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Tongue Weight / Weight Distributing Hitch

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Over the past year, the trailer hitch on our Jeep Liberty has slowly developed a slight downward bend. The Liberty is rated to handle a 500lb tongue weight, and overall it has been a wonderful tow vehicle for our Oliver.

 

Based on the "official" specs from Oliver, we have always assumed that we were not exceeding out tongue weight limit, but the bent hitch had us start to think otherwise. Today I rented a scale from an RV store, and I measured a fully-loaded 600lbs under the front jack! I need to do the math to calculate what the weight at the end of our extended tongue is, but it seems that we are often at or over 500lbs.

 

Ouch. Does this match with other Oliver owner tongue weight observations? I have never seen anyone here on the forums mention measuring anything more than 400lbs.

 

Interestingly - the fresh water tank is so well balanced that it hardly made and difference with the tongue weight whether or not the tank was empty or full.

 

Anyway - the RV store can repair / replace our bent hitch, but they highly recommend some sort of weight distributing hitch to keep this problem from repeating in the future.

 

Are there any weight distributing hitches that can work with the Oliver's enclosed tongue design? Has anyone used a WDS hitch with an Oliver?

 

Wisdom and advice appreciated.

 

The guy at the RV store's advice: "get a real truck"

 

Hmmmm.

 

- Chris

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Wow! You guys must have some lead boots in the closet or something :o The Wonder Egg has a 340 lb tongue weight as measured at a Casita rally by someone with a good set of scales. How'd that happen?

 

But it makes sense with what's going on with your TV if the hitch is limited to 500#. I'm just curious as to where the added weight is coming from!? Has your sweet little kitten turned into a mountain lion?


Pete & "Bosker".    TV -  '18 F150 Super-cab Fx4; RV  - "The Wonder Egg";   '08 Elite, Hull Number 014.


Travel blog of 1st 10 years' wanderings - http://www.peteandthewonderegg.blogspot.com


ABBCMBNBNLNSONPEQCSKYTALAKAZARCACOCTFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPAPRSCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYsm.jpg

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We are tempted to blame Kiki. Her jug of kitty-litter is one of the heaviest things we have stored in the bathroom area.

 

The 500+lb weight was measured with the black tank empty, and one of the two propane tanks empty too. With both full(er), I imagine the tongue weight will be even higher.

 

Just spoke with Vince at the factory, and he has never seen an Oliver with such a high tongue weight reading. He is going to ask around for advice as to why ours might be so high.

 

I still have the rented scale so I am going to look into measuring again to confirm our results. But the bent hitch seems to indicate that we do have a weight problem.

 

*sigh*

 

- Chris

 

PS: It is tempting to get a bigger tow vehicle - but there really isn't anything out there appropriate. Dodge, Ford, GM, and Toyota had all promised diesel engines for their half-ton pickup trucks by 2010. All of these project are AWOL. It is so frustrating that good small tow vehicles are completely missing in this country. Conspiracy against diesel??? Right now nothing out there can beat our Liberty for towing and around town fuel economy...

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Chris,

We had our Oliver weighed at a Flying J last year on certified segmented scales. Tongue weight was 420 pounds, well within our (and your) limit. From my notes, we had two full propane tanks (steel) at the time, and I think the small amount of water in the tanks would have been pretty irrelevant. We usually store stuff on the floor of the bathroom when we travel, but I doubt it weighs more than forty or fifty pounds total... a couple gallons of water in jugs, a box or two of wine :) , plastic box with towels, bathroom paraphenalia, etc.

 

I wish I knew the formulas to help you figure out the tongue weight versus the weight on the electric jack, but I don't. With the position of the electric jack so far back from the tongue, a portable scale will (as you know already, as I see in your post) will give you a much higher weight. How much higher, I don't know.

Perhaps the quickest way to find the real tongue weight would be to weigh everything on a segmented, certified scale at a Flying J or another truck stop, and do the two weight process to determine total weight and axle/tongue weights. It went pretty quickly for us, and the operator was really helpful, perhaps because we went at a time when the scales were otherwise empty. I stayed at the phone to speak to the operator, and Paul handled the connection/disconnection on the second weigh. Pretty quick with the electric jack, maybe five or ten minutes total time.

 

I, too, am unhappy that we can't have the same types of fuel-efficient diesels so popular in Europe. My sister-in-law has vowed not to let loose of her old diesel VW till she can replace it with something similar. She gets incredible (40 plus) mileage on the highway. I hear they're coming, though... eventually.

 

Sherry


2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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So we just found enough sturdy stuff to put the scale on and measure at the hitch at towing height - our weight was right at 500#. Eeeks. Moving the kitty litter and other misc items out of the bathroom brought it down to about 480.

