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Old 12-26-2015, 06:29 AM   #1
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Good Morning America - Sway Control

Hi Everybody,
I'm coming to where all the critical thinking will be with my problem.
I have a friend with a early 70s, 31ft Sovereign which were mating to his Dodge Ram 5.7l. The Ram comes with the heavy tow package and I've mated the two with a Prodigy RF. So, were well on the way to getting underway - and stopping!
However, I think its inevitable that the rig will need some kind of sway control and I'd be interested to know your opinions on the best package.
There's no problem getting kit to this side of the pond. The revolution in shipping means its as easy to get stuff to the UK as it is to get it to your neighbours.
Excuse my UK English - its all I know!
Marc
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Old 12-26-2015, 05:47 PM   #2
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There are plenty of threads here on "best anti-sway hitch" and "best sway prevention hitch". You'll likely get lots of answers here too.

In the meantime, you may wish to search for "Pro-Pride", "Hensley Arrow", "Equal-I-zer", "Blue Ox" and such. You'll fine a plethora of thoughts pretty much everywhere you turn.

I'll start your responses here: We have an Equal-i-zer anti-sway / weight distribution hitch and we've been quite happy with it for our two years of ownership. http://www.casarocinante.com/Blog/Sp...acking#hitched
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:16 AM   #3
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what price?

I've done my research and found your recommends very helpful. I think my question comes down to how difficult it is to choose between an anti-sway system that comes highly recommended at less than a thousand dollars, say a Reese or Equalizer? ...or Jim Hensley's designs at well over 2000 bucks?

i think the distinction lies in how effective any particular hitch performs with a 31ft trailer? I tend to think that at this length it's better to go for the Hensley. ...any thoughts?

Detail:
1972 31ft Sovereign
2012 Dodge Ram

I've discovered that the Ram has a tendency to sag under hitch load. Having fitted AirLift suspension to my own Jeep Liberty and found it performs brilliantly, I'd choose this as a solution rather than a weight distribution hitch with anti-sway cams. ...any opinions welcome.

Marc
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:33 AM   #4
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Air suspension will cure the sag but will not effect weight transfer. Whatever weight you place on the hitch will decrease the weight on the front axle and increase the load on the rear axle by the sum of the tongue weight and the weight removed from the front. You may be at risk of overloading your rear axle and tires. Neither will air suspension provide any sway control.

You don't say which version of Ram truck you have. If a 2500 3/4T series, you may be OK. With a 1500 1/2T, probably not. I have a friend who is towing a new 28' Flying Cloud with a 3/4T Chevrolet Diesel without WD or sway control. He says it is stable, even at 80 mph. I wouldn't tow without sway control and I surely wouldn't tow at 80 mph.

I started towing with a 1/2T F-150 and moved up to a Ram 2500 using an Equalizer brand hitch on both. For performance, I'd stay with the Equalizer; it has been rock solid. However is is a tall lift to put the Equalizer hitch head in the back of the truck when camping but not towing. The ability to pull the pin in the receiver and drive away from the Hensley/Pro-Pride is tempting.

Al
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:35 AM   #5
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Remember the OP lives in the UK.

Your truck should be just fine, given how light the early 70's trailers are. The 72 Sovereign weighs in at less than 5000lbs (empty) and has a tongue weight of 525lbs. Even ready to camp, you should be able to keep the weight below 6000lbs.

BUT here's a spanner for the works, again if I remember correctly, in the UK the tow vehicle must weigh at least 15% more than the trailer it tows. You will also run up against this:

"Width and length
The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres. The maximum length is 7 metres for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg."

That rules the truck out given the length of the trailer.

Forgive me if that has changed, I haven't lived over there for over 15 years now.

Lifting the back of the truck does not solve the problem - it just masks it. Weight distribution is the way to go, but as far as I remember, both electric trailer brakes and WD hitches are illegal in the UK, no? I used to own a bunch of Landies when I lived in the UK, there was no such thing as a brake controller for these, it was all mechanical.

The very best sway control hitches are the Hensley (we use one) and the ProPride. They both eliminate sway, 100%, under any circumstances that we've ever encountered.

