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Old 05-20-2012, 11:31 PM   #1
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Towing heavy with a diesel pusher?

We recently bought a custom built stacker trailer to carry our vintage race cars. It's a 24' box, overall length 29'. A bit taller than our Journey, so it's pretty big. Empty weight about 5200#. Loaded with three smallish cars, tools, spares, scooter, etc, I estimate total weight about 11,000#. The 2002 Journey was rated at 10,000# towing capacity, but some coaches had a 5,000# hitch installed. Mine has the 5000#... We are welding steel plate hitch extensions / reinforcements to the frame to accommodate the extra weight.

Question: is it likely we'll need weight distribution and/or sway control? I recently towed it home about 300 miles, and it wagged just a bit, but was empty. Overall not bad. The coach air suspension does a good job of keeping everything level, but it is a loooong ways between the coach rear axle and the trailer front axle. Lots of lever fulcrum...

Thoughts?

Ed
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:24 AM   #2
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Ed - VARA or HSR west, or both? FFs?

How long is the coach? I have a 30' beaver DP with a cat, pulling a 5000lb total weight 18'Carson. With the short coach and big engine out back, I couldn't go heavier, because I have enough issues with lack of nose weight. I don't use weight transfer bars.

What I noticed on my low-rated hitch was that the receiver was butt-welded, instead of going all the way thru the cross tube. That, and it is the first thing to grind into the ground, so I inspect it frequently. And instead of using the usual safety chain hookups, I looped some 5000lb chain around the frame rails and tie off to those.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:33 PM   #3
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10k might not be your "true" towing capacity. The true towing capacity of any MH is the GCWR minus the weight of the MH when ready to tow or the hitch capacity, whichever is smaller. If I was in your shoes, I'd do the numbers above then find out the actual weight of what you want to tow...you might be too heavy.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:35 PM   #4
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We race with VARA usually. I drive a '71 GT6 & a '64 Spitfire, my wife drives a '69 Beach Formula V. We got tired of taking two trailers to the track... Spares, scooter, tires, tools, fuel jugs, etc... We had thought of getting a toterhome & big trailer, but already have a perfectly good 36' Winnebago diesel...
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:42 PM   #5
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I think I would look into a heavier sway bar for the rear and adjustable shocks set to the firm setting just to be on the safe side. These items could be cheaper than a deductible on a claim.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:43 PM   #6
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Good point. The coach's GCWR is 36,850. "Ready to tow" weight is 24,800. That means "true" tow capacity is 12,050. Estimated maximum trailer weight is 11,000, leaving a good cushion.



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10k might not be your "true" towing capacity. The true towing capacity of any MH is the GCWR minus the weight of the MH when ready to tow or the hitch capacity, whichever is smaller. If I was in your shoes, I'd do the numbers above then find out the actual weight of what you want to tow...you might be too heavy.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Automobilist View Post
We race with VARA usually. I drive a '71 GT6 & a '64 Spitfire, my wife drives a '69 Beach Formula V. We got tired of taking two trailers to the track... Spares, scooter, tires, tools, fuel jugs, etc... We had thought of getting a toterhome & big trailer, but already have a perfectly good 36' Winnebago diesel...
Without a doubt using a weight distribution type setup is advisable.

Using a good system properly will help your suspension deal with the weight even more.

A good distribution system will cost somewhere between 200-500.

The Key is to make sure that it is installed correctly, it takes some research and if you have your dealer install it , do not assume that it is done correctly. Read the literature and be willing to adjust it a couple of times until you have it working correctly.

