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Old 11-07-2013, 12:08 PM   #1
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WD hitches confuse me

I am confident that my set up is well within limits, but I still check to ensure things haven't sneaked up on me and gotten out of shape. Plus, I like to understand how everything works.

To that end, I was reviewing the towing guide for my 2006 F-150 (535).
On the page about the step bumper/hitch receiver weight capacity it states that the weight carrying max trailer capacity and max tongue load for the rear step bumper is 5000/500 lbs. OK, no problems so far. But then it goes on to say that the weight carrying max trailer capacity and max tongue load for the factory installed (option 535) hitch receiver is 5000/500 lbs. as well. Huh, who would have thought the bumper hitch was as strong as the 2" receiver?

Still, I can deal with that, too. Enter the weight distribution hitch. Now, my weight distributing max trailer capacity and max tongue load is 9900/990 lbs. Yippee!

Now, I know by reading other parts of the towing guide that the maximum loaded trailer weight for my vehicle is 8200 lbs. This assumes a towing vehicle with any mandatory options, no cargo, and tongue load of 10-15%.

Now, when I picked up my brandy new camper, the sticker on the side says it has a dry weight of 5451 lbs. plus two full 20 lb. propane tanks (76 lbs.) and a battery that we'll call 40 lbs. Since everything else was empty, it seems logical to assume the camper weighed about 5567 lbs. the day I picked it up. Since I didn't have a scale, I have to guess the tongue weight was within 10 to 15%, so let's just call it 600 lbs. to be safe.

Since I had to install my Reese Dual Cam WD/SC hitch myself, in the parking lot, with a wrench purchased at WalMart, I didn't actually measure the fender drop when I hooked up. It was obvious, though, that the bumper dropped more than a couple inches. I used the jack to lift the camper/truck assembly, guessed at the number of links needed, and attached the trunnions. I lowered the jack and everything eyeballed level (they say, even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and then ).
So clearly, my camper exceeds the max weight carrying capacity and tongue weight of 5000/500 lbs. And it's equally obvious that even though the WD system allows up to 9900 lbs, I am actually limited to 8200 lbs loaded trailer weight. What's not so obvious to me is, with a WD max tongue weight of 990 lbs, do I need to worry about staying near 820 lbs tongue weight? Or more specifically, since the camper's GVWR is 7500 lbs, do I need to worry about the tongue weight at all?

Naturally, I know that tongue weight has a great deal to do with how the camper handles going down the road, but this discussion is strictly about safe working loads. Not the handling aspect of cargo mastering.
As another point of interest, the label on my bars say: max hitch wt. (2 bars) 750#, max gross trailer wt. 10,000#.

Am I using trunnions that are too close to being maxed out? With a rear kitchen unit, and pass through storage up front, it seems to me that it would be easy to be under my 7500 lb trailer GVWR and yet be well overweight on the tongue if I'm not careful.

Like I said, these things confuse me...
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Old 11-07-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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Weight Distribution Trailer Hitches Information Video | etrailer.com is a good primer for you.

It comes down to how the WD hitch works. What the WD hitch system does is transfer some of that tounge load through the hitch, to the trucks chassis and onto the front suspension. So with a proper WD setup the static weight could be as much as 990lbs. And even though the trucks hitch allows for a maximum of 500lbs, tt does not mean your placing a static load of 990lbs onto the actual hitch, it means that your trailer static tounge weight on the hitch is actually lower and and your distributing that additional load to the trucks front suspension as well as the trailers axles.
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Old 11-07-2013, 12:28 PM   #3
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I just posted a thread on the beauty of WDH and how it saved me... go take a look at it. (real numbers) Let me know if you have any further questions

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...res-50603.html
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Old 11-08-2013, 06:29 AM   #4
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What generally kicks your butt is payload. Find the payload of your truck, then knock off the weight of all your pasengers and gear. What's left is what you can put on the hitch and, ultimately, will limit the trailer weight. Aside from the bars, which need to bracket the actual tongue weight, all of your equipment should exceed the load you pull. You'll find that your tow rating is generally figured with a GVWR - dry curb weight formula and that will usually never happen in real life. While it looks like you should be fine from just the numbers you've given, you could theoretically load enough in the truck to drop your leftover payload to around 300 lbs. (just throwing a number out there) which wouldn't be good if you have 650 lbs. of tongue weight.
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Old 11-08-2013, 07:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrvond View Post

