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Old 12-17-2003, 06:36 PM   #1
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Question truck mods & hitch height changes

We've been going round and round on this since we got the new truck. So I'd love to hear from our community experts. For starters we were over and inch lower (top of ball to level pavement) with the Silverado then with the Tundra. Then I bought new, bigger tires. We're now ~3/4 of an inch lower then before. OK, so we needed to move the trailer to a new RV storage lot and figured we could make adjustments as necessary on the Reese (dual cam) hitch spring bar chains. After hooking up and inspecting (with the chains at the 5th link as before) the trailer looked just as recommended in the AS manual. Slightly elevated (at tongue) above level? It drove and felt perfect for the ~10 miles to the new storage place. I'm now about to upgrade the shocks and put a shell on the bed in January. Both of which may change my hitch ball height. Should I readjust hitch height everytime I change the truck? How critical is this? Is it better to make adjustments with the chains or move the ball up and down? It looks like the ball can go up or down at 1" intervals. Should I be measuring on the tongue vs. the ball? Thanks in advance for your help,
KL
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Old 12-17-2003, 06:55 PM   #2
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Being a bit high is less of an issue than being too low when it comes to ball height. If you are standing out side the truck from a distance there is a piece of the equation you are missing. The weight that you and Mrs. Silverback add to the truck. This will depress the suspension some too.

Best way to get it close is to set the ball height with the truck loaded as you have it when you tow. If it felt fine I would not sweat it if it was me.
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Old 12-17-2003, 07:02 PM   #3
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Why????

The shocks should make no difference at all to the height of the truck. The weight of the topper should also be minimal, therefore the Silverado should ride exactly as before, negating the requirement of readjusting links.

I agree with the previous post, adjust after you are normally loaded (assuming the Silverado is riding level), and you should not have to readjust often.
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Old 12-17-2003, 08:37 PM   #4
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hitch

The ball should be to 18 to 19 in from the ground with a normal load in the truck. Once set up no need to readjust the ball.

Before you hook up to the A/S measure the distance from the ground to the rear wheel well on your truck. Once hooked adjust for the same distance wheel well to ground with the Reese as before hook up.

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Old 12-17-2003, 09:55 PM   #5
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One process I have seen detailed:

1. Set unit on reasonably level ground

2. Level unit by measuring from ground to frame at front and rear...equal distance

3. Measure from ground to top of ball receiver on unit

4. Set tow vehicle ball height 1" higher

5. Measure distance to ground on reference points front and rear of tow vehicle (bumper...wheel well)

6. Hook up and adjust bars to give same compression of measurement on front and rear reference points on tow vehicle

Works for me.

Comments please,
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Old 12-17-2003, 10:01 PM   #6
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Lightbulb duh!

Dennis, You're right of course. The shocks certainly won't change the ball height (I did realize that myself shortly after posting... really). I'm learning here. The AS spec sheet says hitch ball height is 18" and that should be my guideline with a normal load.
Thanks!
Ken
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Old 12-21-2003, 08:29 PM   #7
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ride height change

Ken: Some of those performance gas charged shocks will raise the ride height a small amount. My IAS shocks exert about 75 lb each but with the 3/4 Suburban they didnt raise it much. It rides like a truck anyway.

Regarding the leveling of the trailer, my understanding is that with independent suspension like the A/S it is important to have the trailer ride level, so both axles share the load, both for braking and for even wear. Why not find a level patch of parking lot, load everything like it will be, and adjust as needed. Better safe than sorry.

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Old 12-22-2003, 02:09 AM   #8
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Ahem....my Bilstein shocks raised my 1/2 ton Suburban almost 1" in the rear, and 3/4 in the front. I did have to re-do the hitch setup after changing the shocks from the GM stock ones to Bilstein HD.
The rear of the truck does not depress as much with the new shocks either. There is definitely a healthy amount of lift on the axle due to the gas charge inside the shocks.
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Old 12-22-2003, 08:26 AM   #9
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Didn't notice a change in ride hight when I put the Bilsteins on my 3/4 ton burb. Noticed a HUGE improvment in ride and handling (had wore out factory). I have a older Suburban and it looks like it sits tail low even when it's dead level. I wouldn't have minded the rear coming up a inch.


