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Old 06-13-2008, 01:08 AM   #1
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New Member with tow questions

Hi everyone,

After many years of searching and dreaming of owning an Airstream, I finally made the plunge and purchased a 1997 28' Excella Classic, so I guess I'm one of you now

I've been looking around this site and can see there is a wealth of information here and I am looking forward in the future of exploring deeper.

Right now I need some help in answering a towing question: The Airstream came with a EZ lift sway bar assembly, I was wondering if any of you are familar with this system. After buying the trailer I had to tow it about 30 miles and I was definitly aware it was back there. This was especially noticeable on rises in the highway as it was causing the TV to buck and I was getting a light feeling in the head end of the truck. I was wondering if this tow system was only made for side to side swaying or is it also suppose to dampen any up and down motion, my TV is a 1/2 ton chevy Z71.

A friend of mine has a EZ lift Hitch system that has two bars with a chain on the end that fits on the A frame of the trailer, the chains are place on a latch by using a lever, this puts a bow in the bars. He says this transfers a lot of the trailer weight to the frame of the TV. I don't know if my system is doing this as the previous owner says that the bars shouldn't be tight.

I'm curious if my current hitch system is satisfactory for this trailer and I'm just setting it up wrong or should I upgrade to a different system, and if so, what is the best way to go without spending and arm and a leg.

Thanks for any input,

Henry (let the adventure begin)
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Old 06-13-2008, 01:56 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HankO View Post
Hi everyone,

After many years of searching and dreaming of owning an Airstream, I finally made the plunge and purchased a 1997 28' Excella Classic, so I guess I'm one of you now

I've been looking around this site and can see there is a wealth of information here and I am looking forward in the future of exploring deeper.

Right now I need some help in answering a towing question: The Airstream came with a EZ lift sway bar assembly, I was wondering if any of you are familar with this system. After buying the trailer I had to tow it about 30 miles and I was definitly aware it was back there. This was especially noticeable on rises in the highway as it was causing the TV to buck and I was getting a light feeling in the head end of the truck. I was wondering if this tow system was only made for side to side swaying or is it also suppose to dampen any up and down motion, my TV is a 1/2 ton chevy Z71.

A friend of mine has a EZ lift Hitch system that has two bars with a chain on the end that fits on the A frame of the trailer, the chains are place on a latch by using a lever, this puts a bow in the bars. He says this transfers a lot of the trailer weight to the frame of the TV. I don't know if my system is doing this as the previous owner says that the bars shouldn't be tight.

I'm curious if my current hitch system is satisfactory for this trailer and I'm just setting it up wrong or should I upgrade to a different system, and if so, what is the best way to go without spending and arm and a leg.

Thanks for any input,

Henry (let the adventure begin)
You must use a proper rated "load equalizing hitch."

One of the best for the money is a Reese dual cam.

The EAZ lift sway control is nothing more than a friction device. It has no idea if your in a straight line or not.

The Reese dual cam, does know when your in a straight line or not.

The rating of the torsion bar is related to the trailer tongue weight and the type tow vehicle.

Generally speaking, with any large size Airstream, 1000 pound bars are used for the old type cars that were used years ago.

For a 1/2 ton truck, with no overload springs, the rating is 750 pounds.

For a 3/4 ton or more tow vehicle, the rating should be 500 to 600 pounds.

You must not use a super heavy duty torsion bar rating on heavy duty tow vehicles. To do so, punished the trailer, especially in the front.

Also a super heavy duty hitch, in your case, will add to many problems, all related to transfering road shock, thru the hitch, to the trailer.

Andy
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Old 06-13-2008, 02:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HankO View Post
Hi everyone,


A friend of mine has a EZ lift Hitch system that has two bars with a chain on the end that fits on the A frame of the trailer, the chains are place on a latch by using a lever, this puts a bow in the bars. He says this transfers a lot of the trailer weight to the frame of the TV. I don't know if my system is doing this as the previous owner says that the bars shouldn't be tight.

