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Old 11-03-2013, 12:25 AM   #1
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Axle Ratings

A couple of weeks ago I posted a question asking which TT to choose, Jayco's White Hawk or Crossroads Sunset trails. A lot has happened since then and the search still continues. Believe now we have it narrowed down between the Jayco White Hawk and the Outdoors RV Creekside.

In the last few weeks, I have looked and dozens of manufactures and there seems to be a current theme with most manufactures of Maximun Trailer Weight being more than the axle ratings. Example the Jayco White Hawk has two 3500 lbs axles and the TT has a maximun capcity of 7500lbs. These numbers are not bad compared to most of the TT's I have looked at. Realize that not all of the wieght is carried by the axles and that some of the wieght is carried by the tongue, typically 12% to 14%. Even so, we don't always drive down a perfectly smooth road. Dips, bumps, pot holes and driving off road can cause a spike in wieght on the axles when you hit a pot hole for example. I am just over analyizing this or should I concerned with 2 axles designed to carry 7000 lbs on a TT rated for 7500 lbs.

I am also currently looking at the Outdoor RV Creekside model. It has two alxes rated at 5200 lbs each and the TT maximun load of 8800 lbs. Obviously these numbers are much better. The only issues, the Outdoor RV TT is serveral thousands dollars more and the dealer is 2 to 3 hour drive which will make it a pain if i need to get warranty work done. The Jayco dealer is about 20 minutes away.

If the Jayco 7000 lbs axle rating isn't going to be a problem, think I will be putting my money down on the Jayco next weekend. Or is it the case of you get what you pay for and I should spend the extra money for a TT with Axles that can handle the bumps, dips and pot holes?

Welcome your input.
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:30 AM   #2
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If you are going to be just a weekend user, don't have to carry a full load of water in and out of your destination and are willing to keep your tires at the appropriate air pressure, you will most likely be fine. If you are thinking of more extensive travel, most time living or anything else you will benefit with looking to a bit more trailer. Only my opinion from looking at hundreds of trailers purchasing one mass marketed and going with a Custom built full time capable trailer with more carrying capacity than I could ever use.

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Old 11-03-2013, 08:19 AM   #3
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I'm not 100% sure, but in your scenario of a max 7500lb trailer, you should have AT LEAST 750lbs on the tongue and consider that each axel (think unsprung weight) is about 200lbs I would guess.
So the weight of the axels, brakes, wheels and tires is not part of the load the axel is carrying. Like if you had a wheelbarrow rated for 300lbs, you wouldn't consider the weight of the wheelbarrow in it's carrying capacity.
With that, we can vigure that around 1,200lbs or more of your total weight is not being "carried" by the axel.
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Old 11-03-2013, 02:34 PM   #4
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This is a common question.

You MUST deduct the tongue weight from the total trailer weight to figure out the actual loading on the axles. You should also use the GVWR since you can't weigh the trailer in advance of the purchase.

Never go by the dry tongue weight listed by a manufacturer. It is typically between 10 - 15% of the trailer's weight. For example, on an 7,500 lb GVWR TT, the tongue weight *could* be between 750 and 1125 lbs. So you can see if that is deducted from the GVWR, you'd be under the 2 x 3500 lb axle ratings.

What I don't know and have not seen in any posts or elsewhere, is how well axles stand up when they are loaded to near or over their max. capacity rating. Personally, I rather see them loaded as far under the rating as possible, but that's just me. Another factor is that some trailer frames flex a lot and can force the axles to move/bend while towing. The tubing in axles is paper thin...

You should be aware that it is possible to overload a trailer above it's GVWR. It is a good thing to weigh your trailer after it's all loaded up for a camping trip and find a scale somewhere. In the case of our TT, we are only 200 lbs away from from the GVWR. We have 4 holding tanks, and if we traveled with just one tank full, we'd be overloaded. So it is possible to unknowingly overload your axles.

As alluded to, the weight of the axle assemblies themselves would not be included in the axle's carrying capacity. This is called "unsprung weight" in automotive terms. You could find this weight from the Al-Ko or Dexter websites.

You'd be smart to take a close look at how the frame is designed. Spring hangers vary in height - around 4" to 6" tall. Shorter ones are better. Some frames have a 2x2 length of steel tubing welded to the underside of the frame between the spring hangers. If the spring hangers flex from side to side (and they can), the 2x2 tubing will prevent the bottom flange of the I-beam from bending and distorting. Some frames also have a gusset from the bottom I-beam flange up to the side of the beam. This helps stiffen up the hangers. All of these help to minimize flex in the axles.

