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Old 03-04-2018, 01:50 PM   #1
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2018 16' Sport
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Big Truck + Small Trailer: ease of install, hitch, unhitch, back up / sway /WD / cost

I have recently purchased a TT and TV.

TT is an Airstream 2018 Sport 16

hitch weight: 378
GVWR: 3500

TV is a 2016 Ram 1500 Hemi Limited with Air Suspension

curb weight: 5739
GVWR: 6800

I realize asking for advice here is akin to asking who you voted for in the presidential election and I apologize in advance for asking anyways but I have watched numerous Youtube videos, even going so far to learn about torque wrenches (something that I didn't know existed) and I still need help.

I am a single mom who will be taking my kids on local camping trips, eventually I'd like to go cross country - I am open to learning and would actively like to be able to do things for myself (vs. paying someone and never truly understanding what is going on). I want to feel safe but I don't want to over do it. I vaguely understand that going too far with WD and Sway control can put stress on the trailer. I know I would be rattled and if I were getting pushed around by 18 wheelers and if getting rattled is a spectrum, I'd put myself on the prone to getting rattled end. I'm trying to find the right balance. I don't have a gazillion dollars to spend on a top of the line solution. I want it to be easy to hitch and unhitch and easy to maintain. I'd like to be able to back up with it installed.

I have not picked up the trailer yet and figured I should either have them install whatever is going to be installed or bring the hitch with me and install it myself before hitting the road to get back home (200 miles).

The dealer will install an Equalizer Two Point Sway Hitch for $437 (discounted by $100, wish I'd negotiated the whole thing as part of the sale - newbie here didn't realize I needed more than a ball). Seems like a good price. The Equalizer seems very popular.

After watching a bunch of Youtube videos, I am drawn to the Andersen WD Hitch. Seems easy to hitch and unhitch and I like that you can back up without a problem. Seems it isn't as noisy as other options. Price seems good. It isn't adding as much weight to tongue. Seems to not do as much as other options in terms of distributing weight to front axle of TV (but maybe my air suspension and light trailer mitigates this?). $475 on Amazon and would likely have to buy a torque wrench as well to do it right.

I had read about the Hensley being super fabulous and reached out to see about a reconditioned model. Was told with specials a new one (the cub not the arrow) would be $1640. Significantly more than I want to spend but if it is significantly easier to use and maintain then that's something I could be talked into spending on.

Haven't researched the Blue Ox yet but seems to be popular on here too.

With my TT/TV combo, lack of experience, budget, WWYD?
Thank you
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Old 03-04-2018, 02:31 PM   #2
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For your coach, the Anderson may be a valid solution. My objection is that it is a friction system and it is my belief that friction is a poor solution for sway control. There are coupler compatibility issues, which you should investigate. Contact users of this hitch for their experience.

The Equil-i-zer is the last hitch I would consider. It is popular and that is partly, because it is an easy hitch to hookup. Not so easy to setup, but not significantly difficult either. The problem is that it is stiff in road surface transitions and therefore can be hard on the coach. The EQ does work, just understand the issues.

The best hitch is the Cub - price gets you best performance. Next down the list is the Reese Dual Cam - some issues with setup, but good performance. Next is the Blue Ox - works well, but some concern with the energy stored in the springs - better solution than many report. Next is the Eaz-lift with a friction sway strut - low cost ~$250, but the friction bar needs adjustment to back up in a tight location.

That list goes from expensive no sway to inexpensive backing issue. All a compromise in one way or another. I'd buy bthe CUB, but it's not my budget, it's yours. For the price of an EQ, I'd use a BO. For the cost savings of an EZ, I'd deal with the backup issue.

Your objective is the right approach. Do your research and make your own list. Do not use opinion. Use your understanding of the issues and your budget to develop that list. In general, if you understand what you have, you will not go too wrong with any of these hitches. Folks use them all to travel in a safe and effective mannor.

Note, your air suspension will require that you weigh the rig at a CAT scale or similar to set the weight distribution. The fender to tire measurement method will be negated by the self leveling capability of the air suspension. You can turn off the air, but scale weights are best anyway. Note - payload weight in your truck bed and cab can negate much of the need for weight distribution if you load the coach well. Keep heavy items low and over the coach axle. Do not use teeter totter balancing (weight in back to offset weight in front). Keep weight out of the ends of the coach. And use slow speed to mitigate issues until you understand and resolve them.

Hope to meet you and the family down the road with smiles. Pat
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Old 03-04-2018, 03:04 PM   #3
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I would try the equalizer and see how well it works for you. Make sure the dealer shows you how to hook it up, then watches you hook it up. Use your phone to take pictures and notes.

Then go traveling. If you are happy and comfortable towing, you are good to go for a pretty reasonable investment.
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:04 PM   #4
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Thanks Pat for going through each of the options. I appreciate that. Your comment about the EQ is my concern... Too much stress on the coach. Overkill that hurts my investment.