Now, when I picked up my brandy new camper, the sticker on the side says it has a dry weight of 5451 lbs. plus two full 20 lb. propane tanks (76 lbs.) and a battery that we'll call 40 lbs. Since everything else was empty, it seems logical to assume the camper weighed about 5567 lbs. the day I picked it up. Since I didn't have a scale, I have to guess the tongue weight was within 10 to 15%, so let's just call it 600 lbs. to be safe.

Since I had to install my Reese Dual Cam WD/SC hitch myself, in the parking lot, with a wrench purchased at WalMart,
Huh ?? I don't think the Reese SC hitch will work with the Dual Cam setup. A picture of the setup would be good.


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Originally Posted by wrvond View Post
I didn't actually measure the fender drop when I hooked up.
You need to either do the fender measurements, or get the truck weighed to see if you have the system is setup properly. At a CAT scale that involves 3 weigh-ins, with the each truck axle on a platform section, and the trailer axles on a 3rd platform. Weight the truck alone, the trailer without the spring bars in place, and then with the spring bars in place. Leave all passengers and cargo in the same place each weigh-in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrvond View Post
It was obvious, though, that the bumper dropped more than a couple inches. I used the jack to lift the camper/truck assembly, guessed at the number of links needed, and attached the trunnions.
Hmmm, the Reese SC doesn't use chains. With a Reese setup with chains, make sure there at leasts 5 links used between the snap-bracket and the spring bars.


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Originally Posted by wrvond View Post
So clearly, my camper exceeds the max weight carrying capacity and tongue weight of 5000/500 lbs. And it's equally obvious that even though the WD system allows up to 9900 lbs, I am actually limited to 8200 lbs loaded trailer weight. What's not so obvious to me is, with a WD max tongue weight of 990 lbs, do I need to worry about staying near 820 lbs tongue weight?
Where did the 820 lb. tongue weight come from ?? You hitch is rated to 990 lbs. of tongue weight when using a WDH.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wrvond View Post
Or more specifically, since the camper's GVWR is 7500 lbs, do I need to worry about the tongue weight at all?
Yes. If you load down your trailer to the 7500 lbs., a 13% tongue weight would exceed the hitch rating. As raspivy stated, you also have to be aware that you don't exceed the payload of the truck, or the GCWR (gross combined weight rating) of the truck.

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Originally Posted by wrvond View Post
As another point of interest, the label on my bars say: max hitch wt. (2 bars) 750#, max gross trailer wt. 10,000#.
Hmm (again), Reese bars in that weight range are usually rated at 800 lbs. Again, some pictures would be great.

On my trailer with a 700 lb. tongue weight, the 800 lb. bars are sufficient to get the weight transferred. If have over a 800 lb. tongue weight, you may have to get heavier bars. A trip across the scales should tell the tale.
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:04 AM   #6
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Don't get me wrong folks. I understand how to set everything up, and I have a pretty good grasp on what my limits are. I know I need to get to the CAT scales, but I am not through modifying and loading the camper. Much of what is added inside came straight from the old TT in tubs, though I did get rid of a few coffee mugs and some other "how did that get in here" items. Once I finish all my winter projects on this unit, I'll be able to hit the scales before we hit the road come spring. Each modification and each addition is carefully considered before being implemented.
We bought our old Gulfstream TT several years ago from the original owner. He purchased it new in 1989 (it's a '90 model). When he and his wife removed all their personal items from this 25 foot long camper, it took a large U-Haul trailer, the back seat and trunk of the car, and the bed of their truck to carry it all out. At that, they still left stuff due to a lack of room to carry it all. That lesson was not lost on us. We aren't weight Nazi's, but, we are very aware of weight. Additionally, after a quarter century in the Navy, I like everything secured for sea, which means everything has to "fit" somewhere.
This question is more along the lines of "my two axels are rated for 3500 lbs. each, and my TT has a GVWR of 7500 lbs. how does that work" kind of thing. However, I am also open to discussion of every aspect of this rig, because you never know what I might have missed, and hopefully, this discussion will help others, too.

