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Old 11-22-2020, 09:18 PM   #1
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2019 25' International
Milwaukee , Wisconsin
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Eqaulizer not up to the Job?

I am looking for some feedback to help decide if switching out my equalizer hitch would gain appreciable towing gains. I am concerned after some alarming realizations of our actual weight, as measured on multiple runs through the Cat scales.



We have a 25 ft International that weighs in at 7300 lbs on the nose at the scale, the max for this trailer. More concerning is that the tongue weight weighed in at 1240 lbs, close the max rating for our F150 with the max tow package. Most concerning is that after weighing the tow vehicle with and without the trailer shows that of that 1240 lbs of tongue weight, 1040 lbs is being picked up by the rear axle and the front steer axle is 40 lbs lighter when the trailer is hooked up. No effective distribution of weight and seriously pushing or overloading the gawr of the rear axle. This is borne out in the driving experience, which feels like the trailer is spongy on the back and wagging the dog.



I know I have two problems. One is sheer weight and we need to figure out how to shed pounds as we are on the road full time now and probably just have too much stuff. But the other problem is that the equalizer is apparently doing no real distribution of weight between the front and rear axles of the tow vehicle. I'd like to solve that first. I've had it looked at and adjusted two times so far to no effect. I am reaching the conclusion that the weight rating of the equalizer (10,000 lbs tow max, and 1000lbs tongue weight max) is under what I need.



I know from reading these forums that there are a lot of strong opinions and brand affinity for certain hitches. But i would truly appreciate any input from those who have changed hitches, and whether you have empirically been able to identify an improvement in actual weight distribution. I am happy to invest in a new hitch (Hensley, Propride, Reese etc), if it actually can change the dynamics. Any real life input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 11-22-2020, 09:59 PM   #2
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The Equalizer hitch is one of the most popular for Airstreams and very effective for weight distribution. The 10,000 rated model is probably too little for your situation. I'm using a 12,000 model for a 27FB with 950 lb tongue weight with a F150. It tows the trailer well with sufficient sway control.

Go to the Equalizer website and enter your specs. Wouldn't be surprised if they recommend 14,000 bars. It also wouldn't hurt to see how you can manage your trailer loading to lessen such a heavy tongue weight.
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:00 PM   #3
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Hi,
I am an Equilizer user, but have no particular fidelity that brand. I would say though, that I went from towing on the ball to using the Equilizer hitch and there was a noticeable difference.



But...there are only about a dozen variables. In your case, it sounds like the tongue weight and the cargo weight in the tow vehicle may be the strongest influencers. Maybe you have exceeded your hitch's ability to distribute the weight, in which case, no matter what you move to, you may be disappointed. Start by getting a good value for cargo weight and tongue weight.



good luck!
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:10 PM   #4
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We use the Reese duel cam hitch...1000# on the hitch..2500 ram..does an excellent job..I looked at many equalizer hitches..and wasn’t impresseduh
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:56 PM   #5
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Since you're getting all but 40 lbs back to the front axle, which is more than 90% return, the Equalizer tension bars are doing their job very well. You should be returning between 50-100% and never more than 100%. So your issues are not with the WD hitch, it is doing exactly what is should.

1240 lb tongue is on the high side, especially for a F150, you should get that down to 1000-1050 so find 100-150 lbs of gear up front and move to the rear. Don't travel with anything in your grey or black tank. I would advise taking 200 lbs out of the trailer and moving it to the truck, but I'm guessing you have the truck loaded to near GVWR as it is and if so, just leave 200 lbs at home, I mean do you really need it? If you can't move the weight and get 200 out of the trailer, then you should be using a 3/4 ton.
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Old 11-23-2020, 06:07 AM   #6
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Picture of hitch from side showing bars. Take shot level and even not from above.

How many washers on the head to shank?
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Old 11-23-2020, 10:20 AM   #7
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Hi

The degree of weight distribution between front and rear axles is dependent on how *you* have the hitch adjusted. This is true for *any* WD hitch. If you want to put more weight on the front axle, adjust the WD on the hitch. That said, it seems to be pretty well set up right now. ( = you are within +/- 100 lb on the front axle ).

