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Old 07-05-2022, 06:43 AM   #1
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Equalizer Hitch: 25/27 FBQ Model Indents? :(

My front end "Dimple, Crease and Split" started the day I purchased the 2019 27 foot FBQ International... The Day I Drove OFF the Dealer's Lot with the newly installed Equalizer Hitch with 1000# Bars.

I have a 2016 F350 4x4 Diesel that: (Towed a 25 International and the current 27 FBQ International)

- Did not need Weight Distribution.

- Did not need Sway Control.

- I Did not KNOW this was going to be an issue., As previous Equalizer Hitches and owned previous Airstreams that performed well with Equalizer Hitches without any problems, what so ever.

- I COULD Tow on the Ball. Without Sway. Without Weight Distribution with my F350 Diesel 4x4 SAFELY and EASILY.

I towed a 2014 25 foot International using an Equalizer Hitch, 750# bars for Sway and Weight Distribution with a 5.7L Tundra 4x4. I needed Weight Distribution for the Tundra. Not one issue with the Front End 'Separation' issue, which I call Dimple, Crease and Split, now.

The combination of the F350 attached to an Equalizer Hitch and 1,000# bars, by a Dealer who should know better, is what I now believe was improper at the beginning. I did not know any better, as I was conditioned that I NEEDED Sway Control and Weight Distribution.

I did not NEED ANY Sway Control or Weight Distribution. The F350, and probably the F250, as well as similar 3/4 and 1 ton tow vehicles may already created damage to their FBQ 25 or 27 foot Airstream.

Airstream Jackson Center may need to ALERT owners of the FBQ's about this. They need to look into this issue. NOW I Know Better. A bit late for ME.

But for those towing with 1/2 ton tow vehicles, using WD and Sway control... may want to reconsider options to the Equalizer.

Dealers should be held responsible as well. Jackson Center must know what an Owner uses as a Tow Vehicle and coming into the Service Center for FIXES.

The FBQ models are structural WEAK with the Storage Compartment.

If you DO NOT HAVE DAMAGE ALREADY TO YOUR FBQ, using any kind of Hitch and WD and Sway Control... consider asking Airstream Jackson Center... what do they advise?

I stabilized my front end and have been Towing on the Ball easily and without any need for Sway or WD Systems. THAT is what is the problem. Have the dimples fixed... and THEY WILL reappear if the Front End is not FIXED.

It makes me upset knowing and figuring this out... thinking about this issue since reading about the Front End Separation issues on these TWO Airstreams.
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Old 07-05-2022, 07:37 AM   #2
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It baffles me that Airstream hasn't incorporated a fix for this in their design/production of new airstreams coming off the assembly line.

I would imagine even a Neanderthal could design structural upgrades in that regard so as to alleviate the condition.

But who am I right?

I have a 30 footer, rear twin, so no up front storage. I tow with an F250. I've always been afraid to run down the highway on the ball. I imagine the truck would do it safely, but I always hook up the equalizer setup. Just flat out afraid to do otherwise.
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Old 07-05-2022, 08:18 AM   #3
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We can all talk and talk about this subject at nauseam. Airstream is not gonna make changes until it hurts them financially. They have been profiting for many years now on people like myself and others who have paid them north of $2k to repair these issues. A lawyer needs to go after them for continuing to manufacture a product they know is defective. That's the issue, they know it and have continued to do it.
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Old 07-05-2022, 09:06 AM   #4
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I Believed... what everyone else was saying...

I believed what everyone was saying.

"You need Sway Control and Weight Distribution." ...and then a whole list of Expensive Systems to choose from.

I felt like majorairhead... I had to have it or... DIE on the Highway Towing.

Then... while on a trip... I removed the Sway Bars on the Equalizer. Drove 55mph... and then 60 and then 75mph in Utah. No SWAY with the 27FBQ International towing with the F350 Diesel 4x4 with Topper and supplies within.

