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Old 05-22-2013, 07:30 AM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Solved... ? Hitch System

Okay, so some of you already know the angst I was experiencing in regard to towing with a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. Since the lifespan of our '99 Suburban which we were using was nearing its end, we had to make a decision. So, we have purchased a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 5.7 L V8 Hemi, RWD with the class IV tow package. (heavy duty engine cooling, 220-Amp alternator etc)...just in case we decide to go bigger in the future. For now, we love our 16ft Bambi Sport.

If you can believe it, even after reading everything I can find, and asking local RV dealers etc, I'm still confused about what we should do about the hitch set up. Some say, given the size of the trailer, that we're good with the sway bar (which we have) ...others say, some sort of WD system. Others say the WD set up would be overkill. Good heavens...somebody help me...please.
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:52 AM   #2
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The tongue weight of your trailer is around 350lbs which is not that much. You could probably get by without weight distribution. It would not hurt but finding bars rated that low would be hard. You do need some sort of sway control. Here is the deal. If you run a straight standard draw bar the trailer attach point is going to be pretty close to the bumper which is a good thing for load distribution and sway. The closer the trailer attach point is to the Jeep the better. However, you won't have any sway control and your jacknife angle will not be very good but since it is such a short trailer it may not be an issue. If you go with a full load distributing hitch it is going to increase the lever arm and increase the need for sway control and load distribution. It might be worth testing the trailer hooked to a staight standard draw bar that is close to the bumper. What you are looking for is a tendency of the trailer to sway with very little provication. If you get sway, you need to use the trailer brakes to damp things out. Things like sudden lane changes etc are going to induce sway. The higher speed you travel the worse the sway becomes. You would want to do this on a highway that is not busy so you can test the stability of the system and have some room to wander. Some are going to think I am crazy but testing the stability of your setup is going to give you some answers. You might end up over hitched with a light trailer and do more harm than good. I think the lowest load bars you can get are like 500lbs but I maybe wrong.

Perry
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:53 AM   #3
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I think wheelbase of new TV may be shorter and vary in weight.

It would be uncomfortable and possibly dangerous to tow without proper hitch up.

So I would keep my setup and adjust to new TV.
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:54 AM   #4
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With the size of your trailer, the WD system is really sort of optional. If you do get one, make sure it has the lightest bars that are made for that type hitch.

The Andersen system would even work well with that trailer, and includes sway control built in.
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:56 AM   #5
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Even a short single axle trailer is going to be subject to sway. That and the tongue weight suggest a WD hitch with effective sway control. You should look at the Andersen hitch system. It offers the best sway control, simplicity of operation and is far more cost effective than the competition.

This tread gives a detailed report of the current users.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f464...ead-92131.html

You will note that a problem has been experienced when used with an Atwood coupler, most likely the one on your trailer, but once addressed the system has no comparison.
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:37 AM   #6
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Mtnlvrs,

Keeping off the issue of what brand of weight distribution you might want to buy, the general principle weight distribution, the spreading of the load across all of the available axles is good for what ever tow vehicle and trailer combination you use, both in terms of safety and the whole towing experience. I've said before that I'm surprised that anyone even asks, such is the effectiveness of this towing tool. It's cheap, too, given how much money you will have spent on the Airstream and the tow vehicle. Add some sway control or elimination and you have some additional cheap insurance.

As an example of how effective WD can be on any setup, a guy down the road from me tows a pop-up trailer with his GMC Denali SUV. It's quite large as pop-ups go but is small beer for the Denali. He recently had a furnace installed in the trailer which meant he needed an additional propane tank on the A-Frame and a bigger battery, which increased the tongue weight a little. He also went out and bought a simple Eaz-Lift WD system and a friction sway control bar for a couple of hundred dollars and says it's the best thing he ever did. Where the pop-up used to bounce and sway about a fair bit, it's rock solid now. I'm not pushing Eaz-lift, any lower priced system would do the job, it's the principle that's important.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:20 AM   #7
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IMHO....your towing experience will be made much more enjoyable with a properly set-up hitch with WD and sway control.

Our previous Airstream, a single axle 22' Safari, was inherently more susceptible to sway than our current dual axle Classic.
It's light weight and single axle gave little resistance to cross winds and passing 18 wheelers. Quick defensive maneuvers, steering and braking, would also turn my knuckles white.
A older style Reease Straight-line with 800lb WD, and dual friction bars corrected the problem and worked well for 18 Seasons.

Bob
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:43 AM   #8
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I will completely agree with everything Robert Cross comments on the use a weight distribution/sway control hitch. And he has much more experience than many of us with these devices.

HowieE is promoting a Andersen hitch that is experimental at best, and unsafe at its worse. I used it and took it off when I learned it is not compatible with late model Airstream couplers (it will wear the latch and can uncouple the trailer), as well as other concerns.

