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Old 04-27-2017, 10:36 AM   #1
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Hayes Electronic Sway Master

Has anyone used a Hayes Electronic Sway Master on their TT?

I just ordered the Hayes 81775 Sway Master for my 2004 Sunline T-2553 towing with 1000# EAZ-LIFT bars equalizing hitch with single mechanical friction EAZ-LIFT sway control. TT uses standard 7 pin electrical connector for lights and electric brakes.

TV is a 2011 Dodge RAM 1500 with 5.7 Hemi.

Would like the extra safety of additional electronic sway control if it works as advertised on my T-2553.
http://www.hayesbc.com/products/cont...s/sway-master/

Thanks,
David
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Old 04-27-2017, 04:14 PM   #2
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I never liked the EZ Lift bars with friction control anti-sway. I recommend Reese Dual Cam system.
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Old 04-27-2017, 08:55 PM   #3
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This is the first I've heard of it. It's an interesting concept, but it seems to be reactive to sway instead of proactive, so I'm not sure how I'd like it.
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Old 04-27-2017, 09:54 PM   #4
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Hi David,

Welcome to the forum.

I have been following the new electronic sway control systems, but have never used one. These types of controllers have been in use in Europe for a while, they are now making it to the US. Alko had one in the EU.

Here in the US they seem to have 2 types, well 3 if you include the new sway control unit in the new pickup trucks.

I did not know Hayes had one yet. Thanks for letting us know. The Hayes works with a sensor on the trailer to measure the sway angle as it starts and then applies the trailer brakes, all the trailer brakes. This device automatically mimics the old method of the driver who when they detected sway building, they would press the manual brake control button to engage all trailer brakes to tame down the sway. The Hayes does this for you and depending on how sensitive they have it set, faster then the driver would.

The other one, is the Tuson unit. And they are connected with Dexter somehow, I am not sure if Tuson makes it and Dexter markets it or what.

https://www.dexteraxle.com/products/...n/sway-control

Sway Control

This unit goes further then the pickup truck ones and the Hayes. This unit requires the brakes be rewired so the controller can independently apply either side of the trailer or both depending on the conditions.

The Hayes unit is for sure simple to add. I understand the concept it uses. You are very wise to use the main WD hitch and mechanical anti sway as the primary and the Hayes as a back up unit. Please let us know how this goes and works. Very interested to learn the outcome.

Thanks

John
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Old 04-27-2017, 10:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunline Fan View Post
This is the first I've heard of it. It's an interesting concept, but it seems to be reactive to sway instead of proactive, so I'm not sure how I'd like it.
Hi Jon,

Think of these electronic sway control devices as a tool for helping in towing, not an absolute device. The Hayes unit is acting like your finger on the manual brake control button, just more automatic and a lot sooner.

Unless we actually change hitch technology from any of the friction based anti sway hitches and go to the Pull Rite hitch or the Hensley or Pro Pride concepts, the high friction hitches also only react once the sway starts. Just some are stronger in reacting and dampening sway then others.

I totally agree, you do not want to count on an electronic sway control as your first line of defense against sway. Mechanically the rig needs to be sound and setup to not aggravate sway from the get go. Proper tongue weight balance, proper WD hitch adjustments, proper truck loading and suspension for the load and a form of mechanical anti sway. Then add an electronic unit if wanted for a bad day on the road.

Just some thoughts

John
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Old 04-28-2017, 08:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Hi Jon,

Think of these electronic sway control devices as a tool for helping in towing, not an absolute device. The Hayes unit is acting like your finger on the manual brake control button, just more automatic and a lot sooner.

Unless we actually change hitch technology from any of the friction based anti sway hitches and go to the Pull Rite hitch or the Hensley or Pro Pride concepts, the high friction hitches also only react once the sway starts. Just some are stronger in reacting and dampening sway then others.

I totally agree, you do not want to count on an electronic sway control as your first line of defense against sway. Mechanically the rig needs to be sound and setup to not aggravate sway from the get go. Proper tongue weight balance, proper WD hitch adjustments, proper truck loading and suspension for the load and a form of mechanical anti sway. Then add an electronic unit if wanted for a bad day on the road.

Just some thoughts

John
Hi John,

That is an important thing to note, using it to help, not solely rely on it. I watched the video and that's what deceived me- they use no WD or sway control of any kind besides this device.

I can see what you mean about the friction devices still being somewhat reactive too. I saw the friction as resistance in that it won't prevent sway, but it should help prevent it from escalating quickly into something worse.

Agreed that proper loading of the trailer and vehicle are really first and foremost...no sway control device will compensate for a poorly loaded trailer. Also, for those reading, it's also important to note that if you do experience sway, whether you have this device, any other sway control device, or nothing, the absolute worst thing you can do during a sway situation is hit the brakes. Natural instinct will probably tell you to, but it will make the sway worse. The best thing to do is maintain your speed, or speed up slightly. If the trailer has brakes, tapping the trailer brakes manually (such as this device in question does), all while maintaining/gaining speed, will help bring your sway under control.
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1997 T-2653 Blue Denim, #5471
1979 12 1/2' MC, Beige & Avocado, #4639
Past Sunlines: '97 T-2653 #5089, '94 T-2251, '86 T-1550, '94 T-2363, '98 T-270SR
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Old 04-28-2017, 08:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sunline Fan View Post
Hi John,

That is an important thing to note, using it to help, not solely rely on it. I watched the video and that's what deceived me- they use no WD or sway control of any kind besides this device.

I can see what you mean about the friction devices still being somewhat reactive too. I saw the friction as resistance in that it won't prevent sway, but it should help prevent it from escalating quickly into something worse.

Agreed that proper loading of the trailer and vehicle are really first and foremost...no sway control device will compensate for a poorly loaded trailer. Also, for those reading, it's also important to note that if you do experience sway, whether you have this device, any other sway control device, or nothing, the absolute worst thing you can do during a sway situation is hit the brakes. Natural instinct will probably tell you to, but it will make the sway worse. The best thing to do is maintain your speed, or speed up slightly. If the trailer has brakes, tapping the trailer brakes manually (such as this device in question does), all while maintaining/gaining speed, will help bring your sway under control.
Yes, I agree. I do not like the marketing hype some hitch manufactures use. Using advertising to promote your product showing no trailer sway systems and no education around it leeds to a lot of misconceptions. The worst one I have seen was Hensley showing a S10 Blazer towing a triple axle Airstream with their hitch. There is no way towing a triple axle camper with an S10 is even a remote thought of being a good thing to do. The best thing ever for reduced sway is proper trailer tongue weight balance as we have said. This costs nothing except an education knowing to load the trailer correctly.

And yes, your comments on friction based anti sway devices is accurate. They help dampen the sway event when it starts to help not escalate into a real bad situation. Some devices are more efficient in dampening the larger forces on larger campers.

I wish there was an industry rating for the dampening effect but there is not. It would make it much easier for people to know what one to buy for a certain camper/truck combo. I asked Reese tech service once, how to do rate your anti sway products? Asked like that, there is no rating. They can tell you which their best is in relation to the others they offer which can help when picking one for a larger campers, bit no rating. The response they gave was, "they are an aide to help be a part of a good towing program. The hitch can only do so much." The response was dead on accurate as there are many factors in how sway is prevented on a truck/trailer combination and thinking this hitch is going to solve everyone of them is not accurate.

Good note on what not to do (hit the brakes) when a sway event starts.

Good discussion.

