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Old 03-12-2016, 08:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Air bags or weight distributing hitch?

So I finished a little toy hauler build last summer to haul my rig and the family. Stretched a 20' trailer frame to 24' and threw a pop up in the front. Trailer tows well and everything fits the way I want it to but I ended up with more tongue weight then I want, especially without my rig on the rear. Fully loaded it squats my truck a few inches. With out the rig on the rear it's worse. Manageable but still more tongue weight then I want. I plan to use the trailer for hauling the pop up and just quads at times so I need to level it out.

What is a better option, air bags for the rear or weight distributing hitch? I have seen both work in the past but I have very little experience with either. I have seen the weight distributing hitch work on campers and I have buddies with air bags. Price is about the same for either but I want what will be the best setup for hauling, safely. Opinions and real life experience is welcome.

Tow rig is a 2005 dodge 2500 CTD with 6 speed so I have plenty of truck for the setup.
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Old 03-12-2016, 08:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That set up doesn't look too top heavy, I would say air bags is all you need and be happy. My 3500 CTD and trailer has both but to level things the bags do it and can adjust with air for a smooth ride.

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Old 03-12-2016, 10:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I say WD hitch at least. I tow a 4800lb JK on an 18ft trailer with a SCLB 01 7.3, not a very heavy load, but a shitty worn out truck. Highway joints, dips, and potholes are brutal without the WD hitch. With the hitch, it's 85mph with one hand on the wheel. I wont tow without it. How this load would tow with a better truck, I have no idea. But I can tell you they work for me.

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Old 03-13-2016, 12:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Honestly, you probably need both.

If you want to do the math, weigh the tongue of the trailer, get the total weight of the trailer, and compare that to the numbers on the hitch. Hitches aren't rated just for fun. The ratings are there to tell you what they can safely carry. Think of your hitch as a lever. All of that tongue weight is pulling down on the rear attachment points. The middle will be helping a bit, and the front would be the pivot point. Those bolts won't be doing much but hanging on for the ride. Then add in the stress of the trailer pulling you hitch backwards. Your weight distribution hitch is distributing the weight across all attachment point for the hitch. Instead of the front of the hitch being the pivot, you change the pivot point to where the bars meet the hitch head.

A properly set up weight distribution hitch should bring the back of the truck up to within 1" of the unloaded height. If you can't get there by adjusting the position of the hitch head, add air bags to get you the rest of the way.
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Old 03-13-2016, 05:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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They do completely different things... Here we go again....
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Old 03-13-2016, 06:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I run a simaler setup only my jeep is in front and the camper is on its wheels attached to the Jeep behind 2003 Dodge 3500 SRW. I run a WD and with that setup it tows great. I also have about 1,800 lbs of tongue weight. With that kind of TW a WD setup is a must. No need to do both, your TW will probably be less and with 1,800lbs she sits about level front to back, basically takes out the factory rake (overloads don't touch). Anything over about 8k GTW and or 1,000 lbs TW a WD hitch just makes sense.

If I only have the jeep I'll run without the WD. It tows noticeably better with the heavier load and a WD then with a lighter load and no WD (truck squat about equal). IMHO bags are great for goose/5th trailers or if you have a lift with soft springs. Stock truck towing a bumper pull is probably better served adding a WD setup.
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Old 03-13-2016, 06:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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That's not a giant chunk of I beam over the tongue of the trailer is it?
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Old 03-13-2016, 06:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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So you added the 4ft to the front of the trailer? Ahead of the axles? That’s a 12ft pop-up? So like 2,200-2,500 pounds? Jeep weighs 4,300, trailer weighs 3,000?

Lets say under 1,500 pounds of tongue weight. I would put a WD hitch on there.
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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WD Hitch all day long.

the ONLY thing airbags do is push up on the rear end. they make a world of difference towing with heavy tongue weight.
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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have you gotten tongue weight on this setup since you stretched it? I bet its way more than you expect.

