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Old 04-26-2006, 11:15 AM   #1
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Stiff suspension on TV & impact on trailer

I'd like to get input on whether a very stiff suspension on a tow vehicle can cause negative consequences on the trailer being towed. I have a '99 Ford F250 SD Supercab Long Bed 4X4. 5.4L V8 MT with 4:10 rear end and weight distribution hitch. The truck has the camper and tow package. I believe the camper package has an extra set of "overload" springs compared to the stock suspension. I bought this package because I originally carried a truck camper prior to purchasing my '71 Safari tandem axle. The truck currently has a light weight aluminum shell on the back and gives a very stiff ride. The dry weight of the Safari with some of our gear in it weighs around 3,850#'s. Gross weight is 5,200#'s. The truck handles the trailer just fine. One hardly knows it is back there when on the flats. Of course, with the V8 I do loose speed when going over the mountain passes but it is acceptable. Is there anything I should be concerned about when towing this trailer with the stiff suspension on my Ford? If so, is there anything that can be done to alleviate it short of getting another tow vehicle? The truck only had 49,000 miles on it and the cost/benefit hardly justifies a new truck unless there are serious issues.
Any feedback is appreciated.
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Old 04-26-2006, 03:53 PM   #2
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It's been said that having a tow vehicle with an excessively stiff ride can have an adverse effect on the trailer, since the energy transfers to it via the hitching point.

If you know for a fact you have helper springs on the truck, I'd go ahead and remove them. Also consider moving to a load range D tire which should give a bit more forgiving ride. Obviously this means reducing the tow rating of the truck below the rating with installed tow package. With this particular trailer, you should then be okay with this truck as a tow vehicle.
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Old 04-26-2006, 05:34 PM   #3
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If you stay on very smooth roads, it will not make much difference. If you like the back roads and get into bumpy roads, it makes alot of difference. Follow advice of previous poster. Make sure you check the load chart for the tires you propose to use to make sure you do not run them too low in pressure to improve the ride. If you run too low pressure the tires will overheat and blow out. If you have one of the trailer which are prone to frame separation, stiff suspension will definitely cause the problem to occur faster.
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Old 04-26-2006, 06:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwightdi
If you stay on very smooth roads, it will not make much difference.
This reminds me of a recent thread about how bouncy things can get with seams on concrete freeways. So it'd not be guaranteed...

Others have tried air hitches. I've seen a few recent threads. I do recall one forums member wondering about the flexing he was seeing with the additional length in the hitch area.
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Old 04-26-2006, 06:34 PM   #5
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This thread is worth a read.

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Old 04-26-2006, 06:39 PM   #6
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This is the thead I really wanted you to see when I posted the above message.

While it starts off seemingly unrelated to your question, Inland Andy provides some excellent insight into how one can have too much tow vehicle, suspension-wise, when towing an Airstream.

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Old 04-26-2006, 07:10 PM   #7
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Tom, in regards to the thread you posted... Does that discussion just apply to the Reese Hitch? Are there similar concerns if someone is using a Hensley? I have never towed a day in my life, but all that will be changing very soon.
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Old 04-26-2006, 07:15 PM   #8
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From reading the reply from TomW and the thread he directed me to, it looks like I have to establish what type of weight distribution bars I have, as well as the relative weights of the truck axles and trailer.
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Old 04-26-2006, 10:30 PM   #9
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TGK, do yourself a BIG favor, read the info on the Reese website instead of what the posters here post. Their intentions are great, and we all have opinions, yet the Reese engineers have spent mucho time and effort to come up with their guidelines and limitations. They know what they are doing.
Also, always use the GVWR as listed on tow vehicles manuals when figuring out what to use.
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Old 04-26-2006, 10:53 PM   #10
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hi guys....

i completely respect what inland andy has explained about bars....and mostly agree.

the main point however is that with the dual cam or cam type hitch set ups the bars need to bend/flex enough to remain engaged and allow the sway control to work....so lighter bars, flexed enough will produce sway control AND load redistribution....while stiffer bars may not flex enough for effective sway control even though they will redistribute loads....

zomby.....on this issue for the hensley.......the bars are bolted at the ends, and there are no cams so flex isn't needed for antisway. currently there are only 2 bar options 1000lbs or 1400lbs......you will need the 1000lb bars.

back to the original poster and question.....which i interpret as......
"does a stiff t.v. suspension have a negative effect on the trailer and if so how much" and what can i do about it.....on my f-250.

andy and many others have posted in countless threads that airstreams like softly sprung rides.....this is posted so many times that it seems like gospel.

i don't disagree (completely) and certainly anecdotes and testimonials support this idea....but that isn't real proof....

for me to fully accept it, i'd need more solid scientific data....like force measures/vibration recordings, strain guage data, and so on....with data to suggest whether it's the high freqency/low amplitude vibes or low frequency/high amplitude vibes which are more harmful....doing this data research isn't likely to happen. and understanding which influence is greatest over a 20-30 year span.......may not be possible....do we even know this info for jets?......is it flying or landing that is harder on the body rivets?

so we are left to guess and rely on those with experience....hum.......

poorly balanced running gear is also blamed for most of the same 'loose rivet' and shaken trailer issues.....so how knows which it is?

here is my current but evolving viewpoint.......

it depends a little on model, length and # of axles....but mostly the trailer rides on it's own suspension not the t.v. so it would seem to me properly inflated tires, adjusted for load and balanced running gear and fresh torsen axles.......would matter more that the stiffness of the t.v.....

only about 10% of the trailer mass is on the tongue....while 90% is on the trailer's axles/tires.....so most shaking and vibration must come from this area....not the tongue.

with my 34 the triaxles are just about centered under the trailer....so i focus on this area for trailer vibration.....and the road conditions under the axles/tires.....so speed bumps under the trailer axles and tire pressure and torsen flex....not the tongue/hitch stiffness.

for single axle trailers or shorter trailers or heavy tongue loads.......
tongue vibration might be a bigger issue and t.v. stiffness more important.

it seems to me,
the orginal poster, might want to adjust t.v. tire pressures for measured load and that will soften the ride some. also his bars should be rated for the tongue weight....if that turns out to be 500lbs or 750lbs the bars should be close to this rating...on the lighter side. i don't think he needs to alter the truck significantly or trade for something softer.....as a way to protect the trailer.....from vibration.....however the trailer tires and axles may need attention along with balancing this running gear.

and i agree that for most of us most of the time the bar ratings should be based on tongue weight as most tables suggest. for the hensley there are currently only 2 options 1000lbs or 1400lbs. i'm not sure they offer or will support using lighter bars in the hopes of softening the trailer ride....

cheers
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Old 04-27-2006, 04:23 PM   #11
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I tow our Caravel with a F250 4x4 and we've covered around 15,000 miles over the last year. I use the Equalizer hitch with 600 pound bars, and tow with the water tank full and I've not lost any rivets nor are any loose. I did replace the axle when I bought the coach and had disk brakes with centramatic balancers installed. I also keep the tires at max inflation which is 50 psi on the trailer and 85 on the rear of the truck. When we had the Overlander I did loose rivets on the inside up to when the axles were replaced and centramatics added. After that I didn't loose any rivets. My F250 is very stiff when empty, but a little hitch weight seems to be enough to smooth it out.
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Old 05-14-2006, 01:31 PM   #12
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On my TV, I just hook up and go. No bars - no special hitch. The rear end of the truck is air ride and automatically adjusts as load and road conditions change. I have our dogs water dish on the floor of the trailer centered over the axles -- no loss of water when I'm towing --- while this is not scientific, it does tell me my trailer is riding as smooth as possible. Also I've never encountered any sway - or tail waging the dog problem (TV weight is double the trailer weight). There is some talk on the Forum of "To much hitch"... guess I fall into that area as well.

Guess I could just put the trailer up on the truck if I had any problems Single axle rating of my truck is 20,000 pounds - and still average 12 MPG after 3 years of ownership.

Happy and safe travels to all..

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Old 05-15-2006, 01:13 AM   #13
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I would say that TGk is here on the forums to get the "said" opinions from
everyone who HAS been towing with different setups so he can make an informed decision .It would seem a benefit to get information from multiple sources ,not just a manafacturer of a product.Many manafactures tout there product usually in their favor to make the sale,who doesnt? This is the knowledge sharing forums isn,t it?

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Old 05-15-2006, 06:00 AM   #14
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I've Been There

OK, TGK,
This will take a while to type, but here goes.I have a crew cab, full legnth bed Chevy Duramax, 3.73 rear, Allison trans. Harsh ride. Let's not kid ourselves. I was using a Reese WD w/1000 lb. springs (left from my last Tow Vehicle.) Now, I first tried removing my overload springs. Helped, not the answer. I then borrowed an EASYRIDER Air Bag Hitch from a friend. Pulled to FL and back. I was impressed with the ride quality, yet the structural makeup of the hitch was not impressive (they since have beefed up their design.) I looked around, and came up with this. http://www.airridehitch.com/Class-5-Bullet.jpg
I liked it so well I bought one. It cost me $1095! I'm still glad I bought it EXCEPT...it comes with a conveluted bag (double donut style) that is too stiff. The class V was necessary for the WD syle. I had a rolling sleeve style airbag in my shop that is much less stiff, less weight rating. I tried it, and liked it a lot. That is what I am using now. I have 'played' with settings, air and height to find my personal preference.

Now, let's take it a step further. I also have an Airstream 390XL motorhome that rides on Airbags. Gosh, what a wonderful ride. I had previously made my own design airbag suspension for a 1500 full legnth Chevy truck ,and it did a marvelous job, so what did I do? I hunted around and found that Camping World is marketing a wonderful REPLACEMENT suspension. It is a beautiful piece of engineering, will carry anything your metal springs will without the harshness. It is expensive, yet much cheaper than a new tow vehicle.http://www.campingworld.com/browse/p...=4531&src=SRQB

I know I have put a couple of links in here, and they may work, they may not, but with my typing speed, this is 35 minutes of work. Sure hope it helps. I HAVE NOT used the system from Camping World, however, I have seen it, and I have used several true airbag systems and I highly recommend their usage to achieve a very nice ride. Your spouse will absolutely love you for it, and deep inside you will like it more than feeling macho in your big stiff truck! IT WILL NOT SUFFER LOSS OF LOAD CARRYING ABILITY. Look at my oufit. It's posted in a large version on my homepage.
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