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Old 04-30-2010, 03:23 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1979 Argosy 27
YYC , Alberta
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 45
Spring Bars too tight? And Automatic Levelling Suspension Question

Had our trailer for a week now and I have some concerns regarding our hookup...had them last week after our first test run, and reading the forums here for the past few hours don't alleviate my I'd like some advice to make sure I am not doing damage to the trailer, or my tow vehicle...or myself for that matter.

1979 Argosy 27' with 490lb tounge weight, 4100 dry weight
TV is a 2007 Yukon Denali XL, which is rated for 7900lbs

Some background - The owner of trailer for past 30 years used 500lbs bars, a straight draw bar, and Ezy-lift friction sway control. Being new to everything as far as pulling a trailer, it was a new experience. After shopping around a bit, as soon as we saw this trailer and the original build quality, character, and how it was taken care of by the long time owner, we liked the trailer right away, put a deposit down, and came back the next day ready to go. The owner was very good with us in helping us first timers out and explaining everything and the nuances of how things worked, the issues we would have to deal with with the trailer, and just very helpful in general (and has continued to be so via email).

Anyways, when time to hook up to our TV that night to drive it away, the draw bar wasn't going to work. Sat way too high, and we needed a drop on the hitch of more then a few inches.

Luckily, the PO had purchased a an adjustable Reese draw bar (I can check the rating, it still has the sticker, but its probably for 1000lb tounge) with a drop for his new 33ft trailer he was going to be pulling with his Silverado 2500HD. Also, obviously the old bars wouldn't work, and he also had the 1000lb bars to go with his hitch. I had to pay him an extra $275 for this setup (as he would have to go out and buy new ones for him), but a pretty good deal considering these were fairly new bars and hitch, and this pruchase was 1h out of town in a small community, and having to go back to the city, get the setup (at a lot more $ brand new) then come back for an 1h drive the next day for the third day was not appealing.

So, we get the draw bar adjusted and put on the bars. This is where my first concern is (we've hooked it up/down twice since). It got on ok and trailer looked fairly level and sat low....but, snapping the chains up take a lot of force, it seems, to lift up and release in the old snap bracket. Unhooking the first time I almost broke my thumb. I am a bit worried that the I'm going to hurt myself with the recoil after snapping them up and jamming the lifting bar into me, or having my hand jam against the spare tire or the LPG tanks, or recoil when pulling down. We are on the last link in the snap bracket, though, so there is no more "give" in the chain.

A friend, who was also down camping where we took it last weekend, also thought that the bars were far too tight and needed far too much force to get up and lock, and then, springs back far too quick when letting down. Its as if the chain needs another link or two (but, not having them in front of me, they appear to be the 9 links as advertised on the Reese website) of slack. Also, through probably some of my error and inexperience in trying to do this, I have bent (and knocked back into place) the metal on the old snap bracket.

Attached are a couple pictures of my setup with the hitch and the bars in the old snap the side view, I notice my bars aren't quite at level, slightly, it looks like, angling up towards the trailer, when they should(?) sit a little lower and more parallel. That would explain why force is needed to lift the chains, wouldn't it?

I am connecting the trailer, then lifting it and to form an "A" when I put the bars on and lock them in place, as he told me to do (and, looking at the Reese site, also tells me to do).

So what's the solution? Do I have something setup wrong? I know I could get away with less heavy bars, according to the owner (who I've since asked this about) but outside of that...

Do I need a bigger chain/more links to level the bar, give it more slack, and not make it so tight? The owner also says he has an extra set of Reese Chain locks (I assime that means the snap up brackets)...would that help the tightness situation (I know them being more heavy duty then the old ones is better just in general), being everything else is Reese?

Being the first time pulling a trailer (45 miles back home, then 180 miles each way last weekend), I don't know if I had an issue. Seemed fine, pulled fine, the ride wasn't rough or bumpy or felt anything different (as the owner thought would be the case when I asked him this question) then pulling weight behind me (more on maybe why this is later, related to my TV suspension).

But I want to make sure I am not doing longer term damage to the trailer, or, even more so, my tow vehicle, with this setup. Would things like front end alignment (I ask this only because I had the TV into the shop 2 days after getting the trailer (only having drive 60 miles or so with the trailer attached), for regular service, and they told me it needed a front end alignment (hopefully it may have been just coincidence)) or undo stress on some other part of the tow vehcile, result from bars being too tight, or even simply too heavy for what I need? Again, the trailer didn't seem too bumpy, but with the bars too tight (if that's the case), what the ramifications of that?

Now, if that's not enough of me rambling, toss in that the Denali has air ride/self levelling suspension.

I've looked at the few topics where this has been discussed, and I do understand that the self levelling does negate some/much of the effect of the bars. On my vehicle, it cannot be disabled, so things such as I've read here, doing the jump test on the back of the TV to see if there is the same "give" as when unhooked, is a a moot point.

