is my weight distribution hitch worth the tongue weight and effort. - Fiberglass RV
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:38 AM   #1
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Name: beachcamper54
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is my weight distribution hitch worth the tongue weight and effort.

Hi folks a newbie here .. just got our first Casita! It came with a heavy EAZ dual bar weight distribution hitch. Do we really need it? Our tow vehicle is a 2001 Ford Explorer Sportrac w/4.0 litre/6 cylinder engine pulling a 2002 17' Spirit Deluxe. We have Monroe Airmax adjustable shocks on the rear and can tow the trailer level. We'd rather put on an anti-sway bar than deal with the weight distribution hitch set up. My question is - Does the weight distribution hitch make things easier on the vehicle and smooth the ride enough to be worth the added tongue weight, since i can already level the casita with the airshocks?
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Old 01-06-2014, 06:38 AM   #2
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The WDH adds a margin of safety.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:27 AM   #3
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Even though I am full well knowing that this might open the Pandora's box on WDH's I will add my opinion on the question.

Again, IMHO: Air shocks do nothing to help with the problem other than bring the TV back to level. All of that extra load is placed on the shocks and the shock mounts themselves and it's still adding all of the towing weight to the rear axle.

The purpose of a WDH is to "Distribute" the tongue weight trailer to the front wheels of the TV. We tow a 17', single axle, Coleman Hybrid trailer, that is some what heavier than your Casita, with a GMC Denali, and the few times when I have pulled it without the WDH installed (the trailer is well within the Denali's towing limits), although the vehicles auto level system kept everything level, it was much more squirrley going down the road than with the WDH installed.

In a non-scientific observation, it appears that getting more weight on the front wheels, at least in this application, provides for a better tow and precludes any need for a sway control device.



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Old 01-06-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
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I've found the WDH greatly reduces the "porpoising" on undulating roads and improves the steering by adding weight to the front end of the TV - which also helps reduce sway. I did away with the anti-sway bar completely. The 17s have a greater tongue weight than shorter rigs.

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Old 01-06-2014, 09:05 AM   #5
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You might try towing both ways, with and without the WDH, to see if it makes a difference in ride comfort.

As for safety, I don't think that type of WDH has sway control built in, does it? Some brands like Equal-i-zer and Andersen No-Sway will do so and should function better than a sway bar, but the brand you mention I'm not as familiar with so I can't say if it has friction sway control. If it does, then you may have some peace of mind from it. But if you have a front bath in the Casita, I doubt you would ever have dangerous sway as that usually results from too little tongue weight.

I have towed 16' and 17' long trailers for over 100,000 miles without any sway, but I've had violent sway on a tiny 4x8 utility trailer that was improperly loaded. Proper tongue weight is the key.

If you are not exceeding the hitch weight rating for your Ford and the ride and handling/steering are satisfactory, the WDH should not be necessary IMO. But it is entirely possible that you would observe some improvement in the latter characteristics, so as long as you have it, why not give it a tryout? The only hesitation would be if the weight of the WDH actually put you over the hitch weight rating.
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:16 AM   #6
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Thank you all very much for your insights, it was so kind of you to share your expertise. Sounds like its an asset worth the time and effort. We are heading out on our first casita trip in a few days, this helps!
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:20 PM   #7
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Well, now that it's all settled I'm weighing in with a dissenting opinion.

A w/d hitch transfers weight to the trailer wheels as well as to the front of the tug. In this combination, where the total/tongue weights involved are well below the tug's capacity, I think w/d is more trouble than it's worth- and why add to the Casita's load unless necessary?

If "sway" is a concern, as noted above: most w/d systems do not provide sway control. I think a friction bar would be much simpler...though as I understand it this Casita is already heavy enough at the tongue to make that unlikely to be much of a problem.
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:36 PM   #8
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Note: for the record..... "all" WDH by their nature provide sway control to some degree or another.
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
Note: for the record..... "all" WDH by their nature provide sway control to some degree or another.
I think this to be a common misperception...it's my understanding that chained link-only w/d systems lack the rigid point required for sway control- that's why chained systems such as the one in the below Casita orientation video sometimes add a friction-type sway bar.


There are other sway control-included w/d systems like this one that adds a cylindrical sway control device, and this one that eliminates the chains altogether in favor of rigid brackets.

