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Old 02-03-2013, 01:41 PM   #1
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Trunnion head failure

I just purchased a 2008 25' AS with a Reese dual cam WD hitch with 1200# spring bars. When backing up my driveway for the first time I heard a loud pop and when I checked the drivers side spring bar was on the ground. After I checked the hitch I found that the trunnion head had ripped the cast iron ear that holds it in. My driveway is is sloped up from the road.

Has anyone had a similar experience? I spoke with a tech. rep. from Reese and he has seen this before. He stated that Reese has beefed up the new hitches in this area. I saw an online message from someone that had this occur after going over a dip in the road.

My thoughts as to possible causes are: ball too high- resulting in extreme angle between vehicles when backing up a grade, too stiff springs.

Any help that does not include buying a Hensley or PP would be appreciated.

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Old 02-03-2013, 01:48 PM   #2
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1200 # spring bars are most likely way too large for your 25' trailer. I would suspect you need bars in the 800# range. In addition, you will need a new ball head for your current Reese. So, about the only thing you would salvage would be the stinger bar itself from the old hitch.

So, replace and repair what you have, or consider a new hitch altogether. There are many out there which do not have the price tag of the PP or Hensley. I happen to like my Andersen, but would not reject many others.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:50 PM   #3
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This is not an uncommon failure... try googling for "reese trunnion head failure".

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Old 02-03-2013, 02:00 PM   #4
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Did Reese replace head as they were aware of prob. and modified? Liability issue I had failure in 1968, destroyed 30 ft AS. They discovered design factor and paid for AS. no hassle I was very happy with Reeses handling of this matter. I use the old style dual cam will not replace with any other brand of hitch also I like old style much simpler, U hanger w chains to snap ups & bars w ends bolted on not bent as new bars are
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:02 PM   #5
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Ditto what Barts said. I had also heard that the heads were beefed up in that area....but I don't know when.
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:10 PM   #6
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1200# is about a factor of two too much stiffness on those bars. I expect that would hold up the whole back end of a front wheel drive car. If your driveway has a real steep bend in it, I would consider taking the bars off or loosening them as much as possible till you get it level. I expect that even a new hitch might break under those conditions. You are also putting alot of stress on the frame of your trailer and this could lead to front end separtion.

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Old 02-04-2013, 05:07 PM   #7
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1200# is about a factor of two too much stiffness on those bars. I expect that would hold up the whole back end of a front wheel drive car. If your driveway has a real steep bend in it, I would consider taking the bars off or loosening them as much as possible till you get it level. I expect that even a new hitch might break under those conditions. You are also putting alot of stress on the frame of your trailer and this could lead to front end separtion.

Perry
I don't understand that logic??the trunion should be able to withstand at least it's rated load. If it takes the 1200lb spring bars regardless of tw
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:08 PM   #8
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I wish Andrew from CanAm or Andy from Inland RV would weigh in on this, as they have seen Airstream and w.d. damage from too-heavy bars.

Recalling their past comments, I think if the driveway angle is too steep and the w.d. bars too stiff, there is a risk of bending the A-frame of the trailer, as well as breaking of the w.d. head.

Disconnecting the bars when backing into the driveway may work well, but it is also important to select appropriate w.d. bars for your particular trailer/truck combination. That's where a call to the "Andys" can help you.

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Old 02-04-2013, 07:19 PM   #9
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1200 lb bars are very stiff. 1200lb is the nominal load when the trailer and tow vehicle are level. Now when the angle is increased like when you go up a drive way the force on the bars can go way up. Also if the bars are too tight the likelyhood of breaking something goes way up. I don't know of many trailers that have a 1200lb tongue weight. I don't see a good side to 1200lb bars on anything that Airstream makes. Maybe if you are hauling 15000lb of wet sand in a dump trailer with an F-150 they might be of use.

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I don't understand that logic??the trunion should be able to withstand at least it's rated load. If it takes the 1200lb spring bars regardless of tw
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:31 PM   #10
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A large northeastern Airstream dealership sold the PO of my 27FB Safari SE 1200 pound Reese bars with a Reese hitch. Prior to buying used I was negotiating with the same dealership for a new trailer (27FB) and the salesperson was specifying 1200 pound bars. I read the Forums for a year before buying so I knew 1200 pound bars were not correct. I purchased 800 pound bars for the trailer prior to picking it up from the PO and I've been happy so far. Like others I suggest you consider the 600 to 800 pound range.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:37 PM   #11
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Regardless, nhrocks, of the bar argument, I do believe there was a known issue with the amount of material in that area. Call Reese and see what they may do for you.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:49 PM   #12
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Reese acknowledged that the heads had failed in the past and that the new heads were beefed up. I was not the original purchaser and they would not replace it and will only sell to dealers.

