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Old 07-28-2003, 04:33 PM   #1
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Question Interesting Reese hitch experience...

Here's a new one for me... When I bought the 34' trailer, it came with a Reese Dual Cam hitch head with a longer-than normal standard drop bar and 1000lb bars. The head has provision for two friction sway bars.

I have adjusted and adjusted the hitch head, but the connection to the trailer always feels sloppy, and I noticed that if I adjusted the 1000lb bars too tightly that the hitch drop bar would bend up a half-inch or so. I definately needed both of the friction sway controls towing to keep sway under control. While it works ok, it was scary enough that I've been seriously contemplating buying the Hensley.

I had a "high-performance" drop bar and hitch head with a single friction sway control ball in the garage that I've had for a couple of years, but only used once. I hadn't used it for the 34' because it only had the single friction sway control mount, and I thought that because the other hitch head had two, I must need to have both!

I towed the trailer out about 11 miles to a campground last Thursday with the older setup with just the dual-cam bars setup but without the friction sway controls and it was vague and scary. Just to see what the difference would be, if any, I put the "high-performance" hitch head on (again without the friction sway control), adjusted it properly and towed the trailer home today. It was an entirely different experience with this other head. The entire truck and trailer moved as a unit, the way it's supposed to and there was no vagueness in the feel at all. It didn't porpoise over the road like it did on the way out. The difference was amazing.

Anyone have any ideas at all about why the two Reese hitch heads should respond so differently? I am baffled! I'm pleased about the performance of the new head, and because of it's stability compared to the older one I'll definately be using it in the future; but I'm still baffled!

Roger
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Old 07-28-2003, 05:20 PM   #2
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It sounds like...

...your "standard" head is dangerous and about to break, or something like that. It's really, really not supposed to bend half an inch. That's a heck of a lot, IMHO.

The flex is not letting the dual cams work like they should, thus leaving you with the friction bars only.

The "high performance" head is keeping the bars properly tensioned, and thus letting the dual cams work like they should.

I'm guessing here that you have a Major Heavy Duty tow vehicle, (1 ton dually, maybe?) and the lack of weight distribution effect with the standard drop bar setup isn't readily apparent....
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Old 07-28-2003, 05:30 PM   #3
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Re: It sounds like...

Quote:
Originally posted by drboyd
...your "standard" head is dangerous and about to break, or something like that. It's really, really not supposed to bend half an inch. That's a heck of a lot, IMHO.

The flex is not letting the dual cams work like they should, thus leaving you with the friction bars only.

The "high performance" head is keeping the bars properly tensioned, and thus letting the dual cams work like they should.

I'm guessing here that you have a Major Heavy Duty tow vehicle, (1 ton dually, maybe?) and the lack of weight distribution effect with the standard drop bar setup isn't readily apparent....
Well, it's heavier-duty... but not that heavy... it's an Excursion which is a 3/4 ton chassis. That makes sense, tho, about the flex. I wondered if the extra-long bar let it flex too much. The Excursion does sit down when the tongue is put on it, but not much. I don't notice much effect from the WD bars on the Excursion, unlike a passenger car where the effects are pretty dramatic.

Roger
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Old 07-28-2003, 05:34 PM   #4
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Does the Excursion have...

....an automatic rear levelling system?

I'd just use the standard duty head as an auxiliary anchor on your boat, or something.
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Old 07-28-2003, 06:09 PM   #5
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Re: Does the Excursion have...

Quote:
Originally posted by drboyd
....an automatic rear levelling system?

I'd just use the standard duty head as an auxiliary anchor on your boat, or something.
I think it's going to be a king-size paperweight!

No, the Excursion just has plain old shocks and coil springs (I think... I'd better look!)

Roger
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Old 07-28-2003, 06:17 PM   #6
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roger

hitch head angle adjusted different on the two?

i'd bet the "good" one has the proper 15 degree angle on it.

just a thought!

john
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Old 07-28-2003, 06:39 PM   #7
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Re: Re: Does the Excursion have...

