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Old 09-25-2019, 06:29 PM   #1
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What is "hitch ball height?"

I have a new tow vehicle, a Ford Expedition, and need to set up the WD hitch.

The Expedition stands higher than the good ol' Suburban it replaced, so I will need to get a taller shank.

All requires some math, starting with this number: 17.25 inches.

That's the "hitch ball height." But what does that mean?

Is that the height of the top of the hitch ball, if the trailer is to be level?
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Old 09-25-2019, 06:33 PM   #2
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Airstream Manuals are apparently still incorrect, so check the actual height with trailer level and here you go.....

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f542...ht-191855.html
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Old 09-25-2019, 07:27 PM   #3
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With my two Airstreams, the top of the ball was about 20" when connected to the tow vehicle. I think the 17.25" ball height means the height of where the ball mounts. Then add a 3" high ball which puts the top of the ball just over 20". Then you need to add an inch or two for your tow vehicle to sag under the tongue weight. I think 22" to the top of the ball without the Airstream attached will be close for many Airstreams and tow vehicles.
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Old 09-25-2019, 09:48 PM   #4
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Hitch ball height is top of ball receiver. Always was 17.25’ but who knows with larger wheels and tires. If you manual doesn’t say, and even if it does, best practice is to park trailer in a flat surface; level it, then measure to top of ball socket. Then have the tow vehicle top of ball be at that level or an inch or so higher. 2 if that’s the closest you can get. That’s the first step in setting up your hitch.
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Old 09-26-2019, 10:23 AM   #5
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Hitch Diagram

The attached image illustrates how to determine the height you need.
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Old 09-26-2019, 11:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirMiles View Post
With my two Airstreams, the top of the ball was about 20" when connected to the tow vehicle. I think the 17.25" ball height means the height of where the ball mounts. Then add a 3" high ball which puts the top of the ball just over 20". Then you need to add an inch or two for your tow vehicle to sag under the tongue weight. Airstream attached will be close for many Airstreams and tow vehicles.
In early AS had ball height of 18 in. late 1960s AS had ball height of 21 inch then 70s changed back to 18 inch to clarify what AS used. Now I haven't any idea but 17.25 sometimes 17.5 is mentioned freq. for newer models.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:19 PM   #7
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When I changed trucks dealer told me the below


20 1/2 neutral ride height or 18” to bottom of coupler
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AirMiles View Post
With my two Airstreams, the top of the ball was about 20" when connected to the tow vehicle. I think the 17.25" ball height means the height of where the ball mounts. Then add a 3" high ball which puts the top of the ball just over 20". Then you need to add an inch or two for your tow vehicle to sag under the tongue weight. Airstream attached will be close for many Airstreams and tow vehicles.

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Originally Posted by featherbedder View Post
In early AS had ball height of 18 in. late 1960s AS had ball height of 21 inch then 70s changed back to 18 inch to clarify what AS used. Now I haven't any idea but 17.25 sometimes 17.5 is mentioned freq. for newer models.
I'm just telling you what worked for me on a 2017 Airstream FC25FB and a 2018 27Q Globetrotter. The same ball height worked for both. The 2018 Globetrotter its sitting in my driveway right now all hitched up with weight distribution engaged. I'm going outside to measure . . .

The bottom of the coupler is at 18.5". Top of ball is 2" higher at 20.5". Airstream sits about 1" nose low with this ball height as the rear rub rail is at 55" and the front rub rail is at 54". Therefore, a ball height as high as 21.5" would work after tongue weight sag. The F250 sags about an inch, so a 22.5" ball height before sag would make the Airstream perfectly level. Nearly identical to what I said from memory without the Airstream home to measure.

I set the "top" of the ball height at 17.5" when preparing to pick up my 2017 Airstream. I wasted money buying an extra long shank, which I then had to cut off, because it was nearly 5" too long and dragged on the ground. I'm trying to help the OP not make the same mistake I did.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:39 PM   #9
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After lifting my 30' Classic I had to re-educate myself on how to set the hitch ball height to accommodate the new height of the trailer coupler. First thing I did was to load many of the heavier items I typically take on a camping trip: generator, camp stove, fishing gear etc. which brought the vehicle down a little from the stock empty height. It seems all directions say to first level the trailer however it is next to impossible to find a truly level piece of pavement so what I did instead was to use my somewhat level driveway and set the trailer to be parallel with the surface by first measuring the distance from the frame to the ground at the front and rear of the trailer and adjusting until the measurements were equal. I then measured from the top of the coupler to the pavement which gave me the coupler height relative to the pavement surface. I then set my top of the ball height to the closest I could get to this coupler height measurement. After hooking up the trailer the truck settled about an inch due to the hitch weight but was restored to level (surface parallel) using the WD bars. Be sure to also measure your front and rear fender height on the TV so you can adjust the WD bars to restore you back to these original dimensions. If you ever do find that perfectly level surface you can then use your tape measure to verify all measurements and adjust if necessary.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinsl3 View Post
The attached image illustrates how to determine the height you need.

Thanks. This is helpful.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirMiles View Post
I set the "top" of the ball height at 17.5" when preparing to pick up my 2017 Airstream. I wasted money buying an extra long shank, which I then had to cut off, because it was nearly 5" too long and dragged on the ground. I'm trying to help the OP not make the same mistake I did.

Thanks. This is what I am trying to avoid.


My trailer is parked next to the house, but not on level ground (I have it sitting level, though). I may be able to get good measurements where it is, but maybe not. I'd prefer not to have to hook it up and pull it out, as that'd put me on a search for level ground (driveway is not).



