Weight Distribution Hitch Re-visited

Submitted: Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 at 19:48
ThreadID: 98465 Views:2600 Replies:2 FollowUps:1
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I read with interest with the helpful replies to Waynes query on Apr. 12, 2012 re WDH's or not on his Mazda.
I have a very different problem with my 2004 Subaru Outback, the problem does not relate to the Suby power having a 3.0L 6 cylinder motor, which is sufficient, but I have broken 2 Hayman Reese towbars.
Details of the van are as follows, it is a 12foot rear door Jayco pop-top with 140kg ball weight.
As the vehicle has automatic level control I had difficulty lifting the rear of the van to lift the single bar level-rides, in fact I broke the top bearing in the dolly wheel, and thought my caravan days were over. After advice I was told I need a WDH, so accepted the advice and had a Hayman Reese WDH fitted by a H-R distributor. Being a small van the spring bars to be fitted were too long so they swapped them over for shorter bars, unbeknown to me then I didn't realize there are 4 different bars, 275kg short & long, 365kg short & long and they swapped them for 365kg short. After the first towbar broke I assumed that it was the heavier bars that caused the breakage and reluctantly purchased the lighter bars along with a new towbar.
I did one long trip last year around the West, with no apparent problem, this year we did our annual trip up thru central NSW & Qld, checking the bar regularly with no problem luckily until we got home & found the bar loose again.
I have now had the bar removed to discover the 2 rails which go towards the front of the vehicle from the bars cross bar have broken off at the welds.
I have tried to discuss this problem with H-R but they will not deal with the public direct, being told I must deal with one of their distributors, which I have done and they photographed the damaged bar & emailed the pics. This was 3 weeks ago and I am no nearer to knowing where I stand. I have rung the distributor about every second day, being told they are waiting on Cequent's (Hayman Reese) reply. In desperation I appealed to H-R for help, as our car has been partially assembled with a loose bumper bar, mudguards etc to allow us to use the car, only to be told to talk to the distributor.
What I need to know do any of you experts out there think a WDH is required on a relatively small car and do you think the WDH was the problem especially as the WDH alone weighs 30kg which is a huge lever from the cars axial.
This will be our last chance to continue caravanning and must make the right decision this time. I am considering a H-R Intermediate hitch suitable for 135kg ball weight, and would also like to know if anyone has had any experience with this hitch, through years of caravanning I have never seen one in use.
Hoping that some of you guys out there can help!
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Reply By: Racey - Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 11:58

Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 11:58
Hi Happynomad,

A couple of comments on your problem.

If the Subaru is "self leveling", why are you trying to lift it up?

I note on the HR site under Subaru Outback models pre 2003 are rated 1300kg, where as 2004 on are 1800kg. Yours is 2004; is it possible the wrong bar has been fitted? It is odd that a HR stockist didn't appreciate the effects of fitting heavier bars.

I am leaning towards the fact that you are placing too much strain on the towbar assembly by trying to lift the van and car too high. This could also explain the damage to the jockey wheel. If the hitch is setup correctly, the van and the van should both be level. Before you tension the bars, with the engine running, does the care level itself? If it does there is no point trying to raise it further. Have you spoken to Subaru or checked in your manual bout using a weight distribution hitch. Landrover do not permit them as they upset the airbag suspension.

Cheers

Jon
AnswerID: 496554

Follow Up By: happynomad - Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 15:29

Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 15:29
Thanks Jon for your reply. My understanding and from discussions with a Subaru dealer, the auto levelling is hydraulic only, that is when an extra load is added to the vehicle it will go down, as it does, and after a while when the car is driven the hydraulics will attempt to level the car. There is an oil reservoir at the lower part of the shocks.

Yes our 2004 model is rated for 1800kg and in hindsight should not have had the heavier bars fitted, but through my ignorance I didn't appreciate there were different strength bars and relied on the H-R stockist's expertise in setting up the car & caravan. It goes without saying, I will never deal with that company again.

The Subaru handbook states "A hitch must be used for loads 1500kg and above, and recommend using a hitch for lighter loads". With a 140kg ball weight we could be nearing 1400kg.

In all honesty, the car and caravan was a dream to connect with the H-R WDH, but I now firmly believe the hitch is too big and heavy for such a small car and van. As the last breakage was with the lighter 275kg bars so I am seriously considering using H-R Intermediate Hitch, rated for 135kg ball weight.

I have spoken to Cequent (Hayman Reese) and the correct towbar was supplied for our model car and they still recommend their WDH with the 275kg bars, but unfortunately can't get past the receptionist to discuss the problem with a technical person.

Cheers,

Happynomad

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FollowupID: 772262

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 23:11

Friday, Oct 12, 2012 at 23:11
Are you jacking the up coupling the coupling to apply the bars with the motor running? If you are then the the suspension will attempt to retract and place all the weight of the ball and the back of your tug onto the jockey wheel. Those of us with non self levelling suspension have the springs giving the jockey a lot of help when we do that action. That is why you are cracking up the thrust bearing and we do not.

Your van has a ball weight that is only slightly over the cross over weight figure between the two WDH sets. I would be inclined to fudge a little if the rig was mine and go for this one - http://caravansplus.com.au/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=9576.

A few years back Ford had some models with similar rear suspension as yours. Their instructions for fitting and adjusting WDH went something like this:

1. Start the motor and let things settle.
2. Measure the front wheel mudguard arch height.
3. Switch off the motor and let things settle.
4. Lower the coupling onto the ball and couple up.
5. install the WDH bars.
6. Start the motor and let the suspension settle.
5. Measure the front wheel arch again.

If the second measurement is about the same as the first or a little higher you are ready to go touring. If the measurements are too far out, stop the motor and when things settle then adjust the bar tension in the direction to get the measurements within range. Then restart the motor again and recheck. I think that these would be a guide to follow if Subaru do not instruct otherwise.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

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AnswerID: 496591

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