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"To Equalize or Not to Equalize: That is the Question

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Will be taking possession of our 2018 Elite II just after the first of the year.  We're towing the Ollie with a 2006 Dodge MegaCab diesel 3500 (4x4).

 

Our intentions were to purchase the Andersen Equalizer hitch but at the rally this past summer, the Andersen rep provided "I would love to sell you an equalizer hitch for your truck, but in all honesty, you don't need it."

 

I will be adding some airbags for the springs but those are to allow for the ATV that will sometimes accompany us in the bed of the truck.  I want to make sure the truck remains level regardless of load in the bed and/or the trailer tongue weight.

 

Well I was comfortable with the decision not to purchase the equalizer hitch until this morning when my local RV mechanic and some of my other friends who tow RVs all STRONGLY recommended that I needed the equalizer hitch regardless of what the Andersen rep stated.

 

I'm sure this has been covered ad-nauseum in other posts but I just want to put the question out to the other Oliver owners who have experienced both.

 

Your comments are most welcome.

 

Thanks,


2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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Bottom line, save your money, you do NOT need the Andersen. I think everyone here will agree with that. For a half ton, the answer is you need one. The Elite II is fairly heavy for its size (especially fully specced out and with full tanks) but it tows way WAY better than any of your buddy's stick built trailers. Your truck will know its there, but the trailer is extremely well behaved, with NO sway issues whatsoever. Your (stock) 5.9 Cummins will do fine until you get onto 12% grades above 10,000 feet, then it will start to feel it a little.

 

Airbags are a fine idea, but you won't need them for the Ollie just by itself. Expect a couple of inches of rear sag at the most, depending on the trailer's tongue weight. I towed for a year with a '06 Ram 3500 Cummins Quad Cab 4wd and a dead weight setup, I had no issues whatsoever except for a little coupler noise on really nasty concrete.. The Andersen would have silenced that. You probably need a ball mount "slop stopper" or silencer. I used the U-shaped one that is available at any RV store and it worked great.

 

I used a 2 inch ball with extended 1 inch shank (intended to go through a thick truck bumper) with a regular drop bar with 1 inch hole. I bought ten hardened Grade 8 flat fender washers (large outside diameter, a little over 1/8" thick) at the bolt supply store. The washers are for fine tuning the ride height: add some under the ball flange as needed to raise it, and stack the others underneath to take up the space of the long shank. I have done this for decades with no issues. I actually did not have to raise the ball, but I liked having that option. See pics.

 

https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Ball/Curt/40038.html

 

I don't know which mount you will need, mine was a 2.5 inch rise but I was running 33" tires. If you need help figuring this out, just ask.

 

IMG_2288.thumb.jpg.bc80a714a975dac548a272bd1edc6f2d.jpg

IMG_5304.thumb.jpg.0915cbdf2f325e9f4b0259369a0384be.jpg

 

BTW get some big mud flaps on your truck, if you don't already have a set. Rock Tamers are fine if you don't venture off pavement too often. Make sure they are rigged correctly - with a 30 to 45 degree rear sweep.

 

Did you order the cargo basket? The reason I ask is that without it you can carefully jackknife the trailer a little further and unload your ATV without disconnecting the trailer. If you should hit, it will contact your steel bumper, not the fender. With the basket there you would need to disconnect.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA.


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Jon,   Thanks for the input.  The center of my receiver is 24.5" off of  the ground.

 

Attached is a photo of my truck with ATV on the DiamondBack lid (it's designed for this purpose) and you will note, without an airbag, it squats a little so I am going to correct that.  If you also notice, the rack for the ATV extends about 12" beyond the tailgate which is problematic so I am probably going to swap out the factory receiver with a "SuperHitch - Torque lift" receiver which safely allows me to extend the receiver back 21" (just at the edge of a downed tailgate) while allowing up to 20K towing and 2K tongue weight.  This way, when I decide to take the ATV with us, I'll just slip in the longer receiver.  Otherwise, I'll just slip in the standard short one.  Here is the link: https://www.torklift.com/rv/superhitch/superhitch-original#appguide.

