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Old 05-12-2015, 08:50 AM   #1
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Anyone tow with just the ball?

I see a lot of threads on here about weight distribution and sway control hitches, but does anyone tow with just the standard hitch and ball?
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:06 AM   #2
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I do.
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On first outing I had a bit of sway in crosswinds. CAT scale showed trailer weight (loaded) of 3180 lbs but TW was only 240 lbs, which probably explains the sway. Next trip I will increase TW and see if it helps.
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:06 AM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're gla to have you with us.

As to your question, the answer is generally no. Unless you have a behemoth of a tow vehicle, weight distribution is very advisable as trailers with the tongue weight of most Airstream travel trailers is such that it will take enough weight from the front wheels of the tow vehicle that the steering will be compromised. This creates a somewhat dangerous towing situation.

Sway control is also a good idea.

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Old 05-12-2015, 09:20 AM   #4
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Anyone tow with just the ball?

I towed on the ball for a couple 2,000 mile + round trips before I got my hitch. It was "good" at 55 mph, and "ok" at 60 mph, but could be a real hand full at ANY more speed. (Especially on a downhill stretch, and exasperated when large vehicles pass)

A good hitch with antisway will greatly improve your driving experience though, especially if like me you "can't drive 55".


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Old 05-12-2015, 10:14 AM   #5
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I tow on the ball with my dually, when I have my Overlander behind me. It all depends on the size of your truck vs the size of your trailer. Our 34 requires a WD plus a frictional dampener for high speed curvy roads and trucks passing. If you TV squats more than 2 inches, you likely need WD. If it moves around when the trucks pass, you need either a self centering hitch or frictional dampener.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:15 AM   #6
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I do and never had a problem. Proper TV, proper tires, pressure, loading all contribute to a safe tow assuming the tow is under 25'. The same people who tout excessive hitch configerations will tell you you need a big bore diesel to tow a 16' Bambi with dual axles. I just came back from France and was amazed at the number of camper trailors on the road. All single axle and ball only. All appeared to be under 25'. When I asked about this, was told taxes prevented units of a larger nature. Nobody felt there was a safety concern. They sure do like to camp and you can't go down any main highway without spotting a nice campground every 50 kilometers or so.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ahab View Post
I do and never had a problem. Proper TV, proper tires, pressure, loading all contribute to a safe tow assuming the tow is under 25'. The same people who tout excessive hitch configerations will tell you you need a big bore diesel to tow a 16' Bambi with dual axles. I just came back from France and was amazed at the number of camper trailors on the road. All single axle and ball only. All appeared to be under 25'. When I asked about this, was told taxes prevented units of a larger nature. Nobody felt there was a safety concern. They sure do like to camp and you can't go down any main highway without spotting a nice campground every 50 kilometers or so.
I do always have a small 'chuckle' to myself when the number one rated TW in the UK/Europe would not be seen as adequate to tow the smallest trailer in the US

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Old 05-12-2015, 10:44 AM   #8
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Please stop comparing European caravans to US trailers, because they're not the same. The Airstreams sold in Europe for example are not the same width and are lighter. Generally European caravans are smaller and lighter than their US counterparts.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:58 AM   #9
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Me. Never had any stability issues - thousands and thousands of miles, even in hellacious winds. Of course, I only have 500# of weight on the tongue (with water and LP full - I've weighed it) to deal with. Relatively long wheelbase TV with D load rated tires at 60 lbs of pressure.
If I had more tongue weight to handle, I'd consider moving some of the weight through a WD hitch. With my set up, I'm good to go.
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:18 AM   #10
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Yes, and no. In my opinion the major variable is the size of the TV vs. the size of the trailer. Our TV is a 6,000 pound, long wheelbase Yukon Denali. We tow the 2,000 pound 16' Basecamp, which has about 200 pounds of hitch weight, without any WD or sway control, but employ both on the 5,000 pound 23' trailer.

The second most important variable is your personal feeling about what it takes to give you peace of mind while going down the road at speed.
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:21 AM   #11
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Yes you can tow with ball and chains only, BUT

I have a Hensley for my EB but when I recently went to Ohio to buy a 10 meter Avion (34 feet) I bought a Reese Dual Cam. I towed the Avion from Ohio to Baltimore where it's going to be checked out, brought up to great mechanical shape, and have a light reno. I didn't know what SWAY was until I towed that Avion. NO propane in the 40 lb tanks (no OPD valves) and no cargo in the trailer. In short - real low tongue weight.

Another member here set up a Reese Dual Cam for me - and then refined it after 20 miles of towing resulted in extreme side to side sway. After that, it behaved well as long as I stayed below 65 and didn't get passed by any big semi trucks. Of course I went east on the PA Turnpike, so you can probably guess that my right hand was on the brake controller 90% of the time. I was gratified to learn the Ford F-150 Ecoboost controller will slam on the trailer brakes all by itself if it detects too much sway. (I must detect it earlier and have a lower threshold!) I may have put 10,000 miles worth of wear on those tires in 400 miles.

So, a question you didn't ask - would I have made it at all without anti-sway? PROBABLY - if I'd stopped by Home Despot and bought 600 lbs of Quickrete and stored it in the front of the trailer and gotten new valves for the tanks and added 80 lbs of LPG, and if I'd have stayed off of the turnpike and driven some nice four lane where I could have puttered along at 45 mph. Sway control alone did NOT fix my too little tongue weight. Being paranoid and alert got me to my destination safely (but may have scared the crap out of the the poor slobs behind me who were watching my trailer playing "Rock-a-Bye Baby"!)

Balancing everything carefully and always practicing safe driving habits, especially with a small trailer is probably better than relying on the WD system and driving like a bandit. If you're not putting a whole lot of miles on the trailer and you've taken it to the scales to check the tongue weight and weight on all the tires, it probably doesn't make that much difference. Can you do it for years without any negative consequences - yes. I see people come into campgrounds with the most gawdauffal hitch setups all the time. It's a wonder they got out of their driveways without wrecking. (I once introduced myself to a man with an Argosy - who was planning to sell it when he got home since his back hurt so much from towing. He was ball and chaining it with a six inch drop on his hitch ball - and the Argy was riding almost entirely on it's front wheels. Took him to Wally World and got him a 2" drop - and the tail stopped wagging the dog.


I think most of us just want any edge we can have - because replacing an Airstream isn't cheap as I know to my sorrow.


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Old 05-12-2015, 11:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
Please stop comparing European caravans to US trailers, because they're not the same. The Airstreams sold in Europe for example are not the same width and are lighter. Generally European caravans are smaller and lighter than their US counterparts.
Whilst some are for sure, that is not always the case. I come from the UK and have owned many 'caravans' over there. Whilst modern alloy framed units are lighter that was driven by fuel prices and all caravans more than 20 years old had the same steel chassis.......not everything is 'biggerer, and betterer' in the US!
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:43 AM   #13
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It's the same old story... pay your money and make your choice... or not... having towed just on the ball and then with a weight distribution hitch... I would not be without the latter... ever... if you have ever been nearly been blown off the freeway by an 18 wheeler or experienced severe trailer sway... you know what I mean... weight distribution hitches increase safety and stability and help reduce the pucker factor of towing 10,000 pounds... just my humble opinion...
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:46 AM   #14
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My driving preferences allow "Ball Only" towing. Getting your rig safely loaded out and balanced is critical. Some people think that WD and Sway Control are mandatory for safe operation.
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