With a new vehicle I would expect some settling of the spring the first year so expect to adjust ball hight. If it's a nice fberglass shell your putting on the can weigh as much as 200lb and with gear in the bed it will probably sit 1/2 inch lower. .
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Old 12-22-2003, 06:22 PM   #10
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Uwe, What method did you use to adjust the hitch? Did you raise/lower the ball or change the spring bar chain link (depending on your hitch)?
Thanks,
Ken
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Old 12-30-2003, 01:32 PM   #11
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Ken,
I tried lowering the ball, but the ball height went too low
So I raised it back up and lengthened the chain one link.
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Old 12-30-2003, 03:25 PM   #12
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With the Reese dual-cam, you also need to angle the hitch head backward some. the instructions are available on Reese's web site. when you tilt the head back, that will lower the ball height some, as well. So with a combination of raising/lowering the head in 1-inch increments on the draw-bar, and tilting the head back, the actual ball height is infinately adjustable. (well, almost).
Anyway, Reese's recommendation is to start w/ the ball 1" higher than its intended height with the trailer hooked up, then put one of the spring bars in place on the head, and tilt the assembly back so that the end of the spring bar is within a certain height of the ground. But this is just a starting point. more adjustment may be necessary to get everything right. I found that on my truck, the weight really wasn't being "distributed" properly unless I had the head angled back further than the instructions indicated, giving the bars more leverage. The front of the truck was not lowering at all; only the back. with the spring bars attached, the rear end of the truck settled less...front stayed the same. With the head angled back more, both the front and back of the truck lowered...back came down just a little more than the front. Of course, now the trailer's coupler was too high
, so I had to lower the head one more notch. that seemed to do the trick.

The trailer should ride level, so its weight is evenly distributed between both axles, and your tow vehicle.
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Old 12-30-2003, 05:37 PM   #13
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Chuck,
I have the ball tilted back as well. I noticed a definite improvement in how the combination tracked after tilting the ball back a ways, aside from the obvious weight distribution advantages.
When the ball mount is tilted backwards, then the spring action of the bars aid in straightening out the trailer/tow vehicle at the pivot. It now acts like a dynamic sway control, meaning that the tongue wants to return, or stay , in the straight position.
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Old 12-31-2003, 08:54 AM   #14
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Well, to be honest, I haven't noticed much difference since I finally got my setup straightened out...probably due to the fact that there's a dual-cam involved. even with it setup "wrong", the way I had it the first year, I never noticed a lick of sway. In fact, one early trip, my father-in-law was following right behind me, and that was his comment when we arrived at our destination: that the trailer looked very stable the whole way, stayed right with the truck, didn't wiggle around at all. some of that I'm sure is due to there being a good tight squeeze on the a-frame from the spring bars. But add to that, the locking cams, and the sucker really can't move.

And this was with a straight draw bar (no "drop") with a head that was welded in place, appropriate for towing with a sedan. (po's used a crown-vic to tow this unit for some time; I imagine this hitch was set up for that). The only reason I ever used it was because the POs last tow vehicle was an F250, comparable in height to my truck, and this is what they used. So, naive me, I figured that it would be ok, and that close enough would be "close enough".

The main difference that I notice now w/ a proper hitch is that the truck doesn' t "feel" like its working as hard. Its difficult to describe. but I've caught myself going too fast more than once. The braking is better, too. more smooth. Before, the compromised setup I had made the truck AND the trailer ride just a little bit nose-high. The trailer's brakes were especially "grabby"; very prone to locking, particularly on gravel roads. I was always adjusting the brake controller, and it always seemed as though I had either too little, or too much. I finally saw what was happening this past spring, when I was turning sharply to the left. (moving very slowly, <5mph, in an empty parking lot) I heard the tire's squeal as they locked, and because of the tight turn, I could actually see the trailer's wheels, and it was only the front wheel that was locking, because there wasn't enough weight on it. That's when it finally dawned on me that I had to buy a new hitch.
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