Drawbar weight of Camper Trailer

Submitted: Monday, May 08, 2006 at 13:30
ThreadID: 33679 Views:8354 Replies:11 FollowUps:4
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Got hold of a Camp-o-matic Ranger camper trailer recently. My Dad wants to sell it and I thought we’d take it for a trip away and see how it went.

Has all I need, slide out kitchen, water tank, storage box blah blah blah.

My problem is the weight of the thing. When I hooked it up to the Patrol, the sagging rear end of the Bush Tucker Van told me this trailer was seriously heavy.

So on to the scales she went. 150 KILOGRAMS AT THE TOW BALL!!!

Holy broken shock absorbers Batman….

Has 2x20 litre jerries on the drawbar plus 2 gas cylinders and a storage box.

My question is how heavy is too heavy??????????

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Reply By: Penguin (NSW) - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 13:37

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 13:37

General rule of thumb is that the towball weight should be around 10% to 15% of the total trailer weight. You really need to weigh the whole trailer but I can't really see a Camp-o-matic weighing in at 1.5 tons!

AnswerID: 171507

Reply By: pjd - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 13:50

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 13:50
with a heavy duty tow pack the patrol is capable of 350kg on the tow ball
AnswerID: 171510

Reply By: Kiwi Kia - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 14:01

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 14:01
You will get a heap of different answers to your question. I work on no more then about 50 kg on the ball AND as far as possible most of the trailer weight needs to be over the wheels.
AnswerID: 171512

Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 14:07

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 14:07
G'day Michael,

Penguin has the right lowdown but you are also correct in identifying the weight as an issue. The weight creates some problems when you try shifting the trailer around in the scrub and some people use the pnuematic tyre jockey to assist but even then it may also need a plank if the ground is soft. Nothing worse then the jockey disappearing in the ground and not being to retrieve the trailer without a jack to get it to the towball.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 171513

Reply By: Sea-Dog - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:25

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:25
That is pretty heavy for a camper..... I agree that the main concern is moving it around when it is unhitched from your car!

I often get the trailer into the best possible position and then unhitch and turn the trailer to face the direction I want... more often than not you will not be able to put the car right into the bushes etc to get it right without some moving around...

I reckon if you can't do it yourself you need to look at weight dispersal... do the jerry cans have to be on the draw bar or can holders be made up at the back section of the trailer to counterbalance some of the weight..

AnswerID: 171520

Reply By: Member - Michael O (NSW) - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:37

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:37
Guess I've been spoilt. My 20 year old camper trailer weighs about 35kg at the ball!!!!!

I can move it around OK (has a pneumatic jockey wheel) but I'm more worried about the dead weight on the rear suspension of the Patrol.

The manufacturer has a "simple solution". Fill up the 60 litre water tank that sits behind the trailer's axle..........

BTW What sort of ball weights do things like caravans and horse floats have????
AnswerID: 171522

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:49

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:49
Same principles apply about the towball weight V's the ball weight. But this can be really upset, as you know, by bad loading or design. The Nissan should cope OK with normal towing and I'm sure that there are plenty with towball weights of over 250Kg driving around.

Kind regards
FollowupID: 426950

Follow Up By: flappa - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:53

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 15:53
Thats a common solution to a common problem.

have a look at the basic design of a lot of CT's and the axle is rear of the middle of the trailer, and things likes storage boxes etc , go on the A frame of the CT.

This is often counteracted by having the Water tank rear of the axle.

I think my 650kg CT is about 70-80kg Ball weight.

Caravans/Horse Floats tend to be a bit more balanced with their axle placement , and their Ball Weights is often a lot closer to the 10% then CT's.
FollowupID: 426952

Follow Up By: kesh - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 20:37

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 20:37
There has been enough written on this subject to fill a book.
First off, what is "ball weight" - ans. "the download on the vehicle tow hitch from the trailer ball".
Thats ok, but what about the distance of the trailer hitch from the centre of the trailer wheels?
If you think about this, it is very obvious (and dead easy to verify) that the further the hitch is away (like, the longer the drawbar) then the less "apparent" ballweight there will be.
If you load your trailer up (or van or whatever) with 10-15% at the front edge of the unit ie. say 1000kg. on the wheels, zero (negative) at the rear and 150kg. at the front edge (gvm 1150kg.) you have the balance required for stable towing. If the distance from the wheel centre to the front edge is 2m. and the distance to the tow hitch 3m. (from wheel c/l) then the ballweight is 2/3 x 150= 100kg. If the distance is 3.5m then ballweight becomes 2/3.5 x 150 =85kg. The longer the drawbar, the less the ballweight but the rig retains its stability due to the weight at the front edge. Using the same principle you can measure any ballweight using a set of bathroom scales.
Its all about levers, which is simply what a WDH is. Its sole function is to turn the trailer/ vehicle combination into a long flexible beam with its fulcrums at the C/L's of the trailer wheels and the front ones of the towing vehicle. (with a fair bit of structural stress thrown in)

