Hayman Reese 550 Weight Distribution Hitch

Submitted: Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 18:51

FZJ 80

G'day all,

We recently bought a Golf Starliner ATV 17ft caravan that we plan to tow with our 80 series cruiser. We bought a HR 550 Weight distribution hitch but found that it would not fit due to the fact that Golf fit the tow coupling to the bottom of the A frame in off road models.Most vans are fitted on top of the A frame. The chassis is a full 6 inch chassis and in theory the bars are approx 6 inches low at where the chains are supposed to pick up, even with longer chains the bars are almost in contact with the ground. Has anyone been thru this issue before and how did you resolve it?


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Reply By: Arkay - Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 08:57

Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 08:57
I'd start by discussing it with Golf & Hayman Reece
AnswerID: 190885

Reply By: Member - Lindsay- Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 15:30

Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 15:30
I guess the term "ATV caravan" means off road caravan.
In most dirt road & track situations load distribution devices are useless & often cause problems during tight turns & ramp over situations.
My solution was to improve the rear suspension of my series 80 Landcruiser so that the balance required for safe towing was achieved without a HR 550 type hitch.
My dual axle Galaxy off road caravan weighs in at 3000kg with a ball weight of 300kg and what I have done to the supension has proved great over the last two years & 30,000km of towing. I have given it a real workout on highway, cattle roads & plenty of true off road towing. My van tracks perfectly without any sway and by setting the trailer brakes to a more aggrerssive position for high speed touring braking is always in a straight line.
My rear suspension is:-
Lovells rear coils - the second heaviest spec available. If you pick the heaviest you can not bear to be in the truck when it is empty.
Polyair inserts which I run at 5psi empty and 30psi at full load. Trial & error will soon tell you what is your correct pressure.
50psi in the rear tyres
41mm adjustable powerdown shock absorbers
I always adjust polyairs & tyre pressures to normal for extended touring without the van.
I hope this is of help to you Greg as it sure sorted out my 80 for towing.

Go the 80's!

Lindsay & The (Polar) Bear

AnswerID: 190959

Reply By: FZJ 80 - Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 18:30

Friday, Aug 25, 2006 at 18:30

Thanks for the reply. We have King rear springs 30% heavier than Std at this stage. Thanks for the advice on polyairs, was thinking that way and will be fitting them too. The only problem is that 80 series towball weight is 250Kg max. I,m sure that we will end up with more than that, unladen it has 170 on ball with the annex in front boot. The wheels are well toward the rear and the bed (Area with most storage) is in the front of the van. I guess that i will have to put up with a heavy ball weight being part of the design. We were not planning on using the WDH off road,just for highway use. Do you have the Hayman Reese tow bar or the factory Toyota bar (Trailboss)?.
Already Emailed Golf and Hayman Reese with an enquiry - No Reply from either!!!
Emailed Arrow Towbars and caravans in Brisbane (Golf and HR Dealers) they said HR approve the use of Longer chains if Rated. This won't help us as the bars are almost touching the ground at the chain end.
Love the 80 and van combo, looks great. Is yours Diesel or Petrol?


AnswerID: 190988

Reply By: Member - Meggs - Saturday, Aug 26, 2006 at 14:11

Saturday, Aug 26, 2006 at 14:11
Greg I have seen complaints about his a number of times from people with Jayco vans but I haven't seen anyone come up with a solution. I have a 13 ft Jayco outback and the hitch is fitted to the bottom of the drawbar. I built a 50mm spacer to increase the height. I only use 2 bar level riders and they are now OK. The hitch would be close to the ADR rules of being 350 mm to 420 mm from the ground.

You should be careful with a 550 kg WDH as the force on the towbar mounting from the hitch is enormous. Bigger is not necessarily better. Some towbar manufactureres forbid the use of a HR WDH on their towbars due to the forces involved but they will allow a 2 and 4 bar level riders so you better check with the towbar manufacturer weather it can take a 550 kg WDH.

Have a look at peblo's report on a Nissan towbars that failed. The towbar's construction looked weak but it's final demise was brought about by the forces from the WDH.
AnswerID: 191123

Reply By: FZJ 80 - Saturday, Aug 26, 2006 at 21:23

Saturday, Aug 26, 2006 at 21:23
G'day Meggs,

I know what you mean about the enormous forces. I am a motor mech and understand the principle. I like it in one way being the fact that the system helps restore original wheel loading and therefore assists in steering stability and braking but the fact that the twisting force on the towbar and rear of vehicle is the issue. The forces would be massive.

Connected the Cruiser and van together today and applied a heavy load over the a frame, est the load would be 250kg approx and the rig sat fairly flat. Will fit polyairs and should be ok.

Thanks for the reply.


AnswerID: 191182

Reply By: RonEv - Monday, Aug 28, 2006 at 10:18

Monday, Aug 28, 2006 at 10:18

Currently have a 100series with 1800KG All Road rated van with tow coupling on bottom of frame. Van is fitted with a 4" chassis with a 4" riser and 15" wheels and I use a HR 550 but only have 2 clear links on the chains when fitted. Minimum reccomended by HR

I have towed a much heavier van behind my previous 80 series and never had a problem with the 550 hitch and it was fitted with a TrailBoss tow bar which I believe are now owned by HR anyway. Depending on your model of 80 series the later ones are legal to 3.5tonne and 350 kg ball weight.

The HR hitch is fully adjustable and the hitch can be turned upside down. Any HR dealer should do a proper fitup for you. Are you aware that you should keep the jockey wheel wound up when fitting and releasing the bars as it malkes life much simpler. An even easier way to do this is to replace the standard jockey wheel with a trail mate hydraulic jack, expensive but worth every $$.

Estimating your ball weight is prone to disaster, get it weighed. 250kg ball weight is probably over the safe working limit for the 550 hitch. All the caravan gurus recomend always having weight distribution hitches regardless of what you have done to the rear suspension of the tow vehicle. I also have polyairs fitted to the rear of my 100 series but I err on the side of caution and leave the hitch connected unless I venture slowly onto unmade roads. You should also check your caravan warranty as I suspect that if you take the van 'offroad' whatever that means you will void your warranty if you damage it. My manufacturer/dealer said if you are in low range you shouldn't be there with the caravan the exception being up to a point on sand.

Good Luck

AnswerID: 191405

Follow Up By: FZJ 80 - Monday, Aug 28, 2006 at 19:56

Monday, Aug 28, 2006 at 19:56
Did buy a 550 hitch and the caravan dealer could not even work out how it would work with the underslung coupling and 6 inch chassis,the chan ends will not even reach the snap up hook and are virtually in contact with the ground, did try winding right up with jockey,no real improvement.
What do u mean by 4'' riser?
Will be loading soon with what we need for trip and running over weighbridge.


FollowupID: 449313

Reply By: RonEv - Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006 at 08:31

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006 at 08:31

Had a wild idea that the bars may have been fitted upside down but tried it on mine and it can't be done.

I would ring Golf direct and ask for advice. I also seem to recall that Golf do or used to fit a unusual for Aus coupling that doesn't require bars.

Don't understand the attitude of the dealer as they have a responsibility (not legally) unfortunately not to send you off in a van that is not fitted up correctly. A relative of mine recently had a rollover of van and car that was not set up properly by the dealer. Insurance company had a long hard look at it but eventually paid up.

Good luck

AnswerID: 191603

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