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Old 06-03-2017, 07:38 AM   #1
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Towing T1661

Hi,
I have a T1661 that I tow with my 1999 1/2 ton Suburban. Ii have only towed on the ball. Most trips are fairly short with limited highway travel. It seems to tow fine. We are now planning longer highway trips. I am wondering if I should add load bars and/or sway control. If so, what should I get? I am looking to get a larger trailer, maybe 24'.

Should also add that the TT tounge has what looks like factory anchors for weight distribution and sway attachment

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 06-03-2017, 07:01 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsm5394 View Post
Hi,
I have a T1661 that I tow with my 1999 1/2 ton Suburban. Ii have only towed on the ball. Most trips are fairly short with limited highway travel. It seems to tow fine. We are now planning longer highway trips. I am wondering if I should add load bars and/or sway control. If so, what should I get? I am looking to get a larger trailer, maybe 24'.

Should also add that the TT tounge has what looks like factory anchors for weight distribution and sway attachment

Thanks,
Jim

Hi Jim,

For your 1989 T-1661 camper you might be right on the edge of needing a weight distribution hitch. The 89 brochure calls out your camper as having a dry tongue weight of 235#. But your loaded tongue weight will be higher. Only way to tell for sure is to weigh the tongue. Odds are high it might rise to 400lb with camping gear inside, a battery and LP gas added to the tanks. But if you start getting close to 500# then the truck has a receiver issue.

On the back of your Suburban there should rating sticker on the truck receiver. Is yours still the factory one?

Here is a pic of one off of a GM 1500 pickup of that era. The Suburban had the same style receiver back then. I had a 98 Tahoe which is the shorter Suburban and it had this same style receiver.



What you are looking for on that sticker is the "weight carrying" rating. Those receivers where rated at only 500# max tongue weight in"weight carrying" mode. If you added a WD hitch then the tongue weight rises up to 1,000# when in WD mode.

So the receiver need comes down to the actual loaded tongue weight of the T-1661 if you have to have a WD hitch for the truck receiver needs. Another thing to think through with a Suburban is cargo inside the truck behind the rear axle. This adds weight on the rear axle directly and to the GVW. A lot of weight behind the rear axle and then placing a 400# loaded camper on the back with no WD hitch, can create a rear axle load issue and may trip the GVWR of the Suburban. Since most folks have these nice large SUV's for traveling, we did too, and they load them up for long travel, that added rear axle weight might create the need to use a WD hitch on the camper to help the back of the truck suspension regardless if you are under the 500# tongue weight. Both the camper and the loaded truck gear need to be considered in this case.

Like I said, you are on the edge of needing a WD hitch. Tell us about the gear in the back of the Suburban? Is the 3rd seat still in? (if yours had one, that is 70# by itself) Any one riding in the 3rd seat? Any camping gear in the back? Let me know an approx amount of weight in pounds you will add to the truck and then what amount is in the back of the truck behind 2nd row seat and I might be able to help on estimating if you have an issue or not.

A sway control device is a good idea with or without the WD hitch.

You also talked about possibly getting a larger camper, 24 footer. We need to keep this in mind while we are talking the hitch and the anti-sway.

What is your timeline for getting the larger camper? The T-1661 has different needs then a 24 footer with tandem axles most likely as the weights are heavier. We should talk a little about this so you do not double spend money that has to be replaced when the 24 footer comes.

You said the camper has WD brackets on it and an anti sway control mount, can you post pics of that? I can tell by looking most times the brand. If you see any brand names on the parts, let us know that too. We may be able to use those parts in the new hitch scheme.

Hope this helps.

John
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:41 AM   #3
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Attached are picks of the tounge. I also added a pic of two Reese setups that are available on Craigslist. One is 600/6000 other is 750/7500. Can I find one set for the current mounting points or could one of these work?
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File Type: jpg IMG_0543.jpg (160.1 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0544.jpg (168.8 KB, 12 views)
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Old 06-04-2017, 08:30 PM   #4
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Hi Jim,

Wow.... that snapup bracket on the camper is "an oldie". It looks riveted to the frame even? Unless that pic is deceiving.

That said, it does look in working order still. Although the pivoting hook hinge rivets look a little loose, check that in case the pic is off.

