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Old 12-17-2012, 07:55 PM   #1
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When do you need a stepdown hitch?

I'm adding Airlift air bags to correct a little tail sag on my Class C soon. As of now, my toad and MH's ReadyBrake Elite tow bar match up nicely. How much will the towbar "forgive" and when should I look at a stepdown hitch adapter?

I think I only need a little lift, but...
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:40 PM   #2
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Barb

I believe my docs say 2 in difference is Ok, up or down.

Mine is 3in down to the toad so I have a 2 in drop hitch. But I have the one with a second receiver 2in above the main receiver also. Can mount another attachment there but anything you might put there would interfere with seeing the towbar via the camera so while I thought it was a good idea at the time, I have never used the upper receiver.

I have the firestone air ride on my B+ and it does make a difference in the ride and it will raise the back end when you pump up.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:54 AM   #3
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To my rescue again, Libero? Where should I measure? Any idea how many inches I should expect the airbags lift? I already have a dual hitch adapter and a ramped carrier for my power wheelchair. I'm hoping not to add another adapter. We keep getting longer!

Thanks!
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:32 AM   #4
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I'd wait until you get the airbags installed. If the hitch and Smart car difference is less than 2 or 3 inches or so, I'd leave it alone. The Smart car isn't heavy enough to really 'lift' the RV in a heavy stop. Plus you have the Ready-brake, so I doubt if it would put that much pressure on the toad or hitch in a stop. A drop hitch, especially on the end of a carrier, can cause your 'tail' to drag on the smallest elevation change. I had a drop hitch and hit it going into fuel stops, some campsites, etc. I decided the potential damage (breaking a weld on the hitch) wasn't worth the small difference it made in the tow bar angle. I removed it and haven't bottomed out and feel it's safer without than with.
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:02 AM   #5
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I agree - wait for the air bag install and then measure. I don't 'know how much my air bag changed mine from the outset because my RV came with them on.. I can change the height about 2-3 in when I go from 30 to 90 lbs pressure. I suspect.each couch will be different.

And again the Smarty is light so there is not much presure applied up but you do want the forward pressure to activate the ready break so if you are not within a couple of inches there might be some effect on the ready brake performance. (never tried it but if you have a light indicator to let you know of brake activation you should be able to try it before you do anything.)

Mine extends the receiver about 4 in.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:03 AM   #6
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The comment about the hitch dragging when going up an incline is a good observation. The further you extend the receiver on a level plane without even dropping it, means the greater the potential to hit the ground because of the increased distance from the rear wheels. You might mitigate this by having high pressure on the bags while going in these places but that is soooo easy to forget.

Again I suggest you get the bags first so you know what you have.

I have a digital readout on a level I carry in the RV but I can't read it from the drivers seat. I have thought about rigging it so I could see it while driving into a steep incline. This should tell me how much drop there is in the back by monitoring the angle, But a more practical way might be to have some physical device that gives a visual or audio warning before you hear the crunching sound of the hitch as it digs into the pavement etc. I thought about putting a mirror on the front of smarty so I could view on the monitor and see how close I am getting to the ground. Can't really determine that by my present camera setup. This project is still in the thinking stage as you can tell from my musings above that I have not really thought everything through yet.

Back in the day when I pulled a TT, I broke my fancy hitch equalizer assembly off while going up a steep driveway. I subsequently put a slanted mirror in front of the trailer and I could see everything through my rear view mirror and that was also a great aid so I could place the car in the exact place for hookup also. Did not have a camera in the vehicles back then.

There might be devices out there that give warning before a hitch drags but i have not seen any. Welcome thoughts and comments on this.

I will come up with some gizmo and post my findings when I get something that works.
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:19 AM   #7
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:50 AM   #8
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Thanks guys! Tom, the diagram is very helpful. It's good to know I have up to 4" before I have to add a step down.

The ramped WC carrier prevents me from raising the towbar into the stowed position so I can't drive the MH without the car attached. I use one of the safety chains to lift it enough to do a little repositioning, but I'd never take it on the road without the toad. And, the toad helps support the carrier while driving.

I'll wait and see how much the airbags lift the rear end and report back.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:04 AM   #9
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The diagram I posted is for my Roadmaster Sterling bar. Your bar may differ. Check your tow bar instruction paperwork.

-Tom
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:50 AM   #10
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The safe zone shown is with the tow bar level as much as possible.
If the tow bar is constant pushing downward the car hitch plate will put pressure on plate mounting bolts and possibly snap or push bolt heads through plate.
Had a friend almost lose his car because of this.
Level as possible is best.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by "007" View Post
The safe zone shown is with the tow bar level as much as possible.
If the tow bar is constant pushing downward the car hitch plate will put pressure on plate mounting bolts and possibly snap or push bolt heads through plate.
Had a friend almost lose his car because of this.
Level as possible is best.
Humm - really have to think about this one - Pushing downward on the car and causing baseplate mounting bolts to sever etc??? Trying ro work out a scenario when this would happen --- still thinking!!!
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:40 PM   #12
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Here is another option if you're too high. I had a muffler/hitch shop weld on a second receiver under the original. The extensions are a pain because they're heavy, add more connections, extend the car further back and lower your drag point.

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Old 12-19-2012, 01:33 PM   #13
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Good idea DD re welding a second receiver on. I thought about that but did not do it. I wonder how you could determine true weight and tow capacity of the modified hitch. Logic says if the weld is good, there would be little change.

But really how do you know what he specs are after you put a traditional drop receiver on?
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:53 PM   #14
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I read on the Blue Ox website, step down no more than 4 inches, but 0 inch tolerance above the motorhome receiver.

http://blueox.com/Uploads/Docs/BX7445.PDF
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