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Old 05-22-2013, 11:27 AM   #9
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And I have a 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland V8 with full air suspension, towing a 74 Argosy 20', 710# hitch weight. I use the Andersen hitch system. It is an incredibly smooth and easy to tow rig combination. While I am not happy that eventually the coupler may need to be changed, so far there is absolutely no indication of improper wear.

I have towed this same Argosy with both a Reese and Draw Tight hitches. Neither has sway control but I never had any issues with them either. I soon will be picking up my new 2014 Airstream Flying Cloud, and will use the Reese to get it home from the dealer, about 250 miles. Then I intend to change back to the Andersen, as soon as I get the proper brackets for the new trailer. It will be interesting to make the change back to the Reese, which I have not used in a while. That will give me some comparison between the two, once again.

I would recommend you use some kind of WD hitch on your Jeep and Airstream rig. I don't really think it matters a lot which one. I happen to like the Andersen due to it's low weight and ease of hookup.

BTW, I have had in the range of 150,000 to 200,000 miles of towing Airstream experience over the past 34 years, and somewhere in the range of 14 different Airstream trailers. My Reese hitch is the original one I purchased in 1979. I have had mostly Jeeps as my TV's but one Suburban had a lot of tow miles on it.

If your new Jeep has air suspension, be sure to turn it off when making your initial WD setup, otherwise it will drive you nuts. Once you have made your setup and are happy with it, you need not turn it off each time, just adjust it as you did on your original set.

To turn the Air Suspension off, hold the up and down buttons in at the same time for a few seconds and it will come up on the display that the suspension is off. You need to learn that anyway to change a tire and how to do it is obscure, even in the written manual for the rig. Be sure to send for the written manual, the Jeep no longer comes with one as standard, but you can get it from the Jeep headquarters.

Enjoy your new Jeep and Airstream.
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:33 AM   #10
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Does your Jeep have the air suspension? If so, I would tow with just a standard ball with a friction bar for sway.
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Old 05-23-2013, 07:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrUKToad View Post
Mtnlvrs,

Keeping off the issue of what brand of weight distribution you might want to buy, the general principle weight distribution, the spreading of the load across all of the available axles is good for what ever tow vehicle and trailer combination you use, both in terms of safety and the whole towing experience. I've said before that I'm surprised that anyone even asks, such is the effectiveness of this towing tool. It's cheap, too, given how much money you will have spent on the Airstream and the tow vehicle. Add some sway control or elimination and you have some additional cheap insurance.

As an example of how effective WD can be on any setup, a guy down the road from me tows a pop-up trailer with his GMC Denali SUV. It's quite large as pop-ups go but is small beer for the Denali. He recently had a furnace installed in the trailer which meant he needed an additional propane tank on the A-Frame and a bigger battery, which increased the tongue weight a little. He also went out and bought a simple Eaz-Lift WD system and a friction sway control bar for a couple of hundred dollars and says it's the best thing he ever did. Where the pop-up used to bounce and sway about a fair bit, it's rock solid now. I'm not pushing Eaz-lift, any lower priced system would do the job, it's the principle that's important.
Hey, thanks so much. (for this and the previous help on the issue.) We have been discussing this system, given the size of our trailer. We have a sway bar that we've used with the Suburban, and it has performed beautifully, but a "little extra" would make me feel better. The Jeep has the sway damping feature also.
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Old 05-23-2013, 07:36 AM   #12
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Thank you all so, so much! I think we will be looking at a light weight WD system. In response to idroba and mojo, our Jeep GC has "rear load leveling suspension", but not the air suspension. Just to add a note, my husband had gotten advice from someone local that a WD system rated for 10,000 lbs would be fine for us. Needless to say, I responded with a "WHOA!...I think I'm headed to the Airstream Forum!" (:
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:18 AM   #13
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Just on TV in the DFW area

Automotive Guru who has a weekly show and daily newspaper column reviewed the Jeep and Jeep type SUV. Part of the reviews were comments on the factory set up for RV towing. He said it was nice BUT>>>>as I have always said....NOT RECOMMENDED for a heavier trailer. While the claims are that the 6 will haul 4000# and the Eight haul a 6000# invariably you will end up with the tail wagging the dog, so to speak. The hitch is nice, but a heavy long wheel base much safer.
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:28 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mtnlvrs View Post
Thank you all so, so much! I think we will be looking at a light weight WD system. In response to idroba and mojo, our Jeep GC has "rear load leveling suspension", but not the air suspension. Just to add a note, my husband had gotten advice from someone local that a WD system rated for 10,000 lbs would be fine for us. Needless to say, I responded with a "WHOA!...I think I'm headed to the Airstream Forum!" (:
Rear load leveling just sorts out the ride height but doesn't move weight to the front or trailer axles; weight distribution will do what the name implies. 10,000 lbs seems a bit over the top, though! You might want to put a call in to Can-Am RV in Ontario (Can-Am RV Centre | #1 Airstream Dealer in Customer Satisfaction Worldwide | Your Full-Service RV Dealer), Andy or Kirk Thompson are free with their help and will be able to advise you on a setup that will do the job.
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