Load Leveling hitch for my Casita 17? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-24-2018, 07:15 PM   #1
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Name: Tom
Trailer: Casita
CA
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Question Load Leveling hitch for my Casita 17?

My wife and I are the proud new owners of a 2002 Casita 17, with a lot of bells and whistles. It seems to have all the goodies.

I am towing it with my 2012 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner, Toyota's sport truck version of the Tacoma. It's rated at 3,500 towing capacity, so that's not an issue. But it does sag a bit when I put the Casita on the stinger. 2 1/4 inches of sag at the ball, to be precise. On the rough roads in the Bay Area, I have experienced some hobby horsing. It's time for a load leveling hitch, I am afraid.

What do you guys think of this hitch:

https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist...2-00-0450.html

It's a 400 pound tongue weight rated system from Fastway. Your experience, biases, and general all around feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Tom
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:14 AM   #2
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Lots to absorb here. We towed with 2008 Honda Pilot, also rated at 3500 lbs. Our 2003 Liberty Deluxe came in at every bit of 3500 lbs when loaded, and over 400 tongue weight. Yes, a WDH is necessary, and makes a huge difference. I haven't seen the model you posted, but it looks remarkably similar to my 4000 lb Equalizer branded hitch.
On the equalizer series ONLY the 4000 unit will work without major mods to the frame. This is because of the required distance between the hitch and the attach points of the bars. I think it was 32", placing it in conflict with the propane tanks. On calling Equalizer, they said that the 4000 unit was engineered to reduce that length to 27" (I think), which barely clears the tank.
Also, my welder suggested that I box the C channel of the frame to prevent it collapsing from the torque of the attach points.
Get the install manual first, and study the numbers. There are measurements to help on a lot of variables. Also understand that overkill is a very bad thing on WDH's. It can cause your rear wheels to be too light and frame damage to both truck and trailer.
In the end "adequate" on towing capacity was not enough for us, and we now have a 7200 lb rated Nissan Titan.
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:22 AM   #3
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Name: Walter
Trailer: 2017 Escape 17B
SW Virginia
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Hi and welcome Tom
As you can see from my sig, I am now on my fifth fiberglass trailer. I have towed them for close to 100,000 now without a weight distribution hitch(WDH).
In fact my Bigfoot came with one and I soon removed it.
There are two requirements it's important to observe; namely make sure your hitch weight stays well under the rating of your tow vehicle and between 10% and 15% of the total trailer weight. As long as you observe these a WDH is just extra dead weight you are burning fuel for, and extra fussing every time you connect and disconnect at a campsite.
Keep in mind, however there are many here that vehemently disagree. I have yet to see anyone document an accident that even might have been due to lack of a WDH when the above restrictions are observed.

Good luck with your search for the FG trailer with your name on it.

Walt
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:38 AM   #4
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I should have included in my post that by acquiring the installation manual in advance you will also have the criteria used to decide if you need a wdh or not. In the case of The Equalizer, the engineering says that if your front wheel well is deflected more than one inch upward with a loaded trailer on, then you need a wdh. My Honda was nearly 2 in up, and driving without the hitch resulted in frequent loss of traction under heavy acceleration. Of course, it being a front-wheel drive vehicle, this could have easily produced the accident that the other poster mentions he's never seen. On our initial twelve hundred mile journey we did not have an accident, but I did see enough loss of safety margin to immediately by The Equalizer hitch. Towing with the Nissan does not require the weight distributing hitch, and I am thrilled to have reduced some of the complexity of towing. Our upgrade to the truck with plenty of headroom was easily the best decision we made since buying the Casita.
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:51 AM   #5
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Name: Jack L
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I have an 07 Tacoma 4x4 and had some drop on the back of the truck when towing. I put air bags ($300)was very pleased with the results. After I added the airbags, I discovered that Toyota had a "service bulletin" that would provide a spring upgrade if anyone complained, so I also got new rear springs with one more leaf from Toyota. I believe the Pre runner has the same suspension as the 4x4. With the spring upgrade and the air bags, I'm good to go.

A service bulletin is different from a recall in that Toyota does not notify you. You only get it if you complain. Toyota covered the spring replacement ($1500). I suggest you check with Toyota and mention "unsafe to drive" in your discussion.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:45 PM   #6
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Here is a video that I thought was very illuminating on the difference between air bags and weight distributing hitches. While there are a lot of variables to be considered, the biggest one is a lack of weight on your steering wheels. Add a little pitching moment of a bounce, and it won't take long to have steering (and braking) severely compromised.

I tried airbags first on my Honda, and they proved to serve little purpose accept to raise the rear end up a little. I still had compromised traction on the front, and I felt like more "wander" with the air bags than without. A few suggest "helper springs" as an alternative, but I wonder if they don't do the same thing (raise the rear, but do nothing to transfer weight back to the front of the car).

I can say that I loved that the anti-sway control is built into the Equalizer (and it would appear the one you linked to). I can also say that we didn't like the extra noise as we maneuver in parking lots. They offer grease to quiet it, but that seemed to reduce the amount of anti-sway. We got used to it. The point above about increased tongue weight is an important one. It is about 80 lbs worth of steel that goes straight to tongue weight. If you are on the 'edge' of your margins on tongue weight, the WDH can certainly put you over the rating. Again, all of this ended for us when we bought the V8 pickup truck, and traveling suddenly became a very confident affair, a bigger difference than you can imagine.


