Weight is a big issue in the 4X4 and towing space. It is one that has been largely ignored to date, although right now it is in the spotlight. Recently, the authorities have turned their focus to loading of private vehicles (at least in NSW) and we’ve seen evidence of them conducting checks and weighing vehicles as part of roadside stops, particularly around key holidays. We’ve also seen people prosecuted for being overweight this year for the first time.
It is easy to shout from the rooftops about weight, but the proof is in the pudding. That’s why we decided to have our Rig and the Tvan weighed while at the Adelaide show just a few weeks ago.
An organisation like ours is expected to lead the way on 4X4 and towing safety. To help educate, provide insight, and encourage people to be responsible. So yeah, we’d thrown around the idea of weighing the Tvan and the Raptor a few times. But given busy schedules and being time poor, it slipped off the radar.
I need to credit Martin Tipple from Your Mobile Weighbridge in South Australia for helping get this back on the radar, even though that was far from the original discussion we had. Martin contacted me recently, wanting to provide some information on his weighing service in South Australia.
Perfect! I thought as a myriad of questions ran through my head. How much does it cost? How long does it take? Do you do discounts for groups? What space do you require? I started the discussion with Martin and he agreed to email me with answers to the questions. (You can find out more about the detail here in the bottom paragraph of this article)
I realised I needed to return Martin’s call. As I looked up his number, it hit me – I’d be in Adelaide that afternoon. “How about we get together and you weigh the Raptor and Tvan for me?” I asked.
Thursday (bump in day for the Adelaide show) was the only morning he could to it. I left the Tvan and Raptor packed exactly as they had been loaded in the interest of fairly assessing the weight situation.
When he showed up, Martin had already researched key specs of the vehicles he would weigh. He then inspected the vehicles and their compliance plates, took note of any accessories on them, and also a list of what gear we had packed so that we had a reference for the weights we were about to see.
Next, he asked me to unhitch the trailer so we could measure the ball weight of the Tvan. The compliance plate listed it at 140KG. I literally held my breath as the scales did their thing and settled. 128KG. Good start, but next came the trailer weight.
I re-hitched the vehicle to the Trailer, and then helped Martin place the sensors in front of all tires before driving up onto them. Martin also made me stay in the vehicle while he weighed it so that he had an accurate weight accounting for passengers as well.
Here’s what result we ended up with:
Ford Ranger Raptor
|Kerb Weight (according to manufacturer)||2342 KG|
|Overall Weight measured as loaded||2720 KG|
|Weight Front Left Wheel||640 KG|
|Weight Front Right Wheel||640 KG|
|Weight Rear Left Wheel||720 KG|
|Weight Rear Right Wheel||720 KG|
|Remaining Payload||370 KG|
As far as the Raptor was concerned, we got a great result. I was 370KG under the GVM of the vehicle, and the weight was evenly distributed left to right of the vehicle.
And the difference in weight on front and rear axles was largely to do with the towball downweight.
Next came the Tvan, and this thing gets packed with a lot of stuff. The figure I had in my head that I needed to be under was 1500KG (the ATM). I figured that if I was under this, then everything would be perfect…
Track Trailer Tvan
|Tare Weight||1165 KG|
|Towball downweight (at Tare)||140 KG|
|Gross Trailer Mass (GTM)||1300 KG|
|Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)||1500 KG|
|Max Axle Capacity||1600 KG @ GTM|
|Measured GTM||1440 KG|
|Measured ATM||1568 KG|
|Towball Downweight at Measured Weight||128 KG|
|Left Wheel Weight||720 KG|
|Right Wheel Weight||720 KG|
My initial reaction here was a big smile – I was 1440kG, and the ATM was 1500! And I’d balanced the load of the trailer perfectly. Super happy, I thanked Martin, grabbed a copy of the report for later, and then continued setting up for the show.
It was only later that evening that I reviewed the report in detail and realised that the weight as measured by the scales didn’t account for the towball downweight (remember, ATM includes the towball download). As far as ATM was concerned, this actually then put me at 1568 KG (68KG over). And if you calculated it based on GTM, I was 140KG overweight for the Tvan.
