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Old 08-06-2007, 03:03 PM   #1
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Getting started with WD hitch

So, years ago I used a heavy duty Reese trunion bar WD hitch on a cargo trailer I put 50k miles on behind a Class C RV. Loved it. Now I will be using a Nissan Xterra and Toyota Tacoma to tow a 20' Argosy. I'm looking into what hitch to get, reading posts, and such and find that there are so many options it's bewildering.

I was wondering if there are, say, a top 5 most-used/mentioned/loved by airstreamers. Also wondering if the round bar vs trunion bars makes much difference. There are also some single-bar options.

Also, I had a super heavy-duty one before. What are the advantages/disadvantages of using one that's heavier-duty than you need? For the Argosy, I could probably get away with a 3500# unit, but why not get something rated for 5000 or 6000. That said, would it be a bad idea to get a 10k or 12k unit? I suppose they're bigger and heavier so they might be less desireable than one more suited to my lighter trailer?

I'm sure there's a tiresome number of threads on this topic, but here's my effort to narrow down the choices a bit up front. Thanks.
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Old 08-06-2007, 04:15 PM   #2
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Getting started with WD hitch

Greetings zimbop!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Argosy ownership!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zimbop
So, years ago I used a heavy duty Reese trunion bar WD hitch on a cargo trailer I put 50k miles on behind a Class C RV. Loved it. Now I will be using a Nissan Xterra and Toyota Tacoma to tow a 20' Argosy. I'm looking into what hitch to get, reading posts, and such and find that there are so many options it's bewildering.
Your Argosy 20 (or it may be a 6.0 Metre Minuet as they debuted in 1977) is likely to have a loaded hitch weight of approximately 525 pounds. Unless you want to deal with popped rivets, excessive cracking of interior plastic panels (interior end caps), you don't want a hitch with spring bars that are rated significantly higher than the hitch weight -- and possibly less if you tow with a heavy duty tow vehicle such as my K2500 Suburban. When towing with my Suburban, I utilize 350 pound Reese light-weight-special spring bars (trunion style); but when I tow with my Cadillac, I utilize 600 pound Reese trunion bars.

Everyone on the Forums has their favorite hitch, but for the smaller trailers the Reese Strait Line hitch and Equal-I-zer are probably among the two most popular choices. I utilize the Reese Strait Line hitch (it includes the Dual Cam Sway Control) with both my Minuet and Overlander. After towing with this setup for nearly ten years, I am totally pleased with its performance under all conditions -- I wouldn't however, recommend friction type sway control as it requires too much attention while underway -- changing settings when wind, traffic conditions, or road surfaces change -- I had this with my first travel trailer and for a very brief time with the Minuet.

Good luck with your Argosy!

Kevin
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:48 PM   #3
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Could you please explain a little more about the consequences of not having the proper spring bars? I understand the concept of WD hitches, but curious about your concern with popping rivets and such.

Most of the time this will be towed by an Xterra or Tacoma, both lighter-duty pickup frame vehicles with ratings of 6000 and 5000 pounds respectively. I will occasionally pull it with a dodge Ram 2500 which is heavy duty enough to not need WD for this trailer.
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Old 08-06-2007, 11:16 PM   #4
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You will want anti-sway even with your Dodge 2500. For that reason you will be using the WD hitch with it, too. The two most popular hitches on this forum are the Equal-i-zer brand and the Reese Dual Cam. I have the Equal-i-zer and am very pleased with it. It is the only WD hitch I have ever used so I can't tell you if it is better or worse than any other; only that I am satisfied.

My trailer loaded weighs about double what your trailer weighs dry. It is OK to use a slightly higher rated hitch than required and it is better to go higher rated than lower rated, but you don't want to go too much higher. For your 3,500 LB Argosy, a 5K hitch would be about as high as you should go. A 10K hitch is WAY too heavy and would not give you satisfactory towing over time. It could possibly damage your "A" frame/tongue and put too much stress on the front section of the trailer and could damage that area of the trailer as well.

There are "experts" on this forum that would tell you it is better to go with a lighter duty hitch than a heavier duty hitch. They may be right and they may have the experience to back it up. I can only base my opinion on the advise I was given by my local hitch dealer and by Equal-i-zer's factory rep. The Equal-i-zer factory rep knew I was going to buy their product at that point so he had no reason to not give me his best advise. The local hitch dealer knew I was going to buy my hitch through my Airstream dealer so he had no financial stake in what I bought. So I think they were giving me straight information.
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:54 AM   #5
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The straight line and equal-i-zer definitely have their differences. It all looks so rigid the way they're configured, do they really work well when turning and backing in tight spaces? The Reese trunion system I had before introduced no hassles that way. For some hitches to you need to disconnect the WD/sway components for particular maneuvers? Are there other differences that have a practical impact?

