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Old 09-09-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
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Newbie Needs help.... With Cat Scale Weights

ok... So I think I fell for the old RV Salesman line "Sure you can pull it"...

I have a 2004 Silverado, ECSB 4x4 with the 5.3 and 3.73 gears... The trailer I bought is a 2012 Salem Cruise Lite 281BHXL... I do have the equilizer hitch with the 1,000 lb bars.

Ratings on the truck
GCWR: 13,000 lbs
GVWR: 6,400 lbs
Frt Axle Max rating: 3,925 lbs
Rear Axle Max rating: 3,750 lbs
Max Trailer: 7,800 lbs

Trailer Info:
Gross Weight: 7,600 lbs

Weighed the trailer today fully loaded for our camping trip, and I am concerned. I did a series of weights... One with truck only, one with trailer with out the WD bars connected, one with the bars as set up by the dealer, and one with my "revised" setup.

Truck only:
Frt Axle: 3220 lbs
Rear Axle: 2720 lbs
Gross: 5940 lbs

Trailer and Truck, No WD
Frt Axle: 2880 lbs
Rear Axle: 3940 lbs
Trailer Axle: 5280 lbs
Gross: 12,100

Trailer and Truck, dealer hitch setup
Frt Axle: 2980 lbs
Rear Axle: 3760 lbs
Trailer Axle: 5340 lbs
Gross: 12,100

Trailer and Truck, My setup: (raised L Brackets on hole)
Frt Axle: 3100 lbs
Rear Axle: 3580 lbs
Trailer Axle: 5420 lbs
Gross: 12,100

What I need your guys' help with is does it sound like I can reasonably pull this camper with this truck? With the L brackets raised on hole, I am (barely) within the spec's for my truck as far as GCWR, GVWR, Axle ratings, and max trailer rating... Of course this means I can't take the kids and wife with me though... Obviously, I would much rather have more safety factor, but I really can't but a new truck until atleast next summer (will go up to a 3/4 or 1 ton at that point).

Do you guys agree that my "revised" WD setup is pretty close? It felt much better pulling it home from the scales...

Given these weights, how do I calculate the tongue weight on the trailer, or should I have disconnected the trailer on the scale???

I appreciate any help you guys can provide... I don't know alot about how all this works!

Chad Hertz
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:18 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum.

It's really too bad that salespeople aren't held libel for what they pass off as technically factual information.

I'll let our towing experts respond to your technical questions but best of luck to you and we're glad you found us!

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Old 09-12-2012, 06:03 PM   #3
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Ratings on the truck
GCWR: 13,000 lbs
GVWR: 6,400 lbs
Max Trailer: 7,800 lbs

Trailer Info:
Gross Weight: 7,600 lbs

...
Truck only:
Frt Axle: 3220 lbs
Rear Axle: 2720 lbs
Gross: 5940 lbs = GVW (weight on the 4 truck tires)

Trailer and Truck, No WD
Frt Axle: 2880 lbs
Rear Axle: 3940 lbs
GVW = 6830 = 430 pounds over the GVWR
Trailer Axle: 5280 lbs
Gross: 12,100

Trailer and Truck, My setup: (raised L Brackets on hole)
Frt Axle: 3100 lbs = less then the 3220 without the trailer, therefore not good enough. Front GAW should be about 150 pounds heavier with the trailer tied on than without a trailer.

Rear Axle: 3580 lbs
GVW = 6680 = 280 pounds over the GVWR. A net of ~150 pounds was distributed off the truck and onto the trailer axles
Trailer Axle: 5420 lbs
Gross: 12,100

Quote:
What I need your guys' help with is does it sound like I can reasonably pull this camper with this truck?
The GCWR indicates whether you can pull it. 13,000 GCWR minus 12,100 combined truck and trailer weight says no problem in pulling the trailer over hill and dale at a reasonable highway speed without overheating, bending or breaking something in the drivetrain. So as far as being able to pull the trailer, even with a few hundred pounds of wife and kiddos added to the combined GVW, you're good to go.

The GVWR indicates whether you can haul the hitch weight and people and tools and whatever without being overloaded. Your last numbers indicates that with your WD setup, you were 280 pounds over the GVWR, and you didn't have wife and kiddos on board yet?

You need to further adjust the WD hitch. You don't have it nearly tight enough, and the angle is not right. When you get it right, about 20% to 25% of the hitch weight will be distributed to the front axle of the truck, and another 20% to 25% will be distributed to the trailer axles, leaving about half the total hitch weight on the rear axle of the truck.

Quote:
Do you guys agree that my "revised" WD setup is pretty close?
No. See above.

