Q & A: Platforms, Mattresses, and Satellites

Q. I have a fifth-wheel RV trailer and I want to mount a platform on the back to carry my scooter. The platform and scooter weigh 500 pounds. My trailer has a dry weight of 8,000 pounds. The dry hitch weight is 1,649 pounds. How much will this platform/scooter lessen the hitch weight? Is there a formula to figure this out?

A. There is no formula available to figure how much adding weight to the back of the trailer will lessen the tongue weight. It will depend on the location of the axle(s), how much leverage is put on the back of the camper and how the camper is loaded. If the tongue weight is decreased, the difference is not going to be significant. I would treat the truck and hitch as if the tongue weight is the same as before.

I would also check with the manufacturer of the trailer before adding that much weight to the back of the trailer, especially if the unit is under warranty. They can tell you how much weight the frame and suspension can handle and how to properly attach it to the frame, which should be done by a professional welder.

Q. We have an older RV and the bed has become less and less comfortable over the years. Do I need to invest in a residential-style mattress to improve the comfort?

A. No, there are some manufacturers offering replacement innerspring mattresses. They also offer a pillow top add-on to your current-size mattress. One thing to remember when thinking about buying a residential-style mattress is that the sizes will differ.

Many different RV-style mattresses are available in sizes ranging from 34 to 76 inches wide to 74 to 84 inches in length. These mattresses also meet Federal Motor Safety Vehicle Standards (MVSS-302) for all RVs.

Q. I’m finally thinking about installing a satellite system on my 28-foot motorhome. Does the size of the dish or antenna really make that much of a difference when it comes to performance? What kind of issues should I be concerned about?

A. Size does make a considerable difference when looking at the satellite antenna’s gain. Basically, a larger antenna collects a better signal from the satellites and in return yields a better quality picture and reception.

Most manufacturers offer antennas that operate in a few different ways. The most basic system is the carry-out portable antenna, which the consumer sets on the ground. This antenna has to be manually adjusted to find the satellites. They usually come in an 18-inch standard dish that operates off of a dual LNB. Companies are offering helpful tools, such as satellite finders, to help speed up the process of setting up a dish at the campground.

The next type of system would be a crank-up satellite antenna that mounts on the roof. This antenna still has to be manually adjusted to find the satellite. Then there are models that are called “automatic digital satellite dishes.” These models work off of a GPS to find the satellite. All the consumer has to do is turn on the system and the antenna will do the rest to find the satellite. Certain models come with a domed cover that protects the system while in transit. Also, these models can be purchased as an in-motion antenna so that passengers riding in an RV can watch TV while traveling.


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