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Old 07-19-2012, 09:10 AM   #15
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Thanks so much for your help. I see how funny it was for me to not add the things that are already in the camper. I am calling my insurance agent today and looking into both the addition of towing on my auto insurance and getting the replacement value for the TT>
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Old 07-19-2012, 10:19 PM   #16
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Hi Kit,

While I am working up numbers, here is a U tube video on Weight Distribution hitches. I finally found it. This is the Reese brand, a good brand, and they did the video on them. They even have a Sunline in the video. There are other good brands out there too.

The 1st 8 minutes is on trailers, the last 2 minutes is on 5th wheel hitches which you do not have.

Reese Weight Distribution & Sway Control Systems demonstration from KEYSTONERVSUPERCENTER.COM - YouTube

My oppinion is you will need a WD hitch and sway control for stable towing for the long haul. You may overload your receiver if you do not use one.

How did you get the camper home? Did some one with a larger truck bring it for you?

More when I get back after the weekend.

John

Edit 7-20-12: Added sway control statement
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Old 07-20-2012, 06:30 AM   #17
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Kit,

I added a clarifier statement in blue above I missed. Anti sway controls for the trailer hitch is also a very important part of stable towing. Your shorter wheel base truck, lighter suspension, lighter tires and the size of the camper really need it for when bad tings come at us when we are towing a trailer. Like high winds, semis passing, dropping off the pavement suddenly.

Here is one type of WD hitch with the anti-sway control built in that will size up well with your camper. It can also be upgraded to a larger sizes if in the future you buy a bigger camper. This is the company Reese

This site has free freight on this Reese SC hitch

http://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distribution/Reese/RP66151.html

Here is another good brand which combined both WD and anti-sway, however it is size dependant and to upgrade a size you need to re-buy most of the hitch if you get a bigger camper.
http://equalizerhitch.com/

Here is a place in Ohio that sells them. The freight may be extra. There may be dealers in your area as well
6K Equalizer Adj Hitch - RVWholesalers.com RV Parts and Accessories

There is also the basic friction sway control bar that is added to a WD hitch

Here is a standard WD hitch. This WD hitch is fully upgradeable to a trailer of my size.
http://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distribution/Reese/RP66021.html

And here is the anti sway bar
http://www.etrailer.com/p-RP26660.html

There are a few other things that may be added to each of them the hitches above to make a complete WD hitch, some need a tow ball and then the added WD shank. Some combine them. I’m just throwing out a “few” of the many WD hitches out there so you can read up on them. Other names like, EAZ lift, Husky, Blue Ox etc to name a few more are also good WD hitches. I have not really found a bad one, just some better than others pending ones need. The cost is pretty competitive on all of the brands however shopping around can save some money. After researching you can get the one with the best benefits and options that fit your needs while actually fitting your camper right as a reasonable cost. Before you actually buy one, doing some research, asking questions, pictures of your camper tongue and understanding if that brand and that model works best for you would be a good thing to do.

Your in the situation where you do not have the hitch yet and can help sort through which fits your application the best. It may only be the difference of $50 to $100 in price however one brand/model may fit and work better in your situation. There is not 1 size fits every camper and situation even though the hitch manufactures advertise them that way. The good news your camper is not one of the really unique ones folks have large issues they run into with trying to get them to fit on the camper right.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:45 PM   #18
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Hi Kit,

Getting back to you. Here is what I have found. These are ďestimatesĒ only. It helps show you what and how I came up with these numbers. The ideal way to do this is to spend $7 to $10 at a truck scale and weigh both the front and rear axle of your truck with both passengers in the Jeep plus a full tank of gas. If I had those 2 numbers I could dial this right in. At this point I believe Iím in the ball park, just do not know what base we are onÖ.

Here is what we know/estimated. This is a little long and if we were closer I would come over and help point this out to you. I just typed it out so you can see where this is coming from

I used these 3 sites to get this curb weight info. I cannot find this on an official Jeep/Chrysler site so there is some error Iím sure but youíre in the ball park. And I do not know what version you have or options in the Jeep.