FollowupID: 427023

Reply By: mattie - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 16:18

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 16:18
We have a kimberley kamper and it has same tow ball weight, the nissan(or landcruiser) can cope with 350kg's. The more weight u have on the tow ball the more weight is transfered to the back wheels there for more traction and the trailer is less inclined to sway the vehicle around if it were to get hooked up in a deep rut in the road, there for it is a lot safer to tow. The trade off is that u will need new rear springs if u are going to tow it on rough roads and it will also be harder to move when off the vehicle. i don't try to move our camper when it is disconnected unless it is on cement.

AnswerID: 171526

Reply By: Mikee5 - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 16:38

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 16:38
I have a booklet called The National Caravan and Recreational Vehicle Towing Guide published by the Caravan and Camping Industry.
It advises that "the ball mass (the mass towards the front of the trailer carried by the towball of the towing vehicle) should be about 10 to 15 percent of the total laden trailer weight". If this ball mass is causing the back end of the towing vehicle to sag then a weight distributing hitch can be used to return the vehicle to its normal height.
It is a legal requirement that a trailer with an ATM over 750 kgs must be fitted with brakes. (ATM the total laden weight of the trailer including payload).
How many 'garden trailers' picking up soil, sand etc from the landscape suppliers are legal when they are loaded???
AnswerID: 171532

Reply By: Member - AVA 191 (QLD) - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 18:48

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 18:48
Hi Michael,

Is your 150kg at the tow ball measured with the jerries full? If so, the ball weight probably is not as bad as it 1st sounds - there must be 50kg for the full jerries.

FWIW, Our Avan Cruisliner tare 900kgunloaded has 93kg ball weight, (gas bottles on drawbar), the tandem car trailer loaded (1900kg) has around 250 odd ball weight.

For anyone who's interested, there's a bit of a write up on towing & offroad towing & laws in May Caravan and Motor Home".

AnswerID: 171558

Reply By: Darian (SA) - Monday, May 08, 2006 at 20:56

Monday, May 08, 2006 at 20:56
I bought a Campomatic Ranger M3 in 2004 because the ball weight suited our Jackaroo better than some of the alternate makes. Any heavier and we would have required a load levelling hitch. As it is, we used polyairs to maintain a level vehicle anyway. The Jack had a rediculously low (inval;id in my view) 120kg ball limit - now upgraded officially. The Campo is about 80kg on the ball - the 120L rear mounted water tank makes a fair impact on the equation though - when full, the ball weight would be more like 50k I reckon, but with a trip load in the wedge box, plus fuel and gas fills, it comes back around the 80-90k again. Some of the other popular makes are quite heavy on the ball, as I recall.
AnswerID: 171603

Follow Up By: Arkay - Tuesday, May 09, 2006 at 14:33

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 at 14:33
We used to have a 1997 UBS2 Jackaroo. I have an official email answer on file from GMH that says the towball weight was upgraded for that (& I assume other similar) models to 250kg PROVIDED THAT A WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION HITCH IS USED. Must of course also have the higher specification 2500kg towbar fitted. Some time later the handbook for the new model, I think it came out when the 3.5 litre petrol motor was released, specified that 250kg was O.K. If I knew how to attach a copy of that email to this post I would. Unfortunately I don't.
FollowupID: 427187

Reply By: Member - Tony G (ACT) - Tuesday, May 09, 2006 at 07:41

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 at 07:41
It seems to me the the makers of Camper Trailers these days tend to go for long draw bars, add all the boxes, fridge, gas bottles, jerry cans etc etc, and then put a piddling little water tank behind the axle and try and tell you that this ballances it all out. BS I say.

My camper is heavy, 1600kg loaded, but the ball weight is only 90kg. You know its there on a rough undulating road if you sit on the speed limit, so I just slow down a bit till it takes the bump out of it, then you feel how well the camper is ballanced.
AnswerID: 171645

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