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Old 06-24-2005, 12:09 PM   #1
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2003 19' Bambi
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Help with Rough Ride in Tow Vehicle

Hi all,

I'm looking for thoughts on how to improve the ride inside my tow vehicle...

The details: I'm towing a 2003 19' Bambi with a 2000 1/2 ton 4x4 Chevy Silverado Z71. I use a receiver hitch with a small drop to keep the trailer level, not a weight distributing hitch. The truck has air bags on the rear axle from a camper I used to have. I have Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks front and rear on the truck. The tires are the original Firestone Steeltex Radials.

On asphalt roads, the trailer pulls great -- at least I have no complaints.

But on concrete freeways (such as I-5 in Oregon) the ride varies from tolerable to quite unpleasant. The problem I have is that we continually get bumped and shaken around in the cab so much that we get tired, grumpy, and generally miserable.

As near as I can tell, the source of the trouble is that the back end of my truck is quite light compared to the amount of mass in the airstream. Even though the trailer seems pretty well balanced, it has a lot of inertia when it moves.

I have tried adjusting lots of things, but there are many variables to play with, such as (1) rear truck tire air pressure, (2) rear truck air bag pressure, (3) rear truck shock settings, (4) tongue weight, etc.

The best ride I have gotten so far is by setting my rear shocks to their softest setting and inflating the rear air bags to 30 - 40 psi (which should remove 300 - 400 lbs from the rear springs).

The other end of the spectrum is if I set the shocks to their hardest setting and use more air pressure. That results in less rocking, but more higher frequency jolting that feels like it will tear the truck apart.

I wonder if a weight distributing hitch would help me. I almost think it would make things worse, as then the connection from truck to trailer would be more rigid.

I tried a $600 air-ride hitch and found that while it worked great for the big bumps like freeway overpass expansion joints, it didn't do a thing for the normal smaller rough road feel -- plus it moved the trailer ball back so far that I was uncomfortable with the amount of flexing I saw in my receiver, so I returned it.

My father (a truck driver) suggested adding several hundred pounds of weight in the truck bed -- he felt this would help balance the truck to trailer inertia. This makes some sense to me, though I don't relish the thought of hauling even more weight up over mountain passes. I haven't tried it yet, but I might.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 06-24-2005, 12:48 PM   #2
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Softer is better

Almost anyone on the forums, or that tows a travel trailer very much will tell you that the softer sprung your tow vehicle is, the better it will tow.
In order to achieve this with the setup you have is:
Set your adjustable shocks to "soft".
Reduce the air pressure in the air bags to minimum.
Use a Weight Distributing hitch setup, with 750 pound transfer bars.
Use an antisway device, such as a Reese Dual Cam (this also has W.D. with it), or a friction sway control.
Leave the truck tires inflated normally, this will help reduce sidewall flexing, which will also help that "tail light" feeling.
This will make the connection between the truck and trailer more rigid, but it will also redistribute the weight to the front axle, as well as some back to the trailer, with the net effect of creating an ultra-long wheelbase, 3 axle vehicle.
A longer wheelbase vehicle will inherently ride more smoothly. If you don't believe me, drive a Blazer 4x4, and a Suburban 4x4, you WILL feel a difference.
If no one tells you how to figure the proper "chain link" setting for the W.D. bars, try tightening the chains until you notice the bars starting to flex, this will be a good starting point for fine tuning. If the front end bounces, take up another link in the chains, if it feels nose heavy, release a link, until you get a good, even ride.
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Old 06-24-2005, 01:55 PM   #3
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"what terry said".

Plus, you mentioned that your airbags remove weight...they don't. they just lift it up higher. Most people will tell you that airbags + trailer = no-no. and putting more weight in the back of the truck will simply overload the axle. the airbags will mask the fact that your rear axle is overloaded.

a weight distributing hitch will transfer weight to the front axle of your truck, like terry said.
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:06 PM   #4
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The WDH and Rancho combo should be a great setup. Raise the tail of the truck a couple of inches above normal using your electric trailer jack, attach the WDH and set it up so the spring bars just begin to flex on lowering the truck, set the Ranchos on #7, ditch the airbags and off you go. I doubt anyone will tell you that a concrete highway with joints every ten or twenty yards is a comfy experience no matter how you set up your tow rig. Remember that the longer the wheelbase of your tow the better your ride will be. 115" wheelbase on the tow should do well with a 20' trailer however.
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:14 PM   #5
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Great topic! I was wondering the exact same thing. We also have a 19' Bambi and tow with a Toyota Tundra double cab and on some of the more bumpy highways (especially I 57 in IL), I felt like I was getting shaken all around.

I was wondering if a WD hitch would help with the bumpiness of the ride. I also want more ammo to add to my arsenal of why we should get a WD hitch -- my husband is standing firm that he doesn't believe we NEED one. I'm from the "better safe than sorry" camp and would like to get one, but not sure it's worth the fight with my husband.

