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Reese Dual cam and my sway issues

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Old 06-06-2011, 04:39 PM   #1
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Reese Dual cam and my sway issues

I've seen a few people talk about this, and I'm sure there are some parties that are interested in my findings, so I'll go ahead and open this thread so you can track this information if you tow travel trailers.

I've had my trailer a few months now, and tow it just about every weekend in some form or another. I've towed it about 800 miles so far, and about to put another 600 in the next couple weeks.

The truck has done superbly, I've had some issues with the trailer.

Here's what I have going for and against me.

Pros:
Truck is strong enough to handle the Salem 22RBX-Lite no problemo.
4th Gear offers good power, and 3rd offers alot more.
Trailer is loaded pretty evenly side to side, and more to the front than the back.
Trailer has performed well when in use.

Cons:
Getting a good bit of sway while driving. There are several factors and I'll go into them later.
I have the DC Short Bed, and the shorter wheelbase is less optimal for towing (can't really change that, just pointing it out).
The trailer sits about 6" higher on the frame than my father-in-laws, and therefore is riding a little higher than his, creating more drag.

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Regarding Sway
------------------

There is no one shot cure for sway, and people mis-interpret sway sometimes quite a bit. For this post, sway is the squirli-ness while driving down the road on a rather non-windy day at a reasonable (60 - 65MPH) speed.

Sway, in this context, is NOT an 18-wheeler passing you, or a strong headwind or crosswind slamming you.

All things being equal, if your rig is setup right, swaybars aren't needed, and shouldn't be used as a substitute for proper weight loading, distribution, and driving habits.

In other words, if I have my rig setup how it should be, and I'm driving down a road @ 60 MPH on a non-windy day on flat ground, I should not be experiencing sway.

However, I am. It's enough to need to tap the brake controller.

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A note about sway bars
------------------

Most people will tell you to not use friction based sway bars, and the instructions say you can't back up with them on or use them in the rain. The explanation of why goes beyond the scope of this first post, but their logic is sound.

It's not really important anyways, because until you solve your fundamental issue causing sway, all the gadgets in the world will only provide a minimal improvement in driving, and may not help in the safety department at all.

------------------
Solving the sway Problem (steps taken)
------------------

It's taken several trips and several weeks to finally get it under control, so I'll share in hopes of helping you guys if you run across this as well.

Here is a list of what steps I took in the order I took them.

1. Tongue weight of trailer was 310 lbs dry, and the Taco is rated at 640 so I was fine. I used my Air-Lift airbags to level the trailer. Drove it home in a windy day from the dealer. Terrible experience. Nothing but a drop hitch. Couldn't go past 55MPH without getting really nervous and tapping trailer brakes.

2. Added Friction Sway control to a normal Class 4 drop hitch. They just welded the tab on it. I installed the swaybar, tightened it up, drove it around. Seemed much better at 50MPH than before, could easily hit 65MPH now. Started to get a good bit of sway in the wind, but this is expected.

3. Upgraded to WD hitch (Reese RB2 600 lbs / 6000 lbs Round bars). Moved Friction sway bar to it from the other hitch. This helped alot, much more stable. However, I might have put too much weight on the front axle because the trailer was slightly bowed up and not dead level. An upward angle like this shape (trailer) ^ (truck) will give more sway.

4. Tire pressure of trailer and truck tires was way too low, giving too much flex in the sidewalls. I sent the trailer tires to 45PSI all around (50 PSI is max), and bumped the truck from 32 PSI to 36PSI. This helped a good bit, and even got me up to about 11.5 MPG from 10MPG. Also, lower PSI contributes to additional friction on the road and tire, making sidewalls heat up and potentially increases the chance of blowouts. You'd think alot of air would make it more likely to pop, but it's quite the other way around. That is, unless you overinflate the tires, which should make sense not to do such a thing.

5. Moved the shank height down a 1/2" and removed a link from my WD chains, and took some air out of the bags to lower truck. Trailer is now level and truck squats about 3/4" in rear. Front is back to factory unloaded height. This step helped, but we are not quite there.