Finding the right balance seems as tricky as finding the right TT and then the right TV.

n2916s, thanks... I think it is the easy route to go with the EQ - the dealer is familiar with them. Can all be done before I get there and makes it a turn key situation but I've got a few weeks before I have to pick up the trailer and would rather make the right decision the first time (if such a thing is possible).
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Old 03-04-2018, 09:01 PM   #5
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Have the dealer install the hitch you can afford ...They all work well, some better than others...Go with what you can afford ....The Bambi is an easy tow....
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:04 PM   #6
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The lighter capacity that should be appropriate for the Bambi may allow enough flex to mitigate the stiffness issue in driveway transitions. Discuss with your installer. Pat
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:35 AM   #7
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I read where someone used the equalizer but with 600 pound bars. Maybe that would be a better balance for the lighter trailer. I don't know what their plan was. I will inquire.
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnnyooo View Post
Have the dealer install the hitch you can afford ...They all work well, some better than others...Go with what you can afford ....The Bambi is an easy tow....
The 16’ Bambi is indeed easy to pull as it does not weigh much. It is also probably the least stable of Airstreams due to its short length.
We began towing ours with an F-150 and an equalizer hitch. The truck handled the weight of the trailer just fine as I suspect the Ram 1500 will also. The equalizer was easy to hook up, that was its best feature in my book.
We switched to a pivot point type hitch (ProPride/Hensley) and the change in the way the trailer towed was shocking... Hooking up a pivot point projection hitch is a process that once you understand and learn is no big deal, especially with a backup camera mounted in the tailgate.
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Old 03-05-2018, 12:13 PM   #9
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I have an Andersen and I love it. What I've noticed is that those who have them love them and those who don't don't believe they work. I think they (we) are both right. The Andersen will not transfer more than about 500 lbs. so it doesn't work well if one needs to transfer a lot of weight. In your case I think it would be adequate
and I think you would probably like it because it's very light and clean--no grease required.

The sway control works very well for me but I have about three times more tongue weight than your 378lbs. The way the Andersen is made more weight means more sway control/resistance to turning.

If 378 is the factory specification then you are pretty likely to have more weight than that when ready to travel.

The Andersen does not need a torque wrench for hitching. If it's correctly installed (the brackets are the correct distance from the ball) you tighten the nuts until there are seven threads showing and that's it. They come with an aluminum socked for the nuts but you must supply the 1/2" drive wrench handle/ratchet. Harbor freight sells one with a handle that extends for not much money.

Good luck, have fun!
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Old 03-05-2018, 12:32 PM   #10
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I would go with the Equalizer, it works extremely well, is a relatively low cost option and I've never found anyone who can tell you they have ever had any type of problem with it. In theory some say it's too stiff and hard on the trailer, in reality you never see anyone with an issue.
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Old 03-05-2018, 01:15 PM   #11
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From what I’ve experienced I would go with a Hensley or Propride. Had a dual cam. Switched to a Hensley. Wife noticed difference before we got out of town! Your 16’ is going to be more likely to sway than my 30’! You should consider safety with your family before cost. Give up a Xbox or something else first.
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Old 03-05-2018, 07:45 PM   #12
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options, 3 of them as I see it.

thank you all for your feedback, advice, and input.

It seems I have three options:
  • Have the Airstream dealer install the Equalizer for me at what is the least expensive of the three options ($437). Bear in mind, this is my closest dealer but they get 2 stars on Yelp so I guess I'll make up my own mind with limited regard to their opinion, although it is an appealing option to show up and be able to tow the new coach home without messing around with torque wrenches in a parking lot while the sun is setting and time is a wasting. I got what I consider a very good price on the Airstream and felt that between proximity and price, it was the way to go.
  • Buy the Andersen on Amazon and attempt to install it myself - if I do this, I think I'd attempt to do the installation at the Airstream dealer. I watched the video and it seems doable to me. Cost about $475.
  • Buy the Hensley. I received pricing for the SwiftCub which is apparently the Cub but easier. I watched the youtube videos and still do not have much of an understanding on it. The videos aren't nearly as clear and concise as the Andersen videos. I only mention that as based on my lack of understanding, if I were to go this route, I would not feel confident installing it myself so in addition to the more expensive hitch, I'd be looking at installation cost. Can the Airstream dealer do that for me? I don't know - they push the Equalizer. I'd have to inquire. If they can't or won't, I'd probably have to find an RV shop out that way or figure a way to get the trailer home and find an RV shop in Eastern Massachusetts who can work on it for me (or I try it on my own at home without the pressure of trying to get on the road and watching the sun set).

This is the price list on the SwiftCub:

Hensley SwiftCub $1670 (discount of: $620)
Emergency Spare Parts Kit $15 (discount of: $16.25)
Hitch Helper $33 (discount of: $10.50)
2 Ultimate Tire Chocks $70 (discount of: $55)
Hitch Cover $85 (discount of: $11)
TruControl Brake Controller $110 (discount of: $137)
McKesh Towing Mirrors + Convex $134 (discount of: $60.50)
Shipping $180 (discount of: $139.70)
Totals $2297 (discount of: $1052.95)

I don't know what all of these things are. A chock? A hitch helper?


----

I'm really no closer to making a decision - I do appreciate all of your input. I do think I'd feel more confident as a first time RV'er if I don't experience sway so I do lean a bit to the Hensley but practically it seems like the other solutions would probably work out fine and I would save buckets of money.
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Old 03-05-2018, 09:15 PM   #13
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Interesting list - maybe some more research?

Hitch Helper seems to be a mirror that helps you align the Tow Vehicle receiver with the Cub hitch shank.

A chock is a wedge shaped block used to stop the trailer wheels from rolling. You really need four. Two for each wheel.

Note - the Hensley shank needs to fit the drop of the Tow Vehicle to the Cub hitch receiver on the trailer. Do some research on what is required to properly connect with all level.

Hope that helps a bit. Pat
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Old 03-06-2018, 05:17 AM   #14
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As part of your research you may want to consider speaking with an Airstream tech in Jackson Center Ohio. Let us know. Welcome to the Airsteam adventure.
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