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Old 11-05-2006, 05:57 PM   #15
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Hi--To check tire and hub temps, feel them with the back of your hand. If it is warm, you're OK. If it burns, you may have a problem.--Frank S
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Old 11-07-2006, 05:53 PM   #16
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Follow-up

FYI, AS says that the ball height on my vehicle for my 91, 25' is 18 3/4".
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Old 03-27-2007, 05:23 PM   #17
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Hitch height: What goes up, must come down?

Great forum! I've found lots of answers to a bunch of my questions, but am unclear on whether the recommended hitch height on the tow vehicle is as she sits, before coupling, or after?

I would normally answer this question by trial and error, but my Bambi-to-be is sitting clear across the country and my tow vehicle is sitting in my yard in Michigan's western U.P. Hate to get all the way out to the east coast to pick her up and find out that what goes up must come down, and the spec is really talking about hitch height hooked up!

Would really appreciate some guidance from someone who may have a similar set up: Honda Ridgeline pickup and a '06 Bambi Safari, 16 footer. The unloaded Ridgeline sits with its receiver centerline 16" above the ground.

Thanks!

Dick
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Old 03-27-2007, 06:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmickle
I would suggest that you get the loaded trailer on a flat surface. Adjust the tongue jack so that the frame is the same distance from the flat surface front and rear. After you have done that, measure from the top of the coupler to the flat surface. That is coupler height. Reese says adjust the ball height to 1/2 to 1 inch higher than that dimension. Any dimension in a chart is only approximate. Trailer load, axle condition, etc. affect coupler height so actually measuring your unit is the best way to set up your hitch.

Note, the flat surface doesn't need to be level, just flat.
The first thing I would tell you is to completely disregard any deminsions from charts as noted above. The only thing that governes your ball height is the coupling height while the trailer is sitting loaded and level. Airstream axles do not have any equalizing feature like the axles on most SOBs therefore you have to make sure the trailer is level while towing. Failure to ride level will result in one axle carring more weight than the other thus requireing different tire pressures.

Once you have determined the coupling height and considering you are driving a heavily sprund truck I would start with the ball about 1/2 in higher than the coupling height.

Before hooking up measure the trucks fender heights and mark them down. Hook up and remeasure the truck fender heights. The front fender should come down in about a 40/60 ratio to the rear fender. If the rear drops 1/2 in the front should come down about 3/8 in. If this is not the case readjust the hitch head back or forward to achieve this. Tilting the head back will cause more weight to be placed on the front axle of the truck and forward less weight on the front axle. Do not expect to hit it on the first shot. It can take several hours to get it. What you do not want is the front axle to come up when you are finished. This will result in problems of sway control.

Once you are done the trailer should ride level and your truck should see minimum sway .

Another thing to consider is your truck tire pressure. I am sure the door post on your truck as 80lbs. as the recomended tire pressure. That is way to high. Once you are happy with the hitch set up go to a truck scale and weigh the front axle and then both axles. Using the axle weights go on the web of your tire company and find the correct pressure for that load. My 2500 Sub ends up with 45 lbs. forward and 55 lbs. in the rear not the 80 lbs. the lawyers had printed on the door post. Over inflation while towing will add to sway problems.
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Old 03-27-2007, 07:51 PM   #19
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If you are using a reese hitch, go to reeseprod.com and download hitch adjustment instructions. If you follow them you will be fine. You may want the dealer to measure coupler height as described above. Don't go by Airsttream numbers.
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Old 03-28-2007, 06:10 PM   #20
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What goes up must come down?

Howie and Jim, thanks!

Howie, when I first read your advice I thought there was way too much information for my brain to process. By the 3rd read, I was understanding MOST of it. Here's what I am still having trouble with:

I think I understand that the hitch height has to be with the hitch/coupler connected, right? If so, for my goal of estimating the ball height I have to put weight on the back of my pickup that will approximate the tongue weight applied by the trailer, right? Okay, now enters my approach, taking into account my pickup is here and my Bambi to be is on the east coast. I'll call it the "two men on a truck" approach. So I get some friends whose total weight approximates published trailer tongue weights for my Bambi. That will bring the receiver closer to the ground and I can measure its centerline, under load, and establish one reference point. Following Jim's advice, I will then ask my seller to level the trailer and measure to the top of the coupler. Now I have two points of reference that gives me a simple task of buying the right receiver bar and ball combo to equalize.

