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Old 04-26-2018, 03:41 PM   #15
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Jennifer, although I'm not an expert on this, here's what I found in my research. Weight distribution hitches work by shifting the tongue weight either forward or more often, backward onto the front axle of the trailer. For example, if you are close to or exceeding the maximum tongue weight rating of the vehicle with a conventional weight-bearing hitch, that tongue is going to press down on the rear of the tow vehicle, causing the front of the vehicle to rise. This can reduce the contact that the front tires of your tow vehicle have with the road, which in turn can cause problems with steering and braking.

The weight distribution hitch distributes that weight backwards, towards the front axle of the trailer, reducing the tendency of the rear of the tow vehicle to dive, the front to raise up, and generally restores the safe operation of the vehicle.

Weight distribution hitches can also help with sway, either by distributing the weight properly (having too little tongue weight can make a trailer more prone to sway) or by adding sway control. Sway control works by providing resistance to side-to-side movement (sway) either through sway bars or in the case of Anderson hitches, chains and a special coupler below the ball.

The one thing that weight distribution hitches don't do is to allow you to safely exceed the manufacturer's recommended tow limits. They don't provide extra torque to help you pull a trailer up a steep grade. They don't provide greater breaking power to help you with the runaway train syndrome that moosetags describes so well. They don't beef up your suspension, transmission or cooling system.

I hope that helps

-Jim
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Old 04-26-2018, 09:10 PM   #16
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Massaging the tow limits

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Originally Posted by 1000Miles View Post
I wanted to clarify something in my question about "massaging the tow limits". I think I threw out too much info and in fact it was a physics question. I wanted to understand how hitches worked in relation to the weight, and how performance can be maintained with an overweight trailer.



Hubby and I aren't in the market for a trailer--we're methodical, research-type of people. Just doing my homework before we go for it.


Here is how it works - more or less

First you need an appropriately sized weight distribution hitch that generates the appropriate amount of rotational torque on the hitch received. This rotational torque (think twisting) moves weight from the sagging rear suspension to the front suspension of the car. The ideal setup for a car is to have 50/50 weight distribution from the tongue to the front and rear axles.

With a soft suspension car you need a tremendous amount of rotational force to push a lot of weight to the front suspension of the car. hitch receivers that come standard on smaller vehicles (class iii hitches for example) cannot handle this amount of force without twisting, Cara king, wells failing, etc...., which is why they must be reenforced to handle the additional strain. Reinforcement often involves adding additional steel and bracing to the receiver and it’s attachments points to the vehicle.

Once you have the vehicle balanced front-to-rear with weight distribution one often has to then take a hard look at the suspension springs and tires themselves. If the car’s springs are too soft loading 1,000lbs of tongue weight plus passengers could near about bottom out all corners of the car as the stock springs may not have been designed to carrier this amount of payload. Thus, often times putting heavier duty springs in to support the additional weight of the trailer tongue is necessary.

Similarly for tires - if the tires are not stiff enough, they car will have poor handling and feel “squishy” and will lean into curves despite anti-sway bars. So often times a lower profile tire with stiffer side walls with larger rims is called for to stiffen up the ride and avoid unwanted flex in the tires when turning at speed, etc.

And so on. Towing dynamics with a car or small suv require that everything is absolutely balanced correctly for the rig to handle itself properly. Setting up a soft suspension vehicle that was not designed to carry a large payload with massive torque to the receiver assemble requires careful thought, consideration, experience and engineering to accomplish. I do believe there is no better than Andy if that is your goal - he understands all of these dynamics and more (I am sure there are 6 or 7 other key elements I’ve omitted)

Personally, I live near the Rockies - so I tow my 30’ with a large truck with massive brakes and massive engine and stiff suspension - it’s a tool that was designed for the job of carrying large payload without modification... but then again it’s a dedicated tow vehicle so I don’t need to drive around town with it as a daily driver, which would pretty much suck.

Be safe out there. Andy is a good lad - he gave me good and free advice when I used to tow my 30’ with my large / soft suspension suv. Good folks up there in Canada (shameless plug for other Canadians out there living in the US)

I moved to a larger truck after 25k total towing miles with the suv. In the end braking down 10 mile 7% grades was hard on the running gear - and once I got the suv brakes hot enough to slightly warp the rotors which then needed to be replaced. You could smell all 4 axels on long descents. With my diesel 3/4 ton - I rarely even use the brakes as it has an engine brake which takes most of the load downhill.