John
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Old 04-28-2017, 11:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Yes, I agree. I do not like the marketing hype some hitch manufactures use. Using advertising to promote your product showing no trailer sway systems and no education around it leeds to a lot of misconceptions. The worst one I have seen was Hensley showing a S10 Blazer towing a triple axle Airstream with their hitch. There is no way towing a triple axle camper with an S10 is even a remote thought of being a good thing to do. The best thing ever for reduced sway is proper trailer tongue weight balance as we have said. This costs nothing except an education knowing to load the trailer correctly.

And yes, your comments on friction based anti sway devices is accurate. They help dampen the sway event when it starts to help not escalate into a real bad situation. Some devices are more efficient in dampening the larger forces on larger campers.

I wish there was an industry rating for the dampening effect but there is not. It would make it much easier for people to know what one to buy for a certain camper/truck combo. I asked Reese tech service once, how to do rate your anti sway products? Asked like that, there is no rating. They can tell you which their best is in relation to the others they offer which can help when picking one for a larger campers, bit no rating. The response they gave was, "they are an aide to help be a part of a good towing program. The hitch can only do so much." The response was dead on accurate as there are many factors in how sway is prevented on a truck/trailer combination and thinking this hitch is going to solve everyone of them is not accurate.

Good note on what not to do (hit the brakes) when a sway event starts.

Good discussion.

John


John, where can I find info/instruction on proper tongue weight adjustment and loading?

Dave


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Old 04-29-2017, 11:09 PM   #9
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John, where can I find info/instruction on proper tongue weight adjustment and loading?

Dave
Hi Dave,

I will take a shot at this explaining based on the needs of a travel trailer (TT) and the way many folks go camping. You can find a lot on the web and from highway safety organizations about trailer tongue weight, but it is often referred to dealing with general trailer conditions and always not specific to travel trailers.

Here is a good brochure on towing safety by the NHTSA which touches on some of what I will be talking about. https://one.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/...wing/index.htm

First, for those following along are some terms defined as it will relate to the camper. If you know these, you can skip a few paragraphs to later in the post to your direct question. I wanted to make sure the basics where understood first.

What is tongue weight or sometimes called, hitch weight? Tongue weight, also known as hitch weight, is the weight (force) normally pressing down as measured at the trailer ball coupler.

Here is a simple diagram showing where tongue weight is measured by a scale along with the total trailer weight also known as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).


Total trailer weight or GVW is the entire camper weight in its current loaded condition, including both the weight pressing down at the axles and the weight pressing down at the tongue or ball coupler of the trailer.

Why is tongue weight important? A proper tongue weight is needed in relation to the total trailer weight to create a stable towing trailer going forward at highway speeds. We often call this tongue weight relation to the total trailer weight as, obtaining a proper tongue weight balance.

How does this tongue weight work to create stable towing and what is the balance I hear about? For an example, think of a travel trailer like what happens on a teeter totter with 2 kids on it. For this example, the pivot in the “middle” of the teeter totter is the camper axles. One kid is at the back edge of the trailer and the other kid is at the ball coupler of the trailer. Again for this example, the axles (the pivot) is exactly in the middle of the camper. If each kid weighs the exact same amount, the camper has zero tongue weight pressing down as the 2 kids are perfectly balanced hovering in the air. For a trailer towing down the road, this could be disastrous having zero tongue weight. The trailer will drift in any direction by side forces that accidently pushes it off balance. Tongue weight could also go negative if the kid at the back of the camper is heavier than the kid on the ball coupler. This condition is real bad as the trailer tongue is popping up in the air.

To combat the teeter totter example above on a stable towing travel trailer, the designers at the factory have to account for every piece of weight they build the camper with and where it is located in relation to the camper axles and the ball coupler. Often times, the axles need to be moved forward or to the back to help create the correct amount of weight at the trailer tongue. They also need to try and predict where camper owners will put camping gear inside and outside of the camper. Sunline was noted for being very good at figuring this out, however the camper owner themselves needs to understand they are loading a trailer and not a house like at home. Just because a large cabinet exists in a handy location, does not mean it can be loaded full without regards to other cabinets in the camper. Once it is understood what the end result of a properly loaded camper means, it is easier to move items around to obtain the proper stable towing tongue weight.

Here is the general rule recognized by most all agencies for good tongue weight of a trailer to tow stable by itself. The trailer tongue weight needs to be between 10 % to 15% of the total loaded trailer weight. This means 85 to 90% of the trailer weight is held by the trailer axles and the 10 to 15% is held by the tow vehicle. This also means the ball coupler is heavier than the very back of the trailer.

When the tongue weight starts dropping below the 10% minimum recommendation, the stability of the trailer to track straight all on its own starts to diminish. The trailer can more easily become upset and start to sway left to right behind the tow vehicle. Upsets can come from strong side winds, large vehicles passing much faster than the camper, the truck drops off the edge of the road, a large pot hole is run over by the camper or truck etc. Speed is also a component to this. It has been seen that 45 mph can sometimes be a critical speed. While a low tongue weight trailer can be towed at slower speeds, it will not tow stable at higher speeds and the 45 mph seems to be a crossing point in many cases. Not all, but many.

The 15% number, being a high end recommendation comes from what many tow vehicles can support under normal conditions and not overload the tow vehicle. Tongue weights higher than 15% are OK for the trailer stability but often times needs a larger tow vehicle to handle that larger tongue weight. Or that some gear that was in a truck bed, needs to go in the trailer to lower the truck GVW.

How the trailer is built and in the camper setting, how the floor plan is built and where the axles are located creates a “dry” tongue weight (Dry = empty camper, no battery and no LP gas in the tanks ) to start with. The camper owners did not have input to the design, but they do on how it is loaded. A couple rules are:
  • Adding weight forward of the axles will increase tongue weight.
  • Adding weight directly over the axles will not increase or decrease tongue weight.
  • Adding weight behind the axles will decrease tongue weight.

How much of an effect of an increase or decrease is directly related to the amount of weight and how far from the axles it is. This is just like the teeter totter example. For a real world example, putting 50lb. 1 foot behind the axles is the same effect on tongue weight reduction as 10lb. 5 feet behind the axles. Putting heaver items closer to the axles is better then putting that same heavy item at the back wall if you are not trying to lower the tongue weight.

Also to understand, if you put 20lb of weight forward of the axles and you add 20lb of weight behind the axles, they cancel each other out in relation to changing tongue weight. This would be no tongue weight change but it will change the tongue weight percentage as the GVW has increased and the tongue weight percentage calculation will slightly decrease.

Now let’s look at a travel trailer, here it is recommend to target 12% as the lower limit. This is different than the standard trailer. Why? On a travel trailer the loads inside the camper change from time to time and from start of the trip to returning home from the trip. The smaller the camper, the less total camper weight, and the higher the percent change in tongue weight can occur when small gear moves happen and many may not be realized by the camper owner.

Say you were camping for 2 weeks in one location and it was cold out. On the way to camp, both LP tanks where full. Running the furnace all the time drained one LP tank and the tank being as close to the tongue as it is, it lowered the tongue weight. If they have 20lb tanks, that is 21 lb of LP per tank, 30 lb tanks have 31.5 lb in them. Changes in weight on a camper change often, one trip a large ice chest was added on the way to camp, and on the way home it was empty. Same goes for food in the fridge and food in the pantry area. To help keep theses combinations from going down to or under the 10% lower limit, using 12 % as a low limit for the camper helps give some room to not have to be so strict on gear moves and still have a stable towing camper. So when loading the camper, you are working with 12% to 15% loaded tongue weight as a target. You can go above the 15%, but the truck cannot be overloaded.