There is a hitch shop in town that will set it up for me if I can give them the correct height of the trailer coupler. I was hoping that the "17.25 inches" from my Airstream owner's manual would be the number, but ... who knows.
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Old 09-26-2019, 02:01 PM   #12
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The LIFT KIT changes everything, as do bigger HUBS/TIRES. New AXLES with a non-standard weight rating or down angle, ditto. Old set axles and bad shocks, ditto, but to a lower measurement.
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Old 09-26-2019, 03:31 PM   #13
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Oh, amen to that. “The slightest engineering change has the most devastating side effects.”
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Old 09-26-2019, 07:39 PM   #14
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When I level my trailer for camping/living I put a carpenter's level on the kitchen counter. But when I hitch up it seems down in the front when the kitchen is level.
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Old 09-26-2019, 09:44 PM   #15
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Hi

Just a little down in front is probably a good idea. That means the tail end is a little high. It gives you a bit more clearance when going over things that might make the back end of the trailer drag. The alternative of a little high in front is not as good an idea. (you can never be dead level .... )

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Old 09-27-2019, 08:36 AM   #16
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On a tandem axle trailer I like to get the frame as level as possible in order to equalize the load on the front and rear tires. On a single axle trailer it doesn't matter much if the trailer is out of level.
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Old 09-27-2019, 08:52 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhereStream View Post
I have a new tow vehicle, a Ford Expedition, and need to set up the WD hitch.

The Expedition stands higher than the good ol' Suburban it replaced, so I will need to get a taller shank.

All requires some math, starting with this number: 17.25 inches.

That's the "hitch ball height." But what does that mean?

Is that the height of the top of the hitch ball, if the trailer is to be level?
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhereStream View Post
Thanks. This is what I am trying to avoid.

My trailer is parked next to the house, but not on level ground (I have it sitting level, though). I may be able to get good measurements where it is, but maybe not. I'd prefer not to have to hook it up and pull it out, as that'd put me on a search for level ground (driveway is not).

There is a hitch shop in town that will set it up for me if I can give them the correct height of the trailer coupler. I was hoping that the "17.25 inches" from my Airstream owner's manual would be the number, but ... who knows.

Since your trailer is single axle, level is not as important, as with a multi-axle trailer. (leveling is about keeping load equal on multi-axles)
Why not try what you have, then decide?

ps:
IMO your hitch is good at the height it is at.
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Old 09-28-2019, 01:41 PM   #18
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Went out this morning and measured the Airstream's hitch coupler.

To the top of the inside of the coupler, it appears to be 17.5 inches, so the 17.25 in the manual is on the money for how high the top of the hitch ball should stand.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:57 PM   #19
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Hi everyone,
As a single woman with a dream of buying a “22” Airstream, I’m looking for “Idiots guide thread to” learning about towing , eg, ball weight, & height ,the coupler, hitch bar, chains, payload, tongue weight, anti sway bars, weight distribution, etc GVWR, payload, & weight distribution I understand).

I know I need a 2 5/16 ball Where do you buy towing mirrors, from car dealership ? & who puts the towing package together is it the dealership or where the Airstream is purchased!

I’m wanting to get my Toyota 4 Runner ready to tow a 22 Airstream ( GVWR is Max
Thanks
Kathleenlois
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Old 10-01-2019, 08:29 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathleenlois View Post
Hi everyone,
As a single woman with a dream of buying a “22” Airstream, I’m looking for “Idiots guide thread to” learning about towing , eg, ball weight, & height ,the coupler, hitch bar, chains, payload, tongue weight, anti sway bars, weight distribution, etc GVWR, payload, & weight distribution I understand).

I know I need a 2 5/16 ball Where do you buy towing mirrors, from car dealership ? & who puts the towing package together is it the dealership or where the Airstream is purchased!

I’m wanting to get my Toyota 4 Runner ready to tow a 22 Airstream ( GVWR is Max
Thanks
Kathleenlois
Hi

Often the "easy" approach is to buy a weight distributing / anti-sway hitch (= there is more to this than just a ball on the bumper) from the dealer. They then install it and set it up to match the trailer. In our case, that process took a couple hours.

The gotcha with this is that they probably have one brand of hitch they sell. There may be one or two others they will install if you buy the parts and bring them with you. In our case / with our dealer they would work with a pretty wide range of hitches.

If you *do* buy one and bring it over, you need to be very sure you get all the right little parts. That's not impossible, but getting the wrong sized this or that could be an issue. When it's "buy theirs / let them install it", they get to deal with all the parts.

Going "buy it yourself", you can get the "right" hitch. There are roughly a billion threads here on the forum debating exactly what the "right" hitch is. It is a topic that gets people fired up. The only thing that seems to be commonly agreed to is "the one I bought is best"

=====

That covers the hitch part of things. Tow mirrors may or may not be a dealer item. Brake controllers also may or may not be a dealer item. If you need a 7 pin connector wired into your vehicle, that likely is not a dealer item. The practical answer for many of us is to buy a vehicle with a full tow package on it and all of that "stuff" comes with it.

The other thing that comes with the tow package are heavier springs and possibly other changes to make the vehicle better at towing. There are a lot of numbers involved. They all (axles, receiver, payload, GCVR ....) need to be in spec with a full load.

We went over to buy an AS that would tow with our existing SUV. At the end of the day, the basic answer was ... no can do ....

Lots of fun !!!!

Bob
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