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Old 07-10-2008, 12:31 PM   #1
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Bolt Bent on WD bracket -- AGAIN

Okay, everybody remember when I was a TOTAL newbie, and took my Bambi out on her first trip, and freaked out when THIS happened?

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ter-41425.html

Okay, this is crazy, but it's a happening again, on the same bracket. I can feel it bending by sliding my finger underneath the bracket. It's at about a 20 degree angle. What the...? Why is this happening again so fast?

I know that I have the WD system done correctly this time -- I stopped in Arkansas and visited the WONDERFUL guys at Airstream of Arkansas and got some fabulous free training. And yet... there it is, bending again. I'm going to have to have the bolt cut again.

Any ideas? And if the bolt is bent about 20 degrees, is it safe to be towing the trailer? I HAVE to move tomorrow morning. Not sure what to do...

Hayley
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:44 PM   #2
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Post a picture of the WD showing the chains, the bars, and where the bracket is mounted to the frame so we can take a look.

Something is moving the bracket in order to bend the bolt. There should be very little horizontal load on the bolt if install correctly. My first guess is the bars are coming in contact with the the bracket during a turn but will need to see things to be sure.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:59 PM   #3
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it might explain the popped rivets too.
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:59 PM   #4
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First off - I am no expert on WD hitches - but I have had a little trial and error myself ....

So.

How is your WD system set up differently from before? - in looking at your older pictures the trailer seems high at the front and the spring bars are pulled up close to the brackets - very little play between the bracket and the end of the spring bar when turning corners.

I googled Weight Distribution images and this one may be helpful - it is not the same hitch as yours but the principle will be the same - the bars are parallel to the frame and there are a number of open links between the spring bar and the bracket. We have a Hensley now but my recollection regarding our older WD system is that there was a recommended minimum number of open links.

If you are unable to adjust the bars so that the truck and trailer are matched appropriately (i.e. both reasonably level) and the bars are also parallel to the trailer frame then you may need to adjust the ball height and/or angle on the hitch.

Good luck,


Jay
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:27 PM   #5
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Chances are pretty good that you don't NEED weight disribution at all with that trailer ... it certianly makes life more comfortable and all that, but if you HAD TO remove the whole WD assembly, arms and all to get home, it might do fine. If your steering were "light" from too much rear load on the tow vehicle, you'd know it right away. You'd also have to be certain that you had enough forward load in the trailer to weight the hitch properly so you didn't get sway ...

But you're clearly right; there is some systemic problem here. HowieE is right, though - a photo of your setup all attached and rigged would help in diagnosis A LOT.

The original photo appeared to show the WD chains way too tight - was is / is it possible that the rearward ends of the WD bars are so high (so near the trailer frame) that they're actually running into the bracket during turns? Can you see any rub marks? If you look at RangerJay's photo above, you can see how, if you took up more and more links of the chain, the ends of the WD bars would get closer and closer to the brackets ... or is it possible that in the original incident, the brackets got bent a bit so they don't quite fit the frame and are cocking a bit under load? It's a puzzle. Pics would help.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:48 PM   #6
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I agree with AirsDream. You may not need the W/D system. I do not use one with my 19' Bambi, and have never had an issue. Rides level, steers the same, no sway. However, my Sprinter is like a 3/4 ton truck with progressive springs. I don't know the rating for your Ridgeline, but if it's rated for the load (500 lb tongue), and doesn't drop more than an inch to two inches when you hook it up, you're probably fine. My trailer came with a 3/4 ton Dodge Pickup and W/D hitch when I bought it. It was set up so stiff that it would hardly turn (it was as if the truck and trailer were one piece), and the trailer was taking a beating from all of the shocks sent to it through the stiff W/D. It was way overkill. I sold the truck and W/D system. The Sprinter suspension is softer and gives more, so the trailer is free to pivot and doesn't get bumps transferred from the T/V, only the bumps it goes over. Try it without the W/D for a short trip - you may be amazed.
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Old 07-10-2008, 11:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by robert claus View Post
I agree with AirsDream. You may not need the W/D system. I do not use one with my 19' Bambi, and have never had an issue. Rides level, steers the same, no sway. However, my Sprinter is like a 3/4 ton truck with progressive springs. I don't know the rating for your Ridgeline, but if it's rated for the load (500 lb tongue), and doesn't drop more than an inch to two inches when you hook it up, you're probably fine. My trailer came with a 3/4 ton Dodge Pickup and W/D hitch when I bought it. It was set up so stiff that it would hardly turn (it was as if the truck and trailer were one piece), and the trailer was taking a beating from all of the shocks sent to it through the stiff W/D. It was way overkill. I sold the truck and W/D system. The Sprinter suspension is softer and gives more, so the trailer is free to pivot and doesn't get bumps transferred from the T/V, only the bumps it goes over. Try it without the W/D for a short trip - you may be amazed.
Not needing a weight distributing hitch is an pipe dreams.

I will share a short story with both of you.

I was the sole field rep for Caravanner insurance, what was the insurance division of Airstream, many years ago.

I had the task of dealing with the estate of two people, towing a "17" foot Airstream trailer, with a 1/2 ton truck.

They lost control of it, within a city limit, over turning in the process.

Both the man as his wife were killed.

Now, tell me how you justify not needing a weight distributing hitch.

