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Old 08-09-2020, 12:48 PM   #1
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Equalizer Problem

Hello friends, This is our second Airstream and the dealer threw in an Equalizer sway system. We had the exact set-up on our last AS, and although we didn't love it, it was okay. This one is a nightmare. The dealer didn't set it up. The AS was shipped across country and there is no dealer in our area, so we had to have Camping World set it up.

The problem is that it is so tight that we are having a nearly impossible time getting the bars in place. We had it back to CW for something unrelated, and while hitching up, we couldn't get it in place and had to have them come out and help. This was the first time we had done it. I'm not very big and have some physical limitations and my husband is 64.

We went camping last week and spent a good 45 minutes getting the bars in place. We know to raise the jack up to take the weight off. We spent a year traveling four years ago in our last AS, but admittedly don't know quite a bit! I'm attaching a photo. Can anyone tell me if anything looks wrong with this? Suggestions? It is going to CW this week for them to take a look. I'd like to know if my expectations are too great before hand. Many thanks.
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Old 08-09-2020, 01:00 PM   #2
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As far as making the bars go on easier, it's all about the jack.
After coupling the ball, jack that thing until you fear the rear van tires will leave the ground.
As the rig goes higher, the bars come closer to fitting. I've done it where I put the bars on by hand! At lest the "Shepard hook tool" should be able to catch the "L" pad and lever the bar in.
IMO jacks should all be 5000lb, just for this reason. When you think, "My tongue weight is only 900 lbs, so why have a 4000 lb jack? This is why.

Your setup looks okay from what I can see. A wider picture showing all the van and trailer might make suggestions easier, but if anything, your van is low in back, which means adding a washer which puts MORE pressure on the bars.

UPDATE:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ewor View Post
The problem is that it is so tight that we are having a nearly impossible time getting the bars in place.
Let's discuss "tight". Do you mean the bars won't swivel sideways as in "too tight I can't push them sideways"?
Or tight in "I can't lift them onto the "L" pads? (This is where the jack is your friend)

There should be some grease on the mating surfaces where the bars connect to the head. Also, the bolts holding the square sockets don't need to be over tight. I called Equalizer once to ask how tight those bolts needed to be, they told me 100 ft. lbs. At anywhere near that I couldn't push them sideways, so I relented and only keep them tight enough to be firm.
You should be able to put your foot on the bar and push it close to the "L" bracket.
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Old 08-09-2020, 01:01 PM   #3
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I'm not sure I would trust CW to setup my hitch. The instructions, which can be found online if you didn't get a hardcopy are pretty good.

Are you not able to lift the back of your tow vehicle with your jack enough that the bars can just be swung into place easily? Do you use enough blocks under the jack to help you get more height?
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Old 08-09-2020, 01:06 PM   #4
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Then best place to get an Equalizer or any hitch adjusted is a suspension shop. Dealers don't have the expertise or just don't care. CW has a reputation of sloppy work at some of their shops.

The Equalizer can be difficult to understand and set up properly. You can call the manufacturer and they were when I did some years ago very helpful explaining things I just didn't understand. There are a number of threads on the Forum about Equalizer hitches and that may be some help when you find them.
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Old 08-09-2020, 01:32 PM   #5
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Ewor,

Can you add a few more pics like your first but much closer, almost fill the screen from the hitch pin and then to the right as much as fits in the pic.

Asking for closeup shot of hitch.

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Old 08-09-2020, 01:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
UPDATE:

Let's discuss "tight". Do you mean the bars won't swivel sideways as in "too tight I can't push them sideways"?
Or tight in "I can't lift them onto the "L" pads? (This is where the jack is your friend)


There should be some grease on the mating surfaces where the bars connect to the head. Also, the bolts holding the square sockets don't need to be over tight. I called Equalizer once to ask how tight those bolts needed to be, they told me 100 ft. lbs. At anywhere near that I couldn't push them sideways, so I relented and only keep them tight enough to be firm.
You should be able to put your foot on the bar and push it close to the "L" bracket.
Those are the crucial questions; it will be interesting to see the OP's response. Equalizer cautions to only use the leverage of the bars themselves to move them laterally (no pounding), which one should be able to do fairly easily. Since if the jack is raised enough there is no problem lifting the bars onto the L pads I'm going to guess that Camping World over-tightened the head socket bolts.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:42 AM   #7
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Reply to all

First off, thank you all. I will try to address the questions.

The tightness is in moving the bars side to side. We can't pull or push them in and out without more strength than either one of us have. I asked the gentleman at CW when we picked it up, and had this problem, if it perhaps needed grease and he said we would never want to grease it. I felt like he was in a hurry and needed us to go. How and where would grease go?

We have raised the jack as high as it will possibly go. On our last rig with this set up we would raise the jack and then push the bars in and have to lift them slightly over, sometimes with the tool, depending on the situation. Is this set-up too low? We have not put blocks under the jack and tried it. I think we are afraid to go higher than what the AS would be built to do.