6. WEIGHED THE TONGUE AND THE TRAILER. This is important, I'll say VERY important. I think what was happening so far is that my WD hitch was cranked up too hard, and taking too much tongue weight off the truck and trailer, which was making my tongue too light. Too light of a tongue = more sway.

I backed off to the very last link in my chains, which didn't drop the truck hardly any more, just put a touch more weight back on the tongue.

Went to the local CAT Scales on the way to a camping trip, full tank of gas and 2 others in the truck with me. Trailer was loaded for camping, and so it was how it will be when I go in the future. Pulled the truck over 1 scale and the trailer of the next. Unhooked and weighed it.

Truck = 4800 lbs (Curb unloaded is around 4100)
Trailer = 3990 lbs (Dry weight listed as 3615) All tanks empty. We pack light.

Given the consensus that your TT tongue should be between 10% - 15% of complete weight, my tongue should have been between ~400# - ~600#. Some people say 12%-15%, so 480# - 600#. I like 480 - 600 best.

I used a bathroom scale to measure the weight of the tongue. There's alot of places on the net to explain how to do so.

Tongue weighed in at about 390# or so, which is actually under the 10% mark. Guess what happens when your tongue is too light? SWAY.

Fortunately, I have a 33 Gallon fresh water tank in the front of my trailer. Perfect, so I filled it up.

Water is around 8.33 lbs / gallon, so 33 gallons is ~275#. Not all of that contributes to tongue weight, but it also means the weight of the trailer moves up too.

Loaded weight is now 3990 + 275 = 4265#
12% of 4265# = 512#
15% of 4265# = 640#

After re-weighting my tongue I came up to something like 575#, so I'm closer to my 15% than my 12% at this point.

My spring bars are rated for 600#, but the next step is either 800# or 1000# and I didn't want to apply too much torsion to the trailer as to not render the bars ineffective, or even to overload the A-Frame of the trailer itself.

I'm not worried about the tongue weight being close to my max tongue on the truck because the WD bars are pulling weight back off the tongue and on the axel. In addition, they are lightening the tongue weight itself some too, so the actual tongue weight when hooked up is less than 575#.

--------------
Conclusion
--------------

I got the chance to drive my rig yesterday afternoon on a rather windless day. It pulled much better with the water in it. In fact, at 65MPH it tracked very well. You still know it's back there, but that's just cause the engine was working and my CAI and exhaust were rumbling.

Now that I have the fundamental issue to sway addressed, I'm going to go all out and address the next part as best I can.

Crosswinds and 18-wheelers passing you.

There really is not fix for this, just ways to mitigate it. The reese Dual cam WD hitch setup seems to be very proficient at it. I just ordered it before this post, and I'll keep adding to this thread with my findings when I get to install it this weekend (if it comes in in time).
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:09 PM   #2
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Towing TT with Access cab, highway speed issue

Thanks for all the info. We have been "down sizing" from a fifth wheel, towed by an elderly (matches us!) diesel pick-up. Our new TT is almost identical to your Salem-I looked it up, except a Gulf Breeze. Same size, same basic floor plan. Towing with old red (diesel) was effortless. We are hoping to tow with new red (2011 access cab, stick, 6 foot bed, truck cap). Our local (and familiar) dealer set us up with brake control, hitch, and reused our sway bar and EQ bars-don't know there size.

NewRed can surely tow the TT as you found out. Enough power for the Pennsylvania hills and back roads, and stops well. Once we got it on the interstate, my confidence fell. Not able to go over 55-60 without that "squirmishy" feeling you described so well, especially downhill.

Our brochure tongue wt is 360. Dry trailer with factory and dealer adds has a total of 4130. On this first trip we had a reasonable amount of stuff, but would like to load it up more-close to that magic limit- for the southern snowbird migration south. Much more fun/efficient/practical to drive a Taco around all winter instead of a big diesel once we reach our destination. But we want to reach it safely.

