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Old 03-06-2007, 09:18 PM   #1
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Weight distribution set-up

How should I set up the bars and chains on my weight distribution hitch? We've been towing the trailer on short trips without a weight distribution hitch, (we have a 2" rear lift kit and coil over shocks so we don't have any rear sag).
I just bought a w/d hitch and tried it out this week. I adjusted the bars/chains almost to the last link, it seemed to make the front end light on steering, did I have the bars adjusted to tight, (i hadn't noticed this w/o the w/d hitch)? Also the trailer seemed to sway more with the w/d hitch.
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1979 Airstream 29' (remodeled for wheel-chair use, also weighs less than stock). International trim.

1992 Buick Roadmaster Wagon, 5.7L V8, 5000# tow package, aux trans cooler, frame hitch/brake box, rear coil over shocks, 10k W/D hitch. tuned exhaust.
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:53 PM   #2
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There are numerous posts in the past on this subject. Look for the blue bar near the top of this page and SEARCH for "adjustment of the weight distrubution hitch."

Basically, here is a short course. The whole idea is to transfer some of the weight to the front of the tow vehicle. Measure the distance from the wheel wells to the ground at the front and back of your tow vehicle. Write those numbers down. Adjust your hitch. Pick any link or adjustment and measure again. The idea is to see the front wheel well begin to lower and the rear wheel well to raise in relation to the ground. Ideally, the tow vehicle and trailer should be in a near level position when properly adjusted. The weight distribution bars will also be almost in a level position and will clear the
A-frame of the trailer when fully tensioned so that they don't bind in a turn. Sometimes it is necessary to rotate or tilt the hitch ball backwards on the hitch by adding washers to the adjustment bolt. As the ball tilts backwards, the weight distribution bars will be tilted as well allowing you to put more pressure on the weight distribution bars with the adjustment chain links.

The weight distribution bars only provide weight transfer. They have nothing to do with control of sway tendencies. For that you need a friction sway bar with the unit you seem to have. There are various other types of sway control depending upon the type of hitch you purchase.

Now for the preaching and I pray you read and listen to what I am about to write. In your signature line you say you have a '79 Airstream 31' and that you are attempting to pull it with a Buick Roadmaster wagon with a 5000# tow package. My '82 trailer is a 31' and weighs 7200# lightly loaded and without any water in any of its three tanks. You should never exceed 80% of the tow vehicle's capacity, so you shouldn't be towing more than 4000# and here you are trying to tow potentially twice that. You also admit to doing it for short trips without ANY weight distribution. I am sorry, but towing your trailer with that tow vehicle is nuts and I hope I'm never on any road you decide to drive down. You are an accident waiting to happen. Your coil over shocks and 2" lift will have no effect once the jackknifing begins or when the light turns and you have to make a panic stop or when you drop a wheel off the pavement or when a truck with a van body passes you at speed. If anything, ANYTHING, goes wrong, you will wreck. I hope you take this advice and either get something else to pull or something else to pull it with.
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Old 03-06-2007, 10:05 PM   #3
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Need more info. Whose hitch is it? What weight bars? No sag without it and front light with it makes no sense. Which last link? top or bottom?
My F-250 has a "lift kit" on the rear. More load leveler. I fully deflate them before hooking up the trailer. This gives me the most transfer and stability.
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Old 03-06-2007, 10:08 PM   #4
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The coil over and the lift kit may even be adding to your problem and safety issues. I suggest you use the search function to gather information on safe towing setups. I know that I have seen several threads which pointed out airbags, lift kits, and helper springs can even damage a trailer. Good luck and stay safe.



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Old 03-08-2007, 07:31 PM   #5
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GStephens, I pray I'm never in the same state (of mind) as you. The trailer does not weigh 7000#. I had it weighed at (state) scales before I remodeled it, and after. She weighs 4200# loaded. The Buick wagon has min factory tow rating of 5000#, it also has a lower center of gravity than pickups, which most incidently have a tow rating of 5000#. What probably erks you is you just realized you over paid for whatever rolling wreck your towing with. Too much, probably, but the truth hurts.
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1979 Airstream 29' (remodeled for wheel-chair use, also weighs less than stock). International trim.

1992 Buick Roadmaster Wagon, 5.7L V8, 5000# tow package, aux trans cooler, frame hitch/brake box, rear coil over shocks, 10k W/D hitch. tuned exhaust.
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Old 03-08-2007, 08:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ball_Park145
How should I set up the bars and chains on my weight distribution hitch?...I just bought a w/d hitch and tried it out this week.
I can't give more specific info without knowing more about your setup, but I can give these hints...

