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Old 03-28-2013, 08:45 PM   #1
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WDH hookup procedure?

I just went along with a friend when he picked up his new travel trailer that is very similar to mine. Wildwood 26TBSS. The tech that did his instruction was showing him how to hook up the trailer to the vehicle using the exact same weight distributing hitch that I have.

When I was instructed, the tech had me use these steps:

1. Lower the trailer onto the ball until there is a little weight on the hitch.
2. Latch the coupler.
3. Lift the tongue with the electric jack

( and this next step is where my instructions were different than the ones I saw today, AT THE SAME DEALERSHIP).

4. Lift the tongue and vehicle back end as high as you can. The higher you lift before chaining the weight bars, the more weight you distribute.

5. Hook the chain to the hook on the frame and using the provided bar, lift the hook and insert the pin.
6. Lower the tongue.

Yes there are a few details left out, but anybody familiar with hooking up a WDH will know what I'm talking about. Do I really get any benefit out of lifting the back end of the TV any more than an inch or so? I feel like the coupler inside the hitch (on the trailer side) isn't really meant to lift up a few hundred pounds is it?
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
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I just lift it enough to help with locking the chains on if you get the setting correct when you lock the chains you will see it lifting and leveling itself
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:27 AM   #3
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But does it actually do any good to lift more before hooking the chains? Will it "distribute" more of the weight? Is there any advantage? I well within my weight specs for my 2010 Armada and I have never felt that it was unstable or too back heavy. I'll post some before and after pictures of the setup to demonstrate how I do it and how much drop there is. Maybe I'll do it the way I was shown and document that, then do it the way I saw yesterday and compare. If I'm really ambitious, I'll do it down at the local Coop scales!
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:25 PM   #4
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The reason to lift it up is so it won't bust your back wrenching up on the pipe, the bars are going to do the leveling eather way, if you use the jack to help or your back to lock them in place.
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:27 AM   #5
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nightride has it right...the higher you lift the tow vehicle using the tongue jack, the easier it is to adjust/hook the bars. In doing this several times, you will learn just how much raise is needed to take tension off the bars. 'Course if you are a weightlifter, then by all means use your arms as much as you like. Just don't let go of the adjusting bar/tube until it is locked over or you might just get hurt.
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Old 03-31-2013, 06:51 AM   #6
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Agree on holding on to the bar, when you lift it up KEEP YOUR FEET APART some and don't have a foot under that bar. I had to hook up 100's at the dealership and more than once the bar has slipped out of my hand and it will drive into the dirt just picture your foot there and you will know what I'm getting at
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Old 01-01-2014, 09:26 AM   #7
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I've just noticed that when I lift with the tongue jack more, I can go up one more link on the bars. Which appears to reduce the drop on my rear suspension on my Armada by at least an inch. Which lead me to think that it is distributing the weight more to the front.
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Old 01-01-2014, 03:35 PM   #8
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One of the things you should do when first setting up a WDH: measure the distance from the top of the fenderwell curve to the ground on both front and rear BEFORE hitching up. Repeat the measurements AFTER hitching up and compare. I believe that you don't want more than 1" difference in the front distances, and the rear distance will probably be dictated by how the trailer tows.
You are correct, but if you can get another link by using the jack to lift, then you probably weren't on the correct link in the first place. This is a good reason to use the jack to lift, as it can be difficult to get enough pressure on the lift rod to place the chain on the right link.
Good camping to you.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:56 AM   #9
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One of the things you should do when first setting up a WDH: measure the distance from the top of the fenderwell curve to the ground on both front and rear BEFORE hitching up. Repeat the measurements AFTER hitching up and compare. I believe that you don't want more than 1" difference in the front distances, and the rear distance will probably be dictated by how the trailer tows.
Joe
Correct except that you should read the manual for the specific WDH you have because they do vary on the "after" height difference they specify. Also, different vehicle manufacturers specify different height differences. There should and will be some squat in the rear. I hate to have to refer to another forum, but there's a ton of good info. in the towing section on RV.net. You also want to have bars that aren't undersized for the tongue weight.

The best way to set up the weight transfer is to go to a scale and you'll figure out how much weight is actually being transferred to the 3 sets of axles. Can take a while though if you need to re-adjust and take more passes. It's very educational. Besides adjusting the number of chains links, you could find that you need to tilt the angle of the hitch head as well. I spent hours at the scale last spring trying to adjust the WDH only to find that the bars were undersized by too much and would not transfer enough weigh to the steer axle.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:21 PM   #10
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myredracer,
Good adds, thank you. Completely forgot about tilting the hitch head.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:46 PM   #11
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myredracer,
Good adds, thank you. Completely forgot about tilting the hitch head.
Joe

No problem. I think the most important thing is to not let someone else do the setup for you, and especially a dealer unless they know what they are doing. Even a hitch shop may not be that good, as I found out when we had our first WDH installed. They just slapped it on and sent us away. That was when I discovered RV forums and how things are supposed to be done.

I see people in campgrounds all the time with 1/2T trucks, BIG trailers, no WDH and bumpers dragging on the ground.
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:55 PM   #12
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No problem. I think the most important thing is to not let someone else do the setup for you, and especially a dealer unless they know what they are doing. Even a hitch shop may not be that good, as I found out when we had our first WDH installed. They just slapped it on and sent us away. That was when I discovered RV forums and how things are supposed to be done.

I see people in campgrounds all the time with 1/2T trucks, BIG trailers, no WDH and bumpers dragging on the ground.
I see that. But the one that really scares me is weight distrbtion hitch is installed and the truck is still dragging the rear bumper.
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:17 AM   #13
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What about making sure the bars are parallel to the trailer? How important is that?

When I lift my bumper up with the jack and get an extra link or two on the chain, I end up with only 3 or 4 links between the bar and trailer. Which has the bars angled up toward the frame. It also means that there is VERY LITTLE room for movement when turning. There have been times (yes, I know it means I'm almost jackknifed) that when I've turned a little too sharply, that the mount points on the frame of the camper have slid a few inches. I end up having to loosen up the large copper bolt that has a sharp point on it, sliding the bracket back to its original position, and then tightening it back down.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:15 AM   #14
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Here are some pictures of my setup. I'll try to get some better ones that are taken specifically for this discussion. We're winterized and in storage right now.
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