I already wrote about How to Weigh a Travel Trailer, so it seems like I should also write about how to weigh a fifth wheel camper. I imply how to do it in my article about Getting Weighed – an adventure at the CAT Scales, but I’ll summarize it here for safe keeping. Weighing a fifth wheel is a bit easier than a travel trailer because you don’t have the weight distributing hitch and therefore can get away with one-less weighing. Doing these weightings, you can then use my “Actual Weights – Fifth Wheel Wheights from CAT Scales” tool to crunch the numbers.
The assumption is that you’re weighing at a CAT scale that has 3 scales that you pull onto:
- Weighing Truck and Camper; you want your truck’s front tires (aka steer axle) on the first pad; truck’s rear tires (aka drive axle) on the second pad; all trailer axles on third pad (see the graphic above)
- Weighing Truck only; park your fifth wheel in one of the truck parking spots and come back around to just weigh the truck.
Important Notes for Weighing
During both weighings, nothing should change – no moving of passengers, no one goes to the bathroom, etc. Do them both at once (not before and after a trip, for instance).
As well to get as realistic numbers as possible, you want to be packed like you were ready to go camping on your average trip (weekend, week, month – whatever is normal for you). If you don’t have all of your passengers, you’ll have to add their weight when you evaluate your results.
Now, if you’re using a different scale (quarry, dump, etc.), they likely only have a single scale that you pull onto. You essentially want all of the same weights of each axle, so you’ll just have to move the truck more often to get individual weights (pull up with just the front tires, then the front and rear tires, then front, rear and trailer tires). And, it’ll require more math to figure out each axle’s weight. I’ve written instructions for that.
A Tip for Cat Scales
If you’re going to a CAT scale, it can be a challenge to reach the call button. I found I had to stretch, but I could reach it (just not hear real well). Many people are taking a short 3′ stick of some sort to push it *or* going inside ahead of time to get the phone number of the weigh desk and calling that instead of using the button.
What is the Cost?
My CAT scale weightings costed me $10 for the first weigh and then $1 or $2 for each re-weigh. I’m not sure what the other kinds of scales cost – my guess is free to about the same.
Great info! Will do this next week when I take my 5er in for new tires.
Thanks for the kind words. Post back if you have questions or want to share your weights.
Thats easy enough, but how do you evaluate the results against the manufacturers recommendations? Thats the hard part with all the anacronyns and different terminology?
Once you have the weight slips, use the Actual Weights tool on Towing Planner.com. It calculates the results and then will show you those numbers and tell you what to compare them against.
Sorry, but I am still confused. I understand the weigh proceedure and where to put the numbers on the Actual Weights tool. (Very handy) So how do I calculate the Pin Weight and Pin Percentage? I assume it is from the two CAT scale weighings? Sorry, just haven’t done this before. Thanks
The tool does the calculations for you. But, here’s how you do it:
> pin weight = Hitched up truck weight – unhitched truck weight
> total trailer weight = trailer axles weight + pin weight
> pin weight percentage = pin weight / total trailer weight
The tool gets a little cute with the pin weight and ignores any unloading of the front axle but the idea is the generally same.
Hope that helps.
Wait, I think I didn’t read that right last night. But yes, you’ll go do your weighings and will get individual CAT scale weigh slips. You’ll take those numbers and will then plug them into the towing planner “actual weights” tool.
It will automatically calculate all of the numbers for you.