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Old 09-14-2011, 11:21 AM   #11
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I know plenty of guys who have towed 3500 lb trailers with TJ Jeeps, your JK is actually a bit heavier. I have not looked at the factory hitch mount on the JK - but assume it frame bolted. That is by far not your weak link. I could pick up a TJ from the receiver point with a crane.

The WD hitch will balnce you out much better and you will be happy with it.

Another alternative is some heavier rear springs (with an accomodating front lift to keep ride height level.) You could look for a product from JKS called ACOS (adjustable coil spacers) that you can dial in your highet adjustment.

Though in reality the WD hitch is the easiest way to accomplish what you want.
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:31 PM   #12
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Jeep4Two, I hate to be the 1 to break the bad news, but the JK Wranglers (at least the 2011 and 2012) only have a maximum of 2000 lb. tow capacity, with a Class 1 hitch. The Wrangler Unlimited have a Class I or II hitch with up to a 3500 lb. tow rating. Both of those properly equipped, of course. Check out this chart: Jeep Towing/Payload Comparison | Jeep.com

I found the hitch classes at each individual model webpage:

2011 Wrangler | Towing Capability and Towing Capacity | Jeep

2011 Wrangler Unlimited | Towing Capability and Towing Capacity | Jeep
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:44 PM   #13
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Just curious about the thoughts of the folks here. Since the function of the WD Hitches basically are a fulcrum at the point of the hitch ball, are there any concerns of those forces that are applied to the receiver (and the TV frame at the mounting points).

I ask because the Jeep has a small receiver hitch that is bolted using 4 bolts to a cross member just behind the bumper. It's about 8 inches wide (See hitch part bottom of this drawing: Jeep Wrangler Parts - The Official Jeep Parts eStore offered by Chrysler).

I guess I'm wondering how much force is transferred there and if I should be concerned at all. I know based on the forum communities out there that there are a good number of people using WD Hitches on their trailers, but again my need to understand the forces makes me ask these questions

Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2011, 01:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnguy View Post
Jeep4Two, I hate to be the 1 to break the bad news, but the JK Wranglers (at least the 2011 and 2012) only have a maximum of 2000 lb. tow capacity, with a Class 1 hitch. The Wrangler Unlimited have a Class I or II hitch with up to a 3500 lb. tow rating. Both of those properly equipped, of course. Check out this chart: Jeep Towing/Payload Comparison | Jeep.com

I found the hitch classes at each individual model webpage:

2011 Wrangler | Towing Capability and Towing Capacity | Jeep

2011 Wrangler Unlimited | Towing Capability and Towing Capacity | Jeep
An interesting aside to this is that when the auto manufactures agreed to start using a uniform standard for trailer towing ratings, most SUV's and light trucks went down. However many 3/4 and up trucks went up. The Wrangler tow rating actually went down (no change in equipment.) Dealers used to tell people you tow 3500 lbs with SWB Wranglers.
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Old 09-15-2011, 01:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeep4Two View Post
Just curious about the thoughts of the folks here. Since the function of the WD Hitches basically are a fulcrum at the point of the hitch ball, are there any concerns of those forces that are applied to the receiver (and the TV frame at the mounting points).

I ask because the Jeep has a small receiver hitch that is bolted using 4 bolts to a cross member just behind the bumper. It's about 8 inches wide (See hitch part bottom of this drawing: Jeep Wrangler Parts - The Official Jeep Parts eStore offered by Chrysler).

I guess I'm wondering how much force is transferred there and if I should be concerned at all. I know based on the forum communities out there that there are a good number of people using WD Hitches on their trailers, but again my need to understand the forces makes me ask these questions

Thanks!
That cross member is pretty stout. Conventional wisdom would suggest the tow frame should be independent and bolted to the main frame rails (as it was on the TJ Wrangler). But truth be told, for trailers in this weight category that cross member and gussetted plate are plenty stout enough. Keep in mind that until recently most pick-up bumpers were rated at 5K tow.

The WD hitch will put increasing pressure back on the trailer frame to keep the two near level. It functions to lesson the downward force on the tow ball which is the actual fulcrom point. The closer the tow ball to the rear axle, the more beneficial as the angle between the tow ball and trailer is not affected as much by the suspension geometry of the tow vehicle.

Think about ti this way. If the fron of the Jeep is lifted, the rear will lower slightly. If that were a pick-up with an additional 24-36 inches behind the rear axle, the amount the rear end would drop respective to the fron is much greater, despite the angle being the same.

