Axle position questions

Ask questions about Harbor Freight trailers, or questions about building your own...

Axle position questions

Postby little green pea » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:59 am

I purchased a used/homemade trailer for my hybrid foamie/standie build. I've got a small family so need a little more room than the standard tear offers. The trailer was too good a deal to pass up even tho I knew before going to get it that the axle position isn't ideal.

After getting it home, taking off the existing deck and getting some real measurements, the axle is located at 47% from the rear. I know that 40% is what is recommended. My options are to 'cut the butt', move the axle, or build it so the weight is distributed in a way that makes up for the almost centered axle. I've been using the Trailer Balance Spreadsheet.

Before chopping off the end of the frame, or moving the axle, can anyone tell me about weight distribution instead? I realize that weight distribution is a major consideration no matter where the axle is located, so maybe the axle being at 47% isn't really a concern. I've been trying to read up in the forum to find my answer but I'm confused as to how weight in different locations, rear of the axle, forward of the axle, over the tongue, etc... will affect the overall balance/COG. If I'm understanding it correctly, adding weight to the front, or even the tongue, will move the COG forward but adds more tongue weight on the hitch. Adding more weight to the rear of the trailer moves the COG backwards and lessens the percentage of total weight on the hitch?

Am I on the right track with that, or way off? I don't have the ability or means to move the axle or shorten the frame, but if that is the better way to go, then I will find someone who can. But if I can be successful using weight distribution instead, I'd rather go that route, and again, since that is something I have to be mindful of regardless of axle position. Am I going to be OK with the axle where it is or am I better off finding someone who can make some adjustments for me?
little green pea
Teardrop Inspector
Posts: 9
Images: 11
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Axle position questions

Postby pchast » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:09 pm

You are on the right track... The reality is that most of the weight added to
our trailers will normally live in the galley. There are things to do that may
shift some of it forward. You can use the calculator that you found and
reposition such things as your batteries and clothing or electronics. Play
with the numbers and you may be ok. Just remember the 15% of the total
weight is needed as a tongue weight...
Platinum Donating Member
Posts: 1429
Images: 96
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:47 pm
Location: Athens, NY

Re: Axle position questions

Postby KCStudly » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:15 pm

Another thing that some people feel strongly about is that even if you have a good balance, you don't really want to achieve that by having a lot of really heavy stuff at the very back, and then compensating for it by putting heavy stuff at the very front. The theory is even though this achieves a good over all balance, weight at the extremities tends to act like a pendulum and can set up a sway.

That's great if we are talking standies where there is some wiggle room to build storage and stow objects near the axle, but for TD's it just doesn't work out that way. :?

I will say that having a rear set axle and/or longer tongue really does make a trailer easier to back and tow smoothly. On the other hand, having the axle too far forward can be evil. On the Charcoal Briquette, my resurrected 5x8 UT, it is a tilt bed trailer with the axle set at about 52/ct forward. This allows the bed to tilt at a shallower angle for easy loading. Empty it tows okay around town, but gets some sway as you approach highway speeds. With just 100 to 150 pounds on the front of the deck, ahead of the axle, it makes all the world of difference and I can tow up to 70 (no need to go any faster).

So if you don't want to move the axle back and it has a short tongue, you may have to stow things like your ez-up canopy, folding chairs, duffle bag, etc. up front on the mattress where your pillows would be. This may not be an issue for you if you tend to go to a destination, set up camp and stay a while; but if you like hopping around, or are traveling and want the convenience of sleeping w/o having to unpack, then you may want to go to the trouble.
My Build: The Poet Creek Express Hybrid Foamie

Poet Creek Or Bust
Engineering the TLAR way - "That Looks About Right"
Green Lantern Corpsmen
User avatar
Donating Member
Posts: 9202
Images: 8116
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:18 pm
Location: Southeastern CT, USA

Re: Axle position questions

Postby vincigj » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:58 pm

What about these HF and red trailers that are made up of 4ft sections? If one moves the axel back we would not have any of the springs (axel support) on what is the first 4ft steel square.
Teardrop Advisor
Posts: 69
Images: 8
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:29 am
Location: Eastern CT

Re: Axle position questions

Postby bobhenry » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:35 pm

Most cargo trailers are very close to 50/50 since the gravel pile (or whatever) is in the middle.

A teardrop is best configured at 60/40 even better is 65 / 35 if your tow vehicle will handle the tongue weight.

Try and back the bare frame if it is a bear I will make a suggestion.....

When I built my HF teardrop I was very unhappy with the tongue flex and it backed up like an anvil on a chain. I extended the tongue 28" and the problem went away.

I have a full size pick up and was not not worried about tongue weight so I had cantilevered the body 2 feet forward to get the center of gravity forward as well. Combined with the tongue extension it tows like a dream and has excellent manners when backing. By cantilevering the body forward and extending the tongue I have essentially moved the axle back without ever touching it.
Growing older but not up !
User avatar
9000 Club
9000 Club
Posts: 9994
Images: 2323
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 7:49 am

Return to Trailer and Chassis Secrets

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest