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Old 08-04-2007, 12:28 AM   #1
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2005 28' Safari
Saskatoon , Sk.
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Cool Hey, hitch heads - what do you think of this set-up?

I will be the first to admit that I am very new and inexperienced to the fine art of proper hitch set-up. I will start this thread by stating that I purchased a 2005 Safari last week in Michigan and hauled it 1500 miles back home without any major issues. The people I bought the trailer from had a Ford Expedition as a TV (which is essentialy the same set-up as my 06' F150 9500# towing package) with Reese load levelling hitch and anti-sway bar.

Having said that, I immediately noticed when going over my first speed bump in the trailer park, the vertical leg of the hitch seemed to bottom out and pinched the safety chains (not a pretty sound!) I have noticed this on a couple other occasions when travelling at low speeds. The previous owners set their load levelling chains at "6 links" and that is what I've been doing so far.

I don't know if I'm close or way off but I would appreciate your thoughts on the way it is set-up on my TV. I'm including a few photos to help demonstrate what I'm talking about and the low clearance between the pavement and the vertical leg of the hitch. I am also including a couple photos from a distance back so that you can see the entire set-up - does the trailer look like it is sitting correctly? Does it dip towards the front too much?

The only other concerns I have are in regards to the way the emergency brake and power cables hang so low to the pavement. Perhaps the chance of the emergency cable 'snagging' are so remote that I shouldn't worry. I don't want to 'defeat' the cable by wrapping it a couple times either. What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks in advance to anybody who takes the time to look at my thread and my photos. I would be happy to provide any further photos or info if it helps.
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Old 08-04-2007, 12:58 AM   #2
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Like you, I would be concerned that the electrical cable and chains are too close too the ground. These can be adjusted to avoid that, but there are far more important issues to consider. The only ways to be sure that the hitch and rig are safely configured and adjusted are either to take the rig to a skilled and trusted person to examine, or to learn how to do it yourself. You have come to a great forum to assist you in the latter. You will need to understand how a load distribution hitch works, and how it is adjusted, and then the whole rig has to be taken to a weighbridge for all the axles to be weighed. Ultimately, the tow vehicle and trailer need to be loaded level, and "comfortably" within their design limits on each axle and as individual vehicles. If the whole rig has been adjusted correctly, including hitch load, spring tension, tire pressures, weights, hitch height, etc, then is the time to decide whether or not the chains, umbilical and break-away wire are too long.
You will find huge amounts of information in the forum by using the search facility on words such as "load distribution", "hitch height" etc, etc. If you don't find the answers you need, then we're here to help. Whatever you do, don't search on "load distribution analysis".

Nick Crowhurst, Excella 25 1988, Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel. England in summer, USA in winter.
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Old 08-04-2007, 04:06 AM   #3
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Your adjustment of height of the ball is entirely too low to the ground. When the hitch is properly adjusted the trailer should be level from front to back. Measure it by sitting on a level surface and meauring the height to the lower belly wrap strip. Your draw bar is too long for the hitch receiver height on your truck and should be cut off or another bar used. You have the draw bar sticking out of the truck too far. This gives poorer lateral stability. The bar should be pushed in as far as possible while still allowing you to lower the tailgate on your truck. Your brake lanyard is attached to the hitch carrier rather than the bumper. This is not safe if the hitch carrier breaks loose from the truck. I can not see well but it looks like your truck is nose high and you should be shifting more weigh to the front of the truck, (more pull up on the bars by having less number of links under tension.) There is a nice little book published by Reese on how to properly set up their hitches.
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Old 08-04-2007, 06:38 AM   #4
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your drawbar looks a little too big for your application, one with less drop will be needed when you get the trailer level.

also, it appears to have excessive distance from the reciever pin to the ball, the shorter you can make it the better for control and weight transfer.

i would suggest getting a "high performance" drawbar from reese, it is forged and has around a 4 to 6 inch drop. it stiffens the connection and can help with sway issues.

bottom line, get your rig level and go from there.

you call them ferrets, i call them weasels.
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Old 08-04-2007, 06:45 AM   #5
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Wow... interesting photos. In one the trailer tongue appears lower than the bumper and the other appears level... it's hard to tell from your photos.

I agree that you have the wrong draw bar though. It appears that you have the hi-performance ball mount. I'd suggest the hi-performance draw bar as well. It's forged rather than welded, but either will do the job. Whichever you get, you just need the standard draw bar length. An extended draw bar such as you have currently mounted will allow the trailer to exert more lateral force on the truck's rear axle than necessary. This is a problem in reduced traction conditions. Should you manage to induce sway in the rig, the added leverage will allow for the trailer to push the truck more easily... not desireable.

Adjust the hitch per Reese's instructions so that the tongue weight should be evenly distributed across all four axles. It's a pretty simple procedure.