A new one is on the way from e-trailer.

The 1200# bars are rated for use with tongue weights from 600#-1200# max.
The 800# bars are rated 400-800#, which I could exceed when loaded since it has a published empty hitch weight of 720#.

The PO purchased the AS and hitch from the well known NJ dealer that has sold and set up many units.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:07 PM   #13
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When I was using my Reese Dual Cam, I used 800# bars with my 30'er with 900 - 1000#s actual tongue weight. I felt this was just right. I do believe you should use one weight step below your actual tongue weight. Understand the bar rating is not a maximum rating, like a truck axle or tire. It is a guide to flexibility. It has been debated over and over here on this forum (and others as well). You can use the Google search function in the blue bar at the top of the page and get some pretty good numerical analyses as well as many well respected opinions.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:30 PM   #14
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Andy at CanAm recommended the 800 bars for the Hensley Arrow for my trailer which now has a 1,200 pound tongue weight, up from the published 833 pounds as an empty new trailer.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:52 PM   #15
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Apparently, the way Airstreams are constructed where the frame and shell are fastened and work together, they are more susceptible to damage from heavy duty truck/heavy duty w.d. bars; according to Airstream repair shop owners who have posted here, particularly Andy from Inland RV.

For this reason he has consistently advised lighter w.d. bars than what the manufacturer or dealers who sell many brands of trailers recommend.

I think he would recommend no larger than 800# bars for your rig, as a previous post indicates your tow vehicle is a heavy duty truck towing your 25' Airstream, which is at the higher side of tolerance by your trailer in itself.

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Old 02-05-2013, 07:26 AM   #16
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1200 lb bars will always work and the dealer does not have to have more than one type in stock. They won't work right but they will always be able to lift the rear end of what ever vehicle that you put them on. It would be like replacing the springs on your car with a solid piece of metal. It will hold the car up but won't absorb any loads.

Perry
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:20 AM   #17
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Quote:
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1200 lb bars will always work and the dealer does not have to have more than one type in stock. They won't work right but they will always be able to lift the rear end of what ever vehicle that you put them on. It would be like replacing the springs on your car with a solid piece of metal. It will hold the car up but won't absorb any loads.

Perry
Perry,

You are correct. The dealer I purchased my 800 pound bars from only had 1200 pound bars in stock. He had to order lighter bars. No doubt he is reducing inventory investment by carrying only one size. His sales department is configuring all customers buying trailers with 1200 pound bars. However he was happy to special order the lighter bars when I asked. Lessons:

1) Dealers don't always look after the best interest of the customer
2) It pays to become educated before buying.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:03 AM   #18
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1200 lb bars are very stiff. 1200lb is the nominal load when the trailer and tow vehicle are level. Now when the angle is increased like when you go up a drive way the force on the bars can go way up. Also if the bars are too tight the likelyhood of breaking something goes way up. I don't know of many trailers that have a 1200lb tongue weight. I don't see a good side to 1200lb bars on anything that Airstream makes. Maybe if you are hauling 15000lb of wet sand in a dump trailer with an F-150 they might be of use.

Perry
I would't want 1200lb bars on my Safari either.I just do not see a 1200lb spring being harder on a trunion with an 6000lb load vs a 12000llb load
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:00 AM   #19
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I would't want 1200lb bars on my Safari either.I just do not see a 1200lb spring being harder on a trunion with an 6000lb load vs a 12000llb load
Just sitting there it won't make a difference. When backing into the driveway the heavier bar begins lifting the back of the truck and front of the trailer rather than flexing. Same driving down uneven roadways, only much more rapidly.

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Old 02-06-2013, 10:03 AM   #20
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Just sitting there it won't make a difference. When backing into the driveway the heavier bar begins lifting the back of the truck and front of the trailer rather than flexing. Same driving down uneven roadways, only much more rapidly.

doug k
Yes, Doug has it right here. But, IIRC, Reese utilizes the same head for all their spring bar ratings (unlike EQ) so the head should have been able to take the pressures of any of their bar offerings. It was a weak point in the design, and I believe has been corrected in production.
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