Here is a picture of a SC cam still on my old Gulfstream, near the end of it's life:

As an aside, all the rust has been removed, and new chains installed.
Here's a trunnion bar:




I don't have a photo of the hitch, but I'm sure you know what a hitch head looks like.

This rig is NOT properly set up, BTW. At least to my way of thinking. Please keep in mind that the sales rep assured me their highly trained service department would be glad to install and set up my rig for me at no extra charge. I even brought all the manuals with me in case they weren't familiar with a system as old as this one (BTW, it still works great).
Turns out that they refused to touch it. They don't do installs due to liability issues (according to them). Though I was free to use their parking lot as long as I liked. Also, we were in Ohio, looking at a long drive home, in the dark. I had a measuring tape with me, but due to the late hour, and being tired from crawling around on their freshly resurfaced parking lot, I was satisfied that I had the system solidly installed, had taken the sag out, and didn't have it under so much tension I risked bending or breaking anything.

The 820 pound tongue weight comes from 10% of my 8200 lbs loaded trailer weight limit as specified by Ford's towing guide. I like to figure based on the 10% and adhere to that as closely as possible for safety. I've seen cases where folks say 10 to 13%, then when they go a little over they 13% part they figure that's not too bad, then they end up way over their limits. I like to shoot low and end up under my limits. Makes for a much more pleasant towing experience.

Maybe, instead of saying they confuse me, I should have said there are parts that "blow me away". In this case, with all the numbers I have laid out, I'm still able to arrive at an allowable tongue weight of 990 lbs. It doesn't matter that I probably can't achieve 990 lbs. of tongue weight without exceeding some other parameter, such as trailer max loaded weight.
It's kind of like using a hoist. Before lifting a load you verify the lift capacity of the hook, the cable, and the hoist itself. Of course, your lift is limited by the lowest value component. If the hoist and cable are rated to lift 10000 lbs, but the hook is only good for 5000, then 5K is your limit.
But, when pondering all the values and formulas involved in determining the maximum safe towing capacity, it blows me away. Without WD, it's 5000 lbs. max tow weight and 500 lbs. max tongue weight. So simple. The hitch and ball are the limiting factors. But, sprinkle on a little magic towing dust, and suddenly my max tow weight goes to 8500 lbs. with a max tongue weight of 990 lbs. At some point, something else stepped in that reduced what (my mind says) should have been 9900 lbs. max tow weight (to match the 990 lb. tongue wt.) and knocked it down to 8500 lbs. but didn't reduce the max allowable tongue weight to 850 lbs. That's the part that messes me up.
I also know that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. I know that once I get everything in place and hit the scales, I'll be able to plug all the values in and come out the other end with the information I need to safely (and comfortably) pull my camper around.
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:15 AM   #7
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You can sorta kinda almost see it in this photo:
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Old 11-08-2013, 02:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnGuy View Post
Huh ?? I don't think the Reese SC hitch will work with the Dual Cam setup. A picture of the setup would be good.
Well, I stand corrected.

You have an older system that adapted the SC bars to work with dual cam setup. I don't think I have ever seen such a setup, but I don't any reason in the world that it shouldn't work just as well as the newer models.

Now to do the scale thing, to see what kind of tongue weight you have, plus if your hitch is setup to distribute the weight correctly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrvond View Post
This question is more along the lines of "my two axels are rated for 3500 lbs. each, and my TT has a GVWR of 7500 lbs. how does that work" kind of thing.
2, 3500 lb. axles, plus an estimated 500 lb. weight gives you the 7500 GVWR.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wrvond View Post
The 820 pound tongue weight comes from 10% of my 8200 lbs loaded trailer weight limit as specified by Ford's towing guide.
The 10% should be figured from the trailer weight, not what you truck is rated to pull. Around 12% is probably better.
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