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Choosing the Best Weight Distribution System

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Choosing the Best Weight Distribution System

Today we're going to be talking about how to determine which is going to be the best weight distribution system for your application. We often time get questions. The most common question is what size do I need We're going to help you go over that and try to figure out how to determine that, but also how to determine whether you need just a basic system; maybe a 2 point sway control system, or even a 4 point sway control system. The benefit of a weight distribution system is that it eliminates the sagging that we typically get in the rear of a truck when we've got a heavy trailer, or camper loaded on to it. When we have sag in the rear of our vehicle, we're getting excess strain on that rear suspension. It builds up friction in those leaf springs that can cause permanent sagging. On the front end, when the back of the truck goes down, the front end of the truck goes up, unfortunately. What that does is it takes some of that weight off the front wheels.

That's going to change our alignment angles on our front end, which is going to create excessive tire wear. With the weight not being firmly pressed down on those front tires, we're going to lose some handling capability and also some braking power. Also, our headlights, they tend to tilt up a little bit higher. What we want to do is choose a weight distribution system and level that truck back out so we keep all of our factory settings. We're going to have have good steering field, good braking. We're going to have good handling and we'll be able to see exactly where we're going because our headlights will be pointed in the right direction. The most important thing that we need to do to determine which weight distribution setup is right for us is to determine our loaded tongue weight.

That's a number on how much downward force that we're putting on the ball of our weight distribution setup with our trailer loaded exactly as we would be traveling with it. If you do it with an empty trailer, it's not going to give you the same effect. You're not going get the right number. You want your trailer to be fully loaded. Also, something you wouldn't think about, but in the towing vehicle, anything that you're going to have loaded behind that rear axle, it needs to be there when we determine our number. 1 pretty common way of determining tongue weight is with a tongue weight scale. This would be something you would block up under your tongue and as your tongue gets lowered down on this, it's going to give us a number.

That's going to be our tongue weight. To this number, we're going to add the items we talked about that we're going to have behind the rear axle in our car. Another way is a great new product out. It's the Weigh-Safe ball mount. It's going to do the exact same thing as this, but it also acts as a ball mount, so we can haul and travel down the highway. Again, with that we need to add what's in our towing vehicle behind that rear axle. Another great way of determining what your tongue weight is is to use a commercial scale, something you're always going to see at truck stops and things like that.

