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Old 07-17-2019, 02:30 PM   #1
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Apopka , Florida
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Bent A Frame?

So we have had our 2013 25'FC FB twin for 2 years now. We love it. We tow with a 2017 Toyota Tundra. When we purchased it, I went to a local hitch specialist that set us up with a Curt Trutrack (Equalizer knock off). All towing experiences have been great. After a trip across the country last year, I would notice that the back end of the truck seemed to sag more. Upon returning home, and going to the hitch people to check things over it was discovered that some bolts were loose on the hitch head and that one of them was bent. They replaced it all and set it back up. After more towing, and weighing, I still wasn't happy with the weight transfer. About a month ago, I noticed the front baggage door is hard to close. I thought it was that way because I replaced all of the seal around the door. Fast forward to today and I returned to my hitch people to see if we could dial this in better. He was able to adjust it and raise the back end of the truck by 3". It feels really solid when towing, no sway, but now the bars are really hard to lift up and the baggage door is really tight when the WD is engaged.

After speaking to Andy at CanAM RV, he suggests the A frame is probably bent. That sounds terrible. Does this happen? Is this some type of catrostophic thing and my trailer will never be the same?

It's frustrating because hitches are not my area of expertise and I rely on what other experts tell me.

Any thoughts?
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:08 PM   #2
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bent A frame

Andy knows his stuff.

3Ē lift / recovery on the rear axle is extremely aggressive amount of WD and torque being applied to the A-Frame, hitch receiver and vehicle frame. Normally you see 3/4Ē - 1 1/4Ē recovery which is more typical on a 1/2 ton truck.

It sounds very plausible that you over compensated for a heavy tongue weight and put too much stress on the A Frame. That doesnít mean the trailer is toast - Iíve seen posts here on the forum where this has happened on the 25í front bed with storage up front as the shell is not as robust when there is a door behind the LP tanks.

An auto body shop will be able to determine if the A-frame is bent.

If it is, it might be something that can be corrected, or simply reinforced so the bending does not progress. You may want to start looking at what your insurance policy covers and what it does not.

You should weigh your tongue. If itís north of 900lbs you might consider either cutting weight by moving batteries, stuff under the bed, spare tire, etc elsewhere to reduce tongue weight..... adding air bags to the rear suspension of your tundra or perhaps more optimally moving to a 3/4 ton truck with more / heavier leaf springs in the rear.

Others with this truck / trailer combo will weigh in Iím sure
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:20 PM   #3
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Can't say that I have ever heard of an A-frame getting bent through "normal" use, especially on a trailer this new (ie., without structural degradation due to rust and corrosion).

That being said, there are positions you can put your weight distributed connection into that could put an extreme amount of stress on your A-frame, for example, driving through a ditch, in which case the front of the truck ends up pointed uphill, while the tail of the trailer is trying to point uphill in the opposite direction.

But...in the extreme case descibed above, I would think any deformation to the A-frame would happen in between the point where the ends of the bars connect to the A-frame and the ball--don't see how this would affect the closing of the front hatch.

Seems like if you have a bent A-frame it should be pretty easy to observe.
Do you see any deformation in the shell in the front of the trailer, especially around the front hatch? Can you lay a (lengthy) straight edge along your A-frame and onto your frame rails and see any misalignment/deformation?

The fact that the door is harder to open when the WD is engaged sounds like something (ie., your frame/A-frame) may be broken and actually able to move. Have you had a look underneath the trailer before and after hooking up to see if you have a frame rail bulging through the belly-pan?

Can you post a pic of your set-up?

good luck!
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:28 PM   #4
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Hi

Have you weighed the rig on a CAT scale? If not, that would be on the list of things to do. There are a number of threads on the forum about the "three pass method" of doing this. It's dirt cheap and pretty quick. You *do* need to be fully loaded for a trip (including passengers) for it to make sense.

I would also put checking the A frame for cracked welds or other damage on the list. It's not real likely, but it *is* possible.

Does your Tundra have a tow package on it? What is the max tongue weight it will handle? Also what it the "payload" number on the sticker on the door post? Overloading the TV may be part of what's going on ( or maybe it isn't ....). Remember, the hitch counts as part of the load along with the trailer.

Once you have the numbers on the Tundra - how much stuff are you loading into it? Do you pretty much always do the same thing? If you are like us, you load in a wide range of ways. Best to get weights on several typical loadings if that's the case.

As far as unrecoverable damage ... there is no such thing. There's just bigger or smaller hits to somebodies charge card. My guess would be that unless there is damage to the A frame from road debris, it's pretty likely your charge card will be hit ( vs your insurance ).

You do want to get to the bottom of this. It's not something you want to ignore. Get some real data on loading and capacities. See what that tells you.

