Nose Weight Gauge

Sep 18, 2022
15
4
15
I'm a newbie caravaner starting from scratch, so I need one.
I would like to buy once only.
Any recommendations?
TIA
 
Mar 14, 2005
16,002
2,121
50,935
Don't bother with a dedicated nose load gauge. If you have a caravan step, aset of bathroom scales, and a few magazines to lift the scales up to the height of the hitch when its coupled to the car,

Move the hitch onto the scales Use a polythene bag to stop transfer of any mess, you ll have a more than adequate and consistent and cheaper method of checking your applied nose load.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley

Sam Vimes

Moderator
Sep 7, 2020
975
610
2,135
I know many people suggest bathroom scales but I'm not convinced that they are that accurate or reproducible. When I did have some bathroom scales I found you could get inconsistent readings depending upon how you stood on them. Even bending over to read the disk could add or subtract a few kilos.

So you'd need to be careful how you actually got the hitch positioned on the scales.

I have a dedicated nose weight guage and it's not that consistent either but as long as it's within 5kg the nominal setting I'm happy and it's a lot easier to use, IMO, than bathroom scales and doesn't take up much room to carry around.
 
Mar 17, 2020
385
286
1,935
Don't bother with a dedicated nose load gauge. If you have a caravan step, aset of bathroom scales, and a few magazines to lift the scales up to the height of the hitch when its coupled to the car,
Just be sure the scales are operating accurately if placed on a "not solid" surface. Our scales at home weigh accurately only if on a solid floor and not, for example, a carpet. Magazines are far less "soft" than a carpet but worth checking.

A short length of wood that spans the distance between scales placed on the floor and the hitch head when at the correct towing height is an alternative. Basically the wood is the "nose weight" and the gauge is the "scales"
 
Nov 11, 2009
16,549
4,338
50,935
Our bathroom scales have consistently shown readings accurate enough for airline check. IE me plus suitcase, then me without suitcase, then subtract higher figure from lower figure to get suitcase weight. Never had to pay excess luggage yet and we run it close at times.
So I used the bathroom scales method to check caravan noseweight when loaded, but reverted then to using a Milenco noseweight gauge which I carried with me on trips. In effect the scales “ calibrated ” the noseweight gauge. Periodically I would do a recheck at home between the scales and Milenco gauge if the car or caravan changed.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Mar 14, 2005
9,456
428
30,935
lutzschelisch.wix.com
Agreed and lot more accurate than faffing around with bathroom scales. Besides it is highly unlikely that you will get nicked if 0.5kg or 1kg over the limit.
It's not a legally enforceable limit anyway, well so long as one doesn't exceed it by so much that it could be construed as a dangerous loading condition, but then one would probably also be exceeding the rear axle load limit of the towcar, and that is a legally enforceable limit.
 
Mar 27, 2011
1,292
483
19,435
I’ve got a milenco gauge and it’s really easy to use, I also keep a square of wood in the cupboard with the milenco so if I’m checking the weight on soft ground I can put the wood under the gauge to get a much more accurate reading.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Mar 14, 2005
16,002
2,121
50,935
The purpose of a nose load gauge is to measure the static nose load the trailer applies to the cars tow ball. For reasons of geometry and the apparent location of the caravans centre of Mass (center of gravity) the height at which the trailers hitch settles when coupled to the tow vehicle will affect the amount of nose load the trailer produces. For that reason the measurement of nose load should be taken with the hitch settled at the same height as when coupled.

To achieve the height requirement your measurement instrument must be able support the trailers hitch at the same height.

All the presently available compression spring devices I have seen have a 150mm(6") or more scale and compression height, and for some caravans especially twin axle vans, that range of movement can result in some quite dramatic changes in the load generated by the towing hitch. It would be luck rather than design for any compression spring design to settle at the same height as the coupled hitch. If the hitch height when measured is not the same as when it's coupled, any reading you get will be different to the actual nose load.