All that being said if I didn’t live in the Rockies and spend so much time in the steep mountain roads I’d probably still tow with a soft suspension suv - there are pros and cons to both setups.
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Old 04-26-2018, 09:12 PM   #17
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Tow limits aren’t anything but the recommendation of a private party. No force in law. Follow that path and wind up with a bad combination. It’s a guarantee. A great deal more than weight or payload matters. Those are not problems.

One respects the axle/wheel/tire ratings. A WD hitch redistributes the heavy weight from one point and spreads it over three. The forces are dissipated thus. Done. Fini.

Of WD hitches there are two types. The Hensley patent licensees, and all others. Of the second class hitches, the Reese Dual Cam (the original) is still the best.

I second the recommendation of a Casita or similar. They’re well-built and have strong customer support. Entry to ownership and experience is easier. They retain their value and should sell quickly.

A tow vehicle is first and foremost family transportation. That’s the single important metric. Properly hitching a TT (rarely done well around here, but important) isn’t rocket science. Nor are fears expressed, justified. The real problems are in steering, handling & braking. A TV that is compromised in these is the bad choice.

Luckily there are many great choices. Fully independent suspension and short rear overhang are the two easiest to ascertain. Engine power, etc, is a non-statrter the past dozen years. Today’s passenger vehicles are far better in this line than what was available forty or more years ago.

Andrew Thomson (in his posts here, and columns in RV Lifestyle “Hitch Hints” are a good beginning. See their website at Can Am RV) systematized all the categories we had to go thru a half century back. A consultant to both SAE and Airstream. More than 10,000 tow rigs set up.

Is a pickup the default choice? Only for the ignorant (when it has no business miles, etc), so take your time. It shouldn’t be so easy to shoot down, but there’s plenty of fact to make good decisions.

A loss of control accident is the usual problem. Adverse winds and driver over-correction are the problem when towing. The better TV is at least as stable as the TT. Would you prefer the one which initiates an accident?

An AS is best (search the reasons, it’s engineering) and a Casita only needs a change to torsion axles to be similar.

The worst TVs are bought on emotion. “Fear” just isn’t accountable when reason offers plenty of line entries for examination.

.
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Old 04-26-2018, 10:17 PM   #18
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Tow ratings are often based on marketing and other reasons outside of engineering. There are plenty of European cars that have reasonable tow ratings in other markets but when they are sold in the US they state they are not rated to tow. The US manufactures rather push people into more profitable trucks and SUVs by greatly limiting tow ratings on vehicles such as minivans.
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Old 04-27-2018, 12:22 AM   #19
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So, how does it work? What CanAm does is add additional strength to the receiver hitch by extending the 6"-8" long tow vehicle receiver with what was referenced earlier as a torque arm. The torque arm connects to the chassis near the rear axle. That gives the hitch at least three points of connection to the chassis. With an attachment more forward, it is easier to transfer weight forward to the front axle.

The term hitch is used for two different assemblies. The hitch that includes the square receiver and attaches to the tow vehicle is what a lot of folks think about when they talk about a hitch. The weight transfer hitch is what travel trailer owners think about when they talk hitches. There is a head assembly that includes a shank which fits into the tow vehicle receiver, a ball for the trailer coupler, and sockets for a pair of spring bars which attach about 24-30" back on the A-frame of the trailer. As the spring bars are tightened up, the back of the tow vehicle is picked up like the handles on a wheel barrow. Weight is shifted to the front axle and a bit to the trailer axles. In theory all the weight could be removed from the rear axle of the tow vehicle and all weight could be carried by the trailer axles and the front axle of the tow vehicle. However, that is not the intent. What is needed is for the rear axle to carry it's capacity, the front axle it's capacity and the trailer axles their capacity. You weigh the trailer and tow vehicle at a truck CAT scale and tune the weight distribution by adjusting the spring bars on the WDH.

Hensley and Propride WDH are called pivot point projection hitches. The design is unique as it uses metal links to allow the tow vehicle to turn and does not allow the trailer to turn. This prevents sway from starting by holding the trailer tongue in line with the tow vehicle. The down side is that the design is about 180lbs while other WDHs are more like 80lbs, and they cost $2500+/-$500 while other designs can be purchased for $300-$800. The PPP hitch weight is only a receiver tongue weight issue as the WDH stays connected to the trailer after initial installation.

Investigate the Eaz-lift with friction sway control strut, the Equal-i-zer which has built in friction sway control, the dual cam that Slow mentioned, the Blue Ox Sway Pro and the Hensley/Propride hitches. Web sites like E-trailer have information. The manufacturers often have video to review. Hensleys are sold by factory sales folks. The Propride is sold by the factory.

