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Old 09-10-2014, 02:40 PM   #1
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Weight distribution & anti-sway hitches - What changed from the "old days"?

Back in the second-half of the last century when I first towed a small U-Haul trailer containing all of our worldly possessions behind a Mazda RX2, safe towing was determined by load distribution and tongue weight, proper tires and inflation pressure, and pulling with an appropriate tow vehicle, which usually weighed more than the trailer.

Over the years, we've towed lots of things, all without incident (not including GYM failures), and all without weight distribution and/or anti-sway devices.

For the most part, safe towing was the result of proper load distribution and tongue weight, driving at a speed appropriate for what was being towed (usually 55-60 mph or slower), and using a TV that weighed more than the trailer. The one exception was towing our cabin cruiser, which does weigh more than our TV; but it is quite long, has three axles and is extremely stable at safe towing speeds (55 mph or less).

The few times, I've experienced tail wagging or unusual handling was when the trailer was loaded improperly (way too much weight behind the axle, resulting in very low tongue weight) and when towing at excessive speed (which was just stupid).

Right now, we tow our 2005, 19-foot Bambi with a 2008 Tundra CrewMax at 55-60 mph; and with around 40-50,000 miles on this rig, we have never had an instance where control was an issue.

If our Airstream weighed close to, or more than, our Tundra, I can see the possible need for a WD & anti-sway hitch. However, with our towing combination and driving parameters, I think they are unnecessary.

I'm just curious why those who do have these special hitches think they are needed for smaller rigs. Did you experience poor handling before buying, or are there special conditions that make WD essential for your setup?

Preparing to get flamed...

OK, I'm ready!
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Old 09-10-2014, 02:41 PM   #2
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Old 09-10-2014, 02:47 PM   #3
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Now you did it. Just when things were calming down.
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Old 09-10-2014, 03:58 PM   #4
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I've done pretty much the same only our boat was a 28' sailboat and I tow our 22' Safari Sport with a Honda Ridgeline. Had the GYM blowout and emergency braking situations all without incident. Oh yah, been towing for 50+ years now without fancy hitches or sway.
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
safe towing was determined by load distribution and tongue weight, proper tires and inflation pressure, and pulling with an appropriate tow vehicle, which usually weighed more than the trailer.

For the most part, safe towing was the result of proper load distribution and tongue weight, driving at a speed appropriate for what was being towed (usually 55-60 mph or slower), and using a TV that weighed more than the trailer. y

The few times, I've experienced tail wagging or unusual handling was when the trailer was loaded improperly (way too much weight behind the axle, resulting in very low tongue weight) and when towing at excessive speed (which was just stupid).

Right now, we tow our 2005, 19-foot Bambi with a 2008 Tundra CrewMax at 55-60 mph; and with around 40-50,000 miles on this rig, we have never had an instance where control was an issue.

I'm just curious why those who do have these special hitches think they are needed for smaller rigs. Did you experience poor handling before buying, or are there special conditions that make WD essential for your setup?
You sum it up very well. I wish more people would look it that way.

A lot can be learned by taking a test spin and then adding what is needed - for Airstreams with light tongue weight anyway.

I have towed with all manner of TV and trailers for over 30 years. When I worked for a marina I had no say in what I was towing or with what. Same in construction. I have experienced fishtailing (sway), and adjusted what I had to to get where I was going.

I really was amazed at the fixation on WD and antisway when I first visited this forum after buying our Airstream.

I first hooked the Safari up to my half ton and the tongue weight sacked out the rear springs. The dealer said "I told you so", and recommended a Reese Dual Cam: WD and anti sway.

Anti sway! I said. How could a 25' trailer with 600 lbs of tongue weight, sway?

Airstream pus an enormous amount of weight on the tongue of their North American models. If I could, I would move the axle forward on my Airstream like we do with boat trailers. But I cannot so I use the WD setup.

My cargo trailer is bigger than the Airstream. No WD. It gets loaded with enough weight on the tongue to stop sway yet not sack out the truck. If that is not possible, I drive slower.
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:32 PM   #6
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Imo,,, if towing a well balanced trailer 55 or 6o with a reasonably sized tow vehicle,,, you don't need anti sway.

My trailer never swayed below about 62...
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:33 PM   #7
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What if you were descending a steep grade at 55 mph, on a curve with a 1,000 ft drop on the side, a very strong crosswind, and a semi blew at 80 mph by pushing your trailer well out of alignment with your truck, and you suddenly had to brake because of another semi's tire detached tire tread was lying directly in front of you as you come around the curve.

But then that may happen only once in 50 years.
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:35 PM   #8
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Hmmmm Ahab almost the same experiences here fo 45+ years with sail and TT here ...EXCEPT we have used the fancy hitches with sway control for most of the last 25. If it can be made safer, we are all for it. YMMV
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:36 PM   #9
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Is the semi going up hill or down?
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:54 PM   #10
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Is the semi going up hill or down?
Down, five feet to your left.
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Old 09-10-2014, 05:11 PM   #11
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Get your camera out because there is going to be one heck of a wreck in front of you. From one of those horrible semi drivers 30 years.
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Old 09-10-2014, 05:18 PM   #12
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Phoenix, you've been towing long enough and been on these forums for long enough to know the answers.
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Old 09-10-2014, 06:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
If our Airstream weighed close to, or more than, our Tundra, I can see the possible need for a WD & anti-sway hitch. However, with our towing combination and driving parameters, I think they are unnecessary.

I'm just curious why those who do have these special hitches think they are needed for smaller rigs. Did you experience poor handling before buying, or are there special conditions that make WD essential for your setup
I'll bite. To set the stage, we have a 2002 19' Bambi and, since we purchased it new, it has only been towed with its Hensley hitch, so we have both weight distribution and sway control.

We had two basic reasons for buying the hitch right at the beginning.
1. We have always towed with a Jeep Grand Cherokee (several versions). The version we had in 2002 had quite a short wheelbase. Several experts on internet forums in 2001-2002 stated, basically, that it was insane to tow a 19' travel trailer with a car having such a short wheelbase because the trailer would have absolute control of the tow vehicle and sway was mild for what the driver would experience. In addition, factory instructions for all of our Jeeps indicated the need for weight distribution with a trailer having the tongue weight of our trailer.
2. We had never towed anything behind a car before and wanted NO bad experiences related to towing.

Do we have any regrets about using the Hensley all this time? Absolutely not. We tow comfortably at 65 mph, the total rig is always stable at that speed, and we have never had any sway, EVER.

Tim
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Old 09-10-2014, 06:37 PM   #14
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I can't imagine towing an Airstream without WD and sway control (or elimination), regardless of the tow vehicle. Spreading the load between 3, 4 or 5 axles has to be better than relying on your rear axle alone, no matter how beefy it is. Also,helping to reduce or eliminate sway seems like an effective and inexpensive insurance to me.

Still, that's just my opinion...
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