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Old 02-09-2020, 07:34 AM   #1
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Equalizer Hitch Setup on RAM 2500

We recently bought a new 2019 RAM 2500 Hemi. We used to tow with GL450 and had the standard Equalizer Hitch setup. Realizing that RAM 2500 is a much taller vehicle, I ordered a specialty shank 2.5" with 6" drop and transferred the hitch head from my existing hitch setup to this new shank. I religiously followed all the steps outlined in the Equalizer manual, and the truck tows effortlessly. However, if I look at the rig from a distance, I see the AS tipping forward. I understand that the trailer should always tip forward a bit, but how do you know the right amount. I measured the distance from the ground to the bottom of AS's trim that goes around the coach, at the front and back and I see a difference of 1" - 1-1/4". Is this the right amount? Does anyone have any experience with this?
The manual says that the top of the ball on the truck and the highest point on the coupler should be as close to the same height as possible when you start, which I did. However, when the full weight is put on the ball, the truck squats a bit, causing the forward tipping.
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:54 AM   #2
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Ideally, you want the trailer to be as level as possible when traveling so that forces are as equal as possible on all tires. Loading differences and other dynamic weights make the ideal situation a fictional tale but we can dream....

The spacing in between the shank holes are 1-1/4 so anything within the range is the best you can do. The idea is you pack your truck and trailer in typical fashion then connect up and set weight distribution so that the truck is exactly level. (the gasoline Ram 2500 likes 50/50 weight distribution unless it is a 4x4, which likes a bit more weight up front) Then measure your trailer height front to back and next time you hook up have the ball height adjusted to get the trailer as level as possible. I suspect this is what you have already done.

Here are a few small things you can check before changing the ball height. Tire pressure affects riding height by about 1/4 inch. Are your truck and trailer tire pressures set ideally for the load they are carrying? Static loads affect things by 1/4 - 1 inch. Have you packed the trailer and truck ideally? If they are not packed when you see it squat, then raise the ball one hole for sure.

The manual suggest starting at neutral because it covers most situations and gets anyone starting there close enough. After you have it close, most people call it good enough and manufacturers are reluctant to provide too much advice without directly speaking to the customer for liability reasons and others. Since you are not happy with the outcome, you can tweak it a bit to get yours closer to ideal by raising the ball height 1 1/4 inch
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:11 AM   #3
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1 - 1-1/4” may not be too bad but might be improved. I’d try adding a spacer washer or raising the L brackets to get a little more WD to reduce truck squat and improve trailer level.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:18 AM   #4
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Adjust the weight distribution first. Measure the height of the front fender at the center of the wheel opening without the trailer. Then hook up the trailer without WD and measure again. Then adjust WD to get at least halfway back (I go for all the way) to the unloaded height. Now set the height of the hitch with the drop bar to get the trailer as close to level as possible.

At least, thatís what I do....

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Old 02-09-2020, 09:23 AM   #5
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IF the trailer is leaning forward, but the truck is level, I'd raise the hitch head one hole on the shank.
IF the trailer leans forward, and the truck sags, I'd add a washer or two.
It's best done on a nice flat parking area where you can step back and look. Leave the 3/4" bolts for final lightning when you're satisfied.
Of course, a trip to the Cat scales will give more data, but start with the proper "look".
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:26 AM   #6
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I use a 4" drop on my RAM 2500 and that pretty well levels the trailer out.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
IF the trailer is leaning forward, but the truck is level, I'd raise the hitch head one hole on the shank.
IF the trailer leans forward, and the truck sags, I'd add a washer or two.
It's best done on a nice flat parking area where you can step back and look. Leave the 3/4" bolts for final lightning when you're satisfied.
Of course, a trip to the Cat scales will give more data, but start with the proper "look".
Carefully consider the effects of changing the weight distribution hitch geometry before adding washers under the ball. This is because the ball height to torsion bar anchor point and angle determines the dynamic tension range. Anything more than an eight of an inch can have a fair impact on the range of motion (up and down as it responds to bumps) in tension for some hitches.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:50 AM   #8
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BTW, That RAM 2500 will tow your 25 beautifully without a w/d hitch. I've towed my 28 both with an equalizer and on the ball. I would never go back to the Equalizer.
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Old 02-09-2020, 10:07 AM   #9
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BTW, That RAM 2500 will tow your 25 beautifully without a w/d hitch. I've towed my 28 both with an equalizer and on the ball. I would never go back to the Equalizer.
This advice is questionable at best, particularly if you happen to have a 4x4. Though the truck weight distribution with a 1000 lb on the tongue will get you about 58%-60% on the rear (gasoline, 52% diesel) which is really good for a sports car, the truck suspension geometry is optimized for a bit more than 50% of the weight on the front. this is particularly important for fixed axle 4x4's to reduce tendency to "death wobble". I get that towing on the ball "works just fine" but I don't think I could find anyone who just crashed their truck and trailer who would say "if only I had poorer steering performance"....
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Old 02-09-2020, 10:26 AM   #10
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You are much more likely to crash if you take weight off the rear wheels with a WD hitch. You need that weight there to control the trailer inertia. Also, WD hitches extend the distance from the rear axle to the hitch ball, giving the trailer more leverage to push the tow vehicle around. WD hitches diminish your rig stability. They are not safety devices.
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Old 02-09-2020, 10:43 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by out of sight View Post
You are much more likely to crash if you take weight off the rear wheels with a WD hitch. You need that weight there to control the trailer inertia. Also, WD hitches extend the distance from the rear axle to the hitch ball, giving the trailer more leverage to push the tow vehicle around. WD hitches diminish your rig stability. They are not safety devices.
This advice is just patently wrong.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:03 AM   #12
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A couple of other thoughts...

Rather than the eye-ball or tape measure approach, I’d turn to the CAT scale and mason’s level technique.

In my experience the precise level of the rig (or of the trailer itself) is hard to establish by eye. Background features and slight variations in the ground throw off perspective. A truck stop with a CAT scale will have large, level concrete areas (typically at fuel bays) where you can park, put a 4’ level on the trailer’s floor and see if you’re actually level.

Your 2500 is beefier than my a Tundra. I lose about 2” of hitch ball height when I drop the trailer on including the WD from my Equal-I-zer. You’ll probably lose less.

As for Equal-I-zer or “on the ball”, the Equal-I-zer offers both weight distribution and anti-sway support. They work together and are not separately adjustable. If you tune out the WD or use a simple ball only and no WD bars you are also eliminating the anti-sway effect. That may or may not be appropriate or desirable... it’s a personal choice... but it should be made consciously and deliberately in my opinion.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:16 AM   #13
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There's one more thing to look at. You could add a spacer washer to the hitch head, the ones that adjust the hitch head tilt. A little more tilt downward will increase the amount of weight distribution and raise the rear of the truck and the front of the trailer. That's the hitch I have been using for years. Each time I traded trucks, I have needed to set up the hitch a bit differently each time. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:30 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by out of sight View Post
You are much more likely to crash if you take weight off the rear wheels with a WD hitch. You need that weight there to control the trailer inertia. Also, WD hitches extend the distance from the rear axle to the hitch ball, giving the trailer more leverage to push the tow vehicle around. WD hitches diminish your rig stability. They are not safety devices.
As quietguy noted, this is completely incorrect. Unless the trailer does not have functioning breaks, the downward dynamic load applied to the ball and thus the rear axle of the tow vehicle by the trailer in an emergency stop dwarfs the static weight transferred off the rear by a WD hitch. Furthermore, the dynamic torque provided by the WD hitch torsion system responding to the dynamic ball forces completely prevents significant weight shift away from the rear axle in an emergency stop. I'd be happy to debate this reality with some fairly simple kinetic physics if anybody takes exception.

On the second point, ball location has no bearing on front to back loading since it is centered relative to the truck's center of gravity. Relative side to side loading capacity is increased slightly by the ratio of the difference in length to the truck center of gravity so for a 2500 and typical WD hitch that would be about 4%. However the corrective side to side forces applied the offset of the torsion bars relative to the ball center line once again dwarfs this by a factor of 2-10 to one depending on the severity of the side forces being applied by the trailer in a sway situation including hard corner breaking.