One thing to consider if going to a fancier WD hitch: Some of them weigh a bit more than what you have. They will make your real problem ( to much weight overall ...) worse.

Simple answer ( and likely the only full solution ) : Swap out the F150 for a F250 ...

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Old 11-23-2020, 10:41 AM   #8
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My Equalizer hitch functions quite well with my 3/4 ton Suburban. It is a 10000/1000 model. With my 1/2 ton Suburban, it isn't enough to level things. I will need 1200lb bars to. make that system work. My tongue weight with the Airkrafters Generator System under the front is roughly 1150lbs. Regardless of vehicle used though the sway control of this system is amazing to me. And, I feel it is super easy to set up/hitch up, in comparison with Reese dual cam HP or others. In reality, I learned that my 1/2 ton Suburban isn't really up to the task for this trailer, even though all the factory ratings fall into place. Towing this piggy works much better with my 3/4 ton, or even the F250SD Diesel that I have available to me. ll things considered, go with a heavier rated equalizer, or other heavier rated hitch system. A good friend tows with a Blue Ox and really likes it. It, also, is very simple to set up and hitch up.
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Old 11-23-2020, 10:57 AM   #9
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Curious what your complete F-150 setup is.....
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Old 11-23-2020, 11:03 AM   #10
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How did you establish the 1240# and 1040# tongue weights? Are you using the 3 pass measuring process:
First pass TV only
Second pass TV and TT with WD not engaged
Third pass TV and TT with WD engaged

Example:
Pass one - Front axle weight 3000#
Pass two - Front axle weight 2750#
Pass three - Front axle weight should be between 2875# and 3000#
Depending on your TV, the manual may direct how much weight to restore.

You can get a pretty good idea in your driveway by measuring the height of the center of the front fender opening from the ground in the conditions of the three passes above.

Setup should be done with any auto-levelling off. If left on it will keep the load on the rear axle too high.

TT should be level, if not adjust ball height with hitch shank.

With my older F-150 I went for full restoration. I can't get there with my Ram 2500 diesel.

If you are using a Sherline scale or other method to weigh just the trailer tongue weight at the ball you are missing the weight of the hitch head and bars.

As others have said, if your front axle weight with trailer connected and WD dialed in is within 40# of the weight without the trailer, the hitch is doing its job.

Just my opinion based on 7 years of towing a Safari 25 with a 2006 F-150 and then the Ram with a 10,000/1000 Equalizer that I modified to get the bars to 750# to soften the ride and then towing a Classic 30 slideout with the 2500, using a 12000/1200 Equalizer. In all cases the tongue weight was very close to the bar ratings, maybe a little over.
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Old 11-23-2020, 11:24 AM   #11
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I also use the Equalizer.
I never experience bad towing behavior, and I'm sure mine isn't adjusted perfectly yet.
I suspect most people aren't willing to make the adjustments. It's a chore to add a washer since the head has to come off the shank.
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Old 11-23-2020, 12:01 PM   #12
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How did you calculate tongue weight?
The proper calculation is to first calculate the weight of the trailer:
Gross Combined Vehicle Weight - Gross Weight of the Tow vehicle = trailer weight.

Now Tongue weight (calculated WITHOUT weight distribution bars connected):
Trailer weight - Trailer Axle weight = tongue weight

NOTE: Tongue weight is NOT the change in weight on the rear axles...
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Old 11-23-2020, 01:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblin View Post
How did you calculate tongue weight?
IMO, tongue weight has nothing to do with the tow vehicle.
You measure tongue weight by putting the trailer tongue on a scale, while the trailer is level.
Lately I've seen gadgets that have a post and dial. You set the tongue coupler on the post and the dial tells you the weight. Couple hundred bucks.
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:29 PM   #14
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I've found this scale to be indispensable. We've used it on four trailers with three tow vehicles involved over the past decade. Much more convenient that driving to the CAT scales.

