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malibu43
09-09-2021, 05:43 PM
Hello everyone.

We just bought our first travel trailer, a Keystone Passport 219BHWE. We've only got one short trip under our belt and are heading to another near by campground this weekend to get our second trip in.

I'm towing with a 2021 Silverado 1500 and Husky WDH. The RV dealer installed and set up the hitch for us. I noticed last weekend that the trailer was nose-diving quite a bit when we were driving to the campground. I looked through the set up instructions for the hitch and was checking how mine was set up. The instructions call for the ball to be 1" higher than the trailer couple height (truck unloaded and trailer level). My hitch is set up so that the ball is about 22" off the ground and it looked much lower than the coupler height.

I just check my coupler height two different ways - leveling the trailer with the ground and measuring the coupler, and also measuring to the bottom of the frame between the wheels and adding in the height of the tongue (bottom of the tongue is flush with the frame and coupler is even with the top of the tongue). Both ways I get about 27.5" for the coupler height.

Does this sound correct? Looking online, most travel trailer couplers seem to be between 22" - 25". If mine is at 27.5 inches, then my hitch needs to come up 5-6"!

Just looking for a sanity check here since the measurement I got is so much higher than what a google search showed was a common coupler height (although not necessarily for my specific trailer...), and because it also means the dealer was way off on their installation.

Thanks!

flybouy
09-09-2021, 06:05 PM
Not sure what you mean by "diving". I wouldn't be concerned with "average heights" as much as ensuring its set up to your hitch instruction. The dealer may or may not have set it up correctly hut here's the thing. Even if thry set it up correctly it was with "an empty" trailer. Once you load it up it greatly alter the tongue weight and require some adjusting. I'd suggest finding a nice level lot somewhere, a church lot, closed store, extc. Take the instructions and gobover it from step 1. Take your time, write down the numbers and go from there.

chuckster57
09-09-2021, 06:06 PM
Welcome to the forum :wlcm:

I have always leveled the trailer to the ground and then measured to the top of the coupler. I usually use 2 higher for the ball and tilted BACK 10-15 degrees.

sourdough
09-09-2021, 06:38 PM
Welcome to the forum first off.

Don't know what your dealer did to set you up but sounds off. Level the trailer (measure front and rear to ground on level ground). Measure to the coupler and then set your ball about 2" higher.

You don't say what your tow vehicle is but it sounds LOW. If so you very well may need an extended shank but unlike mine that has to go down because the truck sits high, you may have to flip it to get the height. What IS your tow vehicle?

malibu43
09-09-2021, 07:50 PM
Welcome to the forum first off.

Don't know what your dealer did to set you up but sounds off. Level the trailer (measure front and rear to ground on level ground). Measure to the coupler and then set your ball about 2" higher.

You don't say what your tow vehicle is but it sounds LOW. If so you very well may need an extended shank but unlike mine that has to go down because the truck sits high, you may have to flip it to get the height. What IS your tow vehicle?

Its a 2021 Silverado 1500 z71 with stock suspension. Not too high, but certainly not low either.

The hitch being at least 1" higher than the coupler is what my instructions say. I was just surprised that the coupler on my trailer is so high and that the dealer was off by so much.

sourdough
09-10-2021, 05:27 AM
First, the dealer being off doesn't surprise me at all. Bought a brand new trailer and they took my truck so the "hitch tech" could get it all set up with a new Equalizer. Came and got me when it was done (didn't look too bad) and I headed the 60 miles to home. When I got there to unhitch found the "hitch tech" had forgotten to tighten the nut on the hitch ball.....3 threads and it would have fallen off; I sure wondered why that hitch/ball was clanking and banging so much. Drove straight back 60 miles and made them reset everything with a new ball.

I looked a picture of your trailer and it does seem to sit pretty high. Of course not seeing it in real life it might not be as high as the pic shows but that may be the reason for your problem.

