Just over a year ago, before we officially went on the road, we attended the Escapee RV Boot Camp in Congress, Arizona. One of the things we did while we were there was get our rig weighed with Smart Weigh, a service run by Escapees. Since they weigh each side of each axle, we came away knowing that we were not only 1000 pounds overweight but significantly out of balance. These numbers are important for tire wear and tire safety as well as our own personal safety. Overweight and out of balance RVs are more likely to get into accidents, and when they do, it is likely that warranty and insurance companies will refuse all damage claims.
When we got home from Arizona last February we re-purged and shed that 1000 pounds as well as re-balanced our load so that we were carrying equal weight right and left. Our standing rule has been “If we add anything to the load we have to give up something from the load,” and for the most part we have been really good about that. We took out our heavy memory foam mattress and replaced it with a much lighter RV specific one, we got rid of our dinette benches and replaced them with office chairs, and we took out our L-shaped sofa and replaced it with recliners and a rug. All of these changes resulted in dramatic weight loss. We added solar panels and replaced lead acid batteries with lighter lithium, for about an even trade. When we were in Oregon last year, we were able to use the free truck scales to keep tabs on our progress, and we were able to keep our weight under the GVRW (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).
Then came three months at home, and Christmas, and access to Sam’s Club, and some old stationary habits crept back in, like boredom shopping and bulk shopping, and we were pretty sure that by the time we left this year in February we had blimped out to over our GVRW again.
One of the items on our punch list this year was a stop at the Escapee National Headquarters at Rainbow’s End in Livingston, Texas. Our main object here is a re-weigh on the Smart Weigh scales. We went in with a nearly full gas tank, fresh water at two-thirds, grey and black empty. This is more weight than we usually travel with. Still, our results were a pleasant surprise.
Our front axle is rated at 8000#, and we came in with 3425# on the driver side and 3650# on the passenger side, which leaves us, TA-DA!!!, 925# underweight on the front axle. We are, however, 225# heavier on the passenger side, and that would go off balance even more if our water tank was emptier and/or Shannon was driving, so we need to shift about 125-150# from somewhere else to the driver’s front quadrant.
The rear axle was a different story, although not as bad as we feared. Our coach is rated at 15000# on the rear axle. We weighed 7775# on the passenger side and 7300# on the driver side, for a total of 15075#, 75# overweight on the rear, and 475# heavier on the passenger side. We would be even lighter if our gas tank were not full, but we still need to shift around 250# from the passenger side to the driver side.
In any RV the kitchen is going to be the heaviest area of the rig. Our kitchen is on the passenger side of our rig, which explains a lot of our balance issues. Our combined vehicle weight rate is 22,000#, so if both axles are at full capacity, we would still be overweight by 1000#. The amazing news is that we are overall overweight by only 150#, and just a little out of balance, and we were able to take care of that with a mini-purge and some load shifting, mostly to the car, which already carries our heavy tools, but had room for another 125#. (We are rated to tow 4000#, and the car came in at 3875#.) Ideally, we would like to have a little more margin than this, but we are surprised and pleased with our results.
It is still hard to get rid of things, especially consumables. We have a lifetime supply of bar soap, and we are carrying 56 pounds of bottled water. Bar soap is just not that expensive and we are using all that good water for our cooking instead of making our own. A good rule of thumb is “If you haven’t used it or worn it in a year, you don’t need it.” Tools and food are exempt from the rule, but I have to get used to paying more for a single bottle of bleach or mouthwash or chicken broth in exchange for carrying the extra weight.