I'm curious if my current hitch system is satisfactory for this trailer and I'm just setting it up wrong or should I upgrade to a different system, and if so, what is the best way to go without spending and arm and a leg.

Thanks for any input,

Henry (let the adventure begin)
The load bars should have tension on them and not be "loose" . They should be tight. Do you know what the weight rating is on the bars you received with your trailer ?
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Old 06-13-2008, 06:21 AM   #4
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Sway Bars

Quote:
Originally Posted by HankO View Post
Hi everyone,

After many years of searching and dreaming of owning an Airstream, I finally made the plunge and purchased a 1997 28' Excella Classic, so I guess I'm one of you now

I've been looking around this site and can see there is a wealth of information here and I am looking forward in the future of exploring deeper.

Right now I need some help in answering a towing question: The Airstream came with a EZ lift sway bar assembly, I was wondering if any of you are familar with this system. After buying the trailer I had to tow it about 30 miles and I was definitly aware it was back there. This was especially noticeable on rises in the highway as it was causing the TV to buck and I was getting a light feeling in the head end of the truck. I was wondering if this tow system was only made for side to side swaying or is it also suppose to dampen any up and down motion, my TV is a 1/2 ton chevy Z71.

A friend of mine has a EZ lift Hitch system that has two bars with a chain on the end that fits on the A frame of the trailer, the chains are place on a latch by using a lever, this puts a bow in the bars. He says this transfers a lot of the trailer weight to the frame of the TV. I don't know if my system is doing this as the previous owner says that the bars shouldn't be tight.

I'm curious if my current hitch system is satisfactory for this trailer and I'm just setting it up wrong or should I upgrade to a different system, and if so, what is the best way to go without spending and arm and a leg.

Thanks for any input,

Henry (let the adventure begin)
Henry, You might consider a new system, I had the same hitch sway bars you do (now laying in the garage), no paperwork except the box lid that has the part number on it, googled and got the website and contacted the company and come to find out the one I have no longer has parts available for it in addition it was rated at 500lb and was designed for a smaller trailer (18-22FT), my A/S is a 31Ft and I am using a GMC Seira 1500 Ext Cab Short Bed, went to the local U-Haul dealer who also happens to be a hitch dealer and he got me one with a 1200 rating most sway companies are now offering 750/1200/15000 ratings, however you can still find the 1000, anyways given the fact that my hitch weight was going to be in the 900 to 1000 range loaded I opted for the 1200, this new style does not have chains but instead uses a pad, now according to the manufacturer you have to park the TV and trailer on level ground, unhook, level the trailer out front to rear, back TV up to the trailer, this determins the height of the hitch, (mine said 1" above) set hitch accordingly, then hooked up the TV and trailer, used the trailer jack to pick up the rear of the TV to the height needed to hooked up tow bars, then raised the trailer jack, step back and look at the TV and trailer it should set level, I then took it for a ride with the owner of the hitch company (he has a 32FT camper and knows about these sway bars), he was very impressed with the difference with the bars and how they worked, we did however discover that we did have to raise the bars one more notch to place a little more control to the front of the TV.
I drove the set up 50 miles with both setups and liked the second one best, I then made the trip from my home to A/S factory in OH (560 Mi) and even in 25 mph wind gusts it handled flawlessly, had to make several turns and 1 U-turn, and it never gave me a problem no popping or nothing. Just so you know this is the first time I have used sway bars, my past camping travels have been with a 5th wheel.

Sarge
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:55 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Forums!

Those Weight distribution and anti sway hitches are actually safty devices. They also make towing easier on you the driver.

