Tongue weight - how to really measure it? - Nissan Titan Forum
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#1 (permalink) Old 09-20-2006, 07:24 AM
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Question Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

Seriously, I really did some searching, and "tongue weight" came up for all sorts of things other than my question. Any help would be appreciated.

Here are the details:
- 2005 SE KC 4x4 with Big Tow
- 1,750 lb. steel, open deck trailer, 16' flat deck + 2' beaver tail, brand new
- 2,900 lb. car with a nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution
- No weight distribution or sway control equipment
- Prodigy brake controller
- 2" drop on receiver and trailer sits almost perfectly level with car loaded
- I have about 1.5' of travel with the car on the trailer between the front bump stops in front and the start of the beaver tail in back.

Here are the questions:
1- I'm thinking my tongue weight should be about 10% of my load which would put it at about 465 pounds. Is this a good number to try and achieve for my 1st tow?

2- How do I actually figure out my tongue weight without having to buy some huge heavy scale and without finding and going to a weigh station, is there a way?

3- Once I make my first tow, can you describe what I should be feeling for to determine if I should move the car slightly forward or back for the 2nd tow?


I'm sick and tired of all the problems...

Last edited by Triple S; 09-20-2006 at 07:26 AM.
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#2 (permalink) Old 09-20-2006, 07:39 AM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

10 percent should be fine. here is an easy way to check the weight without buying a scale.

http://www.rverscorner.com/tongueweight.html
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#3 (permalink) Old 09-20-2006, 07:52 AM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

Holy crap, you rule, thanks!!!


Quote:

Tongue Weight Scale Details
- contributed by Les Adams

The following photo came out of the DrawTite Hitch Owners Guide. With most typical bathroom scales it can measure trailer tongue weights to 900 pounds. It's pretty straight forward on construction and usage. I would make sure the lumber you use is capable of holding the full trailer tongue weight (4X4) and that the trailer is on level ground and the wheels chocked before trying to weigh the tongue. Also make sure that your scale is capable of at least 250 pounds, preferably 300 pounds. You should be able to measure 2 or 3 times that with this setup which should be applicable for most travel trailers up to 28' in length.


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#4 (permalink) Old 09-21-2006, 05:45 AM
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Two more questions...

I started pulling all the supplies together to do this thing with the bathroom scale and I have come up with 2 questions.

1- it seems to me the length of the wood that goes from the tongue to the wood beam will effect the weight a great deal based upon its length. Should I just measure how high the tongue would be off the ground if it were attached to the truck and the truck was lowered by 1" due to the trailer weight and make the wood that length (well that length minus the height of the scale and wood beam)?

2- is seems as the trailer will not be attached to the truck, and I will be moving the car forward and backward in the trailer to get the perfect weight, should I not put jack stands under the rear of the trailer? I got to thinking, if I drove back too far and the trailer is not attached to the truck, what would prevent it from rocking back and droping the car onto it's rear bumper?


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#5 (permalink) Old 09-21-2006, 11:00 AM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

1. You need to make sure this piece of wood or whatever you use, I used a jack stand are the right size to keep the trailer level. I don't think it will change the weight very much.

2. I wouldn't move the car on the trailer unless it was hooked to my truck. It may take a few guesses and hooking and unhooking but you only need to do this once and your set.
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#6 (permalink) Old 09-21-2006, 11:49 AM
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Talking Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

Quad T you are correct in statement number 1, that length will make a huge difference. You need to make sure the tongue of the trailer is sitting at the exact same height as if it was hooked up to your truck. To give you an example I found that my tongue weight would move by about 100 lbs for 1" difference in tongue height (my tongue weight is about 650 lbs at pull height).
You may also want to go for a tongue weight closer to 15%. I found that without weight distribution that 10% did not tow that well, but as I moved it to 13% then to 15% that control and sway (lack of that is) got much better.

And yes, this gets to be a bit aggravating, as when you increase your tongue weight it will cause the rear of the truck to set down, so you kind of need to use a different tongue height to get a new weight. I would suggest just getting close.
You may find that you need a different drop hitch if you need to add or remove much tongue weight, as it is very important to keep the trailer level. That is if it you have a tandem trailer, as it sounds like you do.

As for what to be feeling for, I would say you need to watch out for light feeling steering and as you gain speed watch out for sway, i.e., for when the trailer try’s to wag the Titan. Sway will normally hit you at higher speeds. Light feeling steering is a good indication you will have sway issues. If sway hit’s you hard, reach for the Prodigy and hit the trailer brakes to get it back under control, but try and stay off the Titans brakes.

I used my tie down straps to move my Jeep around on my trailer while doing this, I never started the Jeep to move it while the trailer was not hooked up to my Titan.

Last edited by Beach-TJ; 09-21-2006 at 12:03 PM.
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#7 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 08:35 AM
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Update

Thanks guys for all your thoughts and help!

I bounced this whole thing off a friend of mine; we call him The Data Man. He replied back with this huge string of mathematical equations "explaining" all the forces and stuff. Zoom, right over my head. The bottom line, he said the vertical support going from the trailer's tongue down to the wood beam needs to be 1 foot long.

Last night I hauled all my winter sandbags out and placed them onto the lowered tailgate almost directly above the receiver ball, I then added a few other goodies and got the weight up to 463 pounds which is lust about 10% of my entire trailer + car load. I then measured the height of the hitch ball and cut all my wood so I ended up with a vertical support 12.5" long, and at that length my trailer will be almost perfectly level, so that part is all set.

