Originally Posted by viking1
I suspect that if it was a good idea to turn off the the MB stabilization system when hauling a trailer the German engineers would advise to do so. So what kind of hitch works best for you?
That's complicated. Here's a summary of some of my experiences with hitches.
Our first hitch was a unique design purchased in 1957
. It was a custom made load-distribution hitch on a 1953
Studebaker towing a 27-foot travel trailer. It did the job but was very heavy. I used the same receiver-equalizer unit on a 1957
Chevy V8 towing a larger trailer home from Purdue upon graduation. Never saw one like it since.
Next was a Reese trunnion-bar load distribution on a 16-foot trailer. Easy to use for load distribution on a 1969 Mercedes 220. I had to design and build the receiver for the MB 220 myself. I could have used a sway-control device during our trip from Kentucky to California and back in 1976, due to having three bikes on the back of the trailer. The bikes probably made the tongue weight too low relative to the trailer weight. But the kids needed their bikes. I drove slowly in high winds.
Equal-i-zer system on a half-ton truck and 22 foot trailer. It worked well, but not easy to hook-up.
Equal-i-zer system, smaller version, on a 2010 VW Golf TDi towing a 17 foot Casita from Florida to various places in western mountains. I modified the EU Wesfalia hitch that I bought for the car by two changes: I added a center 2x2Ē center extension to the axle frame and bolted on a US-style 2x2 receiver at the ball mount of the hitch. This Equal-i-zer unit worked well most of the time but had a recurring problem of becoming too resistant to lateral movement, resulting in pulling the car to one side or the other. I frequently had to add oils to the hitch head pivots to correct that temporarily.
Reese trunion with cam sway control. This came with the Airstream when I bought it used in 2004. It worked well for easy hookups but not so much for sway control on my trucks. I used this with two different half-ton trucks and a short while with the ML350. The problem using it with the ML350 was that it needed heavier bars due to the shorter distance from ball to tow car axle. I could not find higher-rated trunnion bars to use with a 1987 model. Unlike the Blue-Ox, (see below) the old Reese cams never caused an erratic response from the ML350 stability system.
Blue Ox unit, which was the most difficult system to install and unhook. I did not like the performance with the ML350, so I sold it.
Eaz-Lift R3 unit. This seemed like a sensible design and my brother-in-law has one he likes. I turned off the adjustable sway-control since I did not believe I needed it. But mine was made with off-set brackets that made it less than ideal. It made too much noise and I think it was due to the change in bracket design, since my brother-in-law never complained about noise from his. The original ones had simpler brackets. I called the tech support people many times on my 1st trip west when using it. I did not need the adjustable sway control, so I sold that one after I found a new Reese I wanted to try.
Reese SC Weight Distributing kit. I bought a slightly-used Reese SC kit after looking at alternatives to the Eaz-Lift R3. While the Reese has non-adjustable sway control that works similar to the Equal-i-zer system, I decided I could keep the friction pads lubricated with grease and use it.
I have never noticed any erratic behavior from the MB stabilization system when using the Reese SC, so I am pleased overall. I like the way it works on my ML350. One draw-back is the tedious adjustment of the bars when unhooking from the brackets. A bar must be very carefully positioned on the bracket, or the bar lever tool will not go into the bracket groove. The old Reese chain and hook system was much easier to use.
I was not pleased with the add-on friction bars in the past and would not consider them for my ML350.
So, as you can see if you read this long answer, I have had mixed results with every hitch system I tried. My budget will never include funds for the highly regarded but heavy Hensley and similar hitches. In my experience, most systems that I have used have been adequate. If I were unhappy with my current Reese system, I would look at alternatives, including a new Reese cam system.
My current setup, which includes disk brakes on the Airstream since 2016, is stable enough to allow me to travel at higher speeds, when necessary. But not over the limit and not in erratic high winds!
By Godís grace, I have never had an accident or breakdown while towing a trailer.