-Does having this air ride play into my above issue at all with the Reese bars seeming too tight?
-Does this factor mean that I am putting even more undo stress on the TV or the trailer and mean its even more imperative that I get lighter bars?
-What's the correct procedure for setting this up? The levelling suspension does not kick in until the TV has started up/engine running. Is it best to hook everything up before firing up the TV, and then the TV can adjust after the fact, or is it best to have the TV running (as I think I have each of the 3 times I've hooked up so far) to make the adjustments as I am lowering the trailer onto the vehicle/hooking up the Reese bars)?

It would be foolish to say I don't need the Reese bars because I have self levelling suspension, but again, just trying to figure out how this factor plays into my first issue, with the hope of not doing longer term damage (or even damage/getting out of alignment etc each and everytime I am hooking up) to the TV or the trailer.

Sorry for the mammoth post and a lot of questions in there...thanks for your time and any advice in advance.
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:45 AM   #2
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,252
Welcome to the forums. Your tow vehicle's owner's manual should tell you how to set up to tow the trailer with the air ride suspension. The spring bars are more than likely too stiff, maybe you can find somebody with 500 -750 pound bars that can trade with you.
We noticed with our truck that even with the ball mount at the lowest position the trailer was still a bit nose-high, and we had to get a longer drop for it.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:22 AM   #3
2 Rivet Member
1979 Argosy 27
YYC , Alberta
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 45
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
Welcome to the forums. Your tow vehicle's owner's manual should tell you how to set up to tow the trailer with the air ride suspension. The spring bars are more than likely too stiff, maybe you can find somebody with 500 -750 pound bars that can trade with you.
We noticed with our truck that even with the ball mount at the lowest position the trailer was still a bit nose-high, and we had to get a longer drop for it.
Thanks for that.

I'll do another read of the owners manual, but looking at it pre-purchase, I don't recall any detailed instructions regarding an air ride suspension setup in so far as towing.

Also, I don't think I'm at the lowest drop on the adjustable ball mount...if I did drop the ball down further, and thus the trailer sat lower, am I correct in saying that it would that mean potentially the bars/chains would have a little bit more slack (I'm trying to visualize the connection for the bars at the draw bar lower too with that or does it remain the same?) in them and thus not so hard to pull/lock up?
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:20 PM   #4
3 Rivet Member
1980 31' Excella II
Drummond Island , Michigan
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 140
Don't have an opinion about your air ride suspension vs. adjusting the bars on the equalizing hitch. When we hook up we drop the trailer coupler down on the ball until it just puts some light pressure on the ball and then snap the coupler closed. The bars go on after the safety chains and generally require very little force to lock up to the A frame when you hook them up with light pressure on the ball. We then retract the tongue jack and put the full weight of the tongue on TV. Every thing settles and the bars now have quite a bit of tension on them. We use two links on the chain for the bars and the TV and trailer are level. On our GMC Envoy with air suspension it would activate if the load changed and caused the rear to drop. It adjusted in a static position right after the engine was started and leveled vehicle. We towed with the Envoy but never a trailer with an equalizing hitch. I do know the suspension will level out the load from the weight on the ball based on ride height. To make sure your ball is at the correct height for your trailer, Level the trailer on a level surface, measure the distance from the ground to the top of the coupler. This is the ball height needed, although it is spec'd from the factory it is different with every trailer over time because of suspension settling and load. With your tow vehicle on a level surface and the suspension level, measure from the ground to the top of the ball. This height should be within 1/4 to 1/2 inch of your coupler height. If the ball height and coupler height are the same when you hook up the equalizer bars should require very little effort to lock up. Then you can then transfer hitch weight forward to the TV by increasing or decreasing the number of links you use on the bar chains. The optimum being that both the TV and trailer are level.
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:20 PM   #5
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Anna , Illinois
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Spring Bars too tight? And Automatic Levelling Suspension Question

Greetings lbrownah!

Welcome to the world of Vintage Argosy ownership!

I am virtually certain that you are "over-hitched" with 1,000 pound spring bars. My '64 Overlander has very similar statistics to those of your '79 Argosy 27, and one of my first lessons 15 years ago was that 1,000 pound spring bars when utilized with a K2500 GMC Suburban as tow vehicle resulted in a rivet popping ride for my Overlander. After switching to the 600 pound spring bars, the ride improved and my popped rivet problem nearly disappeared.

You may want to check the website for the brand drawbar/ball mount that you have. On the website, you should find directions for properly adjusting the ball mount for height as well as angle. The height and angle will have an impact on the performance of the weight distribution system.

Good luck with your hitch setup!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:22 PM   #6
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,177
I can't tell from your pics, but some hitch heads are adjustable not just up & down, but they can be tilted back and forth, which adjusts the position of the bars relative to the ground. If your hitch was angled up so the ends of the bars sat higher you would be where you want to be with the chains.
If you are breaking hitches or fingers, you are putting WAY too much pressure on the unit. As stated before, if you set the WD chains before dropping the weight of the trailer onto the ball it is easier to lock them in, but you first must know that you are going to have the correct amount of WD when it drops. Go through the steps of adjusting it properly, then use the trick above to make your hitching easy, everyday from that point on.

Best to you,
Rich the Viking
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