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Old 07-20-2009, 08:36 AM   #1
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Trying to help my dad with hitch issue and selection. Help appreciated and welcome

Ok, first off, I'm 29 and don't YET have a camper. I camped with my parents growing up and they continue to. They were almost always in the motorhomes but about 2 years ago, my dad bought a brand new 31ft Montana by Keystone (Montaineer edition....if that matters). He also bought a used (1999 I think) Suburban with a 350 engine and the lower rear end. I think its the 3.73, but I can verify. I know it was part of his search and he knew to get the one built for more towing weight).
I do know that he has owned towables before, been towing heavy loads long before I was born, so he's experienced.

He knows nothing about the internet, so I'm trying to help him.

When he got this camper he bought a new equilizer hitch. (Is that a brand or a type?)

It worked fine at first. Now, this summer, he's felt the trailer swaying more when vehicles pass him. He just brought it home from a 300 mile trip and found the bolts were loose on the hitch. After some brainstorming, and calling a couple hitch and camper dealers he thinks the springs on his suburban are not strong enough.

He says, when first hooking up, the weight takes the truck down 4 to 5 inches in the back, and he picks it back up with the jack, and then puts those bars on, and that holds it up.

He thinks, the lack of super stiff springs, is causing more movement, and making those bolts loosen. One dealer has said to add an additional spring (called a helper spring) to the rear of the vehicle and that will help. He wants $340 to do that.

Dad doesn't know if that will help, or if he should look for a different hitch or air bags or what.

He thought he bought one of the best hitches available, but now has doubts, he said he cannot pull it like that anymore.

He's planning another trip in just a couple weeks, so he'll move quickly to fix this, so I'm hoping the experts here can help me, help him.

if you need more details, please let me know and I'll try to find out.

BTW, I think his camper is 8900#.
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:39 AM   #2
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First, welcome aboard. You will get some good info from a lot of very knowledgable RVers here.
We need some more info about your Dad's unit. GVWR ratings for tow vechile and trailer and GCVWR for TV. If 8900 is the dry weight, it is meaningless. You need the loaded weight. The first thing I would check is the tires. If they are passenger tires, they won't carry the weight and the sidewalls aren't stiff enough. He needs LT tires. Extra springs and/or air bags will help level the unit but probably won't do much for handling.
Is the TV a 1/2 Ton or 3/4 Ton?
If you get too much load in the back of the TT, that will cause sway.
The only time I had bolts come loose on a hitch was when my hitch was just too light. What is the load rating on the hitch?
I am sure others will give you some good advice.
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:53 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard. First, I hope he has the 3/4 ton or 2500 series Burb. In my opinion, that is too much trailer for a 1/2 ton or 1500 series Burb. He also shouls have the 4.10 axle for the trailer he has.

He needs a hitch with sway control built in such as the EqualiZer brand or the Reese Dual Cam HP. LT series or Light Truck tires are a must and he will need to run them at the max pressure per the door jamb sticker.

We tried pulling our 29' TT with a 3/4 ton, 5.7L Burb with the 4.10 axle and I was not impressed with the power. The Burb handled the trailer OK, but sure needed more power and fuel economy was only 7.2 MPG at 60 to 65 MPH.

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Old 07-20-2009, 10:15 AM   #4
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Ok, I have more info. Let me first say, that dad looked long and hard to find a good tow vehicle. A nice condition, used surburban with these tow features were not that easy to come by.

His vehicle is a 1998 Surburban 1500 with a 3.73 rearend.
His camper is 8900# dry
(He does NOT carry any clear water, and always drains the waste tanks before moving.)
(He carries some food, and obviously clothes, dishes, etc like that)
He didn't know his tongue weight.
He said the vehicle is rated at 6500# (He knew that when he bought it).
He has Michelin LT Tires rated for 42LB and he runs them at 42LB
His hitch is the Equilizer with sway control bars. (friction type I'm pretty sure)
I don't know the hitch rating, but he did speak with the manuf on more than one occasion and gave them his camper weight and model info before ordering and they told him "It's the best one they have".

(He said he doesn't have any other load numbers like a GCVWR, only that 6500# number which is tow weight.


I know everyone is going to say he's overloaded. He does not disagree about that. I will add that whenever he sees tow vehicles and campers when he camps, 99% of them are all, always overloaded for the vehicle size people use.

His issue is not HP, or speed up mountains, and he's not concerned about it tearing up the engine or tranny.

His concern is, when cars are passing, the trailer moves some, it worked his hitch bolts loose and made the swaying worse.

He thinks, the amount of "bounce" in his springs both emphasize the "moving" and caused those bolts to loosen. He's looking to limit that bounce and is looking at an added spring, or air bags, or a new type of hitch.

Are none of these going to help at all?

I'm not a tower personally, but I'm an engineer, and understand the basic laws of physics. it looks to me like this hitch is basically transfering part of his tongue weight, to his front wheels, rather than it all being on the rear end.

