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Old 02-29-2024, 09:04 AM   #1
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Proper Weight Distribution Hitch set up

I know this topic has been covered ad nauseam, but...

TV: 2007 Tundra Double Cab 4X4 5.7L
Snug top topper
Roofnest XL on topper
Decked drawer system in bed
Airbags
10 ply tires

AS: 2019 25' International Serenity FBT
Torklift rear hitch with rack and two mountain bikes
Equalizer hitch

When I hook up my AS, the truck sags slightly in the rear. I add 60 (max is 100) psi to the airbags to restore my truck to level and the AS to level. I also have one of those Harbor Freight hitch slop remover gizmos (U-bolt and plate that tightens up the hitch and receiver) so I don't hear a clunk every time I start to move.

I have about 30,000 miles on this setup and have never experienced any trailer sway or problems braking.

Here's my question...perhaps I'm going too far down a rabbit hole...but, with all the YouTube videos about front end separation or front end compression, does a WD hitch put too much torque on the front of the AS tow coupler / A-frame?

I don't really understand the physics as it relates to the trailer. I understand how the WD hitch leverages the hitch and truck to distribute weight on the truck and restores weight to the front axle of the truck as well as distributes weight on the trailer more evenly between the ball and both axles. But what forces are generated onto the trailer frame? Could this torque/force cause damage to the AS frame in the front of the trailer? I'm well within specs for both the truck and trailers towing capacities (not overloaded on either) and everything seems to be working in harmony, but I'll be pretty disappointed if I develop FES or compression on my AS. I haven't had any issues with ground clearance or dragging the rear of the trailer, so I'm not worried about folding my trailer like a taco and compressing the front end/storage compartments (the bikes, rack and hitch are about 135 lbs total at the rear bumper and we have nothing heavy in the rear of the AS). I also think that FES can happen if the frame bends too much the other way (like an upside down U).

So, my question is, does the WD hitch setup apply too much torque to the front of the trailer? How would one know this? How does one know if everything is set up properly aside from following the Equalizer hitch installation procedures and loading the trailer and truck correctly and not overloaded? My experience tells me I have it correct. But FES seems to happen for a myriad of reasons (dragging the rear of the trailer of too much weight on the rear of the trailer).

I don't want to start another thread dealing with FES or the virtues of Airbags vs. WD hitches. I just don't want to place more stress on the front of the AS frame than it is designed to handle and the only thing I can think of that I could be doing wrong that might cause this would be the WD hitch.

Thanks for any input...
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Old 02-29-2024, 11:10 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixweeds View Post
I know this topic has been covered ad nauseam, but...

TV: 2007 Tundra Double Cab 4X4 5.7L
Snug top topper
Roofnest XL on topper
Decked drawer system in bed
Airbags
10 ply tires

AS: 2019 25' International Serenity FBT
Torklift rear hitch with rack and two mountain bikes
Equalizer hitch

When I hook up my AS, the truck sags slightly in the rear. I add 60 (max is 100) psi to the airbags to restore my truck to level and the AS to level. I also have one of those Harbor Freight hitch slop remover gizmos (U-bolt and plate that tightens up the hitch and receiver) so I don't hear a clunk every time I start to move.

I have about 30,000 miles on this setup and have never experienced any trailer sway or problems braking.

Here's my question...perhaps I'm going too far down a rabbit hole...but, with all the YouTube videos about front end separation or front end compression, does a WD hitch put too much torque on the front of the AS tow coupler / A-frame?

I don't really understand the physics as it relates to the trailer. I understand how the WD hitch leverages the hitch and truck to distribute weight on the truck and restores weight to the front axle of the truck as well as distributes weight on the trailer more evenly between the ball and both axles. But what forces are generated onto the trailer frame? Could this torque/force cause damage to the AS frame in the front of the trailer? I'm well within specs for both the truck and trailers towing capacities (not overloaded on either) and everything seems to be working in harmony, but I'll be pretty disappointed if I develop FES or compression on my AS. I haven't had any issues with ground clearance or dragging the rear of the trailer, so I'm not worried about folding my trailer like a taco and compressing the front end/storage compartments (the bikes, rack and hitch are about 135 lbs total at the rear bumper and we have nothing heavy in the rear of the AS). I also think that FES can happen if the frame bends too much the other way (like an upside down U).

