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Old 11-05-2006, 05:30 AM   #1
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1990 29' Excella
Lexington , North Carolina
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Best Brake Controller & Hitch???

I'm a newby here, and I just found a 21' Airstream that I am making an offer on, and was curious what the consensus is concerning the best hitches and brake controllers.

I currently own a 2005 Grand Cherokee, which, reviewing some of the forum comments, is not particularly well thought of as a tow vehicle, but I'm not really certain why. It doesn't matter, probably, because that is what I've got, but would like to know any problems I should watch for.

Thanks in advance for you comments.
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Old 11-05-2006, 05:39 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum.

I like the Reese hitch with Dual Cam anti-sway, and Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller. Member overlander64 made several posts on his experiences with different types of brake controllers, and all are worth reading.

Tom
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Old 11-05-2006, 05:45 AM   #3
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I have a Jordan Ultima 2020 brake controller, which I really like. It is set so that I can feel the trailer brakes doing slightly more than their job (i.e. I need less pedal pressure to stop with the trailer attached than solo). I do need to ease up a bit as I come to a stop to avoid jounce and rebound of the trailer. However, it is a very smooth controller, and once it is adjusted correctly, you hardly need to touch it again.

Because it is activated by a cable connecting the controller to the brake pedal arm, the trailer braking system responds instantly to movement of the brake predal. (The readout jumps instantly to 8.5 (or so) amps as soon as I touch the brake pedal, and then backs down to an amperage consistent with how much pressure I am applying.) This means the trailer brakes can be activated fully even while the combination is stationary.

The Tekonsha Prodigy is perhaps the most popular unit among those looking for a smooth, high quality controller. However, it is an inertia-based unit, providing braking amperage in proportion to the tow vehicles deceleration. On the other hand, it is easier to install and set up than the Jordan.

Cheap time-based controllers are fundamentally unsafe. With those, you will get maximum trailer braking power sometime after you've hit what you were trying to stop for. Or you will get whiplash from the inconsistent brake application.
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Old 11-05-2006, 07:48 AM   #4
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Jeeps have relatively short wheelbases and therefore are less stable, have a bumpier ride and more suceptible to trailer sway than other TV's. If you travel at reasonable speeds and buy a good weight distribution hitch with sway control and have the installing company install it properly you should be alright. Just remember if it feels unsafe, it is. Keep your loaded on board stuff to a minimum and properly distribute it to give you the maxmum tongue weight and then use the weight distribution bars to distribute it to the front wheels of the Jeep.
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Old 11-05-2006, 08:25 AM   #5
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Best Brake Controller & Hitch???

Greetings RichWoodward!

Welcome to the Forums!

I, too, am a fan of the Reese Strait-Line hitch that incorporates the Dual Cam Sway Control. I have utilized this hitch system with my Overlander for the better part of the past decade, and with my Minuet for all but the first three months that I owned the coach (I was witing for clarification from Reese regarding the recommendations regarding the Dual Cam setup).

When I frist investigated the Reese Dual Cam (Strait-Line Hitch) in the late 1970s, the dealer that I consulted insisted that it shouldn't be used with a coach weighing less than 4,000 pounds -- the Nomad coach that I was purchasing had a GVWR of 3,500 pounds so I didn't purchase the Strait-Line Hitch. In 1995, when I purchased the '64 Overlander, I went with a standard Reese Trunion Hitch due to cost considerations; but upgraded to the Dual Cam setup less than six months later for the additional peace of mind.

When I purchased the Minuet three years ago, I was uncertain of Reese's current recommendations for use of the Dual Cam system, so I contacted the factory. The response that I received from the factory indicated that the gross weight of the coach wasn't as important as the hitch weight -- as long as the hitch weight is 400 pounds or greater the Dual Cams will perform their intended tasks. My Minuet carries a typical hitch weight of 525 to 550 pounds when it is loaded for a typical vacation trip so I ordered the Strait-Line hitch packge for the Minuet and have found that it performs beautifully with the coach. With the Minuet, I try to be certain that the front mounted water tank is full each morning before departing; and I have the LP tanks filled before departing home on each trip -- this helps to insure that the hitch weight is kept above the threshold for the best performance of the Dual Cam system.

