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Old 11-23-2010, 10:11 AM   #1
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Austin , Texas
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Newb hitch question

Hello everyone, first time poster here. I've been reading the forums and soaking up some of the excellent discussion for w while but wanted to get an opinion on a specific concern that I have. A little back ground first:

My wife and I agree that we want an RV to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with our son. My folks had an airstream while I was growing up and I can't imagine buying anything else. Realistically though buying a TV and an RV all at once is more than our budget can handle. Our compromise: buy a TV now (great interest rates and rebates) and then rent trailers for a while until we figure out how much we're going to use it, what size and options we find most useful, etc....

Anyway, we bought a Ford F-150 with the 5.4L engine and tow package w/ electronic brake controller. It will be a daily family car as well so it's a bit of a compromise but I think it will do the job for us. Nominal TOW rating is 9400 lbs but I don't plan on pushing the limits on that. We THINK that we'll end up with an AS in the 19' to 25' range but that's one of the reasons that we're renting for a while.

So now to my question: what the heck should I buy for a hitch on this thing? I believe in buying quality but I hate spending several $K on a hitch that may be completely unnecessary. If we end up in the range I expect we're looking at a tow weight range between 4500 - 7300 lbs (plus loaded gear, etc) with a hitch weight range of of 400 - 837 lbs. Does anyone have some thoughts on a good, flexible hitch that won't be too difficult to set up on a different trailer everyo time I do a tow? Just from reading the threads I was leaning towards a 10K Equalizer hitch but I just don't know what I don't know, if you know what I mean. Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated (I'm not overly sensitive and welcome useful criticism.)

If you're going to recommend a $3K hitch then please give me some input on why it's ABSOLUTELY necessary and nothing else will do. It's going to be a really really tough sale for my wife!

Thanks in advance!

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Old 11-23-2010, 10:47 AM   #2
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First comment is you can not change from one trailer to another of dissimilar weights and height without readjusting a WD hitch. Second comment less than 10% of the dealers in this country have any idea in the world as to how to set up a WD hitch. It can take over an hour to do it correctly when first setting up the hitch and a dealer just will not take that time.

The Reese Dual Cam or Straight Line hitchs are good choises if it is set up correctly and periodically readjusted to correct for ware.

2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 11-23-2010, 11:18 AM   #3
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Antlers , Oklahoma
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I like the simplicity of setting up my Equal-i-zer E2. They are all good though. The bad thing is an AS likes light weight bars and SOB might need a stronger bar. I bought a 10000# Equal-i-zer E2 hitch. I contacted the manfacturer about lighter bars for my AS and they said I could get them but they are not necessary. If it was just an Equal-i-zer I might need to but since it was an E2 I did not. I went with this hitch for two reasons. One was I really did not know that much about WDHs at the time and I did not have much to choose from where I live and two - cost - this hitch was well within my price range. After learning more about WDHs - I am glad of my choice. I still might go with the lighter bars and I might add the 4 way sway option. It is supposed to be real simple with this hitch.

2006 GMC 1500 SLE Crew Cab
5.3L V8 Towing Package
Equal-i-zer E2

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Old 11-23-2010, 12:22 PM   #4
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Austin , Texas
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HowieE - So do you believe that setting up and adjusting any WD hitch is just going to be far too much trouble for a short SOB rental?
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:31 PM   #5
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2007 27' Safari FB SE
Las Vegas , Nevada
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Just had a Hensley put on my 2010 F150 5.4 with 5.55 rear. Pulling a 27' Safari. The unit is exspensive and it does take a little time to adjust and set up. But on the other hand we spent a few buck on the Safari and from what I have read here Hensley is one of the top rated units. I can attest to their customer service. Very helpful in walking me thru the hook-up and unhook process.
As an aside I towed the first 250 miles with just the standard hitch mostly interstate little wind and it was fine. I will say that the ride is smoother with the Hensley but it in not a huge leap. Having said that I still feel it was money well spent from a peace of mind prespective.
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Wryknow View Post
HowieE - So do you believe that setting up and adjusting any WD hitch is just going to be far too much trouble for a short SOB rental?
2 points.

