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 Post subject: Towing with Power Steps
PostPosted: March 15th, 2016, 11:46 am 
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Joined: August 8th, 2015, 11:54 am
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Hi - I just bought a 2003 Chinook Premier with the V-10 and the power step option. The hitch receiver is located under the steps and would require an extension to tow anything. I've seen lots of extensions but all note that the hitch and tow weight limits are cut by 50% using an extension. Does anyone know of a solution for towing with power steps? Does someone make an extension that does not reduce the hitch/tow weight limits?

Paul Demarest

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PostPosted: March 16th, 2016, 4:11 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Hi Paul,

Welcome to Chinook ownership! Glad to have you here on the forum.

I have a Concourse with the manual step, and I do tow (one reason I wanted the manual step, although the electric is luxurious, I imagine). My manual step does not require as long a drawbar as yours, but it is still a longer than normal one. I had to look around to find one, but was able to do so, and now have three of them with different drops, for various trailers. I always carry at least one with me, after one time in Wyoming where I unexpectedly wanted to tow a trailer for someone and COULD NOT find a drawbar that worked (I didn't have mine along) (side note: we solved it by him towing the trailer and me towing his toad car for which the drawbars are customarily fairly long).

Anyway, what you likely need is an "extra-extra-long" drawbar. When I was looking they were actually easier to find than the long-but-not-extra-long size my Chinook uses. These don't technically reduce your capacity, but they actually do in a different way. What I mean is, it's not the hard 50% of the extensions, but just by virtue of lengthening the distance to the rear axle, if you have tongue weight (trailer vs. toad) then you may run up against rear axle weight rating.

You can look for a certain "hole to hole" distance from the pin hole where it gets secured to the hitch, to the hole where the ball goes. However that may vary slightly if you have a rise on your hitch (I run mine with a slight rise to make my tandem trailer level, and the way that comes around the step makes it fit differently than if I were running a straight bar).

I believe the Concourses at least came with a special extra-extra-long drawbar, but maybe yours has gone by the wayside over the years. Here is one you might consider (maybe someone else with an electric step who still has that stock drawbar can measure it for you).

Here is a link to one extra-extra-long drawbar. This is about the same amount of rise I use for a trailer that wants the top of the ball around 19-1/2" off the ground (tandem trailers like to be towed as level as possible), although I don't use the extra-extra long with the manual step. Also, of course it may vary due to Chinooks not all having the same amount of perkiness at the rear step.

https://www.etrailer.com/Ball-Mounts/Hi ... 80233.html

Note that one of the zoomable views has a tape measure set alongside it (e-trailer is great for that sort of thing).

One other thing (that you may already know about) that can be put into the equation if leveling is important to you: You can get hitch balls with a riser built in (1" for sure, maybe more also). This can help if you are "between rises" and want to tweak it to be just right. May not matter for a single-axle trailer though.

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PostPosted: March 16th, 2016, 4:38 pm 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Came back to add something. I remembered reading a review for one of these mounts from an electric step Chinook owner, but couldn't find it in the link above. Then I realized there is an even longer, "super extra long" drawbar (!). This is the link:

https://www.etrailer.com/Ball-Mounts/Hi ... 80232.html

In the reviews, was this:

This solved a problem for me. I have a Chinook RV which has a rear entry door with electric retracting steps. The tow hitch receiver is mounted on the back of the chassis behind the steps so an extra long ball mount was needed and this was the only one I found. It turned out to be tailor made, the exact length I needed. The ball and locks are excellent quality too. Thank you for the prompt delivery and great service.

So there you have it. Of course, the shorter the better, so I wouldn't go any longer than you have to (but it sounds like you may have to go with the super extra long). Even though these aren't officially de-rated, you don't have to be a physicist to see that there is going to be more strain/leverage on things with a longer bar.

If you have a specific tongue weight you will be towing, plus the distance from the rear axle to the hitch ball, I'd be happy to do the calcs for you (they show how much weight this adds to the rear axle, plus how much it removes from the front axle).

In my case, with around 330# of tongue weight and the long-but-not-extra/extra-or-super-extra long drawbar, the calculations indicated I'd be adding 550# of weight to my rear axle. Weighing at a scale proved this to be nearly spot on. Something to consider as that's one of the most easily exceeded weight ratings on the Chinook (RAWR). That's typically the "stopper" vs. the GCWR minus the GVWR, which yields an amount that would crush the rear axle weight rating in real life (not that you are probably planning on towing 8,000# (!)).

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 12:23 pm 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Hi Blue - turns out that the previous owner installed a power step override switch on the outside of the rv that allows me to stop the steps midway between opening and closing so that a tow bar can be inserted between the steps. I had already used a 16 inch (pin to hole) bar on my Lincoln Navigator to keep my back tires out of the water when launching our boat and by flipping that bar upside down it gives me just the right rise. So, since I still have the Navigator I've ordered another 16 inch towbar for the Chinook.

Thanks for the tip!

Paul

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 12:51 pm 
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Sweet, glad it worked out! Nifty idea on the power step override switch.

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 4:31 pm 
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Thanks again, Blue. As far as the increased load on the rear end of the rv my boat and trailer come in at just under 5,000 lbs and I have rear air bags so I think this solution will be safe as well.

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PostPosted: December 19th, 2016, 4:50 pm 
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Setting up to tow a car can be more difficult if you prefer to go with a non-ball mount receiver. Getting a pre-made non-ball mount receiver for this kind of setup is near impossible due to the length needed if you have a rear-door model. Fortunately a nice long ball-mount model is available thru e-trailer which comes out between the steps.


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