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Old 09-27-2005, 08:45 AM   #1
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Newbie WDH question/advice

Coming from a VW Westfalia to an Airstream 28 SO is quite a step up in more ways than one. In just 2 days we have added both the Airstream and a Dodge Durango Limited 5.7 liter Hemi as the tow vehicle. Now, we have to bring these two together.

So, the question is one of hitches. Should we start off with the Weight Distributing Hitch or try a simple ball hitch for a while before making refinements? If WDH is the way to go, what is recommended for this combination?

Some background for responders: the 28 SO checks in with a GVWR of 9,100 pounds, a dry weight of 6,680, and hitch weight from the brochure says 820 pounds. I'm reasonably confident that we will not load up the trailer with heavy stuff but will probably keep 10 gallons of water on board most of the time. So, we believe that the max towing weight of 8,750 for the Durango should be up to the task. Our Durango is a 2005 model that now has coil springs rather than the former leaf springs, which is another reason I'm thinking that starting with a WDH might make sense to effectively extend the wheelbase and firm up the connection between tow and trailer.

Lastly, in case this factors into a response, we live in Northern California so in almost any direction we have hills that become mountains eventually, but all the roads are pretty good.

Thanks in advance for any advice. We have a week or two before we pick up our new home away from home, so there is some time to get the right hitch.
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Old 09-27-2005, 09:00 AM   #2
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Yes you need a weight distributing hitch. You also need sway control. Plenty of good hitches out there. I would think that you will find a lot of folks using a Reese hitch with the Dual-Cam sway control, and the Equal-i-zer brand hitch with its inbuilt sway control. I have owned both and you can't go wrong with either.

If you have lots of $$ to spend you can look at the Hensely which is considered by many to be the premiere travel trailer hitch.

Jack
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Old 09-27-2005, 09:21 AM   #3
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a weight distribution hitch is an absolute must. Double check the tag that is on your receiver hitch; the one on my half-ton dodge says that it is only rated for 1000lbs with wd, 500 without. so its not an option.

according to the airstream website, the hitch weight is 1010lbs, which exceeds that rating, even with wd. not by much, certainly. and if you're never loaded up...ok. but you're cutting it awfully close.

Now, I'm not one of these people that believes that you must have an M1-Abrahms tank for a tow vehicle in order to safely pull anything bigger than a '63 GlobeTrotter, (there are plenty of them here), but just be aware of how close you are to your tv's limits. you could easily exceed them by a wide margin. With the trailer so much heavier than the TV, (not a bad thing in and of itself), you want to make sure you have the best anti-sway device you can get. at the very least, a Reese dual cam setup.
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Old 09-27-2005, 09:40 AM   #4
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I am new to this also but here is the main point I read here about this subject: The Airstream is very slick towing. That is good for drag but very bad for sway ... period. The Hensley costs but there will be a lot of tractor trailers on the road with you and they will not be doing the 60 - 65 mph you will prudently be doing when towing. If you like white knuckle driving skimp in this area. There is some great info on other threads about weight and balance so take a look at those.
I, by the way, am of the behemoth pull vehicle school of thought so I have no comment about your tow vehicle.
It has to be exciting to have a new pull toy on the way.

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Old 09-27-2005, 10:21 AM   #5
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We are one of those who went overboard (in others opinion) and get the Hensley. Yes it cost but we are confident that it does exactly what it says. And if the only benefit we get is peace of mind when towing then we are satisfied customers. We do already know that it does offer more than peace of mind...
However, I will be the first to say that a standard weight distributing setup with a good sway bar will suffice and you most likely will never have a problem.
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Old 09-27-2005, 11:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
a weight distribution hitch is an absolute must. Double check the tag that is on your receiver hitch; the one on my half-ton dodge says that it is only rated for 1000lbs with wd, 500 without. so its not an option.

according to the airstream website, the hitch weight is 1010lbs, which exceeds that rating, even with wd. not by much, certainly. and if you're never loaded up...ok. but you're cutting it awfully close.
Ouch I missed that hitch weight. The weight on my Classic slide out is 1,125 lbs. GM vans in 2003 only came with a 1,000 lbs. rated receiver, so I had to upgrade to a 1,400 lb. Hidden Hitch receiver. I have forgotten whether hitch weight includes full LP tanks or not but from a liability end I certainly do not want to be placing more weight on that receiver than what its rated for. Same goes for your hitch, I'm using a 1,400lb. rated Equal-i-zer. Don't undersize your hitch and receiver. I've been very impressed by my Equal-i-zer hitch. Sway control is excellent. I've been in some heavy cross winds and my Classic tracks steady behind my van.

Jack
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Old 09-27-2005, 03:44 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for the advice so far. I'm learning fast and I hope accurately. Two things new. First, the tongue weight of the 28 S/O is 1,250 pounds. Don't know where I got that 820 number. Must have read the wrong page in the Airstream brochure.