The set up for an SOB is not as critical as setting up an Airstream. This is because you do not have to make sure an SOB is riding LEVEL as you do with an Airstream because of the type of springs used.

All you have to accomplish with an SOB is to make sure weight is transferred to the front axle of the tow vehicle to reduce sway, a much less critical set up. On a 150 Ford I would place a strip of masking tape on the front and rear fenders and measure and mark a spot on each tape. Hook up the trailer and remeasure each fender. The front fender want to drop about 2/3s of the drop measured on the rear fender. This ratio may vary from truck to truck depending on the spring stiffness but it is important that some weight be applied to the front axle.

The time consuming part in setting up a WD hitch with an Airstream is the readjustments you often have to make between dropping the front axle and still having the trailer ride level because Airstream axles are not self compensating as leaf spring sets are.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 11-23-2010, 04:21 PM   #7
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I tow our 34' with a 2009 F150 5.4. Initially I used a Reese W/D with friction bars. Then spent the $ and bought a ProPride. The towing experience is totally different. No sway at all, and a much higher confidence level. My wife is even open to doing some of the driving now. I say it is $$ well spent. (Not to mention I believe it is a safer setup) (also the ProPride will accommodate different TV's should you decide to change your truck)
Craig and Carol
1997 34' Excella 1000
1970 27' Overlander, International
2009 Ford F150 5.4L
ProPride hitch with 1400# bars

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Old 11-23-2010, 05:32 PM   #8
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Changing Trailers


I have an Equalizer and really like it. Relatively easy to set up and tows without any sway. The sway control is built in so there are no added friction bars to hook up and unhook.

To answer your question about the difficulty of changing trailers, an equalizing type hitch has part of it permanently attached to the trailer. Every time you changed to a different rental unit you would have to detach the L brackets on the Equalizer and then reinstall them on your next rental. This would require time and lots of readjustments. I hope this makes sense.
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:17 AM   #9
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Austin , Texas
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Thanks all for the input. It's sounding to me like a good hitch set up is going to be rather hard to accomplish on a short term rental. Maybe I should just try towing a small trailer with the factory hitch and ball and seeing how it goes?
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:27 AM   #10
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the factory receiver is very capable, but it isn't a hitch.

it's a receptacle for a drawbar/ball/hitch/weight distribution arrangement of parts...

trailers (other brands or airstreams) all have different 'ball heights'

so IF you wanna try towing 'on the ball' with misc trailers,

an adjustable height/drop drawbar will be needed.

ball size may also very depending on trailer size/era.

with tongue weights over 500 or trailers approaching 5000 lbs,

a w/d hitch apparatus will be necessary (thresholds 4 new 150s are a bit higher) ...

the max towing capacity is based on USING w/d, not simply towing on the ball.

don't assume sticking with small/lighter units

will reduce risks from not using proper w/d or sway control...

small trailers can get squirrelly, wander around and flop like fish...

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 11-24-2010, 11:46 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Wryknow View Post
Thanks all for the input. It's sounding to me like a good hitch set up is going to be rather hard to accomplish on a short term rental. Maybe I should just try towing a small trailer with the factory hitch and ball and seeing how it goes?
Welcome to the group!
I did a lot of renting before I took the plunge and got our AS. The only thing I had to do was show up with the receiver, brake controller and 7 pin connector. Any until you rent from a good rental company will more than likely have what you need as far as a hitch including the bar. Renting is a good way to find out what works for you. We started out renting huge MH's and 5th wheels. Found we could get by with a lot less and enjoyed the camping much more.
Good luck in your search,
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:28 AM   #12
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Re: new F150 & Hitch


Welcome to the forums and enjoy the hunt. It looks like you have started in a great place with many expert "PULLERS" that are invaluable. Just ask and you WILL receive!

