2 Rivet Member
1979 Argosy 27
Join Date: Apr 2010
Spring Bars too tight? And Automatic Levelling Suspension Question
Had our trailer for a week now and I have some concerns regarding our hookup...had them last week after our first test run, and reading the forums here for the past few hours don't alleviate my concerns...so I'd like some advice to make sure I am not doing damage to the trailer, or my tow vehicle...or myself for that matter.
1979 Argosy 27' with 490lb tounge weight, 4100 dry weight
TV is a 2007 Yukon Denali XL, which is rated for 7900lbs
Some background - The owner of trailer for past 30 years used 500lbs bars, a straight draw bar, and Ezy-lift friction sway control. Being new to everything as far as pulling a trailer, it was a new experience. After shopping around a bit, as soon as we saw this trailer and the original build quality, character, and how it was taken care of by the long time owner, we liked the trailer right away, put a deposit down, and came back the next day ready to go. The owner was very good with us in helping us first timers out and explaining everything and the nuances of how things worked, the issues we would have to deal with with the trailer, and just very helpful in general (and has continued to be so via email).
Anyways, when time to hook up to our TV that night to drive it away, the draw bar wasn't going to work. Sat way too high, and we needed a drop on the hitch of more then a few inches.
Luckily, the PO had purchased a an adjustable Reese draw bar (I can check the rating, it still has the sticker, but its probably for 1000lb tounge) with a drop for his new 33ft trailer he was going to be pulling with his Silverado 2500HD. Also, obviously the old bars wouldn't work, and he also had the 1000lb bars to go with his hitch. I had to pay him an extra $275 for this setup (as he would have to go out and buy new ones for him), but a pretty good deal considering these were fairly new bars and hitch, and this pruchase was 1h out of town in a small community, and having to go back to the city, get the setup (at a lot more $ brand new) then come back for an 1h drive the next day for the third day was not appealing.
So, we get the draw bar adjusted and put on the bars. This is where my first concern is (we've hooked it up/down twice since). It got on ok and trailer looked fairly level and sat low....but, snapping the chains up take a lot of force, it seems, to lift up and release in the old snap bracket. Unhooking the first time I almost broke my thumb. I am a bit worried that the I'm going to hurt myself with the recoil after snapping them up and jamming the lifting bar into me, or having my hand jam against the spare tire or the LPG tanks, or recoil when pulling down. We are on the last link in the snap bracket, though, so there is no more "give" in the chain.
A friend, who was also down camping where we took it last weekend, also thought that the bars were far too tight and needed far too much force to get up and lock, and then, springs back far too quick when letting down. Its as if the chain needs another link or two (but, not having them in front of me, they appear to be the 9 links as advertised on the Reese website) of slack. Also, through probably some of my error and inexperience in trying to do this, I have bent (and knocked back into place) the metal on the old snap bracket.
Attached are a couple pictures of my setup with the hitch and the bars in the old snap lock...in the side view, I notice my bars aren't quite at level, slightly, it looks like, angling up towards the trailer, when they should(?) sit a little lower and more parallel. That would explain why force is needed to lift the chains, wouldn't it?
I am connecting the trailer, then lifting it and to form an "A" when I put the bars on and lock them in place, as he told me to do (and, looking at the Reese site, also tells me to do).
So what's the solution? Do I have something setup wrong? I know I could get away with less heavy bars, according to the owner (who I've since asked this about) but outside of that...
Do I need a bigger chain/more links to level the bar, give it more slack, and not make it so tight? The owner also says he has an extra set of Reese Chain locks (I assime that means the snap up brackets)...would that help the tightness situation (I know them being more heavy duty then the old ones is better just in general), being everything else is Reese?
Being the first time pulling a trailer (45 miles back home, then 180 miles each way last weekend), I don't know if I had an issue. Seemed fine, pulled fine, the ride wasn't rough or bumpy or felt anything different (as the owner thought would be the case when I asked him this question) then pulling weight behind me (more on maybe why this is later, related to my TV suspension).
But I want to make sure I am not doing longer term damage to the trailer, or, even more so, my tow vehicle, with this setup. Would things like front end alignment (I ask this only because I had the TV into the shop 2 days after getting the trailer (only having drive 60 miles or so with the trailer attached), for regular service, and they told me it needed a front end alignment (hopefully it may have been just coincidence)) or undo stress on some other part of the tow vehcile, result from bars being too tight, or even simply too heavy for what I need? Again, the trailer didn't seem too bumpy, but with the bars too tight (if that's the case), what the ramifications of that?
Now, if that's not enough of me rambling, toss in that the Denali has air ride/self levelling suspension.
I've looked at the few topics where this has been discussed, and I do understand that the self levelling does negate some/much of the effect of the bars. On my vehicle, it cannot be disabled, so things such as I've read here, doing the jump test on the back of the TV to see if there is the same "give" as when unhooked, is a a moot point.
-Does having this air ride play into my above issue at all with the Reese bars seeming too tight?
-Does this factor mean that I am putting even more undo stress on the TV or the trailer and mean its even more imperative that I get lighter bars?
-What's the correct procedure for setting this up? The levelling suspension does not kick in until the TV has started up/engine running. Is it best to hook everything up before firing up the TV, and then the TV can adjust after the fact, or is it best to have the TV running (as I think I have each of the 3 times I've hooked up so far) to make the adjustments as I am lowering the trailer onto the vehicle/hooking up the Reese bars)?
It would be foolish to say I don't need the Reese bars because I have self levelling suspension, but again, just trying to figure out how this factor plays into my first issue, with the hope of not doing longer term damage (or even damage/getting out of alignment etc each and everytime I am hooking up) to the TV or the trailer.
Sorry for the mammoth post and a lot of questions in there...thanks for your time and any advice in advance.