Let’s look at David’s 2004 T-2553 camper. A nice camper I might add. Congrats! This is front kitchen, rear bedroom layout. The dry tongue weight from the brochures states, 715 lb with a dry GVW of 4,735 lb. Again dry meaning empty camper, no battery and no LP in the 2, 30 gallon LP tanks. Using 715 / 4,735 X 100 = 15.1 % dry tongue weight. This camper empty will tow very stable as you can see where the tongue weight is. If your camper has it, a weight sticker in the camper is the actual weight of the camper with factory options when it left Sunline. 2004 campers did have the weight sticker.

This floor plan also has a front kitchen which has a lot of cabinet and fridge room forward of the axles and at a large distance from the axles. A lot of that camping gear will add weight to the tongue and push it above the 15.1%. Adding the battery and the LP gas will also add to the tongue weight.

The bathroom is close to over the axles, here cargo does not add or subtract much from the tongue weight.

The rear bedroom has a good deal of storage. Under the bed has good storage. The side bed cabinets and the overhead cabinets. Since this is literally at the back of the camper, adding cargo here will unload tongue weight. However this floor plan is heavily loaded to the tongue to start with. It needs weight added in the bedroom to lower the tongue weight so that the truck does not have to carry so much so it is OK to put a quantity of camping gear in the bed room.

Now you understand a little on what tongue weight is, what the needed percentages are and how moving gear in the camper affects it. But how does someone realistically measure this?

There are a few ways, the first thing to realize is what is the dry tongue weight the way the camper was built. If the dry tongue weight is under 10% to start with, you know you need to favor loading forward in the camper. If dry tongue weight is closer to 15% to start with, you know it is OK to load an amount of gear in the back of the camper to reduce tongue weight.

After realizing where the storage space of your floor plan is and how weight in those locations can affect tongue weight, then you start loading the camper. The only real way to know you loaded the camper correctly is to weigh the loaded tongue weight with all the gear you will take with you, including food and water if you carry fresh water. Also a note on carrying fresh water to camp. Filling the fresh tank with water adds a large amount of weight that can be empty on the way back home. Make sure tongue weight balance is correct for both conditions (full and empty) if you carry fresh water to camp.

They make portable scales you can use at home. Sherline makes one that is simple to use. This one Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scale - Sherline Products

Many places now sell these or you can buy direct from Sherline. I bought one a long time ago and have used it often to help fellow campers know what their loaded tongue weight is and to set up my own camper. There are also homemade ways using a beam and a bath scale to measure lower tongue weights, it works but the accuracy sometimes is questionable.

Here is a Sherline in action. You place the scale under the ball coupler or the tongue jack with the camper being level, the scale held in place, then you raise the tongue jack to load the scale. Once the tongue jack it not touching the ground (you can wiggle the jack foot) you read the weight directly from the gauge. If you are using the tongue jack location you need to do a little math to get the weight at the ball coupler. Ideally repeat the weight test 3 times and unload and setup again. If the scale is on any kind of an angle, it can bind slightly and give a false reading.



Here is the loaded tongue weight, 1,250lb


This gives you the tongue weight but you need to go to a truck scale to weigh the entire camper so you know what the percentage of GVW the tongue weight is. Once you know the total camper weight, then having the tongue scale you can adjust gear in the camper at home in your yard until the balance comes out where you want it to. You can also get a tongue weight at the truck scales by weighing the truck withe the camper hitched to it with no weight distribution bars on and then weighing the truck by itself and subtracting the added weight by the camper.

Hope this helps and ask for any clarifications.

John
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Prior Sunlines: 2004 T2499 - Fern Blue
2005 Ford F350 Lariat, 6.8L V10 W/ 4.10 rear axle, CC, Short Bed, SRW. Reese HP trunnion bar hitch W/ HP DC

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Old 04-30-2017, 09:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Hi Dave,

I will take a shot at this explaining based on the needs of a travel trailer (TT) and the way many folks go camping. You can find a lot on the web and from highway safety organizations about trailer tongue weight, but it is often referred to dealing with general trailer conditions and always not specific to travel trailers.

Here is a good brochure on towing safety by the NHTSA which touches on some of what I will be talking about. https://one.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/...wing/index.htm

First, for those following along are some terms defined as it will relate to the camper. If you know these, you can skip a few paragraphs to later in the post to your direct question. I wanted to make sure the basics where understood first.

What is tongue weight or sometimes called, hitch weight? Tongue weight, also known as hitch weight, is the weight (force) normally pressing down as measured at the trailer ball coupler.

Here is a simple diagram showing where tongue weight is measured by a scale along with the total trailer weight also known as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).


Total trailer weight or GVW is the entire camper weight in its current loaded condition, including both the weight pressing down at the axles and the weight pressing down at the tongue or ball coupler of the trailer.

Why is tongue weight important? A proper tongue weight is needed in relation to the total trailer weight to create a stable towing trailer going forward at highway speeds. We often call this tongue weight relation to the total trailer weight as, obtaining a proper tongue weight balance.

How does this tongue weight work to create stable towing and what is the balance I hear about? For an example, think of a travel trailer like what happens on a teeter totter with 2 kids on it. For this example, the pivot in the “middle” of the teeter totter is the camper axles. One kid is at the back edge of the trailer and the other kid is at the ball coupler of the trailer. Again for this example, the axles (the pivot) is exactly in the middle of the camper. If each kid weighs the exact same amount, the camper has zero tongue weight pressing down as the 2 kids are perfectly balanced hovering in the air. For a trailer towing down the road, this could be disastrous having zero tongue weight. The trailer will drift in any direction by side forces that accidently pushes it off balance. Tongue weight could also go negative if the kid at the back of the camper is heavier than the kid on the ball coupler. This condition is real bad as the trailer tongue is popping up in the air.

To combat the teeter totter example above on a stable towing travel trailer, the designers at the factory have to account for every piece of weight they build the camper with and where it is located in relation to the camper axles and the ball coupler. Often times, the axles need to be moved forward or to the back to help create the correct amount of weight at the trailer tongue. They also need to try and predict where camper owners will put camping gear inside and outside of the camper. Sunline was noted for being very good at figuring this out, however the camper owner themselves needs to understand they are loading a trailer and not a house like at home. Just because a large cabinet exists in a handy location, does not mean it can be loaded full without regards to other cabinets in the camper. Once it is understood what the end result of a properly loaded camper means, it is easier to move items around to obtain the proper stable towing tongue weight.

Here is the general rule recognized by most all agencies for good tongue weight of a trailer to tow stable by itself. The trailer tongue weight needs to be between 10 % to 15% of the total loaded trailer weight. This means 85 to 90% of the trailer weight is held by the trailer axles and the 10 to 15% is held by the tow vehicle. This also means the ball coupler is heavier than the very back of the trailer.

When the tongue weight starts dropping below the 10% minimum recommendation, the stability of the trailer to track straight all on its own starts to diminish. The trailer can more easily become upset and start to sway left to right behind the tow vehicle. Upsets can come from strong side winds, large vehicles passing much faster than the camper, the truck drops off the edge of the road, a large pot hole is run over by the camper or truck etc. Speed is also a component to this. It has been seen that 45 mph can sometimes be a critical speed. While a low tongue weight trailer can be towed at slower speeds, it will not tow stable at higher speeds and the 45 mph seems to be a crossing point in many cases. Not all, but many.

The 15% number, being a high end recommendation comes from what many tow vehicles can support under normal conditions and not overload the tow vehicle. Tongue weights higher than 15% are OK for the trailer stability but often times needs a larger tow vehicle to handle that larger tongue weight. Or that some gear that was in a truck bed, needs to go in the trailer to lower the truck GVW.

