Adding a Weight Distribution Hitch to the Camper – Part II

Note: picture heavy post ahead!

This post details my installation of the Husky Centerline TS weight distribution hitch model #32215. As I mentioned in my previous post, I went with the Husky over a few other brands/models mainly due to price and some convenience features.

The Husky hitch comes decently packaged in a box with added internal supports to hold the weight. Sadly UPS does their usual bang up job getting things delivered. Considering that this box weighs in at over 100 pounds, I’m just glad that it made it to me in one piece at all.

The first step was to make sure that I had all the correct parts. I took pictures of the parts, mostly to show that these appear to be quality hardware.

Next I made sure that I had all the components, again I took some pictures, though I seem to have missed photographing the actual spring bars. Rest assured they were in the box though.

After confirming I had all the parts, I started the installation process. Getting everything bolted together was actually a bit easier than I was expecting. I contribute this to reading the manual several times, making notes and having the right tools for the job.

So at this point the hitch head is bolted to the shank but not yet torqued down to the required 380ft/lbs. This part is the real test of the tools and of myself. I’ve never had to torque anything near this level before. I started by flipping the whole head upside down, then attaching a wrench to the first nut and wedging the wrench against the bumper. This worked well as I was able to use my body weight on the torque wrench to tighten the bolt to the required setting.

Unfortunately the way that things lined up I could not do this with the second bolt/nut. I had to flip the hitch head upright and use my body weight to push the torque wrench to tighten. This was a LOT more work and I was starting to think that I might not be able to make it all the way to 380ft/lbs. Katey was taking the photos of this part of the process and encouraged me to give it one more try, and to my surprise I heard the sweet click of the torque wrench telling me I had made it! Whew… and the now the wrench is stuck against the bolt on the other side. A few whacks with the rubber mallet got that loose though.

After a break for something to drink it was time to move on to the trailer side of things. For this part the manual says to install the trailer frame brackets between 28.5″ and 30.5″ from the center of the ball socket. I used a green paint marker to make lines on the trailer at those distances as well as 29.5″. I decided to install the brackets centered on the middle mark mostly so I would not need to move some electrical wiring on one side of the frame.

These brackets install easily enough but there is no torque value for them. This worked out ok since there is no way I could have gotten a socket on to the upper nut anyways do to the way the a-frame section is built. I did tighten them down pretty good and will make sure that I check them before each trip.

Using the initial measurements that I took at the beginning of the process, I set the adjustable brackets where I thought they should go, then noticed that I was unable to raise them any further because they hit the propane tanks on each side. My initial thought was to raise the propane tank platform a bit to add some clearance. So I removed the tanks and platform and went on to continue the installation.

Once I finished installing the brackets, I connected the truck to the trailer, then started raising the truck/trailer combination to get the spring bars in place. Turns out that could just barely lift the pair high enough to get the spring bars into place.

After much struggling and shrugging and asking myself what I was missing, I sat down and started going over the whole installation process again, at least in my head. Turns out that while I thought the camper was level front to rear, in reality it was not. Kate helped me get the frame level with the ground. From there I was able to properly adjust the height of the sliding brackets and avoid having to mess with the propane tanks. Getting the brackets set correctly also meant that I did not need to jack the truck/trailer combination into the stratosphere in order to add the spring bars, much better!

After getting the truck and trailer leveled, the only thing left was to extend my safety chains a bit. From here we did some work inside the camper then took it for a test drive that evening. This was the first real opportunity I’ve had to see how the new F150 would handle with the camper. I think the test drive went very smoothly. I had no issues either on surface streets or on the interstate. I kept my speed between 60-65mph and had no sway (granted I was not passed by any 18 wheelers either). I did notice some minor bouncing but I attribute this to the concrete interstate and the fact that I was running the rig empty of the additional weight that we would normally carry while camping.

We have our first camping trip coming up this coming weekend and I’ll see then how everything does for real. I have good feelings that adding the Husky weight distribution hitch was the right move. Time will tell if I was right.

 

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