The Overland version. States curb weight at 4,300#
2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4dr SUV 4.7L V8 4x4 5-speed Automatic Features and Specs

The Laredo version. States curb weight at 3,989#
2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Specifications

The Limited. States curb weight at 4,072# And most important the % front and rear axle weight split with 55% front and 45% rear. Or 2,240# front axle and 1,832# rear axle.
Specifications - 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4WD - Yahoo! Autos

Options in a SUV are very nice, I have had several SUVís and many where loaded with the options. Most can be 100 to 150# more than base curb weight. Iím am going to pic the Limited version as a place to start, it is middle of the road in the weights along with 125# of added options. This gives us front axle weight 2,302# and a rear axle weight of 1,895# or a GVW of 4,197# with full gas, options and no cargo (passengers). I split the options weight equal front and rear axle, in reality they may be a little different.

TV Cargo: You stated 380# of passengers and must have things. Iíll stick with the 55% front axle (+ 209#) and 45% (171#) rear axle on that weight adder of the cargo.

Here are the truck specs. Letís look at what the truck can hold up weight wise with passengers on board

GAWR-Front: 2,500# Using 2,302# + 209# cargo = 2,511# If these are correct weights we are 11# above GAWR-FRT. The options may be less however we are close to the front axle rating to start with.

GAWR-Rear: 2,950# Using 1,895# + 171# Passengers + 65# WD hitch cargo = 2,131# If these are correct weights we are 819# below GAWR-Rear. There is capacity to hold a TT tongue. Need to keep in mind the 750# max tongue weight rating Jeep put on the receiver.

GVWR: 5,500# Using the 2,511# frt axle + 2,131# rear axle = 4,642# GVW or 858# before we reach the GVWR limit.

So far it looks like you can hold up the tongue weight of a light camper as long as we use a WD hitch and adjust it properly and keep an eye on the trailer weights.

Now letís look at the camper. Again here the scales tell all but letís start with some close estimates.

A 1995 T1850 from our brochures. (see the files tabs up top with no LP gas in the tanks or battery has a GVW of 2,905#, a dry tongue weight of 385# and a GVWR of 5,000#. We will add 500# which includes the LP gas in the tanks, the battery and camping gear in side. This comes out to be 2,905# dry wgt + 500# TT cargo = 3,405# and no fresh water. I would estimate the loaded tongue weight to be around 500#, again no fresh water.

The camper dry from Sunline with a 385# dry tongue on dry 2,905# GVW is 13.3% dry tongue weight which is good for stable towing. At a 500# loaded tongue and loaded 3,405# GVW 14.7% loaded tongue and that is even better for stable towing.

I do not know where the fresh water tank is on your camper. That is 200# more weight when filled and it can add or subtract from the tongue weight depending on where it is located. If you want I can calculate the add or subtract but you will need to get me the distance from the center of the TT ball coupler to the center of the TT axles and then the distance from the center of the fresh tank to the center of the TT ball coupler. We can come back and look at this after.

Now letís hitch up the camper and the Jeep and see how this comes out.

Using a properly adjusted WD hitch the Jeep front axle will not gain or lose weight.

Jeep front axle weight: 2,511# TT hitched and WD adjusted correctly
Jeep rear axle weight: 2,131# + 500# TT tongue weight = 2,631# (Still not over rear axle ratings or receiver)
Jeep GVW: 2,511# + 2,631# = 5,142# GVW against a 5,500# GVWR. So still OK here but getting close.
TT loaded GVW: 3,405#

Gross Combined weight: 2,511 + 2,631 + 3,405 = 8,547# GCW

Note: Technically a WD hitch will shift some of the loaded tongue weight to the camper off the rear axle, in this case maybe 75#. You are not in trouble on rear axle ratings so I let the truck hold it all for this calculation.

From a pure weight standpoint, as long as you stay in the 500# of cargo in the camper, weight wise you are in good shape. Again using a WD hitch and setting it up correct is key. You may even be able to take the fresh water pending the weight balance of where the fresh tank is.

