B.T. Policy On W. D. Hitches

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 24, 2004 at 21:05
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POLICY ON WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION HITCHES

On the issue of safety in towing, the weight distributing hitches are onlyone part of the package, and should not necessarily be the primary focus, as there are sometimes deeper more serious issues to be dealt with.
The weight distribution hitch is not the answer to problems such as a poor stock suspension or improperly loaded caravan that has to much ball-weight or even more dangerous- To little towball weight.
Often the weight distribution hitch is touted as the cure all, but is just a panacea for the roblem of a poorly equipped tow vehicle or improperly loaded caravan.

For the tow vehicle, we would recommend a proper graduated heavy suspension spring system.
They are graduated for a nice ride empty (a bit firm like a sports car), but they get down on a heavier part of the spring when loaded. >From ARB it is called "Heavy Progressive".
The problem is really that the vehicles have too light of a suspension when new.
That is OK for the city use, and necessary as ladies would not like the ride with a heavier suspension when not loaded with gear, so they would not sell in their unloaded empty new vehicle state, just off the ship.
Those who travel much, immediately put on gear such as tow bars, bull bars, long range tanks, dual battery systems, snorkels, roof racks, air compressors, fridges in the back,
tool kits, and more; and then the stock original suspension is woefully inadequate let alone safely carrying a van on the back as well.
What we are really talking about is the high speed traffic hazard avoidance ability on the highway... You want that firm upright control, not the wallow like a pig with a backpack on.. You can accomplish that best with the proper suspension
upgrade, or help the bad situation of a mushy suspension with the Load Leveler system to try and make up the difference.. But we recommend the former as the first priority.

On the caravan, the ADR policy is 5% to 10% on the tow ball .... The vans have to be loaded properly, not out on the fore and aft polar ends, but as much over the suspension as possible.
To much weight out on the polar ends will cause fore and aft rocking that can damage the van and vehicle on a bad
track. It can also cause the killer of caravans: sway.
The van must also be loaded for the proper percentage on the towball, to light and it is prone to sway; to heavy and it overloads the tow vehicle and lightens the steering by lifting the weight off the front end of the tow vehicle..
Now for some tow vehicles the weight distribution hitch is a mandated necessity. But it is not to correct an improperly loaded van that is to heavy on the front end, and it is worth little on the van that is loaded so as to be to light on the hitch, which is even a more dangerous situation.
If the van is too light on the front, the higher percentage of weight on the back of the van contributes to the sway potential of "the tail wagging the dog".
This sway action can build on itself with what is call in engineering language:"Harmonic Motion" -Where the movement builds on itself with disastrous effects, bouncing off the springing action of the suspension or moving in harmony with bumps on the road, to build increasing motion.
This dangerous condition of "harmonic motion" can build to the point of getting totally out of control even to the point of turning a van over.
The Owner must isure that the van is loaded properly within those guidelines.
And then assess if the weight distribution hitch is necessary, after correcting the problems that it is supposed to cure.
With larger vans and smaller tow vehicles it is advised, but the first two conditions in our view are to be corrected first.
You should not have a false sense of security that the weight distribution hitch is going to cure all ills, while disregarding the
tow vehicle suspension and proper loading of the van... Those priorities come first.

Off road the weight distribution hitch is of reduced value.
In fact they only work on the flat. The bars will bend if you try and go over a jump-up, or raised cattle grate; or down into a wash-out on a dirt track.
There is an off-road version in preliminary development, but it has to be proven not to be to heavy or bulky, contributing to the weight problem.
We await further testing on that in the future. So in summary, weight distribution hitches are nice, but not a cure all or necessarily a necessity if you fix the problems correctly in the first place...

Any ways Bob, thank you for your positive and intelligent feedback, you are appreciated.

Best Regards, stg at Bushtracker



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