Trailer Sway, Weight Distribution Hitch Necessary?
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Thread: Trailer Sway, Weight Distribution Hitch Necessary?

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    Trailer Sway, Weight Distribution Hitch Necessary?

    Looking to pull a 2017 2038R on a 10k GVWR 20' flatbed. With an Expedition EL. I've got the big engine, towing package, etc. My rated limit is pretty similar to a F150, just a tad under. Base tractor is 2400lb. With loader and backhoe I'm not sure. For sake of discussion, say I'm at 7k total weight with load and trailer.

    Ford does its base ratings fairly low but then has a "weight distributed" rating. I've had experience pulling a 36ft RV with the Expedition, without weight distribution, and it was scary! And it only weighed 6500lb or so. I survived, as did the trailer and truck, but you definitely want WD to safely tow those RVs. My thinking though is that it's not so much because of the trailer weight, but because of the wind and sway effect. Those RVs are a big wind sail. My thinking is that with a flat bed and tractor, the wind really shouldn't be much of an issue. And therefore, probably not much if any sway at all. Without WD things may not be perfectly level, the back will drop a bit, but should I care that much?

    Thoughts?

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    Whats the trailer weigh? Trailer brakes? My first thought is the tires on the truck, that makes a big difference. It sounds to me like you'd be pushing the limit. How far are you hauling it and what type of roads? As much as we hate to think about it, we need to consider what would happen if we needed to stop or if something went wrong. First thing they would look at is the ratings, tags, etc on the vehicle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctrider View Post
    Whats the trailer weigh? Trailer brakes? My first thought is the tires on the truck, that makes a big difference. It sounds to me like you'd be pushing the limit. How far are you hauling it and what type of roads? As much as we hate to think about it, we need to consider what would happen if we needed to stop or if something went wrong. First thing they would look at is the ratings, tags, etc on the vehicle.
    Right now not very far at all. Back-forth 5 or so miles. At speed everything is paved. Some caliche, but I could take that stuff <20mph. No cross country hauls here. I should also say I just ordered one of the Weigh Safe hitches with scale built in. So, care will be put into making sure load is properly balanced.

    I'm really not worried about being overweight. I'll get all the specs down and be sure I know what the tractor weighs depending on how I have it rigged out and no issues there. And then with the fancy hitch I can get things balanced on trailer right. My concern is really just the sway... in y'all's experience do tractors on flat beds have issues catching wind and the tail starts wagging the dog, so to speak? Mostly what I'm looking to see is if people generally nod their head in approval or if people think I'm totally nuts to ever even consider pulling without WD. I see a lot of people pulling flatbeds and rarely see WD... it seems to really only be a thing with RVs and such trailers that really catch the wind...?
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    ctrider's Avatar
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    That's not bad. I'd probably do it. How's traffic? Load it heavier on the tongue as I'm sure you know. Does it have trailer brakes?
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    You tend to get sway if the load is not balanced and is aft of the axles, or least that has been my experience (enclosed or open trailers). I have weight distribution hitch on my enclosed trailer and will not tow heavy without one again and I have a dually. My trailer is rated at 10k. You say your tows are short distance. You can get away with a lot for short distances but that really isn't the right answer. If funds allow, get the weight distribution hitch, if nothing else for peace of mind.
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    Going 5 miles you're probably fine without. If you were a bit heavier or going a long distance I'd start adding the weight distribution setup.

    As you said, with an RV you're towing a huge sail. It doesn't take much wind to start pushing it sideways. I think you'll find that won't happen with a smaller tractor on an open trailer.
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    Should be ok

    I would think you would be ok, particularly since your trailer is long enough to spot the tractor for the right balance. I tow my 790 with FEL fairly frequently with a 1500 Chevy and while it's closer to the tow limit than I like, it tows fine. After I did the first few tows, I want ahead and painted spot marks on the trailer for the front wheels. That just makes it easier to load- drive to the mark and shut it down for chains.

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    ok i have a class a cdl..among other things so im a trained pro in the eyes of the goverment lol
    trailer sway will not only cause a wreck but will wear your trailer tires and over heat them and put undo stress on your truck. for the trailer sway you can bring it check with ur manual trailer brake. engine power has nothing to do with tow ratings. class 8 tractors up into the 90's had not much more then 250hp but lots of tourqe and gears.

    if your ford handles the load with out a sway problem great then use it but if it cant then get a truck that can. better to go bigger on your power unit then less. the truck with the most tow rating will be a 2wd reg cab because of weight

    dont risk the life of others.
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    It is important to maintain 10-15% tongue weight when compared to the total weight of the loaded trailer. If you can do that by properly positioning the tractor on the trailer without making the rear of the tow vehicle sag too much, you should be OK. Another factor is the amount of tongue weight in lbs. Check your hitch rating on the tow vehicle. It will tell you how much weight you are allowed both non weight distributing and with a weight distribution hitch. If your tongue weight exceeds the limit, then you need to switch to a weight distribution hitch. However, with this size tractor, I suspect you will not need the weight distribution hitch. Remember that the main purpose of a weight distribution hitch is to allow you to haul larger loads by distributing the weight over more axles. Without it, too large of a % will be on the rear axle if maintaining the proper 10-15% tongue weight ratio. By having proper weight distribution, you also gain stability. I don't see a problem with your task. Now if you were hauling my 4066R, it could become critical as I am at 7500# with loader and RFM. That would definitely require the weight distribution hitch. I gave up on that and just upgraded to a gooseneck trailer.

    Dave
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    Quote Originally Posted by hiddenacres View Post
    Looking to pull a 2017 2038R on a 10k GVWR 20' flatbed. With an Expedition EL. I've got the big engine, towing package, etc. My rated limit is pretty similar to a F150, just a tad under. Base tractor is 2400lb. With loader and backhoe I'm not sure. For sake of discussion, say I'm at 7k total weight with load and trailer.

    Ford does its base ratings fairly low but then has a "weight distributed" rating. I've had experience pulling a 36ft RV with the Expedition, without weight distribution, and it was scary! And it only weighed 6500lb or so. I survived, as did the trailer and truck, but you definitely want WD to safely tow those RVs. My thinking though is that it's not so much because of the trailer weight, but because of the wind and sway effect. Those RVs are a big wind sail. My thinking is that with a flat bed and tractor, the wind really shouldn't be much of an issue. And therefore, probably not much if any sway at all. Without WD things may not be perfectly level, the back will drop a bit, but should I care that much?

    Thoughts?
    Yes.

    The reason that manufacturers will provide a "regular" rating and a "with WDH" rating is because of the tongue weight that the vehicle can carry. You need between 10-15% of the total weight of the trailer / cargo to be carried on the tongue. On a 10k trailer, that means 1000-1500 lbs, and that's often way beyond what the tow vehicle can actually carry on the tongue. So, you use a WDH to shift some of that weight to the FRONT axle and square things away.


    Too much weight on the rear and you lose braking and steering control in the tow vehicle, so, yes, you care.
    Too much weight on the rear and you can damage the tow vehicle, so, yes, you care.
    Not enough weight on the rear and you lose traction in the tow vehicle, so, yes, you care.
    Not enough weight on the rear and the trailer will slap around behind you, so, yes, you care.


    You have to get the loading correct in order to tow SAFELY and SMOOTHLY. If your cargo + trailer exceeds the numbers that you're rated for without a WDH, then you need a WDH. And, I agree that you need to ensure that your tires are rated to carry the weight that you'll be putting on them.
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