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Old 04-22-2006, 12:01 AM   #1
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2005 30' Safari
Chandler , Arizona
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HITCH ME PLEASE... there's too much information

OK so I'll confess, I've lurked and read a hundred miles of threads on this forum and other rv forums. My decision to buy an Airstream was the easy part. I'm a newbie to RV-towing. There seems to be two areas, rightfully so, that produce more heated opinion than any other.. Tow Vehicles and Hitch Set-up. Mr Obvious says, safety is paramount so I understand the passionate debate. However, I've come to a conclusion. The right brand of hitch is subjective opinion based upon ones own individual use which many times is limited to one brand. There are varying opinions and budgets. None the less, I value the opinion of my community. So with cost aside for a moment, I believe the tow vehicle and what is behind it (size of the Airstream) plays a bigger factor in the real equation and my question: What hitch is right for me?.... Equal-i-zer, Hensley, Pull-rite, Reese dual-cam, Draw-Tite etc. So here is what I have and what I'm buying.

My Tow Hog:
2005 Ford F250 CC PSD Short Bed w/ integrated brake control.(the family truckster)
156" wheel base
Base curb weight 6538#
Tow cap 12,500#
GCWR 23,000#

My bride to be, I mean my Airstream to be:
2005 Safari 30' Bunk.
GVWR 8400#

Obviously I've got plenty of tow vehicle, So which hitch should it be for me ??? I can find "value" in all brands of hitches the most expensive is not always the best...(unless it is an airstream) Please share your opinions, this really troubles me, and it has me a little nervous, My first tow home from the dealer will be over 1000 miles. (That sounds like a country song). Please help me.

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Old 04-22-2006, 12:28 AM   #2
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1977 27' Overlander
1954 25' Cruiser
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Ha! I bet you will get as many opinions as to what you should but as the number of types of hitches out there.

I am a Hensley owner and absolutely love that hitch. Sure there are other hitches out there that will do a fine job and I I have seen people do a fine job with just a standard hitch & sway bar.

It will really come down to what you will feel most comfortable with. Study up on the different brands out there. Education is is the key... I would add that you should have at a minimum good sway control and weight distribution capabilities.

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Old 04-22-2006, 12:41 AM   #3
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1992 34' Limited
Falls Church , Virginia
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"Equal-I-zer for me and my ...." some Country song...

Can't really think of a rhyme for the subject line, but am sure there is one...

I have a bigger trailer (Heavier?) than your AS 'to be'. Also have a bit less TV than you sport. Still....

I have a 10,000/ 1000lb Equal-I-zer hitch that was about $900 installed by experienced people with the trailer right there. Installed, hitched, measured, removed, adjusted, re-hitched. Just right!

Pulled over 6K so far. Not a single hick-up. Even had a center tire blow-out that I neither saw (believe I WAS looking) NOR felt. Found out the tire was gone at a rest stop. Testament to the AS, and the hitch!

You are corect about the passions running high about various hitches ( don't get started on the TV/ Chevy vs Ford vs Dodge debate). Everyone want to feel that they got the best deal/ set-up/ cost/ etc... on the planet. Fine by me if they want to go there. Actually LOVE the debate.

Me? I LOVE my set-up. I have no reason to doubt my Equal-I-zer from either personal real life experience, or even anecdotal (other than 'IMO') experience.

Can you spend more? No doubt!

Would I? No doubt, nope.

Keep reading and keep 'teasing' those threads til you are at ease with your choice - it IS your money. Spend it where you see fit.


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Old 04-22-2006, 06:37 AM   #4
1989 29' Excella
Dallas , Texas
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I recently purchased an '89 29ft Excella which is only slightly lighter than your trailer. It came with the Reese Twin Cam, my first experience with this hitch. It also has an additional Reese sway control device (axiom: can't have too sway control). The Reese looks complicated but isn't. In one of the many hitch threads someone else mentioned the Reese is the only one that reacts to the trailer leaning out on curves. I only know that the handling
of the Reese in those high speed freeway curves is superb.
For the money I would not hesitate to recommend it. I have never had a Hensley but judging by the owners they must be good (expensive too!). If the Reese has a downside it is noisy as hell in low speed tight manuvering as the cams load and unload. My twocents worth.

