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Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?

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Last activity 2012-06-17 11:15 AM
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rationull
Posted 2012-06-12 9:42 AM (#144737)
Subject: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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We just got a new-to-us 3 horse slant aluminum bumper pull trailer to better accommodate the size of my wife's newer horse (too tall for the old trailer, and too wide for the stalls). That is, the trailer will be used as a "big 2 horse slant" with one of the stall dividers removed, it will most likely never carry 3 horses (at least with our current truck). Our tow vehicle is a 1999 big block 3/4 ton Suburban.

The truck tows (with the old steel 2 horse slant trailer) just fine as far as stability is concerned (gotta really rev it up steep grades but that's a different issue). But, the new trailer is heavier than the old one and has a higher tongue weight that pushes us into needing a weight distributing hitch. The truck's good for 1,000 lbs tongue weight and 10,000 trailer weight with a WD hitch.

My wife talked to someone at a shop around here who was suggesting a WD hitch with a 750 lb tongue weight limit, but I don't think she'd explained the situation to him because that would be right about what this trailer is supposed to have fully loaded. It seems to me there's no point in getting anything that does less than the max 1000 lb tongue weight that the truck can support.

My question is: how much do brand and "features" matter when shopping for a WD hitch? I've never looked at them at all before the last few days so I'm not sure what to think. Should we likely bother with things like sway control if we've never had sway issues in the past? Should we try to stick to a particular brand or just go with whatever the shop we go to recommends (or likes to sell)?

Apologies if this has been covered before. My search turned up mostly questions about whether or when a WD hitch is needed, but I think it's pretty clearly needed in this case.
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gard
Posted 2012-06-12 1:26 PM (#144740 - in reply to #144737)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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Your Suburban was built on a truck chassis. Have you considered air shocks, air bags or Timbrens? They can maintain an even ride with the heavier trailer tongue weights, without the need for extra hitch devices. Most will add thousands of pounds of extra suspension capacities, yet have little effect on an empty ride.

You will still have to regard the weight capacity of the rear axle and tires.

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rationull
Posted 2012-06-12 2:01 PM (#144741 - in reply to #144740)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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We haven't considered those things (it hadn't even occurred to me). I'm just going off of the sticker on my hitch (which was a factory option on the truck) that lists capacity with and without a WD hitch. Empty ride quality isn't much of a concern for us since our truck is not a daily driver. We tend to run the rear tires at towing pressure all the time, for example (the tires will wear out from age before treadwear).

I'm not sure what the weight capacity of the axle is but I assume it's pretty good; it has full floating axles and high load range tires. But from where I sit right now I think we'd be better served adding to the trailer than the truck.
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retento
Posted 2012-06-12 2:36 PM (#144742 - in reply to #144737)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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Timbrens... Best bang for your buck, easy to install. Works with any trailer you tow because it becomes part of the tow fehicle, no second guessing how tight to lock the WDH chains, because there aren't any!!...

 

 http://www.truckspring.com/suspension-parts/leveling-kits/timbren-kit.aspx?make=Chevrolet&year=1999&model=K2500+Suburban



Edited by retento 2012-06-12 2:38 PM
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rationull
Posted 2012-06-12 2:45 PM (#144743 - in reply to #144742)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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That kit is from the front axle and they don't list a rear axle kit for my truck (although it's possible it exists and can be found elsewhere). Still, that looks dirt simple to install and maintain so is enticing.

Am I to understand, then, that sagging due to extra weight is the primary (or only) concern here? Are there no concerns about extra tongue weight on the hitch, not balanced by leverage from a WD setup, *other* than pushing the back end of the truck too low and upsetting steering/handling balance?

I just want to be safe and above board here. Are stiffening kits for the rear really a substitute for a WD hitch?
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retento
Posted 2012-06-13 4:52 AM (#144769 - in reply to #144737)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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I would weigh the truck empty, them weigh it fully loaded with trailer, horses and all the equipment, then work from there... I pull a BP trailer with a 900# tongue weight with a 2010 GMC 2500HD. No extra spring or WDH is used. Truck sits about 1" above level when loaded and I've never had any sway problems. 245/75-R16 Load Range E tires running at max. pressure, 80 psi. I would imagine the 2010 2500 has a stouter rear spring than the 1999 Suburban.
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gard
Posted 2012-06-13 9:40 AM (#144776 - in reply to #144737)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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http://www.etrailer.com/susp-1999_Chevrolet_Suburban.htm
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rationull
Posted 2012-06-13 10:46 AM (#144781 - in reply to #144737)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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Just to be clear, is there a specific reason for the recommendations for suspension parts instead of a WD hitch, given the published tongue and trailer weight limit on my truck? From the limits, it's pretty clear that a WD hitch is required to meet specs.

Weighing the tongue makes sense to see if we're even at the limit yet, but if I take the trailer's published weight as the truth then I actually need a WD hitch anyway, tongue weight aside.

Not trying to brush off the recommendations, but it does seem like a WD hitch would be the way to go from my perspective.
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retento
Posted 2012-06-13 3:54 PM (#144788 - in reply to #144781)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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Originally written by rationull on 2012-06-13 10:46 AM

Just to be clear, is there a specific reason for the recommendations for suspension parts instead of a WD hitch, given the published tongue and trailer weight limit on my truck? From the limits, it's pretty clear that a WD hitch is required to meet specs. Weighing the tongue makes sense to see if we're even at the limit yet, but if I take the trailer's published weight as the truth then I actually need a WD hitch anyway, tongue weight aside. Not trying to brush off the recommendations, but it does seem like a WD hitch would be the way to go from my perspective.

 

Ask around over here.... More folks using WDH in the camping world than in the horse trailering world.. I suspect.   http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/listings/forum/40.cfm

 

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rationull
Posted 2012-06-16 10:57 PM (#144896 - in reply to #144737)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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I think we're going to end up getting a Curt brand WDH from a local shop. Did some measurements today, though, to see how the truck handles the weight as-is. The rear wheel well sags a touch less than 2 inches from empty when the trailer is hooked up and loaded with 2 horses. Not sure if that's good or bad but it seems like a fair amount to me. Doesn't look bad though. The trucks got 6 leaf springs on each side, 5 "normal" ones and then a 6th beefier one that doesn't make contact until the truck is loaded down. Not sure if that's stock or if it's been beefed up by the previous owner.
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Yvette
Posted 2012-06-17 11:15 AM (#144904 - in reply to #144737)
Subject: RE: Weight distributing hitches -- how much does brand matter?
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Sounds like a good choice going with a weight distributing hitch. As airbags and suspension stuff isn't going to increase the capability of your hitch without a weight distributing system. So unless you upgraded your hitch to a Class 5 all the other stuff is kind of a mute point.
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