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Old 03-24-2012, 08:06 AM   #1
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pardon me if this is a basic question...

..or even in the wrong forum..mods can move it if need be..(not that they need my permission)

Trying to decide between trailer and motor homes..the one RV trip I have taken was in a motor home..(not an Airstream though) but have been in love with the Airstream trailers for years...

so towing...you are going down the highway and for whatever reason..the thing starts to fishtail...(isn't there a way to minimize this?) so most books I have suggest slowing. but one book says put your foot down..pick up speed..get it under control like that, then slow down...

So what is right?
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:31 AM   #2
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Stab the gas and hit thr trailer brake at the same time. I have had to get my SOB back under control after a semi blew by me and sucked the camper over so bad that I could see all 32 feet of her sideways in my mirror. I put the gas peddel on the floor and hit the switch on my trailer brake controler. My rig was straight in a instant my heart however was still sideways in the throat!
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:33 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by uoshane View Post
Stab the gas and hit thr trailer brake at the same time. I have had to get my SOB back under control after a semi blew by me and sucked the camper over so bad that I could see all 32 feet of her sideways in my mirror. I put the gas peddel on the floor and hit the switch on my trailer brake controler. My rig was straight in a instant my heart however was still sideways in the throat!

X2, you have to practice this over and over in your head to make it a natural reaction, but this will correct many sins.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:36 AM   #4
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That is what the sway control at the hitch mitigates... You can imagine why is is so important. Obviously, the best way to deal with it is to avoid it in the first place (there are many hitch setups that address this condition...some more elaborate than others).
I am no expert, but in the event of a sway condition I have always been told to manually apply trailer brakes an accelleratethe TV. Fortunately, I have never had the opportunity to find out is this works or not
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:38 AM   #5
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Use a good weight distribution hitch with anti-sway and it isn't an issue. Many here on the forum would say that I am "under-trucked" for my trailer. I tow a 34' Airstream with a 2009 F150. However, I use a ProPride hitch and have never had any sway issues with that setup. (I did have sway with my previous Reese hitch).

Our first RV experience was with a Travel America 27' motorhome rental. We did not have a towed vehicle with us, so parking and visiting stuff was very difficult and often involved long walks especially in smaller towns. We love the trailer/tow vehicle combination. Into the campground we go. Setting up takes less than 20 minutes, and we are free to drive the truck into town and park in virtually any parking space without trying to find five in a row for the motorhome.

Back to your towing process, get a good hitch and you won't need to worry. While in the center lane, I have been behind one 18 wheeler, and passed on both sides by others without any problem. I think that is the worst case scenario from a potential sway situation.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:50 AM   #6
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Loaded question, it will generator all kinds of “discussion”

Welcome to forums.

For us, the motorhome/trailer choice has no good answer. We like aspects of both, and see drawbacks with both. We decided for us at this point a trailer is better. We travel as much as we can, but don’t feel that it is enough to justify the cost of the motor vehicle parts of a motorhome. Considerations included everything from drive train maintenance to taxes and insurance in our choice.

As for trailer sway, the most popular answer you will probably get here is to do all you can to prevent it from happing to begin with. This is absolutely true, but there are many facts and opinions about how to accomplish this. And, lots of correct answers.

If my rig began an oscillation, I would manually activate the trailer brakes and apply a little throttle. This would be an attempt to “stretch” the rig out and get the trailer straight behind the truck.

Despite all the discussions and ideas, towing a travel is safe and a lot of fun.


Regards,

JD
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:51 AM   #7
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Well, it's never happened to me, but seems to me that the received wisdom is this:

First, some kinds of hitches (i.e. Hensley and their competitors) tend to prevent sway more than others, and some of the more popular hitches, such as dual-cam rigs are good at this also, though probably not as good as Hensleys ... so a first idea is a proper hitch, set up properly.

Second, proper trailer loading, tire maintenance and hitch adjustment also will tend to prevent sway. Higher tongue load, properly inflated tires of the right type, and the best possible levelling and weight transfer, are "in the direction of goodness" and will aid prevention.

Third, reduction of highway speed is also in the direction of goodness when it comes to sway. In work with trailer and automotive engineers over the years, it has been demonstrated to me pretty forcefully that almost any trailer has a critical speed at which it will begin to oscillate out of control. So, slower is better.

The above steps are obviously aimed at prevention, not at "fixin' it once it starts," and in that situation, folks who have been there give various reports, but tend to indicate that firm use of trailer brakes tends to straighten out the combination, if there is sufficient traction, etc.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:15 AM   #8
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Speed kills

Over my years I have had just about any type of trailer and or load behind me.. From a VW Thing pulling an old 51 IHC pu,, to a 125,000 lb. oil drilling rig..

The comment above about speed is true.. All factors added together its better to sit back in the slow lane and run 60mph than try and run with the gray hounds in the fast.. You will arrive much more rested than sitting on top of the steering wheel the whole trip.. Fuel mileage is much better also..

The first trip home with out new 72 Overlander we faced a 50 mph cross wind the entire 300 mile trip home. I did not invest the time to hook up the equalizer hitch,, and now after knowing how to set it up wish I had.

On our trip home it looked to be that around or above 62 mph the TV and trailer started to "hunt" and at the edge of being unstable. Since leaning about setting up the hitch,, we pulled it to the lake a week ago today and had another 50 mph side wind but at 65,mph all was stable..

Just start out careful,, and with time and learing to read the road ahead ,, pulling a trailer I feel is much better than putting a motor home down a narrow hiway.. Been there and done that!

