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Old 05-18-2007, 12:48 PM   #15
Little Radio
 
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Wow. John, what you've written is very troublesome. Thank you for sharing it with me. And thank you for your best wishes concerning their recovery.

Thanks to everyone else's thoughts and prayers, too. They are appreciated.
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Old 05-18-2007, 12:55 PM   #16
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Is anything known about the actual weight of the loaded trailer. More importantly, how was that weight distributed? What was the tongue weight? You can get a very unstable dynamic situation if the tongue weight ranges much below 10% of the trailer gross weight. How the trailer was loaded is a factor. This model Airstream is dynamically stable when empty with a tongue weight closer to 11%. Anything up to 15% is considered relatively normal.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:05 PM   #17
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"I too experienced sudden and violent fishtailing as I was ascending a 4-5% grade in Tennessee."

Something's badly amiss here! Pulling a grade is about the most stable situation in towing-the trailer's weight tends to keep everything in line (like pulling a chain). I tend to agree with the others who question tongue weight. this seems to be a most unusual and bizarre incident.

Hopes for a sppedy and complete recoveery for your folks!
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:09 PM   #18
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I agree with the tongue-weight hypothesis... but this phenomenon didn't reoccur on the other Tennessee hills (up or down) that I drove to/from Florida.

I also know that I did not load the trailer improperly, and neither did my father. So I'm pretty sure this isn't the issue.

I hadn't thought about a cracked tongue or frame, though. A poor weld (which is completely feasible considering Airstream's QC incompetencies) could be the root cause.

I hope the insurance company gets their engineers to review it.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:23 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleRadio
.... I also know that I did not load the trailer improperly, and neither did my father. So I'm pretty sure this isn't the issue.
.....

I hope the insurance company gets their engineers to review it.
Yes, you would know because one has to deliberately put a lot of load in the tail to destabilize in the way I cited. Best wishes in resolving this -- and it would be good to update this thread with developments. My sympathies do lie with us, the Airstream consumer!
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:28 PM   #20
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Did the unit have electronic sway control? Is there some way a brake could have been activated either electrically or mechanically. I would take a close look at the brake assys.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:29 PM   #21
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Such an accident is everybodys towing nightmare. Best wishes to your folks for a speedy recovery!
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:34 PM   #22
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Unit didn't have electronic sway control. I've never heard of such a thing. It was a Reese setup with sway bar and load leveling bars.

Brakes were electric drums -- in fact, my father had their magnets replaced in Myrtle Beach before they left because they were shot. Another design flaw or poor product issue from the factory, eh?

Still, new magnets or what the Airstream dealer did for them in South Carolina may or may not be relevent since I experienced the same episode last year.

I'll keep this thread updated as we learn more. I may also post photos and/or video footage of the wrecked units. Thanks again to all.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:47 PM   #23
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So sorry to hear of your parents' accident. That's a very scary scenario.

How long were they on the road that day? Accident about 7:30 in the evening, I think you said. Where was the accident?

Pat
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:14 PM   #24
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Not sure how long they had been driving. Probably between 6 and 8 hours. Accident happened on the main highway outside Beckley, WV, on 64.

My brothers visited the accident site and said the roadway was nearly flat with a slight grade.
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:51 PM   #25
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When was the last time you father had his bearings greased?
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:54 PM   #26
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:54 PM   #27
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Very sorry to read about that horrific event- Best wishes for their speedy recovery - I also wish for a very very thorough investigation which might enable all to KNOW EXACTLY what happened, sequence by sequence, so all of us can take precautions to prevent any recurrances-
I went across a two-lane highway (each side) about eight times with a 24' sob in my 1/2 T Sub- A trucker blocked traffic from the rear to give me time to fight for my life, on rt. 58 in Tehachapi CA last year. Every time I drive that spot I remember how close I came to rolling over- It was happening so fast that it seemed that it took me forever to figure out to hit the accelerator and lock up the TT brakes at the same time- Never had it happen before, and will never forget it- God Bless- Take Care-Dan
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:55 PM   #28
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The only time I have experienced something like this was about 40 years ago. My dad was pulling a SOB on the freeway down a hill. The trailer suddenly whipped side to side in increasing oscillations. He almost lost control, which could have easily resulted in a rollover down the side of the road, which was steep. I believe the problem was due to rearward loading of the trailer. The trailer had a "trunk" in the outside rear, and a closet on the inside of the rear... both of which we had loaded with stuff. From that day on we towed with the stuff relocated to the front of the trailer, and never had future problems. In 1974 my dad bought a slightly used Airstream Safari 23, which he owned for the rest of his life (until 1999). He continued to bias the load forwards, and never had trouble.

Finally, unless you actually weigh the individual trailer tires and tongue, you really have no idea what your weight distribution is.
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