There have been surveys carried out by notable organisations in the past that have shown some quite large variances in the accuracy of compression spring nose load gauges. Not only were the readings significantly wrong, even the same load repeated could give a different reading. There was was one model that did seem to give consistent readings for the same applied load, but even this frequently named model does not have an adjustment to set the hitch at it ride height, so even it's readings will not technically correct.

There is a British Standard which some products claim they meet. But all the standard actually sets out is the products ability to measure an applied load, it does not address the measurement height requirements of the construction and use towing regulations.

I can only offer this advice about the inadequacies of the commercial nose load gauges, I can't stop you from purchasing one of you desire, but I consider it is a waste of money when you can do just as well if not better with a set of bathroom scales.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Nov 11, 2009
16,549
4,338
50,935
I must admit that even when I measured noseweight using bathroom scales compared to a Milenco gauge and did move the height up and down by an inch either way and it seemed to make very little difference in the scheme of things with a single axle caravans ranging between 6.5m to 7.5 m overall shipping length.. There are so many the factors at play in trying to ensure a stable tow that a few kilograms on Nose weight should not be that critical. Some folks even get twitched that the Reich towball mounted electronic nose weight gauge does not let the hitch sit at the correct height, but to my mind what I was after was constancy of setting. If on its first trip out with a new caravan or car I wasn’t happy with the feel I could always stop and adjust noseweight by moving something inside the caravan, then when I got home I would just see what the nose weight gauge read and that would be my setting for that outfit. But I can’t recollect ever having to do that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley and Hutch

Parksy

Moderator
Nov 12, 2009
11,685
1,979
40,935
The purpose of a nose load gauge is to measure the static nose load the trailer applies to the cars tow ball. For reasons of geometry and the apparent location of the caravans centre of Mass (center of gravity) the height at which the trailers hitch settles when coupled to the tow vehicle will affect the amount of nose load the trailer produces. For that reason the measurement of nose load should be taken with the hitch settled at the same height as when coupled.

To achieve the height requirement your measurement instrument must be able support the trailers hitch at the same height.

All the presently available compression spring devices I have seen have a 150mm(6") or more scale and compression height, and for some caravans especially twin axle vans, that range of movement can result in some quite dramatic changes in the load generated by the towing hitch. It would be luck rather than design for any compression spring design to settle at the same height as the coupled hitch. If the hitch height when measured is not the same as when it's coupled, any reading you get will be different to the actual nose load.

There have been surveys carried out by notable organisations in the past that have shown some quite large variances in the accuracy of compression spring nose load gauges. Not only were the readings significantly wrong, even the same load repeated could give a different reading. There was was one model that did seem to give consistent readings for the same applied load, but even this frequently named model does not have an adjustment to set the hitch at it ride height, so even it's readings will not technically correct.

There is a British Standard which some products claim they meet. But all the standard actually sets out is the products ability to measure an applied load, it does not address the measurement height requirements of the construction and use towing regulations.

I can only offer this advice about the inadequacies of the commercial nose load gauges, I can't stop you from purchasing one of you desire, but I consider it is a waste of money when you can do just as well if not better with a set of bathroom scales.
I was waiting for this old argument against buying a calibrated noseweight gauge to crop up again.
I have no connection with any noseweight gauge supplier, but the information on the Milenco gauge that I linked reads:
'Further improvements include the fact we made the Noseweight Gauge the same height as your caravan,so you do not need to block it up to use it.'
As I wrote earlier, it's for each to make up their own mind, I don't care either way, but I know which method I prefer.
 
May 7, 2012
7,689
1,341
30,935
Personally I would go for the nose weight gauge but provided you do the bathroom scaled idea correctly and the scales are near accurate that should work. There is some latitude allowed in the tow ball height when hitched so you are likely to get some small margin of error but it should be good enough for you to satisfy any check.
The advantage of having a gauge to show at a check is that it shows you have tried and that is a very useful point if you are prosecuted.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley and Hutch
Nov 6, 2005
6,087
1,140
25,935
A noseweight gauge, like the calibrated Milenco, is easier to take on a caravan tour and check the noseweight before each tow - it's surprising how much it varies..

