Weight Distribution Hitch for 2002 1950 and 2003 Tahoe
I really thought I saw this exact match on this forum once before, but I am not finding it. I am getting ready to take a long trip with my 2003 Chevy Tahoe and the 2002 T1950 travel trailer and I want to get a reasonably priced weight distribution hitch to ease my highway driving experience. Now, I have not really towed the trailer with this vehicle before, I have only towed with my 1997 Dodge Ram Magnum 1500, and a 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
It is my understanding that my trailer has a dry tongue weight of 380lbs and that the trailer is rated at 5000lbs with 3455lbs dry weight.
The 2003 Tahoe has a class 3 hitch, and a drop ball hitch that I have used to move the trailer around in its space. I believe the truck is rated at 7600.
I am going to have to measure the receiver heights.
That is a good setup. You would be well served with a simple low end hitch setup and a friction sway bar or two. You could of course spend as much as you want though and will see some gains I guess.
I would advise to get your actual tongue weight checked with the trailer loaded to camp if you are able as that will help in selecting the right size bars for a traditional WD hitch.
If you have the time before your trip or are lucky, you can often find a great deal on someone's used setup.
Not knowing what you really needed help with, I took a stab at what you might have needed or will need to think through. What do you need help with? Not sure what you were asking.
I used to have 2002 Tahoe which pending what setup you have, would be very close to yours. Ours had a 5.3 V8 with a 3.73 rear axle. Looking up the 2003's they offered a 4.8 liter or the 5.3 liter engine and they had options of a 3.73 and a 3.42 rear axle. Do you know what combination you have? And do you know if yours has the Autoride (air ride) rear suspension system?
You also mentioned it had a Class 3 hitch, some class 3 hitches can handle a WD hitch while others cannot. Look on the truck receiver in the back of the truck next to the 7 wire plug for the trailer. There should be a sticker there that declares the ratings. Try and post a picture of that sticker as it will tell the ratings.
The Tahoe will need a WD hitch, if I recall correctly the receiver hitch on the Suburban/Tahoe 1500’s of that era were only rated at a 500 lb loaded tongue weight without a WD hitch. With a WD hitch they can carry more weight. Again that receiver sticker will tell what the receiver hitch can and should not do.
Odds are very favorable your T1950 tongue weight will exceed 500# when fully loaded. You are correct the brochure dry (empty) tongue weight of the 2002 T-1950 is listed as 380#. When the 2, LP tanks are filled with gas and you add a battery, you can gain an approx. 100# more tongue weight to then be 480# and this is without adding any cargo yet in the camper. An estimated loaded tongue weight could be in the 600 to 650 # range. A 600# rated WD hitch could be marginal and you have to watch your weights very closely but it could work. A WD hitch rated for 700 to 800# would work well. A 1,000# WD hitch I would say is too large for the A frame of the camper.
The T1950 is a low riding trailer. The ball height is around 16 1/2” unless someone did and axle flip. Buy your pics it looks like it is stock height. You will need to confirm this. Level the camper out on solid level ground and measure from the ground up to the top of the tow ball coupler on the trailer. They want the dimension to be the inside of the coupler top but the metal is only about 3/16” thick so measuring to the top is easier and subtracting the 3/16 form it.
With that low of a ball height, a good sized drop shank will be needed to be able to tow the camper close to level. To get a better picture on how your truck will drop when you add the camper, if you can do this we can help tell what size drop shank you will need.
If you can get 2 sets of numbers it will help.
Truck empty: Measure from the ground to the top of the 2” receiver pin box.
Truck loaded with camping gear that has to be in the truck: Measure from the ground to the top of the 2” receiver pin box.
This is how you would measure it. Just you do not yet have the hitch head and shank parts. But you do have the top of the receiver 2” pin box.
You may be able to find a good used WD hitch on Craig’s list however it may not have the right size WD bars or the right drop shank needed. If you find something link to it for us and we can see that it is you are considering.
I will also say that with this low of a camper that try and “not” look for what they call a round bar WD hitch. It can hang too low and drag the ground. You need a trunnion bar style that does not hang so low.
Hope this helps
We have a 2006 t-1950 and tow with a 1/2 ton tundra, so a pretty similar setup, our tow rating is a a little higher is all, but a similar size rig. We have just what John suggests - 800 pound bars. Our weight distribution setup is the Reese dual cam and it is a nice setup and has been good for us. very good for sway too. Even with the axle flip we have scraped our bar ends at times, but it hasn’t been a big problem.
