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Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

This is a discussion on Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight within the Tow Rigs, Trailers and Camping forums, part of the Other Off-Road, UTV, and Watersports Discussion category; I need some help setting up my trailer to get some of the tongue weight off the vehicle. I'm towing a 2012 RZR 800, it's ...


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  #1  
Old April 16th, 2013, 12:43 PM
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Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

I need some help setting up my trailer to get some of the tongue weight off the vehicle.

I'm towing a 2012 RZR 800, it's pretty stock, just has front bumper, winch, skid plate, some tools and fluids. It's definitely under 1200 lbs.

I'm also towing a 2006 Sportsman 800 X2. It's around 800 lbs with fluids and gear.

I'm using a Polaris brand trailer, the PATV83x14, which weighs 425 lbs.

I tow with a 2006 Lexus RX330, and while I'd love to get a truck, I'm stuck using it for the next couple years.

I usually load up like this:



The vehicle is rated to tow 3500 lbs. I noticed when loading up last weekend that the rear of the vehicle sagged a lot when I was loaded. I did some research, and it turns out the tongue weight is only 350 lbs.

I try to get the RZR as far back on the trailer as possible, but the problem seems to be that most of the weight of the Sportsman is sitting right on the hitch of the vehicle.

I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how else I can load up the trailer so I can take a bit of load off the vehicle. Would getting an adjustable hitch that raised the ball up a couple inches distribute some of the weight back on the rear axel? Any ideas?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old April 16th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Having a raised hitch will help out very minimally. I think its just the fact that the big sportsman is weighing the tongue of the trailer down. Thinking you just might be over the recommended weight of your specific vehicle.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 12:58 PM
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Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

A weight distributing hitch will transfer alot of the weight forward onto the frame of your Lexus, but it won't work if your trailer has surge brakes. These are available at harbor freight, camping world or any trailer supply store.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 12:58 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Given that most of the weight of the RZR is in the back, you could try loading the RZR nose-in and the ATV behind it. The majority of the weight would then be centered on the trailer axle, with some stuff up front to keep you from swaying.

Changing the ball height isn't going to make a big difference.

If changing your load positions doesn't help, your best option is probably going to be a weight distribution hitch.
The idea behind one of those is that it uses leverage to transfer some of that weight to the front of the vehicle, reducing the sag on the rear end.
Here's some more info on that: Trailer Hitch Selection Guide - HitchSource.com

Most weight distribution hitches are very heavy themselves, and I could see someone being reluctant to attach one to a situation where the tow vehicle is already sagging. They're also messy (grease and stuff).
But, there is one that is very lightweight, and easy to attach, and doesn't use grease.

4" Drop/Rise No Sway Weight Distribution Hitch - Hitchesandmore Store

I would have used this one myself, except I needed a larger capacity (1500+ lbs tongue weight) and this one is rated for 1400.
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Last edited by Scoundrel; April 16th, 2013 at 01:03 PM.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 01:00 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

You can add AirLift air bladders to the rear of your vehicle to raise it back up after hooking up your trailer. You will achieve your normal ride height with this setup and it will cost less than $200.

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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:25 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by Bobby.Digital View Post
You can add AirLift air bladders to the rear of your vehicle to raise it back up after hooking up your trailer. You will achieve your normal ride height with this setup and it will cost less than $200.

Call up 4 Wheel Parts

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While this will help to eliminate the sag, it does nothing to fix the overloaded hitch, assuming it is indeed over the 350lb limit.

I would first try loading the rzr on first, then the quad in the rear. Try keeping them all as rearward as possible. If this does not work, then I would go the weight dist hitch route.

Have you ever actually weighed the tongue weight? A normal bathroom scale placed under the jack of the loaded trailer will tell you how close you are within or above the limits of the hitch. Being that the vehicle wasn't exactly built for towing, it will likely squat with any load. Just the nature of the beast...
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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:33 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by CFDWheeler View Post
Have you ever actually weighed the tongue weight? A normal bathroom scale placed under the jack of the loaded trailer will tell you how close you are within or above the limits of the hitch. Being that the vehicle wasn't exactly built for towing, it will likely squat with any load. Just the nature of the beast...
Good idea to get that actual tongue weight, for sure.

