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Old 12-01-2005, 10:33 AM   #1
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Dealer/Aftermarket Hitch Equipment

After a _lot_ of consideration, it's going to be a Honda Ridgeline to tow our new 16' Bambi. We're well within the towing and weight limits, the safety ratings of the vehicle are best-in-class, and the v6 won't utterly kill us at the pump. Since we'll be using the vehicle for daily commuting as well we just didn't see a v8 making sense for us.

Anyway, the Ridgeline allegedly comes "tow-ready". But not really. You still need to buy and have the dealer install a hitch receiver, ball holder, ball, wiring harness, etc. And they want $550 just for the parts!!! I've found a no-drill receiver and all the other stuff, specifically for the Ridgeline, for less than $300 on the net. And installation looks extremely straightforward to this shade-tree mechanic.

My bro in law, who's done a _lot_ of towing, advised me to try out a simple weight-bearing hitch arrangement to see how it tows before springing for anything more exotic.

So my questions:

1) Is there any reason to lavish these $$$ on the dealer by having them install their towing stuff?

2) If not, is there any overriding reason that I shouldn't even try starting out with a simple hitch system?

3) If I need a more complex setup, to whom should I go for this kind of service? I've read here that RV dealers are hit and miss, horse trailer sellers are great, but there aren't a lot of them around me. What we _do_ have nearby, ironically in southern Ohio, are lots and lots of marine dealers. Are they a good resource?

THANKS!
jon
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Old 12-01-2005, 02:37 PM   #2
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hi jon and welcome to airstream'n

the ridgeline is a fine truck, is it made in ohio too? should have all of honda's reliability dna and lots of nifty innovations like the side opening tail and trunk in trunk.

why buy a "best in class" truck and trailer........

just to contect them in some half-assed way?

in many ways the single axle bambi line are the squirrely'ist trailers to pull. may be the most prone to sway and bowwave forces from big trucks. when ONE tire blows there is nothing to support the affected side...

i'd don't think fear is a good way to influence behavior but here is a theard you might want to look over and visualize YOUR bambi. as i recall this one was pulled by a suburban.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...rol-17986.html

loading and distributing cargo in the bambis is critical to proper handling. i'd suggest droping the tongue on a reliable scale and measuring the load there as you fill the trailer with fluids, gas and goodies. 12-15% total weight should be tongue weight and it's easy to exceed gvwr for the trailer or gvcwr for the total rig, so check loads on a scale.

make absolutely sure those 2 tires are correctly inflated.

and buy a good load distributing/sway control hitch set up. i don't consider these as complex expensive accessories but absolutely essential pieces of safety equipment like trailer brakes.....ok the hensley IS expensive but few who have it complain about the price after living with it awhile.

any advantage to having a dealer install hitch/receiver/brake controller? only if they have good experience with installation and setup and many don't.

sure it can be a diy if you own a torque wrench and can trust your basic wiring skills.

and don't forget the brake controller.....and absolute requirement imo.

so the bolt on receiver, swaycontrol/load distributing hitch, wiring harness, brake controller are and should be part of the BASIC trailering package.

perhaps you can do these all yourself........but i wouldn't want the brother-in-laws help.

heres to a great new "trio" of equipment....once you have a good linkage sysstem.
2air'
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Old 12-01-2005, 03:30 PM   #3
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Streamenvy----Having pulled an 04 16' CCD Banbi myself I can tell you from experience a weight distributing hitch is a must. We pulled ours with a S-10 Chev and with a Nissan Titian. While the Titian needed it less it still was necessary. I also used a friction sway control in conjuction with the WD hitch. Nothing elaborate is needed. Depending on how your Honda is sprung in the rear a simple single bar Reese may be adequit. With out either a blow out or panic stop could put you in deep do-do. ---Pieman
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:21 PM   #4
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Hi, Jon,

A lot of Airstream dealers will blow you off because they don't want to mess with hitch installation (by telling you they're booked up untill 2007). No problem - most good sized cities have a hitch specialist who does nothing else, works on a lot of different vehicles, and WANTS your business.

The AS dealer in Jacksonville pulled that one on me when I asked about having a hitch adjusted and the socket changed out. I wonder who would buy a trailer from these jokers? Get warrantee repairs in 2007? No thanks.

They'll be gone someday soon, and the hitch shop will still be there and busy.

