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  • NT / caravan towing and the actual ball weight.

    Hi All, I will apologize in advance if my story is to long winded but in the interest of sharing my pain for others to benefit, here goes.

    3 years ago I bought an NT DID Exceed because of it's advertised 3,000kg towing capacity and then followed up 6 months later by purchasing a tandem caravan with a a compliance plate ATM of 2,458kg and ball weight of 130kg. Sounds like I did my research and made the right choices but since coming across this forum, conversations with fellow caravaners and belatedly "educating" myself I now no I'm in a whole lot of trouble for the following reasons.

    Firstly, I didn't know of or bother reading the "fine print" in the NT specification related to ball weight nor did the MM dealer tell me about it (or the rear wheel hitting the coupling) when I mentioned I was planing to retire and buy a caravan.

    Secondly, I was not aware of how caravan compliance plate ATM's and ball weights are derived. Which for those that don't already know is the caravan "empty" tare weight (empty of fluids etc) and with a manufacturers payload allowance which in my case was 400 kg's.

    The sad reality is that having put my caravan on a weigh bridge I'm embarrassed to report it has an actual traveling ATM of 2,810 kg's and a ball weight of 300 kg's.

    Why the difference? I can explain a big part of it but I'm scratching my head on the rest. The main influence on the weight, particularly ball weight is the fluids. My 286 kg's of water tanks, gas bottles and batteries are all forward of the axles. I've got approx 50 kg's of normal front boot/under bed stuff but as to the remaining 400 kg's + I can't see that in food or cloths. FYI, Emptying both water tanks only reduced ball weight to 270 kg's.

    My axles are rated at 2,900 kg's so the caravan is legal and my total combined car/caravan gross (with fuel, Weaco, bikes etc in the back of the Pajero) leaves 650 kg's to spare but alarmingly I now know my Pajero & caravan combination is far from legal because of ball weight alone.

    I'm currently investigating moving the water tanks to the rear behind the axles and adding 2 x 20 Ltr jerry cans to the rear bar but for those that have done there own testing on this, adding 250 kg's in this way to the rear will only take approx 80 kg's off the ball weight.

    So in my case, MM aren't going to magically and retrospectively revise the NT ball weight to 250 kg's up to 3,000 kg's and I'm buggered if I can see how to get my total or ball weight within coo-ee of the Pajero spec so it's either a new tow vehicle (more likely) or a new caravan for me.

    I'm pleased to here that MM dealers are more forthcoming to prospective buyers with all the towing specs and I know that caravan dealers are more cautious now days when advising on caravan/tow vehicle combinations but it is interesting what the threat of legal action and authorities ramping up roadside spot checks does to the behavior of industry people that should have known better in hindsight. For second had buyers I hope that sellers have a conscience.

    I'm also at a loss to understand why caravan manufacturers aren't required too complete compliance plate weights both with and without fluids given the effect that location of water tanks, gas bottles and batteries have on ball weight. Doing so would totally inform the prospective purchaser or is that to much useful information?

    There is a lot of conversation in various forums, magazines and caravan parks around what you pack and how you pack a caravan because quite rightly, payload and ball weight are important however, if like me, you mistakingly believe the compliance plate ball weight to be the starting point of your calculation then be warned.

    In my case hindsight is a dangerous thing that won't help me but for prospective purchases of Pajero's and caravans, buyer beware and I hope that my long winded story helps educate those smarter than I was on looking behind the "advertised" numbers.

    PS. Apart from the above, I'm very happy with my Pajero. It is absolutely brilliant at towing my set-up, at its current full towing weight. Very stable and comfortable on the road, effortless unless on the steepest of hills and relatively economical with fuel, just don't mention ball weight.

    PPSS. Any advice or good luck wishes in explaining to she with whom I watch tv why I need to by a new tow vehicle would be great fully welcomed.

  • #2
    Sadly it seems there is little standardisation/regulation on the caravan/camper industry.

    I was advised my camper trailer has a ball weight of 80kgs. Loaded up it has a ball weight of 180kgs. Yes I have a fridge that is forward of the axle along with a couple of other things, but I never thought it would end up +100kgs.

    While you can experiment with moving stuff behind the axle, you then face an issue with the inherent stability of the van - too much weight at the back of it. So you may solve the ball weight issue but introduce a stability issue due to improper weight distribution.

    It really comes down to fundamental design of the van by the van maker. Sadly it seems few van makers are interested in really thinking about weight/handling/construction and simply build them how they always have - heavy chassis, heavy frame + skin, mount large tanks for water etc out of the way of the axles (which immediately goes against the idea of having large weights directly over the axle) etc. What about a tank up the middle of the van chassis - it's possible now with independent setups? Why not a more monocoque approach to construction?
    2010 NT DiD Platinum Auto (Warm White). ARB Sahara Bar (colour coded), ARB dual battery with Redarc, Ultimate Suspension, Redarc remote BC, Bushskinz plates, D694s, Rhino Pioneer Platform, Engel 40L, Hella Compact HIDs, UH7760NB, Scangauge II, Rear shelf storage, Bushskinz rear bumper protection.