As far as cost is concerned, yes they cost a bit more, but look at the combined cost of the tow vehicle and the trailer. Why save a couple of hundred at the point where a small investment can make the difference between losing and not losing your entire rig? It seems penny wise and pound foolish.

But my real question is, where in the UK would you take a 31' trailer?
The roads, and the campgrounds, will be a bit of a challenge!
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:50 AM   #6
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We have towed two different trailers with our 2012 Ram 2500HD Cummins.

The first was a 2013 25FB International Serenity (7,300 pound GVW and 5,900 pounds on the axles when camping ready) which had a Hensley Arrow on it from towing with a 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI diesel. Camping ready, the Mercedes lacked the axle capacity necessary.

When we traded the 25FB in on a 2014 Classic (10,000 pound GVW and about 8,200 pounds on the axles camping ready), we went with the second generation Jim Hensley designed ProPride.

The Hensley was put back in service with the same Mercedes but towing a 2015 23D (6,000 pound GVW and axle load of 5,645 pounds camping ready).

The ProPride is easier to use and adjust.

Since both electric brakes and weight distribution hitches were outlawed in Europe to prevent American trailers from coming over and wiping the way over priced "Caravans" out of business, I wonder if your trailer would make it past customs if going across the pond?

I have viewed a few of the RV dealer's lots in the Midlands area and they were pricey for what one got.

BTW. The original turbocharger for the first smaller six cylinder Cummins for the Dodge pickups was made by our licensee Holset Engineering in Huddersfield. That company, in the recent past, was acquired by Cummins.
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Old 01-04-2016, 10:53 AM   #7
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More info. It seems that electric brakes are legal, to my surprise, but need to be modified at minimum:

Differences between American caravans and trailers, and European regulations
1 Operating brakes
It is common on American caravans/trailers with electric brakes to have an electrical device
mounted in the towing vehicle which the driver operates manually to apply the brakes of the trailer
independent to the brakes on the tow vehicle. This is prohibited in Europe where the regulations
demand that the service braking system must be applied without the driver removing his hands
from the steering control.

2 Mounting sensor devices
Alternatively, American caravans/trailers with electric brakes can have an electrical device mounted
in the towing vehicle which senses deceleration in the towing vehicle and transmits a signal to the
caravan/trailer braking system to operate the brakes. European requirements demand that this type
of device must be mounted on the caravan/trailer.

3 Supply of electricity for electrical braking systems
The electrical energy required for the electrical braking system must be supplied to the trailer by
the towing vehicle. If there is a battery on the trailer which is fed by the power supply unit of the
towing vehicle, the power from the battery must be disconnected during application of the service
braking system.

4 Time delays
Some American caravans/trailers rely on a signal from the towing vehicle stop lamps to initiate
braking on the caravans/trailers. Owners of such vehicles need to be aware that the system may
not meet the requirement for brake response time. European regulations demand that the time
In the case of a semitrailer or centreaxle trailer, the maximum mass to be considered for classifying the trailer
corresponds to the static vertical load transmitted to the ground by the axle or axles of the semitrailer or centreaxle trailer when coupled to the towing vehicle and carrying its maximum load.

September2011
delay between the time at which the driver applies the brakes and the time at which the braking
force on the least favourably placed axle reaches the level corresponding to the prescribed brake
performance must not exceed 0.6 seconds. This could be difficult to achieve on systems that have
to wait for the stop lamps to operate before the electronic control unit is activated and the system
produces the prescribed brake level.

5 Parking brakes
American caravans/trailers do not always have a parking brake. European requirements demand
that a caravan/trailer must be fittedwith a parking brake that is capable of holding the vehicle
stationary on an 18 per cent up or down gradient. Also, the working parts must be held in the
locked position by a purely mechanical device.

6 Braking mechanisms
American caravans/trailers do not always have brakes on all wheels, and it is common for a two axle
trailer to have brakes on only one axle. This is prohibited in Europe where regulations demand that
each individual wheel must brake.
Caravans and trailers fitted with a braking system are required to be stopped automatically if the
coupling separates while the trailer is in motion.

