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Old 04-15-2008, 06:53 PM   #1
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1998 31' Excella 1000
1979 23' Safari
Mooresville , Indiana
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Hitch height question, is my setup safe?

We purchased our 22' 2003 CCD and the dealer installed a Reese WD hitch on the trailer and the Tow vehicle. Not knowing any better we drive it half way across the country and have a great time camping on the way home. Wasn't until I got home I noticed how unlevel the trailer is while hitched.

I sent the pics to the dealer and they basicly said it's okay you don't want to go any lower on the Tow vehicle because the WD hitch will rub the ground when you go over bumps.

So I'm looking for the forums input, is this really okay and safe, or should I attempt to lower the ball height to the factory specs? Which is 18 inches, according to the airstream website. If I read it correctly I'm about 3-4 inches too high.

I have more pics but I think these three show the issue.
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Old 04-15-2008, 06:59 PM   #2
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Run it across some scales. If the weight is the same on both axles (or very close), it should be okay, I presonally prefer it to be a bit nose down, if it can't be absolutely level.

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Old 04-15-2008, 07:06 PM   #3
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2006 25' International CCD
Freehold , New Jersey
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I am far from any sort of expert BUT in November purchased a 2006 25 footer (traded the 22). Dealer set me up with Reese dual cam/1200 lb bars etc. Towed it home with conversion van. Less than 2 months later bought new pickup and also noticed the hight of the new hitch with the old drop bar. Went back to the dealer (Colonial, NJ) they agreed too high (like yours) and set me up with a bigger drop so that I am at the 18".
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:12 PM   #4
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At first glance I would say either your tow bar will not let you drop the ball enough or you have too much tension on the weight distrubiting bars

Since the Airstream axles are not equalizing types it is important that the trailer be as level as possible. When measuring for level use the frame front and rear not the ball cup.

As you are now set up you have increased the tongue weight by lifting the front axle.

Before hitching up next time measure the front and rear fenders of the truck. After hitching up measure them again. Both should drop. With your TV the front about 1/2 as much as the rear. If you can set things up so the trailer is level and the TV drops as noted you are ready for a test run. To get it right it can take several hours to get it right.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:12 PM   #5
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It has always been my understanding that if you can't be dead level, a little down in the front is better than up.

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Old 04-15-2008, 07:27 PM   #6
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You are definitely too high. The dealer must be lazy to not have fixed it. If you can not adjust the height enough on the standard Reese head that comes with the hitch you need to buy a longer drop bar. I had to when we switched to my new truck. The angle on the head would also be adjusted to make sure the bars do not get too close to the ground. That is an easy job. The way you have it now, you are likely to scratch the bottom of the rear bumper when you go over something big or are backing into a campsite. You also are not loading the wheels on the trailer evenly and that can cause you problems, with overloading and overheating the rear tires and bearings.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:39 PM   #7
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I've added a red line to your pic. notice how the trailer is up by the bow and down by the stern and the truck is level. Unhitch the trailer and get it level front-to-back (you can use the interior floor). Then measure the height to the top of the inside ball socket in the hitch. Set the ball on the TV to that height. When you hitch up, set the tension on the torsion bars to put the ball height at the unloaded position.
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:55 PM   #8
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The best way to set up the Airstream is with scales.
You need to go to a CAT Scale and expect to spend some time.
First you must adjust the ball height to make the weight on both axles the same (yes weigh each axle seperately). Make a reference mark on the tongue. This is what the tongue height must be.
Next adjust the spring bars/trunion bars until the weight on the front axle and rear axle of the tow vehicle is the same with the tongue height noted before.
Then tweak the number of links under tension until the weight on all four axles is within 100 pounds of each other.
The change in overall handeling is dramatic.
I see no sway control on your unit.
This is a must.
Friction is a whole lot better than nothing.
Dual cam/dual cam high performance/equalizer is better.
Hensley Arrow/Pro Pride is better yet.
Pull Rite is best (according to simple physics) but it requires alteration of the tow vehicle.
I have the Reese Dual Cam (the old one) and have learned the hard way that that in conjunction with proper electric brake adjustment it works just fine.
When you finish the rig may not be perfectly level but what matters in the weight on the axles, not how it looks.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:38 PM   #9
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I'm not certain but....