Also, someone told him the only difference between the 1500 and 2500 was stiffer springs, so he thinks beefing those up will have to help.

Thanks for any more help.
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Old 07-20-2009, 11:26 AM   #5
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The difference between the 1500 and the 2500 is frame, suspension, rear axle, transmission and cooling system. The 1500 series were know fro literally buring up rear axles if towing heavy.

Stiffer rear springs will not do anything toward his ratings on the truck.

Keeping loading to a minimum, he will be areround 9500# which is 3000# over his MAXIMUM tow rating of 6500# (per your post).

I am a registered engineer (mechanical) and I wish him the best of luck. I think he will be looking for more tow vehicle shortly.

Ken
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Old 07-20-2009, 11:32 AM   #6
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Thank you for the info.

He's not had any trouble with the tranny YET, and it does not overheat. It slows down on mountain hills yes of course.

It may destroy his tranny. It may kill his rear diff.

For today, will stiffer rear springs help his swaying? Or air bags?
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Old 07-20-2009, 12:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhizzlebop View Post
For today, will stiffer rear springs help his swaying? Or air bags?
Minimally at best. Stiffer springs or air bags will increase system stiffness in the vertical plane. Sway is insufficiently damped oscillation in yaw pivoting around the hitch ball. They're working in different planes.

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Old 07-20-2009, 12:25 PM   #8
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Thanks Rusty

That makes sense. He feels like his lack of vertical stiffness caused more vertical bouncing that caused his bolts on the equilizer to loosen which caused his swaying to increase.

Tthat could be way off base.
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Old 07-20-2009, 01:17 PM   #9
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Just for your information, we have a 28' TT with a 6300 Dry Weight. Ther's no way that I believe that. The real world travel weight is about 9k. The first TV we had was a 91 Dodge 2500 with CTD. It had a 5speed tranny & 2 speed splitter. The tires were 235-16 E rated (the same as our present 3500. The springs were so stiff it felt like there were no springs. I had some problem with big trucks passing especially from the rear. As a truck passed I could feel the front of PU move ever so slightly towards the truck (even my wife could feel it from the passenger seat). As the truck went by it would go the other way. It was a constance steering ajustment until the truck was past. When we got the 3500 no more problem (same trailer). It has to be 2 things. More rubber on the road & more weight.
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:01 PM   #10
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The issue as described sounds more like horizontal plane control which typically indicates lateral movement of the frame on the leaf springs. If I were to make a recommendation (which I am not, since grossly overloading the known capabilities of your vehicle is dangerous and exposes you to massive liability should you get into an accident), but if I were to make a recommendation, I would say to look at the spring bushings and strongly consider a rear track bar (aka panhard rod).

That would limit the left right movement caused by the wind pushing on the trailer, however, it would not do anything to correct the rotational movement.
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Old 07-21-2009, 07:02 AM   #11
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Follow this http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...d/17730894.cfm
W/D hitch set-up procedure. After proper set-up, you should see an improvement in handling. Any other modifications to the surburban to improve towing involves a lot of money, perhaps equal to trading for an adequate tow vehicle.
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:43 PM   #12
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Thank you all for your helpful comments and suggestions. I'm gonna hang around these forums since I've spent years camping with the parents, and will probably buy one myself someday.

I talked to my dad about the suggestions and comments I got from here. We discussed also, that he spoke with a very proficient GM mechanic he knows, and he commented that regardless of being "LT" tires, that he would be well served to get those Michelin tires off the back of that truck.

(I know we can collaborate this after a trip around the country from SC, to Oregon, to Cali, and back across, and blew out 4 Michelins on that trip on a 34ft Pace Arrow. That experience taught us that Michelins are not well liked out west for heavy loads as was told to us over and over again. They ride great, but have relatively soft sidewalls.

Based on what I told him, and what this gentleman told him, at this time I believehe is going to change those two rear tires, and see about the cost of adding a track bar, and (pending that being a high number), possibly looking at trading up for a 2500 series.
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Old 07-26-2009, 02:15 PM   #13
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Rhizzlebop,
First, the answers give are all in line.

Here is my experience. Many years ago, pulling a TT (commercial) with a 1 ton truck (ford) with a GCVR of about 22,000 pounds (trailer was 12-14k) I noticed the same thing your dad is experiencing. I also had the "Load Levelers." (The load levelers do not off much in the way of anti-sway) What I observed is that when vehicles came up behind me, they would break my draft. This would cause the trailer to sway considerably on the back end until I slowed down and the vehicle then would pass by me. Vehicles on double lane highways passing by would cause the same problem. As soon as the draft was broken, the trailer swayed and the only solution was to slow down, get it under control, and then resume speed.

At a mechanical break down stop, at the repair center I noticed a Friction Sway Control. Called the company for authorization, had it installed and all I can say is, what a big difference it made.

This is what it looks like: Reese Friction Sway Control

You can search on the words, "reese friction sway control" without the quotes and come up with hits.

Happy trails.
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