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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So after learning about axle weight I now have a situation where I'm very worried about the tongue weight of our Fleetwood E3 Pop-up Trailer.

From @Ken Myers excellent research (I should've perhaps done some more of that myself) I bought this tongue weight scale https://www.ebay.com/itm/Trailer-Tow-Ball-Nose-Weight-Scale-Indicator-Noseweight-Gauge-RV-Camper-Boat/192874481388?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649 (The thing is a bit of an oddity. I noticed it was shown in some of Ken's Australian linked articles, but no source in the USA except on ebay. Ken's link was from Canada, not shipping to US).

Anyway, I got new tires on today and moved the trailer and also got the propane tanks filled, getting everything ready for our first trip once the Ascent is broken in. Used the scale and it showed 540lbs! Ugh!? The car was also sagging about an 1 1/4" measured from top middle of the back wheels.

The E3 has a dry weight of 2965lbs, a GVWR of 4400lbs and a hitch weight of 395lbs. I did notice the slightly disproportional dry tongue weight, but in my uneducated mind I figured this will work out since I planned to never even get close to the max load of the trailer and hence the tongue weight should stay manageable below 500lbs.

First thing I need to check is if that scale is accurate on a public scale. I also did a test and put the propane tanks (37.6lbs each) inside the back of trailer (there would be room when it's closed, but how inconvenient is that and no idea if that is even safe to do or not). That brought the tongue weight down to 429lbs, which shows that perhaps with some smart packing and counter weighting (theoretically I could even just throw a couple 50lbs dumbbells in the back). I can still find ways to tow the E3 safely.
Otherwise this would be quite heartbreaking, since towing was the trigger for us to even buy an Ascent. Tomorrow I will check what happens when we pack more essentials into the trailer and place some bikes and camping gear in the front cargo area.

Any help and tips from the experienced towing folks here are greatly appreciated.
 

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The only thing you can do is try to shift some weight to the back of the trailer like with your propane tank test to hopefully change the balance of the trailer weight over its wheels and tongue. I do urge caution with any kind of towing that is pushing the limit of the tow vehicle. The fact that Ascent does not permit use of weight distribution also means that at the high end of the vehicle tongue weight rating, your front end is potentially going to be "interesting"...I don't care how well engineered things are for sway and so forth. Balance matters.

Don't forget that tongue weight also counts in your allowable cargo weight for the tow vehicle, including people. Reducing that means getting more into the trailer and in this case, the back of the trailer.
 

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The manufactures tow ratings are the maximum you can haul for a perfect load. But in the real world, we are not towing the perfect load. For all the vehicles I have owned, I always figure the safest load I can haul is around 2/3 of the manufactures tow ratings. That keeps me under on tongue weight and max towing weight. I currently tow fire wood and quads . But I am looking for a small camper that will not exceed 3,500 lbs fully loaded.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah I completely agree with you. Well to my great embarrassment I checked the watertank and it was full! The seller told me it's all empty. I should've checked myself. So that took a good 70lbs of the tongue. The E3 has a higher tongue weight to begin with, but I figured if I load the trailer to about 3800lb, 4000max (I doubt I would even get there, unless I would have to bring a full water tank) and shoot for a tongue weight of 420-440lbs ( that's 11% which is both within Subaru 8%-11% tongue weight recommendation and the general of 10-15%). It might just be a bit harder to achieve that. I bought 4 canopy sand bags at 45lbs each. They can do double duty for some weight balancing in the trailer and then while camping with their actaul purpose ;) I hope it will work. First trip coming soon.
 

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Do you load anything (or anyone) in 3rd row or cargo area? If not, that 1.25" sag by the 40lbs exceedance is fine.
 

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Yeah I completely agree with you. Well to my great embarrassment I checked the watertank and it was full! The seller told me it's all empty. I should've checked myself. So that took a good 70lbs of the tongue.
...
Now that makes more sense. I was definitely confused as we have a very similar Fleetwood pop-up camper. I've towed mine up and down the mountains around Phoenix with no issues at all. I have towed about 2,000 miles now without issue, both with the pop-up and the mustang on a trailer (4,500lbs). Nice thing with the Mustang is I just move the car back and forward to get my tongue weight correct!
 

