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Old 06-17-2015, 01:02 PM   #1
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First impressions and tow with Andersen WD/SC

Being new to pulling TT I spent some time searching on various forums for hitch recommendations. As with their trucks folks are equally as passionate when it comes to their hitch selection so there was a lot of noise to sift through. Ultimately I decided on the Andersen for the following reasons:

- Light weight at only 60lbs total
- Clean (no grease)
- Quiet
- Easy to hook/unhook

Even though they'd never seen one before my dealer offered to install it when I took delivery. I'd read through the install guide and watched the short video on the Andersen site about installation and it looked simple and straightforward so I had them do that. As this was my first experience with a WDH as well as a larger trailer with electric brakes I didn't have anything to compare it to. I've only pulled low profile utility trailers. After picking up the trailer I pulled it around for a bit before heading home - it didn't take me very long to decide that something wasn't right. It's hard to say what about it bothered me - it just did.

My first thought was that perhaps the tire pressures were not correct. I checked tire pressures on both the truck and trailer to ensure all were at max pressure, which they were. 44PSI on the stock P-rated Wranglers on the truck and 50PSI for the LT's on the trailer.

One of the things I noticed when I got home was the slipping of the brackets on the frame which reduces the tension on the chains and reduces the WD portion of the hitch. This seems to be a common problem with the Andersen. I've tried increasing the torque on these brackets as well as the set screw but ultimately ended up having a tack weld done as is detailed in the manual as an optional way to address bracket slip. I think the set screw is really in the wrong place to be effective - it's too close to the pivot point. Based on my experience I would just go straight to the tack weld on the outer bracket and not mess with the set screw. I think the chains not only engage the WD but also play a role in the sway control. Without tension it probably decreases the effectiveness of the sway control as the ball probably doesn't turn with the trailer nearly as well as it should.

Another thing I discovered was the draw bar was really sloppy in the receiver. The ball had over 1/2" of up/down movement. I've temporarily remedied that with some metal shims and good old duck tape. Now there is less than 1/8" of up/down movement.

The last adjustment I decided to make was to drop the ball down a notch. I have an auto-leveling suspension and I wondered if perhaps I was ending up with the ball a little too high. The procedure for hitching up is to disable the suspension, then adjust WDH before re-engaging suspension. As I fiddled with this I found that the wheel well measurements would vary depending on load in the truck or angle (slight slope, etc.) so I wasn't confident that the initial ball height set when the dealer installed it was correct. I felt like if anything I wanted to be just a tad bit nose-down.

After making the above adjustments I took it out it again. Completely different feeling and experience. It felt nothing like when I first towed it home and I was not uncomfortable in running it down the freeway at 60.

So now we've just come back from our first long tow to the Washington Coast (about 170 miles each way) and it pulled just great. On the freeway at 60 the trailer remains straight in line and I don't see or feel any motion when passed by semi's. It's very stable when changing lanes as well. Same thing on the 2-way state highways when passed by semi's or other large vehicles in the opposite direction. One the way there it was quite windy and gusty and I didn't notice any adverse effects from that either. And I didn't feel worn out after a few hours on the road - and yes, I am well aware of the fact that the trailer is back there . For mileage with the Hemi I got about 12.3mpg (hand-calculated) on the full round-trip.

For those interested I'm posting my CAT scale numbers below. In my research I've noticed that frequently folks wanted to know the numbers and not very many were showing up for the Andersen. At some point I do plan on getting a pass on the scale without WD engaged - mainly I'm interested to see how much re-distribution is occurring. It's just been way too busy every time I've been there to do that. In fact while I was on the scale this last time a semi just about took out the pump next to the scale - flattened 2 of the yellow safety poles in the process. There was only one attendant on duty and there was a line inside - felt sorry for them.... My truck and trailer are listed in my sig lines:

Truck GVWR - 6800
Truck FAWR/RAWR - 3900 each
Trailer GVWR - 3750
Trailer GAWR - 3500

Truck only w/full fuel and driver:
Steer Axle - 3440
Drive Axle - 2580
Total - 6020

Truck w/full fuel, driver, some cargo plus trailer mostly loaded for travel w/WD engaged:
Steer Axle - 3440
Drive Axle - 3080
Trailer Axle - 3100

Tongue weight - 400 (as measured by my Sherline)

Truck Total - 6520
Trailer Total - 3500
Tongue weight % - 11.5%

Truck w/full fuel, driver, passenger, cargo plus trailer fully loaded for travel w/WD engaged:
Steer Axle - 3520
Drive Axle - 3140
Trailer Axle - 3260

Tongue weight - 420 (as measured by my Sherline)

Truck Total - 6660
Trailer Total - 3680
Tongue weight % - 11.5%
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Old 06-17-2015, 01:17 PM   #2
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As you said, "... passionate when it comes to their hitch selection so there was a lot of noise to sift through." Thanks for your well-written (and low noise) post on your experience.
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Old 06-27-2015, 08:41 AM   #3
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ttavasc – thank you for your detailed information. I recently bought the Andersen WD/SC based on recommendations on this forum because it is lighter for me to lift. I had the dealer install it since I’ve not done that before. The spring bushings were missing so they improvised to get me home which was 30 miles. Sway and bounce were good but the steering was light. The other day I received the spring bushings in the mail from Andersen.

