Above: Kathie standing next to a raw 24,000 lb. rated chassis.
Just like humans (and dogs), RVs need to stay a healthy weight. In fact, if your RV is overweight, the consequences can be costly (chassis or axle damage) or deadly (decreased braking ability). Rover’s front axle is rated to carry a maximum of 9,000 lbs, his rear axle (with dual tires on each side) is rated for 15,500 lbs, and the overall chassis is rated for a maximum of 24,000 lbs. The 500 lbs. of wiggle room between the chassis and the axles means we can be at our maximum chassis capacity but not have to worry about getting it perfectly balanced between the front and rear axles.
When we picked up Rover 71 days ago, I really wanted to get an initial “from-the-factory” weight before we started loading him up with our stuff, but circumstances got away from us and we weren’t able to do that. The Tiffin factory sticker claims Rover’s UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight) is 20,396 (with a full tank of gas), which would leave us with 3,604 lbs. of capacity for us. However, we’ve been told not to trust that sticker, since the coaches are weighed before they’re painted and before some accessories are installed (like the awning, which is not light).
During the last few weeks in the DC area, we loaded up most of our belongings that we’d stored in Jen’s basement. Rover’s 200+ cubic feet of basement storage dutifully swallowed whatever big items and bins we threw at him, but we had no idea what we were doing to his weight.
So, today during our drive from Village Scene RV Park in Pennsylvania to Butterfly Camping Resort in New Jersey, we finally got up the courage to pull into a bona fide truck stop and use their CAT Scale to see what Rover’s voracious appetite has done to him:
Front axle: 8,080 lbs. ( 9,000 lb. rating) Rear axle: 15,340 lbs. (15,500 lb. rating) Total: 23,420 lbs. (24,000 lb. rating)
Whew! We’re within our limits with 600 lbs. to spare. However, our it looks like we need to shift some of our heavier items (maybe our ladder or 48-foot dog fence) towards the front since the rear axle is very close to its limit. The four of us were in the coach during weighing, and we had a full gas tank. We will need to watch out for our water tank, since it was mostly empty when we weighed (we drive with just a little water) and a full tank of 70 gallons would weigh almost 600 lbs.
Now we need to calculate what our tire inflation pressures should be. It’s important to inflate RV tires differently based on the weight they need to carry. Improper inflation is one of the leading causes of RV tire blowouts—something we don’t want to experience! We need to consult the tire pressure chart for our tires (Michelin XRV 255/80R22.5) and find the right pressure for our load. Ideally we would weigh all four corners of the RV separately and pick the highest weight/load on each axle, but since we haven’t found someplace to get that done, we’ll take the axle weight, divide by two, and add 5% to account for variances between the left and right sides.
Based on the chart and our math, Rover’s front tires should be at 80psi and rear tires should be at 85psi. The tires were over 100psi when we bought Rover, so we immediately dropped them to around 96 psi knowing we’d never need more than that. I will now let some more air out to bring them to the right inflation, but I’ll leave a little extra in to allow for some wiggle room (e.g. a full water tank).
We’ll aim to get Rover re-weighed every six months or so to ensure he doesn’t gradually gain weight the way we tend to do. Hopefully we can get a four-corner weight at an RV Rally or other event for a more accurate read.
As an added bonus, the truck stop had a truck wash, so we took Rover for his first bath! The wait was about 45 minutes but we weren’t in a rush so we grabbed some snacks and listened to some audiobooks. Rover’s now squeaky clean and ready for some more adventures!