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Old 01-07-2003, 02:38 PM   #1
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Equalizer hitch and sway control

I have been told that an equalizer hitch and sway control bar would be benefical, is this true? I am going to be towing a bambi with a 5.3L 3.73 rear GMC Z-71. The Z has the factory tow package and I had the brake controller installed last weekend.
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Old 01-07-2003, 04:17 PM   #2
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Yes. You will benefit from both the equalizer hitch and sway control. I tow a 2001 Bambi with a Land Rover Discovery with a Reese Equalizer Hitch and one Reese Friction Sway Control. Many would suggest the friction sway control is not the best, which I probably would agree with. But my experience so far has been very positive as to overall performance. I have towed on fast (and slow) moving interstates, two lane rural roads, mountain passes, and city streets with no problems.
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Old 01-07-2003, 04:58 PM   #3
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Equalizer hitch and sway control

Greetings Rod!

You will almost definitely need a weight distributing or equalizing hitch in order to get the hitch ball height low enough for an Airstream with the Z71. There may be some difference after the redesign in 1999, but my '95 Z71 required a 12" drop draw bar in order to get the hitch height low enough to meet the standard requirement. With the shocks and springs that come with the Z71 package, I would be surprised if the rear of the truck will even squat an inch if that much so the actual affect of the equalizer or distribution bars will be minimal in terms of weight transfer. It was my experience, however, that utilizing the weight distributing hitch made quite a difference in the "feel" when towing.

With a trailer the size of the Bambi, many might go without sway control with a tow vehicle the size of your Z71, but it is a nice additional insurance policy (IMHO). So far as sway control is concerned, if Reese has dropped their advice against using the Dual Cam setup with trailers under 4,000 pounds wet weight I would definitely recommend that setup over the friction type sway control. The Dual Cam setup is marginally more expensive at original purchase, but requires far less adjustment when traveling - - friction sway controls often have to be adjusted to compensate for high or gusty winds as well as being loosened when it rains or roads become slippery for other reasons. When I purchased my first RV in 1980, Reese didn't recommend the Dual Cam setup for trailers under 4,000 pounds wet weight so I utilized the friction sway control with my 3,000 pound Nomad and learned to hate the constant attention that the friction sway control required. Once properly installed and adjusted, the Reese Dual Cam system needs no further adjustment on a continuing basis.

I am currently trying to get a definitive answer from Reese regarding the recommendation for or against towing lighter trailers with the Dual Cam Sway Control as I would like to utilize it with my Argosy Minuet if the 4,000 pound wet weight recommendation has been dropped.

Something else that you might want to consider would be a set of extension or slip-on mirrors. The stock mirrors that come with recent GMC trucks/Suburbans do not provide enough reach to see safely around even the 8' wide trailers. I tow a Vintage Overlander and a Vintage Argosy (both 8' or less in width) and find that supplemental mirrors are a near necessity - - especially on the Interstate and when maneuvering in city traffic. I have tried CIPA slip-on which are better than the stock mirrors, but I still find myself wishing for at least 2" more reach. I finally purchased a set of McKesh clamp-on mirrors about two years ago, and am thoroughly satisfied with them (be aware that the vinyl window sweep may need to be modified with the application of a little heat in order to get the McKesh mirrors to seat securely).

Kevin
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Old 01-07-2003, 09:17 PM   #4
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rod

sounds like you're in about the same boat as me.

i have a 2000 chev. 2500 siverado 4x4, and a '92 29' excella. my truck with 4.10 gears is definate overkill for my trailer. as a matter of fact, my load leveling bars are normally not needed with just the trailer hooked up. (look at the tow vehicle polls, most use a 1/2 ton)

however, i like to take my '55 harley with me when i travel. and a few odds and ends. so, being able to stiffen up the truck trailer connection when you want to take extra stuff is nice. makes for a nice level ride.

as for the sway control, it helps. but i could live without it. i think it is a matter of personal preferance and experiance. i work for a utility company and drive a wide assortment of trucks and trailers.
some handle nice, and others are just horrible. when i get my trailer hooked up i hardly know it's back there. i think thats because i'm used to driving junk at work. it is all about what you are used to.

one other thing i have found out about the load bars is that when you hit large dips in the road at speed. i think they help the rear of the truck from bottoming out. even when they are set loose.

good luck

john
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Old 01-08-2003, 06:54 AM   #5
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hitch

I definitely have an overkill with my 3/4 ton quad cab long bed Cummins diesel pulling my little Bambi. I still use an equalizer hitch and a sway control device. I did this because I took advice from long term trailer owners. One thing I can say for sure is that I have to remember that Bambi is attached. Going on any roads at any speeds with large tractor trailer rigs passing me, I have never had any indication of movement with the trailer. It also means that where every I travel, I arrive relaxed and not worn out with fighting the roads. I took a trip with Bambi going from florida to Los Angeles last year and brought back about 1600 pounds of stuff in the truck bed and still averaged 16.26 MPG. I think the hitch set up worked in every type of road conditions we encountered. I think you can't go wrong with a setup like that. One thing I have learned in my short RV experiences is to listen to seasoned RVers - they have a wealth of knowledge and are very willing to share it.

