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Old 06-28-2003, 09:44 PM   #1
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I need sway control AND weight distribution?

Do some of you only use 1 or the other. I have read many of the previous threads and have heard the pros and cons of each of the brands. I never really paid much attention. Getting ready to buy and started to do some research and found I may need to may 2 purchases, not 1. This cheap trailer is becoming expensive.

I have a Ram 1500 Crew Cab and an Overlander.
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Old 06-28-2003, 10:09 PM   #2
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Weight distribution for sure. Without the weight distribution you will have way too much weight on the tongue and therfore on the rear of the truck. This will lead to poor steering (unloaded front wheels) and handling. Without weight distribution a sway control would be useless.

I towed a 74 overlander for 2 years with a F150 without a sway control. When we upgraded to a 31 ft I added sway control. It really depends on how and where you tow.

So start with the weight distribution, it is the more expensive part but it is by far the most important along with the trailer brakes.
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Old 06-28-2003, 10:44 PM   #3
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A properly set up weight distribution will to some extent help with sway. Some find it's enough and some don't. Some distribution hitches incorperate a sway control. Hensley arow being widely reguarded as the best that does both.

Bottom line is your family is going to be in this vehicle so not something to skimp on. A tractor trailer easily displaces enough air to cause you significant handling issues that could put you in the ditch. Invest in some sort of sway control. Dual axle trailers usualy are pretty stable and you could probably get away with a simple Friction sway control. Long Single axle trailers are more prone to sway and may require a better system. Nothing makes a trip worse then a ill handling rig where your blood pressure is going through the roof as you see a semi approch in your rear veiw mirror.

My wife may at times be driving our set up and I went with the the Resse Dual cam set up. It is concidered a good system. I am also set up for a friction sway and could run both.
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Old 06-28-2003, 11:06 PM   #4
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I need sway control AND weight distribution?

I too tow a Vintage Overlander, 1964 to be more precise. Weight distribution is a requirement as you will likely have in excess of 600 pounds tongue weight when your Overlander is loaded for a trip. My previous tow vehicle was a 1/2 Ton Chevrolet Extended Cab pickup with 4WD. I found the sway control a near necessity as the 5.7 Litre V8 simply did not have enough power to whip the trailer into line if Yaw began. The Reese Dual Cam Sway control eliminated all problems with sway. I knew that I never wanted another friction type sway control as the constant adjustments becomes far too time consuming on what should be a vacation. With the Daul Cam, once you have the initial adjustments completed it is just adjusting the number of links dropped to reflect the loading of the trailer. With my Reese friction sway control it was tighten it up if the winds increased or heavy truck traffic increased; and loosen it if wet surfaces were encountered.

The Reese Dual Cam Sway Control isn't a terribly costly investment given the security that it provides. If cost is the greatest factor, friction sway controls are about 1/2 the cost of the Dual Cam System if you can put up with the need for frequent adjustments - - and it is also a good idea to remove them before backing or maneuvering in tight situations (I managed to ruin one by backing at too severe an angle on my first Travel Trailer - - a 1980 Nomad).

As a side note, I also have the Dual Cam System on my '78 Minuet. According to Reese the current design permits use on trailers having at least 400 pounds tongue weight.

Kevin
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Old 06-30-2003, 06:25 PM   #5
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I've been doing research on what to get. A previous thread here made sense to me. It said measure the height to the front wheel well without the trailer attached. The lower the trailer down onto the ball and measure again. If the front comes up you need weight distribution, if it doesn't you don't. The front actually went down a 1/4 inch. The rear went down about an inch.

Here is what I am thinking, tell me if I'm wrong or crazy. I think I don't need the weight distribution. I am planning to get some type of sway control. The trailer pulls like a dream as it is now. I took it on a 500 mile trip, no white nuckles. When trucks go by it pulls some. Sway control would take care of that, right?

