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Thread: OT: Educate me on weight distributing hitches

  1. #1
    metlmunchr is offline Diamond
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    Default OT: Educate me on weight distributing hitches

    I ran across a good deal on a used 30 ft tag along travel trailer and bought it mostly because my wife wanted one.

    According to the mfgr's data, the trailer weighs 5700#. I plan to pull it with a F-350 crew cab dually. Reading online, I get a lot of sales pitch for WD hitches, but not much of what I'd call technically competent information.

    As a mechanical engineer, the concept of distributing weight by applying a moment at the tail end of a pickup seems to me primarily a crutch for an ox that ain't got enough ass to pull the cart. The only thing 1000# does in the bed of the truck is make it ride better, so I'm fairly sure the tongue weight of the trailer isn't going to cause any significant squat.

    So, I'm looking for opinions from folks who have run similar weight combinations about whether a WD hitch would be beneficial, and if so, why.

    I can see the benefit of some sort of anti sway device, so any input on those would be welcome as well.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    bridgedog is offline Cast Iron
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    I now have a fithwheel but when I had my pull behinds I always used a WDH. I pull with a diesel 3/4 ton longbed crewcab and while it will do it no problem it is a much nicer ride with the WDH. It will keep a lot of the bounce out and that removes a lot of sway. You have to disconnect before you pull into a steep driveway or you will loose traction on the rear axle.I never had any problem around town or country.
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  3. #3
    bryan_machine is offline Titanium
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    Well, when I researched and bought my 10K flatbed trailer, I discovered the following:

    a. It's not about "squat" per se - it's about driveability and in particular about not having the trailer steer the pickup. Lots of stories and dire warnings about the need to distribute weight forward. Think relative download on rear versus front tires, and the changes in the lateral rather than vertical moment. (As in, you want the fronts to have enough leverage to control the trailer, rather than vice versa.)

    b. The hitch on my F250 crew cab SRW says "600# tongue weight normal hitch, 1200# with WD hitch" right on it - and the manual goes on at length about how trailers of any weight require a WD hitch or a 5th wheel adapter in the bed.

    Since it's the same physical receiver attached to the same bracket, one has to assume that safe control/driveability is the real issue.

    Thought experiment - truck with with hyper stiff and heavy rear suspension, very heavy trailer attached hitch hanging off rear end. Exterme case - picks the front tires up off the ground. The truck would tow the trailer just fine, and there need not be "squat" - but there will be no steering done by the truck at all - the trailer will set direction....

  4. #4
    Shawn Ghormley is offline Stainless
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  5. #5
    GregSY is online now Diamond
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    Not entirely related but now that I have an F250 and tow the same trailer that I used to tow with my Dodge dually...there is no comparison. The dually handled it way better. I also was surprised that the F250 had only about an inch of space between the axle and bumper with 2800 lbs. in the bed. The dually wouldn't even sit level with that weight.

  6. #6
    Philabuster's Avatar
    Philabuster is online now Titanium
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    Hands down, Equal-i-zer hitch is the shiznit.

    Dad bought one 30+ years ago and still uses the same one this day. He has upgraded tow vehicles and trailers a bunch in that time, but still uses the same hitch. He also recently retired after 40 years as a line driver hauling double and triple trailers (4 million miles with NO accidents), so he knows a thing or two when it comes to towing shit.

    That said, I bought the same hitch myself when I bought a 24 foot toyhauler (10K gross) to go behind my 2500 Cummins Ram. Trailer fully loaded it feels like no big deal going 75 MPH with the hitch properly adjusted. Trailer empty without the hitch bars installed (when I first bought the trailer) was sketchy starting at 50 MPH and spooky at 60. I got off the freeway and took surface streets home.

    It takes a little trial and error to initially set up the hitch, but after that is done, no need to fart with it ever again. From then on, just slam the bars on after you hitch up and roll.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails equal-i-zer-hitch.jpg  

  7. #7
    ARB's Avatar
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    ARB is online now Titanium
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    Default OT: Educate me on weight distributing hitches

    +1 on the Equal-I-zer. It is a simple effective hitch. I pull a 24' toy hauler with my F150 and it makes the drive effortless.