Now to the pulling. This one is more of an issue because of the area you are in. On the east coast with elevations close to sea level your GCWR of the Jeep is 10,500# and you need to check it has the towing package and the high temp seals on the power steering it calls for in the manual. The Jeep manual talks about % frontal area of the trailer at 64 sq feet. That means if the area exposed wind resistance in the direction of towing forward is above 64 sq feet, towing performance can be affected. It is a disclaimer to tell the owner it will suffer some level of towing performance above that number. Your camper is 8 feet wide and most likely 8.5 feet tall plus maybe and AC unit. You are right near if not on top of the 64 sq feet. We all are, it is this brick we tow down the road called a TT.

Then there is the sea level part of a gas engine and no air device to jam more air in the engine. For every 1,000Ē above sea level you lose 3% of hp. To make this easier to compare a V8 engine will feel like a V6 engine (25% loss) when towing at 8,333 ft elevation. The higher you go the less you have. Again 3% loss for every 1,000 ft.

Down at sea level area you have 10,500# GCWR Ė 8,547 GCW = 1,953# of reserve pulling capacity. This is 1,953/10,500 X 100 = 18.6% reserve towing capacity. This good for sea level. At 8,333 ft above sea level this is 25% less and knocks this down to around 14% reserve. You may not feel this so much on the flats, climbing hills the Jeep is going to work especially at 10,000 ft it will work harder. If you were towing a boat that cuts through the air you will not feel it like you will with a large profile to the wind of a TT.

By the numbers you are close to the limits of the truck. Everyone has a different expectation on what is acceptable towing performance. I go after the weights first to make sure the truck and hold up the camper then look at towing performance. It is always more pleasurable with more reserve capacity, but it also depends how many times a year you go camping. Towing at capacity works but if you have lots of hills/mountains it will take itís toll on you and the truck sooner. You will know.

Here are some tips that will help make what you have the best it can be.

  • Make sure you have the truck in top shape, if miles are high, change the transmission fluid , rear axle oil, and the front axle/transfer case if this is AWD. The engine oil change is a given.
  • Check on the towing package as listed in the manual. If it is missing see what can be added. Overheating while towing is not good.
  • Tires: Air up the TT tires to max side wall cold pressure. Check every day before towing they are up that high.
  • Jeep tires. Air up the truck rear tires to max side wall cold pressure when towing. The front must be at least at door sticker and experiment up to max cold side wall for towing. If the front bounces hard towing, drop 5 psi but never go below door sticker. Soggy truck tires can really aggravate trailer sway as the truck is wiggling on the soft side walls of the tire. You can air them back down to door sticker after the camping trip. Yes I know this is a pain going up and down in pressure. It can be managed though.
  • You will need a good brake controller in the truck for the camper. Do not know if you have one or not yet.
  • Good towing mirrors. You canít beat a good set of towing mirrors that do not vibrate all over.
  • A good WD hitch with anti sway control and set up properly. With the loaded tongue weight, the short wheel base on the Jeep, my recommendation is this is a requirement.
  • Speed: This is within your control. 55 mph to a max of 60 is enough. Your ST trailer tires are only rated to tow a max of 65 mph. Prolonged towing above that speed will even more aggravate the breakdown of the tire that much faster. Plus towing at 55 mph you have ďtimeĒ to gain experience and understand how your rig handles and is much safer. Once you start going above 45 mph towing dynamics start changing that much faster.
  • Hang out in the far right lane. When semiís approach, stay as far right and still be in your lane. The push pull of a semi will be less the bigger the distance between the 2 of you.
  • Practice what to do if a sway event starts. If the trailer starts shifting the truck around due to wind or other sway events, do not slam on the Jeep brakes and do not try and steer out of the sway, both accelerate the sway. Hold the steering wheel straight unless you are going to hit something, reach for the trailer brake controller, firmly apply the TT brakes, then slowly let off the gas on the truck. Steering straight ahead and using the TT brakes controller manual lever at the start of the sway event can most times tame it right out. This action is not intuitive until you understand it and practice. It is natural to hit the truck breaks and you can totally loose it if the sway it very much advanced with the TT pushing the truck. By applying the TT brakes, the trailer is trying to hold the truck back, creating an inline tight connection helping to stop the sway.
  • Do not tow in OD with your lighter truck. The high heat of the transmission hunting gears will not do the tranny any good. Read the Jeep manual if it even allows towing in OD, if so only use it on the flats.
  • Going downhill, start down slow, use the engine to help hold you back. Down shift to 2nd if you have to. Do not ride the brakes for long periods of time. Firm brake to cut speed and let it roll again having the engine hold you back. Once the brakes get real hot, they fade and you do not have much stopping power any more.
  • Once you get all loaded up, camper and all, go weigh the truck and camper. This is the only real way you know where you stand. If you going to do this, ask as there is a way to weigh a camper to get the right weights.

