Kathy Asked … Are We Too Heavy?

One of the benefits of belonging to the Escapee’s RV Club is the opportunity to have your rig (and tow vehicle) weighed.  They call it their SmartWeigh service.

The SmartWeigh station at Livingston, TX

Although you can get weighed at many of the truck stops around the country, the Escapees service includes weighing of not only the rig as a whole or weighing of each axle, but also the weight of the rig (or vehicle) on EACH CORNER.  This helps the RV’er to know how their load is distributed within the RV and where you might need to move (or remove) weight to get your rig within specs for a safe ride.

The manufacturers weight rating label is typically (not always) located inside the rig either on a wall or inside one of the cabinets.  I’ve seen travel trailers that have them on the outside of the rig as well.  In any event they should be located either inside  or made of a material such that they will not easily get worn or be destroyed by weather or people.

In addition to the Weight Rating Label (glued to the back wall) in the cupboard above the couch, I’ve taped other pertinent info (like the paint color codes) on the inside of the door
The Weight Rating Label shows TOTAL weight rating with and without liquids and passengers, but NOT axle ratings

Note that the weight rating label I reference above DOES NOT indicate the individual Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR), only the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  This label shows the math using some known (& unknown) standards.

Our rig when filled with fuel, water, and 770 pounds of humans, still allows for a Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)  of 1770 pounds.  But how is that weight actually distributed?

For a more complete and accurate assessment of your rig’s weight, it is important to know the individual Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) and the tire manufacturers recommended inflation pressure for given loads.  If you bought your rig new you should have it with your Owners Manual papers.  If you bought yours used like we did, you should be able to find this information online at your rig manufacturer’s (or chassis) web site.

Click here to see the data sheet for our Freightliner chassis.

From the chart that shows in the link above, you can see that our Freightliner chassis has a Front Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) of 9,350 pounds, a Rear GAWR of 17,000 for a total Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,350 pounds.  This is the TOTAL that includes the RV, fuel, water, passengers, and cargo.  I can’t explain why the sticker inside the cabinet states 26,850 while the Freightliner chassis data calls out 26,350 pounds … a 500 pound difference.

If the weight was evenly distributed, this would allow for 4,675 pounds on EACH front tire and 4,250 on each of the four rear tires.  Remember that these weight ratings are for the AXLES, not the tires.  That’s a separate issue we’ll cover further down the page.

Enter the SmartWeigh system.

The SmartWeigh “pad” at Livingston

The pad is a long and level concrete pad that the customer can drive their motorhome and toad (or truck and trailer) onto at the direction of the weighmaster.

The driver stops as directed by the weighmaster, where then the individual scales are placed into depressions or cavities in the concrete so the driver can then safely and smoothly roll forward onto the scale when directed by the weighmaster.

One of the scales in place ready to drive onto

The weighmaster moves the scales from axle to axle (1 scale on each side) and records each individual wheel weight.  Again, it’s important to know not only HOW MUCH weight you are carrying as compared to the manufacturers specification, but WHERE you are carrying the weight so as to provide the safest possible loading.

SmartWeigh also provides the owner with a detailed data sheet of how your rig compares to the manufacturer’s weight rating.  Here’s the data sheet with our numbers.

You can see that our front corner weights are under the Front GAWR by 1250 pounds but we’re a little heavier on the passenger side, so we need to move some of our cargo in the basement from the curb side to the road side.

The rear axle weighs in at 17,550 pounds, 550 pounds OVER the GAWR for the rear axle so we need to lighten the load by removing some items and/or moving what we are carrying more toward the front of the coach.


We ride on Goodyear tires designed for motorhome use.  The model # is G670 and the size is 275/70R/22.5.  The manufacturers data chart shows the maximum load per various cold inflation pressures.

Goodyear tire inflation chart

I generally run the coach tires at 100 p.s.i. cold inflation pressure.  You can see on the chart above that at 100 p.s.i. the front TIRES are capable of carrying 5,850 pounds.  You’ll remember that the SmartWeigh chart shows we’re carrying 3,900 and 4,200 so we’re well under the limit on the front.  We could run 85 p.s.i. and still be well within the safety margin.

