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Old 05-15-2016, 06:11 AM   #1
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OTR Driving Skills

Just the other day a member relayed a news item about an Airstream overturning after passing another vehicle and the woman passenger in the TV being injured in the accident. There were a number of sound and proven methods for PREVENTING swing/sway occurances but someone closed the thread before anyone could offer the CORRECTION move to stop the tormenting action of the trailer.

I have my own instinct about bringing the trailer in line but any member with CDL experience would be appreciated to suggest methods to get the trailer following the TV again.

Also, on a personal note: Iím pulling a 25í AS Tradewind (trailer brakes equipped) with a 2007 Chev Silverado with two-wheel drive and a heavy load button on the gear shift lever. Later this season Iíll be heading into the western mountains and have not had to consider long steep downgrades before. Is there anything similar AS towers can do similar to what a driver in a big truck can do by manually down shifting his nine speed before cresting the hill? Does downshifting an automatic transmission to slow down before a steep grade work the same way?
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:32 AM   #2
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The trailer is usually swaying because it is going faster than the tow vehicle.
If you experience sway, immediately step on the gas pedal, THEN apply the trailer brakes with the manual control. The truck is then traveling at the same speed as the trailer, and you can slow down after everything settles down, and figure out what just happened. Underwear change is optional, but recommended.

I have noticed some new vehicles with the drive by wire systems will return the throttle to idle when you apply the trailer brakes. This is supposedly done to conserve fuel, but in reality can make a bad situation a lot worse. That's why I recommend accelerating first, applying brakes second. It's a good idea if people try this before experiencing the emergency.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:28 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
The trailer is usually swaying because it is going faster than the tow vehicle.
If you experience sway, immediately step on the gas pedal, THEN apply the trailer brakes with the manual control. The truck is then traveling at the same speed as the trailer, and you can slow down after everything settles down, and figure out what just happened. Underwear change is optional, but recommended.

I have noticed some new vehicles with the drive by wire systems will return the throttle to idle when you apply the trailer brakes. This is supposedly done to conserve fuel, but in reality can make a bad situation a lot worse. That's why I recommend accelerating first, applying brakes second. It's a good idea if people try this before experiencing the emergency.
That is a very good and concise description of how to do it..... thank you!
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:08 PM   #4
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"Is there anything similar AS towers can do similar to what a driver in a big truck can do by manually down shifting his nine speed before cresting the hill? Does downshifting an automatic transmission to slow down before a steep grade work the same way?"

Short answer: yes. Remember that the "rule" is to use the same gear going down as you used going up. Unfortunately, few people drive up and down the same side of the mountain, so some guesswork is required. Spend some time with the owners' manual for your truck to find out as much as you can. See if you can find some steep hills somewhere near you and go out to practice. Remember that SLOW is your best speed. Keep the rpms up going up the hill (better cooling that way) but don't get ridiculous. Ideally you want to crest the mountain at maybe 35 mph or so, and then keep that speed going down. Some highways have turnouts at the top where you can pull over to let the engine cool down a bit. That also lets the traffic behind you get past.

Don't worry about traffic behind you on the way down - except for the guy in the gasser MH who got up to 60 and now finds that he is still accelerating and doesn't have any brakes.

Manually downshift at the top of the mountain. If you leave the truck in Drive on the way up pay attention to what gear you are in and select that one for the descent.
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BicenTw View Post
Iím pulling a 25í AS Tradewind (trailer brakes equipped) with a 2007 Chev Silverado with two-wheel drive and a heavy load button on the gear shift lever. Later this season Iíll be heading into the western mountains and have not had to consider long steep downgrades before. Is there anything similar AS towers can do similar to what a driver in a big truck can do by manually down shifting his nine speed before cresting the hill? Does downshifting an automatic transmission to slow down before a steep grade work the same way?
You've already had one answer, but let me emphasize: you MUST manually downshift on the big descents in the mountains.

