Axle placement -- again

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Axle placement -- again

Postby dwgriff1 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:03 am

When I placed the axle on my "almost ultralight", I placed it 38" from the back.

Now with a few hundred miles on the trailer and with the galley stocked with fixtures, but not loaded with food, I think the tongue weight is too little. Tonight I pulled the trailer without any extra weight, but without the food I would have in a camp trip, weight that would lighten the tongue even more.

I was driving on freeways for the most part, but I could hear the hitch chattering.

I can move the axle back up to 6" using the existing structure. If I go back further I have a bit of rebuilding to do.

Question: Would it be a good idea to move the axle back another 4 or 5". Or would I be better off to put in a little extra weight in the front, even as as balast?

Or, am I missing someting here?

Thanks in advance for your help.

dave
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Postby doug hodder » Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:09 am

Dave....you have the trailer done...and not to mince words...just throw some crap in the front of the trailer...a suitcase, chairs etc...I'm willing to bet that everyone at the last minute sticks some stuff in somewhere...just put it in the front....lots easier than moving an axle...nothing is perfect...but how you adjust to lifes situations is what makes you an innovator...just my opinion...check your tongue weight...add as needed....doug
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Postby dwgriff1 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:19 am

Doug,

The search for perfection is always with us. Your answe is not glamorous, but it may be the best and easiest.

BTW: My axle is bolted to the sides of the pan, not to a frame, so it really isn't that hard to move.

dave
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Postby doug hodder » Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:28 am

Dave...sorry, I didn't mean to sound crude or sarcastic...after checking your album I see that you can move the axle relatively easily....I guess it all comes down to just how much weight you need on the tongue...if you can't manage it through some inventive packing, then an axle movement may be in order...I assumed that you had fenders mounted up...if that were the case then it certainly was going to be a different situation....but, like I mentioned...what is your tongue weight, compared to the total tear weight...that's a starting point before you begin any modifications...Doug
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Postby asianflava » Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:29 am

My EZ-up is usually my ballast. It's no lightweight, and since I have to carry it inside the cabin I move it to suit the loading.

If the cooler in the back is full of ice and stuff (heading to the campground), I move the EZ-up closer to the front. If the cooler is empty (on the way home) I put it over the axle.

If moving the axle is easy enough, you may want to do it strictly for peace of mind. I don't have a choice, we welded the axle to the frame.
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Postby angib » Wed Sep 13, 2006 6:59 am

Dave,

Without measured hitch and total trailer weights, the following is pure guesswork, but might be some help.

You think your hitch weight is low, so let's guess it's only 5% of the total trailer weight. This means the centre of gravity of the trailer is 5% of the hitch-to-axle distance forward of the axle. I'm guessing this distance on your trailer is around 7 feet, so the centre of gravity would be only 4" in front of the axle. So if you move the axle back 4", you would double the hitch weight and hit the recommended 10% on the nose.

But I repeat, without measured weights, this is all guesswork.

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Postby dwgriff1 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:14 am

The tongue on my tear is very short: 17" from the front of the tear to the center of the ball.

Will that make a difference?

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Postby coreyjhen » Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:55 am

Dave,
Talk to a local stock car racer and see if you can borrow some of his lead blocks. Tie-wrap them to the tongue to see if that helps your towing. If it does, buy the number that you settle on and through-bolt them to the underside of the tongue. It would be a pity to ruin the looks of your trailer by putting them on top, and it looks like you have enough ground clearance to fit them underneath.

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Postby Miriam C. » Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:07 am

Morning Dave. Is there any way to build a small battery box in front or strap a dutch oven on? :D
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Postby dwgriff1 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 10:12 am

You guys (and Miriam) are full of ideas!

I don't want to add any more weight if I can help it. The trailer is strong, but my little Cavalier IS puny.

When I am camping long I have enough gear to balance the load, but when I am going light (much of the time) there is no load in the front of the trailer at all.

When loaded, I can balance the load, but last night I took the tear across Portland to show to a friend and it was pretty light and a bit unstable. I just pulled it 500 miles loaded and it was wonderfully stable. It is that unstability that I really don't like.

And, moving the axle is a 20 to 30 minute job.

I haven't done the fenders yet, so that is not a factor, how much should I move the axle back? Would 4" be about right?

Maybe I should build it like some of the semi trailers, so I can move the axle back and forth to meet my needs!!

dave
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Postby bledsoe3 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 10:20 am

dwgriff1 wrote: but last night I took the tear across Portland to show to a friend dave

Dave, If you're still in Portland, I'd love to see your tear.
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Postby angib » Wed Sep 13, 2006 10:54 am

Dave,

Your short tongue means you actually get more hitch weight for a given centre of gravity!

Your first task is to get your trailer weighed (empty) at a truck scale and then measure the hitch weight (empty and loaded) using some bathroom scales. Weighing the items you load on would then give you all the info needed.

Moving the axle does sound like a good idea, but until you find out the actual weights, there's no way to know how much to move it by.

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Postby Dale M. » Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:05 am

Umm.... First why not put hitch on bathroon scales and see what tongue weight is???..

My car carrier trailer (tandem axle) sometimes rattles hitch even when loaded and over 200-300 pounds on hitch...

Just guessing is not goint to give you real answers... Lets have the numbers...

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Postby dwgriff1 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:45 am

The trailer weighs 580 pouns. I used a bathroom scale and the tongue weight was about 45 pounds.

When I weighed the tongue, I was hoping the trailer weighed 400#, so thought I had it nailed, and forgot about it.

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Postby angib » Wed Sep 13, 2006 12:21 pm

dwgriff1 wrote:The trailer weighs 580 pouns. I used a bathroom scale and the tongue weight was about 45 pounds.

OK. I'm assuming these numbers are for the empty trailer? And they were taken with the trailer at its normal ride angle (ie, not hitch down)?

That 8% (45/580) hitch weight puts the centre of gravity 6.5" (8% of 84") forward of the axle, if your hitch-to-axle length is 84". If you moved the axle 2" rearward, that 6.5" would now become 8.5", or 10% of the new 86" hitch-to-axle length. This would put your hitch weight up to 10% of the total or 60 pounds.

I'm not convinced a 8% hitch weight is a major problem - in Europe it would be considered more than satisfactory and many US recommendations are for 8-15%, so don't think 10% is some make-or-break figure.

If you are getting noticeable chatter, that sounds like a different issue and it might be good to recheck the tow line. It's a dumb question, but you're sure you haven't got a 1-7/8" ball and a 2" coupler, right?

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