With them, I drove about 1 mile to a level school lot. With the trailer and TV simulated with stuff for camping, I went through the entire installation again. I re-torqued the frame brackets to 90 lbs. and tightened the set-screws.

Unhitched, I leveled the trailer measured from ground to frame. I did have to lower the ball and housing on the receiver one notch. Unhitched, I measured the front fender of the TV from ground to fender through the center-line of the axle which came to 34”.

Hitched with full weight on the ball (measured at 500 lbs. with my Sherline) I tightened the spring bushings to 6 threads. This left me with the nose of the trailer slightly lower by 1/4” which was good and a re-measurement of the front fender showed 34 3/8”. When I tried getting that back to 34” I noticed the nose of the trailer came up higher than the rear. I returned it back to 34 3/8”. I think that will be okay and plan to take it out next week for a test drive.

I am considering getting the brackets welded as you did. The manual mentions that too.
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Old 06-28-2015, 12:47 AM   #4
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I've been measuring the compression of the urethane bushings rather than the wheel well due to my auto-leveling suspension. Uncompressed they are 3" long - the manual says 1/4" compression is the default starting point and to adjust from there. My last scale weight showed that with the full 1/4" compression I was just over the steer axle weight when the TV is empty so now I just tighten then up to just under 1/4" compression.
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Old 06-29-2015, 02:27 PM   #5
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I used an Anderson hitch for about 4 or 5 trips before I pulled it off and replaced it with a Blue Ox Sway Pro. I think the hitch may be suitable for smaller trailers but it did not transfer enough weight back to the front axle with our setup. 2013 F150 and 281BHS.

Some observations/comparison to the Blue OX.....

1. It is lighter
2. It is cheaper $$
3. It makes the TV - TT package feel very rigid. Every little bump in the road is transferred into the TV when the trailer runs over it as well. The ride with the Blue Ox is much more compliant as the trailer truck junction can actually flex.
4. It would not transfer enough weight to the front axle of the truck with the 31' trailer. 157" wheelbase truck as well.
5. Setup is way easier/faster with the Blue OX. Attach two spring bars and snap up the brackets. This is way faster than dealing with the pins and getting the bottom plate on. Having to loosen and tighten the nuts and measure the bushing thickness and hoping that you get it the same as last time.
6. The Anderson was already showing wear after only 4 or 5 trips.
7. I do really like the idea and engineering that went into it. It is a great idea but not suitable for larger trailers.
8. No grease on the ball was nice!
9. Both hitches are quiet.

I haven't experienced sway with either hitch so no comment on that one.
I did a lot of reading before purchasing the hitch and wanted to try it anyway. I wish I had experience towing with Reese or Equi-l-izer hitches for comparison sake but I have never used them.
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Old 06-29-2015, 09:13 PM   #6
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I would certainly agree with some of your points - particularly that the Andersen seems to be better suited to smaller trailers. When I was researching it seemed like most that were over 750lb tongue weight reported trouble restoring enough load to the front axle. While I found that interesting it didn't factor much into my decision as my trailer size limitation is more related to room for on-site storage. I do think that they need to put some effort into a better solution for preventing the bracket slip that so many folks seem to deal with.

I'll add some additional comments to some of your items:

"3. It makes the TV - TT package feel very rigid. Every little bump in the road is transferred into the TV when the trailer runs over it as well. The ride with the Blue Ox is much more compliant as the trailer truck junction can actually flex." - I have nothing to compare this to, but I can say that my ride was not uncomfortable. I'm sure that other factors can and do contribute to this such as tires, truck and trailer suspensions, etc. I have a factory air suspension and even with my tires inflated to max psi it's still a really smooth ride. That being said I do know that I've seen other posts regarding Blue Ox and ride that seem to indicate it does well in that regard.

"4. It would not transfer enough weight to the front axle of the truck with the 31' trailer. 157" wheelbase truck as well." - Yet another good data point from somebody who has actually used it. I'm guessing your tongue weight may be around 800-900lbs or so which would be about twice what mine is. My truck wheelbase is 149.5". Thinking about how the Andersen returns the weight back to the front I wonder if a longer wheel base makes that more difficult. And typically with the longer and heavier trailers you have a longer wheel base TV to go with it.