I slowed down... and tried to test the SWAY by using the steering wheel. The Airstream, and now Oliver Elite II... NO SWAY. I increased speed... tested. No Sway. I drove a hundred miles, no Sway Bars... no Sway at any speed or cross wind.

I could not create Sway... even trying. The tow vehicle and trailer tracked just fine.

I was very apprehensive that I NEEDED WD AND SWAY CONTROL or would wreck, otherwise.

Not the Case for ME... and I am very orientated with Safety and am not a Risk Taker, by nature. Working for OSHA taught me 'stupid is what stupid does'. (People create their own actions and accidents. They happen by choice and not by accident. ...kind of philosophy.)

I tow on the BALL both the Airstream and Oliver. Without any concern for our traveling safety nor control issues, under all conditions one can imagine.

The Oliver is so stable, they had some chain system on a shank and 2" Ball that was so clunky... I bought a Weigh Safe WS4-2.5" Shank for the Oliver and it tows perfectly at 7,000# empty. While the International is 7600# empty (check me on that, this is what I recall).

The Shank on the Weigh Safe seems about 1.5 to 2 inches too short to try on the 27 foot 27FBQ, as I can swap out Ball of 2" to 2 5/16 in less than two minutes. I am... unsure that the shank into the F350 sleeve is a good fit due to shank length of the hitch.

I later read that Oliver also mentions this system as good.

This is important for the FBQ models with the storage compartment.

I never had the issue with the 23 or 25 foot Airstreams and with Tundras... needed Weight Distribution, but no Sway Control. They were stable, but sat down in the rear needing WD.

Now I know better to make some decisions by testing and thinking and watching my trailer and tow vehicle in all situations.

Airstream Jackson Center should make a list of FBQ repairs AND WHAT THE OWNER WAS TOWING WITH as well as the HITCH and Bar #. The information would help all of us...

You all know my combination. It does not make me a 'happy camper' learning this the hard way... but some may want reconsider and check out their situation. It may not work for some, due to experience or whatever... but I use the Equalizer Hitch and Shank... but do not need the Sway Bars that did not help me at all.

This is not for Everyone. I experiment. I worked for Safety in the Oil Patch and Lumbering in Wyoming and the majority of accidents are preventable by not understanding proper procedures.

Anyone with a FBQ with Indents... WHAT kind of Hitch and setup are you using and tow vehicle? Let me guess... most with a 1/2 ton and needed WD?

I have a 3 inch lift and 16 inch Michelin tires. Still Stable and Wonderful.
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Old 07-05-2022, 09:24 AM   #5
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My F250 has the 'camper package', which, as far as I can tell, adds a leaf spring to the rear. My payload is 3,111 pounds. Any time I put my trailer down on the ball the rear end squats......1/4 inch

I'm still scared to tow on the ball. Have I been brainwashed? Is it unfounded fear? I've read several folks on here over the years who swear they don't need sway control. Now, sway control, and weight distribution are different things.

I can easily see where the equalizer, set up the wrong, or right way, can throw some serious pressure around. Just using that big old hooked tire iron like bar slammer will tell a guy that one

I don't know.

Several years ago, I had a transport guy come pick up a 25 foot flying cloud of mine to take it to New Jersey for some warranty work. That's another story. However, he showed up with an F250 single cab and dropped that trailer right on the ball and headed out. I was shocked, certain my baby would be smashed to smithereens somewhere this side of Philadelphia on the PA turnpike. Didn't happen.
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Old 07-05-2022, 09:27 AM   #6
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Like the way you ask and answer your own questions. Airstreams having been building essentially the same semi-monocoque design for years. Wally Bynum and friends started towing them with cars, small trucks, with soft suspensions. Along come the behemoth double wheel rear axle trucks that will shake anything close to its rear axle to death due to its well documented “death bounce”.

Couple that bouncing rear end to a relatively fragile aluminum structure and it won’t be long before you get results. Tears, dimples, stress risers.