Since we have “duallys” on the rear axle (two tires on each side), we therefore split the total corner weight between the tires.  The chart shows that at 100 p.s.i. we can carry 5,390 on each tire or 10,780 pounds on each rear corner.  SmartWeigh tells us we are running 8,900 pounds on the curb side and 8,650 on the road side, again well within the manufacturers load limit for 100 p.s.i. inflation pressure.  And again, we could run 85 p.s.i. on the rear as well.

Speaking of tires and proper inflation pressure, be sure to check out my post about Electronic Wireless Tire Inflation Monitors and the importance of being safe on the road and how these relatively inexpensive devices can save you time, trouble, money, and very possibly … your life!

The SmartWeigh service is available (by appointment) at Escapee RV Parks in; Livingston TX, Bushnell FL, and Congress AZ by calling one of the numbers on this page of the Escapees RV Club web site.

In the meantime … safe travels to you and yours.

We FINALLY made it out of Ohio!

Well here it is Friday morning and we just woke up and are ready to head out of Missouri and on into Kansas for Friday night.

If you’ve been following along, you know we’ve had some tire problems along the way.  When we left home Tuesday morning, two of our new tires had lost significant pressure overnight.  We just drove on over to the RV shop in Marion where we had the new tires installed and had them check.  They had us go on down to Bob Sumerel Truck Tire Center in Delaware where the tech THOUGHT the problem was the valve stem extensions.  He removed the extensions and THOUGHT that cured the problem.

Turns out he was wrong.  As we motored on west out of Ohio, through Indianapolis, it was evident (by our TPMS system) that one of the tires was still losing pressure.  Since we were driving in HOT weather (pavement was 95 deg.) it was not losing so much that we had to stop.

We pulled in for the night to Fallen Rock Campground at Danville, IN and next morning motored on over to Terre Haute, IN where we found McCord Goodyear dealer.

Although they were packed with a car in every bay and customers waiting in the “lounge” area, they were kind enough to take us right away and Dennis got right on it and found that there was not a good seal where the edge of the tire (bead) meets the edge of the rim.

When the tires were installed (in Ohio) the dealer also installed “Balancing Beads“. Balancing beads are used in large truck tires as an alternative to adding weights to the wheels.

Well, problem is they allowed some beads to get stuck right on the edge of the tire where it meets the rim.  Dennis found this lead right away, took the wheel off the coach, broke the bead (seal), cleaned it well, and aired the tire back up and all is well.

Our hats off to McCormick Tire in Terre Haute for not making us wait, for fixing it right, and for only charging us $45!

You can see the slide show below.  If you’re viewing this in an email, you may not be able to see the pix, just click on the link to the post up at the top to open this in your browser, then you should be able to see the slide show.

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Tire Trials and Tribulations

So the master plan said we would depart home base in Mt. Gilead at about 7:30 Monday morning.  Again, ….. no such luck.  As I said in my earlier post, the two outside rear tires were losing about 20-30 psi overnight.

So Monday morning I hauled out the compressor again and “aired up” the low tires and we headed right over to Luxury Coach in Marion.  I had sent them an email on Labor Day letting them know we’d be there bright and early and expected to get the leaks fixed so we could mosey on down the road.  We were DETERMINED to leave Ohio on Tuesday after Labor Day.

We dropped off the coach about 8:20 and went to Bob Evans to have breakfast while they worked on it.  Then we decided we hadn’t given them enough time so we chilled at the Marion City Library for a while.  About 10:45 or so we went back and the coach was right where we left it parked looking like probably nothing got done while we were gone.  Guess what?  I was right!  I talked to Jay (the owner) and he said since the tire guys hadn’t shown up yet, it’d be best for us if we just took the coach down there to their shop in Delaware.

So down US-23 we went to Bob Summeral Truck Tire Center (on 36/37 just east of Delaware).  John was expecting us and had us pull right in.  His technician sprayed the tires and valve stems with soap solution looking for bubbles (indicating air leaks).  He found that the valve stem extensions where BOTH leaking slightly.  He removed the flexible braided extensions and removed and reinstalled the rigid valve stems tightly so they wouldn’t leak.

We then hooked up the car in their lot and left (at no charge) and headed down I-71 to I-70 working out way into Indiana.

