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Ask Dave: My trailer needs to lose weight – Can I remove one propane tank?

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses removing a propane tank and trailer weight limits.

Hello Dave,
I’m looking to lose some RV weight. I never use a full propane tank per camping season. I have an automatic switchover system. Any way I can eliminate one of the propane tanks? It will save me 35 pounds. Thank you, Dave.  —Al, Sr.

Dear Al,
Thanks for reading RVTravel.com and posting the question. Also I applaud you for taking the steps to reduce weight. I often get criticized for not providing a straight answer as I feel more info is required to help a situation.

So, let me start off by saying “yes,” you can eliminate one of the propane tanks. You should be able to keep the same regulator – just have it on the tank side. However, 35 pounds is not much weight to lose if your rig is overloaded.

More info needed regarding trailer weight

Let’s start by looking at what rig you have, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and what your rig actually weighs as it sits on the ground. Since you indicated there were two propane tanks, the rig must be a travel trailer. There should be a weight sticker on the side of the rig or a data plate on the tongue giving the GVWR. If not, we can find that with the make, model, and serial number.

Next, let’s find out what your rig weighs by taking it to a CAT Scale and weighing it by pads, with the tow vehicle on the first pad and the unit on the second. Then pull around and disconnect the rig and weigh just the tow vehicle. This will give us the rig weight and the tongue weight.

For an example, let’s say your rig has a GVWR of 6300 lbs. and the unit weighs 6350 lbs. As a general rule of thumb, you should not have the unit at maximum GVWR, rather 10% less to give a safety margin for braking and axle/brake wear and tear. That means your rig should be 635 lbs. less, or 5665 lbs. If it weighs 6350 lbs., now you need to reduce it by 685 lbs.!

Your rig should also have an Unloaded Weight Rating (UWR) or Dry Weight listed from the factory. That is the unit without any liquids or contents. That will tell you what you can put in without exceeding the GVWR. This is commonly referred to as CCC or Cargo Carrying Capacity.

One of the biggest weight issues is water, as it weighs 8.33 lbs. per gallon. So it’s easy to put 50 gallons of water in the fresh water tank and add 400 lbs. or more. I don’t suggest traveling with much water – just a couple gallons until you get to the destination. Once you are parked, you can add more.

Evaluate cargo and determine where to “lose weight”

Next, you will need to evaluate your cargo and what items are the heaviest, and ways to either eliminate them or find something lighter. This is a point I bring up in my RV Buyers Seminar for people that might be taking longer trips and need more Cargo Carrying Capacity. Some of these trailers and especially B Vans have a very small cargo number as the axles are lightweight. So it’s an important issue to consider.

Let us know what you find out for the weights and let’s see what cargo you have. I know our readers have gone through this same exercise and will have suggestions on accessories that are lighter and especially heavy bedding items such as electric blankets versus a stack of heavy quilts – although they are very comfortable!

Looking forward to helping with your weight loss program!

Read more from Dave here

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HappyCamper7424
9 months ago

I thought CCC did not include weight of fresh water or LP. In other words, CCC = GVWR – UVW – Full Liquids.

JAMES
9 months ago

You can always wait until you arrive at your destination to buy groceries to save some weight.

Ron Lane
9 months ago

With a travel trailer, tongue weight is extremely important….. even losing 35 lbs could be very significant in effecting how the trailer will tow. Know your weights and percentages.

Gayle V.
9 months ago

Dave, how can you deduce “two propane tanks, the rig must be a travel trailer”

All of the 5th wheels I’ve ever had, and all of the 5th wheels I’ve ever pulled professionally, has had 2 propane tanks.

David Solberg
9 months ago
Reply to  Gayle V.

Gayle, I stand corrected! Thanks.

Bob p
9 months ago

Weight balance is also very important, I added a 101 lb. Generator behind the bumper in a cargo carrier so to compensate some I removed the spare tire carrier and mounted the spare under the tongue of the TT. This moved 65 lbs. off the rear of the 101 lbs. I also carry a 28 lb aluminum ladder on the tongue. If you add weight in one place you need to move weight someplace else to maintain balance.

Graybyrd
9 months ago

It was suggested that we could eliminate 225 lbs of unnecessary weight in our truck camper (which loads out slightly above the stated cargo capacity of our truck) by letting the wife drive and leaving me home.

Dan
9 months ago
Reply to  Graybyrd

If I lost 35 pounds, my wife would say “just right”.

Snayte
9 months ago
Reply to  Graybyrd

Ouch!

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