Regarding brake controllers, every member of the Forums has their favorites, and in some cases, it is a result of comfort built up over several years of acceptable service from a particular unit. Prior to purchasing my Suburban in 1998, I had always utilized Hayes-Lemmerz brake controllers because I like their remote control feature that allows emergency control of the trailer brakes from a point other than the brake controller itself. In 1998, my Airstream dealer, Ace Fogdall RV in Cedar Falls, IA recommended a Tekonsha unit that was comparable in price to my previous Hayes-Lemmerz (it was the model immediately below the Prodigy) -- while I have been satisfied with the performance of the controller, I still prefer the Hayes-Lemmerz controllers that I have in my '75 Cadillac and '65 Dodge Coronet 500 tow vehicles.

If I were to purchase a new brake controller today, I would go with the Hayes-Lemmerz Energize XPC withour reservation. The Hayes-Lemmerz Energize XPC is described in the link below:

http://www.hayesbc.com/energizexpc.html

When I purchased my most recent Hayes-Lemmerz Energize XPC controller, I went with a dealer (Kamper Supply) who happens to be located near my family home and maintains a web presence. They continue to list Hayes Lemmerz products in their on-line catalog. The link for the Energize XPC is below:

http://www.rvlifestyles.net/Parts.as...f-2dad6a08889e

I particularly like this controller with my Dodge where the coach weight is very near if not a bit greater than the car's weight (Minuet), and substantially more coach weight than tow vehicle with the Overlander. In this situation, the trailer can be a bit more prone to sway or yaw, and having the remote emergency switch is a very handy and comforting option (I have rarely needed it with my Argosy or Airstream, but needed it very frequently with the Nomad/Dodge combination).

While you didn't mention this as a concern, with your tow vehicle you will likely need a good set of trailering mirrors. Even with a Vintage coach, the mid-size tow vehicle's side mirror aren't going to be capable of providing the field of vision that you will need with your Airstream for maximum safety. Over the years, I have tried a number of different solutions ranging from various clamp-on mirrors that attached either to the fenders or the doors of the tow vehicle -- and in most cases, these tended to either abrade the paint or chrome where they were attached. Then, I tried the various clamp on mirrors that worked with the tow vehicle's existing mirrors -- none provided the range of vision that I was searching for, and most either had problems with vibration or abraision of the mirror surfaces where they attached. After years of looking at the McKesh mirrors, I finally purchased my first set in 1999 -- these mirrors are easy to adjust, mount securely, and with some attention to careful cleaning of the surfaces where they contact the tow vehicle, I haven't experienced any problems with paint/trim damage on any of my three tow vehicles. I even was fortunate enough to acquire a set of 1970s McKesh mirrors at the 2002 WBCCI International Rally Flea Market to complete my Cadillac/Minuet ensemble as they stopped producing the chrome and polished stainless steel McKesh mirrors sometime in the 1980s. You can find McKesch mirrors on the web at:

http://www.hensleymfg.com/mckeshmirrors.html

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 11-05-2006, 09:59 AM   #6
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Good answer Kevin! Hello Rich -- and welcome to the Forums!

I'm using a Prodigy controller and have no complaints. If you look at Jordan, hold off until they have the new model that will be compatible with both drum and disc brakes.

John "Pahaska" Irwin turned my head in the direction of the Reese Dual Cam HP hitch, newly available in the last 3-4 years.It bolts through the A-frame rather than going around the A-frame with U bolts (which might interfere with LP tanks or installed battery compartment). The Receiver head is also a very nice forged casting. I have this on my Safari -- nice clean installation! I had a sudden avoidance maneuver a couple months ago and the trailer behaved beautifully, staying exactly inline without sway like the TV and Safari were one unit. I was impressed! We shouldn't overlook the Equal-i-zer WD antisway hitch, but I'll let those owners speak up. Definitely avoid any friction antisway setups.
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Old 11-06-2006, 10:53 AM   #7
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Thanks All.