Agreed that CW is not the place of choice. We just have no other option here. We live in Nashville. We could go to a suspension shop. That was a good idea. Do they do this sort of thing?

Here are a few more photos. I hope I have addressed the questions. Thank you all again!
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:45 AM   #8
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photos

Problem uploading. Here they are.
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Old 08-10-2020, 10:05 AM   #9
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I have great fears also with CW installing an Equal-i-zer hitch. I had a friend who had a bar fall off when doing a turn because CW mounted the brackets too far back on the trailer A frame. When she turned the bar was no longer being held by the L bracket.

As far as your problem, it's just a matter of having the hitch jack raised high enough to allow the bar to easily move over the bracket. I've had my hitch over 17 years and never have had to use that snap up bar. Typically when unhitching I raise the hitch jack with the trailer on and locked on to the ball and will remove the L pin. When the hitch has raised enough you will see the bar start to raise off the bracket. When I am hitching (after the trailer is locked on to the ball) i'll move the bar so it is close to the bracket. Again when the trailer is high enough you will see that the bar can be pushed right over the bracket. The amount you have to raise the trailer hitch can vary based on the angle of the ground between the trailer and the tow vehicle. Sometimes you need to raise that hitch higher than other times.

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Old 08-10-2020, 10:16 AM   #10
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First, the wide shot looks like the van and trailer are pretty level, so I wouldn't worry about adjustments yet.
You also have six washers on the "rivet" tilting the head, and that seems okay also. You 'could' add one washer later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ewor View Post
First off, thank you all. I will try to address the questions.

The tightness is in moving the bars side to side. We can't pull or push them in and out without more strength than either one of us have. I asked the gentleman at CW when we picked it up, and had this problem, if it perhaps needed grease and he said we would never want to grease it.
Great, this is easy. First, the tech at CW was wrong. You do grease the FORWARD end of the bars and sockets. They pivot in the hitch head. You never grease the REAR of the bars where they slide on the "L" pads.
You'll see there's a bolt going through the front socket. Loosen that bolt a little.
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Old 08-10-2020, 10:22 AM   #11
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Unfortunately, the gentleman is not so helpful. You do want to grease the head and you also want reasonable movement side to side Firm is good, but impossible is not. The Equalizer website provides guidance on lubrication where and how. They explain it better than I. Until you have them moveable so you can handle them, a mallet and hunk of wood will help. I am tempted to suggest easing a bit of torque off the bar link bolt but I'm guessing you are not in a position to do that.

In defense of CW the photos show the set-up looks good, they seem to have gotten the basics right. I suspect they went a bit too aggressive with the air wrench and didn't lube it as they should.
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Old 08-10-2020, 10:23 AM   #12
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Ewor,

Thanks for the new pics. As previously mentioned knowing exactly what "step" in hooking up is giving you folks problems.

Swinging the bar in to the L bracket or lifting the bar up onto the L bracket?

Agreed, it the bolts for the bar sockets are too tight it will make it very difficult to push the bar over to get it to the L bracket. Might want to have the torque (tightness) of the bolt that holds the bar socket on is checked. And if you check the manual you'll see that https://www.equalizerhitch.com/manua...ar-maintenance lube is required in the points shown. This will make swinging the properly torqued socket easier.

Hitch coupler pin. Possibly just not present at pic but a pin/clip thru the hitch latch prevents accidental release.

Hitch ball shank length. Can someone please look under the hitch and see if the shank (threaded section) of the ball is interfering with the travel of the sockets. https://www.equalizerhitch.com/manua...the-hitch-ball I have personally replaced several hitch balls that the shank was too long and interfered with the socket as it rotates during turns etc. Uncertain? take a pic straight up from bottom showing shank and post, marks are easy to see.

This is a bit too common of an oops because this Equal-I-Zer hitch requires a specific length shank, shorter that "normal" shanks.

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Old 08-10-2020, 10:29 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCinSC2 View Post
Hitch ball shank length. Can someone please look under the hitch and see if the shank (threaded section) of the ball is interfering with the travel of the sockets.
On mine I can spread the bars all the way to the bumper and never contact the ball threads. She has the same hitch as I do.

However, if the sockets were contacting the ball threads, it would stop the bars from opening, not closing. Yes? No?
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Old 08-10-2020, 10:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
First, the wide shot looks like the van and trailer are pretty level, so I wouldn't worry about adjustments yet.
You also have six washers on the "rivet" tilting the head, and that seems okay also. You 'could' add one washer later.

Great, this is easy. First, the tech at CW was wrong. You do grease the FORWARD end of the bars and sockets. They pivot in the hitch head. You never grease the REAR of the bars where they slide on the "L" pads.
You'll see there's a bolt going through the front socket. Loosen that bolt a little.
Ok now if that's the problem, where the bars are too tight to move you do need to check the torque of those bolts in Mollysdad picture. They are known as the socket bolts and need a minimum torque setting of 60 ft lbs. I typically tighten mine about once a year. As pictured you have one on each side of the ball and it controls the resistance applied to eliminate side to side sway. Too tight and you can't push the bars in to hitch up our pull the bars outward to get them off the L pin mounting bracket.