Yes, we are trying to get a good fit for weight distribution hitch between the 1950 and the Tahoe and were wondering if anyone was towing with this same configuration and what they were using. Thank you for all of your input, it is very useful.
We are going to try to tow to a flat spot over the next few days to do some of the measurements you recommended. We are looking at Reese dual cam, Blue Ox (heavier) and the Equalizer (can be noisy). We have not yet explored Curt. My boyfriend does not think the Andersen or the Husky are a good fit for us.
This may help and hopefully not overload you...
If your camper does not have the axle flip to gain height, using the Reese DC may be a challenge trying to set it up and not bind the cam arms in a turn and not have a bump problem on ground clearance due to the cams hanging off the bottom. I have been able make the DC work on a 18" ball height camper and higher and really just squeaked by on a 17", however it was not ideal.
This pic is from a Sunline T-2363 I helped a fellow forum member set up a number of years ago at one of our M & G's. You can see how close to the ground the cams are. There is only about 5 to 5 1/2" there.
They already had the hitch so I helped them adjust it to be the best it could be. Again at 17 to 17 1/2" ball height it just worked. Not a lot of room for forgiveness.
If your camper comes up with 16 to 16 1/2" ball height, from what I know, that height is not the best fit for a dual cam application.
Part of the problem is getting the WD hitch in the right spring bar weight rating and it have integrated anti sway. The 700 to 800# spring bars are what you need/want but...
Yes the Reese DC has a 800# WD version in a trunnion bar hitch but it has the cam height issues.
The new Reese Steady Fast hitch, a good hitch and will work with low ball heights but they only come in 400, 600 and then jump to 1,000# WD bars. And that I feel the 1,000# is too strong for the A frame on the camper regardless what "some" hitch dealers will tell you it can be adjusted down.
Reese still offers the SC hitch in 800#. It is not as popular now that the Steady Fast hitch came out but it is a good hitch. Here it is on Amazon cheaper then I can find most places
As an option, you get the Reese standard 800 # wd bars HP trunnion bar hitch and add a friction sway control to it. This is the same WD hitch as with the DC, but no cams. This one https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist...e/RP66021.html
NOTE: That hitch I linked is offered "without" the shank as you will need a longer drop shank then the standard one offer in kits. Here it is "with" the shank but it will not work in your application.
Then you add the friction bar
In the Equal-I-zer brand, they do not offer a 700 to 800# WD hitch. It goes, 400, 600 then 1,000#. Again trying to control a 1,000# WD hitch on that A frame is not a good recommendation.
Blue Ox does offer a 750# Sway pro so they do have an option at least.
Husky does offer a 800# integrated sway control hitch called their TS hitch. https://www.huskytow.com/wp-includes/...-A_HITCH_2.pdf
I have seen them up close, one of my camper friends has a 1,400# model on his big toy hauler. This TS hitch works on similar to but not exact to the Equal-I-zer hitch.
Actually, Fastway a division of the same company who makes the Equal-I-zer makes a 800# WD trunnion hitch too. https://www.fastwaytrailer.com/wp-con...tions_0212.pdf
Here is the Fastway site e2 hitch
The Husky TS and the Fastway E2 use the same principal on sway control. Do not know who copied who. I think Husky did the coping when the Equal-I-zer patent ran out. They would work on your camper.
Hope this all helps. Can go into more if wanted on any of these hitches.
Thanks again, John. This is helpful and will take a little time for me to analyze and digest. I am almost thinking of taking a short trip without a WD hitch, just to see what it is like.
I was pulling this trailer with a 2014 Jeep Latitude, LOL. The back roads were fine except for REALLY steep hills, the Jeep nearly stopped before reaching the top of a hill. On the highway, it got scary and just barely manageable at 55 mph. The Jeep was a lame match, but at the time, I was only hauling locally on backroads anyway.
I then got my 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 Magnum 4x4. It handled the hills better and I was able to cruise at about 60 on the highway, except downhill when brakes were needed. That was scary. I did use that truck (trailer and truck probably both overloaded) to relocate to Tennessee, 700 miles away, but it was work. And the steering wheel had a bit of play, to add to the work.
I figure if I could handle those situations without a WD, I should at least see how the Tahoe and trailer ride with a lite load situations. I am mainly concerned that when I travel by myself, that the WD might be a lot of work for me and maybe test my physical limits. I am a smaller framed woman, 5'4", who is dealing with some upper body strength reduction due to a bad fall a few years back. My strength actually comes and goes, but I worry about my "off" days.