  8. #8
    Chip Chester's Avatar
    Chip Chester is offline Stainless
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    Metal,
    I pull that weight in an enclosed car trailer, no equalizing hitch or sway control, with a 2500 Suburban. I do have a class IV, high-tongue-weight hitch. I've towed very often with this rig. Does not get excessively light up front with 800lb tongue weight, and vehicle remains level. I primarily skip the equalizer for maneuverability reasons... very tight turns while backing V-nose trailer/Quadrasteer truck, and I don't want to get out and unhook things.

    A major factor that impacts towing is the distance from center of rear axle to center of ball. It's a lever, using the tongue weight to lift up the front end, with the rear wheels as the pivot. Keep the distance short, and the load appropriate, and all is good. A long lever with a high weight will lift the front. The equalizer's "torque arms" push the opposite way on that lever, turning the tongue weight into a force that forces the front wheels down. The old ads showed an Olds Toranado (front wheel drive) hooked up to a travel trailer. They cranked up the tension on the torque arms, took the rear wheels off the car, and drove away. Obviously the correct setup is just a fraction of that force, but it shows the concept.

    For even better ride and tracking, some folks go for a Hensley hitch that puts the center of towing rotation at the back axle. I've never towed with one, but it might be worth a look if you're starting from scratch. There are other versions of that concept, and lots of debate, of course.

    But in any case, at least you're starting with enough truck. So many websites have questions from people with 35' trailers and F-150 trucks. Tow level (not hitch-high) and loaded correctly, and you'll be fine.

    Happy trails.
    Chip

  9. #9
    mpmar_bt is offline Aluminum
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    Is there any way to use a WD hitch with a pintle hook?

    I like the hook but WD would help a lot on my F250 crew cab.

  10. #10
    Chip Chester's Avatar
    Chip Chester is offline Stainless
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    "Any" way... probably yes.
    Any off-the-shelf, DOT-approved, consumer-safe way? Haven't seen one, and our friend Google didn't turn up anything except obviously mis-named eBay stuff. You could move up to a 2 5/16 ball and convert your trailer, though. Many mid-size industrial trailers have quickly interchangeable towing interfaces, too. Two bolts and you're done.
    I only spent 3 min. on the Google search, so more of an investment might yield results...

    Chip

  11. #11
    taildrager is offline Aluminum
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    I don't think you would regret buying / using one . The way i have always hooked mine up is to drop the trailer on the ball than latch it than using the jack raze the whole thing up fasten your arms then screw your jack up your done . That allows you to get so good tension in your arms without having to fight it . Having said that if i am going just a few miles with my flat bed i don't use it but on a long trip with the travel trailer they will save you a lot of driver stress . The good news is it sound like you have the right size truck for the job ether way . I know W. D. hitch is what they are called and they do that but in my option they do a good job of tiring the two units together when going over something like RxR tracks you don't get the flex between the two units it crosses more as a single unit and that translates into better ride and more control . As nice as all that is your best friend is your trailer brakes ! Donny
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  12. #12
    metlmunchr is offline Diamond
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    Thanks for all the replies everyone. You've converted me from skeptic to figuring it'd be a worthwhile thing to have.

    Any input, pro or con, on EAZ-LIFT brand hitches? A friend has used one for several years and says it has worked well. Googled them and it appears they've been in business for 60 yrs, so I can (maybe) assume they haven't been sued out of business because their stuff breaks regularly and kills people In looking online I see prices varying from about $300 to about $750 for what appears to be essentially the same thing from various mfgrs. Not really interested in the latest and greatest from China, but also not interested in buying something whose price reflects $200 per unit in advertising campaigns either.

  13. #13
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    I think Reese is the 'old man' of WD hitches. At least it's the first one I think of, I have some Reese hardware around here we've used since the '60s. At that time I think it was only Reese and Eaz-lift and Reese was the heavier duty looking of the two.