Also, the equal-i-zer and reese both seem to come in 6000/600# as the lowest rating. Is that light duty enough?
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Old 08-07-2007, 01:07 AM   #6
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Getting started with WD hitch

Greetings zimbop!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zimbop
Could you please explain a little more about the consequences of not having the proper spring bars? I understand the concept of WD hitches, but curious about your concern with popping rivets and such.

Most of the time this will be towed by an Xterra or Tacoma, both lighter-duty pickup frame vehicles with ratings of 6000 and 5000 pounds respectively. I will occasionally pull it with a dodge Ram 2500 which is heavy duty enough to not need WD for this trailer.
Depending upon the degree of over-hitching, the damages can vary. In the case of my Overlander (during my first year of ownership in 1995), I averaged five or more new popped rivets after every trip regardless of miles traveled (usually a minimum of 125 miles). In addition, I began noticing new cracks in the fiberglass endcaps -- particularly the front endcap. In the case of my Overlander, I was utilizing 1,000 pound bars with a 1/2-ton pickup that had very stiff offroad suspension including factory overloads. When I took the Overlander to an Airstream dealer with experience setting up hitches for Vintage coaches, I learned about the problems with over-hitching. In addition, I learned that this was also likely why it didn't seem like my Dual Cam Sway Control was fully functional.

To nearly eliminate popped rivets, reduce or eliminate additional cracking of interior fiberglass or ABS components, and insure proper functioning of my Dual Cam Sway Control, I have found the following combinations to work well with my coaches:
  • When towing with the Suburban, I utilize 350 pound weight distribution bars to support the Minuet's approximately 525 pound loaded hitch weight (I always try to travel with a full fresh water tank to maintain good towing manners). When the Suburban is mated to my Overlander, I utilize 600 pound weight distribution bars.
  • When towing with the Cadillac with its softly sprung boulevard ride, I utilize 600 pound weight distribution bars for the Minuet. When mated to the Overlander, I utilize 700 pound weight distribution bars.
Even with the 3/4 ton Suburban, I find that the Strait Line hitch is desirable for either coach as it increases the stability while giving a more controlled ride and handling in the Suburban.

Part of the attraction of the Reese Dual Cam System or the Equal-I-zer hitch is that it is not necessary to disconnect anything for maneuvering -- the need to remove the friction sway control prior to backing the coach was another reason I was pleased with the conversion to the Dual Cam Sway Control system. Once the hitch is properly configured for the tow vehicle/trailer combination further adjustments isn't necessary unless there is a significant change in loading of either the coach or tow vehicle.

The 350 pound weight distribution bars that I utilize with my Suburban were manufactured in the early 1980s as part of a light-weight receiver hitch package for the "new" intermediate class cars, and has not been in the catalog for quite some time. The 600 pound hitch is about the closest match out there, and may be near ideal for either your Xterra or Tacoma. They may be a bit heavy for the 3/4-ton Dodge, but may be workable.

By utilizing knowledge gained from towing my Overlander, I began towing the Minuet with a properly matched hitch (the original owner also was cautious about matching the hitch). I have been able to totally avoid cracks in the front interior endcap ABS while I have been able to avoid adding to the existing cracks in the rear endcap.

Admittedly it is inconvenient to store three sets of weight distribution bars (actually four as I still have the 1,000 pound bars stored somewhere in the barn). The difference it makes in reducing required maintence of the coach, and the increased effectiveness of the Dual Cam system the inconvenience is a small cost for the benefits provided. Actually it is more inconvenient to store the four hitch heads to accomodate towing in any of the four possible combinations of tow vehicle/coach on a moments notice.

Good luck with your Minuet. I am sure that you will enjoy its unique character.

Kevin
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Old 08-07-2007, 01:13 AM   #7
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Ok then, it seems the best advice is to find a good dealer to help me do it right. Not sure where to go but I'll be working on that. Is there a "favorite dealer" list somewhere on this site where users share comments on dealers in each locality?
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Old 08-07-2007, 05:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zimbop
I will occasionally pull it with a dodge Ram 2500 which is heavy duty enough to not need WD for this trailer.
My 1998 Dodge 2500 Cummins Diesel Quad Cab Owners Manual states that a weight distribution hitch and sway control are both REQUIRED with tongue weights over 350 pounds. If I failed to do this, I would not expect my insurance company to cover any resulting accident. Your model may vary.
Nick.
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Old 08-07-2007, 08:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst
My 1998 Dodge 2500 Cummins Diesel Quad Cab Owners Manual states that a weight distribution hitch and sway control are both REQUIRED with tongue weights over 350 pounds. If I failed to do this, I would not expect my insurance company to cover any resulting accident. Your model may vary.
Nick.
Mine is 500/5000, but it's a standard cab, maybe that's why.
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:16 PM   #10
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My recommendation for advice on hitches from this point would be to take your Minuet and go to a livestock trailer dealer...specifically someone who sells horse trailers. You'd be surprised how knowledgeable they are about hitches, especially those that deal to the hobbyist. They are used to dealing with light trailers and light SUV's and 1/2 ton trucks and such.