If I don't go with weight distribution, I can't do dual cam, right? Then that leaves my with friction sway control. Any thoughts?
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Old 06-30-2003, 06:33 PM   #6
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The Reese Dual-Cam combines both load leveling AND sway control. You cannot seperate the two with a Dual-Cam.

Reese and others sell less expensive load leveling hitches, with one or even two optional friction anti-sway bars.

Mark
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Old 06-30-2003, 06:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by TBKP's Overlander
The front actually went down a 1/4 inch. The rear went down about an inch.
This violates simple laws of physics. The rear axle is the pivot of a see-saw. If you add weight to the ball end, the front axle end is going to rise, at least some.

When you put a trailer tongue on a ball behind the rear bumper, weight is taken off the front axle, which can cause understeer, particularly on wet pavement, and that weight is then carried by the rear axle in addition to the tongue weight.

A weight distributing hitch restores the lost weight to the front axle (from the rear axle) and can put some of the tongue weight on that front axle. In the process, it also shifts a lesser amount of the weight on the rear axle back to the trailer axles.
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Old 06-30-2003, 07:08 PM   #8
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I need sway control AND weight distribution?

Quote:
Here is what I am thinking, tell me if I'm wrong or crazy. I think I don't need the weight distribution. I am planning to get some type of sway control. The trailer pulls like a dream as it is now. I took it on a 500 mile trip, no white nuckles. When trucks go by it pulls some. Sway control would take care of that, right?
There are several issues involved when considering combinations of weight distribution and sway control. There are a number of us who tow Vintage Overlanders with weight distribution and Dual Cam Sway control systems with 3/4 ton trucks even though the amount of squat in the tow vehicle is modest - - there is a feeling of greater connection and thus control with the weight distribution. I travel frequently with an owner of a '60 Overlander who tows with a 3/4 ton Dodge club cab pickup with the Cummins Turbo Diesel and we both use almost identical Reese Dual Cam setup and we are both convinced that this is one of the best reasonably priced systems available.

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If I don't go with weight distribution, I can't do dual cam, right? Then that leaves my with friction sway control. Any thoughts?
You are correct that the Dual Cam Sway Control system does require a Reese Weight Distributing hitch system.

The friction sway control is a very personal judgement, and you either love or hate the system. I am one who has a total distaste for the friction sway control. I have owned two of these (one Draw-Tite and one Reese) - - my issues with these have been the constant tinkering that is required - - the instruction manuals with each call for adjusting them tighter for windy conditions or when encountering heavy truck traffic; and then loosening them if the road surface becomes damp - - then to add to the inconvenience, it is necessary to totally disconect them before maneuvering in tight space such as backing into a parking space (my Draw-Tite unit was ruined just by forgetting to disconnect it before backing my old Nomad trailer into the side driveway).

Kevin
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Old 06-30-2003, 07:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by TBKP's Overlander
I've been doing research on what to get. A previous thread here made sense to me. It said measure the height to the front wheel well without the trailer attached. The lower the trailer down onto the ball and measure again. If the front comes up you need weight distribution, if it doesn't you don't. The front actually went down a 1/4 inch. The rear went down about an inch.

Here is what I am thinking, tell me if I'm wrong or crazy. I think I don't need the weight distribution. I am planning to get some type of sway control. The trailer pulls like a dream as it is now. I took it on a 500 mile trip, no white nuckles. When trucks go by it pulls some. Sway control would take care of that, right?

If I don't go with weight distribution, I can't do dual cam, right? Then that leaves my with friction sway control. Any thoughts?
An inch drop in the rear is going to cause a significant issue to other drivers at night.
When I set my truck the front came up 3/4 of an inch the rear went down 1.25.That's about 500lb of tounge weight. This is on a 3/4 ton Burb. I was measuring at the bumpers. Once I put the leveling bars on it the front was about 1/4 inch up and the rear was 1/4 inch lower then empty. Truck rode better.
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Old 06-30-2003, 07:11 PM   #10
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maurice,

I have to agree with the phsyics, but if the trailer has a minimal or negative tounge weight it could cause the front wheels to drop. Or it could also be a very soft suspension on the truck that is taking some of the load???