Am I getting this, or am I "clueless in the U.P.?"

BTW, your discourse on differing the tire pressures between the front and rear tires of my tow vehicle was very interesting! But, before fine tuning, I have to get it home!

Thanks,

Dick
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Old 03-28-2007, 06:33 PM   #21
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As far as getting the trailer from Mi. you should have the seller measure the coupling height while the trailer is parallel to the ground. Have him adjust the trailer jack till the trailer frame measures the same at the front and rear of the trailer. Now that the trailer is parallel to what ever surface it is sitting on he can measure the height to the top of the coupling and send you that measurement. With that measurement make sure your head can be set to a height about 1/2 in. above the measurement before you head west.


When you pick up the trailer you can then adjust the head tilt and weight distrubution bars as noted in past postings on site. As far as tools are concerned make sure you have a socket and cracker bar strong enough to move the U bolts that had the trailing arm to the trailer. Those bolts are torqued to 75 ft. lbs. As you adjust the head and the bars you may have to move these U bolts to make sure the bars are sitting down in the saddles.

Not sure I mentioned this before but when setting up the hitch drive straight for about 100 ft. onto a level area and stop the truck using the trailer brakes only. This insures everthing is straight and tight.

Note how low my trailer sat before I put new axles under it.

If you have any questions send me a proivate e mail with your phone number and we'll talk.
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:12 PM   #22
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"Two Men on a Truck," et al...

Thanks, again, Howie!

I am going to try the "two men on a truck" approach and keep your other info in mind as I try fine tuning my combo. If I run into questions I will happily take you up on your offer. Very kind of you. First, as said, I have to pick up my Bambi and see how she tows the 1200 plus miles back to the U.P.

As I have reread your advice, I suspect a lot of what you were addressing has to do with weight distributing hitches, which I hope I don't need. I'm going to start simple and only add layers of complexity if needed.

You are in New Jersey, eh? Want to pick up my Bambi from New Hampshire and take a roadtrip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan??

Dick
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Old 03-29-2007, 06:24 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper
As I have reread your advice, I suspect a lot of what you were addressing has to do with weight distributing hitches, which I hope I don't need. I'm going to start simple and only add layers of complexity if needed.

Dick
All Airstream trailers, must be towed with a "load equalizing hitch."

To not do so, unless you have 2 ton truck or so, is pushing safety to the limit.

You are at an extreme risk, and so is all other passengers in your tow vehicle.

Please advise your passengers, that you are avoiding safety issues.

One good gust of wind, and your gone, period.

Should you have an accident and hurt someone towing an Airstream while "not" using a load equalizing hitch, sets yourself up for a law suit big time.

Your tow vehicle, is not a Sherman tank. It can and will be shoved around by the trailer.

Ask those that have been there and done that, but wised up in the process.

You will have "NO" defense, since the state of the art spells out load equalizing hitches.

You purchased the Airstream to enjoy life. Please don't shorten it by not using a proper hitch. Everyone, will love you for it.

Andy
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Old 03-29-2007, 06:54 PM   #24
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Well I was thinking of a way to put the fear of God in you but I think Andy has said it. A single axle trailer without sway control is a study in motion

You got too much invested to take that kind of risk.

As for a trip to NH and the northern peninsular I would love to get back to Two Hearts Lake but I just remove the turbo from my truck to install new injectors
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Old 03-29-2007, 09:05 PM   #25
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Primers

Interesting.

Did I miss something in Airstream's literature? I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but am surprised, after trying to do my homework, to all of a sudden learn that a particular piece of equipment is required. If I am recalling what I had tried to soak in correctly, including several hours devoted to this forum, load equalizers were recommended for trailers heavier than the Bambi 16 footer, which has a modest tongue weight and electric brakes. My tow vehicle, the Honda Ridgeline, is pretty darn substantial, although not in the heavy weight range. Rated to haul up to 5000 pounds. The Bambi, dry, is in the neighborhood of 3000 pounds, as I recall.