So while I’d packed the trailer well, I’d overpacked based on the GTM and the ATM, to the tune of 140KG. I need to state for the record here that the Tvan was packed with all of our event gear, so I’m confident that if I’d never otherwise have close to this much weight in it.
This is where it gets interesting. I was well under the GCM for the Raptor and the trailer, and I was also under the max axle load stated on the trailer. But, I’d overpacked it according to the two key criteria – ATM and GTM, and these are what your limits are based on.
So how do I fix that?
Knowing I was over made planning the fix relatively easy, despite having to come to terms with the fact I’d messed up. I simply had to reduce the axle load on the trailer to 1300 KG. I could do this by a combination of taking gear out of the trailer and putting it into the vehicle, and by shifting weight forward onto the towball so that less of it was on the axles (bearing in mind that the maximum ball weight allowed on our Tvan is 200KG – calculated by subtracting GTM from ATM).
I moved an additional 60KG of gear into the front boot of the trailer, and then took an additional 100KG out of the trailer and into the tow vehicle.
By those calculations, I should have increased the ball weight by around 40KG, reducing the trailer weight by the same. The 100KG weight reduction in addition to this should render me within GTM.
I haven’t had the chance to weigh the vehicle again yet, but I will do it as soon as I get the chance and let you know where I ended up.
What if I can’t move weight around?
If reducing or shifting weight isn’t possible, the other option is to upgrade the suspension and the axle, and potentially strengthen the chassis to get a GTM upgrade. I know for a fact that you can upgrade the Tvan to carry more weight. This involves upgrading the axle to a 2T capacity, putting in heavier duty suspension, and strengthening the trailer chassis, and then having it certified and a new compliance plate issued. While it will then increase the ATM to 1800KG, you don’t get a 300KG increase in payload because the heavier axle and suspension adds weight to the trailer. So you might get 200Kg increase for the upgrade. This is why you need to think carefully before you undertake this kind of mod.
The takeout for me
It is way too easy to be overweight these days, especially when we forget to add the weight of all the mods and accessories we add to our vehicles (think batteries, wheels and tyres, suspension, roof racks, bullbars and winches, side bars or steps, drawers, fridges, tools, underbody protection etc). On top of all that, we need to add passengers, cargo, and trailer downweights.
You need to educate yourself and understand the complexity that comes with loading a vehicle and trailer. Ensure that:
- Your vehicle with trailer attached stays within its GVM, it’s GCM, and its maximum axle loadings – and you factor the weight of every mod you’ve done on the vehicle in your calculations!.
- Your trailer doesn’t exceed its maximum towball downweight, its GTM, or its ATM at any point
- That the weights are balanced evenly.
All of this isn’t as easy as it seems!
Mobile weigh service
There are more and more guys like Martin out there, and they offer a brilliant service in our experience, and one that could save you from embarrassment at least, to financial loss or physical harm at best.
Martin charges $195 for a two unit weigh, which is a tow vehicle combination incl trailer/caravan – and $130 for a single unit weigh, which is pretty cheap in my opinion given the service offered and the time and care taken. He offers discounts for multiple vehicles, so its not a bad idea to arrange a weigh session with a few of your friends to save. He’ll even weigh your van empty and then loaded to see the differences (unfortunately I didn’t have time for this, but reflecting back, I wish I had).
It takes between 60 and 90 minutes to perform a weigh, by the time Martin gathers the required details, sets up the weigh plates, measures the ball weight and then performs the weigh-in. About 15 minutes after that, he has a full report to run you through.
If you are in Adelaide, you can contact Martin on 0418 229 229, or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Otherwise Google can help you find your local provider.
I can’t speak for others, but Martin gives a comprehensive report which you can keep and use as a reference in future.
And for the record, Martin reckons that just about everyone he weighs is over somewhere too.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. Happy to answer any comments or questions you may have here!