# Thread: Boat Trailer Tongue Weight

1. ## Boat Trailer Tongue Weight

After towing my new boat home last month and having a few tail wagging problem I decided I need to make sure the trailer is set up properly. One of the things I want to do is measure the tongue weight. My question is what it the proper way to do it. I know there are scales out there that you can use but I am not buying a \$200 scale to use once and then have it sit in my tool box. I have seen diagrams online that allow you to use a bathroom scale and a lever but I doubt the accuracy of the bathroom scale (my wife says its wrong every time she stands on it). I also could probably tow the the boat somewhere and weigh the truck, then weigh the truck with the boat hooked on and get a number.

What is the right way to do it?

2. sounds like your pretty light on the tongue, (light boat I assume), 20 gallons of water in the bow and tow it, if it feels better, pick up the tongue and see how it feels, then take the water out and move the boat forward until it feels a littler heavier than that.

3. tow it to the weigh station on the highway or maybe the landfill scales can do it.

4. A simple at home way for a pretty close estimate with a couple friends:
* back your truck up on fairly level ground with the ball just below the coupler, find a good spot on your bumper or hitch and measure the height off the ground.
* have one person with known weight stand on your bumper and measure the height now (for example 200# = 1" drop), add another person to the bumper (400# = 2 1/2" drop) then add the smallest person (500# = 3" drop) [these weights and drops are examples only].
* you know the boat and trailer weighs ??? lets say 4000# so you will want 10% - 15% tounge weight which would be 400-600#.
* lower the trailer onto the ball and measure how far the bumper drops, if it drops one inch then you will know you have to add weight to the bow or move the boat forward on the trailer.

5. I have tried the bath room scale trick and could not get it to work. What I ended up doing was going to a public scale, drive on to where the tongue jack will rest on the scale, unhook the tow vehicle and pull off the scale, then lower the tongue on to a jack stand that you put under the ball coupler on the trailer, this will give you the exact weight. You can use just the tongue jack but it will not give you the exact ball weight as the tongue jack is positioned further back on the tongue than the ball, close weight but not 100% accurate.

6. Before you start moving things around you need to be sure that your trailer frame is LEVEL when hooked to the truck. hook up and get to a LEVEL parking lot and measure it .

Trailers with 2 or more axles have to sit level or it effects the trucks ability to steer and tow properly not to mention you WILL blow tires.
If your rig is sitting level then it's on to the Scale house.

Tongue weight for your application is 5% to 7% tongue weight NOT 10% to 15% . You may have to do some suspension work your truck to maintain level frames on both Truck and Trailer .

Once you get her all dialed in you will be a lot happier going down the road.

One more thing, when you park your trailer on the scale crank your tongue up until your trailer frame is LEVEL [ take a tape measure with you ] to see how much weight is going to be on the ball.

Of course this is going to take a few hook ups .

1] Whole rig on the scales to get total
2] Drop boat to get total weight of rig on trailer ready to fish
3] hook back up and back trailer axles off of scale to get tongue weight

7. The proper trailer tongue weight for a bumper towed trailer is 10 to 15 percent regardless the number of axles. I have never seen the 5 to 7 percent written anywhere for multiple axles. I run a triple axle all over the state to many mph over the speed limit without issue and this will the 8th season running. I put new tires on last summer because I speared one on a sharp rock and my outer thread areas were getting wore from hard turns on the others. I have to do a 180 turn in a Cul De Sac and always wish for sand and gravel to drag them tires on. The biggest part is to ensure all is level.

JR2 I have a scales you can use to check axle weight and then use under your tongue. We are close so let me know. We could even work on it in my shop here in a couple of weeks if needed. I did TBloomA's Wooley a couple of years ago as his was so tongue heavy it would squash the plastic wheel on the jack. I followed him one day and told him something was wrong. We moved the boat as far back as possible but was still way to heavy and then moved the axle.....ALOT to get it to 10%. She tows like a dream now.

Here is info from Drawtight

Ehow info here

http://www.ehow.com/how_5703647_dete...t-trailer.html

and one last one Etrailer

http://www.etrailer.com/faq-trailertowtips.aspx

If you need to move axles remember it's ABOUT a 15 pound adjustment for every inch you move the axle. Always measure from the trailer FRAME.

8. I don't think mine is that heavy, but since this is a new (to me) boat I want to be sure everything is set up properly and I don't want any train wrecks with my new toy.

DS - I will take you up on that offer here in a few weeks. I will PM you when I get closer to being ready to get this done. Still have a few other things to take care of on the boat before I am ready to tackle this and I work on the slope so I am gone 50% of the time as well.

