Trailer Tongue Weight and Sway - SailNet Community

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Old 12-23-2001
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Trailer Tongue Weight and Sway

Since I changed vans ( I went from a 94 to a 98 chevy van ) I''ve had a problem with sway when towing my San Juan 26 , usually caused by a semi passing at high speed . Yesterday I decided to check my trailer tongue weight and found it to be 260 lbs . The manual said it should be 150 to 200 lbs . If I lower the tongue weight to the recommended 150 lbs does anybody think it will help my sway problem ?
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Old 12-23-2001
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Trailer Tongue Weight and Sway

The tongue weight should be 7 to 8% of the weight you are towing.

Lowering the tongue weight would probably make the sway problem worse in my opinion. Do you have the same type of hitch? Is the boat trailer level with the Van? Is the new van rated at the same load carrying capacity as the old one.? Is the distance from the rear axel to the hitch the same as on the old van? A longer overhang would exacerbate the sway problem.

All things to consider... A good load leveling hitch will do wonders when you are towing a heavy load.

Just a few thoughts!

Good luck,

Jim
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Old 12-24-2001
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Trailer Tongue Weight and Sway

Thanks for the reply Jim ,
the Van is about identical except smaller tires . The hitch came with the towing package and is rated 10,000 lbs just like mi old van . The trailer does seem like it goes slightly uphill when hitched but not much . Is the tongue weight rule the same for two wheel trailers as it is for four wheel trailers ? Mine has 4 .
Thanks , and Merry Christmas ,Paul
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Old 12-24-2001
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Trailer Tongue Weight and Sway

Hi Paul,

4 wheel trailers are much easier to tow than a 2 wheel, so am surprised you are having problems.

If the factory rates the hitch at 200 lbs max, it may be marginal for towing your boat. Don''t know what your weight is boat and trailer, but would guess at least 3000 lbs. 260 lbs tongue weight would be about right. If the boat and trailer weigh more then you need more weight on the tongue and probably a heavy duty hitch bolted/welded to the frame to carry the load.

There is an excellent book on the subject "Boat Trailers and tow vehicles A Users Guide" by Steve Henkel. You can probably find a copy at Barnes & Nobel or Amazon.com if you look. Lots of good info for the trailer boater.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Jim
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Old 12-27-2001
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Trailer Tongue Weight and Sway

Paul,
For 17 years I towed my 6,500 lbs. S2 7.9 Meter (25''11",over 8'' beam)
I towed with a car, jeep and mini van. With each vehicle I had to adjust the tongue weight. Too much weight on the tongue takes too much weight off the front end steering.
VERY DANGEROUS. Every time your encounter turbulence, the front end of your tow vehicle sways, and you can''t control it. It is a little like the tail wagging the dog, only a little more violent since you have less weight in the front end thus on the road. I would suspect the smaller tires to also add to the problem.
An equalizer hitch as mentioned will help. The hitch is made to take the weight off the tongue and level the car, thus giving you much more control. The car and the boat sway together and are level. But you still have to have the boat and the car completely level. My hitch had about seven different positions to set the ball to accomplish leveling the two vehicles.
The smaller tires may also add to the sway problem. If the side walls are weaker than your other van (smaller usually means weaker) when you sway, they give and don''t hold you firmly to the road.
I am sure once to balance both rigs you won''t feel the sway and you will feel the control.
Good Luck
John
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Trailer Tongue Weight and Sway PaulTV General Discussion (sailing related) 9 03-21-2011 08:44 AM


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