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Old 07-01-2022, 12:14 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Tongue weight

I'm curious as to what tongue weight would be safe for an 84 passenger front engine bus? The reason I ask is the long overhang. I've seen class a rvs pulling shorter enclosed trailers. I'd like to be able pull a 20 footer if possible.

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Old 07-01-2022, 07:24 PM   #2
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Personally, i think a bus could handle more than you could put on a 1ton truck. Weight distribution hitch if it's super heavy..
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Old 07-01-2022, 09:34 PM   #3
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I don't know if the labeling is the same for buses as on cars, but there is a GVWR and GCVW. GVWR would be the most you could load on the bus itself, GCVW would be the most you can tow. GCVW minus your bus's weight, including passengers and cargo, should be the max trailer weight you can tow.

When you set up the trailer, you want 10 percent of the trailer's total weight on the tongue. A weight distribution hitch can help with this if you can't quite get it, but ideally the trailer will be loaded so that the weight is correct on the hitch.

The overhang won't affect towing, but it will affect how you drive. You'll be more likely to run the trailer into the back of the bus so you'll want to swing out a little on turns and take the actual turn less sharp than you would without it. You could get a trailer with a longer neck that would be less likely to hit the back of the bus but that makes for a longer trailer and might put you too long for some states. The shortest combined length is 50ft in New Jersey, so if you're longer than 50ft you'll need to plan your route accordingly.
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Old 07-02-2022, 08:15 AM   #4
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your tongue weight is between you and your welder. it would be hard to make it less than 1000lbs, but your choice of construction material determines the rigidity.

i have a made up limit for towing of about 10k lbs. i've never exceeded that. my trailer, with a car on it, is in the 7k range. thats as heavy as i need to tow.

i have a GVW but no CGVW. my GVW is about 33k. my actual weight is about 22k. that's how i made up my 10k limit for towing.

used to have an AT545, and that did not survive towing my lighter ATV @ 4k lbs. i swapped transmissions to a locker, and i happily tow my car at 7k.

good luck
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Old 07-02-2022, 10:57 AM   #5
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One thing not yet mentioned is the rear axle weight rating. Especially with a long overhang, the weight on the rear axle is more than the tongue weight. When you push down on the rear, it tries to lift up the front axle. That weight also transfers to the rear axle in addition to the tongue weight. I've tried finding a calculator to do this math, but have not yet found one. The closest I found was regarding hitch extensions. Playing with the numbers on my bus, I found that the rear axle took about 1.5 times the tongue weight. This is on a rear engine bus, which has less overhang (but still about 8 feet). Best bet for axle loading is to get your individual axle weights, and compare to the axle ratings. I would think that anything over 3000 lbs extra capacity on the rear axle would let you tow that with no trouble.

Also, I haven't experienced this (since I haven't towed yet), but I have read of others having issues with the long overhangs causing an extremely rough bouncing for the trailer hitch. Depending on what you are towing, you may want to look into a hitch with built in suspension.
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Old 07-02-2022, 09:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by skoontz View Post
One thing not yet mentioned is the rear axle weight rating. Especially with a long overhang, the weight on the rear axle is more than the tongue weight. When you push down on the rear, it tries to lift up the front axle. That weight also transfers to the rear axle in addition to the tongue weight. I've tried finding a calculator to do this math, but have not yet found one. The closest I found was regarding hitch extensions. Playing with the numbers on my bus, I found that the rear axle took about 1.5 times the tongue weight. This is on a rear engine bus, which has less overhang (but still about 8 feet). Best bet for axle loading is to get your individual axle weights, and compare to the axle ratings. I would think that anything over 3000 lbs extra capacity on the rear axle would let you tow that with no trouble.