I would just go with setting the travel level front to back, measure the coupler and set the ball a couple of inches higher. I don't know what kind of hitch or shank you have but many can just be flipped if you need additional height. THEN after everything is all set up right take it back to whoever set it up and show them what it looks right done right! :D

malibu43
09-10-2021, 06:55 AM
First, the dealer being off doesn't surprise me at all. Bought a brand new trailer and they took my truck so the "hitch tech" could get it all set up with a new Equalizer. Came and got me when it was done (didn't look too bad) and I headed the 60 miles to home. When I got there to unhitch found the "hitch tech" had forgotten to tighten the nut on the hitch ball.....3 threads and it would have fallen off; I sure wondered why that hitch/ball was clanking and banging so much. Drove straight back 60 miles and made them reset everything with a new ball.

I looked a picture of your trailer and it does seem to sit pretty high. Of course not seeing it in real life it might not be as high as the pic shows but that may be the reason for your problem.

I would just go with setting the travel level front to back, measure the coupler and set the ball a couple of inches higher. I don't know what kind of hitch or shank you have but many can just be flipped if you need additional height. THEN after everything is all set up right take it back to whoever set it up and show them what it looks right done right! :D

Thanks. I have already let the dealer know that I want to bring the truck by and have them reset the hitch height. Luckily they are only a few miles away. I'm going to take the truck only and am just going to tell them how high I want the ball, which is why I wanted to double check myself here first. It's on a reversible shank so there should be plenty of adjustment available.

I need to get the right sockets and a long enough breaker bar so I can adjust it myself moving forward. I would have done that already, but I watched the tech torque down the bolts with a very high torque impact driver, and I doubt I could break them loose with what I have.

In the meantime we're building up quite a list of items for our first service appointment... :D

Thanks for the input and the warm welcome!

MarkEHansen
09-10-2021, 07:20 AM
Not a breaker bar. You need a torque wrench - and one with sufficient capacity to torque your values. Optionally, you can just have it done at a shop which has the correct size torque wrench - just make sure they torque the values correctly.

I got a "Husky 50-250 Torque Wrench" from Home Depot for most of the hitch stuff and a "Performance Tool 200-600 ftlb Torque Wrench M204" from Northern Tool for hitch balls.

The Home Depot wrench was only about $80, but the big wrench was almost $300 (it would be cheaper to just go to a shop if you need a hitch ball torqued :) )

malibu43
09-10-2021, 08:00 AM
Not a breaker bar. You need a torque wrench - and one with sufficient capacity to torque your values. Optionally, you can just have it done at a shop which has the correct size torque wrench - just make sure they torque the values correctly.

I got a "Husky 50-250 Torque Wrench" from Home Depot for most of the hitch stuff and a "Performance Tool 200-600 ftlb Torque Wrench M204" from Northern Tool for hitch balls.

The Home Depot wrench was only about $80, but the big wrench was almost $300 (it would be cheaper to just go to a shop if you need a hitch ball torqued :) )

Thanks. I talked to some friends who said they just use the biggest breaker bar they can find to make their own adjustments, but the instructions for the hitch do say 350 ft-lbs. Hopefully no more adjustments are needed after this one for while, and I can just let the RV dealer do it with their tools.

MarkEHansen
09-10-2021, 08:07 AM
Well, I let the RV dealer set up my hitch with their tools and they didn't torque anything. I found out while on the road and the clamps on my trailers frame started walking along the frame :(

Trust but verify.

sourdough
09-10-2021, 08:12 AM
Thanks. I talked to some friends who said they just use the biggest breaker bar they can find to make their own adjustments, but the instructions for the hitch do say 350 ft-lbs. Hopefully no more adjustments are needed after this one for while, and I can just let the RV dealer do it with their tools.

I don't know all the adjustments, torqueing required for your hitch but a good 1/2" torque wrench good to 150 lbs. should be in your tool box "just because". Whether it's wheel lug nuts, hitch nuts, engine nuts/bolts or anything else they are just an essential tool IMO.

When I had my bumper pull the hitch ball called for 350 ft.lbs. as well if I recall. I bought a very large torque wrench to take care of it. Took it to the tire shop a friend owns and they had a young man "torque" it to that value on a vise mounted to a 1/4" plate steel table bolted into the concrete. He finally made it click pushing on the torque wrench handle and his feet against the wall. After that I would check the nut but it NEVER came loose. Just fyi.