I took a look at all of your pictures - blown up to max, and it almost looks like your rig is not far enough down on the ball. This may be a stupid question, but do you have the ball lock vertical before you lower the trailer onto the ball, then snap it shut? It looks almost as though the ball lock is on top of the ball. New Airstreams are supposed to fit a 2 5/16 ball, but it's always possible that someone replaced the ball lock with a 2 inch one and your ball can't go all the way in.

Your tow vehicle doesn't seem to be all that high, but your A/S is definitely riding nose up. I don't see much bend in your weight bars... it is possible that you may need lighter weight bars so that they bend more.

What does your trailer look like BEFORE you attach the weight bars?

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Old 04-15-2008, 08:59 PM   #10
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Mansfield , Georgia
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Hey Damonbeals,

You received a lot of good advice here. If the parking lot you took the picture on is level...and you ball matchs your hitch receiver, then your tow vehicle and trailer ain't level.

A 2" ball should be used for a 2" receiver.

Adjust your ball hitch down 3/4" down and look again, until both are level. If so, how does it feel when towing the trailer?

The whole objective is to have mated ball size and hitch, level with no sway.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:28 PM   #11
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It looks to me like you need to get a longer shank. I agree with a couple of posters above that the tow vehicle looks reasonably level, and it doesn't look like you have bent the weight bars more than necessary.

There are two ways to get your trailer so out of whack. One is to have way too much tension on the chains so you are transferring way too much weight to the front of the tow vehicle. If that were the case, the tow vehicle would be noticeably riding nose down. That's doesn't appear to be the case, so I would suggest you get a longer shank and lower the ball a couple of inches.
Chain her up again, measuring the wheel wells so you get equal drop front and rear, and then check to see if the trailer is level.

If it's not, you may need to raise it back up an inch and try again. Fine tuning is done by adjusting the angle of the head. It's a very iterative process. Once you have the rough settings with everything level, take it to the scales to check the axle weights.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:58 PM   #12
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High in front

Hi, damonbeals. Pretty much, everyone here has given you good advice. Your trailer is too high in front. As Moosetags stated, it should be level or slightly lower in front. As markdoane stated, you need a longer drop shank to make this adjustment. And as Foiled Again stated, it looks like the ball isn't all the way inside of the coupler socket; I think it is, but you can also buy different height hitch balls. Maybe get a drop shank with one more hole and a little shorter ball. On my Equal-i-zer hitch, my shank was one hole too long [down] and scraped at times so I cut the shank half way between the bottom hole and the next one up. [The next one up is the last hole being used]

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Old 04-16-2008, 10:19 AM   #13
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1998 31' Excella 1000
1979 23' Safari
Mooresville , Indiana
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 454
Thanks for all the advice

A want to thank everyone for the input, I will try some of the suggestions. But yes the ball is fully seated, it's just a very tall 2 5/16 ball. Needless to say I'm disapointed in the dealer but they don't have a scale to do it right either.

I find it very suprising how little 'real' information you can find about hitch setup. Reeses web site has almost nothing. I will contact Reese and see if I can a drop bar with more drop.

If anyone else has a 22' CCD and it towing with a Ford Expedition I would like to hear from you.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 04-16-2008, 11:06 AM   #14
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High River , Alberta
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You will want to address this for two reasons - stability, and possibly overheating/overstressing the rear tires.

The suspension is fully independent, and there is no "weight-sharing" between the axles the way there usually is with a leaf spring system.

I'd agree that your tow vehicle looks good, but the trailer is definitely nose high. The dealer's explanation seems inadequate to me, because the truck has lots of height. Maybe he's accustomed to SOB trailers that ride much higher than Airstreams.

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