Some vehicles are smart enough to automatically downshift to maintain speed when they are in tow-haul mode (that heavy load button on your shifter). My vehicle does this. But it does not do a good enough job (for my sense of safe speeds in the mountains). You pickup is probably no better.

I tow a 25 foot trailer (mine is a 2013, so heavier than yours) with a 2013 GMC Yukon (gas V8, six speed transmission). One example grade here in Colorado is I-70 from the Eisenhower tunnel west to Silverthorne. A 4 or 5 % grade for about 9 miles. Speed limit I think is 60 for cars, 35 for semis. If I just let it coast, I would be going insanely fast. If I manually select third gear, the speed will still creep over 60, and even 60 is unsafe with a trailer. In third gear, I would have to use the brakes quite a bit, to the point where I think they would be fading. So I put it in second gear, which results in me going slower than I ideally would want, but I just sit in the right hand lane and take my time.
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Old 05-16-2016, 08:39 AM   #6
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Thanks to all for the explanations and solutions. I wasnít certain about downshifting an automatic since the Mid-Atlantic region doesnít really require it and I wasnít sure how positive or irregular the shift would feel under load.

One other question is that my electric brake has a manual control on it. Other than Overlander 63ís advice to use the trailer brake during a sway/swing correction no one else mentioned using it in a quickly accelerating descent. Is it recommended to use a tv brakes and trailer brakes combination on the descent or is it a driverís feel for the extra braking that you would reach for the manual control on the trailer brake?
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:52 AM   #7
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I wouldn't use the trailer brakes by themselves on a descent. You don't want to have the trailer brakes fade because that doesn't fix the "trailer outrunning the TV" problem.
A better solution, and one truckers use, is to apply the brakes (TV and trailer) until you have slowed about 10 mph below your desired descent speed, then release the brakes and coast in your preferred gear until you are about 5 mph above your desired speed, then repeat the process. This is less likely to cause the brakes to fade than lightly riding the brakes all the way down.
This method is called Snub Braking.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:34 PM   #8
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Not to disagree with any of the former comments. They are all on target. I do occasionally apply the trailer brakes using the manual control. I have forward, self-adjusting brakes. I will sometimes use the brake controller by itself for a slow stop in order to exercise the trailer brakes and keep the self adjusting mechanism in tune. Always in light to no traffic and speeds in the less than 35MPH range. I'm just not sure that with light foot brake applications during normal travel enough adjustment is made.
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Old 05-16-2016, 04:12 PM   #9
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-- snip -- apply the brakes (TV and trailer) until you have slowed about 10 mph below your desired descent speed, then release the brakes and coast in your preferred gear until you are about 5 mph above your desired speed, then repeat the process. -- snip --
Thanks for this description. We use the approach a lot on longer grades. The term "coast" may be misleading as it usually means to travel without the engine in gear and you correctly state that the transmission should be in your preferred gear. The only addition might be to keep the braking transitions smooth by not stomping on the brakes, but rather applying steady and increasing brake pressure to slow down and then release with steady, but reducing pressure to pause the braking cycle. It also helps to slow before a curve so you are not applying heavy braking force in the middle of a turn. However, continuing with a light application of brakes in the beginning of a turn can hold the squat and keep the rig settled to help with entry stability. We often find that we pass trucks going up and they roll on past us as we decent the grade on the down side so we do our best to let them by with a minimum of fuss. Another good time to brake a little if they are not pulling behind you to let other folks past. Pat
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Old 05-16-2016, 07:43 PM   #10
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OTR Driving Skills

I find our '13 F150 Ecoboost downshifts on its own, and, can be 'forced' to downshift with two quick brake pedal taps. This works down to 3rd gear, but to get down to 2nd, the + and - buttons have to be used. Minus button 'takes away' the higher gears from the brain making the decisions. All this happens in TowHaul mode.

The previous comments are my driving habits, including the getting below desired speed with sharp applications of brakes, then letting the truck handle the downhill without any right foot on the accelerator. When I get up to where it feels almost too fast,again, short, sharp brake applications reign it in.

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