Need advice on WD leveling... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-30-2016, 10:13 PM   #1
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Name: Denise
Trailer: Casita
Texas
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Need advice on WD leveling...

Hi everyone, please don't laugh at me, but I sort of feel ridiculous about this question. I think I may be a little too nit-picky. Last week I traded in my 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee TV for a 2016 2x4 Ram 1500 p/u. No, I had NO problems with the Jeep pulling my Casita SD before that is asked. It was a 3.6L V6 and took my Casita up and down and all over the Rockies with not a single hiccup. I just missed my truck terribly. Before I turned the Jeep in, I attached my hitch and measured from the top of the bar at the receiver to the ground (level concrete.) It measured 21 inches exactly. When I got the new truck home, I repeated the procedure. Exactly 21 inches. Today I hitched the Casita to the truck to see if everything is level without putting the WD bars on. This is what I was told to do by a trailer place here in town.
Here's my question.... how close to perfectly level does it have to be before I have to make changes to the chain links on my WD bars????? Make sense?????
I will attach a couple of pics. One is of my bubble level mounted on the tongue right behind the ball lock. The other two are at slightly different distances away. If I need better shots, let me know and I'll try again tomorrow.
Thanks.
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20160630_184926.jpg   20160630_184825.jpg  

20160630_184902.jpg  
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Old 06-30-2016, 10:56 PM   #2
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You need the TV and trailer on a flat level surface. Then stand back and look at the entire set-up from front to back. If it is not level, you will very likely see that.

A WDH has measuring directions as far as links. We do not have your particular set-up but we have WDH bars that are parallel to the ground. You might look for some directions for your set-up online if you have none.
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Old 06-30-2016, 11:24 PM   #3
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Texas
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Thanks, it is on a level flat concrete surface I had built for my rig. I hooked it up and it looks level to my eye, no sagging or lifting at the hitch, but my son's being even pickier than me. That's why I included the pic of my level on the tongue. It is just barely off center, so I don't know how exact "level" has to be for this.
My WD was welded onto the trailer tongue and measured out at the Casita factory on delivery day. They didn't explain how everything worked, just told me to count down to the 6th link and hook it on.......
Do you add links to lower it or reduce links to raise it, or vice versa???
I'm lost.
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Old 07-01-2016, 01:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by wellduh326 View Post
Hi everyone, please don't laugh at me, but I sort of feel ridiculous about this question. I think I may be a little too nit-picky. Last week I traded in my 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee TV for a 2016 2x4 Ram 1500 p/u. No, I had NO problems with the Jeep pulling my Casita SD before that is asked. It was a 3.6L V6 and took my Casita up and down and all over the Rockies with not a single hiccup. I just missed my truck terribly. Before I turned the Jeep in, I attached my hitch and measured from the top of the bar at the receiver to the ground (level concrete.) It measured 21 inches exactly. When I got the new truck home, I repeated the procedure. Exactly 21 inches. Today I hitched the Casita to the truck to see if everything is level without putting the WD bars on. This is what I was told to do by a trailer place here in town.
Here's my question.... how close to perfectly level does it have to be before I have to make changes to the chain links on my WD bars????? Make sense?????
Hi, first off I have to ask, you hooked it up and it looked level, did you tow it around to see and feel how it handled? With that truck I wouldn't think a WDH would be even close to be needed. All you're looking for is level or a bit low at the hitch. I tow an SD17 with an '02 Ranger, 4L auto and don't use or need a WDH. You can adjust the ball rise/lowering needed with stinger changes and save yourself a lot of extra pounds leaving the WDH at home. Give it a good road test and let us know what you discover.
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Old 07-01-2016, 01:37 AM   #5
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What does " You can adjust the ball rise/lowering needed with stinger changes" mean please? Is that changing the level of the ball on the hitch my removing the bolts and changing the height of the ball?
I'll give it a good run tomorrow and see what happens. I usually carry at least one full gas jug on the front for the generator, approx. 25 pounds. Should I reproduce my normal front load before the test drive?
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Old 07-01-2016, 04:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by wellduh326 View Post
What does " You can adjust the ball rise/lowering needed with stinger changes" mean please? Is that changing the level of the ball on the hitch my removing the bolts and changing the height of the ball?
I'll give it a good run tomorrow and see what happens. I usually carry at least one full gas jug on the front for the generator, approx. 25 pounds. Should I reproduce my normal front load before the test drive?
Your first question, you can get different rise/fall stingers/draw bars. Etrailer on line is a great source for parts and info. I use a 4" drop bar but turned it 180* so I have a rise with it. You can also get balls that have an extra 1" shank for a little more lift if you need it.
2nd, yes you could adjust the hitch you have that way if its works. Might give you a good idea of what level is the sweet spot. I have and use a WDH for a larger sticky and different truck don't need it with the SD.
Glad to hear you're going to put it through the paces, find some hills and wind.
3rd, yes, load it like you would for camping/travel. The loading will make a big difference for how it tows. I unlike a lot of folks here travel with 25 gallons of water in the tank to take a bit off the tongue wt and it works for me and my tug. Bottom line, every tug/TT will handle differently for a lot of reasons and if you decide you're more comfortable using the WDH go for it.
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Old 07-01-2016, 05:30 AM   #7
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In my opinion, you're trying to do 2 things and should do them in this order: 1. Return the tow vehicle to it's normal pitch attitude after hooking up and 2. Have the trailer level when hooked up.