Any idea what configuration might be easiest for me to handle on my own?
I am also attaching pictures from the Tahoe. I will get more of the hitch height from the trailer maybe today; I don't think there was an axel flip but I will double check.
Ladies, I would love to get your input, also, on how easy or difficult the weight distribution setups are for you to handle by yourself.
She bought the Blue Ox as that is what the dealer was going to sell her. That hitch is about the simplest to setup. However if does have some things about it that made it hard for her to deal with. The hitch head and WD shank is heavy. She is in about the same situation as you with prior back issues and her size.
I suggested to her to get one of these and she did.
HitchGrip | Trailer Hitch Assistant | Horse Trailer Hitch Installation
Bought it here
She also had some issues with the Blue Ox rotary chain brackets. We helped most of that by getting the right sized tongue jack and wood block under it the jack will lift the truck and camper up higher enough the chain brackets can be turned by hand. This is similar on any of the traditional hitches.
On the hitch grip handle, I have one myself even. While it does not lower the weight you are lifting, it makes it a whole lot easier to lift a more balanced weight. Without it, you are leaning over off center and the lower back needs to be strong enough to handle that heavy hunk of steel hanging out there. That lifting handle can work on most any WD hitch head.
The hitch shank is usually the heaviest part of the hitch head assembly. They are 2" thick of mostly solid steel. When bolted to the hitch head, it is a fair amount of weight.
Your situation needing a large drop shank to get down to the lower height camper is going to need one of those shanks with "most" any brand we have talked about so far.
To hitches and weight, the Andersen is the lightest. This one. https://andersenhitches.com/Catalog/...tion-kits.aspx
The entire hitch is 60#, so the hitch ball portion and the shank is lighter than that and of any of the other brands.
I have not used one of these hitches, but have investigated them heavily when they first came out. While they are rated for high tongue weights, they do not perform well weight distribution wise at those higher weights. (1,000 to 1,400#) But they had been reported to do well on lighter tongue weights. That hitch would fit your size camper. I know you said this was not on the list, however it will help on the weight issue.
All the other hitches we talked about in the note above (Reese, Equal-I-zer, Husky, Fastway. Blue Ox will have the heavy hitch head issue with the long drop shank. Ideally you can try and see if lifting that much weight in a hitch head configuration is even and option if you can find a friend with one to try. I know my friend struggles with hers.
As far weight, the Andersen is only one in a different league lighter for weight. On the Andersen you will need to use a ratchet wrench to tighten the chains tension. Again by jacking the truck and camper up high with a 6" block of wood under the tongue jack and a power jack, the chain tightening will be much easier. Just you have to be sure the chain plate on the bottom the Andersen tow ball is pined in place before jacking up the camper. If not, the ball shank and come out of the hitch head.
I know some older guys even reported having issues with the heavy hitch heads. Some have created a smaller roller cart at the right height so they do not have to lift the hitch head up off the ground and into the truck. They more just move it from the cart to the truck close to the same height. Most of these had casters and roll well on solid surface. Being in the dirt of a campground you almost need larger tires to roll. If you go the more traditional hitch, getting a small cart made to hold the hitch head with large enough swivel rollers could be a help.
Your Tahoe and no WD hitch, when the camper is not loaded it may not be as bad. When the camper and truck is fully loaded odds are high you will notice the front end of the truck to be bouncy. And a lot bounce light feeling is not good in wet conditions or high winds for truck stability. Since your receiver is rated at 600# with no WD hitch, you can carry up to that weight by the receiver. Watch the rating on the draw bar that goes with the hitches ball though. Most of those hollow non WD draw bars are only rated at 500# max tongue weight. There should be a rating sticker in it if it did not get rubbed off. They do make heavier rated 2" solid ones draw bars but they are also getting heavy too.
The Tahoe will for sure tow more stable with the WD hitch and sway controls. If you plan a test drive, for sure go slow and be cautious. It sounds like you already know this from your other towing situations. If you find your weights as low enough, and the rear axle of the Tahoe is not exceeded without a WD hitch, then you can add a friction sway bar to a standard draw bar to still have sway control even if you do not have the WD part.
Hope this helps
Please consider creating a new post in the Community forum and ask just this question. How do you handle lifting the heavy hitch parts. Many may not see your question here as your post is talking about a Tahoe and a T1950. How to handle these heavy hitch parts is good for all.
A little more information about my combination...
