I have a 01 Ford Escape that will be towing my new '03 Bantam B17 as soon as it arrives. I have a Draw-Tite Class III hitch however I am not using a w/d system at this time and do not intend to. Will I need a friction sway control (can I install it w/o a w/d system) and will it be a considerable difference? Also is welding required to add the friction sway control?
I would NOT tow the trailer without a w/d system. Light as the trailer may be, the rear 'axle' on the Escape is little more than tin...don't get me wrong, the Escape is a very nice SUV, just not 'designed' to tow (huge difference between 'capable' to tow and 'designed' to tow), and what you do tow must be assisted as much as possible so you don't overload the rear end components.
Most trailers of that size have only one, single axle, which makes for a heavier tongue weight than would the same size trailer with double, tandem axles. With this in mind, and the soft, weak components in the rear of the Escape, you will NEED a w/d system. I know you are probably trying to cut costs a bit, but the reality is, if you cut costs here, you will increase costs further down the road, either in loss of handling (you take weight off the front, steering, wheels without a w/d system) and/or mechanical repairs that also may not be covered under the warranty if it is apparent that you abused or overloaded the vehicle.
As far as the sway control, the friction bar works good, but the dual-cam system works much better, and there is nothing to remove prior to backing up, which you must do with the friction bar. With the bar, there usually is welding involved, to install the ball-mount on the hitch itself. There is another ball-mount that bolts onto the trailers frame. The bar then connects to both balls on the truck’s hitch and the trailers frame. Your short trailer would probably do just fine with the friction bar, but for the extra $60 you could have the dual-cam system. Your call, either one will suffice.
Good luck, and congrats on the new trailer. Enjoy!
2009 Silverado 2500HD 4X4 C/C/6.0/3.73/Pullrite Super 5th.
2004 Puma 249RBS fifth-wheel bunkhouse.USAF/GULF WAR VET.
There isn't anything I can add to what Jimmy has said, with a lot of excellent detail. He is right in that both the Wd and sway are important for your setup. They will provide you and your family comfort and safety in towing so don't skimp on this part of setting up your rig.