1. As you realize, something is obviously wrong if it feels like you have less weight on your front tires instead of more. The point of a W/D hitch is to transfer weight off the rear wheels of the tow vehicle and onto the front wheels of the tow vehicle and the trailer wheels. For more info I would recommend browsing in the 'towing' subforum, searching there for posts by nickcrowhurst, and in particular checking out

http://www.airforums.com/forum...sis-19236.html

2. I strongly recommend getting either an Equal-i-zer or Reese dual cam anti-sway hitch. I have an Equal-i-zer and love it though others on the forum are equally attached to their Reeses. Either is head and shoulders above anything else - excepting of course a Hensley Arrow or a Pullrite which are different sorts of beasts altogether.

3. With my equal-i-zer WD bars in place, when I lower the trailer onto the ball the trailer just looks like it is settling down on the bars - but depending on the rear end of your truck it may not look any different to you. My last (and somewhat stupid) suggestion is that if it really looks/feels like nothing is happening at the 'highest' setting for your hitch...maybe it is really the lowest one.
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Old 03-08-2007, 10:16 PM   #7
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Whatever!
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Old 03-08-2007, 10:29 PM   #8
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After careful consideration.

You get less front end weight the tighter the chains?

Easy, the ball mount is mounted upside down in the receiver.




Simple oversight,

They really should put arrows on those things.
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Old 03-09-2007, 05:53 AM   #9
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I used to tow my 1967 26-foot Airstream with a 1976 Ford Custom 500 four-door sedan, using the classic Eaz-i-Lift weight-transfer system and sway bars. I estimated my loaded trailer weight at 4500 pounds. It towed like a dreamboat, without sway. I could have used more power going up steep grades with my 351 cid , two-barrel carb engine, but I always made it to the top without problems.

In the early years, combos featuring Airstreams and sedans/station wagons were used all over the country. With the weights you stipulated for yours, I think your station wagon should do just fine. Just follow the directions for properly adjusting the weight-transfer hitch, brake controller and anti-sway system, and drive reasonably, and it should work just fine. Mine did.
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Old 03-09-2007, 07:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ball_Park145
I had it weighed at (state) scales before I remodeled it, and after. She weighs 4200# loaded.
That trailer would have had a factory weight of about 4,900 lbs without the awning and propane. What did you remove to lose over a thousand pounds? Did you eliminate much of the interior to create room for a wheelchair?
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Old 03-09-2007, 08:19 AM   #11
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Okay, Okay...hopefully everyone has cooled down a bit.... now I will throw my two cents worth in....

Ball Park, I will (somewhat) take your side on this and here's why....

There has been several threads here regarding Classic Cars, and '60s and '70s cars and Station Wagons as tow vehicles for our Airstreams. Kindly refer to any of these topics on the "search" button...pretty interesting stuff....

I might question the weight of your '79 31 also, as I was also under the impression that the 31's of the 70s to early 80's were in the 5500# to 6500# range dry.
Matter of fact, i just referred to the latest Airstream Sales brochure I have...dated 1973, and the 31' Sovereign Double was listed as 4990# dry.

I have been told that as the later 70s and early 80s came, Airstream was using more and more oak trim, and really spicing these rigs up inside, making them as rich and sumptuous as a house inside, and that some of the larger Excellas of the mid to late 80s were over 8000#.

You said you "did some remodeling" after you weighed your trailer....did you add some weight?? How large of a water tank and a "honey" tank do you have?? Water weighs in at a tad over 8# a gallon, so a quick 30 gals adds up to an easy extra 240# up at the tongue. Do you EVER pull your Airstream with ANY water in the tank??? I would surmise that the average couple will pack at least 500# or more of "stuff" in their trailer at any given excursion... Try to itemize this all....even a couple cases of beer weighs in at almost 10 # !!!! haha!!

Don't mistake what i am saying here as criticism of your wagon...I think it is a very cool idea.... I come from the "old school" of Airstream towing, and was an "Airstream/WBCCI Brat" from the time I was 8 yrs old, until 15 when my Grandparents sold their Airstream due to their failing health. (1969 to 1976) Back then in the late 60s to mid seventies, 90% or more of the folx used BIG cars for TVs. The BIG Caddys, Lincolns, Chrysler New Yorkers, Mercury Marquis, Olds 98s, Chevy Caprices, all with the heavy trailer tow package from the factory, with the biggest motors, trans coolers, and overload shocks or air shocks. Don't EVEN get me started on some of those big ol' cool Woody Wagons of the 60s now!!! haha!! They all did a FINE job too....