Bob
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:54 PM   #5
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What is the rating of the load bars? Also maybe the truck needs some bigger springs or air assist. What is the tongue weight of the trailer? Not good to try to lift the truck using the trailer hitch. If you have load bars close to your tongue weight and the truck is sagging, maybe it is the truck. You don't want to remove all load off the truck. Remember a truck has almost no load on the rear axle running empty. It needs some to be stable.



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Old 07-17-2019, 04:56 PM   #6
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I have seen pictures of a lot of receivers flexed upward and bowed trailer A-frames from using too much bar tension on RV forums. The most given advice is to increase bar tension and add more weight to the front axle.
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Old 07-17-2019, 09:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Profxd View Post
I have seen pictures of a lot of receivers flexed upward and bowed trailer A-frames from using too much bar tension on RV forums. The most given advice is to increase bar tension and add more weight to the front axle.
Really?....got any bowed A frame pictures? Don't recall any myself.

Receivers flexed upward...on the TV?

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Old 07-18-2019, 03:10 AM   #8
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Really?....got any bowed A frame pictures? Don't recall any myself.

Receivers flexed upward...on the TV?

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Yes I do actually, one in particular stands out to me and posting it would single that person out so I wonít. They had loaded the bed of the TV and tried to use the WDH to raise it up. In doing so the trailer A-frame was bowed and the receiver flexed upward. Just google WDH and look at the images of some of the setups, some of which are on the hitch manufacturer website.
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Profxd View Post
Yes I do actually, one in particular stands out to me and posting it would single that person out so I wonít. They had loaded the bed of the TV and tried to use the WDH to raise it up. In doing so the trailer A-frame was bowed and the receiver flexed upward. Just google WDH and look at the images of some of the setups, some of which are on the hitch manufacturer website.
Ahh..it's all in the Cloud. 😂
TETO

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Old 07-22-2019, 02:30 PM   #10
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Just wanted to give an update. I visited Josam in Orlando today with my trailer in tow. They don't think there is really damage as much as the Curt Trutrack hitch is just putting too much pressure on the A frame. They recommend changing to a hitch with some chains, like a Reese hitch and using something to beef up the back end of the Tundra so that the hitch isn't doing so much work.
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Old 07-22-2019, 03:44 PM   #11
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The reason you use a weight distribution hitch is to restore weight to the steer axle. "Beefing up" the rear axle will keep it from squatting, but will not significantly change the weight on the steer axle. Adjust your WD hitch based on the weight on the steer axle, not the squat of the rear. If you restore the proper amount of weight to the steer axle and the rear end is still squatted, and your drive axle is within its ratings then maybe stiffening up the suspension will reduce it but the first problem to solve is steer axle weight.


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Old 07-22-2019, 04:04 PM   #12
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If the RE is still doing the squat with the proper weight transfer consider a stinger with the proper drop.
Un-hitched a level trailer coupler height should match the ball height on the TV. Hitch up and restore with WD.

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Old 07-22-2019, 06:27 PM   #13
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I too have never seen a bent "A" frame under normal use.


Many people over hitch their trailers. I have a 25er and I use 600lb bars. I have no sway. I've met many that tow with 3/4 ton trucks the same size Airstream with 1200lb bars. The ONLY way those will provide any sway control is if you crank them up many links. With 600lb bars I am on the 4th chain link and both trailer and truck are perfectly level.



I would get a second opinion. It's nearly impossible to accurately diagnose from hundreds if not thousands of miles away and some opinions can be misleading at best.



There are many that know more than I do, but my comments do come from over 25 years towing trailers both large and small.
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Old 07-22-2019, 09:15 PM   #14
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I have a 2013 25FB Twin. My hitch (EAZ-Lift with 1400 pound bars) was set up by Andy T. at Can-Am with a lot of WD dialed in. My front axle weight when WD is applied is heavier than when the trailer is not connected (i.e., I'm over 100% Front Axle Load Restoration).

When my WD is applied, I also cannot open the front compartment door. I also have trouble opening the interior cabinet doors under the twin beds. So clearly the frame is flexing. But I don't see anything broken.

We know that Airstreams flex when loads are applied. It's normal and expected to some extent. But to what extent??? How to know....

But we also know that Airstreams are hand built without precise manufacturing tolerances. I think my trailer was built with a too-tight front compartment door. It rubs a little even when the trailer is unhooked. So I have quit worrying about it.
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Old 07-23-2019, 03:11 AM   #15
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There you go, the consequences of using too much tension on the WDH. It doesn’t matter which type hitch you use, trying returning all that weight to the front is just wrong for more than one reason.
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Old 07-23-2019, 06:19 AM   #16
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Hi

The "easy" answer to this is to replace the TV with something more capable. Trade it in on something bigger. More rear axle built in means less trouble. It's a real good bet you are a bit on the heavy side of the ratings, even with WD.