Don’t think Airstream isn’t aware. The Blue Ox fairly flexible WD hitch hopefully will mitigate these undo stresses caused by the stiffly sprung trucks.

I, like you, would like to see the survey. Not sure I am capable of predicting the results today.
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Old 07-05-2022, 09:27 AM   #7
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Your post says 25/27 FBQ which implies this is a problem with 25 FBQ models as well. We have a 2017 25 FBQ with about 30,000 miles using an equalizer hitch with 1000lb bars on an F150 and about 5,000 miles using a PP hitch and 1400lb bars on an F250. Zero issues but we do not have the front storage compartment and I did my own hitch setup to make sure it was right. Bottom line is I believe this problem is only on units with front storage compartment which would include 27FBQ, 27FBT, and 25FBT but not 25FBQ.
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Old 07-05-2022, 09:37 AM   #8
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For those posting, thank you.

Discussion helps everyone.

Maybe the older FBQ is different than later models. Not a fair comparison. The only way to find out is if Airstream lists the issue and WHY and WHAT is causing this rash of front indents along the lower corners of the storage compartment.

There ARE FBQ 25 footers with the storage compartment indents among the 27FBQ's. Correct me if I have an error in memory from reading it.

WD with the thought of Sway Control prevention... is the SHELL KILLER for the FBQ with storage compartment up front.

Stiff springs? Did not hurt my 25 foot International... at any speed. I should have tried towing on the BALL with it... but believed what I read on the Forum. No front end damage... as on the 27FBQ model International.

With WD you create the same if not more pressure by using the Sway Bars. No different... in my opinon. Just apply force and need it. I have seen Airstream owners needing to use the front jack to release bar pressure, so they can detach from the ball when parked. I call that... excessive tension.

Again... I cannot believe that WD is not a worry. Think about the physics... sounds reasonable to me. I am not an Airstream Engineer with the calculator.

My leaf springs cannot be condemned, while WD bars in the 750# to 1200# range are just helping to level the Tow Vehicle and Airstream... in a nice friendly way.

WD BARS may be the culprit. That is HOW MY INDENTS FORMED. Not by towing on the Ball.
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Old 07-05-2022, 10:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
For those posting, thank you.

Discussion helps everyone.

Maybe the older FBQ is different than later models. Not a fair comparison. The only way to find out is if Airstream lists the issue and WHY and WHAT is causing this rash of front indents along the lower corners of the storage compartment.

There ARE FBQ 25 footers with the storage compartment indents among the 27FBQ's. Correct me if I have an error in memory from reading it.

WD with the thought of Sway Control prevention... is the SHELL KILLER for the FBQ with storage compartment up front.

Stiff springs? Did not hurt my 25 foot International... at any speed. I should have tried towing on the BALL with it... but believed what I read on the Forum. No front end damage... as on the 27FBQ model International.

With WD you create the same if not more pressure by using the Sway Bars. No different... in my opinon. Just apply force and need it. I have seen Airstream owners needing to use the front jack to release bar pressure, so they can detach from the ball when parked. I call that... excessive tension.

Again... I cannot believe that WD is not a worry. Think about the physics... sounds reasonable to me. I am not an Airstream Engineer with the calculator.

My leaf springs cannot be condemned, while WD bars in the 750# to 1200# range are just helping to level the Tow Vehicle and Airstream... in a nice friendly way.

WD BARS may be the culprit. That is HOW MY INDENTS FORMED. Not by towing on the Ball.