Another good source would be a utility trailer dealer. That is where I got a ton of information. When I met the guy face-to-face, he looked about 17 (he was older) but he really knew his stuff when it came to hitches. Didn't know anything about Airstreams, but knew hitches for everything from hauling lawn equipment to horses to multiple car trailers. He took one look at my set up and told me exactly how it needed to be "tweaked" to perform perfectly and he was spot on. He seemed to know more about Equal-i-zer hitches than my Airstream dealer's shop foreman did.
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Old 08-08-2007, 07:09 PM   #11
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Ok, so I visited the local dealers today and here's what I found:

Equal-i-zer: Found one in the 1000# setup for $550 or so. The only one I saw today that has true anti-sway built in. That one looks quite a bit harder to lock in the bars. There doesn't seem to be a lever-operated mechanism like the chain-type bars have. How do you spring up the bars? With the trailer jack or something?

Valley: Found a valley round-bar setup with chains in the 400-600# setup for $313 including drawbar. Seems similar to all the other round bar types with chains.

Curt: Very similar to the Valley setup, 1000# bars, $280. Don't know much about this one but one dealer said he'd choose it because it's as good as a valley or reese and cheaper (half as much as a reese).

Pro Series: Never heard of this brand but it's a WD/antisway system similar to the Equal-i-zer, though I'm not sure exactly how similar it really is. $550.

Reese: Nobody had a straight-line, but somebody offered to order it for me for $575, no drawbar included (extra $100 or so). They also showed me the dual-cam in a catalog and advised me to stay away from it without a real compelling reason.

Blue Ox: This looked like dort of a cross betwee the standard trunion and round-bar types with chains, though they claimed it has anti-sway control by adding a bracket around the chain so that it can't move laterally as far. This seems more like sway limiting than sway control. Seemed pretty hokey. It also seemed like the bars could not be disconnected easily.

Husky: Looked like standard roundbar/chain setup. $247 for 550# version.

So that's what I learned, Having read the responses above I wanted to see the Equal-i-zer and the Straight-line [though now that I re-read some of those I guess I meant to look for the dual-cam, which I did not find except for the catalog view at one dealer who suggested I stay away from it]. Seems as though I should really get a look at the trailer tongue and be sure the positioning of the attachments for each hitch will work before I go buy one I guess.

How hard is it to set up and connect/disconnect the Equal-i-zer? For half the money there are several round bar and chain type options. Also the Reese trunion bar type. I certainly like the anti-sway simplicity on the Equal-i-zer as opposed to the relatively clumsy-seeming friction sway control bars that can be added on to the chain type, but I'm unsure if it's much harder to deal with.

There's a lot of options, and oh yeah, gotta get a brake controller too, gee whiz. Comments welcome. Thanks.
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:44 PM   #12
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Just slide the bars in place...no effort involved

Quote:
Originally Posted by zimbop
Equal-i-zer: Found one in the 1000# setup for $550 or so. The only one I saw today that has true anti-sway built in. That one looks quite a bit harder to lock in the bars. There doesn't seem to be a lever-operated mechanism like the chain-type bars have. How do you spring up the bars? With the trailer jack or something?
With the Equal-i-zer you drop the tongue over the hitch ball and close the clamp. Then, with the bars in place raise the tongue while relieving the weight on the tow vehicle. Once the tongue is high enough, you simply slide the bars over the L-brackets and insert and pin the retainers.

Oh, don't forget to retract the jack before taking off. I know from experience leaving the jack down is way, way bad!!!
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:56 PM   #13
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Well, for better or worse, that's a lot more messing around than standard bars where you just lever the chain up and you're done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung
With the Equal-i-zer you drop the tongue over the hitch ball and close the clamp. Then, with the bars in place raise the tongue while relieving the weight on the tow vehicle. Once the tongue is high enough, you simply slide the bars over the L-brackets and insert and pin the retainers.

Oh, don't forget to retract the jack before taking off. I know from experience leaving the jack down is way, way bad!!!
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:49 PM   #14
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We just bought an equilizer for our 34 footer and its so easy to hook up even my 60 year old wife can do it. And she could not hook up the lever and chain type..We have the 1000 lb bars and the 18 wheelers blow by us and dont bother us at all. It's very simple to adjust. We also got the Prodgy controller and that was very simple to operate. Nothing to it. Good luck in your quest.
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