So, my question is, does the WD hitch setup apply too much torque to the front of the trailer? How would one know this? How does one know if everything is set up properly aside from following the Equalizer hitch installation procedures and loading the trailer and truck correctly and not overloaded? My experience tells me I have it correct. But FES seems to happen for a myriad of reasons (dragging the rear of the trailer of too much weight on the rear of the trailer).

I don't want to start another thread dealing with FES or the virtues of Airbags vs. WD hitches. I just don't want to place more stress on the front of the AS frame than it is designed to handle and the only thing I can think of that I could be doing wrong that might cause this would be the WD hitch.

Thanks for any input...
Thankfully, I don't have nor have I ever, had FES problems with my 3 25's nor my 28'; but I also never had front beds in any of my AS's. Seems that is a common thread. The FES seems primarily to be symptomatic of the Front bed models with storage compartment up front, from what I am reading.

There is a great Youtube on what causes this and also how he fixes it, with Vinnie. Take a look...

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Old 02-29-2024, 12:47 PM   #3
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Think linear force instead of torque.
With a standard WD hitch, the ball is the pivot point.

I use the lightest rated WD bars to move the needed weight, (round bars are best).

The CAT scales are one way to determine these weights
You need to have both TV & AS level when hitched fully loaded & WD set.
Our weights..
1200lb TW, on Sherline scale
860lb receiver weight with WD set
560 to the FA
160 to the AS
720 moved With 1000 lb and Hensley Arrow hitch.

I've found it's best to know your numbers and not guess.

BTW the search google is your friend.

IMHO trailer design is the main reason for FES.

Sweet Streams...

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Old 02-29-2024, 03:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by sixweeds View Post
...
I don't really understand the physics as it relates to the trailer. I understand how the WD hitch leverages the hitch and truck to distribute weight on the truck and restores weight to the front axle of the truck as well as distributes weight on the trailer more evenly between the ball and both axles. But what forces are generated onto the trailer frame?...
...
I think you'll find very few people who've drawn out all the relevant forces as vectors and summed them to zero. <- if it's not accelerating, the sum of the forces has to be zero, yes? I'm not a mechanical engineer, but I do remember this.

if you sketched it out, you'd have a sort of arch - those pictures of cars with rear wheels removed hitched and towing are an extreme example but sure look like an arch. That arch will bend in the middle - at the hitch. Put enough spring in the mix and the hitch can stay at knee height.

then what are the forces on the hitch and the trailer frame that cause a net "up" at the ball - an "up" that will be equalled by a "down" on both the truck and the trailer side of the hitch? If it's up in the middle it's down on either side. Focusing on the trailer frame, there's gotta be an up at the ball, and a down where the load bars connect to the trailer frame. That's putting a bending force on the frame rails, which seems it would be pretty sorted out by the time you get to the body.

Then you get into shapes of load bars, progressive spring rates on square vs tapered bars etc.