Steve and LuLu the Yorky on the Narrows of Lake Travis
'61 Avion Tourist
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Old 04-22-2006, 06:50 AM   #5
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1977 31' Sovereign
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1989 34' Excella
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I have towed with a 3/4 ton Ford van in the past with a similar wheel base and weight. My 26 foot is equipped with a Reese with dampener and no twin cam. Works ok for that one. The 31 footer has the twin cam. With the van the bow wave off some 18 wheeler pushed the unit around a bit on the Interstates but never swayed uncontrollably. My wife was leary in construction and big trucks and over controlled. My new dually is unaffected by trucks at any speed and even my wife can drive under most circumstances. The twin cam is the only truely adjustable self centering system. Hensley is the best but Pullrite does the same thing but is simpler design concept.
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Old 04-22-2006, 07:25 AM   #6
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2004 28' Safari S/O
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HI Brent,
I have a F-250, a Safari 28' S/O. with a Reese Dual-Cam. This works very well for us. One thing to check on is your Hitch Wt. Our safari 28 S/O (year 2003) has a hitch wt. of 1250 lbs. We had to go to a class 5 receiver. Good luck, have fun.
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Old 04-22-2006, 07:49 AM   #7
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Hi Brent... the only hitch I have experience with is the Reese dual-cam. I use one now with my 34' and it's the only hitch I've used over the years. I have always returned to it because I'm comfortable with it. Any of the choices you listed will work just fine with your combination, and all of the brands have lengthy pedigrees.

It boils down largely to what you can get locally, and what kind of support you can get for installation on your rig.

Happy hunting!

AIR 2053 Current: 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis, & 1995 Coachmen B-van
Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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Old 04-22-2006, 08:29 AM   #8
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2005 28' Safari
Port Orchard , Washington
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Originally Posted by SilverToy

installed by experienced people with the trailer right there. Installed, hitched, measured, removed, adjusted, re-hitched. Just right!
Sounds like directions for shampoo... but it works best.

Measure, Hitch, drive, adjust, unhitch-hitch, drive, adjust, repeat....

With an experienced tow pro helping is the best way. The 2-3 hours spent getting your rig just right, is worth it.
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Old 04-22-2006, 08:59 AM   #9
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There are three basic groups of hitches to consider.

1. Ball hitch, friction anti-sway bar. Inexpensive. Don't even think about it.

2. Reese Dual Cam/Equilizer systems. More expensive. Incorporates both anti-sway and load equilization in the same system. They do not eliminate sway, but control it. Properly set up, they are very effective. Most people do not have the skill or patience to set them up correctly. I believe the Reese is also sold under another label (Draw-Tite?).

3. Hensley/Pullrite. Very expensive. Hensley has very good resale, though. Pullrite is specific to your model vehicle which narrows the resale field. These hitches relocate the center of the hitch point back to the tow vehicle axle, largely eliminating sway. Pullrite does this directly, Hensley does it mathmatically through offsets and cams. Both have very high user satisfaction. Hensley is a bit more fussy about hitching up.

Blue Ox fits in there somewhere, but you seldom see one. Also pricey.

I went with choice "2", Reese Dual-Cam. I am very satisfied. But, if you are not comfortable with the idea of spending a couple of hours with some heavy wrenches, measuring tools, and some fairly complicated instructions, then your choice here should come down to finding a really competent dealer, and installing whatever they sell.

'85 Sovereign, 25'
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Old 04-22-2006, 09:10 AM   #10
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The question here is really what measurements to use to determine how to make your choice.

As you noted 'safety is paramount' but safety is not a yes or no. Even if you just stay home you still run risks. Safety is a matter of accepted risk in the choice and exercise of many things. Some of these are choice of equipment. Others include where you go, how you drive, when you drive, your own skills, your mood, and maintenance and setup issues - among other things. There is no panacea and there are always trade-offs.

I would tend to be skeptical of the 'one size fits all' folks, especially those who are emphatic and get exercised about what they think you must do or must have to be 'safe.'