Lamar
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman

in many ways the single axle bambi line are the squirrely'ist trailers to pull. may be the most prone to sway and bowwave forces from big trucks. when ONE tire blows there is nothing to support the affected side...
My setup is one of the most basic WD hitches and sway control along with a Prodigy brake controller. Knock on wood, but in the plus 5,000 miles I have put on the Bambi through all kinds of wind/weather conditions, driving at speeds between 50-65 MPH, being passed and having my doors blown off by numerous 18 wheelers on two lane roads and interstates, I have yet to feel anything but the slightest nudge. In fact, I've felt more sway while towing my 24' Tradewind.
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Old 12-01-2005, 07:07 PM   #6
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hi silverranger and others

assume you are quoting my post to disagree with the notion that short single axle trailers aren't subject to the wiggles?

i interpret your experience as basically confirming what i failed to include.....that is.....

using a basic w/d set up with anti sway and a good brake controller does wonders to control a bambi and i would agree completely. i don't think it takes alot or an expensive setup but it does take all 3.

longer multiaxle trailers are inherently more stable, but once they start wiggling they do take a beefier system to restore control.

have you pulled both the short one and the longer one with only a ball hitch using the same t.v. in winds and traffic? that would seem to offer the clearest comparison of single axle short and multi axle long.

cheers
2air'
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Old 12-01-2005, 10:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
hi silverranger and others

assume you are quoting my post to disagree with the notion that short single axle trailers aren't subject to the wiggles?

i interpret your experience as basically confirming what i failed to include.....that is.....

using a basic w/d set up with anti sway and a good brake controller does wonders to control a bambi and i would agree completely. i don't think it takes alot or an expensive setup but it does take all 3.

longer multiaxle trailers are inherently more stable, but once they start wiggling they do take a beefier system to restore control.

have you pulled both the short one and the longer one with only a ball hitch using the same t.v. in winds and traffic? that would seem to offer the clearest comparison of single axle short and multi axle long.

cheers
2air'
Not to disagree at all, and I believe your advice to be very solid. I was simply relating my own experience of towing both trailers with the same TV, using proper (same) tow equipment under diverse wind/weather/road conditions. I have no doubts that, under certain circumstances, any trailer can experience control issues, especially a single axle blowout, which I have experienced with a loaded utility trailer. I consider myself fortunate to not have experienced the towing and handling issues that I have frequently read about on the forum, and wouldn't think of towing either the long or short trailer without WD and a brake control. Wellll..... I must confess to towing the Tradewind a short distance (12 miles) home from where I bought it using just the ball. Back roads, low traffic, and ideal weather conditions. You know how it is when you just can't wait to get an AS home.
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Old 12-01-2005, 11:36 PM   #8
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Ridgeline Bambi setup experience

Jon,
If I can help at all, please contact me. I've had my Ridgeline RTL since March and have towed my 19ft 2001 Bambi extensively with it.

I opted for the Honda hitch, dealer installed. This March, there were no other options. I have pictures of how the hitch was installed by the dealer on my Ridgeline, and I can say it is a very well designed, well built product- unlike the Honda hitch for my 2000 Odyssey. What is unusual is the hitch's centerline attachment to the Ridgeline aft end.

For a brake controller, I'm using a Tekonsha Prodigy I installed myself, mounted in the pocket under the RTL radio/CD changer.

I had to modify the Honda trailer 7-way connector to provide the backup-light circuit, as there was no circuit for it in the Honda harness. I can provide details on what I had to do there.

There have been some other mods I've made to the Ridgeline in the 9 months and nearly 20k+miles I've owned it. It is the best Honda I've owned yet- and I've had seven.

Email me and I'll get you the pictures of the install, the Honda installation manual, and try to answer any questions you may have.
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:34 AM   #9
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my neighbor got the hitch on e bay for $119
we installed it in about 1/2 an hour wiering is a little more difficuilt but easy
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Old 12-02-2005, 09:47 AM   #10
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Hi Marshall,

Thanks for your offer. Yeah, I'd love to know what you had to do to the connector to make it work, as I'm sure I'll have the same problem. I have an electronics background, so should be able to implement whatever you have to tell me.

So, are you towing with weight-distribution and sway control? Most of the replies seem to suggest that without them I'm doomed. I'd be interested in knowing if _anyone_ successfully tows with just a simple hitch and brake control.
If you have, over what kind of terrain? What happens when a truck passes on the freeway or in high wind?