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Old 08-04-2007, 07:10 AM   #6
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I tow with the same basic setup and I agree with the comments posted by the others. The head will need to be moved up untill the unit is as level as possible. You could shorten the shaft on the hitch by drilling a new hole. Leave enough room incase you want to add a set of rock tamers on later.

My chains do ride a little low, but I keep an eye on them for wear. The cable for the electrical connection to the trailer needs to be rerouted to keep it away from the ground.

BTW, nice looking trailer, best of luck with it.

I use this document to adjust my hitch.
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Old 08-04-2007, 08:06 AM   #7
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Just a couple of other thoughts. If you look closely at the ends of your chains where the hooks are, you will find that you can move the hooks further back on the chain links. That will eliminate excess dragage. I ended up moving my hooks back about 2 or three links. I used a small nylon wire tie to secure the excess links to the rest of the chain. No more dragging.

Also look at the coupler safety pin. You will notice the style you are using has a big wire loop built into it. You can reroute your electircal cable and even your breakaway cable up and through the loop. You will still have excess to allow you the ability to turn, but both cables stay up and off the ground. The other posters have given you good advice so I won't pony up that same info.

Jack Canavera
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Old 08-04-2007, 08:23 AM   #8
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THere are several things that appear wrong with this setup.
You are V shaped in the middle. The bars apear to have the correct bend. They may be too small for the job.
The draw bar sticks out too far aft and down. the head may be too far down.
The draw bar appears to be loose in the reciever. it is not parrallel to the truck.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:12 AM   #9
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Yes, all the comments and concerns so far I agree with. Also should you 'hook' the verticle portion of your drawbar on maybe a curb, rock or anything that will not give you will be rudely jolted if not damage the rear structure of your TV. I have a reverse problem as I tow with a car. Added to it is my gas filler tube is behind the rear licence plate. I took these photos to demonstrate to a hitch installer my problem which since these photos have been taken has been fairly successfully reinforced. My shank (drawbar) is as long as I dare make it and still allow some clearance for the gas nozzle.

Neil and Lynn
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Neil and Lynn Holman
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:16 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by john hd
it appears to have excessive distance from the reciever pin to the ball, the shorter you can make it the better for control and weight transfer.
My forged Reese drawbar has two holes for the lock-pin -- one short and one long. One sees a lot of flexing so I always use the shorter drawbar position.
Originally Posted by azflycaster
The cable for the electrical connection to the trailer needs to be rerouted to keep it away from the ground.
Goes double when you get a shorter drawbar. You shouldn't have to shorten the cable. Adjusting the cable brackets and a couple sturdy zip ties may do the trick.

Nice looking Airstream, Mike. I really like the quality of the above responses too -- kudos everyone!

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Old 08-04-2007, 11:51 AM   #11
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Great looking trailer, I'm sure you'll have a great time with it.

After you adjust the hitch setup, just a simple technique for controlling the elec cable and safety chains at their low point. Use a bungee cord to support them in the middle. Easy to install, reuseable compared to plastic cable ties, and doesn't change their overall length which is needed in turns, just keeps them up our of harms way.

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Old 08-04-2007, 02:36 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the help and suggestions so far. When I initially looked at the set-up, I knew the ball was too low and thought about raising it to level the trailer. This still wouldn't have improved the 'bottoming out' and pinching of the chains however. I didn't know if it was common practise to shorted the vertical leg (sorry for the poor terminology) after raising the ball or if I had the wrong application for this type of ball mount & my TV/trailer.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I can slide the hitch further into the receiver as there are 2 holes for the pin. For some reason I thought the chain hooks would interfere with the deeper pin setting but perhaps not.

As this is fairly serious business, and seeing there is enough concern here, I am going to try to have this looked at by a professional in my area until I have more experience with this. As I said earlier, I made it home just fine but I knew there could be some improvements.

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Old 08-04-2007, 02:42 PM   #13
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Hi Canoe....I've found this site to be such a wealth of information and experience. I always try to do some basic research before posting questions but in this case I thought the pictures would speak louder than words. Hitch set-up seems fairly technical and I appreciate everyone's help and concerns. We're heading to the Rockies at the end of the month and want to make sure we are safely set-up.
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Old 08-04-2007, 02:59 PM   #14
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Fine Tuning

When you resolve the drawbar issues (shorten the drawbarand get more ground clearance and get the trailer level), I found that getting that getting the trailer level didn't actually put equal weight on both axles or all four for that matter. A trip to the commercial truck scales (Certified Accurate Tareweight, CAT) proved this. I had to adjust the ball height, ball mount angle and trunion bars (I have a Reese Dual Cam hitch) a couple of times. When I finished I ended up with approximately 3150 LBS on all axles (two on the tow vehicle and two on the trailer). The difference in overall handeling and stopping was very noticeable.
But right now you have other issues to deal with.
All the suggestions made previously I tried and still use especially using the hitch lock pin hoop to route the electrical cable and breakaway cable through.

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