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Old 03-24-2012, 10:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AirsDream View Post
Well, it's never happened to me, but seems to me that the received wisdom is this:

First, some kinds of hitches (i.e. Hensley and their competitors) tend to prevent sway more than others, and some of the more popular hitches, such as dual-cam rigs are good at this also, though probably not as good as Hensleys ... so a first idea is a proper hitch, set up properly.

Second, proper trailer loading, tire maintenance and hitch adjustment also will tend to prevent sway. Higher tongue load, properly inflated tires of the right type, and the best possible levelling and weight transfer, are "in the direction of goodness" and will aid prevention.

Third, reduction of highway speed is also in the direction of goodness when it comes to sway. In work with trailer and automotive engineers over the years, it has been demonstrated to me pretty forcefully that almost any trailer has a critical speed at which it will begin to oscillate out of control. So, slower is better.

The above steps are obviously aimed at prevention, not at "fixin' it once it starts," and in that situation, folks who have been there give various reports, but tend to indicate that firm use of trailer brakes tends to straighten out the combination, if there is sufficient traction, etc.
Excellently put, AirsDream. There have been a few links to technical towing articles on the forum recently but this sums it all up in ordinary-speak.
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Old 03-24-2012, 10:10 AM   #10
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The only issue with the step on the gas and the trailer brakes idea is that "sway" is most often an issue when speeding down hills and then needing to brake and initiate a turn. A smooth application of just the trailer brakes using the manual controller would seem to be the best plan to me, and the one to practice. In general, if my truck won't hold the trailer to the speed I wish to travel on a hill (after gearing down, of course), I apply just the trailer brakes before the speed builds up much at all.

I've towed many different kinds of trailers with different tow vehicles; all were properly loaded, and I've never had any thing I'd call sway - e.g. the trailer starting to go back and forth by itself. The 3000 lb steel lifeboat on a single axle trailer behind a 1/2 Suburban was pretty squirrelly, but if you steered into the oscillations rather than countersteering it was happy. As a result of this and other experiences, I'm pretty convinced that for properly loaded trailers at sane speeds, "sway" is really the driver and the tow and trailer all oscillating together. Learn what your rig does, and how not to be part of the problem, and you'll have a fine time towing.

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Old 03-24-2012, 03:49 PM   #11
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I would agree with pretty well everything that has been said especially with regarf to propet loading and weight distribution. Many of the newer tow vehicles have an ant-sway system. We have one on our 2010 F-150 and I have been impressed. On our way home from Alumapalooza in 2011we ran into very strong cross winds on I 90 in Minnesota. There wad a steady cross wind of 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph. We are towing a 27 Flying Cloud FB and our rig was supringly stable. The 18 wheelers and the 5th wheels were having much more trouble. These systems are NOT a panacea for good loading and set up but can be useful
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:33 PM   #12
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We have owned a small motor home...and now the Airstream. For what it's worth I have always felt more comfortable with the stability of the trailer (with weight distribution/sway control) in general than the motor home...and we feel far less buffeting when larger vehicles pass.
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:37 PM   #13
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The only issue with the step on the gas and the trailer brakes idea is that "sway" is most often an issue when speeding down hills and then needing to brake and initiate a turn. A smooth application of just the trailer brakes using the manual controller would seem to be the best plan to me, and the one to practice. In general, if my truck won't hold the trailer to the speed I wish to travel on a hill (after gearing down, of course), I apply just the trailer brakes before the speed builds up much at all.

I've towed many different kinds of trailers with different tow vehicles; all were properly loaded, and I've never had any thing I'd call sway - e.g. the trailer starting to go back and forth by itself. The 3000 lb steel lifeboat on a single axle trailer behind a 1/2 Suburban was pretty squirrelly, but if you steered into the oscillations rather than countersteering it was happy. As a result of this and other experiences, I'm pretty convinced that for properly loaded trailers at sane speeds, "sway" is really the driver and the tow and trailer all oscillating together. Learn what your rig does, and how not to be part of the problem, and you'll have a fine time towing.

- Bart
Naw, you might want to try some other combinations, and plenty of other situations. Tripping hazard, broken spring mount, reversing winds, etc. An 8,000-lb trailer with a 5,600-lb car will have you training from day one. The drag of a big trailer will yank the rear axle tires of the TV to one side. It is not gentle. It may not be violent by definition -- you will have some time to react -- but it's close. And it takes awhile for a TV to pick up speed in response. Throttle on, brake on. It's just something to be prepared for.

And is the reason I want the brake controller to the left of the wheel and keep the transmission hand also free if downshifting is part of the thing.

To the OP. Get the best hitch, trailer disc brakes and everything as well set up as can be. There are situations where I'd much rather drive a TV-TT combination than a motorhome (winds, mainly), and, short of a 1980's BLUEBIRD Wanderlodge I doubt that any of todays motorhomes really drive all that well until one is in the highest dollar rigs.

Not having to drag a little car behind one (always hitching and unhitching) or maintain two drivetrains, etc, makes towing a great trailer like one of these an easier life in plenty of respects. Unless one is traveling with 5-6 people, the motorhome has no real advantage, IMO. (And they always seem to need more work, and more expensive work).

Remember that fewer than 10% of trailering rigs are really well set up, but (irony of ironies) it isn't hard to do. So the opinions of many all over the RV world may not be worth much when it comes to how well a TV-TT can drive.
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:43 PM   #14
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Wow, you are getting great advice!
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