We just maid our maiden voyage trip with our 2010 F150 SC 5.4 Platinum and our 2008 23' Safari SE FB. I had pulled it with a standard ball and hitch a few miles and trailed well, just for a point of view. Trailer dry wt. only. Weighed the TV. then TV & AS with standard hitch.

Then we installed a 4 point Equalizer 10K hitch. Took wife & I about 1 1/2 hr and were satisified with measurements with AS about 1/3 loaded. trailering was excellent, we could tell the weight being transferred to TV. Head winds and tail winds noticible on gas mileage only, no sway from wind, a little noticeable with semi's overtaking us but no sway notice when two lane passing in opposite lanes. We realize that more "adjusting" will be necessasry with changing loads of TV & AS.

We, I, gained tons of confidence with installing the hitch ourselves. I prefer it that away, call it OCD or whatever. But knowing how things work and that it was done correctly, makes it easy to understand and how to change it when needed.

I figure I had a 550# tongue wt with out the Eq attached. Just waiting on another hitch up to weigh the TV & AS with the Eq engaged.

Just remember the towing methods with the F150 - use tow haul mode with the TV attached. You don't want to do any damage.

Sphere Guy
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:08 AM   #13
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"It looks like you have started in a great place with many expert "PULLERS" that are invaluable. Just ask and you WILL receive!"

We were in England last year and I was informed that local usage of "puller" was "one who engages in the oldest profession",,,
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:06 PM   #14
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Poor man's hitch
I will throw my opinion in on this too. I have experience with only a more inexpensive hitch but have pulled about 1000 miles with it so far with no issues - swaying, etc. When I first started the RV/Airstream hunt, I too considered hitches, etc. I was told at the dealer that although not all are created equal, most of the difference is in the ease of hitching, adjustment or breakdown- that they all do the job designed to do. I have seen some of the expensive ones. Mine is a Curt. I just recently (this week) spent about 4 hours playing with adjustments to finally get it adjusted for my trailer/truck combination. I learned something when I spoke the the gentleman at the manufacturing plant; also there was an excellent article that echoed his sentiment from RV Net. As far as adjustment goes, there are 3 considerations for adjusting whatever brand hitch:

1) Use the spring bars' links to bring the front height of the truck back to original height from the "rise" as close as possible without being lower than original height. (original=unhitched height of front measured at wheel well to ground)

2) Use the height of the hitch head on the shank to level the height of the trailer.

3) Use the angle of your hitch head to level the spring bars to a parallel to ground or, pointing slightly downward at the ends closest to the trailer.

When I found these tips, it really clarified the process of adjustment for me. It is not hard to do but you do need to be familiar with how these steps are accomplished with your brand of hitch. My hitch required a minimum of 5 links between bar and clamp. When I needed to go to four to continue triming weight, I knew it was time to increase the angle on the hitch head. As I went through the process, I found that the easiest was adjusting the trailer height. The most difficult was #3. I had to disassemble my hitch head three times to dial in the correct angle for the tightened spring bars. Mine were pointing upward slightly at the tips. When I sent pictures to the manufacturer, I was told to adjust the angle more. Also, Ford says that at least 50% of the front wheel rise has to be corrected when towing on current model trucks. By the way, the RV net directions say to ignore the rear sag, that when the front is corrected, the rear will be where it should be. My "rise" (measured at wheel well front end only) was .63 inches. My Ford required lowering was .31". The rise is measured as the trailer loaded dead weight measure (trailer hitched with no bar use). I lowered the rise .56 inches to less than an eighth of an inch higher than original or unhitched height with the bars parallel and a level trailer! I have to lift my hitch pieces around, it weighs 87 lbs and even the bars are heavy and greasy but, it works for $500 minus ball and of course truck receiver hitch part.

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