Hope all this helps. I typed it all out so hopefully you can see where it all came from and why. Ask for clarification on anything I stated so you understand it. And especially if I flubbed a number up where the match is not right.


Happy camping

John
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:01 AM   #19
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Wow, thanks John, that's a ton of information to digest. I have the Jeep Cherokee Laredo so I can see the figures you used will be adjusted a bit. I will have the jeep weighed with gas and passengers soon.

It looks like I will need a WD hitch and sway bar. I don't usually drive on 3-4 lane highways, local roads for the first year with Speed limits of 45-55 will help me get used to towing too. I looked at the Reese SC hitch kit at camping world and see I will have to save up to make the tow vehicle the best it can be. I will also ask my mechanic about the set up.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:03 AM   #20
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BTW, I'm going to tow her up to Vallecito Campground this coming weekend. Easy drive, no mountain passes to deal with, just to get a feel for the rig. Do you usually carry your water for dry camping or use the water once you get to the campground?
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:32 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photokit View Post
BTW, I'm going to tow her up to Vallecito Campground this coming weekend. Easy drive, no mountain passes to deal with, just to get a feel for the rig. Do you usually carry your water for dry camping or use the water once you get to the campground?


Hi Kit,

We do carry water when there are water issues at a particular campground, meaning the water is questionable or they have noneÖ. If the camp has good water and known to be there, then we fill up at the camp ground. Call ahead and ask.

A good thing to understand is what towing with water weight does to the loaded tongue weight of the camper. In your case water it is 200# of added weight. Where the fresh tank is located determines if it adds, subtracts or is neutral to the loaded tongue weight and how this affects the back of the truck. When you are towing in camp from the spigot to the camp site at 15 mph, being heavy or light tongue weight is not a concern. Out on the highway, it is something to understand.

If you can measure the distance from the center of the 2 trailer axles to the ball coupler up front, and from the center of the fresh tank to the ball coupler up front I can tell you how much the water weight affects the loaded tongue weight. You can also do this at a truck scale, just this is an easy calibration if we have the numbers.

On my last camper, A T2499, the tongue weight went up by close to 200# by just filling up the fresh tank. That was enough with the cargo I had to put overload the back of my 2500 Suburban as the fresh tank was way forward of the TT axles. On the camper I have now, the fresh tank is right over the TT axles. Tongue weight does not go up or down with water, just the axles have to carry all of it.

Light tongue weight can aggravate a sway condition, excess tongue weight can overload a truck rear axle. Both can be accounted for if you know before hand.

Have a good trip and have fun. And you will find, hímm I forgot that tooÖ Just improvise or ask your neighbor at the campground as most times they have some to spare. Look forward to hearing about your adventures. If you need WD hitch help just ask away.

John
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:29 AM   #22
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John, in response to your great information: Yes, someone towed the TT to my location from AZ to get it to me.

I will measure the distances you asked about today.

The holding tank for the water is above the rear axle of the TT.

The weight I'm adding is not a big load, as I keep it simple, but I see that I wasn't paying attention to it all: pots and pans, plates, french press, mugs, etc. cutting board, toolbox, clothes, bedding, food, art supplies (acrylics and table top easel), camera gear and tripod. So I bet your 500# guess will be close.