Quote:
Given these weights, how do I calculate the tongue weight on the trailer, or should I have disconnected the trailer on the scale???
GVW of the truck when weighing Trailer and Truck, No WD = 6830
minus
GVW of the truck when weighing truck without trailer = 5940
------------------
hitch weight = 890
=================

Or you can do what I do: invest in a Sherline trailer tongue weight scale. Then it's easy to weigh the tongue just before you hook up to the tow vehicle.
Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scale - 2,000-lb Capacity Sherline Tools 5780

Trailer axle weight, No WD = 5280
plus hitch weight = 890 which is 14.4% of trailer GVW.
------------------------
Trailer GVW = 6170
==================

So the virtually empty trailer weighed 6170, with a hitch weight percent of 14.4. You'll probably be adding a lot more weight in the trailer. So no matter how you do it, you're going to be overloaded over the GVWR of the tow vehicle

So that means tell wife and kiddos that we cannot haul all the stuff they'd like when camping, until Daddy can trade for a heavier-duty tow vehicle. Paper plates, empty holding tanks (just enough water to flush the pottie while on the road), plastic dinnerwware. Almost no food in the trailer or truck, and not more than a six-pack of drinks until we get parked at the camping site. Then we can visit the local supermarket and load up on food and drinks that must be consumed before we leave the campground.

You can also reduce hitch weight a bit by moving heavy stuff in the trailer to behind the trailer axles. But don't let hitch weight get below 10% of trailer weight, and I prefer 12% or higher for stable towing. (My new TT has about 15% hitch weight when wet and loaded for the road and grossing about 5,000 pounds. Tows great!)
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:49 PM   #4
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Truck only:
Frt Axle: 3220 lbs
Rear Axle: 2720 lbs

Trailer and Truck, No WD
Trailer Axle: 5280 lbs

hitch weight = 890
25% = 222
50% = 445

So ideal WD setup (before you load the trailer with stuff and the truck with Sweetheart and the kiddos) will result in:
Frt Axle: 3220 lbs + 222 = 3442
Rear Axle: 2720 lbs + 445 = 3165
GVW = 6607 (only 207 pounds overloaded - so far.)
trailer axles 5280 + 222 = 5502
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Old 09-13-2012, 04:21 AM   #5
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Thank you guys so much for your help!
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Old 09-13-2012, 04:26 AM   #6
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Smokey, you reference the angle not being right on the wd hitch.... Pardon my ignorance, but what does that mean... Simply that i need to go up another hole on the WD hitch L brackets?
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chertz View Post
Smokey, you reference the angle not being right on the wd hitch.... Pardon my ignorance, but what does that mean... Simply that i need to go up another hole on the WD hitch L brackets?
I'm not familiar with "L brackets", so your hitch must be different than mine. Mine has chain lengths you can vary the weight distribution by changing the chain link to hook up to.

The angle of the hitch is changed by the ball mount adjustment. You can make the ball lean down or up by changing he adjustment on the ball mount. On mine, I have to remove a couple of very tight bolts, then move the ball mount up or down one or two notches, then replace and tighten the two bolts. The ball mount below doesn't have notches, but it does have a slot that allows you to change the angle of the ball to the shank. So for that ball mount, you'd loosen the two bolts that hold the ball mount to the adjustable shank, move the ball mount up or down (or in or out) in that top slot, then tighten those bolts very tight - probably about 150 lb/ft torque. Details should be in the Owner's manual that came with the hitch. (Photo courtesy PPLMotorhomes)

For that ball mount, the ball goes in that big hole on the top/front of the ball mount. When you move the ball mount using that slot behind the ball, that changes the angle of the ball to the shank.

Here's what it looks like all hooked up: (photo courtesy Reese hitches)
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:46 PM   #8
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Ok.... Thanks. On my equalizer that angle is set by some washers to space out the top from the shank... I will have to take a look to see if i can find some additional washers.
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:43 AM   #9
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Perhaps instead of more washers to increase the angle you should be looking at the inital height of the hitch ball.

As for being able to pull your tt you have a wee bit of overhead - but not much. You will find that climbing hills will be done in a lower gear and very slowly - don't expect to be able to make it up to Hy speed in under 1/2 mi either . Also keep an eye on the tranny temps and even look into an aux cooler for both it and the engine oil.

BTW I disagree that you need to add wt to the front axle of your truck - you do need to get it back to the unloaded wt - or as close as possible to it.

Also spend some time reading the installation manual for your hitch - I have found that most dealers don't take the time to set them up correctly.

lastly start saving for a larger truck
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Old 09-16-2012, 02:13 PM   #10
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I have a 2004 Silverado, ECSB 4x4 with the 5.3 and 3.73 gears... The trailer I bought is a 2012 Salem Cruise Lite 281BHXL... I do have the equilizer hitch with the 1,000 lb bars.