Now, CanAm can not increase the OEM towing capacity rating. That's a function of the OEM engineering and Marketing department and may or may not be a true measurement of the vehicle capability. But it is the capacity that the OEM will stand behind. What CanAm can do is improve the towing performance of a lot of vehicles. Tires with less diameter and stiffer sidewalls, higher quality dampers/shocks, a transmission cooler and other upgrades can help.

There was a comment that suggested using a trailer which is 1000lbs less than the tow vehicle capacity. That is not necessary, but is wise as the weights given as stock are dry weights with no gear. It is easy to add 200-600lbs to tongue weight and 1000-2000lbs to the trailer weight. Less with a small trailer and more if you travel heavy. FOR NOW, ASSUME THE OEM CAPACITY TO BE THE RULE. When you learn more, you will understand what can and can not be done. Note, OEM capacity values are static measurements. The impact on the tow vehicle and trailer is from the dynamic forces. If you understand the difference, you are well on your way to answering the question you asked.

Lots to learn. Spend a lot of time reading the forum for information. When you understand the issues it is easier to decide on a solution that will not break the bank. Look at the Casitas, the T@B/T@G, the Oliver, the Rpod, and any others that trip your trigger. One idea is to car camp for a while. No investment, a chance to travel, and lots of opportunity to see what other folks are doing. Videos help a lot. Use them as a learning tool.

Welcome to the Forum. Enjoy the ride. The smiles are great. Pat
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:17 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by jimewel View Post
Jennifer, although I'm not an expert on this, here's what I found in my research.

The one thing that weight distribution hitches don't do is to allow you to safely exceed the manufacturer's recommended tow limits. They don't provide extra torque to help you pull a trailer up a steep grade. They don't provide greater breaking power to help you with the runaway train syndrome that moosetags describes so well. They don't beef up your suspension, transmission or cooling system.

I hope that helps

-Jim
Helps a ton--thanks!
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:40 AM   #21
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More info

What is your Jeep rated to tow? That is the best starting point for you because you can easily max out a minimal tow rating with water and supplies. I had no idea how much cans of soup weigh until I started paying attention. lol
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Old 04-27-2018, 11:10 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by 1000Miles View Post
I wanted to clarify something in my question about "massaging the tow limits". I think I threw out too much info and in fact it was a physics question. I wanted to understand how hitches worked in relation to the weight, and how performance can be maintained with an overweight trailer.

Hubby and I aren't in the market for a trailer--we're methodical, research-type of people. Just doing my homework before we go for it.
There just isn't any magic in towing physics, and you can find pictures/video of a bicycle towing an Airstream. Doesn't mean one should do it.

If not for yourselves, then for all the rest of us on the road, please change tow vehicle or buy a nice pop-up trailer that matches your jeep. Why show up on a dash cam youtube, rolling over and over down the highway sideways, as physics will enable, when your operating system proves inadequate for the environment you've entered?

Too many reasons to do it right the first time. Too many ways to fail when you operate outside the guardrails. Keep it safe out there.
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Old 04-27-2018, 11:18 AM   #23
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Here is the skinny on tow vehicles (TV)... The manufacture states that his vehicle can tow so much... the feds require him to not only calculate it but also go do it... thus the new rules on what a vehicle can LEGALLY tow under the law.

Now you go buy his vehicle... and ASSUME all the legal ram's... but what you put on or do to it is your doings... to which if you go put a hitch on it... the hitch manufacture is not responsable' for your action... YOU ASSUME... it because you own it.

Can the hitch manufacture say things to get you to buy theirs'... YES... you can pull a elephant with a mouse with the right gearing.. getting it stopped is another issue... but again its the buyer who is held accountable as the end user... and as such ignorance is no excuse when you get busted or stopped because you are under rated. It has been proven that the owner is the person that becomes the escape goat .. so to speak..and is left to suffer the loss when a event occurs. Even your insurance company will tell you they will not support you either... if your over the TV manufactures specs... and the TV warnt'y is no good either.. so you become on your own .. so to speak... both mechanically and repair wise...

More importantly... you will stress the TV.. breaking down on the road...and end up having costly repairs in the end... not being a happy camper... kinda thing..

