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Old 03-27-2016, 08:34 PM   #1
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Can I just have a ball?

I’m shopping for my first AirStream and have, as I see others about to join the fun have, a hitch question. I have on order a Ram 1500 with Class IV hitch and all the “tow” related options I could add, but no anti-sway attachment. The Ram dealer says get that from the RV dealer, as does the AS dealer. However, we are at this point intending to buy used. Some out there are EQ, some are Blue Ox and some are ProPride. We’ll likely install on the truck, what comes on the trailer we choose.
I’ve read through the “first tow” on the AS site and still have these questions:
Is there a standard ball size for AS, and if so what is it?
What is the nominal height above ground for the ball?
The real toss-up question is this:
Is it absolutely essential to have any of these after market stabilizers? You can, can you not, drive in reasonable weather on reasonable roads with just the ball?
Having read through the responses on another newbie’s question, I recognize the nature of the vehicle and travel options may suggest which we finally choose. I have experience pulling boats and smaller RV’s so I don’t think a little sway is going to freak me out and I’d like try it without to make the assessment of my specific rig and use.
I might mention that the Ram dealer claimed there is a “smart” function in the brake that will itself deal with some degree of sway. I take that with a grain of salt, but again, I’d like to see how it works without the anti-sway hitch; can that be done? If it can, would you rate that as utterly stupid, or a reasonable 800-mile solution.
Thanks,
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Old 03-27-2016, 08:47 PM   #2
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Greatly depends on what you buy, but in general something like a reese dual-cam is cheap insurance and provides a nice comfort level.

With that said, I towed ball only with my 23' safari with never an issue. After having WD, I would like too use it if possible.
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Old 03-27-2016, 08:50 PM   #3
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As long as the wheelbase is over 120 inches and you keep the speed below 6.7mph you will be OK.
A great tow vehicle would be this.
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Old 03-27-2016, 08:55 PM   #4
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Oh boy. Tow vehicles, hitches and tow ratings are hot buttons on here! Many opinions.

Here is a basic neutral response. Find out what your hitch rating is for WD and non-WD weights. There should be a sticker on the truck hitch somewhere- mine was underneath. Also, find out what your truck's payload rating is. You will subtract your trailer tongue weight from that figure. The payload rating includes people and cargo and tongue weight.

Anti-sway hitch-wise is a part of the design of the hitch you choose. You will hear many types. I started with a Curt hitch- very inexpensive and it worked well until I got new truck tires- go figure. Then I ended up with a 3P ProPride.

WD hitching is almost a must with an AS. You cannot establish the height of the hitch setup until you know what hitch and have the truck too. Each model of Airstream may differ based on model or year (if used). My vintage of AS was 17 3/4" high for most models. I believe the ball size is 2- 5/16". If you buy used, here is a reference point.

https://www.airstream.com/service/document-archive/

Does it matter about anti-sway? Yes but if you want to tow without it go ahead and find out. The wind, semi-trucks and just general road conditions can teach that lesson.

Brake sway electronic. Yes trucks have that but I can tell you, at least with my '09 Ford that had the same feature, it kicked in after I was already in panic mode. I would not consider that my solution for anti-sway. I think of it as an emergency, to keep from crashing setup!

Have fun with whatever you end up with. I have had to experience things to realize my need, like the swaying, to then research and select a hitch. There will be some things like that for you too. Some people never seem to have sway issues. I didn't- at first.
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:08 PM   #5
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Considering the value of your truck and your trailer, saving a couple of bucks on the hitch seems penny wise, but pound foolish.

Weight distribution and sway control make for a relaxing, stable ride.
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:37 PM   #6
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We also went with a ProPride hitch. We are currently pulling our 27 EB with a Surburban1500 and are pretty much at our max on towing.
This works fine so far on flat terrain.
We are planning on a diesel 2500 as a tow vehicle in the near future.
Safe travels with your new trailer.
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:38 PM   #7
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I'd like to suggest a two-step answer. Since you're planning to buy a used Airstream and you don't know what you'll end up with yet... tongue weight, tongue height, hitch height of the truck etc. are to some extent unknown.

Step one - buy a simple Class 4 shank with a 2-5/16 ball and be prepared to buy your used trailer and simply tow it home. Hopefully you only need to tow a limited number of miles - not across the country.

Step two - after you have the trailer in hand you can measure tongue weight and height. Maybe the trailer will even come with a weight distribution hitch - many people selling trailers sell the hitch too. Now you can double-check the parameters of your trailer and the parameters of your truck to see if you need weight distribution. It will be obvious when you hitch up your trailer - if you truck sags dramatically you need weight distribution. Sway control is to some extent a separate topic - some hitches include this feature some use add-on devices for sway control.