Here is the owners manual for the Equalizer, and the very specific tests to take on deciding if you need WDH, or if it is too much adjustment, are included.
https://www.equalizerhitch.com/manua...-owners-manual
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:17 PM   #7
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Welcome to FGRV Tom. As you don't have front wheel drive, I don't think you'll need a WDH to square away the sag. My stock suspended '02 Ranger squatted to much with the '06 SD17 too. I replaced the stock axle bumpers with Timbrens, which took the sag out, but transferred the road vibrations into the truck. After putting up with that for 4 years I replaced the Timbrens with the Air Lift bag system from Etrailer a few months ago. Wow, the trip to the Quartszite rally this time was like driving the truck empty, sweet. Less than half the weight of a WDH, no extra hassle with hitching up and you don't have to find a place to store it, all pluses .
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Old 02-26-2018, 03:00 PM   #8
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Name: Henry
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You may want to consider an Andersen WDH. Easy to work with and makes a difference, although I make certain I abide by the rules as stated above.

I also have Firestone Air suspension and will be putting on an extra leaf this week or next.

I carry way too much; camper shell, bed slide and stuff to the point that I am over my payload capacity fo 1334 lbs.

I have a 2011 Tundra 5.7L, dual cab, 4x4 with tow package. I do not have any problems going up mountains: my focus is making sure I make it down the mountain, and with no sway.

Try a few trips without the WDH, then hook up whatever WDH you have and see if you feel a difference. Just drive 60 mph or less, at least at first.

I did not know about the 1" rise of the front wheel well after hooking up, indicating a need for a WDH. But I am not that experienced, I have only towed about 15K miles or so, mostly to the Rockies from Tennessee.
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Old 02-26-2018, 03:56 PM   #9
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Name: bob
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wdh

I have a 2015 ford edge 2.0 ecoboost front wheel dr. our tug rated 2k towing I don't know what the tongue rating is 200lb I think. I have reduced our tongue weight to 100lb.

I still thought I dropped a little too much so I put airbags in I inflated them to 25lbs and leveled the edge out.

we have had no problems either before or after I just like the fact its now level.

bob
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Old 02-26-2018, 05:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k0wtz View Post
I have reduced our tongue weight to 100lb.

How much does your Scamp weigh?
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Old 02-26-2018, 08:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TomE11 View Post
Your experience, biases, and general all around feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks,
Tom
Tom,

Welcome to the forum! Here's some quick thoughts in a very abbreviated form. Please ask questions about any of these items and I or others will follow up.

First, the Casita 17's have a high tongue weight. You should be prepared to monitor the tongue weight and adjust your loading to reduce it where possible. We ran with a full fresh-water tank to lighten our tongue weight. I also swapped out the 20-lb propane cylinders for 11-lb ones, (which are quite unreasonably expensive for some reason!) Shifting heavy cargo out of the front of the trailer and closer to the axle or even under the rear dinette can help. I ultimately bought a Sherline scale to monitor ours, but you can weigh a trailer tongue with a bathroom scale and a couple of boards (or a board and pipe and bricks, etc.)

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-how-to-...ue-weight.aspx

Next, if you do go with a WDH, definitely do get one with springs around the 400-lb rating, as you indicated. Don't use excessively heavy springs on a WDH; use springs that match the trailer's actual tongue weight. Some folks have reinforced the Casita's A-frame when they mounted a WDH; reinforcing the bottom for some four to five feet centered between the trailer axle and the coupler could be helpful. Also, be sure to check what your tow vehicle manufacturer says regarding using or not-using a WDH.

It's also desirable to to locate the hitch ball as close as feasible to the truck's axle, regardless or whether you use a WDH or a weight-carrying hitch. This might involve redrilling or replacing the stinger. Using a good quality hitch-tightener and eliminating any slack in the towing gear can be beneficial too. If your coupler is adjustable, it should be snugged to the ball. I personally favor using a little grease on the ball; some don't.

Finally, learn everything you can regarding all of the associated weight ratings for tow vehicles and trailers. Many tow vehicles are limited by their cargo-carrying capacity. The tongue weight will use a portion of the tow vehicle's CCC.

We managed to get by without a WDH with our previous Casita-Q5 towing combination, so that was much more convenient. However, I believe that WDHs do have a place and may sometimes be necessary, or at least highly desirable. With more than 2-inches of sag, I think you are wise to get on top of this issue.

And, yeah, from what I see of of the roads on my trips down there, I fully expect the four-wheel drive trucks will be filming their "brawny off-road" advertisements on the Bayshore freeway soon; you have my sympathies.
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Old 02-26-2018, 08:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookernoe View Post
Here is a video that I thought was very illuminating on the difference between air bags and weight distributing hitches. While there are a lot of variables to be considered, the biggest one is a lack of weight on your steering wheels. Add a little pitching moment of a bounce, and it won't take long to have steering (and braking) severely compromised.
Charles,

Nice post; that's the best video I can recall to illustrate what a weight distribution hitch accomplishes.

Everyone else,

There will be a quiz; watch the video and bring your calculator and two #2 pencils to class tomorrow. If you're not inclined to sit through the whole video, at least take in the summary beginning at 10:57.

https://youtu.be/XBZu39pQ8Gg?t=10m55s
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:15 PM   #13
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Thanks for the tip Mike.
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Old 02-27-2018, 12:08 AM   #14
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Name: Tom
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Thanks for the advice guys. I called Fastway and we settled on the 400 lb e2 with the trunion for better ground clearance.

I thought about airbags, and I am sure they would help, but they are not likely to deal with hobby horsing. As Mike said, the Casita has a high tongue weight and the roads around here are rough enough that in at least one case, a car was totaled in a pothole on I580. Bent the body enough the doors would not close. It's not a normal situation around here.

I do want to put some miles on this combo and I don't want to sweat the rig's handling. Margin is good!

Thanks again,

Tom
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