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Old 07-18-2003, 10:35 AM   #1
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1984 29' Sovereign
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Weight Distribution

We are going on our first trip this wekend and I was wondering if anyone could answer a question concerning weight distribution hitches. I just purchased a 1984 29Ft. Sovereign and am towing it with a 1996 Suburban 2500 Diesel. The Weight Distribution hitch came with the trailer and it is rather old looking. My question is "How do you connect the weight distribution bars?" (I.E. # of links to tighten the chains) Do you just take all of the slack out of the chains or what? I have towed the trailer a short distance and it seems to tow just fine this way. I have not had any sway problems and the trailer is fairly level with the back of the truck. I have no tow experience what so ever and any info would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Tony....
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Old 07-18-2003, 10:49 AM   #2
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There is a current thread going on about weight distribution with about 40 posts. Just click on "last 24 hours" and look for it. Also, there have been a lot of past threads that you can find by using the search box.

Basically, the chains should be tightened until the front and back of the truck lower equally. With a 3/4 ton, you probably wont have to tension the bars very much. It is a lot easier to connect the chains if you hitch up and then raise the ball with the jack a few inches.
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Old 07-18-2003, 11:00 AM   #3
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On my setup, when I have attached the trailer to the vehicle tow ball, I then lift the trailer tongue using the jack about 5 inches, which also lifts the rear of the tow vehicle. I then hook the chain link which takes up all slack, and engage the mechanism which hold the chains( the higher you lift the tongue/vehicle the easier it is to engage the mechanism). Then I retract the tongue jack fully. The rig should be level at this point. If tow vehicle rear is down, you need to shorten the chains on the bars by using a link closer to the bar, if rear end is up, loosen the chains. Also, you should notice a slight "bow" in the bars.
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Old 07-18-2003, 03:26 PM   #4
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1984 29' Sovereign
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Thanks for the info. I do have another issue to address. The ball height on my truck cannot be raised or lowered. With the trailer attached, the height from the ground to the ball is 23". This is about one inch above the recommended maximum height of 22" (according to a local trailer and hitch shop) which raises the front of the trailer slightly above level. Is this a dangerous situation? Like I said earlier, it tows nicely on the interstate but Im going on a long trip and am a little concerned.

Tony...
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Old 07-18-2003, 03:35 PM   #5
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I don't know why the ball height could not be adjusted. It's a matter of having the proper drop bar which can drop the ball height from dead even of the truck receiver to in excess of 12" below the receiver height. The Reese setup I have is adjustable in a range of at leat 8-10 inches, up or down.

I don't know if the height you describe is absolutely critical, but everything I've read, or been told is that you should have the ball height match what is called for in the manual. Someone smarter than you or me did all the calculations to come up with the recommendations. I just follow them.

If I were you, i'd go to a dealer, preferably Airstream, or at least a hitch dealer and talk with them. The ball height is definitely adjustable, with the right equipment.
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Old 07-18-2003, 04:15 PM   #6
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Rick, there are 2 kinds of Reese ball mounts: adjustable, and not adjustable. (I used to have the latter; now I have both, because I was in the same situation as newae, and bought the adjustable!). You are probably familiar with the adjustable type, which have holes in the sides of the ball mount, and are bolted through corresponding holes in the vertical leg of the draw bar. the non-adjustable one's are actually *welded* in place. no adjustment possible after they were assembled. I guess they had to be "custom made" for the owner's vehicle. the tech would have some adjustment possible during the initial setup, and could adjust the height a little bit depending on the draw bar used, but once the angle and height were determined, the ball mount was welded to the draw bar permanently. The individual parts look pretty much the same as the adjustable parts, except there are no bolt holes in the head, and the draw bar was just solid.

they have pics of them at www.hitchfinder.com, which is an online retailer of reese hitches and parts.
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Old 07-18-2003, 04:24 PM   #7
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Mine is the one that is welded and cant be adjusted. I simply want to use it until I take the time to get it replaced. The guy at the hitch shop seemed to think it was ok. Any thoughts on that?

Tony.
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Old 07-18-2003, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by newae
the height from the ground to the ball is 23". This is about one inch above the recommended maximum height of 22" (according to a local trailer and hitch shop) which raises the front of the trailer slightly above level. Is this a dangerous situation? Tony...
Tony... my rule of thumb is that if it doesn't feel right, there's a reason. Obviously you were concerned or you wouldn't have asked the question. Go get an adjustable hitch and get the height right. You won't have to be concerned about it on a long trip, and it's cheap insurance. It may be fine to have your trailer front-end high right up until you slam on the brakes and crash because the weight distribution was wacky, and the truck and trailer didn't respond correctly under stress.

Roger
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Old 07-18-2003, 10:14 PM   #9
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Thanks, you are right and I will do that immediately.

Tony
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Old 07-18-2003, 11:08 PM   #10
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Tony,

I have a 1987 29' Sovereign and pull with a 2003 2500HD GMC Extended cab pickup. I have the adjustable hitch with four positions.
There was no way I would have gotten my trailer level without the adjustable hitch.
I have a manual and read all the factory recommendations on trailer height, ball height, etc. but, at the end of the exercise, I hooked up and took the rig to a flat paved lot and started measuring the trailer frame front vs rear to ground, the truck front vs rear to ground, and starting adjusting.
After I got the hitch position right (lowest of four positions), my chains came in at the 5th link from the bar with truck level. They are only lightly loaded.
You need to get that 29' trailer level because it will drag plenty in the rear due to its length.
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