Basic ball now, more elaborate hitch later if needed.
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Old 03-27-2016, 10:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WherryWillie View Post
I’m shopping for my first AirStream and have, as I see others about to join the fun have, a hitch question. I have on order a Ram 1500 with Class IV hitch and all the “tow” related options I could add, but no anti-sway attachment. The Ram dealer says get that from the RV dealer, as does the AS dealer. However, we are at this point intending to buy used. Some out there are EQ, some are Blue Ox and some are ProPride. We’ll likely install on the truck, what comes on the trailer we choose.
I’ve read through the “first tow” on the AS site and still have these questions:
Is there a standard ball size for AS, and if so what is it?all of mine have been 2 5/16"
What is the nominal height above ground for the ball?all of my trailers have been 18 3/4" to top of hitch coupling. I set the ball at 19 3/4"+
The real toss-up question is this:
Is it absolutely essential to have any of these after market stabilizers? You can, can you not, drive in reasonable weather on reasonable roads with just the ball?I think you should have both weight distribution and sway control when you are towing with a 1500
Having read through the responses on another newbie’s question, I recognize the nature of the vehicle and travel options may suggest which we finally choose. I have experience pulling boats and smaller RV’s so I don’t think a little sway is going to freak me out and I’d like try it without to make the assessment of my specific rig and use.
I might mention that the Ram dealer claimed there is a “smart” function in the brake that will itself deal with some degree of sway. I take that with a grain of salt, but again, I’d like to see how it works without the anti-sway hitch; can that be done? If it can, would you rate that as utterly stupid, or a reasonable 800-mile solution.my truck has similar sway control, but it only activates brakes on the tow vehicle. I do not think it is sufficent
Thanks,
My answers to your questions above are in red.
I suggest, if you are buying used, that you should wait to see if a hitch will be included with the trailer. Except for one of the six I have purchased, the hitch was included.
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Old 03-27-2016, 10:37 PM   #9
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I towed about 5,000 miles on the ball.

Both of my trailers towed fine with my half ton on the ball, so long as I didn't exceed 60 MPH and I didn't get caught off guard by passing trucks.

Problem is, I cant drive across the nation below 60 MPH, and after buying my Hensley hitch, I never looked back. (No need to look back, the trailer is always right behind my tow vehicle).


Superat stultitia.
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Old 03-28-2016, 08:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
Considering the value of your truck and your trailer, saving a couple of bucks on the hitch seems penny wise, but pound foolish.

Weight distribution and sway control make for a relaxing, stable ride.
Very very much agree with this. ^^^

On towing, I'm as green as they come, starting with our first Airstream in December.

Last year, I researched the forums and bought a Propride 3P hitch from Sean. His customer service is amazing. I also looked at tow vehicles, and opted for a 1/2 ton 4x4 diesel.

We are now on our inaugural trip out west. The truck and trailer combination are working out extremely well. I am frankly astonished how easy it is to get down the road, with zero drama.

I only say this because of my experience; the advice I received here on Airforums was excellent. Be well worth considering it carefully before deciding what to do.

Rich
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Old 03-28-2016, 08:16 AM   #11
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A Reese Dual Cam hitch came to me from the trailer's previous owner. I was sold on keeping and updating it after the first tow home. 300 miles of interstate in a nasty crosswind was a piece of cake. Passing semis were barely noticed.

I agree, you may well get a good hitch along with a used trailer. If not, the Dual Cam is worth your consideration.
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Old 03-28-2016, 08:34 AM   #12
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Yeah,
This is one of those hot button issues here.
You will find more proponents here for leveling and sway control than not. You will also find a lot of people here with back up cams, tire pressure monitors, solar panels and every other kind of gew gaw and doo dad that can be bought when money is no object.
I will say you are probably better off with WD than without.
On the other hand, consider the millions of utility trailers hauling millions of tons of cargo for billions of miles without WD hitches and enter that into your equation.
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Old 03-28-2016, 09:15 AM   #13
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I wouldn't tow a medium size Airstream 800 miles with our Ram 1500 and no w.d. hitch. Reduced braking and steering control, get pushed around by sidewinds and semi's passing, headlights shining up in the air.
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Old 03-28-2016, 09:59 AM   #14
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Okay, I guess I'm going to have to buy the book, since I keep quoting from it. As I recall, Wally Byam's famous book, Trailer Travel Here and Abroad suggests very strongly that a weight distributing hitch is a necessity. That book came out in, what, the early 60's? Granted, the typical half-ton pickup today is a much more capable tow vehicle right off the showroom floor than most vehicles of then, but I think his advice was spot on.

As far as choosing the right hitch and hitch setup, I don't think that the specs changed all that much from year to year for the same coach, although the weights tend to get heavier as you get newer. Go to https://www.airstream.com/service/document-archive/ and look up the coaches that interest you. Note the highest gross weight and use that for your guide. If you set up to tow a 10,000 pound gross weight coach and eventually buy one that is only 8500 pounds gross, it won't make any difference, but if you do it the other way around you will eventually damage something. Be sure to pay attention to the towing capacity of your tow vehicle. That may well be your limiting factor.
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