Also as mentioned above, exceeding your GVWR is not a good idea.
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Old 05-21-2012, 01:00 PM   #8
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There's a reason Winnebago put a 5000 lb hitch on your coach....they normally aren't kidding when they give a tow rating like that. I don't know what their reasoning is, but I'd be VERY VERY leery of towing that much weight.... regardless of how much welding and bracing you do.
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Old 05-21-2012, 01:35 PM   #9
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If it is setup to tow 5000lbs you cannot upgrade your current setup to accommodate it. From a liability standpoint if you were to hit another person hurt or possibly kill them you will be sued for all you own. Ask the person who is welding up your current hitch to sign a waiver that says your setup will be 100% safe I am sure they will not do it. The manufactures spend a tremendous amount of money on R&D, I would contact Winnebago and see if your coach could have the 10,000lb rated hitch installed on it and still be with manufacturer spec. If it can than that would be your limit on weight.
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Old 05-21-2012, 02:05 PM   #10
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There is a CAT Scale in Otay Mesa. Best to invest the time and money to get a proper weighing including tongue weight of the trailer. Then check the actual placards placed in your motorhome by the manufacturers of the chassis and the body. Also consider the other posters who have indicated that there is a major difference in construction of a 5000# hitch and a 10,000# hitch.
Good luck to you and all who travel the same highways as you.
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Old 05-21-2012, 02:55 PM   #11
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What is the reason Winnebago put a 5,000# hitch on my coach?

In 2002, the coach was rated (per Winnebago website) at 10,000#. As mentioned in my original post, some coaches had 5,000# hitches installed, and some had 10,000# hitches installed. Identical coaches. The difference between a 5,000# hitch and a 10,000# hitch is the length of the mounting flanges. They are longer on the 10k hitch providing greater load bearing area. I know it's tempting to play weight / speed / tire age police...

I'm confident the Freightliner XC chassis can handle it safely...

Now that we've covered that, what weight distribution system is recommended? I'm looking at the Reese cam type system. Anyone with actual experience with a weight distributing hitch they can share?




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There's a reason Winnebago put a 5000 lb hitch on your coach....they normally aren't kidding when they give a tow rating like that. I don't know what their reasoning is, but I'd be VERY VERY leery of towing that much weight.... regardless of how much welding and bracing you do.
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Old 05-21-2012, 03:18 PM   #12
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I had the Reese weight dist hitch with anti-sway. The weight dist worked great. Took pretty much the whole load off the back of my truck. The anti-sway did not work so well. But that was behind an F250. I don't think the sway would be as noticeable behind your coach.
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Old 05-21-2012, 03:24 PM   #13
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I note that 11,000lbs does exceed the 10,000lbs capacity of the MH, the bit of arithmetic that Cat320 suggested will only REDUCE the towing capacity if there is less total weight capacity than the towing limit, it does not give you extra capacity above and beyond the towing limit.

If you weigh the trailer and it is UNDER 10,000 lbs, then you can consider moving ahead with this project.

I would not be too worried about upgrading the hitch provided it was done by an installer putting on a name brand receiver. I would not modify the 5,000 lbs receiver.

I WOULD check the MH rear axle limits and make sure I was under them with the trailer on the hitch.

Last, I know this can start an argument on some forums, but I am a big believer in the Hensley Arrow. I also understand that ProPride has a comparable hitch. They are expensive, but my experience with the Hensley was nothing short of remarkable. Before getting the MH I pulled a heavy trailer behind a 3/4 ton GM Savanna, and the Savanna was actually more stable in high wind and/or slippery conditions with the trailer attached than it was by itself. Very different that a traditional equalization hitch with sway control. No - I don't have one to sell (sold it when I sold my trailer). The Hensley includes both sway prevention and weight equalization. The only downside, it is heavy, so if you are already at your limit it won't help.

Good luck.
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Old 05-21-2012, 03:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I note that 11,000lbs does exceed the 10,000lbs capacity of the MH, the bit of arithmetic that Cat320 suggested will only REDUCE the towing capacity if there is less total weight capacity than the towing limit, it does not give you extra capacity above and beyond the towing limit.

If you weigh the trailer and it is UNDER 10,000 lbs, then you can consider moving ahead with this project.


Good luck.


Good point. I think the trailer weight should come in right around 10k. What I'm after are user reports on weight distribution / sway control. It towed pretty well empty, but why not improve if you can?
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