UPDATE YOUR BOOKMARKS: The new URL for the site is CHEVYGMCVANS.COM

See the "Announcements" section for more 2021 forum update details

Weight distribution hitch and sway control setup and use

Post Reply

Topic author
LiftedAWDAstro
I have my van tatooed on my cheeks
Posts: 4379
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:35 pm
Location: New Haven, NY

Weight distribution hitch and sway control setup and use

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

I am posting this thread as a way to get information and ideas from folks who have used and currently use WDH with or without sway control. Since purchasing the Jayco Jay Feather 232 we have had to use WDH and sway control. The 232 weighs about 4100# dry with over 600# tongue weight. So far we have towed it about 750 miles. The conditions have ranged from hot and humid to sunny, cool and calm to torrential downpour and 20 MPH!

I have almost no experience with setting up the WDH so I am in need of advice. We get a LOT of sway on windy days and have trouble going 60 mph. Now on calm days we can travel 65 fairly easily, well except for hills! #-o

Since the dealer set it up originally, I have taken the bars up 2 more links but it almost seems to be worse but it could have been the wind. I will spending some time in the next week or 2 with trying different hitch setups trying to get the van to handle the load as best it could. I will add pics as well with measurements of the front and rear of the van to see how it shifts weight. It handles bad enough I am contemplating buying a 3/4 ton truck...Dodge at that! :muhaha: Please post up any info you have!
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy

BLAZER
ASV Supporter
ASV Supporter
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 12:44 pm
Location: Cinci, ohio

Post by BLAZER »

Dean, our trailer only wieghs about 2700 empty, 3500 loaded to the gills with a full tank of water ( 30 or 40 gal maybe) and I've used a WDH with our 97 S10 blazer, no sway control. I have the benefit though that my camper is similar to a hi-lo so I don't get all that wind drag. I set up my WDH so that when sitting on level surface loaded, the trailer and camper all almost completely level. Our blazer would have majorly sagged without it. The van on the other hand, only drops maybe 1-2" with the trailer due to my extra leaf. Just the WDH reduced the the sway greatly as I towed without it when we bought and it did give us sway ( w/ blazer). After driving from Cinci to Myrtle beach and back, I had very little troubles with sway especially in the mountains.
I can copy my directions on my WDH if that would help and mail them to ya. Here , I can do one better, this is my hitch, just click on "typical installation instructions"
http://www.etrailer.com/pc-WD~3203-10.htm
User avatar

ScottS
I finally get the smurf thing
Posts: 174
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:33 am

Post by ScottS »

I am waiting to try my new WDH - supposedly it is set up so that the reduction in height at the front and rear wheels of the tow vehcle are the same. I got the lightest bars available as my trailer is most likely only 3500 lbs loaded. 10% would be 350 lbs on the hitch.

But, I am hauling my corvair which has the entire drivetrain hangng behind the rear wheels, and the trailer is short ( car just fits on the rails) so I have limited options as far as distributng weight- If I put the car on frontwards all the weight is in the back. If I put the car on backwards ( probably teh way I will go) I have too much weight on the hitch, hence my desre to try the WDH.

The sway ontrol on my hitch is the recangular steel spring bars actualy ride on pads of frition material (just like brake pads) so it is controlled and consistent friction.

I'll keep you guys posted as to the results
1998 Safari AWD NE OHIO
1995 Safari AWD

Image

BLAZER
ASV Supporter
ASV Supporter
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 12:44 pm
Location: Cinci, ohio

Post by BLAZER »

If you have never used one, you will be amazed how they transfer the weight. Our blazer drops about 3" in the rear, makes the front do a wheelie, but the hitch levels it out perfect. My parents' friend used to haul airstreams from Michigan to Fla and when the WDH came out in late 60's, he said they took an Olds Tornado ( FWD V8) and attched a WDH with a large airstream. They cranked the bars up and literally took the rear wheels off the car and drove it around the parking lot for a demonstration w/ no back tires. I don't need a sway bar as my trailer is light enough and low enough, I get little to no sway and the WDH actually reduces what I had tremendously
Scott, I would definitely make sure you have the weight p front. I hauled a camaro on a 16' trailer with motor hanging out rear, had no choice at time. Talk about white knuckle driving and I was only doing 35-40. I almost lost the entire rig a couple times cause of the sway. You are smart getting the WDH and putting motor up front.

Topic author
LiftedAWDAstro
I have my van tatooed on my cheeks
Posts: 4379
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:35 pm
Location: New Haven, NY

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

Well, Lynne and I spent about an hour tonight setting up the WDH properly! Seems our camper dealer really doesn't have a clue or want to spend the time.

The proper way to set them up is to have the tow vehicle and trailer sit level when hitched. You also need to be very aware of how much the front of the tow vehicle lifts or sags when hitched.

It took us 4 different hitching and unhitching to get it adjusted right. We started out with the front of the van lifting about 1/4" with the trailer hitched. We then ended up adding 2 washers to the tilt pin and have 5 loose chain links and 6 under tension on each side. This gave us a final drop of the front and rear of the van of about 1/2". It is very even front to rear and is siting like it was unloaded. The initial test tow proved it was adjusted much better. I ran it up to about 67 mph on the local roads and with the sway control off, it was very stable and wasn't "floaty" at all.

We are heading camping again on Monday morning and will post the results on Thursday or Friday when we get home. This will be a 3 - 3.5 hour tow each way on all variations of roads...interstate, 2 lane and back country twisty roads.