I agree with your opinion about the weight distribution contributing to the problem. I’m a firm believer in sway control although I have towed successfully on the ball for many miles without problems. My setup is a ProPride without using any weight distribution. I see it as the best answer as it doesn’t have to use weight distribution to enable the anti sway feature. I tow with a F350 on my 27FBQ. No evidence of dimples after 70k plus miles, (knock &#129717! Used equalizer with 10k bars on previous 27FBQ and had dimples forming before it was totaled.
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Old 07-05-2022, 10:25 AM   #10
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Anybody Listening? Sheriff1... is onto something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheriff1 View Post
I agree with your opinion about the weight distribution contributing to the problem. I’m a firm believer in sway control although I have towed successfully on the ball for many miles without problems. My setup is a ProPride without using any weight distribution. I see it as the best answer as it doesn’t have to use weight distribution to enable the anti sway feature. I tow with a F350 on my 27FBQ. No evidence of dimples after 70k plus miles, (knock ��)! Used equalizer with 10k bars on previous 27FBQ and had dimples forming before it was totaled.
*****

My 27 foot FBQ has up front: Two 30 gallon Propane Tanks, Two Batteries and a Spare tire. Double Axle, 16 inch wheels, 3 inch lift.

My Oliver Elite II has up front Two 30 gallon Propane Tanks, Four 6 volt Batteries over the Axle and the Spare Tire mounted in a cover in the rear. Double Axle, 16 inch wheels and same clearance as the 3 inch lifted Airstream as Standard.

The Oliver Engineers balanced the weight and water tanks very well.

Neither trailer has Sway nor needs Weight Distribution. Towing on the Ball.

Already I sense some EXCESS Weight in the front of the Airstream.

The Oliver has a very well supported frame, weight distributed, as is the Fresh Water across the frame, Black and Grey Water Tanks. The FRAME is very well reinforced... and I can go under it and SEE IT. I can SEE the Oliver Frame.

I cannot see the Airstream Frame. Oh yes, the sheets of aluminum is to keep water or dust getting into the interior? The Oliver has the frame exposed and we get very little dust into the interior. Both the Airstream and Oliver best dust source is the Refrigerator fit. Just saying... as another subject that could be discussed.

The Airstream has the Frame concealed under thin sheets of aluminum. I do not see any effort to reinforce the FRONT where there is excessive weight concentrated.

As Sheriff1 brings up... Hitches CAN make a difference. This is something to consider.

I have had THREE Airstream new... and got THREE Equalizer Hitches new from Airstream Dealers. I had no exterior problems with the 23 or 25 foot using WD and Sway Control. The 23 foot has some friction rod you tightened or loosened and I removed it as being worthless.

Who else has a FBQ 25 foot or 27 especially FBQ with a different hitch and NO Indents?

I am looking for a Cause and Effect. It could be the Equalizer Hitch. It may not be the Equalizer Hitch for ALL Airstreams but the FBQ with Compartment.

I have come to the conclusion that I will have to live with my indents. I understand... but others... what has been your findings?

I have been working on and idea, putting together 'Sterograms' using .750 Red Casino Dice to create unusual patterns and then take a break... to the Airforums to rest my eyes and manipulate the tools and supplies to create something from nothing. Much like the Tow Vehicle, Trailer Model and Hitch Choices.

We may be making progress. I have nothing to lose, as my options are now ZERO. That is the Cost of Discussion in public, although I am using my name. I will not do that again when signing onto any Forum.

What can you add to the discussion? We are interested.

My Oliver... after three Off the Grid Boondocking adventures. Nothing fell off, broke, cracked or was damage... on the Ball. A trailer that fits our life style. We can store about the same supplies as in the Airstream. The Shower and Restroom in the Airstream creates the need for a longer trailer. The Oliver has a smaller space for restroom and wet shower. I stink when clean... so Who needs a stinkin' shower every day in the forest?
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Old 07-05-2022, 01:36 PM   #11
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Blue Ox may be the Airstream preferred hitch?

A post was made on a post around #296 by Thiss... that Blue Ox may be the hitch advised for Airstream Trailers. (International Front Separation thread) July 4 post. This is a very interesting change to affect Dealer's choices to sell to new Airstream owners.

Anyone have a Blue Ox? Is there a feature that would 'soften the WD and Sway' pressure on the Airstream Frame and Shell Torque?