Ratings on the truck
GCWR: 13,000 lbs
GVWR: 6,400 lbs
Frt Axle Max rating: 3,925 lbs
Rear Axle Max rating: 3,750 lbs
Max Trailer: 7,800 lbs

Trailer Info:
Gross Weight: 7,600 lbs


Via the ever-handy Ron Gratz Chart:


Weighing #1 -- TT attached and Weight Distribution Activated

Let Front Axle Load be "FA1" 3100

Let Rear Axle Load be "RA1" 3580

Let TT Axles Load be "TT1" 5420

Then, while in same position on scales, take
Weighing #2 -- TT attached and Weight Distribution Not Activated

Let Front Axle Load be "FA2" 2880

Let Rear Axle Load be "RA2" 3940

Let TT Axles Load be "TT2" 5280

Then, drive off scales and drop TT. Return to scales and take
Weighing #3 -- TV only -- TT Not Attached

Let Front Axle Load be "FA3" 3220

Let Rear Axle Load be "RA3" 2720

From the above values, you can calculate:

TV weight = FA3 + RA3 5940

Gross Combined Weight = (FA1 + RA1 + TT1)
- should also be equal to (FA2 + RA2 + TT2) if scale weights are correct

12,100 = 12,100


TT Weight = Gross Combined Weight - TV Weight

6,160 equals 12,100 minus 5,940


Tongue Weight = (FA2 + RA2) - (FA3 + RA3)

880 equals 6820 minus 5940 (right at 15%)


Load Transferred to TT Axles
when WD System in Activated = TT1 - TT2 140-lbs

A bit more leverage to the front of the vehicle to get the FA back to the laden/solo value when laden/towing may also get the TT axle value higher (good in both respects, not likely critical, but I'd pursue it out to the end. You're close, so . . . . )

Going over the laden/solo value has not been recommended for some years with pickups (not that you can't try it). A little over or under when the combination feels best to you is your end of the beginning point. Miles, years and different loadings (one or both vehicles) will want you to re-adjust. You'll learn which side of the line you want to be on. The general understanding has been that the TV with steering/braking responses closest to while solo is best (thus getting FA back up). The techical term is "induced yaw" and some manufacturers are [again] changing specs about towing (having to do in some part with long wheelbase, stiffly sprung, etc) where achieving slightly less than the solo value is okay. Find the Towing Guide for your year model of truck from the manufacturer (online).

Adjustments via scale tickets -- a stack of them -- are ones friend. As to what you "can" tow (or haul) your realistic limit is the load limits of the rear axle and especially of the tires and wheels. The cooling system "capacity" is the problem most of us run into first.

As you are "dialled in" fairly well, the range of possible adjustments is now small, so worth your while to pursue, IMO. This is true for TV tire pressures as well for WDH tweaks. Use manufacturer guidelines wisely.

Folks will tell you that their combination tows just great . . believe 'em when the numbers have been worked (the quantification: being objective). Only then are the adjustments for steering response and ride quality worth their while (driver interpretation, thus, qualification; or, the subjective evaluation). Don't confuse the two or substitute the latter for the former (why 90% of rigs are incorrectly hitched: the owners have never driven one that is truly well-sorted).

Work the numbers and then let experience with a particular set of scale values lead to the next set. Keep notes. Over a bit of time you'll know the adjustment differences between a four-person, six week trip and one for two person weekend getaway (whether adjustment is wanted or not in accordance with previously generated numbers). The changes will be minimal, and easy at that point on the learning curve.

.
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Old 09-18-2012, 02:13 PM   #11
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You are within the specs for towing with your truck. A bit of information that escapes many people is that the GM trucks with the 4.10 rear end have a tow rating that is 25% higher than with the 3.73 rear end. The difference is between having a 16,000 versus 20,500 GCWR for the current Silverado trucks.

If you started out from zero MPH in 2nd gear you would expect there to be more stress on the engine than if you started out in 1st gear. Same applies to the rear end gearing for the truck. Easiest way to increase the towing capacity with your truck is to change the rear end gears. It is not a big deal, only important to have the work done at a shop with lots of experience in this area.

I cannot see blaming salespeople at a car dealers for buying the wrong vehicle. I would blame myself for not doing the necessary research or for that matter bothering to read the manufacturers' published specs which are easy enough to get. I don't expect the average salesperson to even know the gallons of fuel the tank will hold much less relevant information relating to using a vehicle for towing. They are paid to sell whatever is in the current inventory and if that truck happens to have a 3.43 rear end that is what they will sell. It is up to the customer to do the research before spending thousands of dollars.

I have never found a truck or SUV with a 4.10 rear end on the local dealer's lot but I have demanded that this rear end be provided and they always managed to find one somewhere and get it for me in a matter of days. The trick is to still get a good deal but it can be done with patience and persistence.
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