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Old 11-11-2005, 10:08 PM   #1
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1979 31' Excella 500
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Hitch set up question

Hi, folks,

I've bought a 2003 Dodge 2500 turbo Cummins diesel and have a Reese dual cam hookup for my '79 Excella 500 31'.

I have often seen the advice to reduce the capacity of the lift bars when using with a heavy duty vehicle... This seems to be one (it's taller than I am). Currently, I have the 1,000 lb bars, and they loaded my Dakota just fine. But I think that might be a bit much for this Ram.

My questions:

Should I get lighter lift bars? If so, how much lighter?

Should I install the hitch at the 19.5" height that the user's guide calls for in the owner's guide, or should I let the unloaded truck squat a little bit to compensate for the load? I ask this because it already rides very tail high when not towing.

Along those same lines, should I expect a level vehicle when properly hitched with this 3/4 ton truck? (My one-ton Dakota, no kidding, yes, it was a '93 model, and, yes, it was a one-ton, was perfectly flat when towing the Excella.)

Thanks,

Lamar
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Old 11-11-2005, 10:39 PM   #2
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Load Squat

I would suggest loading an amount equal to the tongue weight of your trailer in the back of the truck and setting the height of your hitch to the trailer's requirements. Remember, it is all on the level.

Remember to consider that whatever weight, plus or minus, you carry can change the ball height.

Call the manufacturer about bar capacity if you have a question; I did and mine rides like a dream. Found the telephone number by web search.
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Old 11-11-2005, 10:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Rob
I would suggest loading an amount equal to the tongue weight of your trailer in the back of the truck and setting the height of your hitch to the trailer's requirements. Remember, it is all on the level.

Remember to consider that whatever weight, plus or minus, you carry can change the ball height.

Call the manufacturer about bar capacity if you have a question; I did and mine rides like a dream. Found the telephone number by web search.
Fast Rob,

There is a definate difference between putting the tongue weight a the rear of the truck bed and 20" behind the bed where the ball on the equalizer draw bar is. I can put 1500 lbs in the bed of my truck and the rear bumper goes down 1 1/2" and put a 700lb tongue on the drawbar and have the rear bumper drop 4".

Bill
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Old 11-12-2005, 06:13 AM   #4
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Lamar,
You may want to look into an Air Ride Hitch The 250(0) and 350(0) series trucks have pretty stiff suspension. The Air Ride is available in a WDH configuration (but I have yet to figure out how that works ) FWIW on my F350 when I drop the 600# tongue weight on the bumper ball (I know, I know...it was just a test!) it only dropped my rear dimension about 4". My biggest concern is keeping the AS from being beat to death by the stiffer suspension of the heavier truck, especially the lighter weigh Vintage Trailers. I have seen the end results of vibration abuse and it is not pretty! Level towing is always good.... There are a couple of members here that use the Air Ride setup with just a sway control. Blue Ox has a new sway control out that utilizes piston type stabalizers rather than the dry friction pads type. Something else to consider.

Aaron
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Old 11-12-2005, 07:29 AM   #5
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Lamar, the trailer should sit level when towing, you would be better to use 750 pound WD bars, and you probably would be well off if you reduced the tire pressure in the truck to the minimum recommended by Dodge.
The 19.5" ball height is spec for a brand new trailer, with new axles, etc. A better gauge, would be find a level parking lot, and put a level on the tongue, front to rear. adjust the tongue jack until the level is, well, level. Measure the height of the tongue, and go from there.
If you do the 19.5" thing, you may find that your coach will wind up with a slight "nose up" attitude. We had that problem with Goliath, which, admittedly needs axles, but I leveled the trailer, and measured the ball height that way. we went from "nose up" to almost level, and it tows a lot better.
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Old 11-12-2005, 09:02 AM   #6
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Lamar, you will see from my signature that I tow a 6500 pound Excella with a Dodge Ram 2500. I use the 1000 pound bars, and am only just able to increase my front wheel loading back to its original unhitched value, let alone distribute the hitch weight to the front. With 750 pound bars I would not be able to do even this. I have checked my values at a weigh station. The rig tows beautifully smoothly. I do adjust the tire pressures to the Tire Manufacturers Association specification. IIRC, I use 55 pounds all round when towing, 55 front, 45 rear when empty. I recommend two visits to the weigh station, one when unhitched and one when hitched, so that you are operating from a sound objective base.
Nick.
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Old 11-12-2005, 10:24 AM   #7
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Good points, Nick! Lamar, I assume you are using an adjustable height ball mount to get close to the recommended ball height (top of the ball). I fully agree that it gets too complex to worry about ball height after engaging the WD bars.