 

If you see any issues with my thinking: please advise.  I'm pretty thick skinned, so feel free to dope slap if needed.  ThanksDodge-ATV.thumb.jpg.a0562e5890afd1d77e9ac344d843dcba.jpg


2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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I think your idea is problematic. Yes, you can extend your ball out past the open tailgate, but doing so greatly reduces its rating due to the extra leverage. Here is an article, this is a common problem when a guy puts an extended truck camper in the bed and also wants to tow a small boat. I am not aware of any setup that is safe for a 7000 lb trailer without using an equalizing hitch. Even then, it is going to be a major PITA. It will certainly be a knee knocker when the trailer is disconnected, and a real hazard to passing cars in a parking lot.

 

https://www.etrailer.com/question-192372.html

 

My recommendation is to see if Oliver can extend the tongue of the trailer 12 inches. That will cure your clearance worries and also LIGHTEN the tongue weight. This ideally should have been done when they welded up the frame. I don’t know if it is practical to do it afterwards. Give them a call to see what they say....

 

If that won’t happen, then I have to say you definitely need an Anderson when using that really long extension. When the ATV platform is not there, you will be fine with the short deadweight hitch.

 

I have never tried towing with a long stinger, but I have experience with intermediate length ones (about 12-14 inches) and they definitely affect how much the trailer moves around. The “tail wagging the dog” effect becomes much more pronounced. If you had an extended tongue and a foot long stinger, the trailer would remain very well behaved.

 

Call Hohenwald tomorrow and see what they have to say.

 

BTW what is the weight of your ATV, gas and gear? 750 pounds? Weight of the  platform? Your payload is about 2500 pounds so you need to make sure you are not going to be overloaded with a heavy hitch setup plus about 600 - 700 pounds of tongue weight. These Gen 3 Rams are not particularly good load carriers compared to the newer ones.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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[attachment file=1. SUPERTRUSS EXTENSION.jpg]

 

John;  All good points to ponder but I have previously investigated the extended hitch and you're right, as the hitch goes out, the tongue weight allowed goes go down dramatically.  The SuperHitch however has taken this into account and provided the additional construction and engineering to specially account for this scenario.  If you read the data available from the linked website, you can see how they did this.  They in fact use a chain system similar to the Andersen equalizer as well as using a second 2" receiver, one on top of the other.  That is why they rate the system at 2K tongue weight and 17K-20K pull weight.  It's an interesting system that was suggested to me by a very reputable off-road fabrication shop that specializes in unique towing issues.  Superhitch in fact, has systems that extend out to well over 4' that are engineered to handle 30K lbs..  The one I'm looking at is the shortest one they make.

 

Now, you're point about total weight on the rear of the truck is valid and I'll look into that.

 

You are correct about the extension being a knee knocker so when disconnected from the trailer, I would simply remove the extension and put in the rear of the truck or otherwise, drop the tailgate which covers the extension.   When I'm not hauling the ATV, the standard hitch goes in vice the 21" version.

 

As far as having Oliver extend the frame, I think we're too far down the road for that one.  The trailer has been in productions since mid-Oct.

 

Interesting discussion and I'm open to other suggestions or concerns.

 

Thanks again.

 

Here is a link to a picture of the SuperHitch set up with the extension in place  https://www.torklift.com/automotive/supertruss

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.-SUPERTRUSS-EXTENSION.jpg.772c553c470ca7fde2e20054357fea5c.jpg

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2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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Update provided in note above.

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2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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I wouldn't buy anything until I had the trailer connected and the lid installed and measured it all out. Looking at Johns picture of his attached, that lid will be right about at the height of the top of the propane housing and if it only extends 12" past the tailgate you would need to be in a serious turn situation to contact it. Just my opinion

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Randy


One Life Live It Enjoyably


2017 F350 6.7L SRW CC LB


2015 Oliver Elite II Hull #69

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Randy,  Thanks for the input.

 

Maybe I wasn't clear in my description above.  The ATV rack extends about 12" past the tailgate (in the closed/up position).  The extended hitch puts the receiver 21" past the bumper which equates to the distance covered when the tailgate is in the open or down position.

 

In effect, the back of the truck is now 21" further back or at the point where the tailgate is open.  At that point, the ATV rack is actually about 10" shorter than the tailgate.  I see no way that anything on the tongue of the trailer is in jeopardy of getting hit by either the ATV rack or the tailgate (if it was down).