I'm still considering what to do with the trailer not hooked up to the truck, I'm sure I will have 2 or 3 of my jack stands at the back of the trailer to keep it from flipping, and I can also see myself hooking it up and unhooking it several times as I move the car. I also like the idea of moving the car by just using my tie-down straps, that cold make life much easier.

And regarding the 15% versus 10% and the drop height of the receiver, I get it. I will try to set the initial load in the 12% range and see how level things look. I have so much to do just to resolve what tie-down straps to buy and where to hook them up to the car I'm not sure about getting another receiver, it would have to be about a 1" drop or a no inch drop because I'm using a 2" drop right now.

All I can say is I hope all this trial and terror pays off in the end...


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#8 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 08:45 AM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beach-TJ
To give you an example I found that my tongue weight would move by about 100 lbs for 1" difference in tongue height (my tongue weight is about 650 lbs at pull height).
Out of curiosity, at that tongue weight what type of drop do you use?
I'm not seeing any ballmount receivers with a 1" drop, I see some with a 3/4" rise, but that would be a change of 2.75" higher as I'm using a 2" drop now. I suspect a 3/4" rise is just going to be too much, my trailer will be tilted back a fair degree.

2" drop or 3/4" rise.


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#9 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 10:17 AM
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Wink Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quad T
Out of curiosity, at that tongue weight what type of drop do you use?
I'm not seeing any ballmount receivers with a 1" drop, I see some with a 3/4" rise, but that would be a change of 2.75" higher as I'm using a 2" drop now. I suspect a 3/4" rise is just going to be too much, my trailer will be tilted back a fair degree.

2" drop or 3/4" rise.
I had the 2” drop ¾” rise hitch like you are showing and I had that exactly problem. 2" drop was to low, but the 3/4" rise was too high. I did change to the 3/4" rise and used that a few times, it worked out ok. Everything I could find said to keep your trailer level to 1" high on the tongue, so I went with it. I considered getting a straight out hitch, 0” drop, as I couldn’t find a ¾” drop which was what I needed. My final solution was to go to a WD hitch, which was fully adjustable. There are a lot of benefits to one, but you are so light I doubt you will need one. My Jeep on trailer comes in around 6,000 lbs. and the WD hitch allowed me to come back down to about 10% tongue weight and have it tow great.

I was running about 630 lbs at first on 2” drop and my trailer sat pretty level, but I got sway above about 70 mph. I moved up to around 750 lbs and I didn’t get sway till about 75 mph or higher, but the tongue was sitting low, that’s when I switched to the ¾” rise, but then my tongue was about 1.5” too high. I have a 04 4x4 off road package bit tow LE KC. With your lighter weight a 2" drop may work out well for you.

Another thing is on my trailer the trailer jack is only about 6 or 8 inches behind the ball, so I finally said to heck with it and just used the trailer jack to measure tongue weight with. I know it made my readings off by a little bit, but it was close enough and made things much more stable for moving the Jeep around on the trailer, etc. But some trailers have the jack back 2 or 3 foot, which I think would throw off your readings way too much.

As a note, I now only have or use adjustable height hitches as I got so tired of all the aggravation involved in getting the hitch height correct.

Last edited by Beach-TJ; 09-22-2006 at 12:18 PM.
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#10 (permalink) Old 09-24-2006, 07:57 AM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

On my truck the drawbar drops 1 inch for eack 150 lbs on it.

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#11 (permalink) Old 09-24-2006, 08:49 AM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

Weight of the wood used is almost inconsequential as it is measureing the 500-800 pound of tongue weight. The board idea works well. Keep the trailer at tow height.

Adjustable height hitches are available. I first bought a 3 way straight just to have a hitch, then saw a class 4 adjustable 3 way on sale for 120 delivered (regular 150) and bought that. Not WD, but balls rated 5000/7500/10000. Breaks down to 3 pieces for easy storage undr rear seat. Solid Steel construction. Perfect height everytime, worth everything for quality of tow and safety. Why worry about cost of hitch wheit holds 60000 truck and trailer together?

Other option and good to do just once, if you are towing your one personal horse or car trailer, is to go to a truck stop and use the CAT Scales. Pay 7 dollars and they weigh you 2 times. Go fully loaded, weigh it, drop the trailer inthe parking lot and reweigh.

Now you have accurate weight of vehicle/trailer/each axle loaded and unloaded. Do with full tank of gas and family etc. You'll never regret the effort. If you don't have one near you, stop on your next highway trip. It only takes 20 minutes. They won't mind a non-trucker using their services.

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Last edited by TitanBlue; 09-24-2006 at 08:51 AM.
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#12 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 09:53 AM
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Wink Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

TitanBlue, I will second what you said. There is nothing that replaces going to a scale and getting an accurate weighing. For those of you using a WD hitch, you might be presently surprised.
And I will second you on the hitch as well.
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#13 (permalink) Old 04-27-2014, 02:31 PM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

looking at buying a used travale trailer gross weight is 4907 poung loaded my suv can pull it but need to know tougne weight before buying
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#14 (permalink) Old 04-27-2014, 04:00 PM
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Re: Tongue weight - how to really measure it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post
looking at buying a used travale trailer weight is 4907 poung loaded my suv can pull it but need to know tougne weight before buying
This thread hasn't been updated since 9/2006. Its a good idea to Look at the dates before commenting. Just a FYI

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