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Old 02-24-2010, 09:02 PM   #1
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Question Reese Strait-Line Hitch Setup Question

I just traded up from a 33 foot Class A to a 2010 Classic Limited 27FB that I will be picking up on Friday. I also purchased a Reese Strait-Line 1200 weight distributing hitch which will be installed by the Airstream dealer since I do not have the trailer. Here is my question: I have a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500HD with the quad cab and long bed, how much squat should I expect on the rear of the truck if the weight is distributed such that here is little to no squat on the front? Everything I have read or viewed suggests 1/2" although this seems low for a tongue weight of 800 punds.

I am also somewhat concerned about the torque on the ball. The ball has a 1 1/4 inch shaft with a 1 7/8 nut that should be torqued to 450 foot pounds. Since the Airstream dealer does not have a 3/4 inch drive torque wrench and only uses an impact wrench, I took it to a local shop. When I picked it up from the local shop, they told me that the did not have a 3/4 inch drive torque wrench and they used an 3/4" impact wrench which they said was "good." Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:10 PM   #2
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There is no torque on the ball. The torque from the w/d bars goes to the receiver.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:25 PM   #3
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The only suggestion that I can offer about the setup is this: I use a Ram 1500 to pull a 34' Excella using a Reese WDH and found that the standard 'drop' is not enough as the RAM has taller tires. I pulled from IA with the hitch set 4" to high (it was in the bottom hole) and it was CRAP, now that I have the 'long' drop and followed the mfg setup on a level lot, it pulls great. Also, be sure to get the sway control tight as most make the mistake of having to loose.

As for the FPT on the ball, I tighten mine down until tht lock washer compressed fully and am still pulling that way, the bars take the load and my truck and trailer set LEVEL when parked and I have no issues on tire wear or stearing which with a 4x4 I must watch as it is easy to need alignment.
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Old 02-25-2010, 11:48 AM   #4
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Torquing the ball: at 450 ftlbs, I think you'll be sufficient if you are sure that they installed a lock washer and they flattened that sucker out. You can also put a good wrench on it and give it all you've got. I wouldn't think an impact wrench would deliver the full 450. But I'm not an expert.

As for your truck "drop", what you need to see when you are hitched and wd bars tensioned - is that the front and rear dropped equally (measure unhitched, then hitched), that the trailer is level, and the truck is level. Then go to the scales.

Spend some time with the dealer so you can learn how the hitch system works and how you can use the trailer jack to help you load the bars.

Happy camping. Pat
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:23 PM   #5
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First thing is to reduce the bars to 800 lbs bars. The 1200 are grossly overweight. As for torque on the ball. Mechanic that knows what he is doing would have a 450 lbs Torque Stick to use on the impact gun to insure that setting. Highly unlikely you will find anyone who has made that investment. Get a 24 in pipe wrench and a 3/4 in. socket and bar handle. Put the pipe wrench on the ball below the ball head itself and the socket on the nut. Put 3 or 4 feet of pipe on the socket bar and give it all you got while someone hold back on the pipe wrench. It is a good idea to re-tighten the nut once a year as they will work loose.

There is no single standard for how much drop you will see when hitched. It depends on the spring set on the TV, there are several sets for a given year and model of each maker. The important thing is you want the trailer to ride parallel to the ground when done and the TV to have some drop on the front axle. Again there is no standard here for the stated reason. I generally shoot for a 60/40 ratio

I doubt very much you will find a dealer that can set up a Reese correctly as it take sever hours to do it right on an Airstream. Airstreams do not have self compensating axles and thus it is critical the trailer ride parallel to the ground when done lest the whole effort is a waste of time. The following is what I advise those interested in have a good set up do.

SET UP

The purpose of the WD Hitch is to move weight to the trailer axles and the front axle of the truck.

Set up the system again with these considerations.

Make sure you are on a level pavement for both TV and trailer combination.

Drive onto the pavement while towing the trailer straight for at least 75 ft.

Use the trailer brakes to stop the combination, this insure things are straight.

Disconnect the trailer.

Measure the height of both truck fenders right up through the center line of the wheels. It helps to put a piece of masking tape on the fender and marking the measurement point on the tape. Record the measurements.

Hitch up and measure the fender heights again. Both measurements should drop. Generally I look for a 60 40 ratio with the rear fender dropping more than the front fender. This will depend on spring ratios of the truck put the important consideration is you want to see a drop in the front fender height.

If adjustments are required either take up a chain link and remeasure or tilt the hitch head back and remeasure.

If things do not fall into place, and you would have to be very lucky for that to happen, make adjustments. This is not a 5 min. job so don't start this in the sun.

When done you want the trailer tongue slightly higher than the rear and weight on the front axle of the truck. This difference in the trailer height should not be more than a ˝ in. if that on shorter trailers. The reason I mention the height of the trailer tongue as being higher is with the Airstream axles not being self equalizing you want to insure you are not reducing the tongue weight by having shifted weight to the rear of the trailer.