If putting the tongue directly on the scale overloads it, there are tricks you can do to distribute and still measure the weight (explained in that first link I sent).
Or you can go to a truck scale on the freeway when it's closed, and sometimes you can see the scale readout through the window of the shack.

In addition to the usual concerns about safety and vehicle damage, if you are involved in an accident, even if you did not cause the accident, and the insurance adjusters determine that you're out of spec on your towing setup, you could be in a world of hurt. I'm not just talking about losing your stuff and having insurance claims denied, but there could also be civil lawsuits.

Not trying to be a hard-nose or anything. It's your choice, but just keep that in mind when you decide what to do.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:42 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by Scoundrel View Post
Given that most of the weight of the RZR is in the back, you could try loading the RZR nose-in and the ATV behind it. The majority of the weight would then be centered on the trailer axle, with some stuff up front to keep you from swaying.

Changing the ball height isn't going to make a big difference.

If changing your load positions doesn't help, your best option is probably going to be a weight distribution hitch.
The idea behind one of those is that it uses leverage to transfer some of that weight to the front of the vehicle, reducing the sag on the rear end.
Here's some more info on that: Trailer Hitch Selection Guide - HitchSource.com

Most weight distribution hitches are very heavy themselves, and I could see someone being reluctant to attach one to a situation where the tow vehicle is already sagging. They're also messy (grease and stuff).
But, there is one that is very lightweight, and easy to attach, and doesn't use grease.

4" Drop/Rise No Sway Weight Distribution Hitch - Hitchesandmore Store

I would have used this one myself, except I needed a larger capacity (1500+ lbs tongue weight) and this one is rated for 1400.
I tried loading exactly as you detailed a couple weeks back, and it's a huge pain in the a** to load this way. I positioned the ATV as far back as possible, and it ended up being that the inside tire of the Sportsman was right over the trailer axel, meaning the entire RZR was ahead of the axel. I think it ended up being pretty much the same tongue weight either way because of how tight the inside of the trailer is.

For the weight distribution hitch you linked to, I'm not sure how to tell if it will work with my vehicle and if it will work with such a low weight (it lists a max, but I'm considered that it won't be effective at 450 to 350lbs TW). Any ideas?

Thanks for your help!
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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by CFDWheeler View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by Bobby.Digital View Post
You can add AirLift air bladders to the rear of your vehicle to raise it back up after hooking up your trailer. You will achieve your normal ride height with this setup and it will cost less than $200.

Call up 4 Wheel Parts

Search Results by 4 Wheel Parts
While this will help to eliminate the sag, it does nothing to fix the overloaded hitch, assuming it is indeed over the 350lb limit.

I would first try loading the rzr on first, then the quad in the rear. Try keeping them all as rearward as possible. If this does not work, then I would go the weight dist hitch route.

Have you ever actually weighed the tongue weight? A normal bathroom scale placed under the jack of the loaded trailer will tell you how close you are within or above the limits of the hitch. Being that the vehicle wasn't exactly built for towing, it will likely squat with any load. Just the nature of the beast...
I've never weighed the tongue weight, I'll try to do that this weekend. Good idea.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by appzman View Post
I tried loading exactly as you detailed a couple weeks back, and it's a huge pain in the a** to load this way. I positioned the ATV as far back as possible, and it ended up being that the inside tire of the Sportsman was right over the trailer axel, meaning the entire RZR was ahead of the axel. I think it ended up being pretty much the same tongue weight either way because of how tight the inside of the trailer is.

For the weight distribution hitch you linked to, I'm not sure how to tell if it will work with my vehicle and if it will work with such a low weight (it lists a max, but I'm considered that it won't be effective at 450 to 350lbs TW). Any ideas?