JRTJH
09-10-2021, 08:24 AM
This is the way I "torque a hitch ball".... I'll first preface with the statement that it's not an SAE approved procedure and it likely would never stand up in any engineering class as an "approved method" for torqueing, but it's worked for well over 50 years without any failures..... So:

Put your hitch in the truck receiver so the ball is pointing to the side and oriented so that "pulling up on the wrench is tightening the nut". Use some means of tightening the ball as tight as you can get it with the tools. Then put a 4' or 5' pipe over the wrench/breaker bar and pull with as much strength as you can get so the hitch ball nut is as tight as possible.

THEN: get your handy "burnbox welder" and tack the bottom of the nut on the threads in 3 or 4 "spot welds".

REALIZE: If you ever need to remove that ball, you'll first need to grind off the "spot welds".

Also realize: As long as the spot welds are intact, the ball "ain't gettin' looser".....

As I said, it's not a "SAE approved process" and it "won't pass muster in any engineering course" but......

NOTE: I've got a RIDGID heavy duty 18 volt impact wrench that will loosen even the tightest over torqued lug nuts... I've tried using it to tighten the hitch ball nuts. My "unapproved process" will still get that nut just a tad bit tighter than the impact wrench.... When you "boil it down to brass tacks", we're (none of us) not going to be able to "twist off or over torque a 1" ball shank with hand tools", so (IMHO) there's no danger of over torqueing the ball....

MarkEHansen
09-10-2021, 08:28 AM
I'm not an engineer (not a mechanical engineer, anyway) but I was always taught that over-torquing something can result in a failure of the fastener (either the bolt or the nut in this case). Because of this, I always try to torque according to the specs.

I certainly didn't do this when I was younger :) I think I've gotten more cautious as I've gotten older.

flybouy
09-10-2021, 11:09 AM
I have always used the very scientific, highly accurate and widely used length of pipe and about 3 extra "UMPHs!" while pushing . Yes, I put the ball shank in sideways with the nut facing the driver's side so I get some use out of my "extra weight" :lol:

Pharphr
09-10-2021, 01:56 PM
I live in the middle of nowhere, so there's not many places I could go to have my ball tightened with a proper torque wrench. So, when it was time for me to set up my Equalizer hitch, I used the bathroom scale to weigh myself. Then I put a length of pipe on my breaker bar, and stood two feet down on the bar. 175 pounds at two feet equals 350 pound feet of torque. I've been using the hitch on two different trailers, without any loosening.

The website: https://www.sensorsone.com/force-and-length-to-torque-calculator/ seems to agree with me.

YMMV but it seems to have worked for me.

Falcon67
09-27-2021, 01:52 PM
I pull a 13,900 lb trailer with an Equalizer. The hitch ball and the bolts on the head are all blasted as tight as can go with a 1/2" air wrench. I have a 600 lb torque wrench if I feel the need, but that setup hasn't had any issue in 4 years of pulling. About 6500 miles on that trailer/hitch.

On the balance - as noted. Trailer has to be in "ready to pull" condition. 1~2" above is a starting point. The main deal is measuring nose rise on a 1/2 ton at the front without load, with full tongue weight no bars, then full tongue weight with bars. Once you get that in spec, THEN if the trailer isn't close to level you can make final ball height adjustments.

Our F-150 5.4L has had a 24' box trailer with about 8000lbs in it - I have upgraded Rancho shocks in the rear and a swaybar. I tend to run closer to 15% tongue weight and load the bars more with an extra washer. 1/2 pickups are just light in the tail end and need a little more help. Run down the road with a DRW and you'll never go back LOL.

I leave the bolts for the Equalizer in a state that a human can undo with a regular 1/2" ratchet, then head over to the high school and check levels, ball height, etc on a pretty decent level parking lot. Back at the house, then go full tight on the bolts.

One thing that has helped me on the big trailer is using the Cat Scale app - I can roll up to a Cat scale at any truck stop, use the app to set up and then get a full front, drive and trailer axle weight reading on the spot. Around $12/weight. If you know the truck weight alone, you can figure the rest.