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Old 03-25-2010, 06:37 PM   #1
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Reese hitch failure

Well, it wasn't quite the road trip from hell, but...
I was pulling into a Dairy Queen, from a nicely paved frontage road on the highway. The driveway was gravel over soil, with a drainage ditch under the gravel drive before entering the gravel parking lot. Watching my mirrors, the curb side AS wheels hit what I thought was a minor pot hole. I heard a pop, kept on driving into the parking lot.

As I exited the tv, a trucker came walking toward me, carrying my driver side weight distribution bar! It had broken clean in half at the curve, where it rests on the Reece Dual Cam. I thought that was crazy. What was even worse, when it broke, it broke the restraining tab on the head. So I couldn't simply buy a new bar.

The system was rigged with 750 pound bars per Andy's recommendation.
I got a phone book, and proceeded to call all the RV dealers within a 75 mile radius. Found out from one he quit carrying Reece because 3 heads had broken in two years. Only way I could get parts was a 4 day wait, which was not possible.

So I ended up purchasing a new Equalizer system, which worked well on my 800 mile return trip. Of course it was a weekend... in my phone calls, even to some AS dealers, recommendations on bars were from 1,000 to 1,200 pound bars... I could not get 800 or 850 pound bars, so went with 1,000 pound bars. I'll rig it again this weekend, take it to scales and check it out and set it up as perfectly as possible.

So, now what? I plan to contact Reece tomorrow, but.... Anyone else have this kind of problem?
Regards,
Steven
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:46 PM   #2
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Hi StevenG,

I have the same system. I have two sets of bars 1200 and 850lb. Im curious what the manufacture tells you. I've often wondered how much flex these guys can take before they snap. Do you any pictures of the event?

Thanks Vinnie
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:05 PM   #3
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Interesting. I once sent a note to Reese asking them if it is possible to break a torsion bar and they said no, not even the very old ones.

Do you have a pic of your Reese set up prior to the break?
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:19 PM   #4
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Had one break on me right after Christmas in Deming, NM. Discovered I had a tire with a slow leak and the next morning when I went to the tire shop was when it happened. When I turned into the parking lot had to go thru a bit of a dip while turning sharply at the same time. Bingo! Fortunately only the bar broke but nothing was available in Deming so had to drive to Las Cruces with one bar. Went ahead and ordered a new set so at least if it happens again I have a spare. Had to wait about a week but fortunately I had the time. This was a 800 lb bar. Have no pics and have already thrown the broken bar away. BTW I also have the Reese Dual Cam and the bar broke at the curved end where it rides over the cam.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:22 PM   #5
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Have you ever weighed the tongue of your 32-foot Excella?

According to factory specs, the tongue weight dry is 800 lbs. I would be willing to bet that the bars were carrying quite a bit more than that, since dry tongue weights are often way below reality.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:27 PM   #6
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yeah let us all know what they say after you call them.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:43 PM   #7
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I've never had it happen to me, but this is not the first I've heard of it. It just stands to reason the round bars will flex more without breaking.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:46 PM   #8
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Unfortunately I have no pictures of the setup prior to failure.
I have both 750 pound, and 1,000 pound bars. The weight of the AS was 7400 pounds, when I weighed it prior to setup. I weighed the truck and trailer several times, with different set ups. The best weight distribution was with the 750 pound bars, and 4 links. Andy has reported that using the lighter bars gives a better tow, heavier bars will eventually pop rivets and damage the trailer. That was my rationale for the setup I used.

I can post weight info tomorrow, and will call Reece tomorrow.
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Steven
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:33 AM   #9
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Am I correct in assuming all these failures are occurring on the "new" style bars where the notch for the dual cam sway is bent into the bar end instead of the older one where the piece was bolted on the end of the bar??
Also are any of these failures where someone is simply using the bar with the chain, but not the dual cam set up.
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:52 AM   #10
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your lucky that didnt happen while you were at highway speeds.even on interstates sometimes you will hit heaves in the road that can put part of the rig airborne.with my heavy ill stick with the 1400lb bars and the hensley.when i had a reese i used the 1200lb bars.
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:07 AM   #11
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I tought this was a normal issue for most all I have had several over the years snap on many other things then just The Airstream
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:58 AM   #12
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One more point: If you have the old style reese bars with the bolt on feet do not ever flip the bar over and re attach the feet and the trunions on the opposite side of the bar. It will cause the bars to break. In other words, keep the bend in the bar always going the same way.
With the new style bars they eliminated that possibility with the curved ends.
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:07 PM   #13
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Hitch weight

According to the data on Airstreams web site (copy below), the empty hitch weight for a 87 Excella 32 is 800# .

87 Excella.pdf

If that is true, I am guessing that the loaded hitch weight, if trailer is loaded correctly, is significantly more than that.

Since the 750# bars are designed to distribute properly a max of 750# of tongue weight, and you may have been quite a bit above that, to me it is not unreasonable that it failed.

Regards,

Ken
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:14 PM   #14
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Did someone ask Andy his opinion on this? He may be able to explain what happened as you set it up the way he suggested.

Vin
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