If you *do* go the beef it up route, make sure you understand the frame structure and it's need for more support. Same thing with the axle it's self. Also understand the hitch to frame structure. Accept that changing springs also likely means changing shocks to get things riding right.

There's only so much WD can do easily. Past that point things get weird. When you get into the weird area, it's time to go with another TV ....

Bob
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Old 07-23-2019, 06:25 AM   #17
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A couple of thoughts. 1. The Trutrack has straight square bars, with no taper. They canít flex the way a tapered bar, like the kind with chains, is able to do. The damage may have resulted from going into gas stations and the like where angles are steep.
2. The bars should never be hard to connect. Use the tongue jack to lift the coupler and the back of the tow vehicle, so that you can hook up without straining.
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Old 07-23-2019, 06:37 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SSquared View Post
I have a 2013 25FB Twin. My hitch (EAZ-Lift with 1400 pound bars) was set up by Andy T. at Can-Am with a lot of WD dialed in. My front axle weight when WD is applied is heavier than when the trailer is not connected (i.e., I'm over 100% Front Axle Load Restoration).

When my WD is applied, I also cannot open the front compartment door. I also have trouble opening the interior cabinet doors under the twin beds. So clearly the frame is flexing. But I don't see anything broken.

We know that Airstreams flex when loads are applied. It's normal and expected to some extent. But to what extent??? How to know....

But we also know that Airstreams are hand built without precise manufacturing tolerances. I think my trailer was built with a too-tight front compartment door. It rubs a little even when the trailer is unhooked. So I have quit worrying about it.
What TV & TW?

I have never noted anyone advising MORE front axle weight than the TV alone weight... do you have TV limitations that require it?

1400lb bars?

With our 25 Classic, 1200lb TW, 2006 2500 Burb 8.1L...1000lb bars are able to move the needed weight.
860lb receiver wt with WD set.
560 to the FA
160 to the AS
720 moved

Bob
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:02 PM   #19
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Bob,

The TV is a 2010 GMC Yukon Denali (short version) AWD. Short answer: It just feels better with a heavier load on the front.

Longer story:

At first we used a Blue Ox with 1000 pound bars. The solo weight was 3080 front, 3040 rear. With WD set it went to 3060/3760 (total 6820). This setup worked but it didn't feel great and we had one worrisome sway situation.

So we extended our summer road trip with a stop at Can-Am in Ontario. They reinforced the receiver and installed the EAZ-Lift. Andy T. test drove and demonstrated it to us. The combination felt much more stable than before.

Unfortunately, I did not do a three-pass weigh at that time.

Andy told us there would be wear on the hitch that would cause a reduction in WD force, leading to a change in how the rig drove. And that we would have to shorten the chains to compensate. Later that summer we had shortened the chains by an inch.

At that point we did weigh the combination. The new TV numbers with WD were: 3240 front, 3720 rear (total 6960). (the car and the trailer both gained weight over this time, but that is an increase of 200 pounds on the front axle.)

Over the last five years, we have adjusted the chains in half-inch increments. A half inch adjustment changes the front axle weight by 60 to 80 pounds. That small change makes a noticeable difference in how the rig feels.
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Old 07-24-2019, 06:45 AM   #20
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Bob,

The TV is a 2010 GMC Yukon Denali (short version) AWD. Short answer: It just feels better with a heavier load on the front.

Longer story:

At first we used a Blue Ox with 1000 pound bars. The solo weight was 3080 front, 3040 rear. With WD set it went to 3060/3760 (total 6820). This setup worked but it didn't feel great and we had one worrisome sway situation.

So we extended our summer road trip with a stop at Can-Am in Ontario. They reinforced the receiver and installed the EAZ-Lift. Andy T. test drove and demonstrated it to us. The combination felt much more stable than before.

Unfortunately, I did not do a three-pass weigh at that time.

Andy told us there would be wear on the hitch that would cause a reduction in WD force, leading to a change in how the rig drove. And that we would have to shorten the chains to compensate. Later that summer we had shortened the chains by an inch.

At that point we did weigh the combination. The new TV numbers with WD were: 3240 front, 3720 rear (total 6960). (the car and the trailer both gained weight over this time, but that is an increase of 200 pounds on the front axle.)

Over the last five years, we have adjusted the chains in half-inch increments. A half inch adjustment changes the front axle weight by 60 to 80 pounds. That small change makes a noticeable difference in how the rig feels.
Thank's...that 'splains it. 👍
If you are comfortable with it, go camping.

I have never gone with more than unloaded FA weight, I may try and see how our rig reacts...I still am unclear on the recommendation and why works well for you. 🤔

Bob
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