This morning, I worked on getting our scales situated in their racks and eliminating as much rattling as possible. After some trial and error and a little more "foam surgery" from Linda, I've finally got the scales in so they are protected and make only the slightest of noise.
Linda finalized the caterer and entertainment for the 2011 RV-Dreams Fall Rally - glad that's done. :) And I added some seminars and re-arranged the schedule a little bit. As it gets closer, we'll send out information about getting RVs weighed at the Rally.
A little later, Walter and I met with Jim Beletti, the President of the Heartland RV Owners Club. We've corresponded and met with Jim before as he's checked in on us for several years now. It was great to see him again.
Jim is running the North American Heartland RV Rally here at the Elkhart Country Fairgrounds next week. They are expecting about 220 rigs, and at least a third of those are interested in getting weighed.
In the afternoon, Walter and I visited a local RV dealer to take a closer look at RV labels. As I mentioned in a prior post, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued new federal rules in 2007 (effective June 2, 2008) regarding tires, rims, and cargo carrying capacities.
S1. Scope. This standard specifies tire and rim selection requirements, rim marking requirements and motor home/recreation vehicle trailer load carrying capacity information.
S2. Purpose. The purpose of this standard is to provide safe operational performance by ensuring that vehicles to which it applies are equipped with tires of adequate size and load rating and with rims of appropriate size and type designation, and by ensuring that consumers are informed of motor home/recreation vehicle trailer load carrying capacity.
The basic idea is to legally require tire load and cargo carrying capacity labels that are easy for the consumer to read and understand. The cargo carrying capacity labels are bright yellow and the primary locations are prescribed by the new standard.
On motorhomes, all the labels are found on the wall near the driver's seat (or on the driver's side door post for smaller motorhomes with a driver door).
On fifth wheels and travel trailers, the labels are on the exterior of the driver's side near the front.
A secondary location of the yellow labels is on the inside of the main entry door - many manufacturers are putting the label there as well.
So what are all those labels?
Well, in the motorhomes, the chassis manufacturer is putting in an "Incomplete Vehicle" label which shows the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), the Gross Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR), the tire and rim sizes, and the recommended cold tire pressure.
As a reminder, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum the RV can weigh fully loaded (including passengers, fuel, liquids, cargo, and tongue weight of anything being towed). That's the maximum weight the chassis, frame, axles, brakes, suspension, drive train, etc. were designed and engineered for.
The Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) the maximum allowable weight each axle assembly is designed to carry. It is measured at the tires and, therefore, includes the weight of the axle itself. It is established considering the ratings of each of its components (tires, wheels, springs, axle) and the rating is based on its weakest link. GAWR assumes the load is equal on each side, but that's rarely the case in RVs.
Then there is a complete vehicle label from the RV manufacturer which shows also shows the GVWR, the GAWRs, the tire and rim sizes, whether there are single tires/wheels or dual tires/wheels on the axles, the recommended cold tire pressure, and the passenger capacity, and the total weight of full passenger capacity (based on 150 pounds per passenger).
Usually, the ratings on the complete vehicle label are the same as those on the "Incomplete", but the RV manufacturer can make changes and that final label reflects the official numbers.
You'll also notice that the labels include ratings in both pounds and kilograms. It's very easy to pick up the kilogram numbers, so we have to carefully check the numbers provided by those getting their RVs weighed.
Next, there are tire and load labels with duplicated information.
And there might be two - one in English and one in French.
Then we have the bright yellow "Occupant & Cargo Carrying Capacity" (OCCC) label.
That label is intended to notify the consumer of the maximum cargo carrying capacity. It also includes the number of passenger seat belts and the total weight capacity of the fresh water tank plus a reminder that the tongue weight of a towed trailer (or tow dolly) counts as cargo.
So, what does that mean?
Well, the cargo carrying capacity is supposed to be the difference between the GVWR and the Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW). The Unloaded Vehicle Weight is the weight of the unit from the factory plus full fuel, coolants, engine oil, generator fuel, and full propane. In prior definitions, propane was not included in the UVW, but it is now taken into account as a necessary liquid in operation of the RV.
FYI, here are various weight conversions for calculations:
- Gas - 5.6 pounds per gallon
- Diesel - 6.8 pounds per gallon
- Propane - 4.2 pounds per gallon
So, in the current example with the labels above, we have a gas motorhome with a GVWR of 20,500 pounds. The "Dry Weight" indicated on the yellow label is 15,120 pounds. The fuel and other necessary liquids would be 592 pounds for a total UVW of 15,712.
I don't know the propane capacity, but it has an 80 gallon fuel tank for 448 pounds of gasoline (80 gal. X 5.6 lbs/gal). Assuming about 30 gallons of propane (30 X 4.2 = 126 lbs) plus generator fuel, coolants, and oil, that 592 looks about right.
GVWR 20, 500 - UVW 15,712 (Dry Weight 15,120 plus necessary liquids of 592) = OCCC 4,788.
The bottom line is the purchaser of this motorhome would have 4,788 pounds of available capacity. That's really good. Even after subtracting out human weight and the weight of any dealer installed options, there should be plenty of capacity for stuff.