So most of US buy TV's that are over rated (have more than needed) for the RV we tow... and now you know why...

the adventure contenues...
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Old 04-27-2018, 11:56 AM   #24
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While Andy at CanAm has many satisfied customers on here, I don't think he is an approved vehicle outfitter who has the authority to change the towing limits on a vehicle he modifies. A vehicle with his modifications may tow just fine but if the day ever comes that it is involved in an accident (at fault or not) my concern would be that if a quick review of the towed trailer and vehicle specifications by law enforcement or a third party's attorney indicated an overload condition, there would be consequences. Personally I am risk adverse and that's one risk I choose not to take.

In your case I would choose a "starter trailer" that was within the limits of the TV I had and upgrade both if I decided to continue, but that's just me.

Edit: I just checked for the towing capacity of the Patriot - only 1000#, 2000# properly equipped - so my suggestion would place severe limits on your RV experience.

Al






This quote is the best advice of any reply here.

The tow vehicle manufacturer and the 'lawyers' in any future incident will have a field day if you operate in ANY overload condition. Not to mention the safety of you and your family.
Please don't go above manufacturers load ratings. Any modifications will NOT increase the manufacturers load ratings. I usually try for a certain amount of 'overkill' in my tow vehicle. It just gives me a lot of confidence in all the awkward situations that will inevitably happen someday.

Hope you find a safe and proper solution to your camping plans.

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Old 04-27-2018, 02:17 PM   #25
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As an owner of my dream Airstream who STARTED with an SOB, I second what Crispyboy says; RENT, don't buy a learner-trailer, til you know what works for you. MUCH cheaper in the long run...and selling an SOB can be a hassle.
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Old 04-27-2018, 03:06 PM   #26
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This is how they are doing this in Europe with inadequate tow vehicles



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Tow ratings are often based on marketing and other reasons outside of engineering. There are plenty of European cars that have reasonable tow ratings in other markets but when they are sold in the US they state they are not rated to tow. The US manufactures rather push people into more profitable trucks and SUVs by greatly limiting tow ratings on vehicles such as minivans.
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Old 04-27-2018, 04:29 PM   #27
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Hi Everyone!
My question is part of my research process, and in no way reflects the potential for doing/having done anything stupid!

The background:
Yesterday, my husband decided to buy a 2016 Jeep Patriot. Last fall, he hit a deer, which brought us down to one car, which worked (sometimes) because we both work from home (IT biz).

We don't own any trailer. Airstream is my dream, but we might start with a cheap "practice" trailer to be sure RVing is a hobby we want to pursue. As an aside, I think cleaning the black tank is preferable to potential bed bugs in "nice" hotels, so I think RVing is in our future.

So my question is in regards to some hitches/companies that offer the "magic" solution to a car that is not beefy enough to tow the trailer the owner wants. How does a company like Can-Am, for example, get a car & hitch to a place where they're safe to tow a trailer above their capacity?

Medieval architecture is a hobby of mine. I know that buttresses were put on buildings to push the energy away from the main structure so it didn't collapse upon itself. In that vein, I'm presuming that for some hitches, there is distribution of the trailer's weight that pushes some of the weight energy away from the TV and allows for both stability and going over tow capacity?

I recently saw a PT Cruiser towing a smaller Airstream in a video (not sure who was the hitch provider), and as a former PT owner, I found that too good to be true.

We are planning to get a beefier vehicle in the future, but more heavy duty comes with a cost that we couldn't afford as new biz owners, hence the Jeep.

Ideally, I'd like to get a starter RV (an no, not a Teardrop) and use the Jeep. But, I don't want to be snowed by any company's claims--hence why I'm picking your brains. We've all seen RV wipeouts on the side of the road; I don't want that to be me.

Thanks in advance
Jennifer
The Patriot is too small to tow an Airstream. It’s front wheel drive. You will destroy the transmission and it doesn’t have enough power.

I’ll let others add the “for the safety of others” and “please let us know your route” etc.

I used to tow a 19 with a Jeep, but it was a Grand Cherokee summit. Big difference.
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Old 04-27-2018, 05:24 PM   #28
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"The manufacture states that his vehicle can tow so much... the feds require him to not only calculate it but also go do it... thus the new rules on what a vehicle can LEGALLY tow under the law. "

Are you sure about this? Are you referring to a California state law or federal law? And the new towing standards initiated several years ago are voluntary. The manafacture does not have to do the testing unless he advertises his towing capacity under that standard.

I have seen nothing that indicates that it is actually illegal to exceed the manufacturers advertised tow capacity in the US.

As to the European rig shown above, one thing is their much lower speed limit for towing and the lighter weight of the rigs.
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