$300-$500 is cheap to keep the family safe and the strain of towing a squirrly trailer off you. Go new and get it set up right and you won't regret it.
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Old 06-13-2008, 01:10 PM   #6
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For a contrarian view, I'd suggest that the Lindon Equal-i-zer is on a par with the Reese Dual Cam and that load distribution and sway inhibiting mechanisms are not really safety choices but rather handling improvement mechanisms. I'd also suggest that your 28' trailer should not be sensitive to handling problems if it is properly loaded and rigged.

Do keep in mind that load leveling or load distribution is a different thing than sway inhibition. Load leveling uses spring bars that lift the hitch point and transfer load to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer axles. Its primary purpose is to make sure your steering wheels have sufficient weight on them for effective steering.

Sway inhibiting mechanisms reduce the influence of sideways forces on the trailer as perceived by the driver. Trailer rigs tend towards oversteer and inexperienced drivers can respond improperly to having the tow vehicles rear end pushed by the trailer.

Sway inhibition has three levels. Most common is a friction bar. A step up is the Resse Dual Cam or Lindon Equal-i-zer. The Pull Rite or Hensley type hitches change the geometry and take the effort into a third class. - Again, an Airstream properly rigged should not need much for sway inhibiting unless there is a deficiency in the tow vehicle.

For load leveling, the tension on the spring bars should be such that lifting the tongue 5 to 7 inches removes it.

Do please watch out for people trying to tell you that spending money is cheap insurance or other such platitudes. Spend your money and effort wisely on things that will give you the most bang for your buck. Load distributing hitches and sway controls are something you need to do after you have taken care of the fundamentals such as tires and tire pressure, proper loading. It is the driver that is the key and you must be responsible for your rig and aware of what it tells you.
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Old 06-13-2008, 03:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Leipper View Post
For a contrarian view, I'd suggest that the Lindon Equal-i-zer is on a par with the Reese Dual Cam and that load distribution and sway inhibiting mechanisms are not really safety choices but rather handling improvement mechanisms. I'd also suggest that your 28' trailer should not be sensitive to handling problems if it is properly loaded and rigged.

Do keep in mind that load leveling or load distribution is a different thing than sway inhibition. Load leveling uses spring bars that lift the hitch point and transfer load to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer axles. Its primary purpose is to make sure your steering wheels have sufficient weight on them for effective steering.

Sway inhibiting mechanisms reduce the influence of sideways forces on the trailer as perceived by the driver. Trailer rigs tend towards oversteer and inexperienced drivers can respond improperly to having the tow vehicles rear end pushed by the trailer.

Sway inhibition has three levels. Most common is a friction bar. A step up is the Resse Dual Cam or Lindon Equal-i-zer. The Pull Rite or Hensley type hitches change the geometry and take the effort into a third class. - Again, an Airstream properly rigged should not need much for sway inhibiting unless there is a deficiency in the tow vehicle.

For load leveling, the tension on the spring bars should be such that lifting the tongue 5 to 7 inches removes it.

Do please watch out for people trying to tell you that spending money is cheap insurance or other such platitudes. Spend your money and effort wisely on things that will give you the most bang for your buck. Load distributing hitches and sway controls are something you need to do after you have taken care of the fundamentals such as tires and tire pressure, proper loading. It is the driver that is the key and you must be responsible for your rig and aware of what it tells you.
Caravanner Insurance data, who only insured Airstream and Argosy trailers, showed 2/3 of all loss of control accidents were caused by rear end modifications to the tow vehicle, including improper hitch ratings and/or a sway control problem.

Further defining it, the friction sway control was a small help over no sway control. A torsion sway control (Reese) was at the bottom of the list for being a part of the problem.

Non sway control hitches, such as Equalizer and Eaz lift have no idea if your rig is in a straight line.

Because of "unequal increase in stress" when making a turn with a Reese straight line or dual cam hitch, it does know when your "NOT" in a straight line.

We proved that over 90 percent of loss of control accidents, specifically towing an Airstream or Argosy trailers, "was preventable."

Why does it still happen??

Because people listen to opinions and not facts.

I have the facts on over 1000 loss of control accidents, involving those 1 trailers brands.