Please post more details if you have them!
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:38 PM   #6
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I was told to figure the proper "chain link" setting for the W.D. bars, was to measure the height of a point in the front and rear of tow vehicle prior to hooking up your trailer. After you hook up, measure again and both ends should drop the same distance. Be sure to do this on level ground and have the trailer loaded normally. (I hope I am passing on good info, comments welcome)
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Old 06-24-2005, 03:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desidou
Great topic! I was wondering the exact same thing. We also have a 19' Bambi and tow with a Toyota Tundra double cab and on some of the more bumpy highways (especially I 57 in IL), I felt like I was getting shaken all around.

I was wondering if a WD hitch would help with the bumpiness of the ride. I also want more ammo to add to my arsenal of why we should get a WD hitch -- my husband is standing firm that he doesn't believe we NEED one. I'm from the "better safe than sorry" camp and would like to get one, but not sure it's worth the fight with my husband.

Please post more details if you have them!
WD setup is required on ALL setups with a tongue weight over 350 pounds, no matter what a salesman, or someone else says. The only possible exception I am aware of is the VW Toureg, and the jury is still out on that one. If you don't believe me, look in your vehicle owner's manual, it will be under "trailer towing". The Bambi 19, IIRC, has a tongue weight of over 400 pounds, so the matter should not even be open for interpretation.
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Old 06-24-2005, 03:53 PM   #8
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Okay, so far it's looking like I need a WD hitch. I notice that they are rated by max tongue weight... How do I choose the spring rating I need?
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Old 06-24-2005, 04:01 PM   #9
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My Overlander, with its forward-mounted fresh water tank, tows much better when the tank is full especially with my 3/4 ton pickup truck.

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Old 06-24-2005, 06:09 PM   #10
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Hitchin question....again

Hello all -

Posted this same question elsewhere but no replies as yet. So here we go again.....

'01 2500 'Burb with HD factory everything, '92 34' Classic, Equal-I-zer 12K hitch head and 1200lb bars. According to the reading I have done here I am "overhitched" with the 1200lb bars.

Checked with Equal-I-zer and I can't outfit with 800lb bars into the 12K hitch head - different sizes and measurements. Options? Any?

The KEY question is, how do I soften the connection with the 1200lb bars? Can't drop a chain link as there isn't one....so what specifically do I do? BTW, I don't see any deflection (at least not noticable) in the bars when hooked up, should I?

Thanks to the "Hitchin Guru's" out there for any and all replies!

Axel
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Old 06-24-2005, 06:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverToy
'01 2500 'Burb with HD factory everything, '92 34' Classic, Equal-I-zer 12K hitch head and 1200lb bars. ...Checked with Equal-I-zer and I can't outfit with 800lb bars into the 12K hitch head ...The KEY question is, how do I soften the connection with the 1200lb bars? ..
From what I have learned from Inland Andy, and agree with, with what you have outlined (3/4 ton truck, waay-too-big spring bars) I see that you have two options:

1) Remove the overload springs from your tow vehicle

2) Purchase another hitch which allows the use of lighter weight spring bars

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Old 06-24-2005, 07:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erik.ness@hp
Okay, so far it's looking like I need a WD hitch. I notice that they are rated by max tongue weight... How do I choose the spring rating I need?
Erik,

My suggestion would be to shop for a Reese Dual cam HP with 600lb or 750lb weight bars, depending on actual tongue weight. Have it installed and dialed in by a professional, if you're unable to do so yourself. I just put one on my 1963 Overlander, and it was actually quite easy. But.....
Anyways, the idea is to "distribute" the tongue weight of your trailer, which will be over 500lbs when loaded, to the trailer axle and the front axle of the car, with some weight also going to the rear axle. The truck should drop evenly, without sag in the rear. There are many variables in setting up your hitch properly, like hitch head angle etc. You must also know how much your actual tongue weight is, before selecting bars. It might surprise you how much more it is than Airstream says in the lit. Make sure the trailer is loaded, as you would use it, fresh water full.
You will notice an improved ride, a more secure road feel, and much better handling. Unfortunately, the nasty freeway expansion joints will still set off an oscillation that can drive you up a wall. But, the overall feel of the rig will be much more stable. Loose the Airbags asap, and get a WD hitch, even if it's just a Husky or Eaz Lift.
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Old 06-25-2005, 08:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomW
From what I have learned from Inland Andy, and agree with, with what you have outlined (3/4 ton truck, waay-too-big spring bars) I see that you have two options:
1) Remove the overload springs from your tow vehicle
2) Purchase another hitch which allows the use of lighter weight spring bars
Tom
I have the '99 Suburban 2500 and it is very stiffly sprung. When I drop the Excella on it, it barely drops (the Expedition 1/2 ton REALLY went down with the same load).

I am thinking of removing the overload springs as Tom suggested. I wonder if the post 2000 model Burb 2500's are sprung as much as the 1999. Andy is right about using lighter bars on heavy sprung trucks. And it doesn't shake the trailer as much.

Steve
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Old 06-25-2005, 09:01 AM   #14
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steve

goodyear and or dana make a set of spring shackles for 3/4 tons that will soften the ride somewhat.

john
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