The combination of the short distance from the axle to the tow ball and the WD hitch will result is better performance overall as there is less stress on the WD hitch and the frame of the TT.
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Old 09-15-2011, 04:11 PM   #16
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Thanks all:

The JK's hitch is indeed bolted (4 bolts) to the cross member at the rear of the frame just behind the bumper. I know the Jeep website calls it a 'Class I' hitch but from everything I've read the size of the receiver is 1 1/4 inch on Class I and II hitches with 2" receivers being on the Class II's. Not that it matters since there just seems to be an inconsistency in the info on the website that mostly is done by the marketing department and subject to frequent errors.

The hitch on the 2 door's is the same as the one that goes on the 4 door Jeeps, so I'm confident that there won't be any problems with the WD Hitch causing issues with excessive torsional forces in the receiver. The amount of weight that I'm going to be redistributing is minimal.

Also, as pointed out by LJ8 above the very close proximity of the rear axle to the hitch point (thus the ball) will significantly reduce the tension required to redistribute weight.

If anyone is interested about how weight distributing hitch systems work there is a great thread over here: RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Towing: Weight Distribution (WD) Hitch --- How it Works The physics are discussed as well as the practical application of the forces. The first post is a summary of the 150 plus entries in the thread, and having read them all I can say the discussion and debate was exhaustive.

I've decided to go with a Reese Round Bar (#66065) WD Hitch and a shank that will allow me to get about 4 - 5 inches of total drop (current bar has a 2" drop and once I load the WD Hitch the total drop needed to be level will be between 3 and 5 inches in my estimate). By the way - I found the 66065 round bar WD Hitch (no shank) for a net cost of $203 at Advance Auto (currently having a 15% off any order of $100 or more). Add the shank and I'm coming in under $275 with free shipping.

To anyone else out there thinking of towing with a Jeep Wrangler. In my opinion it doesn't matter whether you are going 2 door or 4 door (except for watching weights if you have 2 door, 2000lb tow, 200 tongue). Once you load a Jeep Wrangler with the 3.8L V6 with anything significant (I would consider that anything above 1000lbs) you are going to ALWAYS know it's there. The Jeep Wrangler 3.8L is anemic on it's best unloaded days. Adding a trailer just makes it more so. I would never say it isn't a joy to drive (loaded or not loaded) because it's a Jeep. If the trailer is slowing you down, just pop the top off and take a state highway and enjoy the journey.
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Old 09-15-2011, 07:16 PM   #17
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If it were me, I would replace that Class I hitch with a Class III hitch. Class Is are generally rated to tow 2000 lbs., with a 200 lb. tongue weight....definitely lite duty. Class IIIs are generally rated to tow 5000 lbs., with a 500 lb. tongue weight.

Check out some of these hitches: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Trailer Hitch | etrailer.com I don't exactly understand why some of those are rated as Class III hitches, but only show the stats of a Class II hitch....3500 lbs, with a 350 tongue weight. It might be because Jeep Wranglers (Unlimiteds) are rated to tow a maximum of 3500 lbs.....just speculating.

The Class III Draw Tites and Hidden Hitches with 2" receiver looks more substantial than the Curt or Valley Class III hitches.

Beware, even though you might add a stouter hitch to the JK, the tow capacity is set by the manufacturer.....that does not change.

I put a Class III hitch on my 98 TJ years ago. That torquey little 2.5L engine does great in low range off road, but I gotta drop down into 2nd gear when I pulled my little pop-up over Swift Run Gap. I have driven a couple of the 3.8Ls with the 6 speed gear boxes, and there is a lot more power there. If I remember correctly, the JKs with the tow package had lower gearing than the standard Jeeps, so that might be another thing to check out.
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Old 09-15-2011, 09:31 PM   #18
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@mr guy:

That's where the mfg inaccuracies come in.

The factory hitch has to be a class III or IV based on receiver size. The two door would be Class I based on tow an tongue weight specs (2000, 200). The 4 door would be Class II based on tow ratings.

So really it is all three in a way. Regardless. The part that mounts to the frame on the 2 door and the 4 door model are exactly the same part. the only difference lies in the wheelbase thus the different tow and tongue ratings on the same 2" receiver.

Unless I'm horribly mistaken in some way I think adding a WD hitch will solve my issue.