If after you have completed the set up and you find you have trailer sway you should consider getting a duel cam sway control system. If you do install a duel cam system the set up is much the same except that when finished you have to be sure the trailing arms are seated on the saddles while the combination is straight. This may require reentry onto the pavement and checking things again because misaligned cams will change the WD effects of the system.

If you are setting up and have the Dual Cam or Straight Line system I would suggest you loosen the U bolts that hold the Dual Cam to the tongue or loosen both nuts on the yokes of the Straight Line system. Have these nuts and U blots loose before you pull on the level work area. Leave them loose through out the set up and periodically tap the saddles or the yokes with a 2 lbs. hammer to make sure they are sitting directly over the cams. Once you have adjusted this so the trailer sits parallel to the surface you are working on and the truck has reasonable weight on the front axle you can set the U bolts to 75 ft. lbs. and set the inner nut on the yoke by hand and then tighten the outer nut. It helps to put downward pressure, with an 18 in wrench, on the drivers side cam arm while tightening the outer nut on the that side. If not the tightening may cause the arm to tilt upwards and the face of the bar and cam will not meet flush. This is due to the sloop in the machining of the groove in the arm.

I have spent as much as 4 hours before everything came together so find a cool spot to work. And that is why no dealer will ever do it right.
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:35 PM   #6
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I forgot to mention

The Reese Straight Line Hitch has a couple of design error that can cause problems.

First the New Heads have the oil holes TOO far to the rear to allow the oil to reach the head of the trunnions. This means you will have to oil the trunnions before set up each time or redrill holes forward about 1/4 in.

The Yokes on the Straight Line are TOO wide at the rear and can come in contact with the bars while in a tight turn. Left uncorrected this can brake the yoke. See the attached picture as to where to grind off material to correct this. It will be the outside bar that hits on a turn as it is raised on the cam and pulled forward by the head. About 1/8 to 3/16 material ground off the lower half of the yoke will correct this.
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:51 AM   #7
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HowieE

Thanks for the information. As for the torque on the ball nut, the lock washer was being smashed and there was a 3/8" gap at the cut. Since it is possible to get up to 1200 ft-lbs of torque out of a 3/4" impact wrench, I decided to replace the ball. I took it to Camping World where they were unable to remove the nut. Next I took it to Fleetfoot where it took 3 mechanics, an oxy-acetylene torch and an impact chisel to remove the nut. After the nut was removed, it was clear that the threads had been streched, almost to the point of stripping them. I do need to put in a plug for Fleetfoot since they did not charge me and just asked that I remember them when I need a new set of Goodyear tires. Anyway, I found someone with a 3/4" torque wrench that goes to 400 ft-lbs and had them install the new ball.

As for the WD hitch, I got the Reese Strait-Line which includes the dual cam system. Since I used to turn wrenches, I spent a lot of time with the instructions and reading forums. Since I do not have the trailer, I will let the dealer install the WD portion of the hitch but not the dual cam sway control. Then, I will find a level area where I can spend the time to get it adjusted properly -- first the weight distribution with about 7 - 8 links to get the correct angle on the bars, then the ball height to get the trailer level and finally I will install the dual cams.

Much appreciate your thoughts about leveling the truck and getting the correct weight distribution.

Thanks again
Paul
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Old 02-26-2010, 09:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by PJohnson View Post
HowieE
Then, I will find a level area where I can spend the time to get it adjusted properly -- first the weight distribution with about 7 - 8 links to get the correct angle on the bars, then the ball height to get the trailer level and finally I will install the dual cams.
Thanks again
Paul
Your sequence is a bit out.

On level ground and with the trailer parallel to the ground, note I did not say LEVEL, set the ball, while parked next tot he coupler on the trailer, about 1/2 in.above the point it would rest in the coupler. This assumes a 1/2 in drop when finsihed, but is subject to change while setting up. The head angle may have to be changed to get the correct pressure on the bars.

Now hook up with just the ball and drive in a straight line for about 75 ft. and still on level ground. Disconnect the trailer and measure and mark the truck fender wells. I put masking tape on the fenders to record the measurement with a line. Now hook up and start the adjustments to get the finished product of the trailer parallel to the ground and the truck dropping the desired amount front and rear.

When done you should have 4 links of the chains hanging off the pin.

You are working with working with 5 variables, head angle, chain lings hanging, trailer parallel to the ground, bars sitting square on the Straight Line Cams, and truck drop so don't expect to be done in 5 minuites.

I can't stress the importance of having the rig straight and the bars sitting square on the cams enough. If they are off the system will ADD to sway rather than reduce it.

This is because the system uses the resistance of the bars to come off the cams to stop sway. If the bars are sitting high off the cams they will add to the sway as the seat thus setting up an oscillation.
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