Also might try putting that rig on facing backwards.
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:07 AM   #11 (permalink)
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WD Hitch all day long.

the ONLY thing airbags do is push up on the rear end. they make a world of difference towing with heavy tongue weight.
Didn't you just buy a big ass camper? What do you tow it with?
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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That's not a giant chunk of I beam over the tongue of the trailer is it?
No it is the tongue from the pop up. I left most of it I place in case I ever pull it off. Plus the bed props for the camper mount on the pop up tongue.
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Get a sitter and take her somewhere nice. Obviously "nice" is reliant on budget, as my nice might be crawfish and draft shiner at a dive bar followed by rough backseat sex parked behind Gander Mountain- whereas your nice will probably differ from that.
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:48 AM   #13 (permalink)
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So you added the 4ft to the front of the trailer? Ahead of the axles? Thatís a 12ft pop-up? So like 2,200-2,500 pounds? Jeep weighs 4,300, trailer weighs 3,000?

Lets say under 1,500 pounds of tongue weight. I would put a WD hitch on there.
Yes 4' in front of the axles and behind where the tongue ties into the frame. Yes 12' pop up, 2200 is probably close, jeep may be heavier (3/16" boxed tube frame, doubler, I made zero effort to save weight when building it) my guess is closer to 5k. Yes trailer about 3k. Thanks
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Old 03-13-2016, 07:52 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I think my plan is do the hitch first, see if I like the setup and then ad bags if I still want more.

Any thoughts on what hitch to look at? Brands to use and not use?
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Get a sitter and take her somewhere nice. Obviously "nice" is reliant on budget, as my nice might be crawfish and draft shiner at a dive bar followed by rough backseat sex parked behind Gander Mountain- whereas your nice will probably differ from that.

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Old 03-13-2016, 07:58 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I have always used Equalizer type, with solid bars not chain. Look on Craigslist usually half price there.
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:00 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I think my plan is do the hitch first, see if I like the setup and then ad bags if I still want more.

Any thoughts on what hitch to look at? Brands to use and not use?
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:11 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I have always used Equalizer type, with solid bars not chain. Look on Craigslist usually half price there.
From what I have seen the chain style seem to be the economy options and the equalizer bars more the premium option.
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:56 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I really like my blue ox WD hitch, on my ford expedition with a 30' camper
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:03 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I really like my blue ox WD hitch, on my ford expedition with a 30' camper
What year Expedition? Air suspension? How much tongue weight?
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:12 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I have always used Equalizer type, with solid bars not chain. Look on Craigslist usually half price there.
New are expensive. Craigslist you can find them for a hundred bucks with bars. For a flatbed trailer the chain ones are fine too.

Just make sure all the parts are there if you go used.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:23 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I have not owned a truck since the 70's that did not have a WD hitch, sway brake AND air bags. when it comes to family safety first dam the cost
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Old 03-13-2016, 12:38 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I love the solid bar Equalizer hitch, but with the changing loads, chain style would be easier to adjust for the different weights. Easier to use = better chance that it will get used.
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:17 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I love the solid bar Equalizer hitch, but with the changing loads, chain style would be easier to adjust for the different weights. Easier to use = better chance that it will get used.
That's why I don't use mine when only pulling the jeep. Just too much of a pain to use. I have only used the chain type but I don't see how the solid bar would be much easier. For me it's the heavy ass hitch, and fkn with the bars, actually hooking the chains is the easy part. But you're right, easy is better.
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Old 03-13-2016, 02:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I think my plan is do the hitch first, see if I like the setup and then ad bags if I still want more.

Any thoughts on what hitch to look at? Brands to use and not use?
Here's mine all hooked up with a full load of camping crap in the bed. I'd be surprised if you need the bags for squat. The bars help the porpoising as well but I can see how little more sting rate back there would be nice when traveling especially crappy roads.


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Old 03-13-2016, 03:29 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
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That's why I don't use mine when only pulling the jeep. Just too much of a pain to use. I have only used the chain type but I don't see how the solid bar would be much easier. For me it's the heavy ass hitch, and fkn with the bars, actually hooking the chains is the easy part. But you're right, easy is better.
With the solid bars, they are just there. They aren't flopping around, falling out of the hitch, there are no chains to find the end of, or counting links. There isn't a hook for the bar, just a platform that the bar rests on. Make the bar go on the platform, drop in the keeper, and you are done.

If he is going to have loads that weigh different, chains are the way to go. Hook the chain on a different link for the changing load. With the solid bar, it involves getting out a wrench to change the position of the platform.

The nice thing about the solid bar Equalizer: built in sway control. Chains have a separate attachment to take care of that. Get enough practice loading the trailer correctly and that usually becomes a moot point.
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