I've wondered, but never aloud, if a combination of really stiff bars, 3500/350 trucks, and speed over bad pavement are the really big contributors, but that's a question, not an assertion.
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Old 03-01-2024, 06:36 AM   #5
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Great input. I am gong to go back to the beginning and reattach the Equalizer hitch per instructions with a loaded TV and AS. Then weigh it at a CAT scale. Then I’ll have peace of mind. I also try to be careful and never drag the back end, avoid bumps, drive 60-65, etc. If I get FES after all that then at least I’ll know it wasn’t me. It’s a 2019 and out of warranty. But perhaps one day there will be a lawsuit or recall or service bulletin to address this design failure. Thanks, THOR…
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Old 03-01-2024, 06:55 AM   #6
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The Equalizer seems like a pretty stiff hitch.
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Old 03-01-2024, 07:06 AM   #7
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I can imagine where you have the perfect situation. Right truck, right hitch, and all set up to perfection. Then you go through a low water creek crossing, or just out of a gas station steep entrance. If you have lifted your AS like we have, wouldn’t the momentary stress of having the truck climbing and the trailer descending, just blow it all up? This is why I think AS has to accommodate for higher stresses on the frame. We’ve been in many situations where the truck is on a steep incline and the trailer is still angled down.
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Old 03-01-2024, 08:09 AM   #8
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Based on what I am reading, it almost feels like once you pull into a campground (assuming its a hilly campground like you find out here in the NE), it might be advisable to lose your WD bars so you can navigate w/o worrying about your combo ending up in a 'V' type angle.

Of course, this is not possible when underway, and sometimes that scenario will present itself. So - what do you do than? Pray?
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Old 03-01-2024, 08:14 AM   #9
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I'd rather be set up a bit soft and do what you did, air bags.
Although I'm not dogmatic on payload, the Tundra is soft for better ride, and you have a topper and a bed slide, and "roof nest XL", (whatever that is) so I'm guessing you're over the published payload.
I also have a Tundra, 2015, 26U, Equalizer hitch, a bit of sag on the truck and in two cross country trips never had sway or any sign of a popped rivet or wrinkles in the front.

A real feature of the Equalizer is how adjustable it is, once you understand how all the parts work together. The downside is any change requires total disassembly.
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Old 03-01-2024, 08:19 AM   #10
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A real feature of the Equalizer is how adjustable it is, once you understand how all the parts work together. The downside is any change requires total disassembly.
I think that's where the WeighSafe hitches shine. Equalizer approach, math based adjustments easily done by turning a bolt in the head assembly. They're pretty neat.
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Old 03-01-2024, 08:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by S1njin View Post
Based on what I am reading, it almost feels like once you pull into a campground (assuming its a hilly campground like you find out here in the NE), it might be advisable to lose your WD bars so you can navigate w/o worrying about your combo ending up in a 'V' type angle.

Of course, this is not possible when underway, and sometimes that scenario will present itself. So - what do you do than? Pray?
Actually, we do disconnect the anti sway bars from our Blue Ox and put them in back of truck when camping in tight camp spots, or moving from one spot to another, without hitting the highway, or even going to a dump station, while camped. Done this in Signal Mountain- Teton, and Olympic Park-WA where the turn was very tight to get the AS up into it's spot. Connect back up when leaving and tow to level area to reconnect. Doesn't take long if you have 8" thick block to put your power jack foot on to speed up the power jack to highth needed.

Also, for short trips, like getting tires rotated, AS washed at the truck wash, etc...never use the sway bars. 5 miles or so each way....
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Old 03-01-2024, 08:25 AM   #12
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good articles from CANAM
https://www.canamrv.ca/blog/post/you-cant-tow-that-2/
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Old 03-01-2024, 11:20 AM   #13
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If I read your post correctly you have 30K miles on your current set & no FES or problems at all. If that's true your good to go why change anything ?
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Old 03-01-2024, 11:37 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by sixweeds View Post
I know this topic has been covered ad nauseam, but...

So, my question is, does the WD hitch setup apply too much torque to the front of the trailer? How would one know this? How does one know if everything is set up properly aside from following the Equalizer hitch installation procedures and loading the trailer and truck correctly and not overloaded? My experience tells me I have it correct. But FES seems to happen for a myriad of reasons (dragging the rear of the trailer of too much weight on the rear of the trailer).

I don't want to start another thread dealing with FES or the virtues of Airbags vs. WD hitches. I just don't want to place more stress on the front of the AS frame than it is designed to handle and the only thing I can think of that I could be doing wrong that might cause this would be the WD hitch.

