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Old 12-03-2011, 01:22 AM   #1
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Suddenly totally baffled by hitches .. clock ticking

I am about to pick up my new Flying Cloud 25B and have asked a question a few minutes ago about HuskyTow hitches. Then I began reading all these posts about shaking your Airstream to death, having bars too stiff, not enough sway control, and many more rather ominous warnings.

I have noticed that the hitch sellers never say a word about what TV is being used. I am beginning to see why. Then I suddenly read that "automatic load leveling" is bad? When I bought my Suburban, I thought that was a PLUS.

Suddenly, I am totally baffled about hitches. I need to pickup my new trailer next Thursday! I sure don't want to shake the rivets out of $50 grand worth of trailer! If my wife were to find out that I haven't a clue about what kind of hitch now to use, she would flip out.

My new trailer has about 800lb hitch weight. My 2007 Suburban LTZ is a half-ton with auto level. Are there shops you can drag the whole rig to that know anything about all this, or is everyone on the planet just taking wild guesses? Is there an "Airstream consensus" on hitches? One minute I see everyone in love with the Hensely, next minute I read it is so heavy it will crack the A-frame! HOLY COW! Never in a million would I have dreamed that.

I am not even sure what question to ask.
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Old 12-03-2011, 01:43 AM   #2
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Chill out and relax. Don't over think it. Talk to someone local, just try and educate yourself a little. There are so many people on this site with different opinions, you'll go mad trying to figure out what everyone else thinks is best. It will all work out and you'll be fine. Just hook up with what ever you choose, and enjoy camping in your new rig. There will be plenty of more opportunities to find things wrong the longer and more familiar you get. Oh, and welcome to the forums.
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:21 AM   #3
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In my opinion, Reese twin Cam with 800 lb. bars would be adequate for your combination. They are not that hard to setup and the local shop where you bought the trailer or hitch should have the knowledge to set it up for you. If you want to spend quite a bit more money you can buy a HaHa or Propride hitch. I think it is a little more difficult to set them up properly and to hitch up each time. Others may have a different opinion but you should not overhitch and make the w/d too stiff.
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by dwightdi View Post
In my opinion, Reese twin Cam with 800 lb. bars would be adequate for your combination. They are not that hard to setup and the local shop where you bought the trailer or hitch should have the knowledge to set it up for you. If you want to spend quite a bit more money you can buy a HaHa or Propride hitch. I think it is a little more difficult to set them up properly and to hitch up each time. Others may have a different opinion but you should not overhitch and make the w/d too stiff.
I disagree and actually think the reverse is true. I've owned two different type of Reese hitches, and a ProPride. The new Reese, the one you can buy now, is actually much harder to set up, correctly, than the ProPride. And, the performance difference is not even in the same league.

The Reese is not bad, mind you, it's just a PITA to set up correctly, and if not done absoluetly correctly, the sway control simply does not work. The only thing difficult about the ProPride, is the initial setup of the drawbar, but after that, it's a piece of cake.

To the OP, if you go with the Reese, just make certain you get someone to set it up that is very knowledgable with the hitch.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:01 AM   #5
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As for the automatic leveling on your Suburban, simply follow the instructions on hitching and towing in your owner's manual. Many people, even the ones that are "experts" here, think auto leveling is a Bad Thing because it's "new".
You will need some kind of WD and sway control. A quality product will work fine for you, you can use anything from a Hensley or Pro Pride to a Curt round bar setup with a friction sway control.

I've never seen a properly installed and set up Hensley Arrow or Pro Pride 3P crack an A frame, and I've seen a lot of them.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:05 AM   #6
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My TV has the auto leveling feature. Some believe it should be turned off when towing, I leave mine on. What I do believe is very important is to turn it off during the initial setup and adjustment so that it doesn't compete with your adjustment efforts. Once everything is adjusted to your satisfaction, take it for a test drive and then recheck the adjustments. If you are happy with the fore/aft weight distribution, you can then turn the auto leveling on if you like and it should compensate for load changes in the TV without altering the distribution of the tongue weight.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:24 AM   #7
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.... And this is something all of us who are passionate about products and setups need to consider: we've taken extreme cases and hashed the topic to the point where the information is of no use to someone seeking advice. In fact, it is more likely causing people to shy away from the one thing we are all passionate about: Airstreams....
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:37 AM   #8
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One of the big problems is that there is no local towing expert that I know. There is almost no where to even get a standard hitch installed. It's very sparse here for that kind of expertise (I've checked). My A/S dealer is 7 hours away. He only sells the HuskyTow, so naturally that will be all he recommends.

