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Old 07-13-2015, 01:29 PM   #1
Road Geezer
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2011 27' FB Flying Cloud
San Jose , California
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Do I need a WD hitch?

I have been towing our 27FC for 4 years with a 2001 Suburban. We have a WD hitch that worked fine. Just bought a 2015 Chevy 2500 diesel, standard bed. Its a dream TV. I notice that when I connect the spring bars, that the TV rear end doesn't seem to drop more than an inch or two under full load. The Chevy dealer set the hitch ball to 21.5" inches off level ground. When the trailer's level, the chains are cinched up very little, barely tight at all. We've taken a couple long trips and the ride is smooth, much smoother than the in the Sub with chains cinched up to level the read end. I just took a short trip without the spring bars and could not tell the difference. The spring bars are rated a 1k#. My AS's rated tongue weight is 700#.

I read the truck's owners manual and it says that using a WD hitch is optional for a trailer of my weight, roughly 7k#.

So here's my question. With my TV, is there any reason I have to use the spring bars? I'm happy either way; but not using them is just one less thing to do. I'll continue using the sway bar.

Id appreciate your comments / advice.

As far as I know, this is the oldest I've ever been.
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Old 07-13-2015, 01:41 PM   #2
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I would continue to use the weight distribution bars on your hitch. Without transferring some of the tongue weight to the front wheels of the tow vehicle, it may get a little light in the front which could diminish your steering control.

Also keep in mind that the published tongue weights on the Airstream website are most often not very close to the actual tongue weight. The actual tongue weight of your 27FB is probably closer to 1000# than it is to 700# and your towing weight is probably around 8000#.


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Old 07-13-2015, 01:49 PM   #3
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2002 30' Classic S/O
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In my opinion, the bigger issue is what does the front end do. If you are getting much lift of the front end you are reducing the weight on the front tires and as Brian said, that can reduce steering effectiveness. Weigh the truck without the trailer, each axle, then do the same how you plan to tow. If the front axle weight is much less than when unhitched you probably should cinch up the bars.

What you want is:
Trailer level front to back
TV level front to back, and
Approximately the same weight on the front axle as when unhitched

To get this you may have to raise or lower the ball.


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Old 07-13-2015, 03:30 PM   #4
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I have an older F250 Super Duty 4x4 Short Bed that I originally bought for a future 5th wheel that never happened, and it ended up with a camper shell. Recently we bought a 75 Overlander with a quoted tongue weight of 500# and GVW 4,600# that came with a wd hitch. I've never used a wd hitch and the PO didn't know how to use it. After hooking up to the trailer, pulling out of the driveway where it was parked and on level pavement, I eyeballed things. The truck dropped slightly and fortunately the hitch was the right drop as the trailer was level. So we headed for home - 200+ miles of winding Colorado mountain roads.

I've towed heavier less level loads and the truck didn't know anything was behind it, the 27' Airstream was similar. When we got to South Park the winds were strong and gusty - probably 25 mph steady with 40+ mph gusts (based on my paratrooper calibrated feel for wind). Slightly apprehensive as I've seen lots of rigs of various sizes and configurations, to include semi's, in the ditch on their side, but the truck remained unaware it had something behind it.

I owe it to the trailer AND truck being level - that is no sagging anywhere especially the truck. When weight in the back makes the front look up, the steering is sloppy. Also both truck and trailer are relatively slippery in the air, so less effected by gusty cross winds.

Will I use the wd hitch it came with now that I understand how to use it, serviced it, and replaced some faulty parts? Of course I will as long as everyone is level and happy, even if the hitch doesn't know it's in use (chains not tight).

For whatever it's worth ...
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:35 PM   #5
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I would always use WD to maintain steering control.
But if I had a big heavy diesel engine sitting over the front axle I might take it to a CAT scale and check if its really needed.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:42 PM   #6
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2012, 2500 Crew Cab Silverado, 4x4, Duramax, Alison Tranny...

Totally loaded (consistently) using our PP, I have the AS running 'level'.. key on a 3 axle... to 1/2" Nose/Bow high...

If you load your TV with different loads, the 'level' of the AS will vary... depending upon loads in the TV...

