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Old 09-11-2019, 09:42 PM   #1
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Towing w/o WD - traction related

I have a T1950 and a 2018 Chevy 1500 with tow package rated at 9100lbs. GVWR of 7200lbs. It's the crew cab with the 6.5' bed, so it's a long truck.
I have a W/D set up and the original way it was set up I find that I sometimes break the tires loose pulling out if there is a little gravel on the road. I readjusted it. Now I have better traction but it really doesn't distribute the weight. Just hauling it straight on the ball doesn't set the truck any lower than using the W/D setup.
At this point I see no need to use the W/D hitch since I have a ball mount rated for 7500lbs/700lbs with a sway control bar & ball. So I can have sway control w/o the W/D.
I carry about 250lbs in the bed of the truck when we travel, so not much weight in the back of the truck.
I read another post debating using or not using a W/D set up, but I didn't see anything mentioned about traction at the rear wheels. My concern is if I take too much traction off of the rear, it won't be a safe set up, especially on wet roads. I'm thinking I'm better off just using the sway control. If I ever carry more weight in the truck bed, I would have to use the W/D set up so I don't take too much weight off of the front. As it is now, the truck just sits nice and level.
Also, I should mention that my hitch ball sits close to the receiver, so that helps prevent the leverage and sway of using a longer ball mount.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:11 PM   #2
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I don’t know about the Chevy, but in nearly all cases I’ve seen for 1/2 ton trucks the high number for towing (in this case 9100 pounds) is “when properly equipped”. Properly equipped means with weight distribution, the number without weight distribution is usually much less.

Another thing to think about is you noticed the difference in low speed traction with weight distribution on loose ground. Removing the weight distribution decreases the steering ability of the front tires - you may not have noticed it, but maybe you have not put the rig into a similar position where you needed it (maneuver to avoid a collision at high speed).

I would lookup the weight distribution towing numbers for the truck with no weight distribution, I think you will be surprised what it is compared to the 9100.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:27 PM   #3
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Look at the sticker on the truck receiver. There are 2 ratings. Weight Carrying and Weight Distributing.

Here is a Ford sticker off my F350 before I upgraded it


Here is one off my prior 2003 K2500 Suburban


Part of the need to run without weight distribution is that the truck receiver is not accidently overloaded in weight carrying mode. If you have a 750# weight carrying ball mount, that component can be OK. But the receiver needs to align with the actual scaled loaded camper tongue weight. Some of the newer trucks have a higher ratings, but you need to check.

Your thoughts about rear axle slippage are valid. A question first is, how exactly is your WD hitch setup? Maybe you are overdoing it or under doing it? Have you done a complete set of fender heights? or better scaled weights? if so post and we can see if there is an issue or not.

For the fender heights method,

Find a hard surface ideally level spot but at least straight area to cover truck and camper. The camper and the truck bed need to be loaded with fuel and camping gear ready to go camping. Get these fender heights from all 4 wheel wells.

Measure straight up through the center of the wheel. Like this


Get these numbers:

1. Truck by itself, unhitched.

2. Truck and camper hitched, but no WD bars tensioned or on. (Weight carrying)

3. Truck and camper hitched and the WD tensioned as you go camping (weight distribution mode)

4. While your at it, get the trailer ball heights for item 2 and 3 above along with the camper level by itself.

Level the camper unhooked (ball height): Measure ground up to top of ball coupler or easier, top of frame behind the coupler. This gives you a point of reference to go back to all the time. Item 2 and 3 will be compared to the camper level height to determine nose up, towing level or nose down towing and by how much.

If you have these numbers, we can try and help you see where the WD settings are in the truck. This can give some insight to your rear axle slip issues. The new GM pickups now are stating to adjust the WD hitch to run close to 50% front axle load restoration. Meaning you only return about half the weight back to the front end that the trailer tongue lifted off. The fender height numbers above can help tell how close or not you are to that.

While your at it, have you ever weighed the camper loaded tongue weight?

Hope this helps and glad to help more as needed.

John
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:05 PM   #4
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Most pickups leave the factory with a distinct front down attitude. Some owners don't like this look and will modify the front suspension to "level" their truck. When levelled trucks are used for towing, their rear suspension sags like the old bumper dragging, family station wagons we all remember. If your truck hasn't been levelled, the only way it can "sit nice and level" with a trailer attached is if the TW has removed several hundred pounds from the front axle. All truck and hitch manufacturers recommend that up to 50% of this weight be restored to the front axle--commonly known as Front Axle Load Restoration or FALR. Setting the proper FALR at a CAT scale while fiddling with washers to adjust ball angles and picking the right number of chain links can get tedious. The quick and dirty method of setting FALR is a tape measure on the front fender lip. In addition to John's description above, check your Silverado's owners manual for the amount of FALR. On my 2015 Silverado it was half the distance, but on my 2019 F150 it's 25%. I've set up various combinations of 5 trucks 3 trailers and 2 WD hitches with the tape on the fender and confirmed at a scale that it works.

I've only done one complete "3 passes over the scale" to get the TW of my current trailer. For that one instance, WD transferred 280 lb. back to the FA and 160 lb. to the trailer axle on a trailer with almost 900 lb. TW. That means half the TW has been relocated off the truck's rear axle and suspension and that''s a pretty significant number.

It's important to recognize that the tape on the fender is a good enough method and not obsess over the actual pounds from a scale--as long as all weights are reasonable and there's a decent cushion on axle and tire loads. 1/4" on a tape seems like an insignificant distance, but one washer on the ball angle or one link on the WD chain does actually move the 1/4" or the pounds on the scale. A CAT scale also rounds all weights to the nearest 20 lb. so that a 9 goes down and an 11 goes up for a possible 20 lb. error over 2 axles. Not a big deal on an 80,000 lb. tractor trailer. I've also never figured out how my weight is included at the CAT scale if at all. I have to get out of the truck to push the intercom button and am possibly not even standing on the front scale when the operator records the weights and if I am on the front scale all my weight is on the front axle. But then my weight isn't in the truck either when I use the tape measure in the driveway. It is what it is and the tape in the driveway has always been good enough for me. I then paint the proper chain link and don't worry about minor load changes from one trip to the next. With just 2 adults we load pretty consistently anyway. With both the Equal-i-zer and Blue Ox that I use now, I've found there is only one washer/bracket height/chain link that gives the proper WD. The Blue Ox is dead simple to set up as it has a fixed ball angle and only one link is the right one, but only if the bar is the right weight for the TW.

As to traction, i have no problem breaking the tires loose, especially on wet pavement, and that's true empty as well as loaded. On the loaded and hitched '15 Silverado the axle weights were 3360 lb. front and rear. On the lighter Al '19 F150 they're 3180 front, 3260 rear. For both trucks the loaded rear axle is 1000 lb. heavier than for the unloaded truck. Even so, on a slippery surface the tires do break traction and it's wise to employ some winter driving techniques for trailer towing. If driving a distance on gravel, I'd shift to 4Hi. If parking in a tight spot, especially on a slope, 4Lo makes maneuvering much easier and keeps the tranny from slipping and heating.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:02 PM   #5
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Short video explains the need for a weight distributing hitch.

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