How the trailer is built and in the camper setting, how the floor plan is built and where the axles are located creates a “dry” tongue weight (Dry = empty camper, no battery and no LP gas in the tanks ) to start with. The camper owners did not have input to the design, but they do on how it is loaded. A couple rules are:
  • Adding weight forward of the axles will increase tongue weight.
  • Adding weight directly over the axles will not increase or decrease tongue weight.
  • Adding weight behind the axles will decrease tongue weight.

How much of an effect of an increase or decrease is directly related to the amount of weight and how far from the axles it is. This is just like the teeter totter example. For a real world example, putting 50lb. 1 foot behind the axles is the same effect on tongue weight reduction as 10lb. 5 feet behind the axles. Putting heaver items closer to the axles is better then putting that same heavy item at the back wall if you are not trying to lower the tongue weight.

Also to understand, if you put 20lb of weight forward of the axles and you add 20lb of weight behind the axles, they cancel each other out in relation to changing tongue weight. This would be no tongue weight change but it will change the tongue weight percentage as the GVW has increased and the tongue weight percentage calculation will slightly decrease.

Now let’s look at a travel trailer, here it is recommend to target 12% as the lower limit. This is different than the standard trailer. Why? On a travel trailer the loads inside the camper change from time to time and from start of the trip to returning home from the trip. The smaller the camper, the less total camper weight, and the higher the percent change in tongue weight can occur when small gear moves happen and many may not be realized by the camper owner.

Say you were camping for 2 weeks in one location and it was cold out. On the way to camp, both LP tanks where full. Running the furnace all the time drained one LP tank and the tank being as close to the tongue as it is, it lowered the tongue weight. If they have 20lb tanks, that is 21 lb of LP per tank, 30 lb tanks have 31.5 lb in them. Changes in weight on a camper change often, one trip a large ice chest was added on the way to camp, and on the way home it was empty. Same goes for food in the fridge and food in the pantry area. To help keep theses combinations from going down to or under the 10% lower limit, using 12 % as a low limit for the camper helps give some room to not have to be so strict on gear moves and still have a stable towing camper. So when loading the camper, you are working with 12% to 15% loaded tongue weight as a target. You can go above the 15%, but the truck cannot be overloaded.

Let’s look at David’s 2004 T-2553 camper. A nice camper I might add. Congrats! This is front kitchen, rear bedroom layout. The dry tongue weight from the brochures states, 715 lb with a dry GVW of 4,735 lb. Again dry meaning empty camper, no battery and no LP in the 2, 30 gallon LP tanks. Using 715 / 4,735 X 100 = 15.1 % dry tongue weight. This camper empty will tow very stable as you can see where the tongue weight is. If your camper has it, a weight sticker in the camper is the actual weight of the camper with factory options when it left Sunline. 2004 campers did have the weight sticker.

This floor plan also has a front kitchen which has a lot of cabinet and fridge room forward of the axles and at a large distance from the axles. A lot of that camping gear will add weight to the tongue and push it above the 15.1%. Adding the battery and the LP gas will also add to the tongue weight.

The bathroom is close to over the axles, here cargo does not add or subtract much from the tongue weight.

The rear bedroom has a good deal of storage. Under the bed has good storage. The side bed cabinets and the overhead cabinets. Since this is literally at the back of the camper, adding cargo here will unload tongue weight. However this floor plan is heavily loaded to the tongue to start with. It needs weight added in the bedroom to lower the tongue weight so that the truck does not have to carry so much so it is OK to put a quantity of camping gear in the bed room.

Now you understand a little on what tongue weight is, what the needed percentages are and how moving gear in the camper affects it. But how does someone realistically measure this?

There are a few ways, the first thing to realize is what is the dry tongue weight the way the camper was built. If the dry tongue weight is under 10% to start with, you know you need to favor loading forward in the camper. If dry tongue weight is closer to 15% to start with, you know it is OK to load an amount of gear in the back of the camper to reduce tongue weight.

After realizing where the storage space of your floor plan is and how weight in those locations can affect tongue weight, then you start loading the camper. The only real way to know you loaded the camper correctly is to weigh the loaded tongue weight with all the gear you will take with you, including food and water if you carry fresh water. Also a note on carrying fresh water to camp. Filling the fresh tank with water adds a large amount of weight that can be empty on the way back home. Make sure tongue weight balance is correct for both conditions (full and empty) if you carry fresh water to camp.

They make portable scales you can use at home. Sherline makes one that is simple to use. This one Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scale - Sherline Products

Many places now sell these or you can buy direct from Sherline. I bought one a long time ago and have used it often to help fellow campers know what their loaded tongue weight is and to set up my own camper. There are also homemade ways using a beam and a bath scale to measure lower tongue weights, it works but the accuracy sometimes is questionable.

Here is a Sherline in action. You place the scale under the ball coupler or the tongue jack with the camper being level, the scale held in place, then you raise the tongue jack to load the scale. Once the tongue jack it not touching the ground (you can wiggle the jack foot) you read the weight directly from the gauge. If you are using the tongue jack location you need to do a little math to get the weight at the ball coupler. Ideally repeat the weight test 3 times and unload and setup again. If the scale is on any kind of an angle, it can bind slightly and give a false reading.



Here is the loaded tongue weight, 1,250lb


This gives you the tongue weight but you need to go to a truck scale to weigh the entire camper so you know what the percentage of GVW the tongue weight is. Once you know the total camper weight, then having the tongue scale you can adjust gear in the camper at home in your yard until the balance comes out where you want it to. You can also get a tongue weight at the truck scales by weighing the truck withe the camper hitched to it with no weight distribution bars on and then weighing the truck by itself and subtracting the added weight by the camper.

Hope this helps and ask for any clarifications.

John


John, Great explanation of tongue weight and I understand how to keep it at or about 15% of GVW. I don't get my Sunline back out of storage until May 30 so hopefully I'll have time to order a tongue scale.

So my next question is how to properly load my hitch spring bars and correctly align the angle of my receiver ball angle. I currently have a EAZ Lift equalizing hitch with 1000# spring bars that connect to trailer A frame with chains via tip up arms. Which by the way I have to use a small floor jack to lift the spring bars to the locked position without the chain slipping off the hook when hinging and pinning in up position.




I did find a YouTube from Equalizer hitch that showed adjusting the equalizer hitch using the height measurement loaded and unloaded at the truck front axel. What wasn't clear was how the hitch ball angle changed the load distribution adjustment. My EAZ Lift unit has a screw adjustment, where the Equalizer has washers to change the angle.


Dave


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Old 05-01-2017, 06:59 PM   #11
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Hi Dave,

I see your questions on the hitch, I will get back to you I am tied up right now.

As far as the Equal-I-zer hitch using washers and yours having the threaded adjuster, they both do the same thing creating hitch head angle tilt, just your threaded adjust is much finer resolution and you can dial in the WD to just what you need, not 1 washer too much or 1 washer not enough. I have set up the EAZ light hitch before for my neighbor and I like that adjuster feature, it works good.

Be back in a bit on the rest.

John
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Old 05-01-2017, 09:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Hi Dave,

I see your questions on the hitch, I will get back to you I am tied up right now.

As far as the Equal-I-zer hitch using washers and yours having the threaded adjuster, they both do the same thing creating hitch head angle tilt, just your threaded adjust is much finer resolution and you can dial in the WD to just what you need, not 1 washer too much or 1 washer not enough. I have set up the EAZ light hitch before for my neighbor and I like that adjuster feature, it works good.

Be back in a bit on the rest.

