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Old 11-30-2015, 08:27 AM   #1
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What are sway bars and do I need them?

Hello. I just got my tow vehicle and 1969 Airstream Globetrotter. It's all original except for new air conditioner and updated pvc plumbing (so far) and in the manual it states it weighs 3330 dry. I am towing with a 2016 Nissan Frontier with a full tow package and 4x4. However, I still am unsure what sway bars are and if I need them. I travel mostly alone and it scares my family (it's only been a couple months) so I want to get lots of safety features to ease their concerns. I just don't know if I need sway bars- or even what they are.
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Old 11-30-2015, 08:37 AM   #2
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What kind of hitch so you have? You need more that just a simple ball and receiver bar. You need some kind of weight distributing hitch. Some have sway control built into their design but are more expensive. The simple sway conrol is a friction bar that resists the trailer's tendency to sway or fishtail when being towed.
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:15 AM   #3
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The traditional approach to towing has long been to have a hitch that one moves some of the tongue weight of the rear axle of the TV and places it on the front axle of the TV and the trailer axles. That is weight distribution. Built into most WD systems is second function., Sway Control. In it's simplest form that is to have the end of the WD bars, with an offset built into the bars, resting on a saddle suspended from the trailer tongue. While traveling straight the WD aspects of the hitch are functioning. However when the trailer is moved off center to the TV, wind or passing truck the bars are forced of the saddles and produce a force that wants to recenter the bars back on the saddles. It is a damping force that is used to reduce the sway and stop it from becoming an oscillation.

I mention that this has been the traditional approach and worked well with historically lighter and softer sprung TVs. I would suggest you look at a newer approach, the Andersen WD hitch. It has taken a different approach to the age old problem while incorporating some advantages to use and effectiveness. Now there will be several posters here that will jump in and say this does not and can not work. However I would suggest you contact a local Airstream unit in your area for possible first hand information on both systems.

For an over kill discussion on the Andersen you might look here.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f464...ead-92131.html
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Old 12-01-2015, 08:02 PM   #4
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Yes, you need some method of sway control. Suggest you spend some time researching the Hensley, ProPride, Equil-i-zer, Reese, Anderson and Blue OX designs. The Hensley and Propride are reported best but a bit heavy($1500-2500). The Equilizer is reported to be a good performer, but must be set up properly and is a stiff connection ($500). Some feel the AS trailers should not have a hitch that transfers shocks from the TV to the Trailer, but there are a lot of satisfied EQ users. The Reese is also reported to be a great hitch, but is subject to the need for correct setup as well ($500). The Anderson is unique as it is a chain tension system and does not use spring bars. It is easy to set up, but may not transfer enough weight. It is supposed to provide good sway control ($500). The BO is relatively easy to set up and provides a flexible TV to Trailer connection($500). The springs provide the sway control too. There are also a lot of clone hitches with similar designs and variable performance at less cost. There are simple bar systems that use auto disk brake pads to provide friction to control sway. Additionlly there are new electrical sway control systems that work with a bar/spring system and pulse on the brakes to dampen sway when it goes beyond the programmed range.

Do a Google search on WDH (weight distribution hitch) and sway control trailer hitch. A lot of options will be identified. This subject is HOT as everyone has their opinion. Do your research. Your best find is an unbiased local with experience setting up a wide variety of hitch types. If after you have gone through all this, and find that you can't make heads or tails of the tech.......buy a Hensley Cub and have a Hensley rep install it. You don't have to go that way, but you do have to understand how a hitch works to adjust it correctly. I'm betting you can do this and find a solution that is safe, effective, and affordable.

Good Luck and happy/safe travels. Pat
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Old 12-01-2015, 10:03 PM   #5
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Hensley or ProPride.
As a ProPride owner for over 2 years, I can say it has made towing easy for myself and my wife. She loves the way she can just "drive the truck" and not worry about the AS following her.

In recent trip I was unable to drive and she was able to take up the task... Cautiously, of course, but did not have a migraine when we arrived at our destination.

Other times I had to take evasive maneuvers and the ProPride kept the AS aligned behind us ... And whe steering back into the road there was no sensation of pulling hard to the left into oncoming traffic.

Having towed with "ball" only, WD hitches with and without "sway control", there is no comparison in the technology and I my opinion, safety margin added by a ProPride... And I understand the Hensley is the predecessor to the ProPride so results are similar in the handling.

since you are new to towing, check out YouTube for the "sway control" and WD hitches. Then try this link for a model example that helped me understand why the ProPride hitch works..
http://youtu.be/v2otJAgYiTo
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Old 12-01-2015, 11:25 PM   #6
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Hensley or ProPride.
As a ProPride owner for over 2 years, I can say it has made towing easy for myself and my wife. She loves the way she can just "drive the truck" and not worry about the AS following her.