The friction bar ball mount, yes it is welded on. If it is the right size ball and mounted in the right spot, it will work. I have one of those friction bar setup's in the barn I can measure the ball for you and post the diameter if it comes to that you will be using it that a new friction bar will mount on it.

The Craigs list pics of the Reese hitches.


The one on the left, is what they call a trunnion bar weight distributing hitch with the older standard dual cam anti sway control. This is also nicknamed some times a "square bar" WD hitch as the trunnion bars are square. That is a good hitch, just an older style one. I'm thinking before year 2,000 maybe older.

The one in the middle, that is the Reese round bar weight distributing hitch with the new high performance dual cam anti sway control.

And on the far right, that looks like spare standard weight distributing bars for the round bar hitch in the center. They are not used with the DC part of the hitch.

Technically you can make either of those 2 hitches work for you, but there are trade offs and a few compilations to work through with the dual cam part for your current camper.

On the trunnion bar hitch, mounting the older style dual cam "might" require you remount the propane tanks as the U bolts sometime interfere with them and then there is that welded on mini ball that might interfere.

Here is how the dual cam (DC) mounts on the frame. On this Sunline, a much larger one, the U bolts go through the hole in the LP tank and the DC bracket mounts to the bottom of the frame.




The round bar hitch with the newer DC, has to bolt onto the frame. That mini ball might be right in the wrong spot and you have to grind it off. Also that DC is made for heavier campers. It looks like this when mounted. Note: This is a trunnion bar hitch but it has the same DC on it. This was on on my prior T2499 camper.


There is also an adjusting issue with the Reese round bar head when used with the DC. The way the hitch head tilts back towards the camper, it does not move very far and many times the owner runs out of adjustment on the weight distribution as they cannot tilt the head back far enough and due to the DC needs, they cannot take up another chain link and not bind the hitch.

And a show stopper problem on the DC and your small camper. There is a requirement when using the DC that the loaded tongue weight is at least 500# to make the DC work properly. If you come in at 400#, the anti-sway will not be as effective as it can be.

I would make this recommendation. If you buy either of those hitches, then set the hitch up as a standard weight distributing hitch, and add a friction bar anti sway control to it. Save the DC kit for a future larger camper.

The converted hitch would look like this. This is the round bar hitch with the standard WD bars, not the bent ends. The far right WD bars on Craigs list are like this. But you can add the chains to the end of the Craigs list center hitch by moving the U bolts from the DC to the angled ends and it can work that way.



Here is the Reese friction bar kit. It is $31 plus shipping. I can measure the mini ball for you to compare on the camper if you want to go this route to make sure it fits on your mini ball. Just ask, and I'll get the dim.
https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist...ies/83660.html

By using the friction bar method, it is much simpler for your small camper and you can use the parts for the new camper if the parts are large enough when the time comes. Including the friction sway bar or the DC.

Which hitch had the 600# bars and which had the 750#? and are those extra round bars thrown in the sale of the center hitch?

What price are we talking about here? Those are good products with their limitations understood and if the price it right, it may solve your issue now and maybe for a future camper.

Hope this helps. Sorry it is not straight forward, I tried to give you options and explain them for what you have to work with.

John
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Old 06-05-2017, 02:32 PM   #5
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John,
I will take some measurements and hopefully post in the morning. The CL items are $250 per set. I also see new sets online for about the same. I would appreciate your advice on what to get.

Thanks.
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsm5394 View Post
John,
I will take some measurements and hopefully post in the morning. The CL items are $250 per set. I also see new sets online for about the same. I would appreciate your advice on what to get.

Thanks.
Hi Jim,

I have been thinking through your situation which is, you would like to have a WD hitch and sway control with your current camper to help the back of the Suburban deal with added weight and the approx 400# tongue weight of the camper. The truck can handle just the 400# tongue weight by itself, but as more gear is added to the truck and maybe to the camper for long trips, then the Suburban can run into issues with too much weight and needs a WD hitch.

There is the good possibly in the somewhat near future a larger camper may come and that camper will need a WD hitch and sway control.

Did I summarize that right? If so this is what I came up with keeping cost in line as a "want" but yet get you a hitch setup that will work today and can be upgraded or left as is when the larger camper comes. The Craig's list of hitches is $250 but those hitches while they would work have some drawbacks. They are still an option but what would a new hitch look like.

This is what I boiled this down to:

1st. You have a full size 1/2 ton Suburban as a tow vehicle. That is a good truck for your camper.