John


Thank
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:34 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by dtcaswell View Post
J
So my next question is how to properly load my hitch spring bars and correctly align the angle of my receiver ball angle. I currently have a EAZ Lift equalizing hitch with 1000# spring bars that connect to trailer A frame with chains via tip up arms.

Which by the way I have to use a small floor jack to lift the spring bars to the locked position without the chain slipping off the hook when hinging and pinning in up position.

I did find a YouTube from Equalizer hitch that showed adjusting the equalizer hitch using the height measurement loaded and unloaded at the truck front axel. What wasn't clear was how the hitch ball angle changed the load distribution adjustment. My EAZ Lift unit has a screw adjustment, where the Equalizer has washers to change the angle.

Dave
Hi Dave,

Thanks for the good words on the tongue weight description, hope it helps.

I am familiar with the EAZ lift WD hitch. I just set up another camper friends EAZ hitch last fall. He also happened to have a Dodge as well. I had some time today, so I typed to you maybe more than you think you may have needed, but it is in there. I did not have an EAZ lift hitch write up yet and now we do.

Setting the number of chain links under load at the snap up's and setting the tow ball tilt angle of the hitch head has to do with setting the weight distribution (WD) on the truck. The WD helps offset the heavy camper tongue weight hanging off the back of the truck some 50 to 65” behind the rear axle. That long rear overhang creates a large lever with all that weight hanging off the back of the truck. By setting up the WD hitch, we help move some of that weight off the rear axle of the truck, move some to the front truck axle and some to the trailer axles. This helps not overload the rear axle and helps create good front tire contact with the road.

See here for instructions on your hitch off the EAZ hitch site. These can help.

Here is where they came from https://www.eaz-lift.com/instructions
And here is the PDF of the instructions. https://media.wix.com/ugd/4b6ff6_8be...d41cf8b914.pdf

I will go through the steps in setting up the hitch and this will help explain how to set the WD bars chain links and the hitch head tilt. Ask away for more detail on anything that is not clear. No problem, glad to explain further.

To start with, “ideally” load the truck and the camper with camping gear the way you would go camping. This is the best method as the weight distribution changes when the truck and camper weights change. Sometimes though you do not have that luxury to be fully loaded and you have to set the hitch to use the truck and camper with partially loaded cargo. This is OK, just you will need to come back and tweak the settings once you fully load the rig. The process is the same. How much weight you add depends on if the settings need to be tweaked.

1.Tire pressure, start with airing up the truck tires to driver door sticker pressures, front and rear. Air up the camper tires to max side wall cold pressure. I believe on your C load range tires this will be 50psi. Tire pressures are a big part of creating a stable towing rig, so we want them at a known starting place and they set the height of the truck at those pressures for the weight.

2.Start out ideally on a hard level surface with the truck unhitched. Using a tape measure and a note pad, measure all 4 wheel wells and record the height from the ground up through the center of the axle and to the inside of the fender well. This creates a base line setting on truck fender heights unhitched for the cargo load now in the truck. Like this

3. With the camper unhitched and on level ground, level the camper by adjusting the tongue jack. Use a level on the siding of the camper over the axle area or go inside the camper and put level on the floor over the axle area. Do not level off the A frame as they can be welded uphill or downhill. When the camper is level, measure the camper frame behind the ball coupler to the ground and record this level frame height next to the truck fender heights. Note this location so you will always come back to the same spot.

4.Assemble the hitch head to the hitch shank and place in the truck receiver. Depending on the truck height in relation to the camper ball coupler you may need to flip the hitch shank up or down to obtain the proper height of the tow ball to the camper ball coupler. You need to target the tow ball to be 1 1/4" to 1 1/2” “ above” the level camper ball coupler height. This allows for rear truck squat when you are all done. I picked those figures based on your estimated truck and camper weights.

5.To start the WD hitch setting procedure, become familiar with the hitch head to ball angle tilt. There is a threaded adjusting knob on top and lock up bolt on the bottom center of the hitch head. You loosen the hitch head side clamping bolts to allow the head to tilt and you loosen the bottom lock up bolt to allow the top threaded adjuster to change the angle of the hitch head. The EAZ lift hitch head can tilt 3 degrees negative towards the truck to 12 degrees positive back towards the trailer. After the angle of the tow ball is set, you tighten the bottom lock up bolt to take out any clearance between the top adjusting knob and the hitch shank.

6.To start the WD setting process, tilt the tow ball positive back towards the camper approx. 3 to 4 degrees and tighten up the hitch head to shank bolts, the top ball tilt adjusting knob and the lower lock up bolt. At this time they do not need to be fully torqued, full hand tight will work. If you do not know the degrees amount, start with the tow ball vertical and move the top center of the ball back approx. 3/16” to 1/4" will be close to 3 to 4 degrees. This rear ball tilt sets a starting angle for the hitch head to load up the WD bars. We will come back to these settings a few times as the WD process advances and may need to tweak the head tilt settings.

7. Hitch up the camper to the truck and close the ball coupler lock. You will need an approx. 6” tall block of wood or other large shim under the tongue jack post foot to be able to raise the camper and truck high enough to hook up the WD bars and chains. Most trailer tongue jacks do not go high enough to lift the truck and camper, this 6” block will allow this. Now is the time to add the block under the tongue jack if it is not already there as the truck will hold the trailer up.

8. Jack up the truck hitched to the camper using the tongue jack up approx. 4 to 5” above level. You need to get this high to get the WD bar chains safely hooked up and yes, it looks like the truck is sky high, this is normal. In time you will know when high enough is there.

9. Insert the left and right WD bars into the hitch head and clip them in place.

10. Hook the WD bar chains onto the snap up brackets. The snap up brackets should be adjusted so the chain is true vertical when the chain is snapped up. Adjust as needed. To start with, select 7 or 8 chain links under load (target 8 for the 1st time) between the snap up hook and the WD bar. I picked that number based on your camper trailer frame size, the weights of the system and your WD bar sizing. Both left and right side WD bars need the same links under load. There is a requirement to have a minimum of 5 chain links so the WD bars chains do not bind in a turn in the snap up bracket. Use the pipe to snap up the brackets if there is much tension on the chains. If you have to pull very hard on the pipe, “stop” and jack up the truck more. The chains should and need to snap up easily and not under heavy force which can hurt you if the pipe fly’s out of your hand.

11. This is what happens is less than 5 chain links is used in a turn

12. Lower the tongue jack until the jack foot leaves the ground approx. 1”. You do not need to retract the jack any further at this time. This action will now fully load up the WD bars safely. Observed the truck fender heights and we will call this setting 1. Odds are high the front of the truck is too high above the unhitched base line height. Go around to all 4 fender heights and record this new truck height as setting 1. Also note if you used 7 or 8 chain links.

13. Compare the baseline fender heights to the setting 1. Your end goal for the truck is:

a. The front truck fender heights with WD engaged is at the unhitched base line height or slightly above unhitched base line height. Slightly above is approx. 0 to 1/8” above as a target. You do not want to go below unhitched height as too much weight on the front axle can aggravate a condition called oversteer. With the truck too heavy, in a sharp turn the truck can bite in so to speak and go to jackknife condition quickly. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Understeer_and_oversteer

b. The back of the truck fender heights should be below unhitched height. Odds are high on your truck and camper, they are 1” to 1 1/2" low when all done. Do not be at or above unhitched base line height. This means something is not right in your setup.

