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Old 01-01-2019, 07:43 AM   #1
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WD hitch vs airbags

I tow with a an Equalizer hitch that I am generally happy with. I've seen debates on this forum in the past on the merits of airbags. As I've thought about these I am wondering if they work that differently? With a weight distribution (WD) hitch you restore weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle and to the trailer by raising the rear of the tow vehicle and then keeping the rear of the tow vehicle from sagging. You pick up the rear of your tow vehicle with your trailer jack or by prying or cranking up the weight distribution bars. Isn't this essentially what airbags do,-- pick up the rear of the vehicle and prevent it from sagging? Of course you would not get the sway control that some WD hitches provide, and please lets agree to start that neither approach increases you vehicle capacity or axle ratings. Do WD hitches somehow transfer more weight due to to the tension on the weight distribution bars than is accomplished by just leveling the tow vehicle?
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:00 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fran&frank View Post
With a weight distribution (WD) hitch you restore weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle and to the trailer by raising the rear of the tow vehicle and then keeping the rear of the tow vehicle from sagging. You pick up the rear of your tow vehicle with your trailer jack or by prying or cranking up the weight distribution bars. Isn't this essentially what airbags do,-- pick up the rear of the vehicle and prevent it from sagging?
No. WD hitches actually lift weight off of the rear axle to transfer it to the front axle and trailer axles. Airbags leave all of that weight on the rear axle, and just push the rear of the tow vehicle up.

Think of it this way. You have a loaded wheelbarrow. If you lift the handles, you take weight off of the rear legs. If you merely put blocks UNDER the rear legs, you have lifted the handles, but all of the weight is still ON the rear legs.
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:04 AM   #3
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Thru the use of leverage
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:13 AM   #4
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OK, leverage and the wheel barrow analogy make sense to me. So the tension in the WD bars is leveraging off the front axle of the tow vehicle and trailer axles to lift the rear of the tow vehicle. Thanks.
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:27 AM   #5
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It works by putting a twist into the hitch to basically “wheelbarrow” the frame of the truck. It’s reverse leverage; the forces on the frame are higher than the amount of weight “transferred” to the front axle.

Make sure your hitch and frame are up to the task.
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:30 AM   #6
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This was a great question.

I've not until now had a good handle on the weight-distributing-hitch magic.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:34 AM   #7
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Air bags

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Originally Posted by WhereStream View Post
This was a great question.

I've not until now had a good handle on the weight-distributing-hitch magic.
I have an WD hitch and it works fine. I have been told by a number of folks who have both that the airbags keeps the truck and trailer from hopping when going over irregular surfaces. That is why they have them.

Seems about right to me.
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:39 AM   #8
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Bags good for leveling, only. A visual fake that all is well, regardless of load. The axle doesn't get stronger, the wheel/tire don't gain capacity. WD hitches distribute load, but also are not able to prevent overloading. Must have some measured loading, some understanding of limits, and some respect for the engineering behind the limits, so your towing confidence and actual experience grow safely.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:00 AM   #9
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The WD hitch may be a requirement of your TV because the receiver may be only rated for 500-600 pounds tongue weight without WD. Check you receiver specs. On my F250 Diesel 900+ torque, 19,000+ towing and 2000 pounds Payload, my 2" receiver is only rated for 6000 pounds towing and 600 pounds tongue weight without weight distribution.
Know your specs and don't overload. The life you save may be mine.


Happy streaming...
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:03 AM   #10
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... WD hitches distribute load, but also are not able to prevent overloading. ...
Not quite correct. WD equipment can alleviate overloading the rear axle because some of the load (up to 2/3 of the tongue weight) is moved from the TV rear axle/tires.

However, it is important to make sure that the added weight to the TV front axle/tires and the trailer axles/tires are not overloading those rig components.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:05 AM   #11
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Hi, I towed my trailer for over ten years with my 2000 Lincoln Navigator which has rear air suspension with no problems what-so-ever. My owner's manual even tells how to set-up a WD hitch with factory air suspension.

Now add-on air bags might be a little different. I thought about air bags or Sumo Springs for my F-150. [still thinking]
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:11 AM   #12
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You prove my point. Prevent and manage, not the same. By the time you make it Sailor-proof to "prevent", it doesn't float, shoot, fly, or work. . .
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:11 AM   #13
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fran&frank,

My former TV, a 1500 RAM had factory 4 corner air bags & I used the equalizer like you do. When connecting the trailer & truck I always turned the air system off until the bars were attached. Once attached I turned the air bags on and their was no difference in the level of both before & after the bags were deployed. In that particular truck the air bags were a major part of the suspension so they served a vital purpose, otherwise they would have made no difference. I will admit that without the hitch bars connected the air bags did level the truck but did nothing to distribute the weight.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:55 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fran&frank View Post
[...] Do WD hitches somehow transfer more weight due to to the tension on the weight distribution bars than is accomplished by just leveling the tow vehicle?
The Fastway Trailer folks produced a video that explores this question.

Short answer - yes.
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Old 01-01-2019, 11:53 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Adventure.AS View Post
Not quite correct. WD equipment can alleviate overloading the rear axle because some of the load (up to 2/3 of the tongue weight) is moved from the TV rear axle/tires.

However, it is important to make sure that the added weight to the TV front axle/tires and the trailer axles/tires are not overloading those rig components.
....I am wondering about the 2/3 of the tongue weight being transferred...
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Old 01-01-2019, 02:27 PM   #16
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Slight twist on the question: I use an Equalizer WD, but previous owner of my TV pulled a 5th wheel and the truck is equipped with air bags that I've never used. I've not had any concerns about sway or stability, but wondering if inflating the air bags would smooth out some of the rough bumps and not interfere with WD/anti-sway?
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Old 01-01-2019, 05:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjdonahoe View Post
....I am wondering about the 2/3 of the tongue weight being transferred...
Our example...
Hensley
1000lb WD bars. Reese V TowBeast, '06 2500 Burb

1200lb TW
560 to the FA
160 to the AS
720 moved
60%🥴

IMO...add-on bags will do nothing to improve towing capability/performance.
Maybe that's because I never thought they would in the three TV's I have experience with. TETO

Bob
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Old 01-01-2019, 05:51 PM   #18
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I use both and find the addition of air bags removes the bounce when traversing railroad crossings and general bumpy surfaces.

I have a half ton pickup and my AS has a 910lb tongue weight. I aim to remove ~400lbs of tongue weight with the WD hitch then simply stiffen the ride with the bags. I usually run with ~40psi.

Biggest problem I have is with cargo and gross rear axle weight rating. I donít need to put much in the back of the truck and Iím right at the limit.

I like my air bags/WD hitch combo. I also installed the onboard compressor... it works very well.
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Old 01-02-2019, 04:45 AM   #19
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What about the Bambis?

Does a W-D hitch work the same when the trailer has a single axle?
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Old 01-02-2019, 05:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhereStream View Post
What about the Bambis?

Does a W-D hitch work the same when the trailer has a single axle?

Yes.


edit: generally speaking, you want your tongue weight to be roughly 10% of your gross trailer weight. If your Bambi is 3000lbs, your "ideal" tongue weight should be around 300lbs.


Too much tongue weight and you potentially run into receiver issues, steering issues, poor tire wear, and a slew of other things.
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