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Old 06-04-2012, 10:27 AM   #1
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1976 27' Overlander
Missoula , Montana
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Equal-i-zer hitch question

Hi folks,
We are in the process of getting a '76 Overlander (27') and have pretty-much decided on an "Equal-i-zer" brand hitch with our Suburban. I have two questions.

The Overlander has a dry weight of 4575 and a tongue weight of 575 per the specs. This puts the loaded weight (1200 per specs) about 5800 and with the added weight in the back of the Sube at, say 200 lbs, right at 6,000 lbs. That suggests the Equalizer model that is 6000 lbs -- simple enough. But when I plug in the weights with a fudge factor to make it 6,200 lbs, the Equal-i-zer website says I should buy a 10,000 pound model, but I would think it would be better to have the bars for the 6000 pound model rather than for the 10,000 pound model, since the actual weight is going to be closer to the 6000 limit. Or, are the two couplers actually the same for both "models" with the difference being the bars (the difference in price is about $20)? Am I overthinking this?

That's question one. Question two -- my local SOB dealer who distributes these (NOT an AS dealer) wants full price ($700+) for the hitch but many of the RV internet sites sell this with shipping at $250 to $300 less. I'm not going to be using this dealer in the future (will be using Nick and Karen of AS of Spokane) so am not worried about "relationships" - but is there any reason (warranty?) to NOT use one of the larger internet dealers? Now I know someone will say buy in Spokane, but that's 3.5 hours and 200 miles -- one way!

Thanks in advance for the input!
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:38 AM   #2
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Suggest buying on line. Installation is easy and the mfg is easy to work with for installation questions.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:02 AM   #3
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I think the real question is whether you plan to be towing at GVW or not. I know from a practicality issue I only approach GVW of my trailer once a year. That only occurs when I'm pulling with a full fresh water tank (60 gallons). Typically I wouldn't do that, and would fill the tank upon arrival. In my case this particular campground that we go to once a year has a water supply that is full of sediment. I've weighed our trailer and our typical load of camping gear, food and clothing, doesn't approach 400 lbs so my advice is you probably will be safe with the 6,000 lb hitch.


Jack
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:10 AM   #4
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I had a 1000#/10,000# eq on my 30' Classic and felt it was too stiff, so, IMO DEFINITELY don't get the 1000#ers.

Use the search function and you can read forever....almost.

I, personally would prefer a different brand, but if you're set on Eq, I'd advise the smallest they have, which I believe is the 600#/6000#.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:19 AM   #5
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The trouble with Eqaul-I-Zer brand hitch is the bars are incredibly stiff, very little flex. This can put a lot of bending stress on your trailer A-frame, especially on approaches to driveways where the front of your tow vehicle raises up. For this reason I would choose the lightest Eqaul-I-Zer possible, the 6000 Lb. It is very easy to install, and if you do it yourself using instructions you will probably get it right. The dealership probably won't.

We have an Equal-I-Zer and it works well, but because of the stiffness of the bars, I would not buy this brand again. The sway control ability is also in question. I would rather have a simpler hitch with lots of flexibility such as Eaz-lift, and two add-on friction sway controls that can be adjusted according to conditions.

doug k
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:52 AM   #6
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There are lengthy debates about different hitches and to boil it down to one post is impossible.

First, after going through the instructions, searching through Forum threads on Equalizers (and others), and probably calling the manufacturer, you probably can install it yourself. You will need some really big sockets to torque some of the bolts; a major sized torque wrench helps too. There are lots of adjustments and it will need adjustment as the parts break in, so you might as well learn it up front. Our dealer did a poor job installing it, and some other dealers do a bad job because matching the hitch to the trailer and tow vehicle is different for every rig and that takes time.

Equalizer will tell you it doesn't matter what weight bars you get, it only uses what it needs. There was an interesting discussion of this some months ago and the conclusion I reached (with some others) is that stiffer bars are ok and the company is probably right. Others will differ. As Doug writes, a steep driveway entrance is stressful, but that does not happen to most people.