I'd like to get a firm grip on the concepts. Weight distribution seems pretty clear - you want to divide the tongue weight between your rear and front axles on the TV. But apparently, if you do that with bars that are too stiff, you will make the hitch point so stiff (unforgiving) the road bumps will become so harsh it can damage your trailer? This would be like hitching your trailer to a truck with say no suspension, no give to it. Every tiny bump is transferred direct to trailer. "Shake the cloths off the cloths hangers" someone said. That makes sense. I guess then the idea is to transfer weight, but still have "suspension" left. Soften the ride. Makes sense.

Auto Level: I assume then that anything which raises the back end, adds stiffness to the ride? The stiffness is bad, right? But surely you don't want to tow with the back end dragging low, right?

I'm going to look more into some of the brands mentioned here which I hadn't heard of.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:43 AM   #9
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My TV has the auto leveling feature. Some believe it should be turned off when towing, I leave mine on. What I do believe is very important is to turn it off during the initial setup and adjustment so that it doesn't compete with your adjustment efforts. Once everything is adjusted to your satisfaction, take it for a test drive and then recheck the adjustments. If you are happy with the fore/aft weight distribution, you can then turn the auto leveling on if you like and it should compensate for load changes in the TV without altering the distribution of the tongue weight.

IMPO this is the correct read on auto level. The ominous warnings are based on suspensions and "air shocks" of yesteryear.

Today's Leveling systems (OEM) are designs integrally with the suspension system, and actually, depending on option and model, are critical to proper stability control and electronic trailer sway control. That being said, you should:

1) pull the level control fuse with the vehicle full of gas, but otherwise empty.
2) load the vehicle and trailer as you would to travel.
3) adjust hitch WD as you PROPERLY would per the other fine threads in the forum.
4) If done properly the rear of the TV will be close to it's original height.
5) plug in the fuse and you're set. You should re-perform these steps if you change load makeup significantly...probably annually anyway. (Rigs gain weight over time)

If, when you plug in the fuse, the rear of the TV rises significantly (measure it before fuse installation and after running pump), say more than 1/2 - 3/4", you should probably increase the WD one increment.

We can work you through it here
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:48 AM   #10
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But apparently, if you do that with bars that are too stiff, you will make the hitch point so stiff (unforgiving) the road bumps will become so harsh it can damage your trailer? This would be like hitching your trailer to a truck with say no suspension, no give to it. Every tiny bump is transferred direct to trailer. "Shake the cloths off the cloths hangers" someone said. That makes sense. I guess then the idea is to transfer weight, but still have "suspension" left. Soften the ride. Makes sense.
The most important thing about the above is to make sure you get the bars that are max rated for the tongue weight of your trailer, and in your case, that would be 800 pounds. As long as you do that, you won't have a problem. This is from my experience.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:58 AM   #11
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The first problem is getting the new A/S home. All these fancy hitches seem to only be sold mail order. So, I am not going to have a fancy hitch on my car by next Thursday when I go to get my trailer. Can I safely tow my rig home (300mi) without a fancy hitch?

Alternatively----if anyone here knows a shop in the Eugene, Or. area that sells these fancy hitches, I could drag my new rig over to a shop right after I pick it up, and get something installed?
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:02 AM   #12
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The most important thing about the above is to make sure you get the bars that are max rated for the tongue weight of your trailer, and in your case, that would be 800 pounds. As long as you do that, you won't have a problem. This is from my experience.
Or even one size smaller. My max tongue weight rating is 1000#. I installed 800# bars and (per Surline scale) I run between 850# and 900#, depending on the trip and toys loaded up. I think this setup is perfect.

Click image for larger version

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This setup is actually a 2010 Denali XL with auto level control set up as described above. Note the substantial flex in the 800# bars. This was with 850# tongue weight.
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:10 AM   #13
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RedWoodGuy,

I'm one of the guys that have expressed concern about too stiff of ride (Because of the damage to my '66, exposed during its rebuild).

The truth of it is, at least with regard to weight distribution, you are seeking a balance in the comfort of the ride vs. stress to and control of the trailer.

Lets say the weight distribution is on the light side. If the ride is rough for you in the TV, then it's also rough on the trailer.

On the heavy side (the weight distribution is too stiff), it also not good on the trailer. The heavier duty the TV, and the stiffer the distribution bars, the more potential of causing damage over time.

The heigth of the hitch ball is important as is it angle to the ground (it should be something like 10-13 degrees off of 90 to the ground - makes for a smoother ride).

The distribution bars should have enough weight on them to minimize proposing as you drive over dips going down the road.

Others can give you more exact facts/details as to why and what: I'm just trying to convey the concept.... And also wanting to avoid thrusting this thread into another big debate.
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:11 AM   #14
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Drilling Into the Frame
Ok, I see some hitches require drilling holes in the A-frame, and some don't. Obviously drilling holes in a box channel weakens it by SOME - even if small - amount. I am guessing not very much. (Not to mention rust points) But, do you guys drill holes in a hugely expensive Airstream frame? No big deal? Big deal? Toss up?
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