If you want a top notch frame (including axle setup) the Outdoors RV is great. They make their own frames and even have an off-road heavy duty option available. IIRC, when I was at a recent RV show, the White Hawk is using the BAL Ultraframe which is excellent. I may be wrong, but I think I also saw one White Hawk model that had an ordinary Lippert frame. KZ recently experimented with the BAL frame in around April/May of this year but went back to Lippert. You can still find some 2014 Spree Connect ones with the BAL frame on dealer lots.

Here's a photo of a trailer that has axles well under the max. axle rating. Due to frame flex, the axles are forced to bend. Not a good thing. Not good for wear on spring bushings and tires and can lead to more serious things like frame cracks. One thing that can be done to TTs is to add cross-bracing between the bottom of the spring hangers. You can custom make some (not hard) or buy a cross-member kit from Mor/Ryde.

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Old 11-03-2013, 03:31 PM   #5
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When shopping for a TT, you should assume that the GVWR of the trailer will be the wet and loaded weight of the trailer, and that the wet and loaded tongue weight of the TT will be 15% of the GVWR of the trailer.

But after you buy the trailer, ignore the GVWR of the trailer and go by the actual weight on the trailer axles compared to the GAWR of the trailer axles to determine if you are overloaded. GVWR of the trailer is not a player other than in helping you determine which trailer to buy.

If you think you need to know tongue weight to estimate something, then you should use a tongue weight scale to determine actual weight on the trailer tongue. But after you get hooked up and on the road, the CAT scales are going to tell you GVW on the tow vehicle tires, and the GAW on the trailer axles. The CAT scale is not going to tell you tongue weight or GVW of the trailer.

If the GVW on the tow vehicle tires exceeds the GVWR of the tow vehicle, you're overloaded. If the total weight on the trailer axles exceeds the combined GAWR of the trailer axles, the trailer is overloaded. The CAT scale will give you those numbers, and those are the numbers you should be concerned with. Hitch weight and GVW of the trailer no longer matter.
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Old 11-03-2013, 03:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by vtwinmax View Post
I am also currently looking at the Outdoor RV Creekside model. It has two alxes rated at 5200 lbs each and the TT maximun load of 8800 lbs. Obviously these numbers are much better. The only issues, the Outdoor RV TT is serveral thousands dollars more and the dealer is 2 to 3 hour drive which will make it a pain if i need to get warranty work done. The Jayco dealer is about 20 minutes away.
Or is it the case of you get what you pay for and I should spend the extra money for a TT with Axles that can handle the bumps, dips and pot holes?

Welcome your input.
I have been had extreme issues with the light frames and axles. Myredracer has had his share as well.
Those hours and thousands of dollars would be the best investment you have ever made.
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:35 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=lynnmor;1792358 Myredracer has had his share as well.
[/QUOTE]

You can say that again. I even found a failed and separated weld in the aluminum framing of the superstructure from all the flex going on. And now we have to force the main entry door closed because racking/movement of the aluminum farming has happened. And this is all within the first few months of ownership. Poor frame design sucks. If you find out after the warranty has expired, you are scr*wed.

When you read KZ's brochure, it says their Spree line has a heavy duty frame. Really? It's the weakest design out there. It's made from 3 pieces of sheet steel welded together to *look* like an I-beam. There's no re-enforcement of any kind on it. I've seen the same frame (Lippert) on 5 other makes/models now. If you see it on one you're thinking of buying, my advice would be to run away from it... KZ is also saying that we are the only ones they are aware of that have had frame issues. Really?

[QUOTE=lynnmor;1792358 Those hours and thousands of dollars would be the best investment you have ever made.[/QUOTE]

Totally agreed. What I have learned is that frames can be the single weakest thing in a trailer. Manufacturers and dealers are all flogging the eye candy and bling, the lovely interior decor, the great looking cabinetry, the number & size of slides, etc. But if there's one thing that can lead to big problems and big costs for repair, it's poor frame design. If you go to an RV show and ask a sales guy, they can't tell you a thing about frames. Even the factory reps there can't. I've tried... TT manufacturers just DO NOT tell you anything about their frames. It's pretty sad. The only one that makes any effort to say something about them is Outdoors RV, and even then, they could say a lot more.