Thanks for your help!
Bummer. I suggest you call the manufacturer of that hitch and ask them.

When I called, I asked the lady who answered if I could speak with someone about my setup. I got Dave Andersen on the phone. After talking over my setup, he said it sounded like I'd be better off with a heavy duty Reese setup because of the high capacity I needed. He was genuinely interested in helping me find the right setup, as opposed to just wanting to sell his product.

Andersen Manufacturing Inc.

They have a bunch of combinations to fit your setup:
Andersen 'No-Sway' Weight Distribution Hitch

You might want to read the site, do some measuring, and be ready to send a photo before you call.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 03:54 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

BTW, if you're over 3000 lbs, does your tow vehicle have wiring for trailer brakes? Does your trailer have brakes?

I prematurely wore out an axle and the shaft that connects the tranny to the transfer case in an SUV a few years back, as well as warping out the brake rotors, because I was towing over capacity.

It can get expensive. More expensive than a cheap used pickup.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 05:03 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by MikeA62 View Post
A weight distributing hitch will transfer alot of the weight forward onto the frame of your Lexus, but it won't work if your trailer has surge brakes. These are available at harbor freight, camping world or any trailer supply store.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 10:47 PM
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Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by Scoundrel View Post
BTW, if you're over 3000 lbs, does your tow vehicle have wiring for trailer brakes? Does your trailer have brakes?

I prematurely wore out an axle and the shaft that connects the tranny to the transfer case in an SUV a few years back, as well as warping out the brake rotors, because I was towing over capacity.

It can get expensive. More expensive than a cheap used pickup.
I'm at less than 2500 lbs fully loaded with fluids and gear. Trailer is rated for 3500 lbs with no brakes.

I'm trying to avoid getting a used truck because we don't have any more garage space, and it gets pretty darn cold up north where the property is. I've seen the harsh Canadian winter kill a bunch of old trucks parked for the winter.

If I was going to get a used truck, something that would be parked almost all year and would just be used for light towing, probably less than 800 miles a year, what would you recommend? Other than towing the rzr and sportsman to the trails, it would be parked the rest of the year. What model, year and max miles would you suggest?
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Old April 16th, 2013, 11:19 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

I imagine you have a couple hundred pounds of gear in the back of the vehicle as well....could you not strap some of that weight to the back of or into the RZR cockpit? Any weight out of the vehicle and near the rear should help.
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Old April 16th, 2013, 11:24 PM
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Re: Need help setting up trailer + tongue weight

Quote: Originally Posted by appzman View Post
I'm at less than 2500 lbs fully loaded with fluids and gear. Trailer is rated for 3500 lbs with no brakes.

I'm trying to avoid getting a used truck because we don't have any more garage space, and it gets pretty darn cold up north where the property is. I've seen the harsh Canadian winter kill a bunch of old trucks parked for the winter.

If I was going to get a used truck, something that would be parked almost all year and would just be used for light towing, probably less than 800 miles a year, what would you recommend? Other than towing the rzr and sportsman to the trails, it would be parked the rest of the year. What model, year and max miles would you suggest?
In my state, brakes are legally required for loads over 3000 lbs. So you'll see a lot of trailers around here that weigh 800 lbs and are rated for 2200 lbs of cargo capacity, even though the trailer is actually capable of more than that. Probably different in your state.

I feel your pain regarding garage/driveway space and your stuff falling into disrepair when not in use.

If I was shopping for an inexpensive truck to take the beating so my Lexus didn't have to, and I was going to drag 2500 lbs around, I'd probably look for a Chevy or GMC 1500 that wasn't too beat up. If it was a gasoline engine, no more than 75K miles, if diesel, no more than 150K. Year wouldn't be that important, but I wouldn't want one older than 2000. Or, maybe a Ford Econoline E250 cargo van would work OK. You wouldn't be able to fit the ATV inside, with that big windshield on there, but it would carry your gear and give you a warm, dry place to change clothes at the trailhead.

But there are many different tow setups out there to choose from.
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