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Old 04-10-2008, 03:58 PM   #1
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Reese hitch bar length?

I'm readjusting the hitch ball height because I discovered that it was set too low. I've readjusted the height to about 18" (no load in truck). This is leaving 3 empty adjustment holes on the bottom. This is a VERY large drop hitch. It's a Reese 54990. I don't like having all that bar below the trunnion head because it will grind going in and out of my driveway.

The other problem with this bar is the length 16"! I think that this is another problem because the bar length will cause the tongue weight to exert more leverage against the truck and the receiver.

Would a 11" or 13" hitch bar be a better choice or am I overthinking this situation?

This bar is being used on a Reese Strait-Line hitch with Dual Cam Sway Control.
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Old 04-10-2008, 09:27 PM   #2
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Rick

The Reese 54990, I can’t find that one. Reese use to have a lot of them and the new catalog does not list it.

I’m trying to find the one you are talking about so I can answer your post better.

See these 2 shanks.

This one is a Reese 54917, it is a 6” drop shank, 10 Ό” rise on a Trunion bar hitch head.


And here it is next to the standard 54970 cast steel shank, 1 Ό” drop 6” rise on a trunion bar head next to it. Ball center to 5/8 pin = 14”




On my 2004 T2499 here it is on my K2500 Suburban using the 6” drop shank. 54917




And here it is on the 54970. Ball center to 5/8 pin = 13”



If I can figure out what you have, I can suggest a few things.

Do you have a pic? OR measure from top of shank 2” sq to bottom of shank length and from 5/8” pin hole to the center of the tow ball?

I can back into how that compares to what I have.

Hope this helps.

John

PS When I switched between the 2 shanks shown here to the lower drop shank 54917, the 5/8” pin hole was 1” longer. Then the 54970. For me that 1 inch really helps in tight turns. I could turn a lot sharper with the 1” longer shank. I agree shortest is best for low sway effect but everything is a trade off. In my case I had Quadrasteer and can crank the hitch all the way to 74 degrees. And not crunch the TV fender in the side of the TT.

Here is 74 deg left turn and no fender hit. I could not do this with the shorter shank




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Old 04-11-2008, 08:47 AM   #3
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Hi John,

Thanks for your reply! I took 2 photos that didn't turn out too well but they illustrate the situation. I couldn't put the bar on the truck to show you how ridiculous the bar looks sticking out so far as it does because my tractor was parked to close to the truck. I'm concerned about the fact that the receiver is rated for 950lbs.WD and you know how heavy the tongue weight is on a T2499. I think that it would be less stress on the hitch to use a shorter bar and less stress on my driveway to use a shorter vertical bar. LOL.




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Old 04-11-2008, 09:05 AM   #4
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Those photos aren't the best. The top photo shows that the edge of the pin hole to the center of the ball is 17". Now that's loooong!

The second photo shows that the vertical bar is 12" long and the drop is 4.25" from the top of the vertical bar, which is about a .25" above the actual top of the horizontal bar.

I should have prefaced all this by saying that the reason for the readjustment is because I bought the Sunline and hitch used and it was adjusted for a different vehicle. This would be a great bar for a Sunline and a very heavy duty high suspension truck but it's not very good for my application.

I think that I set the head tilt angle too steep, as well. I can't really find info on this, although I think that the increased angle increases the load on the WD bars? You can all tell I have a lot to learn about hitch adjustment!
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Old 04-11-2008, 09:15 AM   #5
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John,

Thanks to your photos, I just realized that both of our bars are the same vertical length and the ball mounts are adjusted to the same position. I'm thinking that to eliminate the oversize aspects of this bar I probably need a Reese 3211 or 3213. I wonder if the 3211 may be too short, though.
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Old 04-11-2008, 09:37 PM   #6
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Rick

H’mm OK I found that Reese 54990. Reese 54990 It is listed as a 6” drop shank and a 16” length. WOW that is long.

My 54917 is a 6” drop shank but only 14” length, 5/8” pin to ball rating. Seems the 54990 is used when you need a real long over hang.

So your sticks out 2” longer. Ah yup, that is longer.

Now seeing that it is that long, moving it in 2” no more then 3 or else fender crunch may come could be an option for you. First off you can only slide it in so far because of the gusset. The welded gusset will hit the pin box.

Look here on mine you will see I can not push it in very much more.

See here on my older 2500 Suburban with a Putnam Receiver on it


And here is the same shank adjusted different on my F350 with a Ford Super Duty receiver on it.


Here is a better side shot.


On yours for the length you could have a new 5/8 hole drilled. BUT make sure it is layed out dead center on the 2” bar and drilled true to the side. Or else the shank will not fit up correct in the pin box. When in WD mode, the pin actually does not do a lot of load carrying expect for pull. The shank when you tip it up will bottom out on the top outside part of the pin box and on the inside bottom part of the pin box. The pin can be pulled out then as there is no upward load on it. If you do not drill it on center, then the pin is taking different load then normal.

As far as excess shank length to the ground, I called Reese tech service on this on mine as in the early days I had it higher up and an amount hung down. They told me I could saw off the bottom portion below the welded gusset. Do not cut thru the weld. If you go this route, call them and confirm, but that is what they told me.

That style shank with the many adjusting holes is one of the better shanks. The newer ones do not have that fine a adjusting resolution. So you cannot exactly dial in the hitch height as good as you can with the one you and I have.