I towed it a couple miles to a really flat slab. The trailer is above dry weight (battery and two propane tanks filled) with all holding tanks empty and minimum contents inside.
Measuring to the wheel well lips at axle centerline on the tow vehicle:
Front no trailer 35.25, trailer connected 35.75; Front axle lifts 1/2 inch.
Rear no trailer 37.5, trailer connected 36.25; Rear axle drops 1-1/4 inch.
With a 2" ball drop, the trailer sits less than 1/4 inch high in the front. So it is basically level.
Ball height with trailer connected is 17.25. <-- my BF took this measurement, it seems a little high, I need to double check for axel flip, but I don't think I have it.
The tongue jack has 8 inches clearance to the ground.
The top of the trailer frame is 17.5, the bottom is 13.5 (4" frame).
With a 15+ mph gusty crosswind, I could feel the trailer, there was no drama, but could feel it could be more comfortable/less "work."
So, I will be fully loaded later today. The numbers will move a bit more, but the basic geometry looks good.
The bottom of the trailer frame at 13.5 inches is pushing us towards a trunnion style WDH instead of round bars and chains. Less stuff hanging down so close to the ground.
More to come...
You have done really well! Congratulations!
Since you are going to load and do this again today, two quick comments.
I did not see the truck receiver height listed with truck unhitched and then hitched. This dimension. Ground up to top of 2" pin box
Trailer level.... This is a topic all by itself. The question is where is a place to measure level on the camper? A few tips to get the average.
Do not use the A frame (trailer hitch, tongue) of the camper to determine camper level. It is welded onto the main frame and can sometimes be uphill or downhill to the camper.
Try this to determine level.
Use the siding on the camper. Check front, middle and rear of the long side wall.
Go inside on the floor of the camper, check front, over the axles and then rear of axles on the tile floor.
Odds are high they will all be a little different. You need to pick the happy medium of all of them.
Notice I did not say to use the main frame of the camper. Over time the frame has sag to it. Over the axles is straight. From the axle to the front header/tow ball can sag down and then back up at the ball. Behind the axles which is hangs off the back, can sag down hill.
Good luck today with loading and taking numbers. Your doing great!!
First trip tow and more measurements fully loaded
Measuring to the wheel well at axle center line on the tow vehicle:
Front no trailer 35.25, trailer connected 35.75; Front axle lifts 1/2 inch.
Fully loaded: still 35.75.
Rear no trailer 37.5, trailer connected 36.25; Rear axle drops 1-1/4 inch.
Fully loaded: 36.50. Rear height increased by .25? Heh?
Hitch height looks like 16", and no axel flip confirmed
Trailer at front is 16.25" at front trailer panel, rear is 15".
I am guessing most of the added weight is in the back of the trailer, going by these measurements.
NOTE: I took a lot of nice back roads, and basic highways (not Interstates) where there were no tractor trailers to my current destination. It was a pleasant, enjoyable ride "as is". I got a little bit of porpoising on one road where there were a lot of consecutive bridge dips, but since the speed limit was only 35, it is hardly worth mention.
I think it is the Interstates that are going to catch up with me, where WD is concerned. The other highways, were fine at 50-55mph.
You are doing very good with the dimensions :).
If and when you need help with a WD hitch you need one more dimension to help select the correct WD shank. This pic is with the total loaded tongue weight of the camper bearing down on the tow ball with no WD hitch.
And a question, is the camper declared as level in this pic?
You will also need a receiver pin box height with the truck loaded but not hitched to the camper. Then we can see how much the truck drops in this location.
A comment just so you know. The "quick links" you used to attach the safety cables to the truck, many of them you find in a lumber yard etc. do not have a load rating on them. If there is no load rating sticker then they can be considered "general purpose". To meet towing regulations the hardware needs to be rated with a load sticker and sized to the trailer max GVWR or larger. Meaning if your camper has a GVWR of 5,000#, the rating sticker needs to be that minimum for "each" safety cable. It can be higher rated. They do make quick links with rating stickers, they are harder to find short of ordering them online from a chain supply house.
It can be more common to find Grade 43 or Grade 70 hooks with a safety clip latch then a load sticker on the average quick link. Tractor Supply, even some of the lumber yards and hardware stores have these. There should be a chart next to the chain hooks that tell the working and breaking strength of each size hook. Sometimes going grade 70 allows you to use a smaller hook to get the load rating. This can make is easier to hook and unhook from the chain loops on the truck receiver.
Hope this helps
The hooks are so much easier to hook up too when they fit right. The quick links would get old real quick.
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