Numbers measured today reflect: loaded, 1.5" sag rear, .75" rise I the front. Hitch height diff unloaded 5". Adding a WD Hitch and shank with 4" of drop after torsion bars tensioned and adjusted should yield no change in the front, around 1" sag in sag in rear and a level trailer. Careful loading will keep tongue weight in range and trailer weight in range as well.
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:36 AM   #19
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When I 1st looked at the Unlimited in 2009 ( I think), the salesman told me the tow package included a Class II hitch, but it had been upgraded from a 1 1/4" yo a 2" receiver . Just because that is done does not make it a Class III receiver......it still is rated at 3500 lbs. tow limit, 350 lb. tongue weight. At that time I was dreaming of pulling my Trailmanor 2720 with the Unlimited......it would have been entirely too much weight for the hitch, and the Jeep. The A Cabins by Forest River are lighter than my Trailmanor.

I am not a mechanical engineer, but my fear to use a WDH on a Class 1 hitch it going to result in failure in the future on the hitch due to metal fatigue. Both upward and downward stresses are being applied to the hitch that is not built for that type of situation. Class III hitches have the stats to pull any of the A Cabins. Even though the Class II hitches have the stats, but I wonder how a WDH would stress that system. BTW, I haven't found any Class I, II, or III hitches that can be used as a weight distributing hitch. If it were me, and I wanted to use a WDH, then I would definetly go with the stoutest hitch.

I mentioned in an earlier post about axle ratios. I couldn't find the information on the net, but I found a 2009 Wrangler brochure from when I looked at those. At that time, Wranglers (except the Rubicon) came with a 3.21 final drive ratio. When adding a tow package, that ratio was lowered to a 3.73 ratio. The Rubicons came with 4:10 gearing, regardless.
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:04 AM   #20
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I think the Wrangler only has the 3.21 with the 6 speed. In reality there are few Jeeps with the 3.21 as common equipment upgrades usually change the gear. All automatics include the 3.73 gearing, and even most 5 speeds end up with the $50 add on charge for the 3.73. The 4.10 is still available on the Rubicon as well.

Mine has the 3.73 (Automatic Sahara).

Funny thing about all this. If you go to the Jeep website and use their "Build Your Own" tool and click on DETAILS for the Trailer Tow Package, they list the hitch as a Class V -

So what does that tell you about consistency. I agree you want the heaviest receiver possible when using WDH.

Here's why I'm not worried with the factory hitch (same part on my 2 door rated for 2000,200 as on the 4 door rated for 3500, 350):

Without a WDH, the weight of the trailer tongue rests on the ball, connected to the draw bar that fits into the receiver. The receiver is held with a hitch pin that then serves basically as a pivot point (and retainer) for the draw bar. The weight pressing down on the ball (and thus the draw bar) places pressure DOWN on the trailer side of the receiver and UP on the TV side of the receiver. This would be the same type of force that would be applied if I stuck a crow bar into the receiver and pressed down.

With a WDH things change and we can effectively redistribute the net down force at the receiver (thus reducing downward force (weight) on the rear axle and increasing upward force (weight) on the front axle of the TV, while also adding downward force (weight) to the TT's axle).

This happens by way of the torsion bars attached to the A-frame of the trailer that then connect to WDH hitch on the vertical portion of the draw bar shank. The result is that the down forces (weight) at the shank get redistributed by way of the two attachment points on the vertical part of the WDH shank and the torsion bars of the WDH. When pressure is applied to the vertical portion of the shank at the top (top pin of the WDH Head) pressing toward the TV --> and pressure at the bottom of the shank (Bottom Pin of the WDH head) is applied away from the TV <-- the net result is LESS upward force (weight) on the front of the receiver. The weight at the front of the receiver doesn't change

I like to think of it like this: If you had an L shaped crow bar and stuck one end into the receiver and had the other end pointing to the ground. One person holds the horizontal portion and pushes down with a constant force. Another person puts their hands one on top of the other on the vertical portion and applies a forward force with their top hand and a reverse force with their bottom hand. The result of the 2nd person adding the forward reverse pressure will reduce the net effect of the downward force.

Based on this, I believe that the stresses inside the receiver are actually reduced (lessened) as the actual fulcrum is the WDH Shank. The weak link in this process is actually the vertical portion of the shank.

I hope that makes sense. It does to me, but then again I've been reading too much about all this and had to draw this out on paper to get the physical forces acting in the whole system make sense
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