I notice after 17 years of use those bolts don't change greatly and when I tighten mine up I can notice a little more resistance in moving the bars. So try that 60-ft-lb setting. You should be able to move them. If you notice a little more sway, you can torque them a little higher if you wish.

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Old 08-10-2020, 10:54 AM   #15
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My new in Equal-i-zer was incredibly tight to swivel bars.

They were rotated so far in I could not get a bar into get some leverage. I finally oiled it enough to loosen where a breaker bar could open up and move enough to get bar in and enough leverage to rotate. More grease and it's perfect now!

Grease and work them until loosened up

Part of it may had been some paint so try scoring the edges to see if breaking that seal helps.

I use the Anderson "red bucket" to lift higher and easily slide bars into place.

CW should of given you the manual which explains this. Equal-i-zer is very cool on the phone! Give them a call and download the manual and it will show how to grease it.

Good luck,

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Old 08-10-2020, 11:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
On mine I can spread the bars all the way to the bumper and never contact the ball threads. She has the same hitch as I do.

However, if the sockets were contacting the ball threads, it would stop the bars from opening, not closing. Yes? No?
It might depend on actual shank length. E-I-Z requires a shank short enough to clear the sockets. Specs in manual. Shank can stick out just enough into socket arc range, metal to metal interference, gouging shank and socket and even damage per E-I-Z. The last one I changed out was last Oct at Alumaslider for a fellow slider. IIRC, I've found and changed 4 long shank in this same hitch for folks.
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Old 08-11-2020, 03:18 AM   #17
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The bar sockets pivots are going to be tight on a new hitch until it gets worn in so they make them tight for this reason. There is a torque spec for the pivot bolts so loosen them and retorque per Equalizers instructions which is about 60ft/lbs I think. If you make them too loose they will gouge into the head when you turn.
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Old 08-11-2020, 12:45 PM   #18
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Agreed the bar sockets are probably too tight. Equalizer is good about replacing parts when they fail and I got a second hitch head from them after about 9 years and the sockets were too tight. I used wheel bearing grease on them and worked them back and forth with the leverage of the bars helping. They loosened then. If you cannot move the bars, squirt some penetrating oil like WD-40 in the space until they can be moved and then wipe off what you can and use grease. I assume if you cannot move the bars, you may not be able to loosen the bolt. If you have a breaker bar, the added leverage helps. A long piece of pipe can serve as a breaker bar if it fits over the bars or wrench.

If you are not mechanically inclined, an RV will encourage you to learn. There are books on how things work. Woodalls had a pretty good one years ago. It is best to be able to fix things on the road or at the least know when a mechanic in a far away town is ripping you off or doesn’t know what he is doing.
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Old 08-12-2020, 08:29 PM   #19
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Update!

First off, thank you all so much for the incredible help and support. I learned so much from you.

Today I took the rig back to CW armed with all of your information and the MANUAL! had the same service rep, Craig, his first comment was it needed to be greased. I reminded him that he told me that it shouldn't be greased. He then said he was only talking about the BALL! I said "so you don't grease the ball?" He said "no, it isn't necessary and it is a mess." He was not being truthful is saying it nicely.

Y'all were right about the 60lb torq. They had not checked this. After greasing they loosened and torqued to 60lb, I insisted that they not just tighten. It is much better and I think I can do this on my own. I also won't be waking up the entire campground as I roll in, only the half near me now!

Gene, I love your comment about those not mechanically inclined! I will let you in on the scoop. I married a musician, a guitar player. He plays great, but he doesn't have a handy bone in his body. We have a deal, I am all things Airstream and animals and he is all things money. It works!
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Old 08-13-2020, 03:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewor View Post
First off, thank you all so much for the incredible help and support. I learned so much from you.

Today I took the rig back to CW armed with all of your information and the MANUAL! had the same service rep, Craig, his first comment was it needed to be greased. I reminded him that he told me that it shouldn't be greased. He then said he was only talking about the BALL! I said "so you don't grease the ball?" He said "no, it isn't necessary and it is a mess." He was not being truthful is saying it nicely.

Y'all were right about the 60lb torq. They had not checked this. After greasing they loosened and torqued to 60lb, I insisted that they not just tighten. It is much better and I think I can do this on my own. I also won't be waking up the entire campground as I roll in, only the half near me now!

Gene, I love your comment about those not mechanically inclined! I will let you in on the scoop. I married a musician, a guitar player. He plays great, but he doesn't have a handy bone in his body. We have a deal, I am all things Airstream and animals and he is all things money. It works!
Glad to hear you got it resolved. Because the hitch is still relatively new get yourself a torque wrench and socket to frequently check the torque on those pivot bolts. They will loosen as it wears in so make it a habit to check them before hitching up for each trip.
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