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Old 10-20-2015, 09:15 PM   #1
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1964 22' Safari
Sacramento , California
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Weight Distribution and Sway Control on Vintage Airstream

A friend just bought a '54 Flying Cloud that's not even 3000 lbs. and my '64 Safari is just 3100 lbs. The tongue weights on these trailers is 3-400 pounds depending upon how loaded the trailer is. I've got an Eaz Lift on mine that's rated for 800 lbs. and it's always seemed to work. It came with a previous trailer that was even lighter so I just installed it on the Airstream when I bought it and until now had never looked at the numbers on it to see how over rated it is. Well now I've been assigned the task of telling my friend what to buy for his truck and I'm at a loss. I've read a lot of the threads here and they talk a lot about how great the Reese is, or the Hensley, or the Husky. There's even a thread dedicated to those that love the Equalizer. My problem is it seems most all of these hitches are made for trailers that have at least twice the tongue weight. The guy at the trailer shop didn't seem to think this was an issue and maybe it isn't, but it just seems to me that putting a pair of spring arms in place rated at 800 lbs. to hold up a tongue of less than half that weight can't be good for the Airstream or the ride in the TV. Any thoughts, comments, or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 10-20-2015, 09:49 PM   #2
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1972 Argosy 20
Snoqualmie , Washington
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Ha! Man did you open a can of worms.
So here's my opinion, and very shortly you'll have a bunch of other opinions. First, you don't say what your tow vehicles and tongue weight ratings and tow ratings are. I personally tow a trailer that weighs about 3500lbs with a tongue weight of roughly 400lbs. I say roughly because these numbers depend on how I load my trailer, but they are within 100lbs trailer weight and 50lbs tongue weight. My TV has ratings of 5000lbs and 500lbs respectively. I tow without a WD Hitch, and without an anti sway bar. No problems, ever. YMMV.
That said, if the tongue weight of the trailer is 400lbs, why would you need an 800lb WD hitch set up? From what I understand reading the forum posts on this subject, you're potentially making your set up too ridged. But then, what do I know?

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Old 10-20-2015, 10:49 PM   #3
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1964 22' Safari
Sacramento , California
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My tow vehicle for the 3100 lb. dry weight Safari is usually a '64 Lincoln with a factory rated towing capacity of 5000 lbs. Sometimes it's a '99 Dodge Durango with a factory towing rating of 4700 lbs. I always thought it was funny that the Lincoln is rated higher than the Dodge. Anyway, if I don't use the weight distributing hitch, it brings the Lincoln way too low. I never tried it with the Dodge.

My buddy who is towing the '54 Flying Cloud has a fairly new Dodge 2600 pickup which I'm sure has plenty of capacity. Honestly, I'm really not sure he needs anything beyond a 2" ball but he's worried about sway etc.
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:51 PM   #4
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1964 22' Safari
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My main worry about my set up is as you said, it may be making my rig too ridged.
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:57 AM   #5
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1968 22' Safari
Austin , Texas
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You guys better figure this out soon because I plan on towing my 3800 lb Safari with a 400 lb tongue weight around soon, and I want to get it right.

Currently, I too have the EZ lift and an anti sway bar installed.

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Old 10-21-2015, 10:56 AM   #6
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Greenwood , Mississippi
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My opinion:
Take it for what it's worth-
No weight distribution needed- the trailer most likely does not compress the suspension of the tow vehicle.
Sway control only- the straight brake shoe type that mounts to small balls on the hitch head and trailer tongue-
The EazLift in the post above mine works well. The more chain links the more weight distribution- the less chain links the less weight distribution. Tighten the brake shoe sway control thingy all the way then back off 1/4 turn-
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:58 AM   #7
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1957 26' Overlander
san francisco , California
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I have an 18' AS and this is what you want. It has the best system available for anti sway and weight dist. and is not too heavy duty.

