Tongue weight & wheel chock placement
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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tirebiter's Avatar
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    I'm just finishing up on a trailer and am ready to place the wheel chocks. It's a 6X10 bed and I want to set it up with three chocks. The trailer weighs 400 lbs and the tongue weight empty is 80 lbs. My question is how much tongue weight should I have with TW in the chock? This will tell me where to put my center chock (the one I'll use the most). I've got a bathroom scale under the tongue jack so I can dial it in pretty good.



    TW is in position where the tongue weight is 120 lbs in the pictures below. I think it looks right but maybe I should back it up some. The center chock is the only one I need to mount before a trip to the cabin tomorrow morning. The heaviest of other bikes to be hauled will be an HD.



    Any ideas?












  2. #2
    Senior Member jbfla's Avatar
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    Tirebiter, that's a really fine trailer! Well done.



    Rule of thumb for utility trailers is that the tongue weight should be 10% to 15% of the total (gross) weight of the trailer (excluding cargo).



    Empty 400 pound trailer = 40-60# tongue weight.



    It will take trial and error to get the chock in the proper place.



    Edit: my trailer toting neighbor informed me the tongue weight is calculated without the cargo.



    jb
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Tirebiter's Avatar
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    Thanks. I wasn't thinking. I should have just googled it...duh. I did and got my answer.

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  5. #4
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbfla View Post
    Tirebiter, that's a really fine trailer! Well done.



    Rule of thumb for utility trailers is that the tongue weight should be 10% to 15% of the total (gross) weight of the trailer (excluding cargo).



    Empty 400 pound trailer = 40-60# tongue weight.



    It will take trial and error to get the chock in the proper place.



    Edit: my trailer toting neighbor informed me the tongue weight is calculated without the cargo.



    jb


    Your trailer toting neighbor is an idiot. Load should be adjusted to 10-15% of actual loaded trailer weight no matter the load. Tongue weight and actual loaded trailer weight should never exceed the hitch and/or vehicle capacity ratings. I'd be very leery of recent capacity ratings, as I think many were determined by marketing people, not engineers. Ratings changed between consecutive model years with no changes in components to justify the change.




  6. #5
    Senior Member jbfla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwerty View Post
    Your trailer toting neighbor is an idiot...
    Is it possible my neighbor just made a mistake?



    Quote from Qwerty, February, 2011



    "I still find plenty of new thins to screw up. The increasingly complex idiocy that I can create is proof positive that evolution is real."



    jb
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  7. #6
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbfla View Post


    Is it possible my neighbor just made a mistake?



    Quote from Qwerty, February, 2011



    "I still find plenty of new thins to screw up. The increasingly complex idiocy that I can create is proof positive that evolution is real."



    jb


    If anything, I expect you're misquoting him. It's hard to believe that this day and age anyone could be so ignorant. No, it isn't, this is America, land of the self-esteemed ignorant, home of the narcissistic. (The members of this forum who live outside the U. S. of A. are trying really hard not to LOL.)



    Instruction should vary according to the severity of the likely consequences of ignorance. Correction of misinformation should correspond to the likely consequences, political correctness be damned if the likely consequences are severe enough. Your neighbor disseminates misinformation that can easily be lethal to the practioner or any innocent on or near the road. Adamant correction is justified.



    Tirebiter, that is an awesome trailer. The solution to your problem of hauling a variety of bikes is repostionable tire chocks. If you are handy, you can make these much cheaper than you can buy them. With this kit, you get a chock and all the hardware. Order extra hardware to move the kit to other positions.



    I've made my own mounts, nuts welded to angle iron that attach permanently to the frame rails under the bed, in essence, creating additional crossmembers. Drop a bolt through the hole in a chock, through the hole in the floor, and hit it with an air ratchet. On or off in 60 seconds. My brother uses wing bolts--no tools necessary.



    If you have 80 pounds of tongue weight on a 400 pound trailer you are kind of pushing the upper limit on tongue weight when empty. On such a small trailer, that is perfectly acceptable.