 

Am I missing  something here?

 

 


2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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I think Randy’s point is that if the rack sits higher than the propane housing, then a standard hitch setup should work fine. No need for an extension. Looking at the photo, I’d agree and in fact even wonder if you need an extension regardless.

 

As for a WD hitch, if you’ve got airbags, it wouldn’t be needed.


Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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OK, now I see his point.  You and he might be right.  Nice catch.

 

In fact, it would be awhile before we did the ATV and trailer combo thing and we could do some further evaluation after we have the trailer hooked up.  Initial trips will be sans the ATV.

 

Thanks for the input.

 

 

 

Hobo


2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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John, what is the weight of the entire Supertruss system? All that mass has to be considered part of the truck payload. An Andersen is under 60 lbs.

 

I have to admit that it looks very capable and rigid when the chains are tensioned.  It will seriously affect the departure angle of the truck. I am not sure what will happen when you go into a severe dip and jam it hard into the road surface.... it could use a massive roller at the low point. I agree that you should do some in person testing and careful maneuvering before doing such a radical alteration.

 

https://www.etrailer.com/tv-review-torklift-super-truss-hitch-extender-tle1532.

 

They indcate a max deadweight of 6500/ 650 pounds, so it would be overweight with a heavily loaded Oliver II, but adequate with a more normal load. I really think it should be used with an Anderson to provide a better safety factor.

 

If you can post a detailed pic of your rack it would help. Is it a one piece welded assembly or bolted together pieces? If the latter,  could it be raised up in the back for additional vertical clearance?

 

As a final note, how do you get to stuff in your bed? Sliding drawer?

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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I agree with Randy and Overland, I wouldn't buy anything unless you're sure it can be returned. I tow with an f150 with a ladder rack with 2 kayaks on top, they extend at least 2 feet past the rear of the truck and don't come close to the trl.

 

As far as weight distribution, I would hold off on that too, as long as you don't exceed the rear axle weight rating the oliver will pull fine without it. If you go over the axle rating, too much weight is removed from the front and your steer axle will be too light, hence the need for weight distribution.

 

Air bags will level out the truck but they don't redistribute weight, I use them on my truck.

 

Steve

 

 

 

 

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STEVEnBETTY

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I agree with Randy and Overland, I wouldn’t buy anything unless you’re sure it can be returned. I tow with an f150 with a ladder rack with 2 kayaks on top, they extend at least 2 feet past the rear of the truck and don’t come close to the trl.

 

As far as weight distribution, I would hold off on that too, as long as you don’t exceed the rear axle weight rating the oliver will pull fine without it. If you go over the axle rating, too much weight is removed from the front and your steer axle will be too light, hence the need for weight distribution.

 

Air bags will level out the truck but they don’t redistribute weight, I use them on my truck.

 

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Steve.  Just wondering which air bags do you use?  I'm pretty sure I'm going with the Air Lift brand but also see good things about the Firestone.


2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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Bottom line, save your money, you do NOT need the Andersen. I think everyone here will agree with that. For a half ton, the answer is you need one. The Elite II is fairly heavy for its size (especially fully specced out and with full tanks) but it tows way WAY better than any of your buddy’s stick built trailers. Your truck will know its there, but the trailer is extremely well behaved, with NO sway issues whatsoever. Your (stock) 5.9 Cummins will do fine until you get onto 12% grades above 10,000 feet, then it will start to feel it a little.

 

Airbags are a fine idea, but you won’t need them for the Ollie just by itself. Expect a couple of inches of rear sag at the most, depending on the trailer’s tongue weight. I towed for a year with a ’06 Ram 3500 Cummins Quad Cab 4wd and a dead weight setup, I had no issues whatsoever except for a little coupler noise on really nasty concrete.. The Andersen would have silenced that. You probably need a ball mount “slop stopper” or silencer. I used the U-shaped one that is available at any RV store and it worked great.

 

I used a 2 inch ball with extended 1 inch shank (intended to go through a thick truck bumper) with a regular drop bar with 1 inch hole. I bought ten hardened Grade 8 flat fender washers (large outside diameter, a little over 1/8″ thick) at the bolt supply store. The washers are for fine tuning the ride height: add some under the ball flange as needed to raise it, and stack the others underneath to take up the space of the long shank. I have done this for decades with no issues. I actually did not have to raise the ball, but I liked having that option. See pics.