While I'm not opposed to using sway/weight controls, it takes me into a whole new level of investment and complication. Looking at these contraptions, I start to wonder if installing them myself is wise. Not because they look difficult to hook up, but because I'm not sure how to make all these pieces fit in the same limited space on the trailer yoke, which is already partly taken by propane bottles and _their_ harnesses. Also, I dunno if I'd know how to adjust them properly.

Have you found the Ridgeline powerful enough for towing yours? Lots of people seem to think that a v8 is a near-requirement. Since I'm not expecting to try climbing the Rockies at 75 mph, I suspect that the v6 will be just fine, but I'd LOVE a real-world datapoint.

THANKS!
Jon
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:55 AM   #11
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It isn't too complicated...

I have the basic draw-lite hitch with a friction sway control. It's all about right angles.

Honestly, I did tow my 26ft Argosy without sway control (but with weight distribution) with my old Astro - I wouldn't do it without, even with my 1 ton van. Weight distribution will put weight back where it belongs, on your front tires. Friction sway control is SO easy to hook up, It will take you about an hour with a drill. The longest part is drillling the 4 holes on the trailer A frame - the rest is honestly a piece of cake (hook up a small ball next to your trailer ball on the hitch), attach the sway control unit to the two small balls, and away you go!

The tongue weight of your Bambi is much more then on a boat. I would also venture that without weight distribution, your tongue weight would be more than the Ridgeline (tires, suspension) is rated for. Weight distrubution just gets the weight all back to where it's supposed to be over the four tires.
Marc
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Old 12-02-2005, 12:38 PM   #12
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Bambi/Ridgeline

Jon,

I would strongly urge you to have a weight distributing hitch with your Bambi. I use a rather unusual model from Blue Ox that has worked extremely well for me, and is the only WD hitch setup I am aware of that will work for the Bambi tongue arrangement I have (http://www.blueox.us/Hitches/wdh.htm see model BX2004, and BX1800 antisway system).

On one occasion I had to move my Bambi about 12 miles along US route 30 in 4-lane traffic with trucks and stoplights in PA, using my original Reese hitch without the antisway and without the springbars for the weight distribution, and it was not safe or easy. I don't recommend it based on my experience.

I was able to use my first hitch, which is a Reese WD trunnion-bar ( http://www.reese-hitches.com/hi_pef_trunnion_bar_wd.htm ) with no problems in setup or operation. Many others use this system, and I am sure you can too. With a little practice it will become familiar. That said, one should never take the steps of hitch connection- nor any pre-flight steps- for granted. A reputable dealer can guide you through the steps and see that you are comfortable with making the connection yourself.

I'll gather the info on the backup light conversion. Email me your address and I'll send them along.

The Ridgeline has been powerful enough for me. I've been into the Adirondacks, central West Virginia and central PA with no issues. I don't tow faser than 70mph, but prefer to stay at 65mph, as a matter of safety. Average mpg has been 11 while towing over 4000miles in June. The transmission behaves very well and smoothly, and has enough power to go up the 5 mile long hill climb on I88N just at the NC/VA border, pulling a fully-loaded Bambi at 70mph with no raise in engine temperature, not once but four times. It is a great little truck.

Marshall
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Old 12-02-2005, 01:18 PM   #13
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Jon---Don't let the sound of all this scare you. It's not as compicated as it sounds. What Marshal has told you is good advice. There is room for this mechanism on the tongue. You may have to move some of it around but really, it's not all that big of a deal. I, like Marshal, would recomend the Reese pictured on the site he listed. While it might be cheaper on line, if you buy it from a reputable dealer he should install it and instruct you as part of the deal. I would try to do this with the same people you buy the trailer from. I would expect you're looking somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.00 installed. Every time we have traded trailers we go through a period of spending$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Sometimes it seems there's no end to it!!! First the trailer , then a hitch as is seems the old one won't work on the new trailer, thats followed with taxes, license, insurance,etc. Then of course we have to get some indoor-putdoor carpet for outside, throw rugs to match the new interior color, new sheets, pillowcases, and bed spread, hand towels, wash cloths and bath towels, kitchen dish towels, place mats,etc. The list seems to be endless. Oh I forgot leveling blocks and wheel chocks. Fortunately all these don't have to be purchased before it's usable.----part of the fun is personalizing you little house on wheels. good luck and have fun!!!--------Pieman
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