Your post has given me some options. Gotta find out what the REAL tongue wt is, then find out what size EQ bars we've got. My craziest idea is a few cinderblocks in that underneath storage area just behind the hitch! So you can see the wheels are turning on the truck and in the head. After I've learned a bit more from the WEB, I'll ask the dealer for suggestions.

But...it's some truck. Replaced a 16 year old S-10, and what an upgrade. Wife chose stick shift and color, I picked whatever was left, smiling all the time.

Thanks again for sharing your info, and it's my first post! George
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:46 PM   #3
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Hi George.

I actually just got my Dual Cams in yesterday and I woke up bright and early to install before it got too hot.

The normal WD setup installed easy as ever, and adding the dual cams took about 2 hours. I took a little extra time as I wanted to be DANG sure before I drilled the holes in my A-Frame on the trailer that I had it all setup right.

I can tell you this. It's installed, I did the setup drive where you keep the cams "unlocked" drive a bit, and re-setup. Learned alot.

First, the 'popping' noise it makes is normal, and when you see how it works it kind of makes sense why it does that. The detented parts of the bars sit in the cam system like a saddle while driving in a straight line. When you turn, the bars would normally try to twist and get under the A-Frame on the inside bar, and the outside bar would normally swing outward.

The cams keep the bars from going side to side, and instead forces the bars to push/pull along the cam saddles. That makes the detented part of the bar come up and out of it's saddle. For a split second, the bar slips (it's supposed to), and it makes a popping noise.

This might not be explained perfectly correct, but it's what I see happening.

The benefit?

When you are driving down the road, crosswinds and big trucks move the trailer around. This normally happens because the trailer can swing side-to-side, and the spring bars can also swing side-to-side.

The cams prevent this. Hence Reese can claim it actively stops sway. A more correct way to describe it would be that it mechanically stops side-to-side motion by not allowing the spring bars to move away from the same parallel plane as the A-Frame.

Does it work? So far, it's made a rather large difference.

I drove about 30 miles today, and here are the conditions:

Temp: 90 degrees
Wind: ~ 8 MPH Southern

First, I headed out to the interstate. I-10 West is under construction, and there's currently 2 lanes with concrete walls. No shoulders at all. White knuckle is a good way to describe that. I figured that would make a good test.

A dang 18-wheeler passed me while I was doing 65MPH on that no-shoulder road heading West with a Southern 8MPH crosswind.

The cams performed incredibly well! I barely got an "sucking toward" the 18 wheeler. The crosswinds gave me a little wobble but absolutely no sway. I stuck to my guns and slowed to 55MPH to be safe in such a tight space, and the braking created no sway, there was a slight hill, then a downhill turn while still in the concrete walls. NO SWAY downhill on a turn. That's the worst sway inducing maneuver I can think of.

At this point I pulled off in a truck stop to get a drink.

Natrually, I get about 3 comments about how they are amazed my little Tacoma can pull that travel trailer. I give them my standard answer about if you don't think it can keep up, just make sure you don't fall behind or it sure would be embarrassing for you

I head to the backroads to get some 55MPH S-curves under my belt. If you've read up on the Dual Cam system, they claim the trailer will "unlock the cams and lean into the turn" or something like that. I friggin does! I saw it slightly tilt into a turn @ 55MPH on a backroad. Handling was superb. In fact, I felt confident enough to put my knee on the wheel for the second it took to unscrew the cap of my Diet Coke. I have NEVER done that while towing this trailer before. Not that doing that is a safe move, but regardless I basically was not "White Knuckling" this.

I thought long and hard to make sure that this success wasn't just in my head, and that after spending $600 on the hitch I felt like it should be better. However, I can honestly say that I reached for my brake control every few minutes without this hitch, and I drove 30 miles today on the interstate and backroads and never ONCE touched it, or even felt like I needed to.

It was purely a pleasure to pull, and has eased my mind about going to a bigger truck.