Dunno, though, if those last two types are available in sizes appropriate for trailers as light as ours...and an oversized w/d system is just as problematic as an undersized one.
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:43 PM   #10
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I agree with the idea of try it with and without it. I just moved up from a Rav4 to a Nissan Frontier which is quite a bit heavier. I haven't removed the brackets yet want to give it a few trips first. I m thinking of removing the trunk on the back since now with a pickup I can toss it in there...or a smaller box that would mount above my new battery box... heavier tongue weight lighter rear end might work better for me.

So give it a try and see how it works best for you then make your decision.
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
I think this to be a common misperception....
With all WDH when installed there is friction between the attachment parts, the ball and the spring bar mounting points. This friction helps keep the TV and trailer in a straight line. Higher end WDH have additional parts which further add resistance and stability.
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
With all WDH when installed there is friction between the attachment parts, the ball and the spring bar mounting points. This friction helps keep the TV and trailer in a straight line. .

Pardon me very much, but...what ?

Even manufacturers like Reese don't make any such claims...
please do take a look at this link , for example, and quote the relevant language that claims the kind of "sway control" performance that I think you mean to describe above.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:33 AM   #13
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FK... Just go out and try towing with a WDH and you will understand.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:25 AM   #14
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Wdh

A dozen years ago we had a 17' Casita that we towed behind a Ford 150 crew cab. A very good TV but the truck lanes in CA would cause the trailer to bounce so as to kick anything including a television off the bed. I stopped at an RV dealer while passing through LA and bought a single bar WDH and installed it in their parking lot. All the difference in the world as the two units were more attached and weight was shifted to the trailer to hold it down. A tandem axle or stiff shocks on the trailer may have helped, I have always used a WDH since and would not in the future fail to use one. My current TV will allow 700# tongue weight and I have about 400# but I still use the WDH.
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:48 AM   #15
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It should be noted that some trailer manufacturers don’t recommend a WDH. I was told b Tom Young, the owner of Trillium, not to use one. Too much stress on the tongue.
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Old 01-11-2014, 11:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
FK... Just go out and try towing with a WDH and you will understand.
I have...and I do.

Experience has taught me that such a system isn't always necessary or even desirable. Everything depends on the details/design of the tug/tow combination and the driving habits of the pilot.

I concur with the O.P.'s observation that a w/d system not only adds weight, it's a lot of trouble to install/handle. Just throwin' out there that the decision to use one is just that- a decision. It's not an automatically required piece of hardware for towing every trailer by every tow vehicle. As witness the rarity of use on anything but North American-built travel trailers.
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:54 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
With all WDH when installed there is friction between the attachment parts, the ball and the spring bar mounting points. This friction helps keep the TV and trailer in a straight line. Higher end WDH have additional parts which further add resistance and stability.
Technically you are correct, friction is there; but in a minimal amount.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deryk View Post
I just moved up from a Rav4 to a Nissan Frontier which is quite a bit heavier.
Welcome to the Frontier owners club Deryk!!! I am starting to really love my little PRO 4X. Took it into the Rockies last week with some pretty crazy road conditions (including out and out closer that I had to wait for the road to reopen and it did ok.

To keep it on topic it should be noted that not only do some trailer manufactures not recommend the use of a WD system some vehicle manufactures also dont recommend there use.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:45 PM   #19
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I guess what David and Carol are saying is that some trailer builders and some vehicle builders don't think that their chassis are all that strong.

And something being a "Lot of trouble" shouldn't even be a card in the deck if safety is any part of the discussion.

If I find that something offers even the slighest improvement in handling and, therefore, safety, I'd find it hard to ignore it because it was seen as being "a lot of trouble".

I still suggest that the O.P. try it both ways and make their own decision, but don't let inconvenience be one of the criteria if it's safer.

BTW: One of the shortest lists in the RV world is the list of all European trailers that weigh much more than a Piss Ants Airstream. Hence less need for w.d. hitches

From my own observations, I would guess that 95% of all European towables weigh less than a 17' Bigfoot, and that's a good thing.

In U.S. RV's it's just the opposite, and that's a bad thing.



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Old 01-19-2014, 09:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
I guess what David and Carol are saying is that some trailer builders and some vehicle builders don't think that their chassis are all that strong.
Not necessarily correct. Cant speak for David but my comment was in regards to the fact that I know one car manufacture does not recommend the use of a WDH on their products as it can have a negative impact on the all wheel drive system they have.
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