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Old 02-20-2003, 11:11 AM   #1
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Towing dread!!

While I usually enjoy my trips with our Airstream Safari, I have come to truly dread the time spent on concrete interstates. I'm referring to those stretches of pavement which have heaved every 15 or 20 ft. or so resulting in a bone jarring ride which feels like my innards are being forced into my throat. When encountering one of these stretches I usually end up slowing to 45 mph and praying for asphalt.
I've tried changing the tension in my equalizer bars, adding air springs on my trucks rear axle, all to no avail.
Do I have to fork over the big bucks for a Hensley or Blue Ox in order to negotiate the old concrete highways which exist literally from coast to coast? I really don't believe trading my '99 F-150 on a 3/4 ton truck will solve the problem either.

Sore butt
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:24 AM   #2
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If you are talking about the ship-at-sea motion that comes from the uneaven pavent, I know of no solution - and I have talked to a lot of people about it.

I do know that too much/little tongue weight can make it worse, as can improperly inflated tires on both vehicle and trailer, but as far as an actual cure....?

Is there one? I would be most interested in hearing an answer myself.

Mark
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:25 AM   #3
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Hehehe You been going through Louisanna a lot haven't you? Man that is some of the worst roads I have ever expeirenced! I'm orriginaly from Michigan and use to frost heaved roads and LA takes the cake. I had to run from Atlanta to Dallas on I 20 and it was miserable without a trailer.
Might try playing with tire pressure some. Most people run their tires over inflated. While a tire may say 35 on the side wall the load your carring may only warrent 28psi. With a weight distibution hitch you don't need to run a full load tire pressure. You owners manual should have some recomendations and on a door frame or glove box door should be recomended pressures from the manufacture.
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:51 AM   #4
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Re: Towing dread!!

Quote:
Originally posted by wyhjr
I'm referring to those stretches of pavement which have heaved every 15 or 20 ft. or so resulting in a bone jarring ride which feels like my innards are being forced into my throat.
Next worse to me is the asphalt paving on the interstates where the roadbed has sunk due to the truck weights. This leaves a high spot in the middle of the lane. You attempt to keep your tow vehicle within the ruts, and hope that the trailer can reasonably occupy the same depressions. I-44 used to have some nasty points from St. Louis southwest. Most of it has been repaved but even with sway control, these situations are particularly nasty.

Jack
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:55 AM   #5
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Angry Sore Back

I talked to a guy last year that was towing a small trailer with a HD 3500 truck. He had the same complaint.
Towing an Airstream does allow the use of a non heavy duty puller. I think your complaint is one of the reasons why many owners are going to softer suspended, (four wheel independant) vehicles like cars and smaller vans. They get the job done, get good all around gas mileage, and provivde flexability and a less harsh ride. They also cost less than the HD trucks and maintainance is lower. True there are some drivers who will always pull with a heavy truck and that is their right and preference.

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Old 02-20-2003, 01:18 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Towing an Airstream does allow the use of a non heavy duty puller
An overloaded suspension will give you a smooth ride .... until it bottoms out, or the springs break. And I beleive that if your tires are too soft, they have more chance of blowing up.

I do not agree that a lighter vehicle is cheaper to maintain than a heavier one. We sank a lot of money in our van, and in a year did not spend any on our truck.
I do not suggest that you need an 11 tons truck for safe towing, but as you can read in other discussions in these forums, a light vehicle is not really safe.

We pulled our trailer for 9 or 10 years with a 1 ton Chevy van, extended wheel base, 454 engine. The van was always VERY loaded, which makes for as smooth a ride as you can get with such a vehicle. We had "bone jarring rides" about everywhere we went. Slowing down to 45 was not the answer.


Quote:
vehicles like cars and smaller vans... get the job done
I am sure a lot of people will respectefully disagree. I beleive that a bigger vehicle is a safer vehicle:

one year, we forgot to turn back on the brakes on the controller, and drove from Maine to NY, south of Syracuse, never a hint we didn't have brakes on the trailer. Until the last 2 miles on RT20 off I-81, 2 miles straight down [a deadly strech of road], the fairground at the bottom of the hill. We did stopped: smoke & flames coming out of the van brakes. Brand new brakes destroyed. But, if we had had a F-150 or such, I don't beleive we still would be joking about it.
When Mike (his fault of course), destroyed the same "new again brakes" a couple of thousand miles later, we decided to get really big brakes.
What I can tell you is a heavier vehicle will bounce as much as a lighter one on some interstates. Our truck has air ride and carrying about 1/4 of is cargo capacity. The van was maxed out. They all bounce the same.


Quote:
I really don't believe trading my '99 F-150 on a 3/4 ton truck will solve the problem either
It will not solve the bouncing, but: At least, if you get a substential tow vehicle, you have the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, it will be there to keep your trailer safe.

Chantal
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:03 PM   #7
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by femuse
[B]
An overloaded suspension will give you a smooth ride .... until it bottoms out, or the springs break. And I beleive that if your tires are too soft, they have more chance of blowing up.


Howdy Chantal:
Re to your comment above. Bottoming Out! Soft tires??? Overloaded suspension??? I didn't say anyone should drive under those conditions!!!!?????

A properly connected, and safe vehicle is in everyones interest whether it is a Western Star, one ton dually, or Mini Cooper S.

I am not aware of anything that I have read that proves that a heavier vehicle is safer than a lighter one???? I would much prefer a performance oriented vehicle that "handles". It is my preference based on my experiance and understanding. You have another preference and I respect that.
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:32 PM   #8
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Bill, I experienced some of what you described with my first tow vehicle. With my later Yukon I have nothing like it any longer, but I did a complete refit of my hitch (Reese) and the truck to ensure that everything was done to the last detail. My truck rides totally smooth now. Resse has hitch setup instructions on their website and it is more than just the tension of the bars.