Bob Caldwell
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Old 01-08-2003, 08:46 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice I have ordered a pair of slip on mirrors from etrailer.com and will have the equalizer hitch and sway control installed soon.
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Old 04-06-2006, 06:26 PM   #7
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Quick Question Equalizer and Dual Cam Sway Control System

Hey guys,

I'm sort of new at this and I was wondering if you professional could help me out with somthing.

I'm a amateurs motorcross fan and I tend to go out the mounds and do some semi-senior competetive racing. Now I currently have a 06 Nissan Frontier with a Mark 3 hitch and I'm pulling a 4500 pound trailor to these races. Last time I was there one of the racers that had the same setup like me asked me why I didn't have any kind of sway control system on the truck. To be honest I didn't really know I needed one.

So I did some research and I came across the Equalizer and the Drawtite Dual Cam Sway Control systems. I was told that the Equalizer acts as a weight distribution until and a sway control and one (with a bigger price) and the Drawtite just act as a sway control system.

In your guy's opinion which way should I go? Should I purchase the Equalizer for the benefit of the weight distribution and the sway control or should I just pick up a Drawtite Dual Cam system?

I would very must appreciate your guy's insight.

Regards
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Old 04-06-2006, 06:55 PM   #8
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Hi:
I also have an overkill situation - Dodge 2500 Ram Cummins with a 16' bambi. We replaced our TV after getting the bambi, and got the larger truck with the thought that we might get a larger trailer in a couple of years, but that's another story.

Another data point on the hitch & sway control. We store our trailer about 2 miles from the house. When I bring the trailer to the house to get it ready for a trip, I don't bother using the load bars on our E-Qual-Izer hitch. When leaving or coming back from the actual trip, we drive the same couple of miles with the load bars installed, so I can compare with/without on the same road. A huge difference in how the trailer tows - even with such a favorable (in terms of weight ratings) trailer/truck mismatch, I can tell the difference in how it tracks, and how the truck steers with less weight on the front axle.

Another thought - you should consider the set-up you want for your worst case experience. I think most people drive 99.9% of their total miles without an issue, and could probably get by OK without the equalizer or sway control. But if you talk to anyone who's ever had a close call, it's the couple of hundred yards when you're in an emergency situation that tells the story. You really want your setup to give you the control you need in the absolute worst case situation you'll ever be in - which may just save the day in terms of keeping things under control.

Just my thoughts - better to have safety margin than a couple hundred $$ in the bank, when you think about injury and property damage, or the loss of confidence in towing even if you survive a 'close call' without mishap.

Good luck!
Bob
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Old 04-06-2006, 08:34 PM   #9
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If your rig is stable going down the highway and isn't jerked around by gusts and passing heavy vehicles, then you don't need more sway control than you already have.

Load leveling is for up and down. Sway is for side to side. These are separate phenomena handled by separate appurtanances on the hitch.

Load leveling or weight distributing is intended to make sure that the rear of the vehicle doesn't squat too much and that leverage doesn't take weight off the steering wheels. A light head makes one woozy ;-)

Sway control comes in several flavors. Most common and cheapest is the friction bar. This attaches beside the main ball and has a brake along the trailer A frame. A second step up is the Reese Dual Cam or the Equal-i-zer brand hitch. Top of the line are the Hensley Arrow or Pullrite hitches.

No sway control mechanism is going to save you if the worst happens.

There are many strong opinions regarding both load leveling and sway control. One result is a lot of snake oil. So read through some of the many discussions, ponder carefully, don't get caught up in hard line positions, and keep in mind that the most critical factor for your safety is the nut behind the wheel.
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:28 AM   #10
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Just a clarification please...

Kevin, Leipper etal -

Kevin - you mentioned that friction type hitches need adjustment while underway due to weather - loosen in rain and snow, tighten etc... Can you clarify if this type of hitch includes the current iteration of Equal-I-zer hitches?? I was NOT informed of any adjustments that this hitch might need ( other than periodic tighening of ALL hardware during use) as it goes down the road. Perhaps you are referencing older/other friction type hitches. Is Equal-I-zer even considered a 'friction type' hitch??