Successful towing a travel trailer, means that you have equipped your rig with everything you can, according to industry standards.

Not doing so, asks for that misfortune to happen, to you, your wife and kids, maybe some relatives, and, to innocent people.

For the sake of a few bucks, why take the risk.

I assure you, that if you visited out facility in southern California, I will take you for a small road trip, in your rig, and by the time I am done, which takes less than five minutes, you will be hunting a big roll of toilet paper and a fifth of booze.

Perhaps, in the minds of some, I am just talking.

But in the minds of people that have known me years, they will also tell you that I personaly, settled more than 1000 loss of control claims, and did the investigation as to what caused them.

NOT HAVE A LOAD EQUALIZING HITCH WAS A VERY HIGH PERCENTAGE OF THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS.

But, as they say in Brooklyn, if you don't mind possible maiming yourself, or death, then at least be considerate of those that would be at you mercy.

They most likely, would very much appreciate you exercising every safety factor that you can, if not for you, at least for them.

When it comes to "SAFETY" deal with the facts of Physics, and hundreds of thousands of trailer owners experiences, and not a isolated opinion.

There will always be objectors to facts who eagerly accept an opinion, just to save a few bucks.

And so it is.

Andy
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Old 07-10-2008, 11:35 PM   #8
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hi i'

we do need to see some new pics now that it has been set up for ya...

is something is binding when backing n turning? pics might help us...

now just to be clear, they didn't re-use the original (bent) bolts again did they?

let's hope this thread doesn't degrade into a w/d or not debate,

but for those who suggest w/d isn't need for a ridge-19 combo remember the tv in question...

IF FRONT WHEEL DRIVE.

so any wt loss on the front axle is more of a negative than on rwd rigs...

here is a thread (well 1/2 dozen posts IN the thread) reporting the actual weights with/without w/d towing a 16...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...-ii-21000.html

and direct feedback from another member towing a 19 with the ridge'...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/192099-post12.html

clearly the w/d helps when towing a 16 OR 19 with the hondatruck...

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:14 AM   #9
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Hi, same problem as before. Look at the picture that RangerJay posted and compare with your set up. Besides the front of the trailer being too high, or trailer not level, your bars are too close to the top of the chain. When you turn your tow vehicle, the hitch rotates slightly, as the hitch turns the W/D bars also move forward and back; With the bars too high on the chain links and not allowing the bars to move enough during turns, something has to give, or break. For you, I would have a professional set up your hitch for you and, maybe, paint the chain links red at the point that you connect the W/D bars.
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
Hi, same problem as before. Look at the picture that RangerJay posted and compare with your set up. Besides the front of the trailer being too high, or trailer not level, your bars are too close to the top of the chain. When you turn your tow vehicle, the hitch rotates slightly, as the hitch turns the W/D bars also move forward and back; With the bars too high on the chain links and not allowing the bars to move enough during turns, something has to give, or break. For you, I would have a professional set up your hitch for you and, maybe, paint the chain links red at the point that you connect the W/D bars.
This is the line that I thought of also, turning to tight with the bars having no place to go. I ran into this two weeks ago when I needed to turn around without enough room. I was looking back at the trailer as I made a very tight turn and heard a loud pop. After straightening out I inspected the hitch and found the bracket that the chain attaches to had slipped aft toward the trailer and the mount bolt bent. I had only one loose link on the chain so I was by no means to tight with the chains. I loosened it up repositioned it tightened it back up and went on my way with more education under my belt. If I ever turn that tight again to pull the bars off, complete the turn, and then reinstall, or just don't turn that tight again.
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:45 PM   #11
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Sorry I did not respond the the statement you Do Not Need A WD Hictch sooner, but I had to work today. Andy and I like to race to see who can correct these misnomers first and I lost this one to Andy.

You not only need a WD hitch but you need one with Daul Cam Sway control and not the one pictured above. A single axle trailer is far more susceptible to uncontrolled sway than dual or tri axle trailers

Please post pictures of you hitch while hitched up so we can determine the problem.
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Old 07-11-2008, 01:53 PM   #12
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I think I might know what's causing the problem, as I am sure AofA knows how to set up a WD hitch...especially if it is the right-hand bracket with the problem.
Hayley, are you leaving the WD bars on when you back into a campsite or park your trailer? If so, the bars should be removed prior to drastic-bending manuevers.
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Old 07-11-2008, 02:06 PM   #13
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I think I might know what's causing the problem, as I am sure AofA knows how to set up a WD hitch...especially if it is the right-hand bracket with the problem.
Hayley, are you leaving the WD bars on when you back into a campsite or park your trailer? If so, the bars should be removed prior to drastic-bending manuevers.
In 35 years of towing with WD hitch I have never heard of anyone dropping the bars before backing up. Just stop and think about this before considering it as an option. Have you ever had to back up while on the road say during a K turn? Would you get out and drop the bars then?
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Old 07-11-2008, 03:04 PM   #14
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heyley

if your rig still looks like it did in the first photo you have your bars too tight.

you need to be hooked in the 5th chain link to allow enough movement as you turn. the bars should be roughly parallel to the ground.

this can be adjusted by the amount of tilt in the trunnion/hitch head. by the book it should start off at 15 degrees from vertical.

you need to find a person who knows what they are doing to set it up correctly.

john
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