Andy
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Old 06-13-2008, 03:37 PM   #8
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Andy,

What is your opinion regarding hitches other than the basic cup over a knob?

For example, do you consider the Hensley to be the best and safest, as I have read many times on this site?
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Old 06-13-2008, 03:40 PM   #9
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hi henry and welcome to the party!

good luck sorting out your hitch issues, we all have our favorites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Caravanner Insurance data...
no offense but this "data" is 30+ years old...

and NO ONE has access 2 it but you.

i have absolutely NO FAITH in any of the information the 'cid' might provide,

because it is based on vehicles and roads and a WORLD that no longer exists.

and because none of US can read the info directly and interpret what is contained there.

it only becomes 'proven' or reaches 'scientific fact status' when...

DUPLICATED (repeated by another party)
OPENLY PRESENTED (made available to others in 'raw form')
INTERPRETED BY OTHERS (other parties agree with the findings)
and so on...

even then projecting FORWARD material 30 years old is tricky...

it's not like the work done by a/s insurance resulted in the 'law of gravity'...

in addition dictums like this leak like a poorly sealed 'stream in 2008...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
...For a 3/4 ton or more tow vehicle, the rating should be 500 to 600 pounds...
using 5-600 lb bars with a MODERN 3/4 ton tv towing ANY MODERN 28ft+ 'stream will not provide adequate wt redistribution...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
...as I have read many times on this site?
this may be how some folks view the haha or it may be your interpretation of the information provided about it...

and is the fodder for many hotnwild threads here.

but "safest" and "best" are subjective terms with MANY definitions...

in my view the product DOES what it claims,

and results in a mostly relaxed towing experience even in dicey situations...

but the mass of fat
encased in bone
riding on the spine
of the 'hitch' behind the wheel...
is still an unknown
where MOST of the 'safety' is derived...

cheers
2air'
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Old 06-13-2008, 03:59 PM   #10
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Before we get into a shouting match, to answer the gist of your post, I think everyone that has responded is in agreement that you need to invest in a new hitch that is matched to your tow vehicle and Airstream configuration. Whether safety, comfort, or both.

And welcome to the airforums. Good luck with your decision on a new hitch and no, you don't have to spend $3,000 unless you want to get rid of an arm and a leg.
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Old 06-13-2008, 06:46 PM   #11
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Andy,

What is your opinion regarding hitches other than the basic cup over a knob?

For example, do you consider the Hensley to be the best and safest, as I have read many times on this site?
I towed a loaded 31 foot Airstream that weighed 8500 pounds, all over the United States, for the purpose of training dealer service and parts departments.

Over and above that, I also had to travel, via the flight, to wherever we had a loss of control accident. It was my job, to document all of the equipment and the rigging. I had to write a report as to what, if possible, was the most contributing factor that lead to the loss of control, AND, prove it. We then, compiled the stats, and could actually predict that with a given poor rigging, someone was an excellent candidate to lose control of their rig.

We proved it over and over again, hundreds of times.

There will always be those that disagree, but again, facts far out weigh opinions. I have reported information on literally over 1000 investigations, which is far removed from opinions. It must have more than some value, when engineers failed to disprove the information gathered from the data.

I always used a Reese straight line hitch.

For my money, it's still, to me, the top of the "best list," since it does have a brain, that knows when your not in a straight line, and it offers assistance via changes in torsion, that helps getting the entire rig, back into a straight line.

A proper rated, properly installed, properly adjusted load equaling hitch made by Reese, is still the tops.

However, in fairness, I do not have any personal experience with the Hensley, therefore I cannot offer any opinions about it.

This data, at the time, was priveleged information. Since I was the solo person that obtained that information, I was, needless to say, taken over the carpet many times. But the bottom linewas, inspite of that, the Insurance company and Airstream and it's engineers, could not prove the data was defective in any way.