Just like George here mentioned, I love my Taco, and for driving around town it's a far better choice than a larger truck. I drive for a living and put about 30,000 miles a year on my daily driver. I needed this truck to do my normal job and occasionally pull my trailer. I knew pulling with it wouldn't be as pleasurable as a Tundra, or F150, but I needed to maximize my safety while using the vehicle I have to.

If this dual cam system continues to perform like it did today, even in the wind like I had today, then I'm 100% confident I do not need more truck to pull that trailer.

I'll attach a few pictures in a minute of the cams installed on the A-Frame.

Final thoughts on the dual cams? I bought my original WD Hitch for $200, and after a few months upgraded to this one for $545.00 (600 lbs spring bars). I feel a little foolish for not going all out at first, but now that I've got this, it's a hitch I can use for many years, and many different trailers. If I get a bigger trailer, then I'll simply buy bigger spring bars and keep everything else. This is a fantastic setup and makes pulling my trailer seem like less of a stressful chore. Maybe now I can enjoy the ride!!
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:50 PM   #4
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These are without the trunnion bars installed, but they fit between the chain and the cam. That's what I'm calling the "saddle"

Ignore the other 4 bolts with washers on the left side, that was where my old friction sway bar was mounted.

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Old 06-16-2011, 05:51 PM   #5
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Old 06-17-2011, 05:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fajitas21 View Post

Final thoughts on the dual cams? I bought my original WD Hitch for $200, and after a few months upgraded to this one for $545.00 (600 lbs spring bars). I feel a little foolish for not going all out at first, but now that I've got this, it's a hitch I can use for many years, and many different trailers. If I get a bigger trailer, then I'll simply buy bigger spring bars and keep everything else. This is a fantastic setup and makes pulling my trailer seem like less of a stressful chore. Maybe now I can enjoy the ride!!
Great write up, your last paragraph pretty much sums it up. You get what you pay for when it comes to safety and quality of a product and a good amount of research.

I spent 4 month researching hitch set ups before I bought my TT because I knew it was the most critical part for confidence and safety of towing. I ended up getting the Eqil-i-zer WD hitch and it has worked flawlessly from day one. No sway ( as you described above) and sometime I forget I'm pulling because there is such great control.

I will say that the punk at the RV dealer who set up my WD did a less then good job and I needed to readjust my set up according to the manual for the hitch and after that it was even better.

I have been considering air bags for my rig but after reading and talking to the hitch manufacturer they said to not use them with the WD for leveling. The leveling should be accomplished with the hitch properly adjusted to adjust the rear sag and and front rise on the TV and to keep the TT level to within 1 1/4" front to rear. after that is accomplished then a little air can be added to smooth out the ride but not to adjust TV height.

I get the same comments about hauling with my Taco. It's a great truck as long as it is used within it's limits. Plenty of power and and easier at the pump then a full size when I'm not hauling.

Gotta go get my rig set up for camping this weekend. safe travel and happy camping...

Paul
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Old 06-17-2011, 06:50 AM   #7
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Thanks Paul for the nice comments.

And regarding the airbags. I have them, and now that I've got my rig all setup like I like, I really don't need them.

In fact, the only times I've needed the airbags are when I'm hauling a bunch of stuff in the bed and I use them to level my truck out that way.

When using my WD Hitch, I just adjust the linkage to fix the height problem, and add just a touch of air to smooth out the ride, exactly as you described.

At first, I was running like 40PSI while towing the trailer and it made the whole rig somewhat unstable because it tilted the head of the trailer up too much, adding sway.

So yea, if I had to do it again, I'd skip the bags. If I was concerned about bottoming out, I'd probably get the Tiembrens. But with the WD Hitch, doesn't seem to be an issue.
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Old 06-17-2011, 07:02 AM   #8
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One more thought. Many people ask what is different regarding the Equal-i-zer and the Reese Dual Cam.

**I'll preface this by saying I'm not an engineer and I haven't driven with the Equal-i-zer bars.**

I think the only difference is how they mount, and that fact that the Equal-i-zer can be used with surge brakes.