We have had heavier bars than necessary on ours for 4 1/2 years without any problems. The dealer probably pulled whatever they had on the shelf. It tows well, does not sway, backs up easily. Some one (maybe more) has had the bars shaved down to reduce the weight rating.

Unfortunately they do not make 800 lb. bars. 600 lb. bars are the same as 6,000 lb.—first number is tongue wt., 2nd is GVWR. If you find yourself in the soft ride club, 600 may be fine. Some people tow with bars rated lower than tongue weight. You can't trust specs on tongue wt.—the company gets it wrong and sometimes you'll find they give you 2 different numbers for the same model in the same year, add in spare tire and full propane tanks, and it may well exceed the ratings.

But read up on this. People (some have already posted here) can make logical arguments in every direction, often very convincing until you read the next few posts. You'll have to make your own decision on brand and weights. Expect to be confused for a while until the answer for you reveals itself.

Gene
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:17 PM   #7
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Reese Dual-Cam for the win.
If your Suburban is a half ton, go trunnions weight bar straight line dual cam #800 lb bars.
It will perform great, and you'll be happy.

http://www.reeseprod.com/content/pro...1665%20&part=0
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:29 PM   #8
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Hi OilnH2o,
Over the weekend we had our first tow using our 600/6000# Equalizer that we found used on craigslist for $380. (My hitch supply place locally couldn't come close to the internet prices. Just make sure the shank and ball are included or price discounted accordingly) We pulled our '89 25'Excella about 450 mi. Hitch weight is listed as 580#. It performed very well as does our 1000/10,000# version used on our 30' Classic w/ slide. We were on 2 lane roads and felt no pull from traffic meeting or passing. Set up is not difficult using the instructions provided. The main thing helping me during set up was to try and keep everything level -trailer, tow vehicle, and WD bars. Spacer washers on the hitch head and L bracket adjustments allow this. The sway bracket jackets for use on the L brackets quiet the noises down. I dont foresee other adjustments being necessary unless TV is changed. I am a very satisfied Equalizer owner.
Dan
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:41 PM   #9
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Sometimes the washers compress after use and one or more have to be added. This is normal. If you don't have enough extra ones, buy replacements that have a hardness rating of 8.

Because we don't have a level space, getting the trailer and truck lined up properly was difficult—scrap wood and a long level secured to an even longer straight edge helped. The most important thing is to get the trailer level, the truck fairly level and the bars somewhat so, in that order. The truck fit in the garage (floor there level) and I created space level and to the proper height outside with wood and then towed the trailer up to the garage (door too low to go further). This goofy solution worked, but took some time.

Since there are variables, one adjustment affects all others. The hitch head is very heavy and taking it off and putting it on to change adjustment gets old fast. But once you get it, it tows very well. Actually it towed quite well despite the bad adjustment at the dealer, but significantly better once I adjusted it.

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Old 06-04-2012, 01:30 PM   #10
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I've had my Equal-i-zer hitch for about 9 years now. Prior to that we towed over 18 years using Reese dual-cam sway control equipment. One of the biggest reason for going to the Equal-i-zer hitch was the heavy hitch weight of my Classic. It was 1,250 lbs dry and quite honestly the hitch platform provided by GM on my then new 3/4 van had a 1,000 lb limit.

To hitch properly I knew I needed to upgrade to a class V receiver and hitch. My dealer who handled both Reese and Equal-i-zer products recommended a Hidden Hitch class V and Equal-i-zer hitch product that had a rating of carry 1,400 lbs on hitch weight. I was reluctant based on my good experiences with the Reese. His comments to me that in his experience, customers who had Reese's never felt that the Equal-i-zer was a step backwards.

I took him at his word and had the Equal-i-zer installed. To this day I've become a believer, and that came with my first tow. When I picked up the trailer we pulled back home with a 35 mph cross wind. On that same tow vehicle I had towed my 27' 2001 Safari with my dual-cam Reese. Typically a gust of wind would hit the Safari from the side and I'd see the effect of the tail of the trailer moving out. Typically the dual-cam would exert its force and the trailer would come back to center.