Honestly, the percentage to people using trucks was like 5 to 8%. The large truck tow vehicle of choice, as I remember was the very novel, very utilitarian, but really "bufugly" International Travelall. Remember them??? HUGE, suburban-like Station Wagon, hardly any of em had a/c, or ANY insulation in em but they lasted forever. (Gee, i will probably get a dozen private "hate mail" PMs from IH guys now!!!

Me, i have a 1969 23' Safari Twin, Single Axle... The 69 book says it weighs in at 3860# with a 420# tongue weight. I am now outfitting my 1977 Lincoln Town Car with a 460 4V engine to pull this trailer. Horsepower to weight to wheelbase ratio, it is probably comparable or better than a F250 with a V 10. (plus the lack of a payment book is really a PLUS!!)

But in summation, I would say that your Roadmaster Wagon is right at the very absolute limit of towing capacity for a 31' Airstream. The 350 V8 is also a little small....

Me, i have the "tried and true" Reese WD hitch system, and am very curious as to how much, if any at all I will experience rear end sag on this Lincoln when hooked up to my trailer. I have not done this yet, with my TV. The Airstream manual, and Reese books and qualified techs say that if I "cinch up" on the bars properly, and everything is according to "Hoyle", that i should be level. The theory of the WD bars is that the more you "cinch up" on the chain links, the more tension on the bars, and the more weight transfer you will get to the front end of your car. We'll see..... because many have told me that overload or air shocks are most certainly NOT the way to bring up the back of your TV.... your shock mounts are not made to handle all that extra weight. Remember, for every # of weight you put on your "coil over" or air shocks, you are taking that same weight OFF of where it oughta be..on the SPRINGS. Use "Air Lift" brand air bag inserts for your rear coils...cheap...easy to install, and a much better and safer idea. Any reputable RV store will have an "Air Lift" Product Catalog. Most likely $150 to 175 for the pair.

Well, okay, that is my own .02 cents worth.....and it is worth every single penny that you paid for it!! haha!!

Let us know what you do here......
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And in my sleep.....Just like my Grandfather....
Not screaming, kicking and in a state of panic,
like the other passengers in his car were......
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Old 06-07-2007, 10:00 AM   #12
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My 2 cents

Ok, here's my 2 cents on the tow vehicle and WD/anti sway stuff.

WD- Go to a dealer and look at a vehicle that was built for towing, not one that is rated for towing. On a 3/4 or 1 ton truck, the rear end is higher than the front by the virtue of the rear suspension planning on having a load toosed it's way. These vehicles are also very nose heavy, a 7500 lb version carrying as much as 4500 lbs on the front wheels. I can't come up with a technical reason to put weight distribution on such a rig. Why would I want to twist even more weight to a nose heavy vehicle plus put several hundred lbs of force on my fragile trailer frame. I say use WD to balance the rig (50/50 weight split on the tow rig seems resonable Farrari brags on 50%/50%) and to avoid rear squat if you need it. My old 1/2 ton 'Burb needed WD, my 3/4 Dodge -no way.

Anti sway- sure, go for it, but as a seperate issue from WD.

I'm not trying to toss flames but come on, blanket staments about all combos with an Airstream must use WD or the operator is a wacko?
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Ok, here's my 2 cents on the tow vehicle and WD/anti sway stuff.


Anti sway- sure, go for it, but as a seperate issue from WD.

I'm not trying to toss flames but come on, blanket staments about all combos with an Airstream must use WD or the operator is a wacko?

The operator can't be "wacko" when they and their passenger are dead!!

1966 Cravelle, towed with a 1/2 ton truck. Towed with a ball only.

Lost control at about 45 mph, and killed them both.

I know, I settled the insurance claim with their heirs.

A friction type sway control, is of little value, when used "without" a weight distributing hitch, and even when used with a WD hitch, it's nothing but a motion restricter. Might as well use a "shock absorber."

A good sway control, is supposed to help return the rig to a straight line, not to keep it in whatever configuration the trailer may be from the tow vehicle, or exert any forces keeping you from returning to a straight line.

Andy
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:33 PM   #14
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I think your tow vehicle is cool. But, even with my limited knowledge of towing camping trailers, I can say this much: with the size trailer you are towing, you will need both weight distribution and anti-sway control of some sort. I'm basing this on the length and presumed weight of your trailer and nothing to do with your current tow vehicle. I tow with a 3/4 ton truck. Some might think that is over kill. But, even so, I towed my trailer about 7 miles (from one side of town to the other) without my weight distribution bars (also provider of my sway control) and never got up to 55 MPH for more than 3 miles and I had porpoising at every dip in the road. I didn't have sway, but I didn't experience any semis or heavy winds either. Nor did I make any emergency maneuvers.

You may be able to tow your Airstream without weight distribution and you may be able to tow it without sway control, but it won't be very much fun.
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