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Old 02-09-2016, 06:41 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 14
Class C Sprinter Towing

Currently debating the Class C/toad vs truck/SUV (Ram 1500/Jeep GC diesels) and 25' trailer options. I understand the towing weight calculations for the truck/SUV + trailer, where everywhere I have researched, uses the same calculation formulas for a Motorhome + 4 wheel toad. While not really an issue with Class A or even gas Class C, most Sprinter Class C have a 5000lb rated towing capacity. That would automatically rule out the 5400 lb Jeep GC diesel. While I wouldn't use that despite being a great toad, coming down to something in the 2500 to 3500lb range, it got me to thinking about the math used for the calculations.

It primarily has to do with axel placement. The traditional trailer has one or two axels close together midpoint acting as a pendulum for the weight. More in the front increases tongue weight – so much so that some mid-size Airstreams that have abnormally high tongue weight (25′ in particular), have people moving at least one of the propanes to the rear interior for transport. Also travel with minimal water, and dumping grey/black before journey. It also transfers weight to the tow vehicle's suspension to simply support the trailer even while standing still - thus increasing the hitch weight.

Contrast that with 4 wheel pulling (not dolly or flatbed) a vehicle. Wide axels of the 4 wheels absorb the weight and seems like would be far less weight transfer to the towing vehicle compared to a trailer with similar stresses/weight increase with acceleration, hills, and braking - but those would start from the lower transferred weight. Even I can push a car (preferably on level ground) but wouldn’t even want to think about the same weight trailer, and if I did would take far more effort. And then it gets to hitch weight. Unlike the pendulum weight transfer of a trailer to the tow vehicle suspension, 4 wheel towing is almost like a train car hitch except both hitches/couplers are not rigid and level, so essentially it is the weight of the Hensley or competitor’s hitch on the tow vehicle while all other weight is supported by the toad's 4 tires and wide axels.

Given the change in the variables between trailer towing and 4 wheel toad towing, is using the same math inputs (GVW etc) really valid?

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Old 02-09-2016, 09:25 AM   #2
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Holiday Rambler Owners Club
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1,163

The same inputs are valid, yes.

As you point out, towing four-down imposes (virtually) zero "tongue weight" on the hitch. So, the factors to consider are GWVR, GCWR and hitch rating. In some instances, you may want or need to know the manufacturer's maximum towed vehicle weight rating as well.

Oh, and not to forget a very important factor, you should weigh the motorhome (preferably at each "corner") and ensure that the motorhome is not over its front and rear GAWR values, and that the tires are properly inflated to match the actual axle loads.

If you tow a trailer or dolly (and do not use a "Trailer Toad"), then the "tongue weight" must be factored into the calculations, such that it a) not exceed the rating for the hitch, and b) not exceed the GAWR for the rear axle.
2008 Holiday Rambler Admiral 30PDD (Ford F53 chassis)
2009 Honda Fit Sport
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class c, tow, towing

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