 

Quite higher than any Oliver tongue weight reading we've seen tho. Wondering how heavy the generator basket is? We only store tarps and some outside foldable (lightweight) furniture in it - tempting to remove it to give us less tongue weight. (We've never used it for the generator.. it was made *far* too big for our Honda 2000iu, with no easy way to secure it.)

 

Also considering looking into the lighterweight fiberglass propane tanks to help reduce down the tongue weight.

 

- Cherie

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Looking for ways to reduce weight and shift load is the best sollution. Before you focus on the weight distributing hitch I would research them a bit more, since I don't think that would solve the tongue wieght issue. Those hitches simply apply a kind of lever between the tow vehicle and trailer to keep everyone level, thus providing a more stable ride.

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We've spent the day researching bigger tow vehicles.... On the verge of getting a Tundra. That seems easier than finding a way to install a weight distributing hitch onto the enclosed tongue of the Oliver. :-)

 

- Chris

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Actually, using a weight distributing hitch (WDH) would be very effective, since it would move some of the weight that currently rests on the hitch and the rear axle of the tow vehicle forward to the front wheels. The lever action referred to by DCKiefer actually does this: that is why the tow vehicle rides level when a WDH is properly installed. At the same time, some of the weight is shifted from the tongue of the trailer to the trailer's axle.

 

It would be great to be able to use a light-duty WDH on our Oliver, but there does not seem to be a way to do so without cutting into the fiberglass on the tongue. I would love to hear that someone has found a way to use a WDH.

 

Steve

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This is a long shot but is it possible you've got water trapped between the hulls? I remember the exasperating leak you had several months ago. At 8 lbs/gal it wouldn't take a whole lot.


Aubrey and the two wingmen, Woodstock & Rascal


Oliver #032, "El Huevito"


Ford F-150 4x4


El Juevito's Travels

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I haven't measured my tongue weight yet, but I have a theory... Your fresh and gray water tanks are only a few inches high and several feet long. If you were to take a long tube of the same dimensions and fill it up half way with water and lift one end a few inches up where is all the weight? When the tanks are totally full (or totally empty) the weight is always evenly distributed. Think about what occurs when the tanks are only partially filled. If, when you are hitched up the tongue is just a couple of inches lower than level all the water will run towards the front. When this happens a lot more of the fluid weight will be in front of the axle than behind. The same thing will occur when you step on the brakes and the fluid surges forward. BTW: This is also the reason the front of the trailer needs to be elevated when emptying the tanks.

 

Charlie P

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@JuniorBirdMan - That's an interesting consideration. However, when we asked the Oliver folks about what would happen if a leak just happened to occur - they told us that the shells were designed to drain any possible capture of water between them. So - unless I hear otherwise from Oliver on that design element, I'm going to hope that's not the case :D

 

@Charlie - That's definitely a concern, and a good reason to be aware of your water tank levels while towing! Our trailer has always had to tilt down while in tow as the way the Jeep Liberty is designed with the spare tire placement - so yes, definitely while in tow we're getting forward shifted weight from the tanks. We have to use a massive extender too, which we've discovered adds additional weight to the hitch/frame. We've basically come to the conclusion that the Liberty is not ideally suited for towing our Oliver - a new tow vehicle is a must.

 

That said, we took our 480-500# measurement with the trailer level, so the water should have been well distributed?

 

- Cherie

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We've spent the day researching bigger tow vehicles.... On the verge of getting a Tundra. That seems easier than finding a way to install a weight distributing hitch onto the enclosed tongue of the Oliver.
:-)

 

- Chris

 

I think the Tundra is a great choice, but you could get a diesel engine in a 3/4 ton truck for about $3 grand more and I would think your fuel mileage would be much better than the Tundra with a gas engine. As much as you tow, it might we worth the extra money. I'm sure you've already thought about this though. How about a used 3/4 ton diesel?

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I think the Tundra is a great choice, but you could get a diesel engine in a 3/4 ton truck for about $3 grand more and I would think your fuel mileage would be much better than the Tundra with a gas engine. As much as you tow, it might we worth the extra money. I'm sure you've already thought about this though. How about a used 3/4 ton diesel?

 

I'd love to stay diesel, but while the Tundra is big - the smallest diesels are huge. And the 2006 Tundra we are looking at is a great deal. 3/4 ton diesels are pricey, even those several years old.

 

I've been scouring the net looking for other options, and I'm not having any luck finding anything better than the Tundra we currently have on hold. If you have any other suggestions, let us know ASAP.

 

- Chris

 

PS: Besides, the red Tundra perfectly matches our Oliver. How can we resist? :-)

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I towed a 23 foot Terry Travel Trailer with a load bearing hitch with an Astro Van.

 

These are a hassle and while they were necessary with the Terry, I find that the Oliver tows far better without them than the Terry did with them. I'm glad I don't need one, and I suspect Chris and Cherie won't either with the Tundra.

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