The weight distributing hitch system is composed of three major elements called the hitch receiver, ball mount and spring bar assembly. They work in unison to provide complete towing system compatibility.
This part of the hitch system is located under the tow vehicle. It’s an assembly that’s either welded or bolted to the tow vehicle’s frame. In the case of a bolted assembly, it is referred to as a hitch receiver. An open-end box-beam (hitch box) is tucked under the rear bumper of the tow vehicle to accept the “ball mount” or “insert.” A hitch pin through the hitch box securely fastens the insert and the tow vehicle together. This hitch receiver is constructed of steel that is selected to withstand trailer towing stress and strain. Each hitch receiver has been tested under simulated road use conditions and is developed to fit specific vehicle requirements.
This is that essential part of the towing assembly that ties the whole thing together; it’s the unit that mates the hitch receiver with the trailer coupler. Constructed of rugged, heavy-duty steel, ball mounts are designed to deliver a lifetime of hard usage in any approved application.
Spring Bar Assembly
These are the “wheelbarrow” handles for the weight distributing hitch systems. They fit into sockets on the ball mount where they swivel and turn as necessary to meet changing road demands. At the trailer end, the spring bars are attached by means of snap-up brackets and chains. The chains at the trailer end are actually the “levelers” that are used to distribute the trailer tongue weight. The spring bar is constructed from spring steel to deliver required performance coupled with long service life. And, because of the wide range of trailers and trailer tongue weights, spring bars are produced in differing sizes to meet specific towing requirements.
The Reese System’s operational principles are identical to the early weight distributing hitches. The chief differences are in construction materials, welding, manufacturing processes and hook-up. Adjustment is simple because of the easy-to-operate snap-up brackets that allow spring bar tension to be adjusted by changing links in the support chains. This lets you adjust for various trailer tongue weights within the spring bars’ weight range by applying tension on the spring bars until the car or tow vehicle is level.
This must always be considered in trailer towing. Unwanted sway turns a pleasant towing situation sour. Many factors can contribute to trailer sway: the design of the trailer, the suspension, tire inflation pressures, configuration of the tow vehicle, towing speeds and hitch weight. Therefore, manufacturers have devised various methods to resist or temper trailer sway.
There are two popular methods of sway control. The older, more common form of sway control is a friction device called friction sway control. A more contemporary approach is the Reese developed device controlled by cam action. Known as dual cam sway control, it’s an innovative and effective technique to help control trailer sway before it starts. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both types.
Friction Sway Control
The friction sway control does exactly what its name implies; it uses friction to resist pivotal movement and thereby works against the effects of included sway. It operates on the principle of “stiffening” the coupling between the tow vehicle and trailer. The degree of “stiffening” or friction is adjusted to suit various trailer weights and towing conditions. Its operation is simple and uncomplicated. It doesn’t prevent the generation of sway; it simply works to resist the forces once they have started.
Dual Cam Sway Control
This patented product is Reese’s main technique for controlling trailer sway. Unlike the friction sway control, this approach works to control sway from the start rather than just resisting sway once it’s begun. And it works only when needed. When towing in a straight line, the cams on either side of the trailer A-frame are locked in position. This essentially creates a “rigid” connection between the tow vehicle and trailer and minimizes the effects of induced sway caused by high crosswinds or passing vehicles. Usually the cams ride in a detent, locked-in position, even on fairly sharp curves. However, when cornering maneuvers are required, the cams automatically slide out of their detent to permit full radius turns.
Yet when the maneuver is short and abrupt, like that encountered in the event of a sudden swerve or a wheel dropping off the road, the cams seek a straight-line towing angle that helps the tow vehicle retain control. The advantage of the dual cam system is its ability to forestall sway in addition to sway resistance. It works to hold down the start of swaying activity while at the same time allowing free and easy vehicle and trailer interaction. Another advantage of the dual cam system is that it’s installed on the trailer and therefore doesn’t require adjustment every time the towing vehicle and trailer are hooked up, unless hitch weight or tow vehicle loading are changed. The dual cam system does however require a “minimum tongue weight,” usually in the order of 450 to 500 lbs in order to function correctly. So we need to keep this in mind when choosing a sway control system, especially with the advent of the future, as we are seeing more and more trailers and tow vehicles with decreasing towing weights.
Safety chains on your trailer provide added insurance that the trailer will not detach from the tow vehicle when underway. Crisscross safety chains under the trailer tongue. We strongly recommend that you crisscross the chains under the trailer tongue. Attach the chain on the left side of the trailer tongue to the hole or ring on the right side of the hitch ball. Attach the chain on the right side of the trailer tongue to the hole or ring on the left side of the hitch ball. This will in effect prevent the tongue from dropping on to the road if the trailer coupler ever happens to somehow separate from the hitch ball. Rig the chains with just enough slack to permit tight turns.