Often when travelling down a Forest Service or a county road, one will see a sign “Narrow Bridge”. Or “Two Ton Bridge”. Or “Low Bridge”. So tell me, what does your rig weight? How high is it? How wide? Because it doesn’t matter how fast one drives trying to get across THAT bridge, you aren’t going to make it if the outfit weighs MORE than the bridge can carry. Or the rig is 4 inches wider than the bridge. Or if an air conditioner is higher than the top of the camper and will hit the spanners on top of the bridge!! Doesn’t matter. You’re still NOT going to get over that bridge. SAFELY......
To be on the safe side when it comes to weight, the next time you go camping and have a full rig – all the horses, all the feed, all the groceries, all everything you normally take – drive by a set of public weigh scales and get weighed. If you go by a highway patrol office with scales, in some states they’ll let you weigh a rig for free. At least the ones I’ve used in California have. Private scales run from $25 up. But knowing what your rig weighs will make you feel safer when approaching a bridge.
Next, measure the width of your rig. Stand in front and look down both sides. What sticks out the furthers from the sides? I’ve got a diesel dually. My wheel wells on my truck might. But it’s not the wheel wells or even the little clearance lights ON the wheel wells, the widest spots on my truck are the mirrors. The mirrors stick out about 2 inches wider than the wheel well clearance lights. Why? So I get a better view of both sides of my rig when pulling. Plus if my mirrors clear, what’s following will clear also – to a point. If hauling panels on the side of a trailer, measure from the edge of them. Once you’ve determined the width of your rig, add 2 more inches to that measure for the grand total width. It’s better to have a couple inches of clearance than scrap paint! Or tear a fender off.
After weight and width, measure height. To the very tippy-top of the rig. Even with your roof vent open (in case you leave it open one day when travelling). With an LQ trailer, to the very top WITH the roof vent open also. You’ll need a ladder to do this and for any measuring you’re going to have to have someone help you measure.
In Arizona, saw an LQ trailer come zipping into a fuel station. He hardly slow down. Just headed to the nearest pump. The ceiling lights under the station roof were hanging down and as he pulled through, he managed to break 8 of them even though they were hung on chains and swung as he wiped them out! So when pulling into a fueling station, LOOK overhead. In fact, ALWAYS look overhead when pulling under anything. If not sure you’ll clear a light (or a tree branch), have a partner get out and watch or get out yourself. It’s better to be safe than pay a couple thousand dollars to fix a fuel stations overhead lights!
Once you’ve got all this information, print it neatly on a 3 x 5 card. Go to an automotive store and buy one of those little visor envelopes. They clip onto the sun visor. Slide the card inside and clip it onto the driver’s side visor. If you’re not sure how much you weigh or how high you are or how wide the next time pulling into a fueling spot or coming to a bridge, simply flip down the visor and read it!! You can even add the weight of the motor oil used in the engine! License plate numbers for trailer and towing rig.
Tip: If approaching a bridge with a weight limit and even though you’re within the weight limit, the bridge might look a little on the ‘shaky’ side. Few boards missing. No railing on one said. Unload the horses and walk them across the bridge. Tie the horses to trees or have someone hold them. THEN drive across the bridge. With the horses out of the trailer, the outfit can be 2,000 pounds lighter – or more. Just be sure to tie horses in FRONT of you. If I tied my horses in front of me, they just watched me drive across the bridge. But if I tied them behind the trailer and they watched me drive off OVER the bridge. They’d whinny, move around and even begin to paw. In their minds, they were being left behind as bear food since I was driving AWAY.