Weighing In

Recently I wrote about watching your vehicle’s weight and keeping it within your limits. On my way out of Cottage Grove, I took the opportunity to stop by the weigh station I found and take some measurements of my fully loaded configuration.

Without the trailer, my van weighs 7,900 pounds. This time it measured 8,120 pounds with the addition of the trailer. That means my tongue weight is about 220 pounds. (The scale measures in 20-pound increments, so this is as accurate as I can get.) For safe towing, the tongue weight should be 10-15% of the overall weight of the trailer.

I rolled forward to get the van off the scale and put the trailer axle on it. With the motorcycle and everything else inside, it weighs 2,060 pounds. My tongue weight is 10.6% of that. Without even having any measurements to go by until now, I nailed it on the first try.

I’m quite happy about this. I now have around 1,000 miles of experience to tell me that the trailer rides extremely well the way I have it loaded, but getting concrete validation that I’ve done it right makes me feel good. I was hoping that the weight of my tools in the front of the trailer would give it enough tongue weight to offset the bike being a little farther back. This gives the bike easier access in and out, and me easier access to my tools through the side door whether the bike is inside or not. It’s almost like I know what I’m doing — almost. If I get a heavier motorcycle at some point, I may need to make some adjustments, but now I know that.

This also means the overall weight of the van and trailer with the bike inside is 10,180 pounds. That’s a lot! But it’s also everything I need, and want, to live the way I do. It’s well within what I’m allowed to drive with a non-commercial driver’s license. A friend told me he found out the hard way that anything over 10,000 pounds requires a DOT number and medical card, but he was driving for work. My use is strictly personal. My real “get out of jail free” card is the fact that my van is registered and titled as a motorhome, not a van. People are allowed to drive full-size buses and tow massive trailers with absolutely no additional training or certification required as long as they’re RVs. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that, but it’s the law, and it covers me as well. So I’m not worried.

I had an uneventful drive to Darryl and Marilyn’s house in Vancouver, Washington. Technically, I have now visited the states at all four corners of the lower 48 states, even though Vancouver is right on the border across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. They promptly took me on a driving tour of the area, and have many other places they want to show me. But that’s a story for another time — after I’ve had time to sort through a ton of pictures I took while Marilyn drove.

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