May 30, 2013

How to Weigh a Travel Trailer

I'm rather enjoying these "how to" types of write-ups. I need to do more writing about my actual camping experiences, but I'll get there eventually. As I've written before, I'm a huge advocate of getting your rig weighed for peace of mind knowing that you're within ratings and for a fantastic educational experience.

Here's the actual process that you should go through with getting weighed when pulling a travel trailer. I don't get into digesting the numbers, but there are plenty of forums where you can post, "Hey I weighed, and this is what I got" that will help you out.

Assuming that you're doing it at a CAT scale that has 3 scales that you pull onto:

CAT Scale Setup (shows a fifth wheel, but a travel trailer is the same)
  1. Weighing Truck and Travel Trailer with weight distributing hitch (WDH) hooked up; you want your truck's front tires (aka steer axle) on the first pad; truck's rear tires (aka drive axle) on the second pad; all trailer axles on third pad (see the graphic above)
  2. Weighing Truck and Travel Trailer without weight distributing hitch hooked up; put the WDH bars into the bed of the truck
  3. Weighing Truck Only; park the travel trailer in a truck parking spot, put the WDH bars with the travel trailer (locked inside) and come back around to just weigh the truck
Quick update: you'll want to pull off of the scale between weightings #1 and #2 to remove the WDH bars and whatnot. It'll keep you from holding up the line and confusing the scale master.

Important Notes for Weighing

Throughout all 3 weighs, nothing should change - no moving of passengers, no one goes to the bathroom, etc. Do them all at once (not before and after a trip, for instance).

As well to get as realistic numbers as possible, you want to be packed like you were ready to go camping on your average trip (weekend, week, month - whatever is normal for you). If you don't have all of your passengers, you'll have to add their weight when you evaluate your results.

Other Scales

Now, if you're using a different scale (quarry, dump, etc.), they likely only have a single scale that you pull onto. You essentially want all of the same weights of each axle, so you'll just have to move the truck more often to get individual weights (pull up with just the front tires, then the front and rear tires, then front, rear and trailer tires). And, it'll require more math to figure out each axle's weight.

A Tip for Cat Scales

If you're going to a CAT scale, it can be a challenge to reach the call button. I found I had to stretch, but I could reach it (just not hear real well). Many people are taking a short 3' stick of some sort to push it *or* going inside ahead of time to get the phone number of the weigh desk and calling that instead of using the button.

What is the Cost?

My CAT scale weightings costed me $10 for the first weigh and then $1 or $2 for each re-weigh. I'm not sure what the other kinds of scales cost - my guess is free to about the same.

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