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Old 11-10-2013, 10:35 AM   #1
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Are ALL WD Hitches Adequate?

I'm relatively new here but I've read enough on the topic of WD hitches to know that it's one of the highly charged religious topics complete with true believers. Which I understand cuz they can be expensive - and when I spend a lot of money on something I like to think I made a good decision too.

But the thought keeps coming back as I read these passionate threads - is it possible that ALL WD hitches do an adequate job? I may have missed it, but I haven't read about frequent accidents with a particular brand. And what happened in the old days pre-WD? Were there constant crashes?

Or am I just being a simpleton?

Poppy
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Old 11-10-2013, 10:54 AM   #2
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Hey Poppy,

It's hard to say what is adequate for others. Adequate for one person may be completely inadequate for another. That applies to everything. Some think a tent is adequate shelter for camping. Some people like Airstreams.

The term weight distribution hitch applies to a hitch that distributes tongue weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle. Adequate front end loading can also be debated by many in this forum but I believe your front axle should be reloaded to near its unloaded weight. That's MY standard for adequate. If a weight distribution hitch cannot do that then I would call it inadequate.

The same goes for any sway control component of a hitch. Some say it is adequate to "hardly ever have a problem" while others like to eliminate the possibility of any problem.

Your question is good but you are going to find many answers because everyone has their own definition of adequate.


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Old 11-10-2013, 10:54 AM   #3
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:15 AM   #4
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I don't know how long the WD hitch has been around, but I know they were in common usage 40 years ago when a lot of towing was still done with large cars.
Many variables involved , but regarding the hitch itself stick to name brand products. Most of the makers have been around a number of years and probably would have been sued out of existence if they made a dangerous product.
Beyond that absorb all the varied opinions you see and make a decision based on your needs and what you are comfortable with.
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:24 AM   #5
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The recent podcast on TheVAP.com had an interview with Andy Thompson of CanAM in Ontario, Canada. In that interview, Andy discussed some of the history of weight distribution hitches. Might be worth a listen.

Not to start another arguement, but to provide information.

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Old 11-10-2013, 11:43 AM   #6
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I think there are good points in just one answer. It depends upon what you want. You have two issues to consider. Weight distribution and sway control. And there are quite a few solutions out there. Each have cons and pros. So it becomes a matter of trial and error for folks. My first introduction to weight distribution was a Reese hitch. I used one for 14 years towing a 21' Hi-Lo trailer, first with an Oldsmobile Cutlass, 2 half ton vans and then a Chevy Astro EXT van. That Hi-Lo tracked well behind those vehicles and sway control was never considered. I then went to 30' SOB and with its size I knew immediately that sway control was going to be necessary. So we added the dual cam component to my Reese and pulled that SOB and eventually my 27' Safari. Again we traded tow vehicles moving from the Astro to a half ton van, and then a 3/4 ton van. Interestingly enough, that Reese dual cam hitch made the transition through all those vehicles.

Then we bought the Classic SO and we had to step into a new class of hitches. The Reese at that point could not handle the weight of the Classic. Hitch weight of the Classic even exceeded the capacity of the factory receiver that GMC provided. So we first had to put on a 14K rated receiver on the van. Then we needed a hitch that would handle the 1,280lb weight of the Classic SO. My dealer said he would get me what ever I wanted and with recommendations from him, I settled on an Equal-i-zer. Quite honestly I've been very happy with this hitch and my Classic is rock solid behind my van.

So part of the equation has a lot to do with the vehicle you are using as a tow vehicle. Personally I believe it is the biggest factor in determining what hitch you will be successful with. Secondly is the cost. Finally there are our personal preferences on your interaction with the hitch itself. (Ease to hitch up and disconnect, components, ability to handle various loads).

So are they all the same? No, but I'm a strong believer that some may work better for specific applications and trailer/tow vehicle combos. Do I have regrets? No, each of my hitch decisions have been good ones for me. Quite honestly the choices of hitches are mind numbing and sometimes going through the various threads can leave you as confused as you were before you read them.

The bottom line is most will do a good job for you. The key is proper installation and staying with a main line brand. If you don't see folks claiming problems, then that hitch will probably work well for you. Could brand A be better than brand B? Sure but its going to be a matter of your own experience and your specific tow vehicle and trailer. I dare say that most of the folks who have been towing for a few years probably have used at least 2 different brands of hitches, and maybe 3. We've learned with experience and appreciated some of the specific features each hitch brings.

Finally maybe the most important factor is how and where you drive. Are you an aggressive higher speed driver? Do you pass a lot of slower vehicles on the highway? Do you drive in areas subject to wind gusts or higher winds? How about mountainous travel? Are you a weekend camper, short distance traveler, full timer? All have an effect on your hitch choice. Personally I'm pretty conservative and based on how I drive I'm well within the threshold of my Equal-i-zer providing me excellent service.

Hope this helps.

Jack
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:48 AM   #7
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OP, Do not be afraid to look at some of the new kids on the block. Makers such Blue Ox and Andersen have some new hitches out that are shaking up the old school manufacturers.
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
OP, Do not be afraid to look at some of the new kids on the block. Makers such Blue Ox and Andersen have some new hitches out that are shaking up the old school manufacturers.
The only company that gets "shook up" about any other hitch is Hensley Mfg.

There's MORE THAN ENOUGH business to go around without really the thought of anyone else making hitches.

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Old 11-10-2013, 11:56 AM   #9
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Sean...

Good point about defining adequate. I've been in high tech for 30 years and I'm quite a gadgeteer with a bad case of shiny object syndrome - the earliest of early adopters (for better or for worse!). One of the reasons the personal computer industry started struggling years ago is that, as tools of production, personal computers not only achieved adequacy years ago, they became over built as the result of the cloud. I find I no longer am attracted like a moth to a flame to the latest computer high tech item (maybe getting old - actually, definitely getting old).

But I am a moth when it comes to all things Airstream...

My definition of adequate as pertains to tools is that they do the intended job safely, conveniently, reliably and efficiently. I also like elegant too, defined as the simplest way to achieve adequate.

I think that Rick is right - there's a Darwinian order to safety devices such as hitches, especially in our litigious society. If a hitch doesn't work as intended the manufacturer will be sued to oblivion. If that's the case then it would be easy to surmise that the hitches currently available are "adequate".

Poppy
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Old 11-10-2013, 12:03 PM   #10
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@Jack - What a great thoughtful answer based on knowledge and experience. My hope in starting this thread was to generate light instead of heat - thank you.

@Michael - I have a Blue Ox because it came with the trailer. I've only towed with it for a 1,000 miles but it seemed to do OK in a variety of conditions. I don't have an emotional involvement with it yet.

Poppy
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Old 11-10-2013, 12:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmaestro View Post
Sean...

Good point about defining adequate. I've been in high tech for 30 years and I'm quite a gadgeteer with a bad case of shiny object syndrome - the earliest of early adopters (for better or for worse!). One of the reasons the personal computer industry started struggling years ago is that, as tools of production, personal computers not only achieved adequacy years ago, they became over built as the result of the cloud. I find I no longer am attracted like a moth to a flame to the latest computer high tech item (maybe getting old - actually, definitely getting old).

But I am a moth when it comes to all things Airstream...

My definition of adequate as pertains to tools is that they do the intended job safely, conveniently, reliably and efficiently. I also like elegant too, defined as the simplest way to achieve adequate.

I think that Rick is right - there's a Darwinian order to safety devices such as hitches, especially in our litigious society. If a hitch doesn't work as intended the manufacturer will be sued to oblivion. If that's the case then it would be easy to surmise that the hitches currently available are "adequate".

Poppy

The first problem is a hitch is not defined as a safety device with the majority of users. Next we get into the "degree of safety". Some may want a hitch that works while avoiding something at 65MPH. Others use hitches every day that would not keep the trailer behind them in a 65MPH lane change.

There are MANY cases that no one here will ever hear about when it comes to being sued. Every one I have ever heard of in 18 years in this business has been settle out of court.

I guess the point I'm attempting to make is there is spectrum of hitches. You can go from dropping a trailer on a hitch ball all the way to eliminating trailer sway. Many people are at every point along that spectrum.

There are a lot of companies out there that are stuck in the last century with their marketing and sales. They will attempt to PUSH you in one direction or the other.

The bottom line is only YOU can decide where you want to be.



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Old 11-10-2013, 12:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
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The first problem is a hitch is not defined as a safety device with the majority of users. Next we get into the "degree of safety". Some may want a hitch that works while avoiding something at 65MPH. Others use hitches every day that would not keep the trailer behind them in a 65MPH lane change.-
I guess I assumed that a hitch is a safety device - kind of a starting point with me anyway. My sister was heavily involved in show horses many years ago and used to pull a horse trailer. She lost the trailer one day with two horses in it. Fortunately the horses were shaken up but not badly injured (although it became kind of a challenge to get them back into a trailer). I have no idea what kind of hitch setup she was using.

In any event, seems like safety is job one with a hitch.

Poppy
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Old 11-10-2013, 12:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmaestro View Post
I guess I assumed that a hitch is a safety device - kind of a starting point with me anyway. My sister was heavily involved in show horses many years ago and used to pull a horse trailer. She lost the trailer one day with two horses in it. Fortunately the horses were shaken up but not badly injured (although it became kind of a challenge to get them back into a trailer). I have no idea what kind of hitch setup she was using.

In any event, seems like safety is job one with a hitch.

Poppy

I agree but we are in the minority. Even within that minority there are people who believe they are safe but will not be safe in some instances they may encounter.

I would estimate that 80%+ of everyone towing does not consider a hitch a safety device. I've personally talked to thousands of them. They only see it as a way to connect the trailer to the tow vehicle.


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Old 11-10-2013, 12:52 PM   #14
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There were no old days before WD hitches. People drove slower in the very old days. At one time in Michigan the speed limit on the interstate for a trailer was 45 without a WD hitch and 70 with a WD hitch.

I have only used 4 different WD hitches. I have been on several caravans and have seen a lot of different hitches being used successfully. I think there are many WD hitches that do an adequate job if the TV is adequate, the TV and trailer are set up well, and the driver does his part.

If you can define adequate. I have pulled about 50,000 miles in the last 8 years with no problems and I still wonder if my setup is "adequate" meaning will it get me through whatever dangers come next. I have been lucky enough not to have put it to a real stern test yet.

I agree with Rick Davis. Buy a name brand. Get it set up well.

I see you have a 25'. We pull a 25', 1988 Excella, Love it.
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