One thing I also added was a Hellwig anti-sway bar on the rear of the Astro. This will definitely help on the windy days. Now I just need the 4.10 gears!!!!!

\:D/
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy

astrozam
I have my van tatooed on my cheeks
Posts: 2770
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:57 am

Post by astrozam »

This should be a good comparison with the trip down to NECO, Have a good camping trip,and don't forget them pics

Water Boy
I sleep in my van
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:28 pm
Location: Canton/Holly Springs GA (Atlanta)

Post by Water Boy »

BLAZER wrote:...in late 60's, he said they took an Olds Tornado ( FWD V8) and attached a WDH with a large Airstream. They cranked the bars up and literally took the rear wheels off the car and drove it around the parking lot for a demonstration w/ no back tires...
I saw this rig many times on the local roads and on the interstates in and around Atlanta in the late 70's and early 80's. Talk about a head-turner. Almost as bad as the articulated transit buses MARTA had for awhile. It was a hoot to watch the sidewalk drunks jump back with shock.
I was told getting my beauty sleep was a waste of time.

1990 Astro (Z motor) mostly original @ 343,584 miles (552,944.8488960001 Canadian) (03/2008). Bad startup puff. Starting to spray for skeeters. Gone 06/07/08.
1993 Astro with a bad W motor. Parked next to a chicken coop in Talking Rock GA
I'm 'tween Canton and Holly Springs (North NorthWest of Atlanta GA)
I haul bottled water everyday- between 500 and 2500 pounds (226.796185 and 1,133.980925 Canadian) INSIDE the van.

Water Boy
I sleep in my van
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:28 pm
Location: Canton/Holly Springs GA (Atlanta)

Post by Water Boy »

Maybe you guys can use this as "show-n-tell". :D
Image
I was told getting my beauty sleep was a waste of time.

1990 Astro (Z motor) mostly original @ 343,584 miles (552,944.8488960001 Canadian) (03/2008). Bad startup puff. Starting to spray for skeeters. Gone 06/07/08.
1993 Astro with a bad W motor. Parked next to a chicken coop in Talking Rock GA
I'm 'tween Canton and Holly Springs (North NorthWest of Atlanta GA)
I haul bottled water everyday- between 500 and 2500 pounds (226.796185 and 1,133.980925 Canadian) INSIDE the van.

BLAZER
ASV Supporter
ASV Supporter
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 12:44 pm
Location: Cinci, ohio

Post by BLAZER »

Dean, glad you got it set up. I guess I got lucky and hit mine onthe blazer 1st shot. Never hooked the WDH to the van yet so I would have to change the whole setup as the van sits so much higher.
Waterboy....that's not nice [-( [-X \:D/ I bet that thing drives like nothing is back there.

Water Boy
I sleep in my van
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:28 pm
Location: Canton/Holly Springs GA (Atlanta)

Post by Water Boy »

BLAZER wrote:...Waterboy....that's not nice [-( [-X \:D/ I bet that thing drives like nothing is back there.
That is not mine. I just happened to pull along side it at a red light and had the camera handy.
I was told getting my beauty sleep was a waste of time.

1990 Astro (Z motor) mostly original @ 343,584 miles (552,944.8488960001 Canadian) (03/2008). Bad startup puff. Starting to spray for skeeters. Gone 06/07/08.
1993 Astro with a bad W motor. Parked next to a chicken coop in Talking Rock GA
I'm 'tween Canton and Holly Springs (North NorthWest of Atlanta GA)
I haul bottled water everyday- between 500 and 2500 pounds (226.796185 and 1,133.980925 Canadian) INSIDE the van.
User avatar

ScottS
I finally get the smurf thing
Posts: 174
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:33 am

Re: Weight distribution hitch and sway control setup and use

Post by ScottS »

I played around with my WDH today ( only one year after I bought it ) -


I pull a Corvair race car , and wanted the WDH to compensate for the weight bias I have with a rear engine car - if I pull on the trailer, all the weight is in the back, and if I back on all the weight is on the hitch.

Here is a shot of the van and trailer - I had to add some weight via cement bags, and my wide and child as the engine and trans are out of the car on the trailer

Image


Unladen, the van is 28 1/4 inches from the ground o the top of the front wheel housing, and 29 1/4 at the back

With the trailer and car on, it it is 1 inch higher in front and 1 1/4 lower in the rear not as bad as I thought )


Anyways I bolted this hitch up and came to realize the sway control and WD arms are not going to work with my trailer because the coupling is not where the frame rails meet in the front- some added surge brakes and extended the coupler about 12" forward of where the frame rails meet.


Image

This screws up the angles
Image

Image

So I can cut off the surge brake stuff ( it s all welded up anyways and inoperable ) or I can use the arms with chains ( may be OK with the angle) or I can add a frame rail on each side at the correct angle fr the hitch and mount the arms to that ( maybe the easiest )

#-o

Lots of fun !
1998 Safari AWD NE OHIO
1995 Safari AWD

Image
User avatar

ScottS
I finally get the smurf thing
Posts: 174
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:33 am

Re: Weight distribution hitch and sway control setup and use

Post by ScottS »

oops forgot the wide shot

Image
1998 Safari AWD NE OHIO
1995 Safari AWD

Image
User avatar

ScottS
I finally get the smurf thing
Posts: 174
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:33 am

Re: Weight distribution hitch and sway control setup and use

Post by ScottS »

Just an update- I am excited because I found that this poblem has already been anticipated and maybe I can get this item to work


Image
1998 Safari AWD NE OHIO
1995 Safari AWD

Image
Post Reply