Equalization and an electrical issue

I was going to mention this topic in the previous post but I thought it warranted a separate one. I don’t tow with a Hensley or ProPride hitch. I have always used, as my father did, a standard load equalizing hitch. The concept of these hitches is that they essentially pull the hitch assembly back up to try to ‘equalize’ the weight over both axles on the tow vehicle. Without this all of the trailer tongue weight would go right on the hitch. This may not be so bad for a small trailer but ours is not small.

When we first got our trailer the Equal-i-zer hitch was not setup properly. It seemed like there was too much weight on the back of the truck which made the front end very light and loose feeling. When the dealership readjusted it the next day it was much better but it still seemed a bit light in the front but MUCH better. I have run with that ever since.

The old method of checking the hitch settings was to measure the 4 corners of your tow vehicle, normally the distance from the top of the wheel well to the ground (on a level surface). Hookup your trailer and measure again. You will see a drop in the distance to the ground but you should see a CONSISTENT drop. The front should not drop more or less than the back does. On our old 25′ this is what I did and it worked pretty good.

With the new trailer I thought I would try to weigh and test the equalization on an actual scale. One time we were in Oregon I noticed that they leave their weigh station scales on all the time. There may not be anyone on the side of the road at the weigh station but the scales still work. This is where I found out our truck was almost 8500 lb in weight! I was resigned to take the rig to a scale and drive one axle on at a time and calculate all the weights. This would require at least 6 weighs. In researching I found a better way. CAT scales, we have one at the Love’s truck stop in Tulare.

CAT scales have their entire scale divided up in three parts. The first is where you put your front axle of the tow vehicle. Second part for the back axle and the third part is where your trailer axle(s) go. This is marvelous. I would only have to do about 3 passes on the scale to get my weights. I wanted one with the trailer attached with the normal equalization, I wanted one with JUST the truck (no trailer) and another with the trailer simply on the ball with no equalization, just for kicks. I was prepared to do a few more reweighs if I needed to do adjustments.

I pulled on the scale and lined up my axles. I pushed the intercom button to ask for the ‘weighmaster’ to do their thing. The funny thing was this button and speaker was about 7′ high to accommodate the big rigs. Once the told me it was clear I pulled out and parked with the big rigs and dropped the trailer. I was now ready to just weigh the truck, same procedure.

I went inside to get the results but it turned out they only gave me the total weight. That is not what I wanted. I discussed what I did want with them and they understood so I started over again. This time just the truck, second was the trailer just on the ball and third was with full equalization. I got the numbers, on the appropriate axles, and calculated the ratios.

My thought was I would take the ratio of the front to rear axle and ensure the equalization was as close as possible. The truck weighed in at 7920lb. The front axle weight was 4380 and the rear was 3540 to give a ratio of 55/45. Now I had a baseline to compare the equalized weight. Equalized the effective truck weight became 8540lb. The axle weights were 4400 (F) and 4140 (R) to make the ratio 52/48! That made me very happy since it was very close to what I wanted. I decided to make NO adjustments as I don’t know how I could make it better.

I know from our trip to Marina a while back that our tongue weight is 750lb as a fellow Airstreamer had a weighing device. In looking at the equalization the amount of weight transferred to the truck was 620 lbs, 130 less than the tongue. That means the bars were taking 130 lbs of that tongue weight and transferring it back on the trailer axles.

To show you how much the equalization helps, look at the numbers without any. Front 4060, rear 4640, 47/53 ratio. A HUGE difference in my mind! It made the overall truck weigh 8700 lbs or an additional 780 lbs. There is the tongue weight and then some. See the below table for the numbers. I must have driven around that truck stop about 5 times.

Weight Table

Subject change now:

I mentioned an electrical issue in the subject line so I will explain that here.

In my blog entry on our Marina trip I signed off saying the rest of the trip was uneventful. That is not entirely accurate. There was one minor issue. As we were heading home and going through Hollister and rounded a corner an odd thing happened with the truck. The power cut out to the dash and stereo. All the gauges went off and the music stopped. A few seconds later the gauges did a full reset and the stereo came on. However the truck continued to run.

If you know me then you know that I filed this away in my brain and Google’d it when I got home. I didn’t find any real smoking gun. It happened on and off in the next few weeks but I could not find a pattern. Knowing this was going on it concerned me a bit for our trip to Princess campground. The truck did will with only one episode without the trailer.

However, on the way home the fun started, nothing happened physically but it messed with me mentally. As we were going to dump at RV Express the truck started doing its thing with a slight twist. This time the battery light was flickering. This means, to me, that means the battery is being discharged. This concerned me and I was not sure I could get it home. We did.

The next few days going to and from work the battery light was flickering again when the gauges would reset. I went to talk to the guys at Gas and Diesel Performance. I told him the symptoms and he thought that the diode in the alternator was bad. I have replaced the alternator a few times and have a lifetime warranty on the one that was in there. I started watching my voltage and it would go up over 14.5 volts! Not good. I took off the old alternator, went to AutoZone and got a new (rebuilt) one. I installed it back in and watched things for a few weeks. Problem solved.

Roxie has wanted me to get a new truck and I would love to but it might be more cost effective just keeping this going, if I can handle it mentally.

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One thought on “Equalization and an electrical issue

  1. Pingback: The final leg, sigh... | CasaRodante - Our Airstream, travels and such...

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