14. Odds are high for your first setting did not shift enough weight to the front of the truck. This is a trial and error setup. Now look at the camper and the hitch. Measure the trailer height at the frame to see how close this is the baseline level height and record. Also look at the angle of the WD bars in relation to the camper frame. Your end goal for the camper and the WD hitch is:

a. The WD bars as fairly parallel to the camper frame. They are not pointing up or down. I used the words “fairly parallel” as there is some tolerance of how parallel is OK. If you are 1/4 to most 1/2" high or low at the bar ends, you can be better than that. By the bar being parallel to the frame, it allows the bar to turn in the hitch head more freely when the rig goes around a turn.

b. The camper height is level as the target. Being level the camper axles are loaded more equal and the wind drag is the best it can be for stability. Next best is slightly nose down. Slight means 1/4” to the most 3/4" low. Being high above level can create trailer sway issues from strong winds over the top of the camper in some situations if you are very high. I’ll give a tolerance of 0 to 3/8” high as the max.

15. Next is where the adjustments start to interact with each other. The camper may be level OK, but the WD bars are too low on angle. The truck front end may be too high or low. Or any combo of these. To sort this out, first we need to get the WD on the truck set correct and then adjust the WD bar angle and the camper height level after.

a. If the truck front end needs to be lower, raise the chain links 1 link. If you were on 8 links under load, go to 7 and recheck. You will notice that 1 chain link should move the front of the truck some amount. Check all 4 fenders and record. Check the trailer height for level at the frame and record. This is setting 2.

b. Use the tongue jack to raise the truck high enough above level so the chains have some slight slack in them. Tap then with the snap up pipe, it they are still banjo tight, jack up the truck some more. You should be able to flip them up by hand when the truck is high enough. Always use the pipe to undo a snap up bracket and always stand to the side of the pipe incase to flys off. The more WD bar chain tension, the higher you need to jack up the camper and truck.

c. Observe the WD bars and the angle of them. If the truck needs more weight moved up front to get closer to the front fender height target, go one more chain link up to the 5 links minimum. Eventually you will have either:

- gone too far down on the front fender height on one full link
- you need to go another link to get more down pressure on the front of the truck but then you will be less than 5 at the chains links
- you just made it in the front adjusting target zone for height.

If you need to go a partial link of tension, this is where the hitch head adjuster knob comes into play. If you need a little more tension but not a full chain link, you unhitch and take the hitch head apart and tweak the adjuster. Tilt the head back towards the camper for more WD and towards the truck for less WD. Also keep in mind how parallel the WD bars are to the frame. If you are on 5, 6 or 7 links and the bars are pointing uphill too much towards the frame, then you back off a link and add more hitch head tilt. You will find for your camper A frame and the WD bars strength how many chain links create level WD bars. Once that number of links is known, it will then be a fixed number of links, it may be 6, 7, 8 or 9. If you need more or less WD, then you adjust the hitch head angle.

d. As a rule of thumb, if you move the adjuster knob on the hitch head to create a heavy 1/16” of adjuster head movement, that is about 1/2 a chain link of tension. Meaning about 1/8” is about 1 full chain link of tension. This helps on how much to tweak the adjuster.

e. Once the WD bars are level with the frame and the truck fender heights are correct, we still have the camper level to check. If the camper is high or low from the level tolerance, we move the entire hitch head up and down the hitch shank 1 hole to level out the camper. You can only adjust the head up and down within distance of 1 hole. You may find when you change this hole location it can sometimes interact with the truck WD settings. In this case, you tweak the hitch head tilt to accommodate.

f. When you are all done, the front and rear truck fenders are in the correct tolerance, the WD bars are parallel to the frame within tolerance and the trailer is level within tolerance. Go around and record the final truck fender height and the camper tongue heights. If the truck bed cargo load or the camper tongue weight is changed, then you need to recheck the fender and trailer height numbers. If they are within tolerance, you are good. If they are out of tolerance, you should adjust the setup again. Once you are fully loaded on the camper and the truck and go through the setup, you can change 100# or so in truck bed weight and not have an issue. This also depends if the weight is forward or behind the truck axle. You can handle more weight forward of the axle then behind it.

16. Here are a few pics of the EAZ hitch I helped by camper friend with. His camper frame is taller than yours but the setup is optimized for this truck and camper weights.






17. When all settings are done, then make sure you torque the hitch head bolts, the hitch head adjusting knob is tight and the lower locking screw is tight. EAZ lift states for their hitch head bolts, torque to 260 ft lbs on the 3/4" hitch head bolts and to check them after the first tow. Also confirm the snap up brackets are tight to the frame. EAZ lift states touch the frame and go 1/4 turn more. Make sure your tow ball nut is tight. These are often listed at 350 to 450 ft lbs depending on the ball shank size.

This is a trial and error process. The first time through it is an amount of work. But the benefits will pay off with a very good towing ride and control. And you also will understand how the WD hitch works and why. You may also find that after you camped for a time or two, check the fender heights and camper levelness. It is common that after the first setting, a re-tweak needs to be done. Weights change, truck springs settle etc. It seems like it take 3 times over the course of a several camping trips to dial the hitch into perfect.

If you need help on how to setup the friction bar, let me know we can go through that too.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 05-05-2017, 10:16 PM   #14
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John, I'd be pleased to hear the friction bar setup.

One issue I may have to compensate for is that my driveway is not level. It has a slight downward pitch toward the street. I'd guess it's maybe 2 to 4 degrees. It's been raining today, but when it stops I plan to measure it more accurately and build a declivity level to use to compensate for the out of level grade. I learned how to use a declivity level back when I was a shipfitter apprentice. They were used because ships were built not on a level surface, but on what was called ships ways that were angled toward the water to allow the ship to slide into the water one ready to launch. Same principle should work to check level of the camper once I calculate the driveway angle from level. Here's a pretty good explanation of declivity: http://lumberjocks.com/GnarlyErik/blog/33307

I'll likely have some questions, but until I get my Sunline out of storage the end of May and start the hookup process I don't know what they might be. I plane to take all slow roads home from storage about which is about 10 miles from home.

Thanks,
Dave


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Old 05-06-2017, 07:04 PM   #15
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Hi Dave,

For the friction bar, is the mounting bracket with the mini ball already bolted to the camper? Just asking so I can include in the write up about the mounting in addition to setting it while towing.

Thanks for the link on the declivity level. I'm always interested in those types of things.

There is another way to come out with a good result if your driveway has a small grade to it. Is your driveway at least flat (meaning straight) for the length of the camper axles to truck front axles while hooked to the truck?

If the driveway is straight at least that long, then you can still get some good adjustments done. If the is a hump or dip in that length, this adds complexity and error and depending on how much it rises or dips might be that you have to redo this in a flat parking lot some time.

We would use the driveway as a straight edge or straight surface even though it is at a grade. Level makes this easier and is best "if" you can get it. It is not the only way. If you have a straight drive long enough for the all axles to touch down, then on the camper you would look for the bottom of the main camper frame to be "parallel" to the driveway. The only heads up on the camper frame is, they are not always straight. If you pulled a string down the length of the main frame, you may find that the camper bows down slightly from the front A frame header to the axles. The axle area is more of a straight line and the rear overhang behind the axles may bow slightly down. However, in this case, get a happy medium on what parallel to the driveway is and then get the height of the frame to the driveway behind the ball coupler as was decried in the post above as your "camper level" location.

You can always check the level height of the camper some time in a level parking lot, at a campground, shopping center, school etc. and compare it to your driveway established "level" reading.

When the time comes to adjust your hitch, we are here. There are others on the forum who have adjusted that style of hitch and can help too if I'm not available or out camping.

Thanks

John
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Old 05-08-2017, 05:31 AM   #16
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Yes I have the side mount slide sway control with the two small ball mounts. One on A frame, the other on the side harm of the hitch.

