Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: near Lansing
Andersen weight distributing hitch report
I recently bought a Vintage Cruiser 19erd 8 hours from home. Foreseeing a need for anti-sway and perhaps weight distribution, I managed to snag an Andersen set up (used) just before the trip to see the trailer. I was not familiar with this type of hitch, but knew I was going to need something like it, and found ample info on-line in support of the design. After deciding on the purchase, the trailer proved a difficult fit, but the previous owner said he had few difficulties towing with no weight distribution, so we towed home without, just using the ball and insert.
Our trip took us from the Green Bay, Wisconsin area north, through the Upper Peninsula (capitals intended; should be the 51st state, imho... I liked the name "Superior") of Michigan and 3/4 the length of the lower peninsula, in particularly high winds (the Mighty Mac Bridge Authority radio station was recommending outside lane crossing with a max speed of 20 mph, for those in the know). It was not a comfortable trip for the driver, on land or bridge, as every wind buffet and subsequent swerve was met by the appropriate muscle clench, the location of which depending on the severity of the sashay. The tow vehicle was more than adequate, if aging (gracefully); a 2004 Chevy 1/2 ton pickup with a 2500# air bag assist kit on the rear axle. Still I stayed well within speed limits, and felt it necessary to keep the bags near half their psi capacity.
I think the dry weight of the trailer is around 3300# and we towed it empty. On subsequent tows (to a weigh station for weight applicable to Michigan registration, not required for Wisconsin), I found, in more sedate conditions, that the trailer behaved itself a bit more, but still worked the truck suspension more than I prefer, and liked to wiggle a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. The weight, measured while pinned on the truck, on a certified split scale, came in at 3000#.
Today, finally, I took the time to set up the Andersen weight distributing hitch in a nearby school parking lot. Before towing to the lot and after more careful measurement I found that I had set the ball 3" too low initially, in Wisconsin. Setting to the proper height improved the tow somewhat, but still left me wanting. After fitting and setting the hitch properly, with the chains torqued, however... man, what a difference! Suddenly I didn't need 30psi in my airbags and the trailer was very well behaved, in fairly windy conditions (20+ and gusting) for the dozen or so miles I towed after the set. No wiggle, no sashay, no working the suspension. A smooth pull.
I'm sorry if this seems too much of an endorsement; it is not meant to be; only my experience under the stated conditions.
This has been a learning experience for me, as is the trailer; I've never towed a single axle trailer this heavy before. I've towed many times in very windy conditions, but always with either a light trailer (<2300#), or with double axles, properly hitched. I didn't expect this trailer, with a tongue weight somewhere between 300 and 400#, to be much of a challenge for my truck without the benefit of anti-sway and weight distribution. The purchase was more of added insurance (in my mind) for dealing with tire issues, panic stops, high winds, etc. I know now that I will never tow this trailer again without this hitch (or something like it) for more than local delivery. I suspect I will be spending some time acquiring a comfortable feel for this rig, but the hitch will certainly shorten that time.
I see, now on the market, very reasonably priced after market tire pressure monitoring systems. I think TPMS is the next step for the trailer, as I find the idea of blowing a 75 psi tire at speeds a bit daunting, even with the hitch...
As a side note, our previous trailer of 15 years, a 27' Shasta (5150# dry) never went anywhere but behind the same truck with the Air Lift kit and an Equa-liz-er hitch set up for it. Towed like a dream. A very weighty dream.