Reese Light Duty Weight Distribution System w Sway Control - Trunnion - 4,000 lbs GTW, 400 lbs TW Reese Weight Distribution 66557

If you think you don't need it think again.
You only need it "when you need it"'

Safety when towing in the mountains especially is critical.
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Old 10-21-2015, 01:01 PM   #8
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1964 26' Overlander
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Just towed my 64 Overlander to and from Antique show( 5 hour one way). I have a '06 Yukon and only a 2 inch ball. All well
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Old 10-21-2015, 02:25 PM   #9
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Biloxi , Mississippi
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I used the Andersen system on my Bambi II primarily for sway control. It had so little tongue weight that weight distribution was not really necessary.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 10-22-2015, 01:09 AM   #10
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1964 22' Safari
Sacramento , California
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I just looked at the Eaz Lift spring arms I've been using. They are actually 1000 pound bars. I also just bought a pair of used 550 lb. bars off eBay for $99. Hopefully that will soften my ride a bit and maybe I won't have rivets popping quite so often.
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Old 10-22-2015, 09:02 AM   #11
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1966 24' Tradewind
Placerville , California
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Hi, Mr, '64 Lincoln, you and I have 'chatted 'before on the FB NorCal group. Love your Lincoln. Now to relate my set-up which may change many opinions. My TVs are a big '71 Buick convertible and '69 Olds Ninety Eight. Both are powerful 455s with the Buick's recent overhaul placing it at 463. Plenty of towing for our '66 Trade Wind. One would argue that's plenty with that including that both cars are heavier than the TW's dry weight of 4100 lbs. However both cars have a long overhang (5 plus feet from rear axle ) plus the need to ratchet the tow ball further out from the rear bumper because the gas filler is located behind the rear license plate. The main purpose of the WDH is the DISTRIBUTE some of the tongue weight from on the rear of the TVs to it's front wheels. The tongue of my Trade Wind hitched directly to the rear of my cars pushes the bumper just inches from the ground. Some are surprised that I use 1000 lb bars. But they 'work for me'.

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Neil and Lynn Holman
FreshAir #12407

Kirk Creek, Big Sur, Ca. coast.

1966 Trade Wind

1971 Buick Centurion convertible
455 cid

1969 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight
455 cid
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Old 10-22-2015, 09:06 AM   #12
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Two very cool tow vehicles....^^^
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Old 10-22-2015, 10:21 AM   #13
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1964 22' Safari
Sacramento , California
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Well, it looks like I'll be using the 1000 lb. bars a bit longer. The guy from eBay just wrote me that he didn't actually have the 550 lb. bars and he refunded my money. I'm guessing Mr. Fresh Air, aka Neil would approve. It just seems like overkill to me but then maybe not.
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Old 10-22-2015, 12:34 PM   #14
Tom T
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Orange , California
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We have a similar 1960 Avion T20 3000-3500# wet/loaded with 542 HW/tongue wt. (relatively high mostly due to the Cub's wt. + a Tekonsha RF brake controller box mounted on the A-frame, & the PO's 2x 30# LP tanks & larger fresh tank over the A-frame. We've rented Nissan Pathfinders & 1/2 & 3/4 tom pick-ups so far (currently looking for an `06-10 Cayenne S for our own TV)

So our rig is similar situation to yours & ultimate set-up should be similar - whether you end up finding less than 800# bars.

We've been using the "Baby Hensley" Cub for 2-3 years now & it has 600# springs (you want to try to get spring rating close to your HW but more & not too much over, but that will depend on what the WD mfgrs. offer).

The Cub's spring adjustment jacks then tweak in the exact adjustment for distribution as needed for the specific TV + TT combo - other WD hitches use the chains for that fine tuning.

Just as important - maybe more - is the sway control features - particularly with shorter wheelbase TVs &/or single axle TTs. Hensley & ProPride combine them into one unit, others do that or as an add-on.

I strongly recco that you get something for anti-sway, if not on your current WD hitch.

Bottom line is that if you get the closest springs available for your needs - & 2x is apparently okay according to most WD hitch mfgrs & users - then adjust so your TV is as level as it is unhitched - then you should be okay & safe.

Hope this helps some!

Tom T (janabanana48's other half )
Orange CA
1960 Avion T20, #2 made, Hensley Cub, TV tbd- looking for 08-14 Cayenne S
1988 VW Vanagon Westfalia CamperGL (Orig Owner)
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