"5. Setup is way easier/faster with the Blue OX. Attach two spring bars and snap up the brackets. This is way faster than dealing with the pins and getting the bottom plate on. Having to loosen and tighten the nuts and measure the bushing thickness and hoping that you get it the same as last time." - Again, I don't have anything to compare this too, however, now that I have done the tack weld and eliminated the bracket slip I don't have to keep measuring because the brackets have moved. I've marked 2-3/4" on the socket used to tighten the nuts so I simply give it about 4 full turns of the nut and then compare the bushing to the mark on the socket. Last trip out was about 5 minutes to hook up once I had backed underneath the ball. ~400 miles later they were still at the same amount of compression.

"6. The Anderson was already showing wear after only 4 or 5 trips." - This I'm interested in. I've seen a couple other recent posts regarding this. It's not related to turning as properly adjusted the ball and coupler turn in unison. I can see how some wear may occur due to uneven terrain like the incline I have to traverse to get my trailer in/out of the back yard. I don't have enough miles on my yet to get a feel for this but I'm thinking about taking a picture of the ball and inside of the coupler at the beginning of each trip. We have two more planned closer to home - 250-350 miles round trip each - then about 2200 miles round trip late summer/early fall.

"8. No grease on the ball was nice!" - I agree with this - not having to mess with the grease like I do with my utility trailer is nice.

Thanks for providing some good real-world data to the conversation.
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Old 06-30-2015, 10:24 AM   #7
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Good points on all accounts.

As far as the ride I would have to say I didn't really notice it until I towed with the Blue Ox. So it wasn't uncomfortable.

The wear was on the ball which I didn't really care about but it was also on the chains where they rubbed as well as the friction material was getting squeezed out of the cone. There were a couple grooves in the chains. I don't remember where exactly but I still have the hitch at home.

I drilled depressions for the set screws and never noticed any movement after the original tilting was done. No problems with that and no welding needed.

The hitch would likely have a better mechanical advantage on a short wheelbase TV and trailer. Very true. I never really thought about that aspect before posting above.
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Old 07-02-2015, 12:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subaru297 View Post
The wear was on the ball which I didn't really care about but it was also on the chains where they rubbed as well as the friction material was getting squeezed out of the cone. There were a couple grooves in the chains. I don't remember where exactly but I still have the hitch at home.

I drilled depressions for the set screws and never noticed any movement after the original tilting was done. No problems with that and no welding needed.
Thanks for the info on the chain wear - I'll keep an eye out for that. I don't have enough mileage on it yet - only about 500 miles so far. I have seen some other posts regarding the friction material coming out of the cone. Andersen support seems to be pretty good to deal with sending replacements out to some of those posters.

Were your set screws near the top of the outside bracket or the bottom? Mine are near the top and that just doesn't make much sense. They would be a lot more effective if they were near the bottom of the bracket I think.
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Old 07-03-2015, 11:44 AM   #9
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Had a chance to take the new Andersen WD/SC hitch for a test drive today of about 25 miles on the Interstate. Below are my observations. Wanted to mention again that my previous Equal-i-zer 4-point WD/SC hitch worked as advertised but was too heavy for me to lift.

Comparing my (limited so far with the Andersen) experience between the two hitches with ‘our’ particular TV and HTT I’d say: Bounce seems to be no different. Sway control seems a little better with the Andersen based on a couple of semis passing me and didn’t feel the ‘wave’ as much. Andersen is quieter. Backing up seems about the same. Andersen is fairly simple for me to unhitch, once I take weight off of the ball the triangle-plate comes off with no struggle then I can unscrew the tension nuts by hand and pull the chain off and store the whole thing in a tote bag. Sometimes but not always, the Equl-i-zer spring bars required some effort removing when the campsite pad was not level. Weight distribution seems about the same now that I have the proper urethane bushings (they were missing in the original package) and the ball height adjusted properly.

Time will tell with different weather conditions etc. but so far I think this is a good solution for my needs.

I did get the frame brackets welded to allow for a more secure installation. The process didn’t take the welder long to tack a 2” bead on each side. Maybe I didn’t really need it but it gives me peace of mind.

I will keep my eye on wear & tear on the ball and chain as was mentioned above. Thanks!

Here’s a picture from today. Trailer was level to within a 1/4” and the TV squats just a bit in the rear.


Click image for larger version

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Old 07-06-2015, 08:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttavasc View Post
Thanks for the info on the chain wear - I'll keep an eye out for that. I don't have enough mileage on it yet - only about 500 miles so far. I have seen some other posts regarding the friction material coming out of the cone. Andersen support seems to be pretty good to deal with sending replacements out to some of those posters.

Were your set screws near the top of the outside bracket or the bottom? Mine are near the top and that just doesn't make much sense. They would be a lot more effective if they were near the bottom of the bracket I think.
Set screws were at the top of the bracket. I initially installed the brackets vertically and during the first trip they tilted until the cross bolts were against the top and bottom of the frame. Bottom of the bracket pulled forward.

After that initial tilting they didn't move again.
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