Having the vehicle back to it's normal pitch attitude pretty much assures you that you've distributed the added weight evenly front and rear.

The instructions that came with my WD hitch said to measure from the ground to the front fender wheel lip of the unhitched tow vehicle. Then attach the trailer. The tow vehicle will tip upwards at the front down at the rear because of the weight at the rear.

Link at time, tension the WD and measure the ground to the front fender wheel lip. Repeat this remove-a-link cycle until the front measurement finally measures lower than when you started. I then marked the key link. In my case I used a red zip tie (trimmed the excess tie after cinching it down).

By "remove-a-link" I don't actually mean cutting off the link, I mean shorten the length of chain between the bar and the frame connection a link at a time. Both sides.

You only have to do this one time if you mark the critical link.

I kind of flexed the front each time before measuring the height to negate any "stiction" in the suspension.

Close is good enough. It'll pitch all over the place going down the road anyhow.

If, after adjusting the tow vehicle to get it back to it's normal tow pitch attitude you find that the trailer is not level, then you should then adjust the stinger's drop measurement (most WD systems provide a way to adjust drop). After changing the drop, retension the WD to recheck the front fender lip height hasn't changed much.

Adding a link relaxes tension and causes the front of the tow to rise and vice versa.

Think of a long 2" square bar stuck into your hitch receiver. Lift up on the bar and it raises the rear and lowers the front of the tow vehicle. If you had the front and rear on separate scales lifting up on that long lever arm would increase the weight at the front and decrease the load on the rear. And if you too were standing on a scale, you would get heavier as well. In this example your weight is modeling the trailer axle weight. Lifting up on the bar is what happens as you remove links. That's what a WD hitch does. Shortening the chain is like lifting that bar in my example and moves some of the hitch weight to the front (and some of it to the trailer axle).
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:40 AM   #8
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OMG! You must be a teacher. I got it! Thank you so much. Everyone helped, but you put it in terms my TBI brain could absorb and understand!

This is my project for the weekend.

Thanks to all.
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Old 07-01-2016, 01:50 PM   #9
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i'm with BoregoDave
You DONT need the WDH if the truck and trailer are almost level
Keep the rig lighter and get better gas mileage.
If you have a 2 x 4 truck, the weight transfer will give you added traction on the drive wheels, BUT it will reduce the weight on the front steering wheels. If the TV sags too much. your headlights will be aiming high., So, don't travel at night ???
You can help reduce the sag, by re-distributing the stuff on board. Keep heavier stuff to the front of the truck and not too far forward in the trailer. And add more air the the TV rear tires to reduce squat.
You do want to have 10 - 15% of the trailer weight on the hitch. and a bit lower in front. Good luck!
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:28 PM   #10
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Thank you. This is all great info.
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Old 07-02-2016, 08:03 AM   #11
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Denise

There a 3 adjustments to make when setting up a WD hitch.