Second, to my bitter disappointment our Durango has a 3.55 axle ratio so the tow weight limit is 7,150 pounds!!! I need the 3.92 axle ratio to pull 8,650 pounds. That's a $3,400 mistake courtesy of the Dodge brochure specs and my own ignorance for not asking the question. This is getting Clintonesque. Unless I ask the precise question, people I've been relying upon for advice don't seem to offer details that I would expect experienced people to have.

Frustrating.
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Old 09-27-2005, 04:02 PM   #8
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Mike,
Welcome to the Forum.

Sorry about your frustration.

After much information gathering about weight and towing I went with a 3/4 ton Suburban with a 3.73 rear end. I also went with the Hensley Hitch.
Our 1976 27' Overlander fully loaded is 6080# The Hensley is as good or better as every one says. The rear gear is fine. As for MPG I get 17 mpg solo /10 towing.
If I can help with any other questions please pm me!
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Old 09-27-2005, 04:12 PM   #9
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I'm doubtful

Even with a 3.92 differential, I would be leery of towing your trailer with a Durango. I have a Classic 28 that I pull with an extended cab Duramax Silverado 2500HD (really a 1 ton truck with 3/4 ton rear springs) 3.73 rear end. My trailer has about 5/8 the hitch weight of yours and a bit less GVWR. Frankly, I wouldn't want anything less than I have to pull it.

I have a friend pulling a late 90s Excella 28 with an extended cab Dodge pickup with the 5.7 engine. His trailer is a lot lighter than yours, having no slideout. He reports that he has adequate power here in Texas, but wouldn't tackle too many mountains. Big difference is that he has a lot more wheelbase for stability.

The WDH will transfer a lot of weight forward. Make sure you have adequate ratings for your TV axles, especially the front axle.
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Old 09-27-2005, 04:36 PM   #10
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I'm pulling my Classic SO with a GMC 2500 (3/4 ton) van. I have a 6.0 liter V8 and a 4.10 rear axle. Towing capacity 9,900 lbs. I also was surprised by the tongue weight factor since my dealer originally had given me 2002 specs which had the tongue weight under 1,000 lbs. My order was in when I prowled around the Airstream site and found out the ugly news that my new trailer was almost 200 lbs. heavier in the hitch weight.

Dealer apologized and we came to a deal where he sold me the heftier receiver and hitch at his cost. Thank goodness I had the tall axle and big V8. The combo tows well.

Jack
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Old 09-27-2005, 04:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung
Thanks to all for the advice so far. I'm learning fast and I hope accurately. Two things new. First, the tongue weight of the 28 S/O is 1,250 pounds. Don't know where I got that 820 number. Must have read the wrong page in the Airstream brochure.

Frustrating.
I just jumped on the A/S web site and the 28' SO Safari shows 1,010 on the hitch weight. Matter of fact my 30' Classic SO shows about 75 lbs less than my 2004. Where did you get your numbers from? Unfortunately the Airstream site doesn't show a model year on the web site specs.

Jack
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Old 09-27-2005, 06:08 PM   #12
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Jack,

I just looked at the Airstream Web site and it does indeed say that the hitch weight is 1,010. I am looking at a brochure we picked up at the RV show on Sunday at which we purchased the Safari 28 SO and it definitely says that the "hitch weight w/o options or variable wgt" is 1,250. I have looked high and low and cannot find any date on the brochure that might resolve the conflict.

So, whom do we trust. I would have guessed that the marketing brochure would tend to understate weights. But, the Web site is also a form of marketing. Maybe there are two marketing groups and they don't happen to coordinate their stats. Then again, it could be just a moving target, just an approximation and not something to be taken too rigidly or seriously or, might I say, weightedly.

Cheers,
Mike
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Old 09-27-2005, 07:21 PM   #13
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I tow a 2003 25SS (6300 lbs) with a 2002 Explorer (max towing 7000 lbs), so the numbers work, barely. The towing is okay, but not ideal. The engine is weak and the engine/tranny can get hot on steep grades. The Explorer weight and wheelbase are a bit small so it gets blown around a bit by passing semis or strong crosswinds. Gas mileage is pretty good at 20 mpg solo and 11 mpg towing. Overall it's a marginal setup - but it works.

The 28 w/SO is a heavy trailer! Also consider the GCWR (gross combined weight rating - the total of the loaded Durango and loaded trailer). This may be another limiting factor. My impression is that your configuration will not work acceptably or safely as described.
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Old 09-27-2005, 10:39 PM   #14
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Mike,

Whoa, that's a huge tongue weight with the SO. and a heavy trailer. You will be way over an important weight weighting. And dmac is right about GCVWR. This is the true tow rating. Do you know what that GCVWR number is? You will probably violate this important rating as well. Also, the short WB of the Durango would be highly worrisome for such a long and heavy trailer.

PS I also went from the VW Westfalia to the AS. That was many years ago though.
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