You have a small single axle camper, also a good camper but it is a small one.

To start with, the camper should be level when towing. The towing dynamics work best when the camper is level after all the WD hitch settings are done.

Your Suburban is 2" receiver is high up, the camper ball coupler is down low. This creates the need to have a drop shank on the WD hitch to lower the tow ball down to level out the camper. The Craig's list hitches look to have the standard shank which only drops a small amount. Odds are high you will need to buy a drop shank on top of the Craig's list hitch to level out the camper. Shanks range from $100 to $180 pending what you are looking for.

The drop shank needs and the cost of it makes this a little more money to a hitch setup as the standard shank is included in a lot of prepackaged hitches. But the standard shank is the wrong one and you still have to buy new shank anyway.

I boiled all this down to this choice for lower cost and many upgradeable options with a life time warranty hitch.

Get a Reese trunnion bar WD hitch, 600# tongue weight rated with no shank. $263 fee shipping. See this one https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist...e/RP66020.html

It has no tow ball, you can use your own over or buy a new one, for about $9 to $16 pending the need. I do not know if you have a 2" ball or a 2 5/16" ball.

A 2" ball, https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Ball/...ady/63845.html

A 2 5/16 ball, https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Ball/...ady/63835.html

The shank, we need to do some measuring and I can help with that when the time comes. I'm going to "guess" at a 6" drop shank to make your Suburban with with your current day camper work and that may not be far off. $119.00 This may go up or down in cost pending your exact needs.
https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories...s/RP63971.html

Add a friction sway control bar. $31
https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist...ies/83660.html

That will get you a 600# WD hitch with a friction sway bar and a drop shank to level out the camper. It will look like this, this is one of mine mounted on a 10,000# flat bed trailer. Just it has heavier WD bars and has no friction bar on it.




This setup will:

1. Cover your current camper needs with sway control
2. Is upgradeable in the future for a bigger camper. If the 600# WD bars are not heavy enough, you upgrade just the WD bars and get 800#, 1,200# or 1,500# bars to fit the same hitch. The hitch head, hitch shank and snap ups are rated, 600# to 1,500# so no need to rebuy all them again, just upgrade the WD bars.
3. If your new camper needs more sway control then the friction bar, the DC can be added to it if needed.
4. Odds are medium to high this hitch shank will also work with your new camper. It would be adjustable enough to do this.
5. This Reese trunnion bar hitch head has their best adjusting system for WD settings.
6. I picked the Reese brand and this style hitch which is their best hitch as it allows upgradable options, works well when setup right, has a lifetime warranty and the price is about the cheapest for all you are getting.

Things to check:
In your case, you may use your old snap up brackets if they are still good as they are riveted on OR you need grind them off if they have a problem. If you can reuse the old snap, measure from the tow ball to center of snap up along the side of the A frame and I can tell you if your camper will be OK distance wise on the old snapup's where the chain hangs. You will just store the new snap up's if you do not use them to use on the new camper when the time comes.

We need to confirm the drop shank.
- You tell me the height from the ground up to the top of the inside 2" receiver on the truck with some gear in the truck like you go camping.
- Ball height of the camper: Level the camper and measure from the ground up to the inside of the ball coupler.

- Distance from the mini ball on the side of the camper to the center of the tow ball as measured along the side of the A frame. We hope to not have to grind that ball off.

From those dimensions I can help you figure this out or tell you how to do this yourself or both but you need the raw data to start with.

I tried to look at other options and brands, but something else did not fit just right and the cost went up to get all the needs.

I made an assumption you did not want the cheapest thing you can get just for this camper and then you would not be able use much of any of it when the new camper comes.

Hope this helps. If you do not want to go this route, I'm A OK with that and can still help make what you want work the best it can. If you found a hitch on line you like, post the link and I can look at what you found and comment.

John
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Old 06-06-2017, 10:13 AM   #7
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John,
This is phenomenal. Thank you so very much. I will send you the measurements. You are the best. Thanks so much! I was really lost on this.
Jim
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:07 PM   #8
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Hi Jim,

You are very welcome! Glad to help on the hitch as needed. When you get you info, post it and we can touch base again. If time allows, take a pic or 2 of where you took the dimensions so I make sure all is clear where they came from.