1- ball mount height on the drawbar (makes trailer level)

2- ball mount angle (makes tow vehicle level)

3- number of chain links (use enough to allow bars to move in turns without pulling too much sideways on hooks, bars should be parallel to trailer frame).

First thing to do is park on a level spot. I see you've done this already.
Do not hook up the trailer yet. Level the trailer using the front jack. Now if you want a very good adjustment, get your measuring tape out, and measure distance from ground to trailer, using the same reference point on the trailer at the front and at the rear (ex: bottom of frame).
Once level, write down this measurement.
Also measure the distance from ground to the top of the coupler, and write it down.

Now on the tow vehicle, measure the height between the ground and the fender lips for front wheels and rear wheels. Write down both measurements (they will probably be different). Steve's idea to shake the tow vehicle a bit to settle the suspension is good.

At the hitch, insert the drawbar in the receiver and install the ball mount, select mounting holes so the ball mount is about 1/2 inch higher than the coupler height measured earlier.

At this point the ball mount angle should be temporarily adjusted (tilted) by about 10 degrees, or sometimes the WDH manufacturer will suggest a start angle (ex: "spring bar ends 3 inches below the frame"). Depending on the WDH design, most of the time the angle is adjusted by means of eccentric washers or a washer stack. Since you've used your WHD before it's angle is probably good enough for now.

Tighten the big bolts just enough to take off any slack (final torquing will be at the end when everything is adjusted fine).

Now hook up the trailer and attach the spring bars. Raise the front jack and make sure it's not supporting any weight. The trailer and tow vehicle should be loaded as when leaving for a camping trip.

Look at the spring bars. "Round" or "L" type spring bars should run parallel to the trailer frame. "Trunnion" bars may have a slight angle down to allow the use of enough links to facilitate turns and making sure the bars don't touch the trailer frame. Hookup the chains with enough links to achieve this.

Measure the front and rear fender heights again on the tow vehicle. The main idea is to get the front at the same height is was initially. The rear can sag a little bit (say, 1/2 to 1 in), or you can have the front and rear sag equally. You must NEVER have the rear of the tow vehicle higher.

The trailer should stay level, measure front and rear again. A slight nose down is acceptable, but it should never ride nose up.

Now if the front of the tow vehicle is still too high, you need to distribute more weight. You do this by increasing the ball mount angle (change the eccentric washer position or add a washer on the stack). Yes, you have to unhitch, make the adjustment, hitch up, then measure again. This is trial and error, you may have to do it 3 or 4 times or more to find the correct setting, this is normal.

You have to understand that the ball mount angle and height, and chain length adjustments are interrelated. You change the adjustment in one and it will affect the others. For exemple, if the tow vehicle is level once hitched up, but the trailer rides with the nose too low, you will need to raise the ball mount up the drawbar. Doing this will change the angle of the trailer frame and then you may have to increase the ball mount angle to maintain the same weight distribution.
Another exemple: you find that not enough weight is distributed (tow vehicle still rides slightly nose up), and at the same time the chains look like they could be one link shorter. Start by hooking up the chains one link higher, and check again the tow vehicle's level. You may find that to you don't need to readjust the ball mount angle, as shortening the chain had the same effect of increasing the tension of the bars and distributes more weight.

Regarding the ball mount angle adjustment: if you find that one setting isn't enough but the next setting is too much (i.e. the perfect setting would be between the two) you can fine tune the weight distribution at the chains. Again, if the "perfect" chain length is between 2 links, you can "shorten" a link by inserting a bolt in it.

In the end:
-trailer should be level, or slightly nose down
-front of tow vehicle should be at the same height as without trailer. Rear can sag a bit.
-spring bars should be parallel to the trailer frame
-chains should be long enough to allow turns

Once everything set, torque all bolts appropriately. Then go for a test drive. If you feel you could use more distribution, or less, try it, then test drive again and see if you had any improvement. You'll eventually get the perfect setting for you trailer and TV.
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Old 07-02-2016, 09:00 AM   #12
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Thank you so much.
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Old 07-02-2016, 10:43 AM   #13
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Moderator, Could you please make Carl V's post a sticky in the "towing, hitching, axles" section?
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