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Weight Distribution Hitches

Discussion in 'Tow Rig Forum' started by traveler, March 2, 2018.

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    1. traveler

      traveler Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      March 14, 2005
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      Mesa AZ
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      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2000 EB Explorer 5.0
      I've been looking through the tow rig forum and I realized that though many many threads mention Weight distribution hitches and even recommend them, not one of them goes into what they are, or how they work. Though I do not claim to be an expert on the subject I am aware of the concept of what makes them work. I'm also aware that anyone can look it up on Google (as i did). But this is the tow rig forum, there should be a place to go for simple questions like this. As I'm retired, and have the time, I decided to do the work for you busy busy working people and post it right here, easy to find and read. So enough explanations... on to the answers

      1) What is a Weight Distributing Hitch?

      In simple terms, a WDH is just what the name says. Its a hitch that redistributes the tongue weight. With a regular hitch the tongue weight presses down on the hitch, causing the rear axle to become a fulcrum, raising the front of the tow vehicle (and reducing weight on the front axle). A WDH uses leverage to your advantage and more evenly distributes the weight between the front and rear axles.


      2) How does it work? (yea, yea, copied from "how stuff works")

      Most trailer hitches feature a 2-inch receiver (1) and the weight distribution system can be inserted directly into that. The first part you'll install is called a shank (2). These usually plug into the receiver and can be turned in an upward or downward direction, due to the fact that when both vehicles are level, one is often lower or higher than the other. A head assembly (3) is mounted onto the shank, and it provides both the platform for the hitch ball and the spring bars.

      In most systems, the setup basically works like this. Spring bars (4) run from the head assembly to a pair of chains (5). These chains hang down below the trailer from a set of brackets and attach to them in a way that creates tension along the spring bars. As the tongue weight pushes the bars down, the chains pull the bars up. In order to straighten out to their natural positions, the spring bars push up on the head assembly, distributing the weight among the axles.


      3) Types of WDH

      There are really only a few variations of WDH, as they all work pretty much the same way. There are types that have additional Sway Control (though the fact that the weight distribution itself helps prevent sway) the photo above with the blue trailer tongue shows one with the additional sway control. The one below that has no additional sway control
      And there are two common basic styles of Spring bars: round or trunnion. Round bars (bottom photo) usually offer a little more clearance space for hooking up the trailer, but trunnion bars (top photo) can increase the system's weight rating. The advantages presented by either round or trunnion bars vary from setup to setup, so it's good to consult with someone who has experience while you're trying to decide. (or good ol' Google!)
      There are also those that have brackets rather than chains attaching the spring bars to the trailer, but that is basically a difference in design more so than function.

      For more detailed info you can always go where I went and read more indepth.
      How Towing Weight Distribution Systems Work

      Common Weight Distribution and Sway Control Questions | etrailer.com
      Last edited: March 2, 2018
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