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    • #3
      Ball Weight

      Having spoken to a very close mate who had a major mishap with his van & vehicle I am sure insurance companies do not get into that issue. My friend was not asked by CIL what he was towing the van with never the less towball weight. I wonder if someone started a thread "How many people did not have their claim honoured due to towball weight problems?" I would venture to say no-one & yes all it takes for someone to kick the bee hive so to speak to draw unwanted attention to a matter insurance companies are not concerned about. I believe all our insurance companies are concerned with are details & facts associated with a crash. IMHO Rob. ps It is NOT a legal requirement for caravan manufacturers to put a ball weight on the compliance plate.

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      • #4
        tow ball weight

        I would not worry about it. Mine is the same ball weight of 140kg on comp plate, real weight 220kg, 2500kg van. Police don't check and if you have a prang the van will explode believe me I have been to enough big prangs to know. No one has ever said anything about comp plates of vans at big prangs to me by the crash investigators. As long as you have good electric brakes, Al-Ko stabilising system, heavy duty Hayman Reese or Mitsu towbar, proper chains, breakaway system with battery charged, leash on rear of Paj and box in Paj saying breakaway ok no one will bother you it is the same across the whole industry from what I can understand the two ball weight is not even right when it is empty so what does that tell you.

        Personally I would not worry about it if you have all of the other items fitted and operating fine.
        2010 Pajero VRX auto wagon, Cooper A/T 3's, 40mm lift, Lovells, Bilsteins, Polyair bags, Factory Nudge bar, driving lights, dual air cond, DVD player (rear) Hayman Reese Super Heavy Duty Tow bar, Bushskinz front/intercooler and engine sump, Polaris towing camera system, Clearview Mirrors, tows 2013 dual axle Jayco Outback Discovery Caravan. Redlec battery shutoff, Polaris HUD speedo. 400LMT Navman GPS. GME 88 channel UHF Radio. Bendix Stealth 4WD Disc Pads

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        • #5
          Originally posted by csimic View Post
          I would not worry about it. Mine is the same ball weight of 140kg on comp plate, real weight 220kg, 2500kg van. Police don't check and if you have a prang the van will explode believe me I have been to enough big prangs to know. No one has ever said anything about comp plates of vans at big prangs to me by the crash investigators. As long as you have good electric brakes, Al-Ko stabilising system, heavy duty Hayman Reese or Mitsu towbar, proper chains, breakaway system with battery charged, leash on rear of Paj and box in Paj saying breakaway ok no one will bother you it is the same across the whole industry from what I can understand the two ball weight is not even right when it is empty so what does that tell you.

          Personally I would not worry about it if you have all of the other items fitted and operating fine.
          I reckon your pretty well got it covered but as an investigator I would look at the make of van & towing vehicle and if the weight of the van exceeds the manufacturers specifications of the towing vehilce it would be a problem. For instance if I was investigating an insurance claim & lets say, for instance the vehicle was a 2004 Nissan Patrol 3 ltr diesel auto & it was towing a van that weighed 3 tonne....then then claim would be rejected on the basis the auto Patrol can only tow 2500kg. Insurance companies are not interested in tow ball weights. Rob

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          • #6
            [QUOTE=mrorejap;333988]I reckon your pretty well got it covered but as an investigator I would look at the make of van & towing vehicle and if the weight of the van exceeds the manufacturers specifications of the towing vehilce it would be a problem. For instance if I was investigating an insurance claim & lets say, for instance the vehicle was a 2004 Nissan Patrol 3 ltr diesel auto & it was towing a van that weighed 3 tonne....then then claim would be rejected on the basis the auto Patrol can only tow 2500kg. Insurance companies are not interested in tow ball weights. Rob

            Very right you are as a 21 year Police veteran 10 years HWP and 9 years forensic experience behind me you are dead right. People who do come unstuck much of the time are horse floats loaded with 2-3 horses and towing them with a car that weighs much less. I just used to defect them and put them off the road. They would just not be able to stop if they had to and ask you would know most did not have brakes up to standard or brakes at all on the float, cheers, Michael
            2010 Pajero VRX auto wagon, Cooper A/T 3's, 40mm lift, Lovells, Bilsteins, Polyair bags, Factory Nudge bar, driving lights, dual air cond, DVD player (rear) Hayman Reese Super Heavy Duty Tow bar, Bushskinz front/intercooler and engine sump, Polaris towing camera system, Clearview Mirrors, tows 2013 dual axle Jayco Outback Discovery Caravan. Redlec battery shutoff, Polaris HUD speedo. 400LMT Navman GPS. GME 88 channel UHF Radio. Bendix Stealth 4WD Disc Pads