Quote:
Originally posted by 85MH325

No, the Excursion just has plain old shocks and coil springs (I think... I'd better look!)

Roger
With all that luxury around you Roger, your starting to slip!

Maybe a downgrade might be the solution. Then again, you were going to donate that rig I thought to get me out of the entry level arena!

You know the mind is the first thing to go!

Eric
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Old 07-28-2003, 06:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by john hd
roger

hitch head angle adjusted different on the two?

i'd bet the "good" one has the proper 15 degree angle on it.

just a thought!

john
Good thought, John... but I had them both at 15 degrees. That's why I'm so surprised at the difference in performance!

Roger
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Old 07-28-2003, 06:59 PM   #9
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Re: Re: Re: Does the Excursion have...

Quote:
Originally posted by Silvertwinkie


With all that luxury around you Roger, your starting to slip!

You know the mind is the first thing to go!

Eric
Yes, well... the life of idle wealthy will sometimes do that!

Roger
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Old 07-28-2003, 07:47 PM   #10
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Interesting Reese hitch experience...

Greetings Roger!

Quote:
Here's a new one for me... When I bought the 34' trailer, it came with a Reese Dual Cam hitch head with a longer-than normal standard drop bar and 1000lb bars. The head has provision for two friction sway bars.
I am not certain from your description, but it sounds like you may have one of the special Reese draw bars from the 1980s/1990s when conversion vans with rear mounted spare tires were so popular. I had one of these, and the special Reese draw bar increased the distance from the front edge of the receiver to the hitch ball by from 3" to 8" depending upon application (the theory was to allow for turning clearance between the rear mounted spare and the trailer). I suspect that they were likely discontinued sometime ago as they did, in my experience, just what you describe - - made for very "squirrelly" towing performance - - one of the reasons that I kept my conversion van for only two seasons. I was told that one of the problems was that this draw bar increased the distance from the centerline of the tow vehicle's axle to the hitch ball which resulted in a change in the geometry of the hitch setup increasing the trailer's influence over the tow vehicle. I am not certain, but seem to remember that these longer draw bars also had a diminished weight rating - - it wasn't something that I was concerned with as my trailer at the time that I had that setup only weighed 4,000 pounds.

Kevin
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Old 07-28-2003, 08:36 PM   #11
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Talking Re: Re: Re: Re: Does the Excursion have...

Quote:
Originally posted by 85MH325


Yes, well... the life of idle wealthy will sometimes do that!

Roger
You crack me up!
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Old 07-28-2003, 09:24 PM   #12
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Re: Interesting Reese hitch experience...

Quote:
Originally posted by overlander64
Greetings Roger!



I am not certain from your description, but it sounds like you may have one of the special Reese draw bars from the 1980s/1990s when conversion vans with rear mounted spare tires were so popular.
Kevin
BINGO, Kevin! You nailed it... mystery solved! The folks we bought it from towed it with a B-van with a swing-away spare!!! Thats exactly it! No wonder it acted so strangely on my Excursion!

My Safari trailed like it was welded to the truck and I expected the 34' to be the same, but it wasn't. I attributed the 'squirrelly' performance of the 34' to the trailer rather than the Reese setup. I'm glad I had the 'standard' length draw bar to try.

Thanks for figuring this out for me. It was a 'puzzlement'!

Roger
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Old 07-29-2003, 06:54 AM   #13
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Lightbulb Re: Does the Excursion have...

Quote:
Originally posted by drboyd
....an automatic rear levelling system?
For Inquiring Minds Who Want to Know...

I checked under my Excursion this morning. It's a standard old leaf-spring/shock suspension system. Nothing special or trick about it. I'd forgotten how physically large the axles are on a 3/4 ton truck tho!

Roger
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Old 07-29-2003, 07:12 AM   #14
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I tow with the ball only, & it handles 100% perfect in all circumstances, mountains, sharp bends, trucks etc...
& thats a FACT. Those who think otherwise should try & I bet you will love it.

Hart
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