Regarding your towing info.


Here are some tips that will help make what you have the best it can be.

* Make sure you have the truck in top shape, if miles are high, change the transmission fluid , rear axle oil, and the front axle/transfer case if this is AWD. The engine oil change is a given. DONE

* Check on the towing package as listed in the manual. If it is missing see what can be added. Overheating while towing is not good. I CAN'T FIND THIS INFO. WILL SPEAK TO MY MECHANIC.

* Tires: Air up the TT tires to max side wall cold pressure. Check every day before towing they are up that high. OK

* Jeep tires. Air up the truck rear tires to max side wall cold pressure when towing. The front must be at least at door sticker and experiment up to max cold side wall for towing. If the front bounces hard towing, drop 5 psi but never go below door sticker. Soggy truck tires can really aggravate trailer sway as the truck is wiggling on the soft side walls of the tire. You can air them back down to door sticker after the camping trip. Yes I know this is a pain going up and down in pressure. It can be managed though.

* You will need a good brake controller in the truck for the camper. Do not know if you have one or not yet. I DON'T HAVE ONE.

* Good towing mirrors. You canít beat a good set of towing mirrors that do not vibrate all over. GOT IT.

* A good WD hitch with anti sway control and set up properly. With the loaded tongue weight, the short wheel base on the Jeep, my recommendation is this is a requirement. CAN' AFFORD THIS TILL MID AUGUST. WAS THINKING I MIGHT GIVE THE TT/TV A DRY RUN, DRIVING AT 35 MPH TO A NEARBY LAKE. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

* Speed: This is within your control. 55 mph to a max of 60 is enough. Your ST trailer tires are only rated to tow a max of 65 mph. Prolonged towing above that speed will even more aggravate the breakdown of the tire that much faster. Plus towing at 55 mph you have ďtimeĒ to gain experience and understand how your rig handles and is much safer. Once you start going above 45 mph towing dynamics start changing that much faster. FOR THE FIRST YEAR, I DON'T IMAGINE DRIVING ON ANY FREEWAYS AS THEY ARE FAR FROM MY HOME. OUR LOCAL ROADS ARE ALL SINGLE LANE (WITH PEOPLE PASSING RVS). I CAN SEE DRIVING NO FASTER THAN 50MPH ON THEM, CLOSER TO 35-45 ON MOST ROADS IN SOUTHERN COLORADO.

* Hang out in the far right lane. When semiís approach, stay as far right and still be in your lane. The push pull of a semi will be less the bigger the distance between the 2 of you.

* Practice what to do if a sway event starts. If the trailer starts shifting the truck around due to wind or other sway events, do not slam on the Jeep brakes and do not try and steer out of the sway, both accelerate the sway. Hold the steering wheel straight unless you are going to hit something, reach for the trailer brake controller, firmly apply the TT brakes, then slowly let off the gas on the truck. Steering straight ahead and using the TT brakes controller manual lever at the start of the sway event can most times tame it right out. This action is not intuitive until you understand it and practice. It is natural to hit the truck breaks and you can totally loose it if the sway it very much advanced with the TT pushing the truck. By applying the TT brakes, the trailer is trying to hold the truck back, creating an inline tight connection helping to stop the sway. WHAT'S YOUR ADVISE WITHOUT THE TRAILER BRAKES, REDUCE SPEED?

* Do not tow in OD with your lighter truck. The high heat of the transmission hunting gears will not do the tranny any good. Read the Jeep manual if it even allows towing in OD, if so only use it on the flats. THE MANUAL SUGGESTS OD OFF FOR TOWING

* Going downhill, start down slow, use the engine to help hold you back. Down shift to 2nd if you have to. Do not ride the brakes for long periods of time. Firm brake to cut speed and let it roll again having the engine hold you back. Once the brakes get real hot, they fade and you do not have much stopping power any more.

* Once you get all loaded up, camper and all, go weigh the truck and camper. This is the only real way you know where you stand. If you going to do this, ask as there is a way to weigh a camper to get the right weights. WILL DO.