They both force your spring bars to follow the A-Frame instead of twist around it. The Equal-i-zer doesn't have chains, and so it's probably more work to adjust the amount of tension on the setup because you'll have to remove the A-Frame bracket, adjust the height, and re-attach.

The advantage of the Equal-i-zer is no drilling, and works with surge brakes.

The advantage to the dual cams are that you can adjust linkage on the fly.

That said, I think the systems function almost exactly the same, just two different approaches on the install methods.

I've honestly yet to see someone definitively prove that one is better than the other, but I'm willing to guess that it depends on your need.

Here's a situation I think one might be better than another:

Equal-i-zer:

1. It sits alongside or barely under your A-Frame. This gives it quite a bit of ground clearance. That's something to consider if you take it to bumpy places with lots of Vs.

2. Also you have the whole Surge Brake thing.

Dual Cam:

1. If your load weight changes rather drastically, constantly, I think this might be a better setup. Drop a link, add a link, 2 minutes and your done. You need no tools unless your setup changes enough to need to re-adjust the cam extenders.

An example would be for people who dry camp. Driving up with a bunch of water and and gear and supplies in the trailer, and coming home with much less (at least several hundred pounds less).

But in truth, I really don't see how you can go wrong with either one. Their basic design and function is vastly superior than a regular WD hitch. I was concerned that this setup was a gimmic and that it might help a bit, but not a bunch. It is no gimmic.
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Old 06-17-2011, 02:05 PM   #9
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Lee and Paul, We're getting the Reese Dual Cam installed next week by our local dealer. Looking forward to the change! Thanks for the help, George
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Old 06-18-2011, 03:16 PM   #10
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Good deal George.

For what it's worth, just got back from a 160 mile round trip today. The way up there was 80 miles of 10 MPH crosswinds on IH-10 East, and then a slight wind at my back on 165 North (southern wind).

It handled extremely well. I had emptied the water tank and put about 20 PSI in my bags on the way up to kind of test the weight differences.

On the way back (another 80 miles), I had a 15 MPH headwind going South on 165 for 23 miles. I averaged 8.5 MPG, ow. However, truck stayed on 4 and handled the job like a pro.

When I hit IH-10 West I had that same South wind now facing me as a crosswind. Before I left I filled up the tank and ran 5PSI in my airbags.

Honestly, the truck seems to handle better with the 5 - 10 PSI and water in the fresh water (which is up front of the trailer-giving me more tongue weight).

I can say I handled that trip very well, and had a good conversation with my father-in-law the whole time. It wasn't really a terrible pull, and 15MPH headwinds and crosswinds are far less than ideal.

I can say that keeping the tongue weight in the 12% - 15% range greatly improves handling.

I really don't need my airbags.

Not to mention I went to the casino and hit a $500 jackpot, so my Dual Cam setup cost me $50 all said and done Perfect.
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Old 06-18-2011, 04:55 PM   #11
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Nice write up good job. I tow a 18' dual axle trailer and I get no sway I can feel the back end dip a bit on a good dip in the road but so far no sway I'm going to Canada later this summer that will be the test it's a 1,000 round trip. I'll keep the cam system in mind if I feel it did not handle the way I expected. The camper is only 2380 empty and close to 13% tongue weight.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:37 PM   #12
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I think the main reasons you aren't having sway is that your trailer is 1/2 the weight of the truck and your tongue weight is spot on. Sounds like you have done your homework.

Let us know how your trip goes, and have fun!
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:15 AM   #13
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Good thread, good discussion.

OP I think you are right about the difference between the two systems. The reese is easier to adjust on the fly. The EQ-izer requires the ball head to be removed/loosened to increase or reduce the angle of the head by adding/removing washers to a post in order to change the tension on the bars which will stay parallel to the TT frame after initial set up, there is some leeway there though.

If you really want to get serious about sway take a look at this set up. I've only seen one of these in my travels and they were hauling a 37' triple axle rig.

Paul
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Old 06-27-2011, 07:28 AM   #14
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I have read but never seen an Arrow. That's a heck of a thing @ around $3000 or so, but I bet it's incredible.
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Old 06-27-2011, 08:38 AM   #15
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Fajita, Great write up.