 

https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Ball/Curt/40038.html

 

I don’t know which mount you will need, mine was a 2.5 inch rise but I was running 33″ tires. If you need help figuring this out, just ask.

 

IMG_2288.jpg

 

IMG_5304.jpg

 

BTW get some big mud flaps on your truck, if you don’t already have a set. Rock Tamers are fine if you don’t venture off pavement too often. Make sure they are rigged correctly – with a 30 to 45 degree rear sweep.

 

Did you order the cargo basket? The reason I ask is that without it you can carefully jackknife the trailer a little further and unload your ATV without disconnecting the trailer. If you should hit, it will contact your steel bumper, not the fender. With the basket there you would need to disconnect.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA.

 

John, can you (or anyone else) tell me the height off the ground that the top of my ball needs to be in order for the trailer to be level?  Or maybe a cleaner way is to tell me how high off the ground is the top of your hitch when the trailer is level?  Thanks.


2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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Oliver specs the coupler height of a level Elite II to be 23.5 inches. If your truck is fully laden and you then add the expected tongue weight, that is where the top of your ball should sit. That is with a dead weight setup.

 

With an equalizing hitch, when tensioned you can expect the ball to lift back up “most” of the way to the initial point, but this is not set in stone. It depends on the adjustments on the trailer.... if you do have an Andersen, you should set up the hitch to your satisfaction, then use the airbags to fine tune the truck and trailer. Then maybe tweak the nuts again since raising the truck will lower chain tension. ... . It is a balancing act and takes some experimenting. When you are happy with the alignment and towing feel, measure the amount of the adjuster shaft sticking out past the nut, so you can quickly set them right the next time. Getting the trailer and truck both dead level (or the truck slightly high in back) looks best but may not be possible. It can also be very frustrating, which is why I like a dead weight setup if it is possible.

 

Your airbags can do minor adjustments to raise it, but extra air essentially stiffens the rear spring rate, so be wary of inflating them to the max or it may ride very harshly on choppy or potholed forest roads.

 

On my Land Cruiser with Firestone bags I can feel the ride difference when changing the pressure by 3 psi. 10 psi or more is very dramatic. Max rated pressure  is 30 psi. I run 4 psi empty and either 10 or 12 psi towing depending on the tongue load in the cargo basket. But this has soft springs so it is probably less noticeable with a HD truck. I do strongly suggest an onboard pump with remote control. You probably will want to be able to rapidly adjust pressure when connecting and disconnecting the trailer. I use a mountain bike hand pump. It takes a few of minutes to air up, maybe 25 strokes each, but just a minute to air down.

 

Was that too much info? If so I apologise, I do run off at the mouh.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Initially don't over think this.  Prior to delivery simply get your hitch ball height to between 23 and 24 inches on level ground.  At delivery your Andersen will be set up for you with (probably) 6 threads showing beyond the nut (which is to the rear of the red bushings).  Then after delivery you can use John's guide above for tuning it to your liking.

 

Bill


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Has anyone done any mods to the Andersen hitch to make it just a sway control type hitch but NO weight distribution function?  Some way of arranging the chains and attachment points to still utilize the friction cone/tapered ball mount drag to dampen sway, but no WD.    As mentioned, the WD function can cause some issues with frame/hitch stress with large dips in the road, driveway approach and departure angles, etc.  I’ve seen some of the other friction bar sway control accessories available but just curious if the Andersen can be configured that way.


2019 Elite II - Hull #461

 

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F-250 & 2019 Nissan Armada 

 

States Visited.jpg

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Has anyone done any mods to the Andersen hitch to make it just a sway control type hitch but NO weight distribution function? Some way of arranging the chains and attachment points to still utilize the friction cone/tapered ball mount drag to dampen sway, but no WD. As mentioned, the WD function can cause some issues with frame/hitch stress with large dips in the road, driveway approach and departure angles, etc. I’ve seen some of the other friction bar sway control accessories available but just curious if the Andersen can be configured that way.

 

The amount of sway control entirely on the weight bearing down on the friction cone. There is no reason you could not lightly tension the nuts, say one thread past removing the slack and contact with the bushings. That would give you some sway control with minimal load on the parts.