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Also, generally speaking, the manufacturer's dry tongue weight rating, at least for late model Jaycos, includes the weight of EMPTY propane tanks, and NO battery. Just something else to consider when buying a trailer, and/or loading it.
 

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Also, generally speaking, the manufacturer's dry tongue weight rating, at least for late model Jaycos, includes the weight of EMPTY propane tanks, and NO battery. Just something else to consider when buying a trailer, and/or loading it.
The 2016 we are considering has the weights including a full propane tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Bringing this old thread of mine back to life with a follow up after a year of owning and towing with the Ascent. The canopy bags did do almost nothing to the tongue weight so I threw that idea out the window. I did 2 things to lower tongue weight: I keep the railing (55lbs) off the platform of the E3 and just have a couple tie downs and a stretch netting instead. Then I replaced the Propane tanks with Fiberglass Propane tanks. I keep the water tank empty and fill up at the destination.
I have an excellent towing experience with the Ascent and even get around 20 mpg towing. I keep it mellow always staying below 60mph. No problems whatsoever, it feels rock solid. I forgot the exact weights I got at the public scale a year ago, but I was slightly under 4000lbs for the trailer loaded and so everything checked out ok. I might be closer to 12% tongue weight rather than the Subaru recommended 11%. Long term effects on the car remain to be seen.
I hope to someday get a hitch welded on the trailer for a bike rack for a little bit more offsetting.

I do have a question though, you see I still worry about it all, especially when I read over and over that people recommend to have the trailer level and that nose down also increases the tongue weight even more!? All the talk about ruining transmissions etc. When we are fully loaded with us 2 adults and 2 kids and trunk full, the trailer is not level, but slightly nose down (which I always thought was ok) and I went on towing that way because it was also often said on this forum that it is best to use the Subaru Hitch Ball Mount, due to it's unique design being so close to the car.

Do you guys think it is worth revisiting the topic, put less stress on the car? Any Hitch Ball Mount recommendations? All thoughts welcome!
 

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Your ball mount should be sized so that your trailer is as close to level as practical. The OEM ball mount is a 6" drop and that puts the ball typically at 18-19" off the ground unweighted. If you are trailer nose down with that ball mount, you need a ball mount with a little less drop to level things up. Yes, the design of the OEM ball mount (which doesn't come with the OEM hitch anymore) is an excellent design, but it's not the right ball mount for every situation and every trailer. It's perfect for my 5x8 utility trailer, but it sounds like it's not perfect for your travel trailer. A high quality adjustable height ball mount might be the way to go so you can fine tune things.
 

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If you have a bathroom scale that goes up to 300 lbs, you don't need to go to a public scale to check your tongue weight.

I use two jack stands and a 2x4. (See drawing) with the tongue sitting on the center of the 2x4, the scale will read half the tongue weight (subtract the weight of the jack stand).
Doesnt work for larger trailers, but for what the Ascent will generally tow, it works fine. May not be exact, but close enough for loading a trailer.

4643
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Your ball mount should be sized so that your trailer is as close to level as practical. The OEM ball mount is a 6" drop and that puts the ball typically at 18-19" off the ground unweighted. If you are trailer nose down with that ball mount, you need a ball mount with a little less drop to level things up. Yes, the design of the OEM ball mount (which doesn't come with the OEM hitch anymore) is an excellent design, but it's not the right ball mount for every situation and every trailer. It's perfect for my 5x8 utility trailer, but it sounds like it's not perfect for your travel trailer. A high quality adjustable height ball mount might be the way to go so you can fine tune things.
Thats all clear, but wasn’t there a specific reason Subaru had the ball so close to the car? I’m gonna search some threads. And look at adjustable ball mounts that don’t stick out so far. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
If you have a bathroom scale that goes up to 300 lbs, you don't need to go to a public scale to check your tongue weight.