I've been running the Reese Dual Cam (prior verison to yours) for several years on my 06 DC SB w/ our Starcraft 21CK. Absolutely love it! My trailer tops out at about 4800#. I too air up the truck tires to 34-35 while towing. Not sure if it applies to the 2011 you've got.... but the rear spring TSB seemed to make a difference in how it handles.

A tip on the creaks and groans from the dual cam.... I "polish" up the cam surfaces with a small brass brush before hooking up. Also a very light spritz of silicone spray helps. (don't use grease!)

Chuck, HappyCampin! (my screen name over at RV.net)
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:50 AM   #16
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I'm not sure if one is available for out trucks, but a trackbar would solve many of our sway problems. It attaches to the axle and frame and keeps the axle from walking from side to side. This is the biggest problem with leaf spring suspensions and towing.

I do have one bone to pick: WD hitches do not lighten the tongue, they lever the front of the truck down and the rear up, which transfers some of the load off the rear and onto the front. This doesn't give you anymore tongue capacity, as the tongue weight remains the same. It just redistributes the tongue weight on the truck.
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:51 PM   #17
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Quote:
WD hitches do not lighten the tongue, they lever the front of the truck down and the rear up, which transfers some of the load off the rear and onto the front. This doesn't give you anymore tongue capacity, as the tongue weight remains the same. It just redistributes the tongue weight on the truck.
Good point, and I didn't want my post to suggest that by using a WD hitch you can exceed the 650 (or whatever it is for your model) tongue weight.
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Old 06-28-2011, 06:51 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skytower View Post
This doesn't give you anymore tongue capacity, as the tongue weight remains the same. It just redistributes the tongue weight on the truck.
The tongue capacity stays the same for our trucks because it is a light 1/2 ton, but on heavier trucks the tongue capacity is greater with a WD hitch. My friends chevy say: 500 lb TW(tongue capacity) / 1000 lb TW w/WD. It also increase the total capacity of the hitch wWD.

The weight distribution hitch does just that. It does distribute the weight throughout the truck AND the trailer. This is why it is important to do the measuring of the TV and TT to make sure there is not to much rise in the TV front or sag on the TV rear and the trailer should be level with no more then 1 1/4" of rise or fall fore or aft from level after everything is hooked up.

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Old 06-28-2011, 08:15 PM   #19
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Hello, Everyone! This is a very informative thread. I'm a newbie to towing, and this is my first post on Tacomaworld. I just got a Reese Dual Cam system to tow my aluminum horse trailer weighing at 3500 LB empty. My tow vehicle is 2009 TRD Off Road with rear spring TSB. I have some questions to all. I have my Reese Dual Cam set up with my trailer level when empty. I have 5 links hooked up on the chain. How do you adjust or compensate for rear sag of the Tacoma with a horse (1200 LB) in the trailer? Do you increase or decrease the number of chain link? I think they recommend that I have at least 4 or 5 links for proper function, so going down to 3 links does not seem proper. Is there anything else that I should do?

Also, I heard that I can use axle greese or vaseline to coat the bars lightly to decrease the noise during turning. Does silicone spray work better?

Thanks!
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:55 PM   #20
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When you setup your WD hitch you want the truck and trailer loaded like you're going to be using it, so you'll need to do 2 things.

1. Put the horse in the trailer (seems kinda dangerous without it hooked up while you measure).
2. Find out how much your average horse weighs, and put that much weight in the trailer, and try to distribute the weight like it were a horse (don't put it all in one spot).

The Links will help you adjust, but you don't want to go below 5 links because there's a chance your spring bars can make contact with your frame. That would be very bad, and you run the chance of literally bending them while in a tight turn.

I don't find the noise that loud, but the recommended solution is silicon spray or vasoline. I'd avoid the grease, and I don't use anything and just deal with the noise because I want the system to maintain some friction, that's one of the elements of the sway control coming into play there.
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