Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor.
I am planning to buy a small Class A gas coach built on a Ford F53 chassis which comes with a Class 2 or 5000 pound hitch and towing capacity and is rated for a 500 pound tongue weight. I am looking to add a couple of scooters and a dual carrier which will total around 700 lbs of tongue weight. Even with this weight, I will be well below my GVWR and GCVR limits.
My question is this: Can I upgrade to a 1000 pound tongue weight capacity hitch from the local hitch shop and be safe? I’m thinking that if I can it might be worthwhile to add a pair of air springs to my rear suspension to help level the load and keep steering good. Your thoughts about this are most appreciated. —George
It is common for RVers to modify their coaches to carry various items on the back, including scooters. This is a difficult question to answer in this forum, because it requires taking a closer look at your coach and its design.
It isn’t just about the GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. It has to do with weights at each axle and wheel position, and what that added weight cantilevered off the back of the coach will do to the rest of the vehicle.
In addition, some RV manufacturers alter the chassis frame, either cutting it and extending it, or adding sections to the rear. This is especially prevalent in gas coaches.
The RV Safety and Education Foundation has a lot of great information on their website.
First, you need to be sure that you are not overloading either the rear axle or any wheel position by getting the coach weighed fully loaded now. Second, you need to find out from the coach manufacturer if the frame on the finished coach can handle that modification. Third, and you already alluded to this, is to see if adding that load to the back will alter the handling characteristics of the coach. Air bags can help with this, but they are not capable of adding to the GVWR or GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating). Finally, if the coach manufacturer can’t answer your question, then Ford would be your next point of contact.
Hope this helps!
The RV web site link is broken.
Good article. We recently adapted a 350 pound capacity hitch on our Safari 31 SL so we could carry a single Honda scooter. It weighs 305 lbs. We took the MH to a welder where he re-enforced the frame in a few places. We added air shocks and bought a Mototote bike carrier. We just returned from Yellowstone National park where we drove over 300 miles inside the park. Our MH sat in the space while we were out on the Honda scooter. It was heavenly!