Hope all this helps. I typed it all out so hopefully you can see where it all came from and why. Ask for clarification on anything I stated so you understand it. And especially if I flubbed a number up where the match is not right.

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Old 07-25-2012, 12:11 PM   #23
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a brake controller is a must......dont tow without it, before you get all that other stuff, the brake controller is the most important IMO, in an emergency stop, the trailer will push that jeep like crazy, and not to mention all the useless wear and tear on the jeep brakes without the brakes on the camper, a decent one can be had for a hundred bucks or less, its a MUST. ive seen the outcome of suvs towing campers on the highway with no brake controller, it typically ends with the rv on its side, the tow vehicle off the ground in the rear, and propane tanks all over the highway, oh i forgot to mention the people in the suv on a stretcher, ive seen this more than once....if the rv starts to sway, you use the trailer brakes to calm/stop the sway, without the brakes, the rv can sway violently until it takes the vehicle with it....
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:13 PM   #24
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quoting JohnB and (in bold) your replies:

The stock T1850 with no LP gas in the tanks or battery has a GVW of 2,905#, a dry tongue weight of 305# and a GVWR of 5,000#
The GVW and dry tongue listed above is the empty trailer as it left Sunline. No camping gear.
* You will need a good brake controller in the truck for the camper. Do not know if you have one or not yet. I DON'T HAVE ONE.
* A good WD hitch with anti sway control and set up properly. With the loaded tongue weight, the short wheel base on the Jeep, my recommendation is this is a requirement. CAN' AFFORD THIS TILL MID AUGUST. WAS THINKING I MIGHT GIVE THE TT/TV A DRY RUN, DRIVING AT 35 MPH TO A NEARBY LAKE. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
* Practice what to do if a sway event starts. If the trailer starts shifting the truck around due to wind or other sway events, do not slam on the Jeep brakes and do not try and steer out of the sway, both accelerate the sway. Hold the steering wheel straight unless you are going to hit something, reach for the trailer brake controller, firmly apply the TT brakes, then slowly let off the gas on the truck. Steering straight ahead and using the TT brakes controller manual lever at the start of the sway event can most times tame it right out. This action is not intuitive until you understand it and practice. It is natural to hit the truck breaks and you can totally loose it if the sway it very much advanced with the TT pushing the truck. By applying the TT brakes, the trailer is trying to hold the truck back, creating an inline tight connection helping to stop the sway. WHAT'S YOUR ADVISE WITHOUT THE TRAILER BRAKES, REDUCE SPEED?


I don't think you can safely or legally tow your setup without a weight distributing hitch and a brake controller.
Colorado law states that you are required by law to use auxiliary braking system if the gross weight of what you are towing weighs more than 3000 lbs. http://www.towingworld.com/articles/TowingLaws.htm

I understand you are anxious to start using your Sunline, but a correct setup will be much safer and more enjoyable.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:42 PM   #25
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I hear you guys and will NOT be rushing out to camp. I'll get the brake controller and WD hitch with sway bar. Any suggestions for the brake controller?
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:30 PM   #26
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Hi Kit,

I know you are new at this and trying to get good info. We are here to try and help. I’ll explain this some so it will help you understand better. There are 2 points that others have picked up on as well that need to be corrected before you go on an outing. Even a 35 mile outing can be a really long time with a bad setup.

The brake controller. This is a must and here is “some” of the why.

Your Jeep has brakes on it rated for the full GVWR of the Jeep. In this case 5,500# of Jeep. When you hitch the camper up, the gross combined weight we estimated to be 8,547#. That could be light even. Or 3,047# that is over the Jeep brake ratings. This means in short order the brakes can over heat and then go into what we call brake fade and you have no brakes. The Jeep just plain cannot properly stop the TT plus the TV on only the TV brakes time after time.

Stop time distance. For the few times you try and stop before they over heat, you cannot stop in time like you are use to. If something or someone ends up stopped in front of you, even if you are standing on the brake pedal the mass keeps pushing.

