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  1. #1
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    368
    Location
    The Real Maine
    Tractor
    JD3520

    Default Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    Boy, I am one stupid & lucky guy...

    Today I loaded the tractor onto my 18ft trailer & '95 F-150 with the bushhog on the back... by no means overloaded, but quite a different set-up than the boxblade...

    Long story short, an extra 300 pounds hanging off the back of your trailer, suspended in the air (as the fold-ups wouldn't fold up unless it was!) drastically changes the balance of your trailer.

    I've been towing for years--boats, campers, trailers--and I know about tongue weight, have preached about tongue weight, and made the dumbest move to date today with that trailer...

    I put the tractor where I usually put it. Only the balance of the tractor was not where it usually was...

    Folks, never take shortcuts, never become too accustomed to habit to watch (look at) what you're doing. That sucker started fishtailing on me, & the rear end started following it...

    I tell you what, the speed at which the human mind suddenly recalls & sorts through all that is & is left undone is astounding...

    I accelerated through it, then coast until going slow enough to pull over & get that tongue weight up, but it's only by the grace of God that this fool of habit did not kill someone today, beacause that tractor & trailer were dancing all over the place, & there was nothing I could do about it.

    I thank whatever angels were watching over me today, and in thanks give you all this egg in the face story, in hopes it will spare you from the same situation.

    Happy (& SAFE) tractoring!


    [img]/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]

  2. #2
    Elite Member George2615's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    3,848
    Location
    Central Square, NY
    Tractor
    LS XR3037HC

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    Glad you were able to safely avoid an accident (except for your pants, maybe?). Does your truck / trailer have an electronic brake unit? Manually applying the trailer brake could have stopped the fishtailing also, but I'm sure you knew that and had your hands full anyway. Safe trailering.
    George

  3. #3
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    254
    Location
    Ellicott City, MD - Farm in Orbisonia PA (south central)
    Tractor
    John Deere 4110

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    I had this experience once and it definitely gets your attention. I had loaded hay into a horse trailer and was pulling it with an F-150 not really beefed up for towing. I was passing a tractor-trailer at the crest of a hill and just as I moved into and out of his slip stream he accelerated down the other side setting up a successive slip stream. The horse trailer was always like pulling a sailboat in that it caught a lot of wind on those big clean sides and any encounter with a tractor trailer produced some push-suck-push effect. But this double effect set the trailer into a major sway. The truck drive hit the brakes to give me room and I eased down the speed until it stopped -- I don't think I would have had the nerve or presence of mind to accelerate through it (if that's the preferred technique). We pulled over to check for any damage or loose parts and to compose ourselves. But it is not something I would want to face again.

    Glad you made it out ok and good advice for all.

  4. #4
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Posts
    11,009
    Tractor
    NH TC25D

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    Just curious...Can the same thing happen with a gooseneck trailer?

  5. #5
    Gold Member Casco1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    422
    Location
    Eastern Mass
    Tractor
    Kubota L series

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    Glad things worked out OK.
    I've been towing all types of trailers for years and the best safety device I have is a weight distributing hitch I have a new one for my travel trailer 28', I have an older used ($45) one I bought for the equipment trailer. In all the miles I've towed I've never had a problem when I used one of these. There are many other factors but I'm a believer in these hitches

  6. #6
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    589
    Location
    Tully, NY (Syracuse)
    Tractor
    Kubota L3010HST

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    I rented a trailerable manlift at NationsRent once that had surge brakes only and would start swerving all over the place at anything over 45mph. I was really surprised that the rig was designed with essentially zero tongue weight. It was very dangerous to tow.

    I like my big trailer with weight distributing hitch and electric brakes much better. I also double check the tongue weight before I go anywhere.

    Kevin


  7. #7
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    345
    Location
    NE Ohio (Lake County)
    Tractor
    Kioti CK20

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    From my understanding and watching tractor trailers on the road is... They are not likely to cause vehicle to sway with the trailer.

    Here is a good explaination

    Kurt

  8. #8
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    37,303
    Location
    Texas

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    Guy, a weight distributing hitch is fine piece of equipment, and one I've used for many, many miles BUT the primary purpose of the weight distributing hitch is to shift tongue weight to the front wheels of the tow vehicle and back to the trailer wheels; i.e., to prevent too much weight just on the rear wheels of the tow vehicle. And while it can certainly help, I can assure you that it will not prevent trailer sway, or fishtailing, unless it is used in conjunction with a sway control and/or trailer brakes. I can't even remember how many times I've visited with other RVers who had brand new rigs and learned that they crashed their first one because the dealer installed the weight distributing hitch, but did not sell them a sway control to go with it.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    1,054
    Location
    Minnesota
    Tractor
    JD 4100 HST

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    You can also get anti-sway hitches like the Hensley Arrow that chage the pivot points involved to prevent the trailer from interacting with the tow vehicle steering. I think the Hensley patent is about to expire, so there should be a bunch of clones coming out soon which will drop the price of this very effective setup.

    - Rick

  10. #10
    Super Member Farmwithjunk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    7,514
    Location
    Mt Washington, Kentucky
    Tractor
    Where do I begin.....

    Default Re: Lived & Learned... watch the tongue weight!

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( Just curious...Can the same thing happen with a gooseneck trailer? )</font>

    I've hauled exactly ONE LOAD on a gooseneck where I've over-loaded the tail end of the trailer. When I moved a few weeks back, I loaded several implements on the front of the trailer, then put the tractor on the back of the load. (I needed it at the new house to UNload what was on the trailer) The tractor is around 7500lbs (with weights/fluid in tires) It ended up with the back wheels on the dovetail of the trailer. The load was properly secured, but I'm not going out on a limb and saying it was "legal". (Might have been 2500 to 3000 lbs over-weight?)

    I only had to drive 4 miles, at relatively slow speeds, at a time when there was next to no traffic. This was a science experiment as much as anything.

    My findings? Well, just let me sum it up by saying I'll never haul ANOTHER load like this one. Anything above 35MPH was scarey to say the least. The trailer didn't make the tail end of the truck sway, but the back of the trailer went wagging back and forth a time or two. With 17,000lbs moving to and fro, I'd assume that had I got up to highway speeds, things would have got WAY OUT OF CONTROL.

    There was enough weight on the front of the trailer, along with enough built-in weight in the truck to manage what I did, but it sure wasn't something I'd like to show the D.O.T. along the road-side.

    While I'm convinced gooseneck trailers carry heavy towed weight much safer than a bumper-hitch trailer, there's still a right way and a WRONG way to load one.

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