We’re spending the night at a real nice privately owned campground operated by proprietors Mark and Connie Brown.  They’ve owned the park for four years now and it’s got a lot of shade, a small river runs right through and there are only 65 RV sites on 66 acres of land.  And guess what?  They’ve got a great WIFI system!  And that is a pretty rare thing in the world of RV parks.  They all SAY they have WIFI, but it often performs poorly.

Here’s a slide show of some of today’s pictures.  If you are reading this post via an email, you probably are not seeing the pictures.  In order to see the picture slide show, click on the title link at the top of this email (next to my picture).  That should open your browser and allow you to see the post right on the blog along with the pictures.

In the morning we’ll get up and have our bowl of cereal and a banana and then continue west toward St. Louis and Kansas City.

Here’s the slide show of today’s happenings.

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Readying to Hit The Road

Here’s a map of our planned route to Camp Verde, AZ.  I’m a little tentative about the route south from I-70 to I-40 (Denver to Flagstaff), but we hope to find out more about that part of the trek as we get out west.

Well, less that 24 hours to blast-off (well sort of)

We’ve had the coach in the shop for the last couple weeks to get;

  • four new tires for the rear axle (we replaced the front two a couple months ago)
  • new drivers side windshield (we noticed a crack in the upper left)
  • oil change along with oil filter and fuel filter
  • repair of the slide (broken roller under the kitchen)

Kathy and I planned on picking it up Friday afternoon, but the slide was not COMPLETELY back together yet, so we made arrangements to come Saturday mid-day.  Saturday came and they had just installed the new windshield and asked that we wait until Sunday to pick up the coach so that the glue had ample time to dry.  So we drove over to Marion after church on Sunday and finally brought back to Mt. Gilead our “home on wheels”

It’s a good thing I installed a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) a few months back as it informed me (by flashing and beeping at me) that both outside rear tires were low on air.  I generally run them all at about 100 psi and these two outside tires were showing about 35-40 psi.  I was hoping, hoping, hoping that the guy in the shop just got distracted and forgot to go back and fully inflate these tires after mounting them on the rims.  NO SUCH LUCK.  I took out my compressor and filled these to about 95-100 psi only to find that they each lost about 20 psi over the next few hours.

Soooooooooooooo .. we’ll go ahead and load it up (it’s now Monday morning) and pull out of town tomorrow as if we were getting on the freeway west, only to have out first stop at Luxury Coach in Marion to have them dis-mount, clean the rims, re-mount and re-seal these new tires on the rims.  Say a little prayer that we don’t have any loss of air along our trip after that.

Solar Panels Not Working?

As we prepare to head to the 56th annual Escapade at Essex Junction, VT the end of July, I’ve been checking and double-checking the various systems in the coach to make sure all is well and in good working order.

Over the last month or so we’ve replaced the two front tires, (they werG670RVULTe made in ’04 and had about 50,000 miles on them) and although they were not checked or cracked and had good even wear pattern, when they’re that old I just didn’t want to take a chance on another cross-country trip.

We’ve got a Heliotrop brand solar charge controller.  This job of this controller is to heliotrop solar controllermonitor the voltage level in the coach 12 v batteries and, should there be enough sunlight, then send power from the roof-mounted solar panels to the batteries to keep them charged.

This week I noticed that the display was blank even though I knew we had a good charge on the battery bank.  I started trouble shooting the wiring harness that runs from the controller located inside the coach to the battery bank located in one of the rear curb-side basement compartments.  I had 12 volts at the batteries, but not at the controller.  I couldn’t believe that the wire was “open” (it’s 10 gauge insulated wire) and I knew it wasn’t shorted to ground because we hadn’t blown the inline fuse.  There must be a loose connection.

As I looked more closely, I found that the installer of the after-market solar panels and controller had used large red wire nuts to tie the power harness into the battery bank.  Well, as it turned out the NEUTRAL wire nut was really only connecting two of the three wires together.  I didn’t like this set-up when I first saw it when we bought the coach, but now since it’s presented a problem, I decided to install a terminal strip and attach all the wires using ring terminals for a tight, low resistance connection.

So now we have a good solid connection between the solar power control panel and the battery bank, but still no power coming from the solar panel on the roof to the controller.  Now it’s time to get Stu (our son-in-law) up on the roof to check out the connection up there, since my knees go weak when I get up to about the 6th step on the ladder.  I’ll let you know what we find a little later on.

(Update June 22, 2016) So here’s what we found: