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Old 01-19-2011, 10:19 AM   #1
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Ball height measurement from 200 miles away

Hello all. Really need some advice and expertise here.

I recently purchased a 34 ft Avion (squarestream?) and need to go pick it up this weekend. I am in South Carolina and the trailer 200 miles away in Virginia.

My TV is a 2wd '98 chevy 3500 crew cab w/single rear wheels. It is set up for towing but I need to purchase a weight distributing hitch, if for no other reason than the tongue weight (750-800 lbs), to bring it home safely.

The trailer is a 1982 Avion model 34V (3 axle).

The problem, you may have already guessed, is I have no idea what height hitch (ball height) I will need, and no way to accurately measure the trailer's hitch height from 200 miles away. The previous owners can't measure it for me (trailer is setting level on a fairly steep slope) plus they have always had someone else tow it so no experience there from which to advise me.

I know some WD hitches have adjustable height/drop, but from what I have read on here, there are different degrees of "adjustable" and some may not be "adjustable enough" for my combination.

Further, I have some pretty good options on a coupla used hitches here locally:

One is a new-looking DRAW TITE with adjustable height for half of new price, but I don't know if it's "adjustable enough."

The other is an older one for 100 bucks. It is not adjustable, but the owner says it is "his low one" that he needed to haul older campers. He said that is why it's so cheap -- becuse it's too low for "newer" campers. In the photo it does look kinda low -- I can see that the top of the ball is pretty much even with the top of the square tube that goes in the receiver. Again I don't know if that is low enough, too high, or just right. However, the height of my DRAW TITE receiver is exactly 18" form the ground to the top edge of the receiver. So, based on that the top of the ball would also be 18" from the ground.

That is pretty much all the information I am armed with right now.
I would certainly appreciate any advice (or specs on the trailer height, etc.) to help me get this thing home without (a) buying a hitch the wrong height/drop, (b) driving 200 miles to find that out.

If it matters, I mainly just need the correct hitch (height) to get it home, as I will not be traveling all over the country with it for at least a few more years. There are pics of it in my gallery if that helps somehow.

Thank you so much, and I apologize for typing out a novel here.
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:24 AM   #2
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I would guess that 18" is a good starting point as long as uou can adjust. Sal.
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:57 AM   #3
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My Draw-Tite, with a 10" drop shank, is barely low enough with the ballmount set at the lowest posible position. Since I have a different TV and different Trailer than you, this infor isn't actually very helpful I guess but it goes to show that an adjustable drop length won't accommodate all hitching possibilities. Mine came as part of my purchase with the trailer but, the original owner had a different truck than I... so while it was easily within the height adjustment he needed, it wasn't for me!

I suggest you post a second question that has a more definitive title. Possibly some 34' Avion/squarestreams owners might not read your post - and it seems you need an answer quickly!with more difinitive title such as:
Title - "Attention 34' Avion/Squarestream Owners"
Post - "Please tell me the ball height of your trailer so I can determine the (approximate) drop I need for my truck."
Another thing to consider is the trunion bar weight. There's a lot of discussion on this board about the appropriate selection. Mine came with 800 lb bars (on the edge of too much) and did not include SWAY CONTROL. But I can purchase this as an add on!!!!

FYI: here is the installation/adjustment manual for a Draw-Tite WD Hitch with square trunnion bars: http://www.draw-tite.net/pdf/n7902.pdf

Laura
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:14 AM   #4
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i had a 35ft avion, 18in is right.
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:29 AM   #5
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Mmm... Aluminum skinned Avions were not built by Airstream. Fiberglass skinned Squarestreams were built by Airstream in... what? Late 80's?

But anyway -- 18" sounds good for a start. Change it if trailer doesn't appear level. Lighter spring bars for weight distribution are kinder on the trailer if you're towing with a 3500. Your tongue weight will not get you even close to your rear axle's max rating. But you do want to do this so that you can get the accompanying antisway function.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:35 PM   #6
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Thanks.

Thank you for all for the replies and information.
So, based on the 18" Avion height (Thank you for that!) I will first go look at the draw tite hitch (the adjustable one) and see if it will go that low on my truck. If it won't, I'll get the other one (old, ugly, and fixed in a low position for $100). I prefer the Draw Tite, being adjustable and also it comes with everything including sway bar and the trailer clamp things (price BTW is $225).

Laura, your more definitive post suggestion would have been much better - and way shorter.
And thank you for the link.

I don't know the trunnion bar weight on either hitch. I did read a lot of the discussion here on that subject (many pages). I am hoping they are what I need or close enough for now on this one trip.

For now, my concern about the 700-800 lb tongue weight is due to the truck's Daw Tite "receiver" rating, not so much the the truck's axle rating. The receiver is rated 500 lb tongue weight with a standard hitch, but 1000 lb tongue weight with a WD hitch. However, I expect I could pretty easily hit my TV's max "combined" weight rating (just under 14K I think) if I got a little too crazy putting all my "stuff" in the TV/Trailer on future trips. If I remember correctly, the TV scales out at just under 6000 lbs (including me, fuel and some tools and stuff), and the trailer's dry weight is around 6900 lbs (more in real life, I bet). If those figures are correct, I'm at 12,900 combined weight before the game even starts.

I am starting to wonder if selling my Kenworth was a mistake
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Old 01-20-2011, 03:43 PM   #7
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Update: I had a friend pick up the Draw Tite hictch for me this morning (50 miles away). Well, guess what -- it isn't a Draw Tite; it's a Husky. It has L-shaped 800 lb bars, friction sway control and the brackets for the trailer tongue. Oh well. It does have lot of height adjustment (8" or so) and is rated for the load, so I guess I'm covered for now to get the Avion home.

thank you all again for the great responses.
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:43 PM   #8
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Get her home, then you can figure out what to do without the stress of getting her home
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Old 01-20-2011, 09:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JFScheck View Post
Get her home, then you can figure out what to do without the stress of getting her home
Yep. Take it easy. Avoid controlled access interstates. Do 55 mph back roads so that you can be slower, more careful.
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