My driveway has a slight slope in all 50'.

Dave
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Old 05-17-2017, 09:19 PM   #17
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Hi Dave,

You must be getting closer now to your WD hitch setup. I'll add my comments on the friction bar anti sway mounting and setup.

Here are the online instructions from EAZ lift. Came from here https://www.eaz-lift.com/instructions And the PDF here.
https://media.wix.com/ugd/4b6ff6_a48...734f729f00.pdf

There are many brands of these friction bars as we call them out there. They all work pretty much the same and many have the same one little mix up in the instructions. We will see how yours does. They may all be made in the same factory and private labeled, I really do not know.

Here are the watch out things in mounting the friction bar. If yours is already mounted, then you can check this.

When the truck turns to the right, the friction bar retracts inside the housing sleeve. A WD hitch can only turn so far before something hits. Sometimes it is the truck bumper into the camper, (not good) other times the hitch head itself will bottom out in a turn on the frame of the camper. (also not good) Our goal in mounting the friction bar is not to create a new or other interference point for the hitch.

The generic instructions state to mount the mini ball mounting plate on the side of the frame 24 inches from the ball coupler center to the center of the mini ball. However not every hitch head or ball coupler is made the same. You can mark that off, but before drill the holes check this. And if mounted, still check this.

After marking the 24" setting, clamp the frame mini ball plate to the frame if it is not already mounted.

Insert the hitch head into the ball coupler and hook up the friction bar. You can let the bar slide easy in and out with no tension. It should look something like this. This a Reese WD hitch with friction bar, these are the pics I had to show the issues. Your EAZ lift will be similar.


Hold the hitch shank and turn the hitch shank like making a full right turn in the truck. Go until the mini ball on the hitch head hits the frame. That is the max right turn you can make. Now look at the end of the friction bar sliding arm. It should "not" be bottomed out in the friction bar housing. The mini ball end on the bar should hit the frame first as with no mini ball the arm will hit the frame anyway.


If your 24" gives you that clearance and you do not hit the housing, then you are all set. If it does hit the friction bar housing first as the point of interference, move the mini ball mount back slightly until the have some clearance. 1/8" is enough, 1/4 to 1/2" is OK too. Do not need any more this this as you will never get any further. And this is approx. a 65 degree right turn which is a good full turn.

The next is a realization of how far left you can turn before you hit something. Here the left side of the EAZ lift hitch head arm may hit something first or the actual friction bar itself will hit the ball coupler. See here.

A left turn in progress,


And the full limit which in this case, the Reese hitch head is not the interference point the friction bar is.


That is a lot of turn to go to that point and even the Reese hitch will have other issues with the WD bar going under the frame. I suspect on your EAZ lift, the hitch head arm on the left side may be your interference point but you need to confirm. You really cannot change this, just realize it as we will talk to this later. And the friction bar should not come out of the sleeve when this far.

As far as how high or low the mini ball plate is to be on the frame, the mounted friction bar setup should be parallel within reason to the trailer A frame when the hitch head top surface is horizontal and parallel to the frame. You can only lower the mini ball on the frame so low as the frame may not be wide enough to allow it perfectly parallel. Make as best it can be. This allows the hitch head to flex up and down and not bind on friction bar.

Next is the setting of the bar. Note: This friction bar in the pics is a Husky branded bar. And it has the same issue as the EAZ flex bar and their conflicting instructions.


The top lever is used for on and off of the tension and to allows the bar to slide when hitching up. The bottom bolt/screw is used to adjust extra tension, when it is needed.

Here is the issue with the instructions and the way this bar is made is: See if yours has this same issue. Here is an end view.


The on/off lever is on the right of this pic


The problem is the words "Turn the On/Off handle all the way clockwise. The threads should bottom out." That is the wording out of the EAZ lift instructions with the same as the Husky label. If you actually attempt to follow those instructions and turn that handle non stop until the threads bottom out and you cannot turn anymore, something is going to break. The entire clamp end gets heavily distorted and the friction is massively high.

Here is what needs to happen.
  • Unscrew the on/off lever until it does not touch, adds no friction.
  • Slide the bar in and out by hand.
  • Slowly tighten the bottom tension screw until you feel slight drag on the bar. You can go a little more if wanted but by hand you need to be able to pull the bar in and out.
  • Then hook up the friction bar to the camper and truck.
  • Turn the on/off lever clockwise as facing it to screw it in. You will start to feel tension building as you tighten.
  • How much tension you need is a trial and error adjustment from here. You want to end up with the lever pointing to the camper so it is not in the way of the friction bar when turning.
  • The on/off lever also needs to be tight enough it will not swing/vibrate out of adjustment when towing.

The next part is that the amount of friction is enough to dampen instability of the trailer during windy towing events. If you need more dampening, try another revolution with the on/off lever. There will be a point where you have the on/off lever too tight. In this case, then snug up the lower "tension" bolt and it will give you more friction and you can back off the on/off lever.

Once you find the sweet spot, I use to count full revolutions of the on/off lever from when the nut head just touched the clamp metal. I cannot recall the number, I think 4 to 6 was the range. The first few rev's is just starting the friction. By counting, then you do not have to fiddle every setup. Just count the number of turns you found was the sweet spot for your on position. When it is time to unhitch, spin the lever off to unhook.

There are other guidelines to understand.

Before you tow for the first time with the friction bar on, hitch up with the bar on. Have a spotter watch the hitch. Slowing back up left and then right. Have the spotter tell you when to stop "before" you hit. Then look in the truck mirrors and memorize what the camper and truck look like in the mirrors. You do not want to approach that limit.

The friction bar itself can be bent from rapid collapsing when you are under high friction settings. This happens some times when you back up into a campsite. The bar will grab so hard when extended a good amount and buckle in the middle.

When backing into campsites, you generally turn harder then you do when going forward. It has been recommended to take the friction bar off when backing into tight campsites. You do not need it at slow speeds for anti sway control so many just take it off at the camp check in office and leave it off until you head out again. Then there is then less chance of bending the bar.

The above 2 bullets has been massively distorted in campfire stories and folk lore... Some folks have been told and they believed the bar was going to self destruct if you ever back up with it on. It will not destruct as the hitch turns the same going forward as it does backwards. The difference is odds are higher for very tight turns going backwards backing into a campsite. So take it off early.

Over time the friction pad will wear and you need to tweak up the tension bolt a little. This may first happen early in use as it gets burnished in, then the wear will slow down.

Under very slippery conditions, it is recommended to take the bar off and tow. The issue is the bar can hinder the trailer and truck becoming straight as the truck is sliding. In these kind of towing situations, you are not going full highway speed so sway is very little and you do not need the friction bar. When conditions resume back to full highway speed, then put it back on.

The friction bar is a simple system and does an OK job on the right size trailer that has good tongue weight balance to loaded GVW along with the right tow vehicle. Larger trailers is not the place to use these as they are not strong enough for the trailer length to be effective enough. There are better systems out there for the larger campers.

Let me know if you need more and hope this helps

John
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Prior Sunlines: 2004 T2499 - Fern Blue
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Old 05-20-2017, 10:10 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Hi Dave,

You must be getting closer now to your WD hitch setup. I'll add my comments on the friction bar anti sway mounting and setup.

Here are the online instructions from EAZ lift. Came from here https://www.eaz-lift.com/instructions And the PDF here.
https://media.wix.com/ugd/4b6ff6_a48...734f729f00.pdf

There are many brands of these friction bars as we call them out there. They all work pretty much the same and many have the same one little mix up in the instructions. We will see how yours does. They may all be made in the same factory and private labeled, I really do not know.