Does your truck have any kind of automatic leveling system in the suspension?

Have you placed your trailer tounge on a scale? That would tell you if the tounge weight was in the correct range. There is a % of trailer weight that should be on the tounge to maintain stability while towing. This is usally 10-12% of total trailer weight.

I am not going to disagree with the measurements, I am just perplexed by the findings

It seems strange that the trailer would not create more of a change in suspension geometry...............

If towing is not white knuckle, then I would say get some sway control and go, but I am still left scratching my head on how this is actually working regarding the suspension.
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Old 06-30-2003, 08:16 PM   #11
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Ok, I measured again. I was a little more careful. There was no change in the front. No load leveling suspension. I guess I am leaning towards Friction. I've read here that Kevin is in the minority on the difficulty of the Friction setup, I just hope I don't end up dissatisfied as well. I just hate to spend $500 (right?) on LD/Dual Cam.
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Old 06-30-2003, 08:34 PM   #12
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I used a friction setup for 3+ years and had no trouble with it. I read the instructions, but I only messed with it in high wind situations, and I towed in rain and snow. maybe I did not have it at the optimum setting at all times, but it helped with the sway. That said I towed a 27 foot for 2 years without any sway control, I only got one when we moved up to a 31.

My reccomendation is go with the dual cam weight distributing hitch. This may not be your last trailer and the added saftey may come in handy some day when you need to make a painc move.

If you do not want to pay new prices here is a Link


One of the ads:
06/18/03 Used Reese weight distributing hitch system, hook-up brackets lift handle and adjustable ball mount with a 2 5/16 ball that slides into a 2in. reciever. $150.00 & shipping charge E-mail me at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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Old 07-01-2003, 02:37 PM   #13
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When discussing a previous post about measuring up to the front wheel well, I expect Overlander was referring to my post http://www.airforums.com/forum...&threadid=4509 . I do not believe this is a a simple subject. A mathematical model would reveal the secrets, but we need practical methods. The tow vehicle would only see-saw about the rear axle as a pivot if the rear springs and tires were as solid as rocks, and the front springs were soft. If, on the other hand, the front wheels and tires were as solid as rocks, and the rear springs were soft, the pivot point would be the front axle. In the real world, the pivot point will be somewhere between the axles. In some heavy duty trucks with a heavy engine and 4 wheel drive, the front springs will be hard, relative to the front, and the pivot point will be nearer the front axle than another vehicle with lighter engine, no front axle, and softer front springs, relative to the rear. The practical importance of this is that owners of some heavy duty 4WD trucks (like my Dodge diesel 3/4 ton) will find the front steering geometry hardly affected by tongue weight, whereas others (like my Jeep Cherokee) will be grossly affected. Other factors are the wheelbase of the tow vehicle and the distance between the ball and the rear axle. When you add weight distribution bars, the physics becomes even more complex. Anyone who finds the subject complex and confusing is , in my humble opinion, well justified! My background is in advanced mathematics, but my practical take on this is that weight distribution bars, properly adjusted, will be on every travel trailer I pull. Nick.
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Old 07-01-2003, 04:01 PM   #14
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Nick and I can debate the finer points, but the bottomline is that tongue weight behind the rear axle leverages weight off the front axle. I will agree that determining how much is a VERY complex problem. I spent over an hour one day with a fairly mathematically astute ME trying to put some formulas on weight distribution, and he found it a much more difficult and longer task than he could afford the time to solve.

There's only one easy way to really know what's happening with all that weight moving around, and that's using John Irwin's 3-weight CATSCALE method. Once with the rig as driven, once with the spring bars loose, and once with the truck only. I'm going to do that once we get the trailer loaded up for fulltiming.
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