The legality of this. Jeep has already declared you have to have auxiliary brakes to tow the loads we are talking about here. On page 227 of the 2004 manual I linked you to, they declare any trailer above 2,000# that brakes are required. If the driver fails to provide them then they are operating outside the vehicle manufactures recommendation. You can be held liable if you are in an accident even if you did not cause it. This can turn real ugly if someone is seriously injured.

Trailer sway,
your 1 best defense in the truck from a swaying camper is activating the TT brakes to try and pull the camper back in line by pulling on the truck. Using the brake controller is the easiest way to do this.

You asked, and I do not recommend for a 1st time tower as there are way too many other things associated with it to get out of control; If you have no brakes a method to help tame the sway is to stomp on the gas and try to accelerate the truck to come back in control of the camper. Like I said, you really do not want to go faster as then you have to stop even that much more. I answered your question but do not try this. This is only to be used by an experienced tower and is their last line of defense. The conditions have to be just right to allow this as you may run into something even worse and you have to make a split second decision that this was better than applying the brake controller.

And as said, your state may have a law on the books requiring a brake controller.

You really do not want to tow that size camper with the Jeep and no brakes on the trailer. OK so now how do we fix this problem?

There are 2 main types of brake controllers that will work in your situation. There are more but we will stick to these 2.

Timed based brake controller. This controller uses time to send more power to the TT brakes once you press the brake pedal. Once that switch is activated by your foot pressing on the pedal, it starts a timed sequence of increasing brake power on the camper by the settings you make on the controller. There is a gain (more power) and some have a boost (faster power) setting. If you keep your foot on the pedal, it keeps rising power until it eventually reaches full power of the setting. They do work but they have a lot of drawbacks. They do not self-compensate for speeds and the mass of the TT while you are traveling. Meaning when you are driving fast, you need more braking power naturally to stop in the right distance. So “you” have to turn up the power to get the right amount of stopping for say 55 mph towing or even 45 mph towing. Then once you are in town going 10 and 15 mph it is still set aggressive for highway speeds. Now it really stomps on the TT brakes and they may lock up. When you have a real big heavy truck and a light camper the truck helps blend this out as the truck is doing more stopping then it should and you tweak the controller to get a happy medium.

However on a light truck with a medium size camper, it can be a real pain. When you come to town you need to turn down the power to not lock up the wheels. Then on the highway you need to turn it up again. Odds are not in your favor to hit a happy middle ground. I had one on our popup when we use to tow it with a 1500 Tahoe. The thing drove me nuts locking up the brakes when I was going through the campground. So down it was turned and then back up on the highway. If I would of only known then if I would of spend another $30 I could have had a good proportional controller. The dealer didn’t help much, he gives me the, “We sell a lot of both”….

The next type is the proportional type. This controller has more brains in it. Many have an inertia sensor inside the controller that senses how hard you are trying to stop and sends power proportional to the TT brakes to compensate. A little breaking = a little power. A lot of braking = a lot of power. There is still a gain setting and a boost in many cases but it proportionally and automatically adjusts on the fly once you set the range of power you need to be in for the weight of the camper you are towing.

Here is one that I recommend for your setup. It is a good controller and a plug and play setup without a lot of wiring. You do have to buy the wire harness specific for your truck. Or if your truck does not have a prewired plug, then you buy the generic harness and splice it in.

Shopping around you may find it slightly cheaper but you have to make sure it comes with the same parts packaged and the then there is freight. The P2 seems to be the revision to the original Prodigy.
Brake Controllers - Tekonsha

See here for more info complete with videos.
Tekonsha PRODIGY Brake Controller - Proportional Tekonsha Brake Controller 90185

And even Amazon has them
Amazon.com: Tekonsha Engineering 90885 Prodigy Brake Control: Automotive

And you need to figure out does your truck have a 7 wire receptacle on the back of it? If not this needs to be added. Have to do some research if yours is prewired and many are. They have the 7 wire plug on the back and then all wired to under the dash where you just plug in the controller. This is the easiest setup, that is if yours has the prewire setup.