Thanks

John
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:50 AM   #9
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John,
Distances in inches to centerline;
Trailer hitch height: 14"
Receiver height: 17 1/2"
Sway knuckle to ball: 24"
WD chain connection to ball; 30"
Sway knuckle diameter: 1 3/16"
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg IMG_0554.jpg (156.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0550.jpg (180.2 KB, 3 views)
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:17 PM   #10
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Hi Jim,

Got it. Great! and the pics too.

One quick question, the truck receiver height of 17 1/2", is this ground to top of the 2" receiver pin box OR ground to the bottom of the 2" receiver pin box?

I'm just checking before I figure out the shank drop height. Our 2003 K2500 Suburban was higher then this but that may be a difference between the 1500 and 2500 truck.

I'll get you the other info on Thursday if all goes right.

Thanks

John
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Old 06-08-2017, 04:06 AM   #11
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17 1/2" from ground to centerline if receiver. I have probably 150 lbs of cargo behind the rear wheels.
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Old 06-08-2017, 06:00 AM   #12
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17 1/2" from ground to centerline if receiver. I have probably 150 lbs of cargo behind the rear wheels.
Hi Jim, OK I got it. I'll get back to you. Thanks
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:57 PM   #13
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Hi Jim,

I checked some info for you, good news and not good news. I ran into a snafu tonight.

- I checked the WD bar length of 30" that is good. Chains on the WD bars will hang level enough on 600# WD bars
- I checked the friction sway bar ball at 24", that is good and is what Reese states to mount the ball at.
- I checked the mini ball at 1 3/16" and I measured one of mine. I used 3 place decimal, but bottom line, the friction bar should mount on that ball.

See some pics. I had the smaller 800# WD bars laying around which are the same thickness as the 600# bars you need and I mocked the setup up on my flat bed trailer to make sure the 30" WD bracket would work with the chain swing.

See the pics. This is with the Reese trunnion hitch head, a drop shank I have and the WD snap ups at 30". The smaller WD bars will work at 30". The chains hang level enough






I even checked the friction bar ball mount being at 24" and it will work with the WD bars. See the 24" mark. There is 6" extra room to the bar mount and will not hit the chains


I happen to have one of the Reese friction bars that just came for my T1950


The new Reese mini ball that goes on the hitch head is 1.227" dia


The Reese mini ball mount is, 1.234" dia


The socket the friction bar has is, 1.257" dia.


I suspect you measured the ball on the camper with a tape measure. Since Reese has the ball mount ball at 1.234" dia. that is only 0.046" away from your tape measured 1 3/16". These friction bar balls are pretty standard across all brands. I would say the bar will fit the ball on the trailer.

Now to the snafu.... It kind of blows the entire Reese WD hitch out the window.

You have a 14" tall ball height camper when level. That is a low camper... Your Suburban is 18 1/2" ground to the top inside of the 2" receiver. Using a standard shank 2" tow ball, a WD drop shank needs to drop down far enough to hold the hitch head and level out the camper. The bottom of the hitch head will be 4 3/4" off the ground. This is way too low. You will be bottoming out on the hitch shank and the hitch head most everywhere that low.

To help show you this, see my 2003 2500 Suburban hitched to my 2004 T2499 that has a ball height of 18" to 18 1/2". This combo worked but I was still low and I had at least 6" of ground clearance on my DC before it hit the ground. The bottom of the hitch head on yours will be 4 3/4" off the ground and for sure will hit.






Bottom line: Using a Reese WD hitch on that low a camper will not work. The Craigs lists ones will not either, they will be too low.

I'm working on options now for you. Sorry I missed this before but it did not show up until I did the math on a 14" ball height trailer.

I'm assuming now, when you are towing the camper, the trailer nose is high up? Yes/no? I did not see a large drop drawbar in your pics. To use a normal 2" weight carrying ball mount and your Suburban you would need a drop draw bar mount of 7 1/4" to level out the camper.

I'll hunt some more on Friday and report back with options.

Thanks

John
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Old 06-09-2017, 05:04 AM   #14
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John,
It is a very low trailer as you say. I have. 2" drop drop on my hitch and it does ride a little high in the front, but not much. My driveway isn't perfectly level so the 14" may be a bit off. This was to the center of the ball and not top. I will hook it up tomorrow, park on level ground, and give you more measurements.
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