7 Inertia coupling
An inertia braking system must allow the trailer to be reversed with the towing vehicle without
imposing a sustained drag force exceeding 8% of the technically permissible maximum mass of the
trailer. Devices used for this purpose must act automatically and disengage automatically when the
trailer moves forward.
American “5thwheel” type caravans are considered semi trailers and, as such cannot use an
inertia (overrun) type braking system. The operation of the towing vehicle’s braking system must
directly operate the brakes on the trailer and electrically controlled systems are permitted.

8 Coupling(ball hitch) dimensions
The American ball hitch diameter is are usually 2 inches whereas the European (UK) is 50mm,
therefore the trailer coupling may need changing to be compatible with the 50mm ball.

9 UK Legislation
&U regulations demandcompliance with the technical requirements of Directive 71/320/EEC
including amendments up to and including Directive 98/12/EC. C&U Regulation 15 also recognises
the technical requirements of United Nations ECE Regulation 13 up to and including the 09 series
of amendments.

10 Dimensions
If the towing vehicle has a permissible gross weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes the maximum width and
length of thedrawbartrailer are 2.55 metres and 12 metres respectively. If however the gross weight of
the towing vehicle is 3.5 tonnes or less, then the maximum permissible width and length for a drawbar
trailer are 2.55 metres and 7 metres respectively. In both cases, the overall length of the towing vehicle
and trailer must not exceed either 18m or 18.75m depending on the type of towing vehicle.
If the vehicle combination (not including buses) is of the articulated category, regardless of the gross
weight of the towing vehicle,the maximum permissible width and length of the semitrailer are 2.55
September2011
metres and 12.2 metres respectively. The overall length of the towing vehicle and trailer must not exceed
15.5m.
The C&U definition of the overall length of a trailer makes it clear that the coupling device and
drawbar are not included in the length dimension. In the case of a caravan, where a protective box
is mounted on to the front(for example to hold gas storage tanks)andis supported on the draw
bar, this box is included in the overall length.
Additional Information
The above information relates to basic construction requirements and some aspects of the use of
trailers. In addition it is recommended that you check whether you have the appropriate Driving
Licence entitlement and whether the vehicle or combination of vehicles requires a tachograph to
record driver’s hours. The latter will apply to most vehicles and combinations of vehicles above
3500kg gross weight, where used for commercial purposes.
For Driving Licence enquiries contact:
DVLA Customer Enquiries, Telephone0300 790 6801
Further details are available at: https://www.gov.uk/
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Old 01-04-2016, 11:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
Remember the OP lives in the UK.

Your truck should be just fine, given how light the early 70's trailers are. The 72 Sovereign weighs in at less than 5000lbs (empty) and has a tongue weight of 525lbs. Even ready to camp, you should be able to keep the weight below 6000lbs.

BUT here's a spanner for the works, again if I remember correctly, in the UK the tow vehicle must weigh at least 15% more than the trailer it tows. You will also run up against this:

"Width and length
The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres. The maximum length is 7 metres for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg."

That rules the truck out given the length of the trailer.

Forgive me if that has changed, I haven't lived over there for over 15 years now.

Lifting the back of the truck does not solve the problem - it just masks it. Weight distribution is the way to go, but as far as I remember, both electric trailer brakes and WD hitches are illegal in the UK, no? I used to own a bunch of Landies when I lived in the UK, there was no such thing as a brake controller for these, it was all mechanical.

The very best sway control hitches are the Hensley (we use one) and the ProPride. They both eliminate sway, 100%, under any circumstances that we've ever encountered.

As far as cost is concerned, yes they cost a bit more, but look at the combined cost of the tow vehicle and the trailer. Why save a couple of hundred at the point where a small investment can make the difference between losing and not losing your entire rig? It seems penny wise and pound foolish.

But my real question is, where in the UK would you take a 31' trailer?
The roads, and the campgrounds, will be a bit of a challenge!
I know at least half a dozen rigs running 30ft+ trailers in the UK. I gotta say having learned to tow on my Caravel, I don't know how they do it!

Electric brakes are legal in the UK as long as the controller is sited on the trailer - hence using the Prodigy RF.

The trailer/tv ratio is only a recommend. ...and using a non-standard vehicle - basically any large 4x4 - means greater latitude on what you can tow. Rules have changed.
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