Just sniffing around. Our Blue Heelers taught me how... and it gets my nose in places that can be embarrassing... Just saying.
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Old 07-05-2022, 01:39 PM   #12
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You are narrowing down... which and what!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
Your post says 25/27 FBQ which implies this is a problem with 25 FBQ models as well. We have a 2017 25 FBQ with about 30,000 miles using an equalizer hitch with 1000lb bars on an F150 and about 5,000 miles using a PP hitch and 1400lb bars on an F250. Zero issues but we do not have the front storage compartment and I did my own hitch setup to make sure it was right. Bottom line is I believe this problem is only on units with front storage compartment which would include 27FBQ, 27FBT, and 25FBT but not 25FBQ.
******
This is information that makes all of our time... worth explaining.

Not having the front compartment... and no issues... tells us that the engineering of the FBQ's is seriously FLAWED.

Thanks for the input. Now Blue Ox is being, possibly, Airstream JC's choice of hitch. Lots of new facts and information coming in.
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Old 07-05-2022, 03:04 PM   #13
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Bottom line is I believe this problem is only on units with front storage compartment which would include 27FBQ, 27FBT, and 25FBT but not 25FBQ.
I have a front storage compartment (26U) and an Equalizer hitch. I've towed it thousands of miles and I have no crinkles. I think the problem/solution is not as simple as an Equalizer hitch.
(wanna hear one idea? The 26' has a lot of interior structure and bracing in the front. Maybe that stiffens the flexing.)
There's too many variables to point to one item as the problem. It would take two identical units driven with identical TV's on the identical roads but with different hitches to form a theory.
That's never going to happen.
BTW, while staging at Silver in the City, just for fun I noted as people pulled in what hitch most people were using. I'd estimate Equilizers were used in 80% of the Airstreams. Maybe that's why folks with Equalizers are plagued more often, It's like saying "More Fords get flat tires than Ferraris." Well, DUH!
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Old 07-05-2022, 04:21 PM   #14
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A post was made on a post around #296 by Thiss... that Blue Ox may be the hitch advised for Airstream Trailers. (International Front Separation thread) July 4 post. This is a very interesting change to affect Dealer's choices to sell to new Airstream owners.

Anyone have a Blue Ox? Is there a feature that would 'soften the WD and Sway' pressure on the Airstream Frame and Shell Torque?

Just sniffing around. Our Blue Heelers taught me how... and it gets my nose in places that can be embarrassing... Just saying.
We have the BlueOx from our previous trailer, but it's also what our dealer recommends and apparently Airstream now as well as they have a special partnership with BlueOx to produce black and silver hitches for Airstreams (ours is a grayish-greenish color with brass-colored chains). As far as I can tell they are otherwise the exact same as the newer models.

We have really liked the BlueOx. Our F-150 requires a WDH above 5000-lbs of trailer and 500-lbs of tongue weight, so we have to have WD. The BlueOx also does sway control through the tension in the WD bars. (You use the hitch to release the tension and a wrench and latches to lock the chains in place to create a spring to the bars). They are near silent, and have controlled sway really well in our past two trailers. Our first trailer did not have any of this, just a single sway bar (it was only 2300-lbs), and we had several incidents of nerve-wracking sway with it, but have never had it since getting the BlueOx.

We've only clocked 150 miles with our Airstream. I don't think there are any structural issues that I've seen so far, but I'm also not 100% confident I know what to look for.