Thanks for any input...
Check out these articles: https://www.rvlifemag.com/taking-the...-torsion-bars/ and https://www.rvlifemag.com/understand...l-mount-angle/

I believe your trailer has a front compartment, so I think you are right to be concerned. We previously had a mid-1970s Airstream with a rear bath and rear separation. These are not new issues with longer Airstreams. Inland Andy (when he was still around) harped on running gear imbalance (make sure the trailer tires are balanced) and stiffly sprung tow vehicles. Vibration and harshness may be more significant than the forces applied by the torsion bars to the trailer frame.

A half ton truck or a passenger vehicle put less stress on an Airstream, so the Tundra is a plus in your favour.

I think the most important preventive step you could take would be to get rid of the Equal-i-zer hitch and use one with tapered round bars that are softer initially and more progressive.
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Old 03-01-2024, 12:13 PM   #15
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I bought a F250 b/c every forum and every RV'er I've ever interacted with who tows says you run out of payload quick on a 1/2 ton pulling a travel trailer.

Now I'm reading for a AS I might have been better off w/ my F150.

Can't win !!! The truck isn't going anywhere at this point so if my truck is the problem it'll end up being a SOB trailer in the end.
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Old 03-01-2024, 12:51 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by S1njin View Post
I bought a F250 b/c every forum and every RV'er I've ever interacted with who tows says you run out of payload quick on a 1/2 ton pulling a travel trailer.

Now I'm reading for a AS I might have been better off w/ my F150.

Can't win !!! The truck isn't going anywhere at this point so if my truck is the problem it'll end up being a SOB trailer in the end.
Yes, you run out of payload quickly with a ˝ ton. Unfortunately, a lot of ˝ tons have no more load capacity than a regular car, and less than a lot of a minivans. But more importantly, it depends on how much heavy stuff you want to carry in the box of the truck. Firewood, gas grills, extra propane, a generator, fuel - these all add up fast.

Here's my experience: One of my sons has an old Chevy 1500HD 2wd that he has used to tow the 22FB. (He gets borrowing privileges; he services expensive light aircraft for a living.) He just drops it on the ball and goes, and it does well. That truck is just about a 2500 - a heavier frame and a payload capacity of about 3000 lbs, I think. The ride of that truck is a bit stiff empty, but it seems fine with about 650 lbs of tongue weight on it and a heavy toolbox in the back. And I remember driving a mid-90s Ford F250 and thinking I wouldn't want to own it - the ride was brutal. But that was over 25 years ago.

So do I think a ˝ ton is a better choice for towing an Airstream? Yes, the basic structure hasn't changed in many decades and they were originally designed with family cars in mind. Today's ˝ tons are more softly sprung and effectively a replacement for traditional full-size cars that disappeared with the demise of the Crown Victoria in 2012. (FWIW, I tow with a Volvo station wagon. Ask me about it if you want.)

But the key question for you is whether your F250 is a risk factor. I guess you need to judge your truck for yourself. If it beats you up while you are riding in it, it will beat up your trailer too - Airstream or SOB.
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Old 03-01-2024, 02:35 PM   #17
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Honestly aside from the recent 5th wheel Lippert frame issue on longer heavier 5'ers, there really isn't any meaningful problems w/ towing SOB trailers w/ HD trucks.

Outside of Airstream, HD trucks are pretty much the bread and butter of the heavier/longer travel trailer market. 7k GVWR is pretty much the top end of what I'd ever put behind a 1/2 ton in a SOB configuration (windsail).
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Old 03-02-2024, 08:42 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by S1njin View Post
I bought a F250 b/c every forum and every RV'er I've ever interacted with who tows says you run out of payload quick on a 1/2 ton pulling a travel trailer.

Now I'm reading for a AS I might have been better off w/ my F150.