I've also used the jockey wheel on bathroom scales method and then corrected the reading with basic arithmetic - but it's a faff so the Milenco gets used.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Nov 11, 2009
16,549
4,338
50,935
Personally I would go for the nose weight gauge but provided you do the bathroom scaled idea correctly and the scales are near accurate that should work. There is some latitude allowed in the tow ball height when hitched so you are likely to get some small margin of error but it should be good enough for you to satisfy any check.
The advantage of having a gauge to show at a check is that it shows you have tried and that is a very useful point if you are prosecuted.
Ray
does your same hypothesis hold good if I am caught speeding and there is a gauge inside my car right in my line of sight? 😂

I am not sure that the on road height of a hitched unit is a legal requirement that could be prosecuted. Certainly overloading the towball such that the cars rear axle load exceeds its specification could lead to a prosecution, but more likely a request to move some load around.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Jul 18, 2017
8,095
2,050
22,935
Recently I had to take the caravan down the M5 to the dealer who is about 90 miles away. As they are replacing the front panel, I removed everything from the front locker plus wastemaster which is normally between the front bunks.

I fitted the front towing cover and set off and very quickly realised that the drive was a bit twitchy due to noseweight being lighter than 145kg. However there was nothing I could do about it so pushed on carefully. I am sure that nose weight was probably about 110-120kg.

When I collect the caravan, for the return journey I will be taking 7.5kg gas bottle, wastemaster and aquaroll with me to add some weight to the front.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Jul 18, 2017
8,095
2,050
22,935
Ray
does your same hypothesis hold good if I am caught speeding and there is a gauge inside my car right in my line of sight? 😂

I am not sure that the on road height of a hitched unit is a legal requirement that could be prosecuted. Certainly overloading the towball such that the cars rear axle load exceeds its specification could lead to a prosecution, but more likely a request to move some load around.
I am not sure, but if the vehicle is loaded up to its maximum gross weight and then one connects up a caravan with a nose weight of i.e. 100kg or less, would one be exceeding the maximum weight allowed on the rear axle?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Nov 11, 2009
16,549
4,338
50,935
I am not sure, but if the vehicle is loaded up to its maximum gross weight and then one connects up a caravan with a nose weight of i.e. 100kg or less, would one be exceeding the maximum weight allowed on the rear axle?
You could possibly exceed the cars rear axle load even if the car was not at GVW. But for every negative there is a positive. There would be 100 kg less on the caravans axle load. 😂
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley

Sam Vimes

Moderator
Sep 7, 2020
975
610
2,135
I was waiting for this old argument against buying a calibrated noseweight gauge to crop up again.
I have no connection with any noseweight gauge supplier, but the information on the Milenco gauge that I linked reads:
'Further improvements include the fact we made the Noseweight Gauge the same height as your caravan,so you do not need to block it up to use it.'
As I wrote earlier, it's for each to make up their own mind, I don't care either way, but I know which method I prefer.
I wonder.....is that with the guage compressed or not?
😉
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley

Parksy

Moderator
Nov 12, 2009
11,685
1,979
40,935
I wonder.....is that with the guage compressed or not?
😉
I've no idea Sam, but I doubt if the small amount of compression would make a critical difference to noseweight measurement.
Don't forget that the caravan noseweight will vary by at least the same amount as for any gauge compression when the caravan is hitched and travelling along a road with varous undulations and bumps.
Noseweight on a hitched and moving caravan can never be constant, which may be why I've yet to read about any successful prosecution anywhere based on caravan noseweight.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kingsley
Jul 18, 2017
8,095
2,050
22,935
Has anyone had their gauge calibrated when it reaches its due date?
Ours is about 4 years old, but is the heavy duty version for nose weight up to 450kg. I only use it 2 -3 times a year and each time hardly any difference as always load the same way. Never knew there was a due by date.

I wonder if it is cheaper to buy a new one or get the old one calibrated?
 
  • Like
Reactions: otherclive

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts