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Old 01-02-2012, 11:30 AM   #1
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
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The Equal-i-zer After Some Use - Report

My rig: 25 FC on a Suburban 1/2T

A few weeks ago I was nervous as a cat about what hitch to buy for our new AS. After much help from the folks here I settled on an Equal-i-zer installed at a reputable hitch shop. We've now been out a few times, and driven in quite a few conditions including some very strong cross winds the other day. By no means is this definitive, but at least I now have some idea about how these work, and how it is to hitch them up.

The EQ hitches up easily and takes only a few minutes. We use the electric tongue jack for all lifting, and I don't use those leverage tools for lifting the bars into place. I built a rack or holder for my Suburban to hold the bars neatly in place along with the head. It's a slab of 3/8 ply with some tie downs and a large plastic bucket bolted to the ply to hold the head. So, I keep the bars and head in the Sub. This reduces lifting and carrying of the insanely heavy and greasy head. Nothing rattles around loose.

Did I say how insanely heavy the head is? It is also greasy and seems impossible to move without getting grease on your clothing. I am working on that aspect.

Noise. Yes, at slow speeds, like moving into a gas station, the bars can give off some ghastly groans and creeks. If you haven't heard them in a while because you've been rolling along at 55, it can startle you. Like "WHAT THE #@%& WAS THAT?" For all I know the axle could be ripped off and lying in the street and it wouldn't make any more noise than the bars! We are used to it - to a degree.

The hitch head hangs kind of lower than I wished it did, but I haven't bottomed it out anywhere, so maybe I am overly worried.

Driving. I don't have a lot of experience towing Airstreams, but I have towed over a dozen boats in the last 40 years. This rig tows beautifully. It is easy to simply forget there is anything attached to the car. It just follows the car like one would imagine it should. I have not noticed a single sway or swing or unwanted movement yet. We hit some fierce crosswinds over a pass the other day while DW was driving. She felt the car buffet a little and she said, "You better do this." So, we changed and I drove through the crosswind expecting to be white knuckling it all the way. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zip. The trailer and car buffeted a little now and then, but the steering was as straight as an arrow, and I never felt any sway. We did about 50 - 55MPH the whole way.

There seems to be a little bit of slack in the connection chain. When you come to a dead stop and then resume, you get a mild clunk from this slack in the hookup, but it's not horrible. I suspect this is a slack in the receiver/shank connection?

I paid $700 installed. I am budget conscious and can't spend willy-nilly. So for me, I have to compare values. I imagine the expensive high-end hitches are better hitches, but they are 3X or 4X the price, and still require lifting greasy parts, which is my main gripe with ALL hitches.

If there was a hitch that required the user to simply "drop on the ball" - - I would gladly pay 3X the price. That would be a real boon to me. But it looks like all these things are Rube Goldberg after-market, after-thought affairs, and require lifting and messing around and getting close to grease.

I feel like I "got my money's worth" for this hitch and it performs well, even if not perfect. I watched a lot of other people on this past trip hitching up, and mine was no worse than anything I saw happening and better than some! I saw one guy struggling like heck with a leverage bar to get some chains connected and I thought - wow - I don't want to be doing that.

I am confident that the DW can learn to do the whole hitch-up on her own if she needed to, and that is another key part of it.

I am quite happy for now with the EQ! It works like they said it works, and the price is on the lower end of the scale for hitches, so the value seems pretty fair to me.
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:43 AM   #2
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Having been towing for 35 years, and having tried many different hitches, I really like the Equalizer. It came with our 2007 Classic, and I was going to get rid of it right away, but now I like it.
When you learn more about where the grease belongs and where it doesn't belong, you'll find the hitch is quieter than you thought; and you won't be getting grease on yourself.
Put a handle on it for lugging around, and the weight will seem less oppressive.
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Alumaholic View Post
Having been towing for 35 years, and having tried many different hitches, I really like the Equalizer. It came with our 2007 Classic, and I was going to get rid of it right away, but now I like it.
When you learn more about where the grease belongs and where it doesn't belong, you'll find the hitch is quieter than you thought; and you won't be getting grease on yourself.
Put a handle on it for lugging around, and the weight will seem less oppressive.
That "little bit" of grease, kills what little friction sway control the Eqaulizer offers.

Torsion has always been the best sway control, because having a wet or dry weather, does not change it's operation.

Andy
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:15 PM   #4
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Redwood, glad to hear you like the Equalizer. It has worked well for us for the past 4 years.

I agree the hitch head is heavy. We often leave it on when going somewhere unless we are going to a place where parking is tight (I don't want to back into someone's grille with it) or are staying for several days. We too keep the parts in the back of the tow vehicle.