I've used Equalizer brand WSDs on the last two Airstreams and have the utmost faith in the brand.

https://www.amazon.com/Sherline-LM-2...APPKF3XNY7FFE6
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:30 PM   #15
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Wink F-150 & Equalizer Hitch (International 25RBT)

TV = 2019 F-150 3.5L EB (Max Tow): I added 1500LB Sumo Springs. F-150 towing reviews stated that TV may "squat" under load so I proactively added springs. Contemplated AIR Bags but $$$$. -- Yes, "non-towing" ride did get a bit rougher BUT hooked up is fine & dealer did not have to go through hoops to get WD Hitch adjusted. I have not weighed combined yet...Note: I am new to all of this but current combination seems to work..
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Old 11-23-2020, 06:15 PM   #16
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The most accurate way to get tongue weight is at the CAT scale because geometry slightly affects the true while towing tongue weight. Weigh the vehicle disconnected, then the combination with no (zero) WD tension. The difference in the vehicle weight between the two passes is the true static tongue weight.
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Old 11-23-2020, 10:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
IMO, tongue weight has nothing to do with the tow vehicle.
You measure tongue weight by putting the trailer tongue on a scale, while the trailer is level.
Lately I've seen gadgets that have a post and dial. You set the tongue coupler on the post and the dial tells you the weight. Couple hundred bucks.
If you know how much the trailer weighs, and you know how much weight the rear axles are supporting (without weight distribution), then by simple subtraction you get the actual tongue weight of the trailer. Physics and math - that's what the 3 CAT scale weighings will tell you. This method will give you the exact same weight as if you put the trailer on the scale alone - no tow vehicle... with the tongue on one plate and the trailer axle(s) on the second plate. It's just simple math.
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Old 11-24-2020, 10:02 AM   #18
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Thanks everyone for all the feedback. The tongue weight I have is accurate, based on three trips to the scales and verified by the last dealer who looked at the hitch and put it on a tongue scale, its about 1240lbs in all cases. I agree with the input that that seems on the high side, both by the 10-15% rule of thumb and because it pushes the limits of the F150's tongue limit (a little over 1300 lbs).



I think my real question was whether, regardless of tongue weight, was the WD hitch working, and if not working properly could that be the cause for the poor towing feel I am experiencing. Secondarily, if it wasn't working, would replacing the WD hitch to a different brand buy me anything.



I had an interesting conversation with Todd at Equalizer yesterday. His thought was that the current WD set up may be over distributing to the front and that is causing the loose feel in back. He felt getting the front axles back to almost the weight without the trailer (ie 40 lbs light in my case) wasn't bad. He also suggested the hitch set up, which has been adjusted three times by AS dealers (and one Camping World tech) (I'll save you the saga), should be adjusted (back to what the original dealer had set up). Ideally he recommended the ball height should be raised, the L-brackets raised back to the original setting (sitting in the third and forth bolt holes) and no more than 6 washers (currently have 8). He did say higher rated bars could not hurt but felt pretty confident that getting the set up right with the current hitch could fix the issue.



I maybe went into this with the wrong goal. I read, including in the Airstream manual, that ideally with a WD system the total tongue weight should be carried 1/3 by the trailer axle and 2/3 by the tow vehicle, with the tow vehicle front and rear axles carrying 1/3 each. In my case with a 1200 lb tongue weight, that would mean 400lbs on the trailer axle and 400 lbs on each the front and rear tow vehicle axles. But Equalizer states the goal is to get to a weight on the front tow axles with WD and the trailer attached that is equal to the weight of the front axles with no trailer. This is also what Uncle Bob seems to have pointed out as a guide. What do you all use as a guide to set up/check your WD systems?


The related issue is overall weight, both in total and how it is distributed within the trailer and between the trailer and tow vehicle. Given the heavy tongue weight i have, i am considering putting more weight in the back of the trailer (judiciously) for the next leg. I am leery of doing that and causing sway issues, but here is seems like there is room for some front to rear weight distribution.



Thanks again for all the input. I'm two years into AS and only 2 months full time, but old enough to know how much i don't know, and how much faulty assumptions can lead to problems. Thanks again.
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Old 11-24-2020, 11:54 AM   #19
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keep after it...

Travelingman, good on ya for keeping after this until you are satisfied with the result. I struggled through a similar situation and found that looking forward to a trip was more anxiety than anticipation. Don't settle for "pretty good."
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Old 11-24-2020, 02:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travelingman View Post
Thanks everyone for all the feedback.