So, when is a WD hitch ill advised? When the trailer is substantially (>40%) lighter than the tow vehicle OR when the trailer is at least 20% lighter than the tow vehicle AND the trailer does not have breaks. Now it is foolish in my opinion to tow a heavy trailer without breaks so in the real world this second scenario does not exist.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:43 AM   #15
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Maybe this will help. Try to visualize the hypothetical extreme of cranking your WD bars up high enough to lift the tow vehicle rear tires off the ground. Obviously your rig will jackknife at the slightest disturbance. The same thing will happen even if you use a small amount of FALR. The trailer inertia doesn't change but the TV tire friction force decreases. Also, the tire sidewall stiffness decreases with decreased load, causing the tow vehicle to oversteer, leading to jackknife.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:51 AM   #16
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When I purchased my 2500 the AS was running high with the 7 hole shank, I called E-Trailer and they recommended the 9 hole BluOx shank which I purchased and moved my hitch head down to level the AS. I also measured from the center of the fenders to determine proper weight distribution when tightening the chains. Our rig now runs level and I have noted no issues while towing other than I no longer feel push when being passed by 18 wheelers (that alone is a good reason to get a 2500).
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:00 PM   #17
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Maybe this will help. Try to visualize the hypothetical extreme of cranking your WD bars up high enough to lift the tow vehicle rear tires off the ground. Obviously your rig will jackknife at the slightest disturbance. The same thing will happen even if you use a small amount of FALR. The trailer inertia doesn't change but the TV tire friction force decreases. Also, the tire sidewall stiffness decreases with decreased load, causing the tow vehicle to oversteer, leading to jackknife.
The problem with hypothetical examples is that, as you have done, you can suspend reality and cross over into la la land in constructing them. In the real world where most engineers live (we have to stay real because if we mess stuff up, crap breaks and people die), there is no practical range of WD torque where you can do such a thing. The latch pin will snap off long before you can apply enough tension to construct your silly hypothetical. BTW, the pin is the weakest link to prevent idiots from doing such things.

Also in the real world the concept of "if some is good, more is better" is not correct. Some water is required for life, too much will poison you and you will die. Come back and join us in the world where the sky is blue.

One more point on trailer breaks: If during breaking and especially breaking hard going into corners, if it feels like the trailer is pushing the tow vehicle around, for goodness sake, don't blame the hitch, instead increase the gain on the break controller. The trailer breaks must be tasked for their purpose which is to manage the inertial forces of the trailer.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:25 PM   #18
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For optimal braking what you want to do is have all wheels of the tow vehicle with equal load during the braking process so they can do the same amount of braking. This is why formula one cars position their engines to get 65% on the rear axle and 35% on the front axle. When they apply the brakes the load shifts to the front so they approach a 50/50 weight distribution. If you have a w/d hitch your rear wheels will not do much braking. Another reason to not use a w/d hitch.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:29 PM   #19
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Out of sight, now you are making my point. The key to optimal breaking is axle load during dynamic situations, not static while sitting on the truck scale. The WD hitch dynamically distributes weight back to the trailer axles while applying significant weight on the rear axle. Without a WD hitch, unless the trailer has no functional breaks, forces on the tow vehicle rear axle during hard breaking become excessive relative to the others, this is simply a provable fact. Furthermore in dynamic cornering situations there are additional trade offs that a WD hitch overcomes compared to having none. It is a fact, for break equipped trailers approaching and exceeding the tow vehicle weight, the WD hitch is better in nearly all situations, and certainly in all common ones.

If Formula One required towed trailers, I can assure you the hitches used would dynamically redistribute weight and torque in some fashion.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:55 PM   #20
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If you are starting with the weight distribution settings used on the Mercedes STOP. With a 2500 you will not need as much tension if any. Determine trailer tongue height with trailer level. 19-21 inches. Measure free height of the truck ball. Say 21 inches. Attach trailer. Determine height reduction. Say 0.75 inches. Adjust truck hitch height to account for the deflection. Now start on the equalization tension. Say two links. Drive the rig over some residential cross streets to see how much porpoising happens. Add tension to reduce porpoising and possibly reduce some steering lightness.
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