So you need;
- The controller itself.
- A mounting bracket
- The generic wiring harness if yours does not have a prewired jack under the dash.
- If yours does have a per wired jack then you need the Jeep specific harness.
- The 7 wire plug on the back of the truck. If this is there and wired good, if not this needs to be added.

Many on the forum have these. They can help with pictures etc. My 1st one was a Drawtite time based controller on the PU. Then when the TT came, I upgraded to a Jordan Ultima 2020 proportional and now I have the Ford integrated controller which is a very good high end controller tied into the entire truck.

Now the WD hitch.
Your loaded tongue weight can be 500# maybe even a little more. With no WD hitch the rear of the truck will squat about 3”, maybe more. The front will rise about 1 Ĺ to 2”, maybe more. This is not a good or safe towing situation. The rear axle can become overloaded and the front axle which does most of the truck stopping is now very light so the front end can wander. Wet roads are a problem with a light front end as you will skid too much without enough weight to hold down the front end. The truck receiver is also not rated for that much dead weight without using a WD hitch. Something can and will break if towed this way long enough.

To give you some perspective on this, on a 106” wheel base Jeep and I estimate a 50” rear over hang, (distance from tow ball to center of rear axle) placing a 500# tongue weight on the ball adds 736# of weight to the rear axle and removed 236# of weight off the front end. Just like a see/saw. With the suspension that far out of balance, the trailer will be pushing the truck around pretty bad. When you try and stop, the front of the truck will start to lunge up and down and you can loose control. On your light Jeep suspension a WD hitch has to be in place.

On page 229 of the 2004 Jeep manual I linked you too it declares a tongue weight over 350# must have a WD hitch and if the camper is over 3,500#. You trip this on the tongue weight and are close to it on the GVW of the TT. Again the manufacture is declaring it needs to be there. Same legality issue as the brake controller.

The Reese SC hitch I linked you to has the antisway and WD built in and is upgradable if you ever buy a bigger camper.
Reese SC Weight Distribution System w Sway Control - Trunnion - 10,000 lbs GTW, 600 lbs TW Reese Weight Distribution RP66151

However there are less expense models that will do a good job, just they may not be upgradable and are not a combined hitch.

Here is the basic WD hitch with a anti sway bar. .
Pro Series Weight Distribution System w/ Friction Sway Control - Round - 10,000 lbs GTW, 750 lbs TW Pro Series Weight Distribution PS49902

Here is a Fast Way 2 point one with built in anti sway. A little more money. And you need to add a $20 tow ball.
Fastway e2 Weight Distribution w/ 2-Point Sway Control - Round - 6,000 lbs GTW, 600 lbs TW Fastway Weight Distribution FA94-00-0600

There is also Craig’s list. Folks are selling WD hitches all the time. You have to hunt and look and make sure they have the right ones but sometimes you can get a pretty good deal on them.

I hope this helps explain this some. Glad to help more as needed. Maybe do a back yard campout. Many of us do this.

Hope this helps

John
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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 07-26-2012, 09:28 AM   #27
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thanks so much John and all those who are helping me. I'm going to hold off on camping, except where the trailer is right now. I am getting a brake controller and Wd hitch with sway control. I want to be legal and of course safe on the road. You know how it is, you get a trailer and you want to go out and have fun. Well, before the trailer I camped twice a month, in Utah in the Spring and Fall and Colorado in the summer. I will go back to tent camping and backpacking until all the safety and towing issues are solved. I'm looking at all the links johnb sent to me to find the brake controller. The trailer has brakes and the former owner's breakaway connector is still attached. I'll investigate further. And John, you are great at explaining in detail. Very helpful blog. Kit
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Old 07-30-2012, 01:03 PM   #28
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Hi John and all, thanks to you for all the great information about being safe and legal while towing my T-1850 with my jeep grand. I'm lined up for installation of the Brake controller and the WD hitch with sway control. I'll be ready for the road in late August and will be camping in the driveway to get used to the lights, stove, etc.
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