You'll pull your truck up on to the scale, your truck only, not the camper when it has it's weight bearing down on the rear of the truck. Unhook the trailer. Weigh our truck again. That's going to give us our tongue weight so we'll know how much downward force we've got there on the rear of the vehicle. Then again, we're going to add anything that we've got in our truck behind that rear axle. That's going to give us our tongue weight. Now that we've determined our tongue weight, we want to choose a system thats range is going to cover that. Let's say we've got 950 pounds worth of tongue weight. We don't have a 950 pound tongue weight system, but we do have 1 that might range from 800 to 1,000, maybe 1,000 up to 1,200, 1,200 up to 1,500. As long as you're in that safe range, you're picking the right system. Something that does come up quite a bit that people are planning on just using their current camper for a couple years, or maybe even just a couple months, then they plan on an upgrade. It's pretty common. We all want a bigger, more spacious camper. The question is what if I have 1,000 pounds of tongue weight, but I want to buy maybe a 1,200 pound kit That's okay as long as you don't go much further than that. What happens is if you're using a higher rated kit, it's going to give you a stiffer ride. Your ride quality is not going to be exactly what it would be if we're using something where it's more appropriate and more in range. Again, you don't want to go much past 1 step up, because then you're really getting in to some ride quality issues. Let's talk a little bit about what features we want on our weight distribution setup and which is going to help us out the most to give us a great ride as we head down the road. Here, we have a pretty basic weight distribution setup. In our basic setups, there's going to be 2 styles. This is a trunnion bar style. The trunnion bar style is ideal for vehicles that have lower ground clearance. You can see our bar comes straight out of the back of the weight distribution head. We also have a round bar style. Those are very common too. They do a great job, but those bars are going to come from underneath the head down and then back. You can imagine if you've got a little bit lower ground clearance, we want to keep as much of that as we can. I think on your higher trucks and things like that, the round bar, or trunnion bar will be a good decision. On your lower ground clearance vehicles, I definitely think the trunnion bar is going to be the way to go. This is going to be a basic chain and a cam buckle setup. This style, you're going to see in a lot of your basic weight distribution setups with our chain connection here. These are going to do a great job at distributing weight. Just because it's very budget friendly doesn't mean it doesn't do a good job there. The main differences that we see in pricing is going to be the sway control effect that's built into the weight distribution setup. By design, this is going to have a very light amount of sway control as we head down the road. On our basic systems, we've got a couple solutions that we can add to it to help reduce sway. 1 would be what they call a friction bar. That would attach to a small ball here on the side of the weight distribution head, then it would go back to the side of the tongue on your camper. This acts almost just like a clamp, or a brake pad, squeezing down on your caliper. It's going to help to reduce any movement, helping to keep it nice and straight as we head down the road. The biggest negative aspect to that system is that it's not really good to back up with them when they're engaged. Once you get where you're going, if you have to back up, you're going to get out and you need to take that off of your camper. A slight upgrade to that, if your bar, with your basic setup, has a nice detente back here like we see, you can use the dual cam stabilizers, which will put a cam right under that and, of course, that's going to help to prevent sway. If it moves forward, or back a little bit, it wants to settle right back down in there. We might get a little bit of sway and then we're going to see it settle back in, holding our camper, or trailer nice and straight. These are going to be really good setups for your smaller popup campers, or your Ultralite campers. These are going to work out also really well for your heavy, flatbed construction-style trailers. A lot of times those have a bunch of pin weight on them, or a bunch of tongue weight on them. Those trailers aren't going to sway a whole lot as we head down the road. Your basic system, regardless of how much tongue weight that you have, will be a great system for leveling out our trailer and our truck and keeping everything pointed the right direction. Now we'll move into something that's like a 2 point sway control. 2 point sway control is going to come from where our arms from our weight distribution move over top of the brackets. That's going to create friction. As that friction's generated forward and back, that's going to reduce the sway that we have in our trailer. The weight distribution setups that have the 2 points of sway control, these are going to be ideal for your larger campers, let's say 24 or so foot, or larger. They've got a really large side on them. Things that we're going to encounter while we're on the road can help induce sway. That's something that we want to fight. This is going to help that whether it's an uneven road surface, maybe crosswinds as we're heading down the highway. Those big campers, they act like sails. It's going to start that camper moving side to side, or even as big trucks, 18 wheelers and things like that pass us by, that wind starts hitting that trailer and it can cause it to start swaying. If you've ever seen it going down the highway, it can get pretty scary. If we go a step above that, let's say when we get in those 30-ish foot campers and they really start getting really big. We've got a lot of surface area on the side that catches a lot of wind, or maybe there's a lot of overhang past the back of that rear axle. Once that starts moving, it's hard to get it back under control. This weight distribution setup is what they call a 4 point system. Not only do we have the 2 points that are built in here at the back, the head is designed with what can be, in this case, a ball dtente. It always wants to return back to the center. Sometimes there's friction material that's built into the head that can help to reduce it. Sometimes they even add some friction material here at the rear like a brake pad material that's going to help to give us excellent friction and to keep us heading straight down the road and safely. Another differentiating factor in weight distribution setups is going to be how the head is adjusted. By adjusting the head, our shank, say it remains fixed in our vehicle, the head here can be tilted down toward the ground more. The further that that's tilted down, the more weight distribution effect we get. It's not going to be a major difference here, but if we adjust that head in the front down 1/4 inch, we're going to have a lot of drop here. That's going to put more pressure on our bars when we cinch them up to give us a greater deal of weight distribution effect towards the front. This one uses a set of serrated blocks that are going to lock into our teeth here, holding that head right in the position that we want it. Some systems use a small pin that's located right inside of our shank here. We have to stack washers on it. I'm going to tell you that's not 1 of my favorite systems, but they are effective. Another style of adjustment that's out there is very similar to the one that we just saw. This one's going to use a block that has a pin in the top, or the bottom. We can select the different hole locations for how far down we want those bars to be in the back. Again, the further our bars are down in the back, the more weight distribution effect is transferred from trailer to truck, allowing us to get back to our factory right height settings. If I'm picking a weight distribution system for myself, again, as we said, it's going to depend on what your application is. For my flatbed trailers, my utility trailers, for my smaller campers under 24 feet, I'm going with a basic system as long as I have my trailer loaded, I shouldn't have to worry about a lot of sway. As I get higher, and higher in that length of camper, once I get up to 24 foot, or above, I'm definitely going to go with at least 2 points of sway control. These are a little bit more expensive, but they are going to offer you better ride quality as you travel down the road. It's going to give us a better driving experience. We won't have to worry about our camper all of a sudden going out of control. As those campers get larger and larger and we get up over that 30 foot point, I definitely want to go with the 4 points of sway control. Again, more expensive, but it's safer. It's going to provide us with a better experience when we're traveling down the road. We're not going to have to worry about that side to side movement nearly as much. We hope this video is helpful in A, helping you select the right weight range for your weight distribution setup, and also deciding on the features that are going to be important for you in helping you travel safely.

Questions and Comments about this Video

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Luigi Serio 03/28/2019

This was an incredibly helpful, informative video, and I thank you for making it and sharing your expertise with us non-experts! 51125

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