In recent trip I was unable to drive and she was able to take up the task... Cautiously, of course, but did not have a migraine when we arrived at our destination.

Other times I had to take evasive maneuvers and the ProPride kept the AS aligned behind us ... And whe steering back into the road there was no sensation of pulling hard to the left into oncoming traffic.

Having towed with "ball" only, WD hitches with and without "sway control", there is no comparison in the technology and I my opinion, safety margin added by a ProPride... And I understand the Hensley is the predecessor to the ProPride so results are similar in the handling.

since you are new to towing, check out YouTube for the "sway control" and WD hitches. Then try this link for a model example that helped me understand why the ProPride hitch works..
http://youtu.be/v2otJAgYiTo

Ditto.

If you want to tow like the trailer isn't there, go ProPride or Hensley. The only issue with my Hensley is that I sometimes find myself going too fast....


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Old 12-01-2015, 11:44 PM   #7
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Agree with the Hensley/ProPride design. Much easier and safer towing experience.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:14 AM   #8
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I do find that with a ProPride you have to watch for the AS to track to the center of a turn much more than on the ball. Really watch your mirrors with it. That said, having towed with other hitches before this, I won't leave home without it. It is as others have said--the trailer just tracks behind you without sway or push from passing big rigs, and wind is no longer a sway inducer. And yeah, it's a bit disconcerting to notice that you are at or above the speed limit going across Texas. I finally had to set cruise to keep it reasonable.....


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Old 12-02-2015, 11:29 AM   #9
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Definitely go with sway bars. It makes the TV and the trailer a single unit, it rebalances weight, is adjustable, and really does prevent and control trailer sway which both makes driving at 65 -75 MPH much more comfortable but it also saves wear on tires and nerves
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:33 AM   #10
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Geeze...

With a 1969 21í Globetrotter, you donít need a Hensley hitch nor a propride... A Reese, Equalizer, etc. weight distribution/anti-sway hitch will work just fine.

No need to spend $2-3K on a hitch for your 21 footer, Lindsey...
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:40 AM   #11
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I would say sway control is absolutely necessary- at least the type that hooks to a small ball beside the trailer ball on the truck end and a small ball on the trailer tongue on the trailer tongue.
Weight distribution may or may not be needed on a light trailer. Does the trailer compress the rear suspension of your pickup? Yes? You need weight distribution. No? You don't need weight distribution, but still need sway control.
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:48 AM   #12
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Definitely go with sway bars. It makes the TV and the trailer a single unit, it rebalances weight, is adjustable, and really does prevent and control trailer sway which both makes driving at 65 -75 MPH much more comfortable but it also saves wear on tires and nerves
Don't confuse sway bars and WD bars. Although they are combined on some hitches.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by LindsayRocks View Post
Hello. I just got my tow vehicle and 1969 Airstream Globetrotter. It's all original except for new air conditioner and updated pvc plumbing (so far) and in the manual it states it weighs 3330 dry. I am towing with a 2016 Nissan Frontier with a full tow package and 4x4. However, I still am unsure what sway bars are and if I need them. I travel mostly alone and it scares my family (it's only been a couple months) so I want to get lots of safety features to ease their concerns. I just don't know if I need sway bars- or even what they are.
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Don't confuse sway bars and WD bars. Although they are combined on some hitches.
Ditto on the need to keep various functions separated in one's mind.

Lindsay, your 2016 tow vehicle (TV) may have sway control built in already, since it has a full tow package. This would be the first bit of information you need to establish. If your TV does have its own sway control, you may not need additional sway control in your hitch set up.

Which brings us to the weight-distributing (WD) aspect of trailer hitches. Most trailer set ups benefit from SOME kind of WD hitch. The possibilities are endless, as are the opinions about the best brands, as this thread illustrates (with plenty more to come probably!).

I have a Ford Van towing a 20' Flying Cloud (5,000 lbs. wet), and have a Reese WD hitch (800 lb. bars) (without sway control cams built in because my TV also has sway control). My old 25' AS and Ford Club Wagon had a similar Reese hitch with heavier bar ratings, but with the sway control cams, as the trailer weighed about 7,500 lbs. loaded.

This article gives a good basic overview, with the WD hitch noted near the bottom:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tow_hi...ributing_hitch

Good luck!

PS -- You should have some good RV service centers near you, maybe even an Airstream dealer, and these would be good places to visit for further advice and guidance.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:38 PM   #14
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You definitely need sway control. As light as these campers are, they are prone to sway with the wind... Or when other large vehicles pass..
I've just finished the renovation of a '78 AS... I got a lot of parts off of wrecked, salvage ASs... They aren't pretty when they've rolled over...
ANY kind of Rv hitch with a sway bar is MUCH better than none... I bought mine off Craigslist.
Good luck and "Happy Trails".
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