I use two jack stands and a 2x4. (See drawing) with the tongue sitting on the center of the 2x4, the scale will read half the tongue weight (subtract the weight of the jack stand).
Doesnt work for larger trailers, but for what the Ascent will generally tow, it works fine. May not be exact, but close enough for loading a trailer.

View attachment 4643
Thanks, but I got this thing: Trailer Tow Ball Nose Weight Scale Indicator Noseweight Gauge RV Camper Boat | eBay

I went to the public scale for my loaded trailer weight, not the tongue weight. After all knowing your tongue weight doesn’t help you much if you don’t know the relation to your full trailer weight.
 

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Thats all clear, but wasn’t there a specific reason Subaru had the ball so close to the car? I’m gonna search some threads. And look at adjustable ball mounts that don’t stick out so far. Thanks.
Many of the adjustable height ball mounts are going to be quite close to the bumper. The reason that Subaru created their version the way they did was to minimize the lever effect of the distance from the ball to the balance point of the Ascent. But an inch isn't going to make a huge difference.
 
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Discussion Starter #16
Many of the adjustable height ball mounts are going to be quite close to the bumper. The reason that Subaru created their version the way they did was to minimize the lever effect of the distance from the ball to the balance point of the Ascent. But an inch isn't going to make a huge difference.
Thank you Jim!
 

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Thats all clear, but wasn’t there a specific reason Subaru had the ball so close to the car? I’m gonna search some threads. And look at adjustable ball mounts that don’t stick out so far. Thanks.
Basically the farther out it sticks, the lever effect increases your effective tongue weight.

Finally found in another thread where I measured and did the calculation.

Just measured mine and it's 47" from center of the wheel to the ball.

So if you made your ball hitch 2" farther back, you'd have a max tongue weight of Tw=500*47/49 = 480 lbs.
Taken to the extremes, if you made it stick out 47" longer, the max tongue weight would be 250 lbs.
 
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thank you guys for explaining further. Interesting!
So looking at some options at etrailer whether I go for an inexpensive set option https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch-Ball-Mount/Fastway/DTBM4400.html (would have to figure out the right height first) or an adjustable one https://www.etrailer.com/p-FA42-00-2600.html or a fancy one with a scale https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch-Ball-Mount/Weigh-Safe/WS6-2.html

they are all 8 1/2" 'distance from center of hitch pin hole to center of hitch ball' . Just measured the Subaru one and it's 7".

So I lose some due bigger lever effect (but probably minimal), I win some due to a more level trailer. Of course the big question is how much do I win. The Subaru Ball mount weights 18.2 lbs (just on my normal person scale), an Aluminum one might be lighter, so I possibly win some there as well, but that's rather minimal (Unfortunately etrailer doesn't list the weight of them). I guess I should do some measurements with my tongue scale next time I have the trailer loaded at some different heights and decide if it's worth it.
 

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Thank you guys for explaining further. Interesting!
So looking at some options at etrailer whether I go for an inexpensive set option https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch-Ball-Mount/Fastway/DTBM4400.html (would have to figure out the right height first) or an adjustable one https://www.etrailer.com/p-FA42-00-2600.html or a fancy one with a scale https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch-Ball-Mount/Weigh-Safe/WS6-2.html

they are all 8 1/2" 'distance from center of hitch pin hole to center of hitch ball' . Just measured the Subaru one and it's 7".

So I lose some due bigger lever effect (but probably minimal), I win some due to a more level trailer. Of course the big question is how much do I win. The Subaru Ball mount weights 18.2 lbs (just on my normal person scale), an Aluminum one might be lighter, so I possibly win some there as well (Unfortunately etrailer doesn't list the weight of them) I guess I should do some measurements with my tongue scale next time I have the trailer loaded at some different heights and decide if it's worth it.
I needed a 2" drop and bought a Curt fixed drop. It extends further than the stock Subaru 6" drop but I'm going to have a machine shop drill another pin hole 3" closer to the ball end. This will pull the ball forward to the same as the stock ball mount. My old Draw-tite 0" drop actually had 2 pin holes as purchased but raised the coupler too high.
 
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