You do want to transfer load to your front axle and it needs adequate strength bars to do this. Measure to the top of each wheel well of your TV before hitching up. You are looking for an equal settling of the truck frame after hitching and engaging the WD bars -- measure the wheel well heights again and compare with your first set of numbers.

Search on Air Ride (AirRide? Air-Ride?). Some weeks back a member posted that he'd stopped using it between the receiver and his Reese because it allowed so much extra flexing. It'd be good to get other comments and perspectives.... Anyone?
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Old 11-12-2005, 11:04 AM   #8
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Hi, folks,

Thank you all for the usual and helpful informative replies. I seem to have a trip to Jacksonville coming up. It seems that the adjustable reciever adapter that I have now won't begin to go down the distance required to get the trailer level. In fact, there's over a foot of difference.

So, I propose to take everybody's advice in this. I will get the hitch ball at the correct height for the level, loaded trailer. Then I'll weigh the truck with a full tank and find out what the axle weights are.

Next, I'll take my 1,000 lb bars and trailer out to the scales and see if I can load the axles and keep the trailer level.

I guess if a third of the tounge weight lands on the back axle and a third lands on the front and the trailer is level, then whatever attitude the truck assumes will be where it rides at. Nick, I hope I can get at least some of the trailer's tongue weight on the front axles.

Somehow, I suspect that I won't be able to get the pretty, perfectly flat attitude that the Dakota and the Excella had when adjusted, but at least in theory, since it's the same trailer, the same amount of deflection of the lift bars should load the new truck about the same, except that it has a slightly longer wheelbase... Hmm, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Canoe, I've only seen Air-Rides hitches on really big trucks (semis) pulling long utility trailers and travel trailers around here. Thanks, I'll check them out, but they may be overkill.

Lamar
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Old 11-12-2005, 05:23 PM   #9
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Lamar,
I tow my '75 Sovereign with a 2002 Dodge 2500 CTD. You can find longer drops for your weight distribution hitch to lower the ball height to level out the TV and trailer. They are a little salty though, I paid about $125 for mine. My AS tows almost perfectly level to the truck. I stopped using the spring bars because I thought it was giving the trailer too rough a ride. The truck does squat some, but not enough to alter the feel of the TV steering. I find no difference in TV/AS feel towing with the spring bars. It actually rides better than it did before. I still use the sway control though. Good luck.
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Old 11-12-2005, 05:41 PM   #10
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Just do the math...

Lowell -- Take note of the federal-required sticker on driver's side doorpost (or other figures in your owners' manual). Somewhere you should be able to find the weight at the rear axle for the empty truck. Figure out the weight over your rear axle (topper, hitch receiver, stuff in truck bed & tongue weight) and make sure you don't exceed your GAWR (gross axle weight restriction) for the rear axle.

Loss of emergency handling and high-cost repairs could be the consequences. Let's be careful out there...
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Old 11-12-2005, 06:22 PM   #11
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I agree with Bob. If you put 600 pounds of weight on the the hitch ball (which is a considerable distance behind the rear axle), you inevitably lift the front wheels by a force of couple of hundred pounds. This means that the steering forces available to you in an emergency are reduced, just at the time when they should be at their maximum. The load distribution bars are there to correct this, based on sound and proven engineering.
Nick.
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Old 11-12-2005, 07:05 PM   #12
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I've been towing our 2000 Safari 27 with a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 CTD. I use an Air Ride hitch which does wonders for the ride, both for the truck and for the Safari. I use a sway bar but no equalizer bars. The trailer rides level and I am not concerned about lack of weight on the front axle since the truck is very front heavy to start with due to the 1000lb Cummins (trans weight not included) under the hood.
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Old 11-12-2005, 07:07 PM   #13
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Hi, guys,

There's still one part that's confusing here. Like Terry, I think that Inland Andy advises derating to a lighter lift bar when used with a heavy duty TV. I see that it would transfer *less* weight to the front axles, but maybe that's enough to avoid the front end lightening and yet still remove 2/3's of the tongue weight from the trailer axles. The odd fact is that the rear axle can handle *all* of the toungue weight on this truck.

Hi, Lowell,

Please explain. How are getting antisway from your setup if you're not using a WD hitch? Are you using a friction link?

Thanks,

Lamar
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Old 11-12-2005, 07:27 PM   #14
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Lamar,
I have been looking at the Blue Ox Tru Center Sway control. It was orginally designed as a steering stablizer for MoHo and trucks. I like the fact it uses pistons as opposed to a friction pad that is subject to contamination by road dirt and water.

Aaron
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