    Add a TW with farkles and fluids, and 80 pounds of hitch weight will be about perfect. Measure tongue weight by blocking up a bathroom scale under the coupler when the trailer frame is level. Be sure to adjust your ball height when hooked to the tow vehicle so the frame is level when towing. It is not unusual to need to adjust ball height for changes in loaded trailer weight. Use a ball mount with a different rise or drop and/or use a ball with a different length shank, as needed. As long as your tongue weight is 10-20% of trailer weight and doesn't exceed hitch or tow vehicle capacities, having the frame level will provide more benefit than dorking with tongue weight.



    A single-axle trailer tilted forward will gain tongue weight and force the wheels to move forward as well as up when hitting a bump, resulting in a harsh ride. The result can impart a jerky feel to the tow vehicle and even small, sharp bumps can force the tires off the pavement. Traction suffers when the tires do not touch the road. The trailer often will not track straight behind the tow vehicle when the tires are in the air and will yank the back end of the tow vehicle around when the tires hit the pavement again. Hit the brakes when the trailer is in the air and it will jacknife in 0.02 second. Also, the springs will not carry load as well, which could result in bottoming out.



    A single axle trailer tilted back will lose tongue weight and also reduce spring capacity. The result is a tendency to feel constant drag in the tow vehicle, as if someone was playing with trailer brakes. Also, expect lots of sway, especially on off-camber surfaces and in crosswinds. The ride probably won't be especially jerky unless the springs bottom out, but the tow vehicle simply won't go straight.



    A properly set up trailer will not be felt on the road under most circumstances. If you're getting jerked around or constantly correcting steering to keep going straight while towing, something isn't right. I added a piece of angle across the front of my trailer, and made it long enough to see the anber clearance lights mounted on the front in the mirrors. My minivan is a cargo version with no back windows and most of the time the only way I can tell the trailer is back there cruising down the highway is to look for those amber clearance lights.




  8. #7
    Senior Member Woofhound's Avatar
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    Having towed and built many trailers I would guess that yours would be fine with about 60-70 lbs rongue wieght, then you want to make sure you have at least 60% of your cargo wieght in front of the axle..... if it wig-wags behind you, you need more tongue wieght. if that setup were mine i would just put the TW up against the front rail and call it good
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  9. #8
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woofhound View Post
    Having towed and built many trailers I would guess that yours would be fine with about 60-70 lbs rongue wieght, then you want to make sure you have at least 60% of your cargo wieght in front of the axle..... if it wig-wags behind you, you need more tongue wieght. if that setup were mine i would just put the TW up against the front rail and call it good
    The empty trailer is already at 20% tongue weight. Just rolling the bike to the front could easily result in a 700-pound gross weight (400 pound trailer + 300 pound TW with fluids and farkles + chock and straps) and end up with a 200-250 pound tongue weight. We still don't know his tow vehicle or hitch capacities and a 200-250 pound tongue weight could exceed either or both. Then he would have to add a keg of beer and maybe some ice loaded near the tailgate to balance things out, not that that would necessarily ruin anyone's weekend or anything.




  10. #9
    Senior Member Tirebiter's Avatar
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    Well, I posted the details above from memory and I should correct a couple of things. The trailer is 440# without the racks and tailgate (I made them to pop off in just minutes) and about 550# with them. I rechecked the tongue weight with the trailer level, the racks & tailgate on, and the ramp stowed away. It is 66#. More better



    Sorry for the mistakes. My background is engineering and I’m usually more careful with details.



    This trailer is level at 16” ball height, which is attainable with any of my vehicles. I’ve got hitches on everything….3500 GTW on the Taurus in the picture above (my winter car), 3500 GTW on wife’s RAV4, 6000 GTW on Ford van, 2000 GTW on Pontiac Vibe, & 3500 GTW on a couple of vintage cars.



    I’m a bit of a trailer freak. I’ve got 8, from ultra lights to car hauler. This one will mostly be towed with the van when loaded. I’ve had it behind the Taurus, Rav4, and Vibe empty and it tows sweet.



    Qwerty, thanks for the link to the Quick Nuts. I made some of those by drilling and tapping the center of a 3/4" bolt in the past but didn’t know they sold them. They are handy for mounting all sorts of things that need to be easily taken out. I’m just using the removable chock kit like in your other link. I got a 5.5” one on ebay for $15 shipped.



    Thanks for the discussion guys.

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