Leipper et al - As I tow my 34 footer. Even with the above mentioned hitch, I DO get a REALLY, SLIGHT! movement from left to right as semi's blow by me. I attributed this SLIGHT movement to the length of the trailer and pure physics. Is this something to worry over?????

Just to be clear - THERE IS NEVER ANY loss of control, any concern of going in the ditch or anything else. Just wondering about that SLIGHT wiggle. There is NO issue with wiggle on 2 lanes as truck zip past the other way - only with same direction passes. Seems like those rigs PUSH a LOT of air when they roll and this does cause a minimal amount of deflection as they roll by.

Again, thanks for all the thoughts, ideas and comments!

Axel
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Old 04-07-2006, 09:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by SilverToy
THERE IS NEVER ANY loss of control, any concern of going in the ditch or anything else. Just wondering about that SLIGHT wiggle. There is NO issue with wiggle on 2 lanes as truck zip past the other way - only with same direction passes.
Loss of control in sway events is usually due to innappropriate driver response. If you are comfortable with the handling of your rig and you don't have any problems staying in lane in aggravating circumstances, I think your attention for handling should be elsewhere. (tires, loading, conditions)

There is not much you can do if you get surprised on the road. Going downhill around a curve and encountering an obstacle is one of the favorite disaster scenarios, for example. No sway control will help you in these circumstances. Any sudden maneauver in a heavy rig is extremely risky no matter the equipment.

Do make sure you can hit your trailer brake control override and train yourself to use that as a trailer handling in emergency measure.

Most hitches aggravate oversteer and this can cause inexperienced drivers discomfort and stimulate innapropriate behavior. The drivers over-correct and that makes things worse. The HA hitch tends to reduce oversteer which means that those with this hitch wander down the road rather than wiggle down the road. Wandering is a lot more comfortable than wiggling for a lot of folks and tends to create misunderstandings that make for interesting 'debate' about the hitch capabilities.

A passing vehicle not only has a bow wave to push you aside, there can be a venturi effect to pull you in as it passes. This can really startle an RV driver who isn't keeping an eye on traffic behind him.

As far as relaxing a sway control for weather - if you ever get into conditions that bad, your best bet is to get off the road ASAP. If the roads are so slick as to have sway control damping cause problems, you are in extreme danger from other drivers if nothing else. You will do a lot better by slowing down, way down, rather than relaxing the sway control mechanism. And then finding a place to park until the storm passes.
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Old 04-07-2006, 10:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kevin22
So I did some research and I came across the Equalizer and the Drawtite Dual Cam Sway Control systems. I was told that the Equalizer acts as a weight distribution until and a sway control and one (with a bigger price) and the Drawtite just act as a sway control system.
well, that's not quite it. the Reese "dual-cam" sway control is an add-on to their weight distributing hitch. It doesn't work by itself. They package both items together in something marketed as the "straight-line hitch". But the components can be purchased seperately.

to to http://www.reeseprod.com to read up about it.
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Old 04-07-2006, 10:33 AM   #13
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I towed my '63 Globtrotter thousands of miles with my 2500 4x4 Dodge Ram and never had any problem just using a ball hitch. However after reading about the problems that others have had or witnessed I decided to install an Equal-I-zer brand hitch. I can honestly say that I don't notice much difference when towing but I do feel safer having it there to cope with some unforeseen problem. I might add the Equal-I-Zer is very easy to install and hook up.
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Old 04-07-2006, 11:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverToy
Kevin, Leipper etal -

Kevin - you mentioned that friction type hitches need adjustment while underway due to weather - loosen in rain and snow, tighten etc... Can you clarify if this type of hitch includes the current iteration of Equal-I-zer hitches?? I was NOT informed of any adjustments that this hitch might need ( other than periodic tighening of ALL hardware during use) as it goes down the road. Perhaps you are referencing older/other friction type hitches. Is Equal-I-zer even considered a 'friction type' hitch??

Leipper et al - As I tow my 34 footer. Even with the above mentioned hitch, I DO get a REALLY, SLIGHT! movement from left to right as semi's blow by me. I attributed this SLIGHT movement to the length of the trailer and pure physics. Is this something to worry over?????

Just to be clear - THERE IS NEVER ANY loss of control, any concern of going in the ditch or anything else. Just wondering about that SLIGHT wiggle. There is NO issue with wiggle on 2 lanes as truck zip past the other way - only with same direction passes. Seems like those rigs PUSH a LOT of air when they roll and this does cause a minimal amount of deflection as they roll by.

Again, thanks for all the thoughts, ideas and comments!

Axel

No the Equalizer is not a friction type. There are no changes required for inclement weather.
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