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            • #7
              This is from the Hayman Reese Catalogue
              for the 02366rw Towbar

              Check out their rating for ball weight

              Product Type Hitch Receiver
              Make MITSUBISHI
              Model Pajero
              Series Pajero
              Variant ALL
              Body Type 4D SUV
              Year 200611 - 0
              UoM EA
              Rating/Ball Weight 3000/250
              Lug No. (included) 21124
              Exposed/Concealed c
              Wiring part number 1800mm
              ECU (Not included) 4826
              Load Rating 3000
              Towbar Fit Time 60
              Wiring Fit Time 40
              Shipping Weight 20 KG
              RRP (Exc installation charges) $607.60000004
              Description MITSUBISHI PAJERO NT/NS/NW SWB/LWB

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              • #8
                Originally posted by olesp View Post
                This is from the Hayman Reese Catalogue
                for the 02366rw Towbar

                Check out their rating for ball weight

                Product Type Hitch Receiver
                Make MITSUBISHI
                Model Pajero
                Series Pajero
                Variant ALL
                Body Type 4D SUV
                Year 200611 - 0
                UoM EA
                Rating/Ball Weight 3000/250
                Lug No. (included) 21124
                Exposed/Concealed c
                Wiring part number 1800mm
                ECU (Not included) 4826
                Load Rating 3000
                Towbar Fit Time 60
                Wiring Fit Time 40
                Shipping Weight 20 KG
                RRP (Exc installation charges) $607.60000004
                Description MITSUBISHI PAJERO NT/NS/NW SWB/LWB
                Pardon my ignorance, I'm assuming is the tow bar that comes as standard with the NT's? Thanks.

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                • #9
                  Tow bar rating doesn't over ride manufacturer's rating unless it is less than the manufacturer.

                  Cheers

                  Darryl
                  2009 RX TD Auto - EFS suspension , Mickey T's STZ, Narva spotties, UHF with more on the wishlist, and now towing a 1999 Evernew Tandem van.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks Darryl. I'm in the same situation as the OP.... bought the Nt to tow the new horse float. The float manufacturer told me the ball weight was 100Kg and the plate states the tare as 1325Kg. I've added a barrier so probably another 50-80Kgs forward of the double axle. I finally went too the weigh bridge last week. With it empty and virtually no tack in the float it was 1700Kg attached to the car, 1920Kg when put on the jockey wheel. I'm rather upset about this as I asked about ball weight etc before getting the float built! It's a 3 horse that I use as a 2horse. The manufacturer has a sticker on the door showing that the horses have to be loaded in the middle bay, then the front one then rear last. If I move the first bay back to half way between front and middle bays so the horse is over the axles more and use the back bay would this take weight off the ball? This is pretty much how I've been using it and the Pajero tows it without a problem. I'm going to get airbags fitted (Airsprings?) and also get a WDH. Any more advice would be great!

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                    • #11
                      Hi

                      Yes that would take some weight off the ball.
                      If the trailer is that much heavier than the plated tare what is it's rated ATM and how would that compare with when you have horses in it?
                      ie if it's rated at say 2600kg ATM and it actually weighs 2800kg with 2 horses the rig is illegal and the manufacturer should re rate it since their tare weight is no where near actual.

                      Cheers

                      Darryl
                      2009 RX TD Auto - EFS suspension , Mickey T's STZ, Narva spotties, UHF with more on the wishlist, and now towing a 1999 Evernew Tandem van.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        G`day GaryB,
                        Rather than replacing the Pajero have you thought about visiting an engineer and have the towing capacity upgraded. Would be a cheaper option.
                        Cheers,
                        Wilyum.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Wilyum,

                          I wouldn't know where to start re visiting an engineer? Do you mean a suspension shop eg Pedders / ARB / TJM?

                          I can understand beefing things up to make them stronger/ more reliable but I didn't think it was possible to change manufacturers towing capacities.

                          Thanks.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bigmitsu View Post
                            Hi

                            Yes that would take some weight off the ball.
                            If the trailer is that much heavier than the plated tare what is it's rated ATM and how would that compare with when you have horses in it?
                            ie if it's rated at say 2600kg ATM and it actually weighs 2800kg with 2 horses the rig is illegal and the manufacturer should re rate it since their tare weight is no where near actual.

                            Cheers

                            Darryl
                            Hi Darryl,

                            I checked the compliance plate yesterday and the AVM is 3500Kg and GVM is 3200Kg so ok in this department luckily! It's more the blasted towball weight that's the problem although getting the towing weight upgraded would be great. Is it really possible to get it done Wilyum? I've read on another post of this being done in Adelaide. I love my Pajero and really don't want to part with it!

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