We then took the AS to 'The SCALES'... and our numbers were well in the specs.

With our "Tire Pressure/Temperature" sensors, we fine tuned the 'WD's' so that the numbers are 'within' 10% of each other..

Hope this helps...!
Peace and Blessings..
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:45 PM   #7
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If you are concerned with ride as the reason behind not wanting to use the WD bars, a set of 600#-800# bars would probably be a better fit.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:50 PM   #8
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You Must use the WD hitch.
If it's an Airstream you are pulling - even a Bambi that has been gutted completely and you are pulling it with an Army surplus deuce and a half, you must use the wd.
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Old 07-13-2015, 05:07 PM   #9
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Yes you do want a WD hitch. Weight is not the only factor to consider when towing. The side profile of an RV is much greater than a utility trailer of the same weight. That profile and the effect a passing truck has on it is the reason you need the hitch.

If the chains are not loaded it sounds like whoever set up the hitch had NO IDEA of what they were doing, very common for a dealer.

You want 600 lbs bars with that weight trailer and need to have someone who knows how to set up the hitch do it. Setting up a WD hitch can take several hours to do it right and thus the reason a dealer is not who you want to do it.

The prime considerations that have to be met are.

Return weight to the front axle. Have the Airstream ride parallel to the ground when finished.

Sounds easy but since it is a give and take relationship within the adjustments you often have to make an adjustment that changes whatever you had done to that point, thus the time.

If you are using a Reese system once finished mark the bars left and right. I say this because the bars are not always the same length and if swapped side to side can actually increase sway because the bar may be riding off center of the cam.
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Old 07-13-2015, 05:17 PM   #10
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What did Wally use?
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Old 07-13-2015, 05:52 PM   #11
4 Rivet Member
Livingston , Texas
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Originally Posted by Road Geezer View Post
So here's my question. With my TV, is there any reason I have to use the spring bars? ---
According to page 9-91 of the online 2015 Silverado Owners Manual, using a WDH with a 2500/3500 truck is optional.

However, if you do use a WDH, page 9-91 specifies:

When using a weight-distributing hitch, measure distance (1) before coupling the trailer to the hitch ball.
Measure the height again after the trailer is coupled and adjust the spring bars so the distance (1) is as close as possible to halfway between the two measurements.

{"distance (1)" is the front wheel well height}

This implies that, if a WDH is used for a 2015 Silverado 2500/3500 truck, the WDH should be adjusted to restore approximately 50% of the load which was removed from the front axle.

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Old 07-13-2015, 06:31 PM   #12
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1948 22' Liner
1989 34' Limited
long beach , Mississippi
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ok.. not to hijack this threat , but i been asking myself the same question.. which should i even use a WD Hitch?
My main trailer is a 34 tripple axle. My tow truck is a 96 F350 4-door dually.. now here is the difference to everybody else: my rear axle has a hendrickson air ride suspension from a Peterbilt semi truck with no more leaf springs. i run 100% air bags on the rear. in addition, my rear axle uses independent automatic ride height valves.. so no matter how much i load , it automatically adjust the height.. the front axle has air over springs and auto ride height adjust as well...

So having said this, i also got to add, that due to the nature of my suspension, the truck rides best while loaded...
The only change in regards to pulling would be the addition of an air-safe hitch..
but now again, can someone explain why exactly i would need a WD Hitch ?


Resurrecting one Airstream at the time..
maybe one day i save them all
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Old 07-13-2015, 06:54 PM   #13
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1994 30' Excella
Mississauga , Ontario
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I'm just guessing, but your suspension keeps the tow vehicle level but does not transfer any of the hitch weight onto the front end of your truck. In some cases the tongue weight could make the front end light and not give enough traction on the front end for steering etc.
Looking at your avatar seems like you have a long wheelbase truck and the 34 is an older trailer so not all that heavy. probably isn't an issue for you.
I have a long wheelbase F150 and can safely tow without the equalizer bars but use them anyway to level the whole setup.
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Old 07-13-2015, 06:58 PM   #14
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my post was for Stefan

Al and Jean

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