90% of my travel is on interstate in MN and ND/SD.
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:47 PM   #9
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Jace,
I'm impressed that you were able to achieve a smooth ride on those northern interstates!! I should hire you to setup my hitch!!
Seriously, I'm going to redo my hitch setup prior to my next trip in an effort to reduce the pitching. (height, hitch angle and tension)
I haven't heard from anyone extoling the virtues of the Hensley/Blue Ox as a solution to the problem!
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Old 02-20-2003, 03:17 PM   #10
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While I can't point to any particular reason why, it has been my experience that "freeway-hop" has three contributors - - a relationship between the distance from one expansion joint to the next and the distance between the trailer's axles and the tow vehicle's rear axle, valving of the tow vehicles shocks and/or stiffness of its rear springs, and adjustment of the hitch height and angle.

My nighmare tow vehicle was a 1995 Chevrolet K1500 Z71 Extended Cab pickup - - towing my '64 Overlander. On any freeway with expansion joints, let alone frost heaves or summer pavement explosions, would cause the tow vehicle to porpoise unmercifully. Switching to standard duty, gas filled shocks helped some as did having the Reese Dual Cam Sway Control hitch properly adjusted with spring bars that were properly rated for the tongue load of the trailer- - I had hoped that switching to highway rather than all terrain tires would help but that seemed to make no difference.

I gave up on the Chevrolet after 45,000 miles (I was never a fan of pickup trucks prior to purchasing this rig, and I suspect that it will be my last). The above changes helped some, but the truck was underpowered to my way of thinking (5.7 Liter V8, 3.73 differentials, and overdrive automatic), and just wasn't proving to be a satisfactory tow vehicle for my Overlander.

In 1998, I switched to a special ordered 1999 GMC Suburban (K2500). Despite initial reluctance on the part of my dealer, I ordered the truck with standard rear springs and shocks as well as all-season radials rather than all terrain or off road tires- - with all of the other heavy duty apparatus. It seems that the combination of this vehicle is just what my trailer needed - - even over the same highways that caused the Chevrolet pickup fits, this Suburban has absolutely no problems with porpoising and has excellent ride characteristics both solo and with the trailer.

From what I have been able to gather from talking with a number of trailer owners, not necessarily all Airstreams, is that the problem for "freeway-hop" or porpoising seems to be most strongly influenced by the relationship of the distances between the trailer's axles and that of the tow vehicle that can be further compounded by the spacing of the expansion joints/frost heaves/pavement breaks- - something that an engineering friend called "harmonics of movement" if my memory serves correct.

Kevin
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Old 02-20-2003, 03:31 PM   #11
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Thumbs up Suburban Setup

Kevin

By the way you ordered and set up the Suburban I think you have a good understanding of the dynamics involved with towing an A-S. If I was to ever get into a vehicle like a Suburban I would follow your model. Nice!!!
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Old 02-20-2003, 04:30 PM   #12
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Bill,

I use a Hensley, but I mostly drive on the back roads, so I can't comment on whether or not the Hensley improves the ride on these hwy's.

I do remember driving I-40 without a trailer through AR and couldn't wait to get off it .

Chantal,

You stated that:
one year, we forgot to turn back on the brakes on the controller, and drove from Maine to NY, south of Syracuse, never a hint we didn't have brakes on the trailer. Until the last 2 miles on RT20 off I-81, 2 miles straight down [a deadly strech of road], the fairground at the bottom of the hill. We did stopped: smoke & flames coming out of the van brakes. Brand new brakes destroyed. But, if we had had a F-150 or such, I don't beleive we still would be joking about it.

Not to slam you, but if you had taken the time to check all of your systems prior to leaving, you wouldn't have ended up burning up your brakes.

I tow with a 1/2 ton truck and have safely pulled and descented some steep grades. Prior to my descent, I'm in the proper gear to hold me back and I used my braking a minimal amount.

I'm one who doesn't believe that bigger is better, I'm one who believes in knowing whats going on at all times. This allows me to travel with a great degree of confidents in my 1/2 ton truck.

John
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Old 02-20-2003, 04:59 PM   #13
 
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John,

I do not desagree with your point:
Quote:
but if you had taken the time to check all of your systems prior to leaving, you wouldn't have ended up burning up your brakes.
I see you speak of I, and that is where our problem is:
Mike had me maneuver over 30mn to park in Maine [some very tricky positioning, particular to our style of "camping"].
Following his instruction, I turned off the brakes.
5 or 6 days later, he drove to NY.
We still argue about that, but I say that he was the driver then and should have checked the brakes.

By the way, RT20 in NY, has an awfull reputation: we have seen a lot of bands with buses refusing to take it the following years. Trailers starting in low gear, end up making a crazy U-turn on a parking lot across the fairgrounds. The locals seem to enjoy mentioning every year how many people got killed !!!!

We are now taking a safer route.

Chantal
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Old 02-20-2003, 05:01 PM   #14
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Lightbulb Advanced Air Hitch

While researching a new draw bar for my 2500hd, I ran across a site that is selling a product similar to that sold for 5th wheel trailers to soften the bouncing. It uses shocks and an airbag that can be filled with a standard bicycle pump or electric airpump that some of us carry for emergencies. It mounts in the receiver just like your draw bar and then a hitch platform mounts to it. It allows use of the spring bars because it is using your original platform. The site is www.advancedairhitch.com and it looks neat. It seems that it would cushion an Airstream and transmit less shock to the trailer, something Inland RV Andy says happens when we go too heavy on our tow vehicles. I wish I knew someone who was already using the device and towing an Airstream because I'd like to see how it was working for them.
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