9. Dupont;
Thanks for posting the links so people can see for themselves the proper tongue weight, getting bad info on that may not be quite as bad in Texas with straight flat roads but hauling an improperly loaded trailer down a curvy 2 lane mountain road in Alaska often times leads to tradgedy. Most of the swervey black tire marks going down the hill at Eagle River are from 2 place tilt snowmachine trailers that are loaded with something other than snowmachines (that have most of the weight up front) and because of the design (axle moved forward for tilting) don't have proper tongue weight.
JR2 your wise to ask for advice on here and you will find by taking the correct advice you should not have any more tail wagging and will enjoy your experience much more.

10. I have done the tail wag with my snowmachine tralier down that hill more than once... I know a guy who lost his load of lumber on that same hill last summer..

I have seen a boat fish tail and come unhooked from a trailer on the Seward highway. I stopped to help him once he got it all stopped. Never seen a grown man shake, but he was shaking bad.

11. Originally Posted by Lowe & Slow
Dupont;
Thanks for posting the links so people can see for themselves the proper tongue weight, getting bad info on that may not be quite as bad in Texas with straight flat roads but hauling an improperly loaded trailer down a curvy 2 lane mountain road in Alaska often times leads to tradgedy. Most of the swervey black tire marks going down the hill at Eagle River are from 2 place tilt snowmachine trailers that are loaded with something other than snowmachines (that have most of the weight up front) and because of the design (axle moved forward for tilting) don't have proper tongue weight.
JR2 your wise to ask for advice on here and you will find by taking the correct advice you should not have any more tail wagging and will enjoy your experience much more.
When you have a load of lumber on a sled trailer you are actually what I call balanced. No real weight forward bias at all and they wag. Starting to see alot of folks pulling 4 bed trailers with sleds staggered instead of both forward. The word must be getting around or they are just tried of buying tires.

1st think level and then work with tongue weight. I don't get why any one would tow a trailer nose low when there are so many hitch options to tow properly. Bit if you towed funny then you would not know that there is a better way to do it.

I sold a single axle sled trailer back a few years ago and I gave the guy the hitch and ball to ensure he had the right combo when he left my place. I know he sold that trailer and he passed on the hitch from what I heard.

12. Even though tongue weight is very important sometimes brakes are the source of aggrevation as well, especially surge brakes. finally make sure your tire pressures are all the same. Generally max pressure is the way to go unless you detect you are wearing out the centers first.

Others pointed out how important it is to have the trailer level and this can't be overstated. On one trip from WA to Alaska hauling our Sea Sport the handling felt a little off. Changing the ball height by only 1 inch made a dramatic change at how the truck/trailer combo handled.

13. Getting my trailer level is my next goal, it was not nose down too bad but I want level. I am going to buy a weight distribution hitch and when I measure for it I am going to be sure I can move the ball up a couple inches to level out the trailer if necessary.

14. Originally Posted by JR2
Getting my trailer level is my next goal, it was not nose down too bad but I want level. I am going to buy a weight distribution hitch and when I measure for it I am going to be sure I can move the ball up a couple inches to level out the trailer if necessary.
Why a weight distribution hitch? Running surge brakes? Adjustable hitch good but not really a neccessity. Please discribe your setup, trailer, boat, tow vehicle, and hitch. Might be able to save you some dollars to put else where.

When I hear about a weight distribution hitch I worry especially with a boat trailer. The torque applied to the tongue of the trailer, especially a pole tongue, bends them eventually. Trailers especially for boats need to have a certain amount of movement as our loads are not rigidly attached. For a large pull camper, yes, as alot of them carry their fresh water forward and they are on a "V" tongue helping to distribute the torque.

I have a variety of my own trailers, from small 2 place single axle, dual axle dump trailer, car haulers, enclosed sled box, jet boat, to my triple boat hauler holding 12k+ and not one of them sways or misbehaves regardless of speeds, loaded, "overloaded" or empty. There is a science to it all but it's not rocket science. Well if it is rocket science, I am available to any one looking.

15. the main thing i like about the weight distribution hitch is that it takes the bounce out of the trailer. i have one ton trucks i pull my boat with and i just run the bars a little tight and works just great the boat rides better.

16. DS - Here is the story. The boat is a 28 ft Kingfisher sitting on a triple axle 12K lb rated King trailer. The truck is a Ford Excursion Diesel. The boat should weigh in about 8500-9500 fully loaded. The trailer has surge brakes operating disks on all 6 wheels. The only reason for the WD hitch is that the Excursion hitch is not rated for that load with out one and on one sells a replacement hitch for a Excursion. The hitch on an excursion is part of the "crash" system and can not be replaced. The rating on the hitch is 600 tongue wt and 5000 lbs with out a WD and 1200/10,000 with a WD. I found a WD system that works with surge brakes and I figured that would be the easiest way to get it all to work out. I would like to change the trailer over to ele/hydraulic brakes eventually but I wanted to try out surge brakes on a trip prior to replacing them.
On a side note I also have a Dodge 3/4 ton diesel pickup that will tow it occasionally and its hitch has the same problem, but I can get a good class V or super hitch for it and not have to use the WD system.