Can't win !!! The truck isn't going anywhere at this point so if my truck is the problem it'll end up being a SOB trailer in the end.
Don't get confused about the F250 and towing an AS; it is a great platform, for reasons mentioned when towing a 25' or larger model. Some 1/2T's can do the job also, depending on payload numbers. Some folks here don't "care" that their 1/2T or SUV may be over payload and tow their larger AS's always over payload rating; that's not recommended, but they do it anyway...some of us like to stay within the MFG ratings. Point is, your F250 is a fine platform for larger AS's; 25' and larger. If your looking for a smaller AS, a 1/2T or some SUV's can also do the job nicely. Pretty easy decision for some of us...great argument for others.
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Old 03-02-2024, 08:55 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by AlbertF View Post
Yes, you run out of payload quickly with a ˝ ton. Unfortunately, a lot of ˝ tons have no more load capacity than a regular car, and less than a lot of a minivans. But more importantly, it depends on how much heavy stuff you want to carry in the box of the truck. Firewood, gas grills, extra propane, a generator, fuel - these all add up fast.

Here's my experience: One of my sons has an old Chevy 1500HD 2wd that he has used to tow the 22FB. (He gets borrowing privileges; he services expensive light aircraft for a living.) He just drops it on the ball and goes, and it does well. That truck is just about a 2500 - a heavier frame and a payload capacity of about 3000 lbs, I think. The ride of that truck is a bit stiff empty, but it seems fine with about 650 lbs of tongue weight on it and a heavy toolbox in the back. And I remember driving a mid-90s Ford F250 and thinking I wouldn't want to own it - the ride was brutal. But that was over 25 years ago.

So do I think a ˝ ton is a better choice for towing an Airstream? Yes, the basic structure hasn't changed in many decades and they were originally designed with family cars in mind. Today's ˝ tons are more softly sprung and effectively a replacement for traditional full-size cars that disappeared with the demise of the Crown Victoria in 2012. (FWIW, I tow with a Volvo station wagon. Ask me about it if you want.)

But the key question for you is whether your F250 is a risk factor. I guess you need to judge your truck for yourself. If it beats you up while you are riding in it, it will beat up your trailer too - Airstream or SOB.
What year/ model does your "son's" have? Not sure if you have ridden in a newer F250? They are not like the older models; (2016 and below for the Ford models). Night and day difference. Ride is pretty smooth, especially when towing. But it's the handling while towing that I appreciate vs my F150 on the larger AS's. Payload aside, anything can tow a trailer; to handle a heavy AS with longer frame on a mountainous, curvy, highway is night and day difference in the two tow vehicles. Just saying...if you have not had that experience, hard to convince some. I know my wife noticed the difference right away going thru MT when we got the new F250 back in 2017'.

As for FES, seems we keep seeing the same concerns, questions on this; seems relegated to front bed models with the storage up front. Again, the Youtube done with Vinnie, is an excellent learning discussion on what causes FES, the fixes, and also some other "cautions" regarding the AS and frame that can happen. If you have not watched, suggest you take the time to watch.
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Old 03-02-2024, 07:14 PM   #20
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The simple answer is -- no

The WD hitch does not impart torque to the frame, it does apply a bending type moment to both the trailer and the truck -- it changes the hitch from a point load from the trailer -- (hinge, no moment can be transferred) into a joint that CAN transfer moment thru the joint.
Being a (retired) Structures Engineer I could go down the rabbit hole of all the moments and reaction forces involved -- but basically the frame is more than adequate to carry the moment and forces involved -- just as your truck's frame is capable.
How much sag do you have when the WD hitch is engaged?? What happens if you adjust the WD hitch to remove the sag??
If the sag is not too bad, I would not try to remove it via the Air Bags, that will only further stiffen up your rear end of the truck and impose higher dynamic forces to the system.
the higher air bag pressure will not add travel to the suspension system -- in fact it will actually reduce the amount of travel the suspension system will move for a given load -- making it more like a solid rod -- which will exponentially increase the "shock load" transferred to the system when ever you go over an irregularity or bumps
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