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Old 08-09-2019, 07:27 PM   #1
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Weight Bearing Hitch; Lesson Learned and a Question

Just got back from our first real trip with our 17B. We have a WBH, which I have never used before. Decided to try an experiment and leave the torsion bars off, but it pitched badly, so put them on.

One thing learned: The torsion bars on the hitch make a real difference in dips in the road. We hit what I thought was a reasonable dip and heard a terrible clatter. Upon checking I found one torsion bar had impacted the road and bent the retaining clip, which failed and allowed the chain to detach. No damage of consequence, but lesson learned. Go through dips very slowly. I had never realized the torsion bars extend back at the same angle as the hitch, so they are much closer to the bottom of a dip.

Question: Had I not been able to reattach the torsion bar can one travel with only one attached? It seems it would result in only 1/2 the weight transfer, but that should be the only effect. (We do not use any anti-sway).
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:34 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by marant View Post
Just got back from our first real trip with our 17B. We have a WBH, which I have never used before. Decided to try an experiment and leave the torsion bars off, but it pitched badly, so put them on.

One thing learned: The torsion bars on the hitch make a real difference in dips in the road. We hit what I thought was a reasonable dip and heard a terrible clatter. Upon checking I found one torsion bar had impacted the road and bent the retaining clip, which failed and allowed the chain to detach. No damage of consequence, but lesson learned. Go through dips very slowly. I had never realized the torsion bars extend back at the same angle as the hitch, so they are much closer to the bottom of a dip.

Question: Had I not been able to reattach the torsion bar can one travel with only one attached? It seems it would result in only 1/2 the weight transfer, but that should be the only effect. (We do not use any anti-sway).
My immediate thought after reading this is the torsion bars are not tight enough. Other words the chains are too loose. When I had my Casita, I went through all sorts of bumps and dips and never had the torsion bars come loose. Another explanation would be the bar or bars hit the road, but you did not state if they did.

Also, as an FYI the acronym is WDH for Weight Distribution Hitch.
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:40 PM   #3
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Was not sure about the acronym so spelled it out... Next time.

I am sure the bar hit the street. The chains were as tight as I could get them when I hitched up and we had not had the problem on the delivery trip from MO.
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Old 08-09-2019, 08:09 PM   #4
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Too tight of an adjustment can be dangerous. Did you set up this hitch or a pro?
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:32 PM   #5
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That's what I was wondering.

One obvious item is the "tilt adjustment". Put too much angle on it and the rear of the bars are closer to the road surface than they should be.

Trust me, I've hit things that could be called much worse than a dip in the road without incident. Properly adjusted they shouldn't be a problem in the future.

And no, manufacturers specifically say not to use only one bar.

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Old 08-09-2019, 11:13 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
That's what I was wondering.

One obvious item is the "tilt adjustment". Put too much angle on it and the rear of the bars are closer to the road surface than they should be.

Trust me, I've hit things that could be called much worse than a dip in the road without incident. Properly adjusted they shouldn't be a problem in the future.

And no, manufacturers specifically say not to use only one bar.

Ron
Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't the torsion bars be set up so that they are parallel to the trailer frame?
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:22 PM   #7
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One more terminology tip: these hitches do not have torsion bars, which would be spring bars which are twisted to load them. Torsion bars do exist (such as in some suspension designs) but these spring bars are bent (not twisted); just call them spring bars (or just bars).
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:23 PM   #8
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Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't the torsion bars be set up so that they are parallel to the trailer frame?
Roughly, yes (in most WDH designs) but being horizontal is less important than applying the right force. They will stay at about the same angle relative to the frame, not relative to the hitch head.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:35 PM   #9
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Question: Had I not been able to reattach the torsion bar can one travel with only one attached? It seems it would result in only 1/2 the weight transfer, but that should be the only effect. (We do not use any anti-sway).
No, half the load transfer is not the only effect.

Those spring bars apply a huge amount of force (several hundred pounds between them in a typical light trailer setup), and applying it on only one side is hard on the trailer frame. It will also twist the tow vehicle and trailer in opposite directions (around the longitudinal axis).

Also, with the chain-type WD hitches, when the rig turns the chains pull forward on the outside of the turn and rearward on the inside; with only one bar and chain, the effect will not be balanced and may affect handling.

There was a single-bar WDH in production, but it mounted the bar nearly centrally, minimizing these issues.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:59 PM   #10
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There was a single-bar WDH in production, but it mounted the bar nearly centrally, minimizing these issues.
We had a single-bar WDH system on one of our previous trailers. To use this system the trailer needs to have a GVWR of 4000# or less. And yes, the bar was positioned straight down the middle of the frame. We liked it - very simple and effective, 1/2 the effort of a 2 bar system.
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