Here are the watch out things in mounting the friction bar. If yours is already mounted, then you can check this.

When the truck turns to the right, the friction bar retracts inside the housing sleeve. A WD hitch can only turn so far before something hits. Sometimes it is the truck bumper into the camper, (not good) other times the hitch head itself will bottom out in a turn on the frame of the camper. (also not good) Our goal in mounting the friction bar is not to create a new or other interference point for the hitch.

The generic instructions state to mount the mini ball mounting plate on the side of the frame 24 inches from the ball coupler center to the center of the mini ball. However not every hitch head or ball coupler is made the same. You can mark that off, but before drill the holes check this. And if mounted, still check this.

After marking the 24" setting, clamp the frame mini ball plate to the frame if it is not already mounted.

Insert the hitch head into the ball coupler and hook up the friction bar. You can let the bar slide easy in and out with no tension. It should look something like this. This a Reese WD hitch with friction bar, these are the pics I had to show the issues. Your EAZ lift will be similar.


Hold the hitch shank and turn the hitch shank like making a full right turn in the truck. Go until the mini ball on the hitch head hits the frame. That is the max right turn you can make. Now look at the end of the friction bar sliding arm. It should "not" be bottomed out in the friction bar housing. The mini ball end on the bar should hit the frame first as with no mini ball the arm will hit the frame anyway.


If your 24" gives you that clearance and you do not hit the housing, then you are all set. If it does hit the friction bar housing first as the point of interference, move the mini ball mount back slightly until the have some clearance. 1/8" is enough, 1/4 to 1/2" is OK too. Do not need any more this this as you will never get any further. And this is approx. a 65 degree right turn which is a good full turn.

The next is a realization of how far left you can turn before you hit something. Here the left side of the EAZ lift hitch head arm may hit something first or the actual friction bar itself will hit the ball coupler. See here.

A left turn in progress,


And the full limit which in this case, the Reese hitch head is not the interference point the friction bar is.


That is a lot of turn to go to that point and even the Reese hitch will have other issues with the WD bar going under the frame. I suspect on your EAZ lift, the hitch head arm on the left side may be your interference point but you need to confirm. You really cannot change this, just realize it as we will talk to this later. And the friction bar should not come out of the sleeve when this far.

As far as how high or low the mini ball plate is to be on the frame, the mounted friction bar setup should be parallel within reason to the trailer A frame when the hitch head top surface is horizontal and parallel to the frame. You can only lower the mini ball on the frame so low as the frame may not be wide enough to allow it perfectly parallel. Make as best it can be. This allows the hitch head to flex up and down and not bind on friction bar.

Next is the setting of the bar. Note: This friction bar in the pics is a Husky branded bar. And it has the same issue as the EAZ flex bar and their conflicting instructions.


The top lever is used for on and off of the tension and to allows the bar to slide when hitching up. The bottom bolt/screw is used to adjust extra tension, when it is needed.

Here is the issue with the instructions and the way this bar is made is: See if yours has this same issue. Here is an end view.


The on/off lever is on the right of this pic


The problem is the words "Turn the On/Off handle all the way clockwise. The threads should bottom out." That is the wording out of the EAZ lift instructions with the same as the Husky label. If you actually attempt to follow those instructions and turn that handle non stop until the threads bottom out and you cannot turn anymore, something is going to break. The entire clamp end gets heavily distorted and the friction is massively high.

Here is what needs to happen.
  • Unscrew the on/off lever until it does not touch, adds no friction.
  • Slide the bar in and out by hand.
  • Slowly tighten the bottom tension screw until you feel slight drag on the bar. You can go a little more if wanted but by hand you need to be able to pull the bar in and out.
  • Then hook up the friction bar to the camper and truck.
  • Turn the on/off lever clockwise as facing it to screw it in. You will start to feel tension building as you tighten.
  • How much tension you need is a trial and error adjustment from here. You want to end up with the lever pointing to the camper so it is not in the way of the friction bar when turning.
  • The on/off lever also needs to be tight enough it will not swing/vibrate out of adjustment when towing.

The next part is that the amount of friction is enough to dampen instability of the trailer during windy towing events. If you need more dampening, try another revolution with the on/off lever. There will be a point where you have the on/off lever too tight. In this case, then snug up the lower "tension" bolt and it will give you more friction and you can back off the on/off lever.

Once you find the sweet spot, I use to count full revolutions of the on/off lever from when the nut head just touched the clamp metal. I cannot recall the number, I think 4 to 6 was the range. The first few rev's is just starting the friction. By counting, then you do not have to fiddle every setup. Just count the number of turns you found was the sweet spot for your on position. When it is time to unhitch, spin the lever off to unhook.

There are other guidelines to understand.

Before you tow for the first time with the friction bar on, hitch up with the bar on. Have a spotter watch the hitch. Slowing back up left and then right. Have the spotter tell you when to stop "before" you hit. Then look in the truck mirrors and memorize what the camper and truck look like in the mirrors. You do not want to approach that limit.

The friction bar itself can be bent from rapid collapsing when you are under high friction settings. This happens some times when you back up into a campsite. The bar will grab so hard when extended a good amount and buckle in the middle.

When backing into campsites, you generally turn harder then you do when going forward. It has been recommended to take the friction bar off when backing into tight campsites. You do not need it at slow speeds for anti sway control so many just take it off at the camp check in office and leave it off until you head out again. Then there is then less chance of bending the bar.

The above 2 bullets has been massively distorted in campfire stories and folk lore... Some folks have been told and they believed the bar was going to self destruct if you ever back up with it on. It will not destruct as the hitch turns the same going forward as it does backwards. The difference is odds are higher for very tight turns going backwards backing into a campsite. So take it off early.

Over time the friction pad will wear and you need to tweak up the tension bolt a little. This may first happen early in use as it gets burnished in, then the wear will slow down.

Under very slippery conditions, it is recommended to take the bar off and tow. The issue is the bar can hinder the trailer and truck becoming straight as the truck is sliding. In these kind of towing situations, you are not going full highway speed so sway is very little and you do not need the friction bar. When conditions resume back to full highway speed, then put it back on.

The friction bar is a simple system and does an OK job on the right size trailer that has good tongue weight balance to loaded GVW along with the right tow vehicle. Larger trailers is not the place to use these as they are not strong enough for the trailer length to be effective enough. There are better systems out there for the larger campers.

Let me know if you need more and hope this helps

John


Thanks John, About backing too sharply. We had a similar issue when I was a crew chief in the USAF when backing a KC-135 out of the hanger with a tug and tow bar. The cure was a big red line painted on the under side of the nose of the aircraft. In red letters it said "Max turn angle Do Not Exceed." Too bad we can't do that on a camper and see it.

Dave


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Old 05-22-2017, 08:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtcaswell View Post
Thanks John, About backing too sharply. We had a similar issue when I was a crew chief in the USAF when backing a KC-135 out of the hanger with a tug and tow bar. The cure was a big red line painted on the under side of the nose of the aircraft. In red letters it said "Max turn angle Do Not Exceed." Too bad we can't do that on a camper and see it.

Dave
Hi Dave,

Yes a marker is always a good thing. I do the same for backing the camper into the storage bay on our barn. Way back on the back wall I put a 3" wide 5 foot long vertical strip as a target. Just line up the left back edge of the camper with the strip and head to it. Works great. During the day time, the sun is so bright all one can see is a 12 ft wide 14 ft tall deep black hole... in the barn 40 feet deep. Have no idea what is back there....

At night with the light on inside, it is not problem as I can see. The marker strip takes care of it during the day and night.

Thanks

John
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