(snip...)

I had an interesting conversation with Todd at Equalizer yesterday. His thought was that the current WD set up may be over distributing to the front and that is causing the loose feel in back. He felt getting the front axles back to almost the weight without the trailer (ie 40 lbs light in my case) wasn't bad. He also suggested the hitch set up, which has been adjusted three times by AS dealers (and one Camping World tech) (I'll save you the saga), should be adjusted (back to what the original dealer had set up). Ideally he recommended the ball height should be raised, the L-brackets raised back to the original setting (sitting in the third and forth bolt holes) and no more than 6 washers (currently have 8). He did say higher rated bars could not hurt but felt pretty confident that getting the set up right with the current hitch could fix the issue.
The final ball height should have the trailer level or at most 1 1/4 inch low in the front so if your trailer front more than 1 inch low, then I agree with Todd. You mention being close to rear axle limit so the adjusted tension should not me much less than the current configuration so if part of the ball adjustment is to compensate for a bit more rear squat, I'd look at your axle weight and rating first. As for the "loose feel", you may want to describe it more clearly. If you mean steering is sluggish and unresponsive then reducing return to the front axle will not help with that. If you mean the truck is squirrelly and won't stay in a straight track but jumps back and forth, then relaxing WD is a good idea. If the trouble is the former, look at your front tire pressure compared to the load chart. they may be too low. You want your fronts at manufacturers recommended pressure for max payload or 2-3 psi low. If they don't provide a max setting, then set them from the tire load charts. You want the rear 5-7 psi over manufacturers recommendation or 5-7 over the load chart for the Axle limit.

Let us know what your tire pressures are/were and the tire type and load range.

Quote:
I maybe went into this with the wrong goal. I read, including in the Airstream manual, that ideally with a WD system the total tongue weight should be carried 1/3 by the trailer axle and 2/3 by the tow vehicle, with the tow vehicle front and rear axles carrying 1/3 each. In my case with a 1200 lb tongue weight, that would mean 400lbs on the trailer axle and 400 lbs on each the front and rear tow vehicle axles. But Equalizer states the goal is to get to a weight on the front tow axles with WD and the trailer attached that is equal to the weight of the front axles with no trailer. This is also what Uncle Bob seems to have pointed out as a guide. What do you all use as a guide to set up/check your WD systems?
the 1/3 guidance is a go by and it is also a bit misleading, because it refers to the amount returned to the front after the trailer is hitched, which should be about 1/3 of the base tongue weight depending on wheelbase. After WD is applied, the vehicle rear will be supporting 2/3 -3/4 of the tongue, the front 0 to negative 1/6 of the tongue (it should lose some weight to the rear axle) and the trailer should receive about 1/4-1/3 of the tongue weight. The exact numbers depend on the vehicle dimensions entirely so you can't do anything about the ratios.

The best guidance is to end up with the same front axle weight as without the trailer if your vehicle is not near max limits (100% return). If it is near max limit, then 50% at most should be returned. Use a sliding scale if you're between 75% and 100% of max limit. From there make fine adjustments to get best comfort and handling (most people won't bother with this step).

Quote:
The related issue is overall weight, both in total and how it is distributed within the trailer and between the trailer and tow vehicle. Given the heavy tongue weight i have, i am considering putting more weight in the back of the trailer (judiciously) for the next leg. I am leery of doing that and causing sway issues, but here is seems like there is room for some front to rear weight distribution.
You will not have issues with sway if you stay above 14% tongue so 7300*0.14 is 1,020 lbs. so if you weigh what you move, and the distance from the center of the axles and also the distance from the center to where you put it, just keep it less than 200*axle to tongue distance. So if you take 50 lb out of the front compartment and it is 14 feet and you put it in a rear compartment that is 7 feet behind that is 50*(14+7) or 1050 ft*lb and if your trailer tongue is 18 feet, your max target is 200*18 or 3,600 ft*lb so you have a ways yet to go.

Quote:
Thanks again for all the input. I'm two years into AS and only 2 months full time, but old enough to know how much i don't know, and how much faulty assumptions can lead to problems. Thanks again.
Most people here including myself have gotten way more from this site than we give!
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