The groans don't bother us because we know it is working, but we get some strange looks from other campers as we arrive or leave. Some grease in the sockets on the hitch head where the bars attach will reduce noise.

We use cheap gardening gloves when hitching and unhitching. They last years and keep grease off our hands. Grease has a powerful attraction for my clothes, but I've gotten used to keeping them away from it.

The jerk you feel when starting up may mean you need another washer or two. Though they should be Class 8 washers (the hardest you can usually find in a hardware store), they can compress when new and it is common to have to add one or more).

Read the instructions over and over until you understand them. There are also threads (use the search function) on adjusting this hitch. Sooner or later you will find yourself adjusting it. Make sure truck and trailer are level to each other before you start—you can do it on a hill, but it both vehicles must be level in relation to each other. There are a number of things to adjust and it takes time to play around with it to make everything correct. The trailer must be level, the truck close to it and the bars may be—ideally they should be level, but that is the least important part of it and it is common they won't be. If camped on uneven ground, you may have to use the leverage tool. It is easier to get the bars on than off with it. In Colorado it is hard to find a level place and parking lots are usually graded to promote water runoff. I used wood scraps to pull the trailer onto to get it level to the truck—the truck was level because I pulled it into the shop which does have a level floor, but the trailer won't make it through the door unless I want to remove the trailer roof and the garage door. Then use the longest level you have to check both are level before you install the hitch. If everything is level now—check it at a parking lot that look level and then use the level—once you add a washer(s), things will change.

Watch for the assembly on the tongue sliding. It may not be bolted tight enough. Did the installer lower the propane line on the curbside of the tongue to get the lower bolt tight and above it? If not, the pieces on each side of the tongue will bend (they can be straightened on a bench with a big hammer) and continued bending and straightening will weaken them.

The dealer did a bad job of installing the Equalizer. It towed fine, but eventually I decided to adjust it. A few calls to the company (they were helpful regardless of how stupid I sounded) plus studying the instructions and Equalizer threads were necessary. Once I got it right (installing the removing the hitch head several times make it even heavier), the trailer towed even better and hasn't required any more adjustment.

Gene
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:18 PM   #5
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I use the Equal-i-zer also and find that a couple of paper towels used to wipe the grease off of surfaces prior to removal of the hitch helps a lot to keep your clothing clean. I just re-grease during hitch up, using white lithium in a tube, a little dab will do you. I have tried spray paraffin lube, worked OK but didn't last the entire trip.
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:32 PM   #6
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I use wheel bearing grease because that's what I always carry with me and it works for the ball too. The grease gets dirty and/or washes off fairly quickly. The dirt will wear parts fast, so clean it off frequently and re-grease.

Equalizer sells a grease for the bar where it is attached to the rear brackets with the L part. They say is makes no difference in the friction and quiets the noise, but I can't see how it doesn't affect friction—it's grease after all. We don't use it.

You will find the bare aluminum L's will bend over time until they find the place they want to be. The company says not to worry about it.

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Old 01-02-2012, 03:51 PM   #7
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I've been reading the manual and studying the parts so that I will be able to make adjustments. I think mine is slightly off. My rear wheel well is about 1" lower than I think it should be.

I think my installer did a good job, but may have been hampered by an imperfectly working air ride system. The compressor failed last week on our trip, and I think it had only been working half-right in the weeks before. Since I had the new one installed ($700! Ouch!) it goes up much faster.

Before taking on an adjustment of the hitch I'll have to get some new tools. I have nothing for working with large, highly-torqued bolts. I don't think a monkey-wrench will do, right? Just kidding.

We definitely use gloves for hitching. I just need to learn how to keep my pants leg away from the greasy bits.

Hmmm? I thought all the friction was from the fore end (socket) of the bars? The part that turns. The back end with L-bracket doesn't appear to provide much friction as far as I can tell.

On a more general note - - I am shocked (and appalled?) that the trailer manufacturers who design the chassis and couplers don't design in some sort of WD system. Frankly, it seems silly that you have to add all this after-market stuff to an expensive trailer. I kinda don't get it. If you look at the A-frame of a new $75,000 trailer, it looks identical to the A-frame of a 1960's 14-foot Shasta! Doesn't the engineering ever advance? Something doesn't compute here. One would think that after 80 years of building these that someone would say, "Hey - wait a minute - no one can use this without buying some after-market jury-rig. Maybe we should solve this?"
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
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Did the installer lower the propane line on the curbside of the tongue to get the lower bolt tight and above it? If not, the pieces on each side of the tongue will bend (they can be straightened on a bench with a big hammer) and continued bending and straightening will weaken them.
I'll have to go look. I don't know. I'll let you know.
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:13 PM   #9
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Yes, most of the friction is in the head to bar contact points. Be sure to keep those bolts properly torqued....at least one a season. Try the nylon "L-bracket jackets" sold by Eq. Will quiet things down considerably.

If your TV is 1" low at rear wheels, you need more tilt (washers) as Gene said.
Your auto level control should be disabled during ALL hitch and head tilt adjustments and all gear and stuff should be in TV and AS prior to adjustments. Only enable auto level control when rear measured height is very close to original solo ride height.

If EQ would make 600# bars available with a 10,000# rated head, I'd still be using their stuff. I'm still looking for cheap/free 600# bars to experiment with sleeving the trunnions of my 10,000 head. Any offers?
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:22 PM   #10
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The posts in this thread sum up my experience with the Equalizer.
The only things I can add are a note about durability. After seven years and probably 50,000 miles towing, mine shows little wear.
The low points on my hitch are the bottom of the brackets holding the spring bars on the trailer. I have lost several brackets and hitch pins going over curb stops and vados. I carry spare brackets and pins and have learned to slow down when I spot a road hazard.
I have the 1000 pound spring bars and a 25 foot trailer. I know I would get a softer ride with 600 pound bars and could probably use 400 lb bars.
When I got my hitch and trailer (used), the first thing I did was clean all the grease off of everything. I get squeaks and groans but no appreciable wear. I still get rust residue on my hands and clothing but this is easier to deal with than grease.
Between the Equalizer, the aerodynamic Airstream and my stiffly sprung diesel Excursion, I get no sway. I get a tiny bump when a semi blows by me at 75 mph, but nothing else.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:10 PM   #11
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... The hitch head hangs kind of lower than I wished it did, but I haven't bottomed it out anywhere, so maybe I am overly worried. ...
The Airstream rides lower and its coupler seems to be closer to the ground than other trailers I've towed. Some of this may be a carryover from bygone years when these things were towed by low slung sedans. The lower profile compliments the visual design and probably contributes slightly to fuel economy as less of the trailer pokes up above the TV. Out of necessity, the ball mount is probably the lowest thing on the rig regardless of hitch make and most look like they would drag traversing a speed bump, but for the most part they don't. We've learned to approach those things slowly and try to exit/enter parking lots at a 45 if possible when there is a considerable crown in the street. If the ball mount drags, the trailer's rear bumper might also. Getting everything adjusted to level can help.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:16 PM   #12
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I disagree that the friction is at the hitch head. The bars are locked in there by the pins. They slide at the brackets on the tongue and that's where all the wear marks are.

Equalizer will tell you the rating of the system doesn't matter even if the dealer sold you 1,200 lb. bars for a lighter trailer. They say you only use as much as you need and you cannot be overhitched (I guess you can be underhitched, but no one ever talks about that). I don't know if it is true, but that's their story. It seems to me that heavier rated bars may provide more anti-sway, but I am not an engineer. It does give me some strange comfort engineers don't agree on any of this either.

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Old 01-02-2012, 05:26 PM   #13
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I disagree that the friction is at the hitch head. The bars are locked in there by the pins. They slide at the brackets on the tongue and that's where all the wear marks are.

Equalizer will tell you the rating of the system doesn't matter even if the dealer sold you 1,200 lb. bars for a lighter trailer. They say you only use as much as you need and you cannot be overhitched (I guess you can be underhitched, but no one ever talks about that). I don't know if it is true, but that's their story. It seems to me that heavier rated bars may provide more anti-sway, but I am not an engineer. It does give me some strange comfort engineers don't agree on any of this either.

Gene
This is why diversity is great. I agree with your points often but, I disagree with all you have said here. Even EQ says the sway control is from the friction at the head trunnion slide points. The spring bars "twist the trunnions in their "sockets and combined with 60 - 75 LB/Ft of torque, create a very tight friction surface. That's why they say you CAN use lube or nylon L-bracket jackets at the end of the bars.

As I have said in many hitch posts, on the flat and level, you and EQ are correct....it doesn't matter what bar you have....they all exert the amount of pressure which you put in during adjustment. It is, however, very different when you start moving over speed bumps, drive entrances, etc. It's all about flexibility then, and a 400# bar will behave very differently than a 1200# bar.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:45 PM   #14
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The best way I found to keep grease off of me and everything else the "hitch head" comes into contact with is to slip a Plastic Walmart shopping bag over it before I remove it from the receiver. I put one over even if I am not going to remove it when I am unhitched. I use the Walmart bags because they are white and stand out. Almost killed my self on a brown Kroeger grocery bag last fall! LOL! I am sure you could get a nice red vinyl cover made, but why bother.
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