In the case of the Equal-i-zer, the cross wind had no noticeable effect on the trailer. It stayed straight behind the van. I remember one year heading up to our annual Moraine View campout, we were traveling on a dead flat 2 lane US highway with again high cross winds coming out of the south. It was notable in that we had stopped for gas before traveling on this stretch of road and had to apply a lot of force on the van door to get it open due to the strong wind coming from the south. I figured I'd end up fighting the trailer on this last segment of the trip since I was going to be exposed to the full force of the wind on the side of the trailer with nothing on the highway to shelter the effects of the wind.

It ended up the trailer tracked straight behind the van, with no need for me to compensate. Another rally attendee was towing directly behind me and made the comment as we got to the campground that he was shocked that the trailer exhibited no sign of yaw as the winds hit me from the side.

Up to this point I've seen no negative effects structurally to the trailer. There are a couple of nuts by the hitch head that occasionally need to torque to maintain proper friction control. No adjustments have to be made because of weather. I've replaced the ball once at the dealership since it requires a socket that has tighter clearances that what most folks have in their home tool kit. An advantage I realized was hitching and unhitching when you have a large angle between the tow vehicle and the trailer. With the Reese, it was sometimes impossible to get the dual-cam arm through the stirrup bracket if the angle was too great. Not so with the Equal-i-zer, since there is no stirrup assembly to thread the stabilizer bar through.

So keep an open mind. I can quite honestly state from my own experiences that either hitch is a good quality product.

Jack
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:20 PM   #11
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To add to Jack's story, a couple of years ago we were going east on I-70 east of Denver. It had snowed overnight and there was about 2 or 3" of wet, slippery snow. Some 18 wheelers couldn't make the very slight grades out on the prairie. There was about a 40 mph crosswind coming from the north. Good tires on the truck, but OEM Marathons on the trailer that were wearing down.

There was no sway in 20 miles of snow covered highway, 20 more of slush, and then 2 days of heavy rains and more wind all the way to Missouri. The Equalizer did great.

Gene
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:21 PM   #12
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Back to your questions -

1. I don't know if the couplers are different between the two weights, but I would go with the 6000lb set up. Your trailer is fairly light and Airstreams like a soft ride. Call the Equalizer Mfg (Progress Mfg) and talk to the customer service person for a more informed input.

2. I would buy the hitch from an internet company to save substantial dollars. I've had my Equalizer for 5 years and installed it myself. In fact, I've helped others install theirs also - it's not hard. The instructions are very good.

Also visit the Equalizer website - they sell all the parts/accessories that you could ask for. A tip - buy the spare pin pack (extra L pin/clip and socket pin/clip) as backup - you will need them someday. There is also contact information for customer assistance.

There's one thing that makes the installation a little more difficult. You probably can't install the hitch ball yourself unless you have a 1 7/8" socket for the nut at the bottom of the hitch ball. The nut goes in a very recessed pocket and there is no way to get to it without the large socket. If you don't have this socket, maybe you know someone who does. Or, Equalizer sells this socket for $81 or so, or you can buy the same Sears Craftsman socket in Sears for in the $20s I believe. There are other places even cheaper.

Here's the link to Progress Mfg.

Progress MFG. Inc. - Home

Good luck. Russ
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:23 PM   #13
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Russ is right. Spare retainer clips (pins) are a good idea. They are available at hardware stores and probably big box stores. The more you have, the less likely you will lose the original ones (it always works that way doesn't it).
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:37 PM   #14
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If it wasn't so much work and trouble, I've often thought it would be cool to be able to drag your trailer over to the hitch store, and install/test every brand of weight distribution hitch made.

Then you wouldn't have to rely on someone's verbal discription of how well a certain brand of hitch performs, which is about like listening to someone's verbal discription of how pretty a picture is.
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