Most full-timers carry between 2,000 - 3,000 pounds of actual cargo (food, clothes, tools, supplies, toys, etc.), but as RVs get larger, that number is creeping over 3,000 pounds.
Now let's move on to some fifth wheel labels.
The labels for towables are basically the same as for motorhomes except 1) there is no "Incomplete Vehicle" label since there is no chassis/drive train manufacturer, and 2) the there are no passenger references since no people are to be riding in the trailer. The yellow label is a "Cargo Carrying Capacity" (CCC) label rather than an OCCC which includes "occupants" on motorhomes.
Let's look at the numbers on this fifth wheel. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is 15,500 lbs.
The "Dry Weight" is 12,560 from the yellow label. Since it is a fifth wheel, we don't have any fuel, oil, or coolants to worry about, but it does have two 30 pound propane cylinders. When we add the 60 pounds of propane to the Dry Weight we get approximately 12,620 of Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW).
GVWR 15,500 - UVW 12,620 = 2,880 CCC. The label says 2,881 so that's pretty darn accurate.
But remember that we said most full-timers carry between 2,000 - 3,000 pounds of cargo.
If we add 2,000 pounds of cargo and no dealer installed options, we have 881 pounds of cushion. We could even carry a full tank of fresh water and not go over the GVWR.
If, however, we load up 3,000 pounds of cargo and dealer installed options, we're over our limits from the get-go.
Now, also remember that the new law requires dealers that add options between the time of "certification" from the factory and the time of the first retail sale must add an additional label showing any reduction in the Cargo Carrying Capacity IF it goes down by more than 100 pounds (or 1.5% of GVWR for light RVs in the 7,000 lbs and under range).
We didn't find any of those additional labels today, but it looks like this.
Dealers often add options or packages that they feel make a unit more attractive to their customers. But, as long as the total weight of those options is not more than 100 pounds, they don't have to add the additional label.
Now, for those of us that have a unit manufactured prior to June 2, 2008, we have an RVIA label that looks more like this.
Those labels actually provided more information including definitions, but the cargo carrying capacity was calculated differently. As you can see, the weight of a full fresh water tank was subtracted out and propane, though properly subtracted, was not part of UVW like it is now.
Under the new law, fresh water is considered "offloadable". In other words, you don't have to travel with fresh water, so it should not automatically reduce your cargo carrying capacity. Under today's labeling, the Cargo Carrying Capacity above would be 2,100 pounds (1,270 plus 830 added back in for fresh water). But the new yellow label reminds you of the weight of fresh water and that carrying water reduces the cargo carrying capacity.
That old label was for a trailer. Here is one for a motorhome (swiped from our friends' Laurie & Odel's blog). :)
The old RVIA motorhome labels had the same cargo carrying capacity calculation as the trailers except they also subtracted out Sleeping Capacity Weight Rating (SCWR) - the number of sleeping positions times an average human weight of 154 pounds (yeah, right).
With the new labels, the Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (OCCC) would have been 5,915 with the fresh water and SCWR added back in.
The best things to come out of all of this and all the work that the RV Safety Education Foundation and other have done is 1) Most manufacturers (still some exceptions) are putting better tires on RVs (especially motorhomes), and 2) Most manufacturers are now weighing every unit before it leaves the factory and more accurate information is being provided to the consumer (even if it is still a bit confusing).
Though the new law doesn't mandate that every RV has to be weighed, if the Cargo Carrying Capacity is wrong on the new yellow label, the RV is subject to recall. So there is incentive to weigh each unit.
Now, we haven't even gotten into Gross Combined Weight Ratings (GCWR) - the total combined weight rating of a motorhome and towed vehicle OR tow vehicle/trailer combination.
In the RVSEF records, for all tow vehicle/trailer combinations that are over a particular rating, the most common overage is total combined weight. We are going to learn a "Matching Trucks & Trailers" seminar that provides some tips to help folks keep that from happening.
We'll talk about that and tow vehicle GVWRs and GAWRs and tire load ratings at another time.
For now, we hope the discussion of the required RV labels has been helpful. :)
Around 5:00, we visited with some of the Heartland folks that were having an impromptu potluck. Jim introduced us, but we already had plans to meet with RV-Dreams reader David for dinner.
We headed out to Nappanee to meet him at the Amish Acres Restaurant.
Amish Acres is a Historic Farm with a restaurant, a bakery, a meat & cheese shop, a soda & ice cream shop, a theater, and various activities.
David is recently new to full-timing and is soloing in his Open Range fifth wheel. We've been corresponding for awhile and met him at the RV-Dreams Spring Rally. It would be nice to spend some one-on-one time.
We sat down in the old wood barn-style dining room and enjoyed the home cooking.
Linda opted for a baked chicken special while David and I splurged on the huge, all-you-can-eat family-style Threshers Dinner. The food was good and comparable to Essenhaus in Middlebury and the Blue Gate in Shipshewana.
We had nice, relaxing evening. There was a nice view out over the farm ...
and a peahen looking in the windows caught Linda's attention.
After dinner we walked outside and got fairly close to the big bird before she flew off.
And with that, we did our "see you down the road" farewell hugs with David, and headed back to Goshen.
Another day in the books. We'll see what happens tomorrow. :)