 

OTH all the Ollies tow beautifully with a dead weight hitch and no sway control. Why would you want to go with a more expensive and WAY more complicated setup for no real benefit? The only reasons to use the Andersen with an Ollie Elite II is to lighten the tongue load (transfer some weight to the front of the tow vehicle) and secondarily to control jounce on choppy roads. You either need it for that purpose, or you just leave it off entirely.

 

If your TV is borderline, like a long wheelbase light duty pickup, you can run the Andersen fairly conservatively. As long as the rig seems stable you don't have to really crank the nuts down super tight. That gives a little more range of motion. It really does not like offload however - getting the trailer all twisted in relation to the TV is very bad. I loosen my nuts entirely if I have to venture into a rough field, for example.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Thanks for the input John.    I’ve been going back and forth (a sway pun) on the need for the Andersen hitch with my TV.  The Ford Expedition that I’ll be using has the factory heavy duty tow package with the  electronic sway control built in, utilizing individual wheel braking to control sway.  Some people have advised still having the Andersen hitch as well as a belt and suspenders approach to make sure that there is never a sway issue.   I still have almost 6 months to decide till I pick up my Elite II in May so I’ll be researching it a bit more.


2019 Elite II - Hull #461

 

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F-250 & 2019 Nissan Armada 

 

States Visited.jpg

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FrankC - Do you know what the tongue weight limit is for your Ford?  My F-150 has a limit of 500 pounds (without a WD hitch) even though it can tow 12,000 pounds, and I'd be a bit surprised if yours wasn't the same with regards to the hitch weight.  I also have the electronic anti-sway on the truck and leave it on even when towing with the Andersen.

 

Bill


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Bill,

 

My spec sheet for the Expedition EL says that without a WD hitch, it’s 6,000 pounds max trailer towing capacity with a max tongue weight of 600 pounds.  With a WD hitch it’s 9,200 and 920 respectively.  Here’s a pic of the Ford site.  The Expedition (6,000/600) is slightly higher than the F-150 (5,000/500) without a WD hitch.  With a WD hitch the F-150 is higher (12,500/1,250).

ADFC6910-7EED-4965-AC73-DEE7213FFCE0.thumb.jpeg.55b0a233c3b98746405a5cdfc992c701.jpeg


2019 Elite II - Hull #461

 

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F-250 & 2019 Nissan Armada 

 

States Visited.jpg

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FrankC -

 

Assuming that we are talking about an Elite II then, in my opinion, you don't have much of a choice.  Off the factory floor an Elite II - full propane tanks but all tanks are empty is going to weigh in right near 5,000 pounds = or - a few pounds.  Unless you plan on keeping yours this way, I believe that you will soon get it very close to that 600 pound number (assuming a 10% hitch weight versus total weight).  And, if you are at all like ScubaRx you will be much closer to 700 pounds.  Either way, not enough room for error in my book.  If for no other reason (and I do believe that there are other reasons) I'd use the Andersen.

 

Bill


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Thanks to all for the info.  I think I’ll go the safe route and get the Andersen hitch.


2019 Elite II - Hull #461

 

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F-250 & 2019 Nissan Armada 

 

States Visited.jpg

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Initially don’t over think this. Prior to delivery simply get your hitch ball height to between 23 and 24 inches on level ground. At delivery your Andersen will be set up for you with (probably) 6 threads showing beyond the nut (which is to the rear of the red bushings). Then after delivery you can use John’s guide above for tuning it to your liking.

 

Bill

 

It's been a long thread but to get back to basics, I won't be using an equalizer based on the recommendations early on in this discussion and based on the recommendation by the Anderson rep at the rally last year.  (One ton Dodge diesel truck). Based on that, I think John's note above and your suggested height will suffice for my purposes.  I will arrive with my hitch set up at 23.5" and then let my airbags level out the trailer and truck which should be minor.  If after using it and tweaking ride height for a while,  I  find any handling issues, I can always move to the equalizer.  Thanks again to all.  This is a great forum.

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2018 Elite II, Hull #414 (the very last 2018 produced).  Trailer name "2 HOBOS" .   2006 Dodge 3500 Megacab, 4x4 with 5.9L Cummins diesel.

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