There is one part of the BlueOx that deserves some warning, and that is unhitching. Because the bars are under enormous tension, you MUST raise the jack with the hitch still locked to the ball until the tension is released enough to easily release the latches. With something like the Equalizer, you simply cannot remove the bars without doing this. But with the BlueOx, you actually can release the latch under tension. I had a close call and got very lucky. We had about a year gap between selling our last trailer and buying the new one. I was distracted and had not done it in a while. So when someone suggested I needed to release the ball before raising the tongue jack, I did, not thinking, not remembering why not to. When I released the latch, the wrench hit me with enormous force. My wife found a story on Facebook of someone who did that on a much bigger trailer, so much more force flung the wrench at him. He got a helicopter ride and 3 hours of brain surgery after that. So I share this story because I was very lucky, in some ways he was still lucky as well, though considerably less so. And I hope no one ever experiences that.
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Old 07-05-2022, 05:35 PM   #15
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Your post says 25/27 FBQ which implies this is a problem with 25 FBQ models as well. We have a 2017 25 FBQ with about 30,000 miles using an equalizer hitch with 1000lb bars on an F150 and about 5,000 miles using a PP hitch and 1400lb bars on an F250. Zero issues but we do not have the front storage compartment and I did my own hitch setup to make sure it was right. Bottom line is I believe this problem is only on units with front storage compartment which would include 27FBQ, 27FBT, and 25FBT but not 25FBQ.

2018 25FBQ with no front storage compartment (east-west bed alignment so our exterior access is from the side).

We have an F250 and use a PP with 1,000 bars. I adjust the towers 6.5 inches up. Towed like this for about 25K miles. Previously had an F150 and towed with it for about 7K miles.

No problem on the front (behind battery box) or the side access door.
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Old 07-05-2022, 07:23 PM   #16
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I have an Equalizer 1000# and a Blue Ox 1500# Sway Pro (that I'm reconditioning) I want to see if I can tell a difference. KYD uses the Blue Ox but they have an F-250, where I have a Tundra.
The Blue Ox is easy to adjust, just pick a different link. The Equalizer is vary adjustable, but it takes disassembly to do it.
I weighed my tongue and Airstream claims 903#, when in reality it's 1125# on the Sherlock scale. That's why I'm at the upper limit of the Equalizer.
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Old 07-05-2022, 08:13 PM   #17
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I have an Equalizer 1000# and a Blue Ox 1500# Sway Pro (that I'm reconditioning) I want to see if I can tell a difference. KYD uses the Blue Ox but they have an F-250, where I have a Tundra.

Excited to hear your report out!
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Old 07-05-2022, 09:43 PM   #18
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There's no systemic defect with the Airstream or Equalizer.

Many here forget that hitches exist to articulate.

Sway is not the singular thing to be addressed. Sway is a potential symptom to manage if other variables are not appropriately accounted for. Yet there are individuals on the boards that insist on 1400lb bars, 100% FALR, 1-ton trucks. Possibly all together in a single rig.

Somethings got to give.

Sorry to say this, but the issue wholly on the owner. Potentially whom they paid to set it up, but with the lack of accountability in this industry, it is what it is.
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Old 07-06-2022, 05:21 AM   #19
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There's no systemic defect with the Airstream or Equalizer.

Many here forget that hitches exist to articulate.

Sway is not the singular thing to be addressed. Sway is a potential symptom to manage if other variables are not appropriately accounted for. Yet there are individuals on the boards that insist on 1400lb bars, 100% FALR, 1-ton trucks. Possibly all together in a single rig.

Somethings got to give.

Sorry to say this, but the issue wholly on the owner. Potentially whom they paid to set it up, but with the lack of accountability in this industry, it is what it is.
Wellllll, it may not be wholly on the owner....but what you say in paragraphs 2-4 is true.
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Old 07-06-2022, 05:49 AM   #20
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2020 25’ FB twin with front storage compartment. Towing with 1/2 ton (Tundra) and BlueOx Swaypro. I have a dimple on the curb side below the front storage compartment. I very slight dimple on street side. No other signs of front separation. Storage door opens and closes easily without any noises.
We are second owners of this unit, but the selling dealer (AS of Chicago) only sells BlueOx. They sold to the original owner. The dimples may have been there when we bought it, I’m not sure. We’ve also had two instances where we dragged the rear end pretty hard. That may have caused the dimples.
In 2.5 yrs of travel all over the US our dimples haven’t changed. My warranty runs out in January. AS has declined to even look at the dimples.
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