For a trailer hitch I can think of several clear safety issues and some that are not so clear and even others that are popular myths.

Clear ones include a hitch that connects the trailer and tow vehicle securely so you don't have worry about it failing; a hitch that assists keeping the entire rig at a proper attitude if necessary; a hitch that will enhance handling if necessary for a less stressful driving experience.

A popular myth is that a hitch can save you if you do something stupid like a sudden maneauver at speed.

I do know that an F250 can tow an Airstream sovereign (31') with only a ball and have the only way the driver knows it is back there is when going up hills. But some people don't like the idea of a $20 ball mount and think spending $3000 will somehow make things safer. There probably is something to be said for driver confidence but I'd rather (IMHO) have it based on something other than money spent as a measure. (and yes, there are circumstances where an expensive hitch can help compensate for other problems and would be worthwhile in those cases)

Your hitch choice is only one of a multitude of choices you make that influence safety. Your trailer and tow vehicle choices are the big ones. Small ones like proper loading, tire choice and inflation, and driver attentiveness also cannot be ignored.

When you look at discussions about hitches, pay careful attention to the measures used and the rationale for using them and giving them the weight they have. Figure out which measures are objective, which are subjective. Figure which are based on reality (experience) and which are based on fantasy (speculation). From this you can gain an insight into what people consider important and why and, from that, learn for yourself what you should consider and how tempered by your own experience and knowledge.
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Old 04-22-2006, 10:37 AM   #11
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I have 40,000 miles on my Reese dual cam. 28' 1995 Excella and 1ton Ford E350.

It was not set-up by the AS dealer (the Florida AS dealer had no idea how it worked or how to set it up) or so he said.

It took some reading along with some common sense and a grasp as to the concept. This fourm helped.

The correct set-up was not difficult and required a level area, tape measure and some large sockets and wrenches (you should own these at some point)

Once set-up, my Excella tows nice and straight with no sway. I have tried towing a short distance without the bars, and will tell you I'll never do that again!

Good luck with your Airstream and safe towing.

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Old 04-22-2006, 03:08 PM   #12
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Mine is a reese that predates the dual cam. It has the chains and the bars fit into a cam. It has served me well along with a sway bar. I think you will find that the Reese type hitches are easier to set-up both initially and on the road than the Hensley. There have been talks on caravans that you can get into situations where hooking up a Hensley is all but impossible to do. I have personally never witnessed this but the caravan leaders say they have. I do know personally that you cannot pass on the warrenty of a Hensley. One of our club members really had a hard time when he bought a used one.
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Old 04-22-2006, 03:35 PM   #13
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Probably anything you stuck in the hitch receiver would work just fine. I have a plain old Reese WD hitch, and use the old bars that came with the trailer, along with a friction sway control. Tows like a dream.
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Old 04-22-2006, 05:34 PM   #14
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Abernathy , Texas
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Reese Dual Cam here.
Not hard to set up at all.
If you don't have enough mechanical ability to set up a Reese Dual Cam, then you are going to spend a LOT of money at RV dealers on a whole lot of little things that go wrong on a day to day basis, and maybe you should rethink even owning an Airstream or any other SOB...
The Reese Dual Cam not only works constantly to control induced sway if it starts, it is the only reasonably priced system that constantly works to stop it from being induced at all.
That being said, you should look to the 750 or 500 lb spring bars with a F250 pickup. The 1000 bars is overhitched and are designed for lighter suspension vehichles that NEED the additional rigidity of the spring bars to help with a softer suspension of lighter tow vehicles. A 3/4 ton ,or a 1 ton pickup don't need that much lift from the spring bars, but YOU NEED constant contact of the cam with the saddle on the spring bar for anti-sway control.
Therefore, the lighter 750 or 500 lb spring bar INSURES that you will have constant sufficient pressure on the spring bar cam/saddles setup so that in severe braking situations you don't take all the bend off the spring bars and inadvertently disengage your sway control ability. It is sort of like fishing for big bass with a stiff rod.....that rod better have a fast limber tip on it or you can lose the fish.

---just my 2 cents---

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