most. The typical items would be water hoses, sleeping bags, a small # of pots and pans and dishes and a microwave and enough clothes for a family of 4 for just a weekend.
Heavier items such as the Weber Q100 BBQ and food was put in the back (ahead of the rear axle) in our odyssey and nothing else. All water in toilet and water heater are always drained prior to towing.
So what i want to know is:
1. Given how light I packed in our minivan and the fact that we have two kids that don't add up to more than 75 lbs combined "kid weight" how could I have exceeded my rear axle rating by roughly 65lbs? I'm going to suspect b/c of a very heavy tongue weight. I already packed SUPER light for this past weekend trip prior to doing this weigh in.
2. The 2280's tongue weight in what they advertise is DRASTICALLY different than what I measured. i'll bet that even if I pulled all my cargo out of that trailer that my tongue weight would still exceed what my minivan's hitch and body frame mounts were rated for. Can/IS the 2280's tongue weight really THAT heavy and that far off from the factory's estimate of 255 lbs?
3. I just ordered a brand new 13.5K Dometic rooftop AC that I'm installing on my pop up next week. The ac unit is 80 lbs installed and despite it being just slightly ahead of the rear axle I'll bet that will push my tongue weight far beyond 460 lbs.
What are other's experiences and what are my mitigation options short of having to spend a pile of cash on a new tow vehicle?
Did I by chance measure my tongue weight wrong? I doubt it and even the fellow operating the scale said the technique was correct.
here are my weight figures:
2006 Honda Odyssey Touring w/Honda tow hitch
Front axle rating = 2877 lbs -> actual = 2600 lbs
Rear axle rating = 3197 lbs -> actual = 3260 lbs
Rockwood 2280 axle rating = 3000 lbs -> 2080 lbs
Odyssey GCWR = 8410 lbs -> actual 7940 lbs
Then I went and put only the trailer onto the scale and then disconnected it from the tow vehicle and got these figures:
Trailer axle rating = 3000 lbs -> actual 2080 lbs
Tongue weight = 460 lbs
I've clearly exceeded Honda's design specs.
Towing is new to me and I'll admit I've already towed over 1000kms on my van with this pop up including through some mountainous terrain and so far no issues BUT that doesn't mean I should continue to do so. My van up until now hasn't had any issues pulling or stopping the trailer and has performed quite well on fairly long 8% grades.
I do not have a WDH and can't do so b/c on my year of trailer forest river themselves have stated in the owners manual to NEVER use a WDH even though it does have a box frame and not a c channel frame. Battery and propane tank are also in the way of WDH mounting points.
I can't pack any lighter, I can't buy a better TV just yet and I love this trailer too much to downsize to something lighter.