The laws of Physics is the same today as it was 40 years ago. Having different types of tow vehicles doesn't change the pysics.

Different size and weight trailers coupled with different tow vehicles, requires as much attention today as it ever did, when selecting a load equalizing hitch.

Super heavy duty everything, is not necessary, and in fact can cause more problems than it cures.

Andy
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Old 06-13-2008, 09:49 PM   #12
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Welcome to the Forums, Henry. We're glad to have you with us.

As you can see, you've opened a bucket of worms. There are some pretty strong feeling around here about hitch systems and tow vehicles.

When towing a large Airstream like yours, you need both weight distribution and sway control. WD transfers half of the tongue weight to the front axle of the TV. This is very important because you need to get some of the weight to the front axle to maintain effective steering control. A floating front end is courting disaster. Sway control is also very important. You definitely don't want to be swerving down the highway after a semi passes you. This makes for a very unpleasant Airstream adventure.

I noticed that your TV is a half ton Chevy. Keep a close eye on the OEM hitch receiver. I have had two of these receivers fail with broken welds. On my latest Suburban, I just replaced the receiver with a class IV as soon as I got it. The GM factory receivers are junk for heavy towing.

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Old 06-13-2008, 10:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goin camping View Post
Welcome to the Forums!

Those Weight distribution and anti sway hitches are actually safty devices. They also make towing easier on you the driver.

$300-$500 is cheap to keep the family safe and the strain of towing a squirrly trailer off you. Go new and get it set up right and you won't regret it.


Ditto..... Do it right the first time. There are all kinds of weight-distribution and sway-control set-ups costing from around $300.- to $3000.-. But whatever you do, do it A.S.A.P.! If you don't live near someone that can help go to a dealer or trailer sales co.
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Old 06-14-2008, 12:16 AM   #14
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sorry to have opened the can of worms, I guess. experiences do differ and it is always a good thing to take care in separating opinion from fact. This is an important topic and the emotional responses really do a disservice, IMHO, in that they drag the discussion away from important issues.

The safety thing of course applies to everything to some degree or other. My point is that if indeed the hitch choice was such a significant safety factor there would be laws, regulations, and insurance discounts related to them. There aren't any such that I know of.

There are laws and regulations about things such as safety chains, brakes, and breakaway switches. Despite that, it is amazing how many folks have improperly connected chains and breakaway links that are totally useless. Do you observe hitch rigging when on the road and camping? It is a good practice as you'll see a lot of things you will (should) promise yourself not to emulate.

Then there are the obvious safety issues like improperly adjusted hitches, safety chains and umbilicals that drag on the ground or bind or are poorly secured, tires that are not at a proper pressure or are otherwise suffering, improper rig loading, insecure loads, and more.

As for traffic crashes, that data is public. See Pay attention to the task at hand while driving! for links and a summary of Nevada crash statistics. Besides falling asleep at the wheel, trailerists need to avoid sudden maneuvers and roads closed to high profile vehicles due to wind.

Mentioning physics is fun, too, especially with the advertising hype about the Reese dual cam sway inhibiting device. Ask a physicist about the usual effect of a self centering force. Ask an engineer about the friction forces on that cam. The fact is that, like shock absorbers, the issue is one of damping. Then you can get into inertia and the fact that most loss of control events are from things like inappropriately sudden maneuvers or improper driver response to stimuli (driven oscillations in physics speak). This can also get into the various levers and center of mass implications that are behind the excellent handling of Airstream trailers. Fun stuff and it is really too bad you can't discuss them without somebody's ego (or something) dominating the discussion.

Also take note that mobile home haulers don't use sway inhibiting or load leveling hitch rigging. Most of the folks that haul RV trailers from manufacturer to dealer don't either.

There's a lot of real world experience out there talking to you if you observe and listen. The emotion behind many of these discussions is one whisper. Actual practice, law, and insurances rates are others. There are probably no simple answers here so take care and find what is best for you.
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