Tiny House Towing Basics

Tiny House Towing basics
Part 1

I have been towing trailers since I was a kid working on a farm. Granted, most of those were hay wagons that were tricky to back up into a hay mow. Even with all the practice, I still made errors such as; not securing the trailer hitch to the trailer ball, or not firmly attaching the trailer light connection to the truck connection.

Anyhow, here is some advice for towing trailers.

Before towing anything have your hitch rated for its towing capacity and know what your vehicle is capable of towing. Making sure your vehicle is sized correctly for what you will be towing is important for steering, braking, and basic rules.

Towing a 16000lb with an F150 is not a wise choice as the trailer easily outweighs the truck and will have a tendency to push the truck around in braking as well as on curves/turns.

I have towed the hOMe I built with a 1 ton truck and found that my road speed had to be less than 50 mph. I did exceed that 50-mph limit one time at 55 and found the trailer taking over and causing a lot of road sway. The Home weighed in at 16,500lbs with a tongue weigh of 2,100lbs.

My F150 could be used for moving around the parking lot and towing smaller tiny houses but found the tongue weight of the hOMe collapsed the springs.

Tiny house bound for MA

Tiny house bound for MA

Another tiny house, without a loft, did not have enough tongue weight and we had to add ballast to the front to keep enough weight on the hitch so it would be tow able.

Rather than find out one has weight distribution issues, I decided to know for sure the tongue weigh and keep an eye on it while the tiny is being built. If, it has a loft over the tongue, you are adding a fair amount of weight to the hitch, and if the loft is over the real end(aft) the weight will diminish.

The 1st basic rule is the tow vehicle MUST be capable of safely handling 15% of the gross weight of the trailer (total weight of the trailer plus contents) Fifth wheel trailers can usually handle 25% of the gross weight of the trailer.

I purchased a hitch scale from Sherline so we would know what weight we had on the hitch. Generally, you want 10% – 15% of the total trailer weight on the hitch. If a trailer weighs in at 10,000lbs, you want a hitch weight of 1000 to 1500 lbs.

Another alternative is to have the manufacturer move the axels forward or backward. As a general rule and by insurance requirements, that distance can only be 10%. The center of the axles is normally placed with 60% of the distance from the front with the rear being the remainder 40%.

Sherline Hitch Scale

Sherline Hitch Scale

 Stay tuned for part 2

Hooking up the trailer

Part 2

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