    Weight Distribution - Reese

  14. #14
    Chip Chester's Avatar
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    I've put Curt hitches on other cars in my family, and I was impressed by the nice finish -- they stay better looking longer than Valley, etc. Reese isn't bad for that. The Curt was a lesser design (for the same capacity) as my Valley, so I went with the better, but now uglier hitch.

    Chip

  15. #15
    77ironhead is offline Titanium
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    I pull 7k behind my bone-stock, crew-cab, F350 dually, with factory-installed receiver hitch, no WD needed.....never had a problem of any type- even on one notable occasion when I grossly overestimated how much weight I had on the tongue (it tore up the trailer's rear axle tires, but no handling issues). If you're only going to be pulling 5700 lbs with a crew-cab dually*, save the cash you would have spent on the WD hitch for fuel.

    *if you think that realistically you'll be pulling more weight than the 5700 regularly on the ball hitch, then get the WD.

  16. #16
    taildrager is offline Aluminum
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    If your friend would let you use his for a test go around the block with out it over some dips and some lane changing then hook it up with the W.D. H. then follow the same route and see if you can tell a difference . It not a big deal to swap them from one trailed to another and don't be afraid to put tension on the arms . Also travel trailer have a lot of planed opalescence built in to them and in time they kind of just fade away [ there are some hitches laying around]. The design on the name brands really has not changed that much and you be hard pressed to ware one out you might consider posting a wanted ad on craigslist and pick up a good used on the cheap . The one i have now i really like the arms are tapered and have a kind of a T on the fat end that fit into a socket on the receiver very easy to take on and off of the receiver very strong but fairly lightweight a short chain on the tapered end gives you ease of adjustment you just select whatever link that gives you the tension the you need . I would like to tell what brand it is but it is at my place it the mountains 450 miles away or i would shoot a photo . Its a common style and it came with one of my past trailers and i just keep and don't let it go when i sell or trade trailers if i ever did know the brand i cant recall now . The first one we had back in the 70's worked great but weighed a ton and it was kind of clumsy /crude the arms were square stock maybe 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 its still around here some where or a least parts of it the newer ones do the same thing and are more using friendly Donny P.S. if you have never seen the movie THE LONG LONG TRAILER rent it . It was made in the 50's the plot not bad and the cars and the trailer and equipment to fasten the trailer is interesting

  17. #17
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    Shadon is offline Hot Rolled
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    DODGE 3500, no monkey shit sway bars, braces, shocks, whatever.

    Just throw it on the ball and go, nothing tows like a dually.

  18. #18
    gmatov is offline Banned
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    You can throw a ton in the bed of your dually and brag that it sits level. Put 7 or 800 pounds 4 feet back, and you WILL have light steering. The ass end of your truck will squat down.

    I pulled a 27 foot camping trailer, 5400 GVW, and the couple years before I got a WDH were miserable. F150 to Suburban swayed like hell when a TT passed me at 70,

    WITH the WDH, it was almost as though I were one of them. Totally stable.

    Most are speaking of Reese hitches. They are good. Forged steel spring bars. Round teats on both ends of the "tee". Seats are half cups, top and bottom. Mirrors.

    The one I had was a different brand, with 1 1/4 inch spring bars tapered to an attach point. 2 units that clamp to the trailer tongue have
    over center hooks. Hook the chain on, 3/4 inch pipe cheater, crank it up, you are one unit.

    It, basically, makes your truck sit on all four.

    If you want to be extra cautious, you could also buy sway bars. Friction device to try to alleviate sway. I never felt the need of them.

    I had a GMC 15, 67 model, coil rears, with helper springs, I could haul a ton and a 1/2 of coal with no squat, whatsoever. 4 speed, and best I ever had.

    George

  19. #19
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    I'll add to the chorus of WD hitch supporters. My Crown Vic with a WD hitch towed way more stable pulling my 23' boat than my Ramcharger did without. Like someone else said, it feels like the whole rig is one vehicle. Don't know if that's a good comparison, but I'm sold.

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