Also, I haven't experienced this (since I haven't towed yet), but I have read of others having issues with the long overhangs causing an extremely rough bouncing for the trailer hitch. Depending on what you are towing, you may want to look into a hitch with built in suspension.
I didn't think about the bouncing factor. I wonder if some suspension mod like airbags would control that?
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Old 07-03-2022, 09:23 AM   #7
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I don't have any direct experience, but try googling air ride hitch for some ideas. I've seen some people post positive things about using one of these.
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Old 07-04-2022, 12:37 PM   #8
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i dont have any experience with them or even know if they make them for our size rigs but used to get and install air powered adjustable shocks.
that was in the 90's when i was putting them on street cars to stiffen them for cornering and things.
i would be surprised if they didnt dabble in the medium duty market.
i cant remember the name but it was a name brand like monroe or rancho.
now i gotta look them up?
might be easier to install and quicker than bags if your not already set up for bags?
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Old 07-04-2022, 12:55 PM   #9
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yes they do make them from monroe if your rear suspension is already set up with shocks to help the leaf springs? if not the fabrication work is a little less than bags and cheaper but at that point bags are a safer bet in my opinion.
for my wifes shortie if once i get the trailer hooked up and loaded and dont like the distribution i might look into the shock idea first because its cheaper and less fab time.
even on the bigger stuff if you can find the right shocks i would think they would help but a real hard pot hole or something i think it would blow quicker than a bag because a bag has more room to expand than a self contained shock.
but ideal is to have the proper trailer and let the trailer carry the weight and you are only pulling it.
thats why they make the rise or drop hitches is to get the trailer level and let it carry the weight.
i have never used and only seen the weight distribution attachments and dont quite agree with the idea? but that might be cause i have never needed one or really understand it.
let the trailer shoulder the weight and you have minimal tongue weight and are just starting running and stopping the loaded trailer and if you have trailer brakes with the gain set properly it will slow itself and the tow vehicle down.
and a long tongue trailer is alot easier to back than a short tongue trailer.
if you know all this then just tell me to shut up thats fine.
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Old 07-04-2022, 07:21 PM   #10
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I'd like to see the mathematical formula that multiplies a 1000 pound tongue weight into greater than 1000 pounds on the axle. I don't believe it exists.


Some of the tongue weight, even when behind the rear axle goes onto the front axle in standard configurations. With an extremely long overhang I suppose it's possible for all tongue weight to be on the rear axle.


But you will not experience more than the tongue weight on the towing chassis. The laws of physics don't allow that. While levers and distances can change the amounts of force applied at a distance, they do not add mass to the system. To do so would require that mass to come from somewhere (i.e. the vehicle being towed) and while the tongue weight does transfer to the towing rig, no multiple of the tongue weight does.
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Old 07-04-2022, 09:44 PM   #11
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Rear axle weight more than tongue weight

If you have ever driven a truck with a heavy trailer, you notice that the steering is lighter than normal. This is because the trailer is trying to lift the front of the truck up in the air, transferring that weight to the rear axle. In physics terms, the tongue weight adds to the rear axle. The tongue weight combined with the length from axle to hitch also creates a torque about the rear axle, which applies an upward force to the front axle. This weight is transferred to the rear axle. I was playing with a trailer hitch extension calculator found here: Extended Hitch Calc. The calculator has some constraints due to being designed for a pick up truck. I did have to fudge and estimate the numbers for my bus a little.

To the OP, you should have enough capacity on your rear axle, but you might want to verify that for sure. Good luck!
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Old 07-06-2022, 03:09 PM   #12
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GCVW is Gross Combined Vehicle Weight. To get it, go to any set of truck scales, follow the directions to weigh your vehicle’s axles then simply add the figures together to get the GCVW.
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Old 07-06-2022, 04:15 PM   #13
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I use an air ride hitch to help with the bouncing the long overhang causes. It does make a difference. I have boats and build boats and they do not like the rough treatment. Shocker hitch is the brand I use. It fits into a standard receiver.



As for GCVW I looked up what it is for a truck with the same chassis, engine, axles, etc. 34,000lbs is what I found for mine, and I have had it up to that. With good trailer brakes it is happy with that,and handles well. A bit slow getting going though.
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Old 07-10-2022, 05:00 PM   #14
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It seems that a 20 footer would be doable. I was concerned with the frame itself having issues. I probably wouldn't have more than 6000lb. total weight, so a tongue weight of around 600lb. I feel I weight distributing hitch and the airbag hitch would take care of most problems.
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Old 07-10-2022, 05:29 PM   #15
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I have had way more then 600 lbs tongue weight on mine. I have also known others to pull trailers in the 6000-10,000 lb range without any troubles on tongue weight.