17. the coupling for the surge brakes needs to be rated for alot more than the trailer is cause the wd hitch puts alot of load on it

18. Originally Posted by JR2
DS - Here is the story. The boat is a 28 ft Kingfisher sitting on a triple axle 12K lb rated King trailer. The truck is a Ford Excursion Diesel. The boat should weigh in about 8500-9500 fully loaded. The trailer has surge brakes operating disks on all 6 wheels. The only reason for the WD hitch is that the Excursion hitch is not rated for that load with out one and on one sells a replacement hitch for a Excursion. The hitch on an excursion is part of the "crash" system and can not be replaced. The rating on the hitch is 600 tongue wt and 5000 lbs with out a WD and 1200/10,000 with a WD. I found a WD system that works with surge brakes and I figured that would be the easiest way to get it all to work out. I would like to change the trailer over to ele/hydraulic brakes eventually but I wanted to try out surge brakes on a trip prior to replacing them.
On a side note I also have a Dodge 3/4 ton diesel pickup that will tow it occasionally and its hitch has the same problem, but I can get a good class V or super hitch for it and not have to use the WD system.

You have the 5.4L???? That is the only one rated for 7200 lbs. The rest are ~ 10,000/1000 from the info I could find. If you plan on using the 5.4 you are not going to be near as happy as if you ran the 3/4 Cummins package. Fuel mileage vs extra expense will win out eventually. No real need to go to a class V....they make a heavy class IV rated beyond what you need. The class V has a 2.5" reciever vs 2" and depending what brand you get a class V could go as high as 17,000 lbs. Running the filler to run a 2" will get you a few extra rattles. I am betting your 3/4 has what you need already or really close. I see you really trying to get a good setup.....don't forget to get a SOLID ball hitch not a tube hitch.

19. All good info. so far.
Here is a LINK for BOAT TRAILERS HITCH WEIGHT , http://www.shorelandr.com/pages/pf_trstep3.htm
There are different tongue weights for different types of trailers , remember, Google is our friend.

And for the above poster , I have pulled my rig from Calif. to Florida and have NEVER had a problem going UP and Down them little hills called the Sierras . Trailer has NEVER fish tailed .
I drag to the Texas Gulf coast 430 miles one way to fish .
I drag to Pensacola FL. , every year 850 miles one way.
AND
I was a Professional Tow truck driver in So Cal in my younger years.

It just gets my goat when someone lays out a BLANKET STATEMENT like above "Texas roads are flat so you need 10% to 15% tongue weight" Heck most of your trucks can't safely handle 1500lbs on the hitch and barely in a Goose neck application .

I aint trying to start a fight here , I'm just saying USE Google and search like, Boat tongue weight, Goose neck trailers, trailer ball ratings , and more.

Also if you think your roads are so dangerous I would go Electric over Hyd. so you can apply some trailer brake when descending to keep your trailer from wagging OR I would SLOW DOWN . FYI, I was just up in Alaska last July and the roads I was on up there are way better than we have down here in Texas .

Oh , The 2nd sentence the OP says "The truck is a Ford Excursion Diesel" keep up will ya. LOL Which if one does not know...That's a 3/4 ton chassis .

20. Ok first, the trailer needs to sit level in relation to the tow vehicle.

2) the trailer needs to sit level in relation to the tow vehicle !

3) the tow vehicle is diesel powered... the Power Stroke engine has enough OOPH to tow a friggen house regardless of "version".

4) if the trailer is fishtailing, the tongue weight is too light.

5) a 3/4 chassis on the Super Duty chassis is rated at the same towing capacity as the 1ton.

6) the 3/4 ton vs. the 1 ton designation only means that the payload (by virtue of the spring rate) on the 1ton is greater by 500lbs over the 3/4ton and an additional \$4-5k. oh and the badge that makes one think a 1ton is Sooo much more worth the extra \$\$\$.

7) WD hitches mitigate much of the "tail wagging the dog" and that makes for a much for comfortable ride , both physicaly and mentaly, the downside ( though very minor IMO) is that the WD bars must be removed before tight quarter manuvering and descending a launch ramp, A small inconvenience IMO.

Get the trailer attitude adjusted correctly then diddle with the weight distribution (if still needed) as suggested earlier. As for brakes, they should be fine if they are operating correctly, and by the way.... they have nothing to do with towing..... they are for stopping.

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