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Last Post 16 Feb 2009 10:06 PM by  mwood
Reinforcing frame rail extension and beefing up hitch on class C?
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mwood
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11 Feb 2009 09:48 PM

    Here's the deal: I have a 2005 built 24' Winnebago Class C. Over the last few years, I've towed both my old Z06 and RX8 on open trailers, which I figure is probably in the 4900-5100lbs range. Tongue weight I would estimate in the 500-600 range. Now, I'm looking at towing my Mustang, which adds about 300-400lbs to the equation.

    I know I've been exceeding the manufacturer's reccomendations on tongue weight, as the Class III hitch on the RV (although rated at 500lbs like all class III's) is limited to 350lbs tongue weight per Winnebago. So far, I've had zero problem, including tows to Topeka, Packwood, San Diego etc. It tows great and I've visually inspected all the hitch's mounting fasteners and the frame extension welds many times, with no concerns. btw, the frame extension is not super long (as the RV is only 24') and is spliced using the Ford reccomended procedure, which is kind of a sleeve with triangulated extensions welded at multiple points to both the original frame and the extension piece.

    Anyhow, I'm feeling the Mustang may be putting close to the brink in terms of the current set ups safe capacity...not in terms of total weight (my theoretical GVWR ceiling allows about 6300lbs), but more in terms of the Class III hitch and the frame extension. So, the questions that I'm hoping some might have thoughts or, better yet, experience with:

    1. How do these RV manufacturer's arrive at the max towing ratings?

    2. Has anyone beefed up the frame extensions on a Winnebago or other Class C?

    3. Does it make sense to weld in a Class IV and go to a weight distributing hitch, at this point? (Given I have no sway or other issues, but the front is getting a little light and I'd also lower the weight load on the rear axle, which might be getting closer to max)

    If anyone has any solutions/ideas, I'm all ears.

    Thanks-

    Mike

    Joe_914
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    12 Feb 2009 10:03 AM

    Wow, I would have never thought there would be an issue with tongue weight with a camper. I am really wanting one and now have another item to consider. Interesting.

    Sorry I have no idea to any of your questions. Big bigger is always better and what you may not be able to see is stress fatique of the camper / hitch attachment points.

    Mike-L
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    12 Feb 2009 12:35 PM

    I don't know how they arrive at the ratings but I'm sure they build in plenty of margin. I had the frame and hitch beefed up to 7500/750 on my previous 23' Class C Tioga. I always use a weight-distributing hitch; it keeps weight on the front wheels so they don't lock up (so easily) during braking. Also, it smoothes out the ride considerably.

    I have a gas 29' Class A Winnebago now. It worked fine with the open trailer and 2900lb car (the frame was beefier than the Class C) but there was a statement on the hitch not to use a weight distributing hitch. So, when I got the enclosed trailer, I had it beefed up to 10,000/1000. Not that I'm anywhere near those limits but it was cheap peace of mind.

    Mike Leuty

    mwood
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    12 Feb 2009 12:43 PM
    Mike-L wrote:

    I don't know how they arrive at the ratings but I'm sure they build in plenty of margin. I had the frame and hitch beefed up to 7500/750 on my previous 23' Class C Tioga. I always use a weight-distributing hitch; it keeps weight on the front wheels so they don't lock up (so easily) during braking. Also, it smoothes out the ride considerably.

    I have a gas 29' Class A Winnebago now. It worked fine with the open trailer and 2900lb car (the frame was beefier than the Class C) but there was a statement on the hitch not to use a weight distributing hitch. So, when I got the enclosed trailer, I had it beefed up to 10,000/1000. Not that I'm anywhere near those limits but it was cheap peace of mind.

    Mike Leuty

    Mike, who did you have beef up the 29' and what did they do?

    Thanks

    Mike-L
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    12 Feb 2009 01:26 PM

    A local place, TLCentral in Kent, WA. I don't remember all they did; it wasn't extensive. I think at least one additional cross-brace between the frame rails. They do such nice work, it would be hard to tell, even if I had it here to look at. I'll have it home this weekend; I'll take a look and PM you.

    --Mike

    rubenpadron
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    12 Feb 2009 03:20 PM

    Mike, give Orlandi trailers in San Jose a call: http://www.orlanditrailer.com/

    Ruben

    mwood
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    12 Feb 2009 04:42 PM

    Thanks, Ruben.

    I called them and the guy was really helpful. When I get the final plan figured out and start welding, I'll throw some pics up...in case anyone else is interested.

    mwood
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    15 Feb 2009 12:28 PM

    So, here's what I did...the guy I talked to at the trailer place gave me an idea as to what they do...and quoted me "$500-600" to do the work, which was ridiculous. The basic idea for reinforcing the frame extension was to weld in 2" square tubing across the inside edge of the upper frame channel, across the splice/frame extension, in effect bridging and reinforcing the original Winnebago sleeve work. I chose to cut the tubing to the full 4'+ length, ending the reinforcement under the hitch's crossbar plates and starting it at the forward cross bracing.. To beef up the hitch, I welded a piece of the 2" square behind the cross bar, notching for the receiver tube. Once I welded up all the seams, the notch area and added a 1/4" reinforcing brace from the bottom of the receiver, I think it is at least as strong as I'll ever need.

    Instead of the $500-600, total cost for steel was about $60....when it stops raining I'll shoot a couple of pics.

    Pics..not very good ones, but pics:

    Frame splice before:

    Frame after:

    Hitch before:

    Hitch after:

    solonut
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    16 Feb 2009 08:40 PM
    Mike, Get a weight dist hitch & sway control.....once you drive it with that set-up you will wonder why you didnt do it earlier....Pat
    mwood
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    16 Feb 2009 10:06 PM

    solonut wrote:
    Mike, Get a weight dist hitch & sway control.....once you drive it with that set-up you will wonder why you didnt do it earlier....Pat

    Pat, as it stands, the RV tows great, no sway or wobbles to speak of, but I am looking at going to a WD hitch just to get a little more weight transfered to the front tires, which should help not only stability and ride, but also keep me under the max rear axle weight rating.

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