As Lynnmor says, spend the time doing the research. If you have the extra $$, buy better quality up front. You won't regret it down the road.

From what I've read so far, Outdoors RV would be a very good choice. I don't know much about the White Hawk line, but there's a lot of positive comments about Jayco on the internet plus they have a 2 year warranty. If you have frame or axle problems, a year is not very long to discover them. An extra year of factory warranty is a really good thing. BTW, if you buy a unit now, and it sits all winter, you'll be losing a lot of your warranty period. I would try negotiating an extension on the warranty until when you start using the TT in the next camping season, or make the deal now with down payment and delay delivery until the next camping season. Just a thought...
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Old 11-03-2013, 07:26 PM   #8
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Thanks everybody for the input.
After looking at dozens and dozens of TT, I do believe that Jayco makes a good product and believe it is much better than than most of their competition, but I am not confortable with the alxes they choose to use. So... just got back from the dealer and put my money down on the Outdoor RV Crestline. There is a lot of added extras and attention to details the Outdoor RV designed had and put into their TT, which I liked. However the main reason I choose the Outdoor RV is it is built on a better foundation and that gives me a better piece of mind. Piece of mind is sometimes hard to put a value on.

Thanks again everybody for your input.
When I pick the TT up, I will be sure to post some photos.
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Old 11-03-2013, 07:32 PM   #9
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You chose wisely!

Happy camping and don't forget to post some pics and comments when you get it home.
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Old 11-03-2013, 07:42 PM   #10
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This seems to be the normal procedure for trailer manufacturers, use the lightest axles possible, and legal for the maximum load expected. That's why we read so many posts about bent axles and/or abnormal tire wear. When buying new you do have the option to specify the next higher weight axles and wheels under the trailer.
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Old 11-04-2013, 02:06 AM   #11
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When buying new you do have the option to specify the next higher weight axles and wheels under the trailer.
Some may do this, but not all. I know that KZ refuses to do this even if they have them on hand. To go from a 3500 lb axle to 4000 lb one is a straight across swap and no frame mods are needed so am not sure why they would balk at this.

One thing I don't like is that frames do not have any max. capacity/load ratings. You can increase the axle ratings all you want, but how are you supposed to know what the frame can handle? Despite this, I think it's a good idea to upgrade the rating if you can to minimize flex/movement and the problems that can cause.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:03 PM   #12
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Thanks everybody for the input.
After looking at dozens and dozens of TT, I do believe that Jayco makes a good product and believe it is much better than than most of their competition, but I am not confortable with the alxes they choose to use. So... just got back from the dealer and put my money down on the Outdoor RV Crestline. There is a lot of added extras and attention to details the Outdoor RV designed had and put into their TT, which I liked. However the main reason I choose the Outdoor RV is it is built on a better foundation and that gives me a better piece of mind. Piece of mind is sometimes hard to put a value on.

Thanks again everybody for your input.
When I pick the TT up, I will be sure to post some photos.
Exc choice. We purchased a Fox Mountain 5th wheel in April. Same in house frame maker as your Outdoors. That was one of the main reasons we got the FM. I'm a firm believer that you can't have too much payload capacity in reserve. We had to travel 300 miles to get ours. There's no dealers near us. If I need warranty work I can go to a Northwood authorized RV repair facility. Luckily there's one about 5 miles form my house. We had a slight water leak from miss matched parts. It leaked from the 2nd night we had it. The RV repair facility did the repairs as I waited. That's the only issue since then. Close to 50 nights and over 4000 miles of camping this year.
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:48 PM   #13
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Some may do this, but not all. I know that KZ refuses to do this even if they have them on hand. To go from a 3500 lb axle to 4000 lb one is a straight across swap and no frame mods are needed so am not sure why they would balk at this.
I don't know why they wont go to the 4000# axle either. The GAWR will not change. It's quite common in the RV trailer industry to install axles with more load capacity than what is displayed on it's certification label.

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Old 11-11-2013, 10:59 AM   #14
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Both axles bent on our Heartland NorthTrail BRS 28, destroying all four tires and creating a dangerous condition for us hundreds of miles from home. Lippert replaced them with a heavier duty axle. Heartland refused to assume any responsibility for putting inadequate axles on their NT BRS28. Avoid all Heartland RVs. When a company shows no concern for those who buy their products, they don't need more customers. Oh, and the RV place that replaced the axles that Lippert shipped had a pile of bent axles from Heartland RVs.
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