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Concession Trailer: The Importance of Tongue Weight

By: admin admin | July 10, 2012 | Comments Off on Concession Trailer: The Importance of Tongue Weight

There are many things for you to consider when it comes to safely hitching up your custom concession trailer to your tow vehicle. One of the most basic yet essential factors for you to consider is the tongue weight of your trailer. Hauling a concession trailer with a tongue weight that is too high or too low can cause dangerous driving conditions not only for the driver and passengers of the hauling vehicle, but for other drivers out on the roads as well. So, as a responsible trailer-owner it is important that you are well-informed about how to calculate the tongue weight of your custom concession trailer every time you hit the road.

What Is It?

The thought of calculating your trailer’s tongue weight might be intimidating, but it is actually quite easy once you understand the basics. Simply put, the tongue weight of your trailer is the downward force that your trailer exerts on the hitch of your towing vehicle. It is logical then, that too much or too little weight can have disastrous effects on your driving.  If the tongue weight of your trailer is too light, your trailer can sway dangerously back and forth across the road as you drive, creating a safety hazard for both yourself and other drivers. But if the tongue weight is too heavy, it can greatly impede the steering capabilities of your towing vehicle. The key to preventing these situations is to carefully check that the tongue weight of your trailer is within safe margins each time you venture out.

What Should My Tongue Weight Be?

The tongue weight for the hitch in your towing vehicle remains constant, but the tongue weight for your custom concession trailer will change depending on your cargo. In general, most trailer experts will tell you to keep the tongue weight of your trailer somewhere between 9 and 15 percent of the gross trailer weight (the total weight of the trailer itself). That means that if the gross trailer weight of your concession trailer is 3000 lb., then you should keep the tongue weight between 270 lb. and 450 lb. in order ensure your safe journey. Of course, you might not know the gross weight of your trailer off the top of your head, but thankfully this can be easily remedied with a trip to the local public scales.  Generally, there is only a small fee to use the scales, and knowing your gross trailer weight is absolutely essential to calculating proper margins for the tongue weight. Still, after you know your gross weight and have calculated the margins for a safe tongue weight, how in the world do you measure the actual tongue weight?

Measuring Tongue Weight

Actually, if you own a smaller concession trailer, it’s quite easy to find the tongue weight; all you need is your bathroom scale and something to set it on.  In order to measure the tongue weight correctly, first you must prop the bathroom scale up at the same exact height of the hitch of the towing vehicle. Then, simply rest the tongue of the trailer on the scale; the weight shown on the scale is the tongue weight without a fuss or complicated calculations. If you need to adjust the tongue weight, you can do so by shifting your cargo towards the front or back of the trailer until you have achieved a proper tongue weight.

Now if you have a larger trailer that won’t register on a bathroom scale, it gets a bit more complicated. Of course, there are scales made specifically for concession trailers; purchasing one of these might be a good investment for you to make, especially if you use your trailer frequently. Still, if you don’t want to purchase a special trailer scale, you can rig your own rough version of the scale with a two-by-four, two pipes, a brick, and your bathroom scale. Place the scale and the brick on the ground, each with one of the pipes lying across the top; the pipes should be exactly 3 feet away from each other. Next, lay the two-by-four across the pipes (it should be 5 to 6 ft. in length). Place the trailer tongue on the two-by-four exactly one foot away from the pipe on the brick and two feet away from the pipe on the scale. Measure the weight and then multiply by three to get your actual tongue weight. Again, it is a bit of a complicated method, and it might just be worth your time and effort to simply purchase a tongue weight scale for your trailer. Once you’ve measured your tongue weight and readjusted your cargo, you’re ready to hit the open road.

Safety First

As you can see, measuring tongue weight is a very important responsibility of any trailer-owner. Not only does it keep the driver and passengers safe, but it protects other travelers on the road as well from an out of control trailer. If you feel uncomfortable or unable to accurately measure your tongue weight for your trailer, it might be best if you allow a professional trailer dealer like Custom Trailers USA to assist you. Leaving it up to the experts will give you peace of mind about your trailer and coming trip. Either way, it is your job to take responsibility for your custom concession trailer when you take it out on the open road.

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