Would be interested in the physics that mandate what you are recommending.

For example, I am trying to visualize what happens to forces on the tongue, if brakes are applied, assuming the trailer is level, and assuming the trailer brakes are adjusted properly. What forces are acting upon my tow vehicle that would cause instability? I have 350 pounds of tongue weight and a tow vehicle that isn't going to easily squat, which I suspect could happen with a softly sprung vehicle that could cause a change in geometry with the trailer coupler and frame. Another way of asking the same question would be how do load equalizing hitches help if forces don't cause the front and the rear of the tow vehicle to become drastically unequal in weight?

For purposes of trying to understand this, in steps, I am leaving sway out of the equation for now.

Thanks,

Dick
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Old 03-29-2007, 10:34 PM   #26
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Keep it up and you will just "think" yourself into a wreck. There are all sorts of things that will cause you to have sway induced. Crosswinds, trucks overtaking and passing you, droping one of the Bambi's wheels off on the shoulder of the road... lots of things. Please don't try to pull any Airstream or most any other type of trailer without BOTH weight distribution and some sort of sway control. Even then, sometimes things happen, but the chances are severely reduced with a proper hitch, weight distribution and sway control. We've all tried to help you. Absolutely NO ONE has suggested that you tow without this equipment. Finally, as Andy said, if you have a wreck, you'll be found TOTALLY at fault because you weren't properly equipped. So think all you want to about anything else, but give it up with regard to having the proper equipment between your truck and the Bambi.

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Old 03-30-2007, 07:06 AM   #27
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Ralph Nader v. Chicken Little

Whoa!

I am expressing my surprise at not getting the message from Airstream that a weight equalizing hitch was required for my little 16 foot Bambi, I am not challenging people's experience. Just want to make sure that your experience would apply to my rig. As I am surprised, I am asking questions on the physics that compel that result, I'm not assuming that you are "chicken littles!"

I have towed trailers for over 40 years, but nothing this substantial. (A small pop up camper that goes under 1000 lbs and a boat that goes about 2000 lbs.) So this is a step up in weight. At the same time, I have never owned a pickup truck to act as the tow vehicle, so I figured upgrading to a stronger ball/hitch combo and a more heavily sprung vehicle would allow the same experience I have had for 40 years, which has been safe and trouble free towing.

I have also read several posts in different threads of this forum where people with set ups similar to my rig don't use equalizing hitches and seem to be perfectly happy.

Back to Andy's very stern warnings. Andy, I have followed your postings in the thread on equalizer hitches and can understand the explanations you have given there. I factor that in with you experience in the field and would tend to absolutely trust your advice. Would you mind explaining to me some of the physics involved??

Finally, as I have not bought an equalizing setup, yet, what would you recommend? (I noticed that the studies you cited started at a hitch weight of 500 pounds.) As an Airstream dealer, I suspect that you have had much experience with the 16 foot Bambis and could probably give me a dead on recommendation for the Bambi and my Honda Ridgeline.

Thanks again, to all of you. The Ralph Naders of the world have always been my personal heroes!

Dick
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Old 03-30-2007, 08:44 AM   #28
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First of all you do not leave "Sway" out of the equatiion, Sway is the equation.

Sway induced by crosswind or a cabover truck passing closely to your trailer becomes a feedback circuit once the driver has attempted to correct for the displacement. Having asked for the physics I assume you can see the effects of an osculation that is effected by an out of phase corrective force.
Now that we have the trailer in osculation the natural reaction of most drivers is to continue to attempt a correction using the steering wheel. This in fact increases the amplitude human reaction timing just doen't work under this situation. The thing to do is hit the accelerator while "mannualy" applying the trailer brakes with the hand actuator.

My niece lost her new trailer this year when 3 trucks passed her in quick succession. The trailer laid over on the side of the road but the Excursion staied up right. The choise is yours.
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