Transmission cooling is what you will need to be careful with.
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Old 07-10-2022, 06:30 PM   #16
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Once you get everything set up for towing, take it for a drive with your normal expected load on the trailer. If the bus feels light in the front compared to how it normally feels (if you don't know what this is now, you'll definitely know once you experience it ) just stop and shift weight to the rear of the trailer. If you're hauling a car on the trailer, you may just need to move it back a couple of inches, or back it on the trailer so the engine is behind the trailer wheels instead of in front. Ideally, you won't feel much if any difference in handling either with or without the trailer.
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Old 07-10-2022, 11:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Veloc View Post
Once you get everything set up for towing, take it for a drive with your normal expected load on the trailer. If the bus feels light in the front compared to how it normally feels (if you don't know what this is now, you'll definitely know once you experience it ) just stop and shift weight to the rear of the trailer. If you're hauling a car on the trailer, you may just need to move it back a couple of inches, or back it on the trailer so the engine is behind the trailer wheels instead of in front. Ideally, you won't feel much if any difference in handling either with or without the trailer.

Shifting weight in the trailer is only appropriate if, once loaded, the tongue weight is too high or low. Tongue weight must be at least 10% or the entire rig will be an unstable and dangerous mess going down the road.
Reducing tongue weight to put weight back on the front of an unstable steering condition is NOT ACCEPTABLE NOR SAFE unless the tongue weight is determined to be FAR in excess of 10%.
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Old 07-11-2022, 09:00 AM   #18
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short of adjusting your load balance, you don't have a lot of control over the tongue weight. the location of the axle probably has more than anything else to the tongue weight.

rear heavy trailers are scary.

there are a couple of hitches with built-in scales for checking the tongue weight. weighsafe is one brand with a real scale on the ball.

i've seen simplier weight setups... maybe on gen y receivers..... maybe... etrailer website isnt working this morning so i cant look. but the receivers have a pointer that moves when the hitch is loaded. easy to glance and see if your tongue is heavy or light.

cool toy if you tow many different things. if you tow the same car all the time, you only need to check the tongue weight once. many don't even bother to do that.
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Old 07-11-2022, 03:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf View Post
short of adjusting your load balance, you don't have a lot of control over the tongue weight. the location of the axle probably has more than anything else to the tongue weight.

rear heavy trailers are scary.

there are a couple of hitches with built-in scales for checking the tongue weight. weighsafe is one brand with a real scale on the ball.

i've seen simplier weight setups... maybe on gen y receivers..... maybe... etrailer website isnt working this morning so i cant look. but the receivers have a pointer that moves when the hitch is loaded. easy to glance and see if your tongue is heavy or light.

cool toy if you tow many different things. if you tow the same car all the time, you only need to check the tongue weight once. many don't even bother to do that.

You have 100% control over the tongue weight. You must select a trailer appropriate for the load to be hauled and you must load the trailer to an appropriate tongue weight. You don't just pull up in your U Haul 14 foot enclosed trailer and start tossing things in willy nilly. Well, okay, a lot of people do....and they kill themselves and others doing it.


You DO NOT want to be the guy that survives and tries to tell the jury "well it fit on the trailer". There is this thing called "negligence". In a civil trial it means you're gonna be broke the rest of your life. In a criminal trial it means you're going to jail.


You DO NOT want to be in either situation. Load appropriately
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Old 07-11-2022, 05:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf View Post
short of adjusting your load balance, you don't have a lot of control over the tongue weight. the location of the axle probably has more than anything else to the tongue weight.

rear heavy trailers are scary.

there are a couple of hitches with built-in scales for checking the tongue weight. weighsafe is one brand with a real scale on the ball.

i've seen simplier weight setups... maybe on gen y receivers..... maybe... etrailer website isnt working this morning so i cant look. but the receivers have a pointer that moves when the hitch is loaded. easy to glance and see if your tongue is heavy or light.

cool toy if you tow many different things. if you tow the same car all the time, you only need to check the tongue weight once. many don't even bother to do that.

I have done the math yet but it would seem that the air ride hitches could tell you tongue weight based on the air pressure needed.
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