Now to the WD adjusting of your hitch. Yes tilting the hitch head puts more load on the WD bars and transfers more weight off the rear of the truck axle to the front axle. I would be glad to assist on how you set up that hitch and your Ford. Actually I just did a write up for a another buddy on his Silverado and the Reese HP trunnion hitch and DC. Adjusting a Reese DC hitch and truck WD is a good post in it self. If you need help, let me know, glad to explain.

Hope this helps

John

PS if you do add a new shank or re-drill the one you have, to make it closer to the truck, you will need to readjust the WD on the truck. Shank length affects the WD settings.
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Old 04-11-2008, 11:37 PM   #7
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John, thanks so much for all the information! If the older style of bar, like this, does have finer adjustments I may just keep it and possibly cut a little off the bottom. I was thinking of the possibility of taking the bar to a machine shop and having them drill a new, centered, hole to move it in a bit.

I will defitinely keep in touch as I attempt to fine tune the WD with the ball angle adjustment!

Again, thanks very much!
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Old 10-20-2008, 03:44 PM   #8
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Reese 54990

Hi,

I have a 2007 T-1950 travel trailer bought from Stolfus RV in 2006.

When the dealer installed the Reese 54990 hitch on my GMC Envoy two years ago, the weight distribution bars were hitched on the fifth chain link and there was quite a bit on tension on the bars (also I felt that the hitch was over kill 12,000 lbs for a 4,000 lb trailer).

Now after two years towing the tension on the fifth link seems much softer. I moved it up to the third link and the tension seems to be much improved and the trailer tows level. The GMC Envoys ride seems to be sitffer and I feel like I have more control on the third link.

What would have caused this? Would the chain have streched? Should I have gone to the fourth link?

I just want to make sure that I have the trailer/tow vehicle in the safest possible towing position.

Towing a trailer with WD and sway control is somewhat new to me as I have always towed small 13' trailers.

Ray
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Old 10-20-2008, 04:19 PM   #9
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Hi Ray,

As you could tell I didn't like the 54990 bar because it is too long in every direction. I bought a 13# length drawbar with less drop and it is perfect for the F150. The 54990, longer, deeper drop bar is great for a larger truck (F250+).

As to the change to retain level, without more info and pictures, it would be very difficult to detemine the problem. Possibly the head adjustment slipped if it was not tight enough? I don't think that taking up links is a good idea for clearance reasons. JohnB would be the best person to investigate your problem. I'm sure that he will see it and give you some ideas of what to look for!
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Old 10-20-2008, 04:50 PM   #10
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Hi Ray,

I doubt your hitch is rated for 12000 #'s. I suspect this is just the drop bar capacity, which doesn't mean much. You just need to make sure you have enough, and you do. The weight rating of the weight distribution bars is what counts most specifically for the trailer. All the other stuff you just want to make sure you have enough, but too much is OK (drop bar, head, ball)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hematite
JohnB would be the best person to investigate your problem. I'm sure that he will see it and give you some ideas of what to look for!
Ditto! While he will need pictures to investigate the hitch setup, I do have a couple of quick questions that might spur on some conversation in the mean time as well as give you some things to get pictures of.

1. The receiver on the Envoy. Is the 2" tube still 2" in both directions? Had this problem on the other Ex, the tube stretched out on top to almost 2 1/4", so the hitch was angled up more in WD mode and would require more tension on the chains. Take a tape measure out and check it, it should be about 2", but it shouldn't be off by too much.

2. Just for curiosity, are you using a friction sway or dual cams? I'm guessing friction sway since you're on your third link, but that would be important to know.

3. Have the large nuts holding the hitch head to the drop bar loosened up at all, in other words, does the head wiggle at all on the drop bar? If the top one has especially, it may have caused your washers to kick back a couple notches which will drastically affect the WD forces.

You mentioned you wondered if the chains could stretch. Well, the chains too are pretty universal, so they'll use them up on the 1200 and 1700 # bars. So, I doubt this is the problem, but it could be. My Dad had a problem on his trailer with one of the chains beginning to split at the weld. I didn't notice this until I was converting it all over to the Dual Cam setup, so when we picked up the new 1700 # bars, we got new chains as a result. Regular chain from Home Depot could be rated for the weight, but (as I found from experience) they don't fit over the hook on the snap up bracket. So Reese/DT sort of has a monopoly on that market, you have to buy the chain kits from the dealer. The good news is it comes with all new hardware and a couple extra clips for the snap up brackets, just in case you lose one. Since the chains can be used on any of the bars, they are heat treated to handle a lot of weight, so I doubt they would bend. If anything, like I had happen, they would begin to snap at the welds.

Jon
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:55 PM   #11
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Rick,

I have the same 54990 draw bar that you have and I agree, that dang this is way TOO long. Here is a pic of mine:



Plus, it's really heavy for me to lift,
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:19 PM   #12
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Kitty:
Yes, that 54990 is a real handfull once the ball and mount are added to it!

It's nice, in a way, if you do a lot of very sharp turns because it gives room to avoid crunching something on the truck or the Sunline. I didn't really see the need for it though so I went with a smaller 13" length one. Now, the tailgate on the F150 JUST clears the power jack in the straight ahead position. Also, since the F150 is lower than a Super Duty, the less drop on the new bar gives me more ground clearance.

I think I'll put the 54990 on Ebay. With that weight, though, it's gonna really cost for shipping!
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