Just called and purchased a 1976 21' Globetrotter in pretty nice condition. I have taken your advice and purchased the Reese Dual Cam HP Hitch and a Prodigy brake controller. Now I have to put off playing with it as I am having a shoulder reconstructed tomorrow creating a little sheet time. Hopefully, by next week, I will get a chance to play with this a little bit.

I certainly appreciate all of your advice. This is an extemely friendly and helpful forum.
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:31 AM   #8
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Alright Rich -- and best luck with the shoulder surgery.

The installer of the HP brackets will have to be very aware that the breakaway switch wires and any prewire for electric jack will run through the roadside steel channel.

Your purchase will become official when we get to see pictures!
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Old 11-06-2006, 01:23 PM   #9
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I think you should consider the Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller as a starting point. I've used it and it worked great. I made the mistake of buying a cheaper "time delay" controller from Hoppy and while it works it's a hassle and requires a lot of fiddling to get right. I could only recommend it to someone towing an extremely light trailer in relation to their tow vehicle or someone that's only towing a couple of times a year. There's lots of good options out there but I don't think you'll find one you're happy with for less money that the Prodigy.

If you're hitch setup is correct you shouldn't have a sway issue. I think any of the WD hitch systems work well and the key is that they be properly set-up. The Robins is a knock off of the old EA-Z-Lift design and works perfectly well. I have an older Reese trunion style hitch now and love it for the easy of use and the added ground clearance. The older Reese uses the friction type sway control which isn't as slick as some of the other designs. My experience is tthe hitch setup makes far more difference than the add on sway device. Investing in a good hitch is like buying insurance; when you need it it's worth every cent and then some.

-Bernie
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Old 11-06-2006, 04:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichWoodward
I'm a newby here, and I just found a 21' Airstream that I am making an offer on, and was curious what the consensus is concerning the best hitches and brake controllers.

I currently own a 2005 Grand Cherokee, which, reviewing some of the forum comments, is not particularly well thought of as a tow vehicle, but I'm not really certain why. It doesn't matter, probably, because that is what I've got, but would like to know any problems I should watch for.

Thanks in advance for you comments.
If you want a lesson on sway bars, check out these 2 post, unreal,
there are some really sharp people on this subject.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ars-23809.html

http://www.airforums.com/forum...sis-19236.html
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Old 11-06-2006, 04:53 PM   #11
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String of Coincidences...

I just noticed the towns on all of the replies. I have to mention that I was born in Decatur, IL, my wife lived, for a time, in McHenry, IL. I had an apartment, for over a year, in South Lyon, MI and my sister used to live in Woodinville, WA.

Thanks for all of the help.
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Old 11-06-2006, 07:07 PM   #12
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We tow our 25' Safari with a Hensley Arrow and a Prodigy controller. All I can say is that the results have been excellent.
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Old 11-08-2006, 12:22 PM   #13
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We tow with the Equal-I-Zer hitch and Prodigy controller and have been very pleased with both. Try doing a search on "Equal-I-Zer" to find other posts
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Old 11-08-2006, 12:31 PM   #14
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Congrats!

Another vote for Equalizer/Prodigy combo.

BTW, I think you will be fine with your TV. A 21' should be within the weight limitations, and while Jeeps do have short wheelbases, they also have very short overhangs. This means your TV axle to AS axle ratio should be fine.
I would not recommend towing with a Jeep CJ, but the Grand Cherokee should be more than adequate.
Of course, double check all of your weights and use the 80% rule. I can attest first hand that you don't want to be near you limits with the TV...

Bill
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