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Old 05-19-2007, 08:02 PM   #57
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Bertram , Texas
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Gasp! So glad they are well on the way to recovery. AS mentioned before, if the other event happened with another TV then the TV is probably not an issue, but a catastrophic failure in the TV transmission occured..the results would be similar. I had a standard trans failure in a GM pickup...results..a locked right rear wheel...and a wild ride which spun the vehicle around at seventy MPH on the Maine turnpike. I was supposed to pick up a trailer the following day...which would not have been pretty.

How could this relate? Just like tounge weight, a locked wheel either on the TV or the Trailer could raise havoc.

Well, the important thing is your folks are doing better. LEt us know if the insurance investigators can figure it out.

Best of luck
Rob and Terry

"There’s not much in life we can’t over-analyze”
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Old 05-20-2007, 01:19 AM   #58
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Yeeesh! Glad to hear they are doing better.
This thread has been a good object lesson for me. My TT is a 20' Avion (3300 GVW) and TV is a F250 HD Supercab Longbed Powerstroke.
In other words, I get cocky because my TV is as long at the trailer and the Engine block itself is a third of the wieght of the trailer. So what can possibly go wrong? Now I know.

Does your Dad do his own maintanance on the bearings? or does a shop do them?

Ive seen shops do some pretty goofy things, like overtightening the spindle nut, or using locktight on both the inner and outer bearings. When they get hot, things expand and theres no where for things to go and the bearing siezes. Once they cool down everything looks normal again.
Might be interesting to check the bearings and spindles for any scoring or flat spots.

Did the tire shop do anything goofy when they replaced that one tire?
I bought a Volvo a few years back that had 60 series tires on the drivers side and 65s on the passengers side. It took me a couple of months to notice it, but man, it would eat up those left hand turns.

Once again, glad to hear theyre recovering.

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Old 05-20-2007, 06:21 AM   #59
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How old is the hitch set up? Do they still offer a unit with a friction bar? Has the hitch been checked for damage or wear?
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:42 AM   #60
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Little Radio
The Airstream web site lists the Empty Weights, Max Recommended Weights and Tongue Weights for many years, however it is incomplete as it only goes to 2003.
The tongue weight for a 2003 31 foot Classic is listed as 700 lbs.
That being the case, there would have to be approximately 600 lbs or better shifting around to cause the tongue to go light.

If the three water tanks load shifting around was a factor there would have been other accidents of this nature.

I feel the warning flags are the Brake problems mentioned in your post #1.
You are looking for a source of 12VDC to have gotten to the brake circuit.
Open every linear inch of the wiring that has the brake wiring in it and inspect it carefully from opening the 7 pin connector to the backing plates.
Has the plug from the trailer to the tow vehicle ever been changed, repaired of damaged?
You are not looking for damage that results in when a 12 VDC wire touches ground (Arcing, severed wires with copper balling at the point of cut, copper balls melted into the insulation etc) but a lesser amount of damage such as some black smoke residue on the colored insulation because the 12 VDC wire did not short, it merely powered the braking system.

Call your dads insurance company and demand to speak to the agent and at best the investigator. If you get to the investigator, tell him of the brake problems, do not embellish of hold a friendly chat. Just tell him what you wrote here.

“I too experienced sudden and violent fishtailing as I was ascending a 4-5% grade in Tennessee. My tow vehicle's sheer heft and size kept me from having the rear kicked out, but I wrestled with the trailer across 2 full lanes of highway, futilely dragging the trailer brakes as I accelerated. I only recovered after I applied my tow vehicle's brakes.”

“After repeatedly taking his trailer to the selling dealer to fix a laundry list of items which included tire alignment and brake issues, he finally made an appointment and took it to JacksonCenter. He specifically told the technicians that he was sure that the axles and/or wheels were out of alignment, and that the brakes were not working correctly. He told them that he had replaced a wheel because of severe wear as evidence of his first assertion, and that stopping distances were poor and inconsistent as evidence of his second concern.”

Or better yet if you have retained a lawyer, give him this information.
Remember, the stabilization systems being pushed today as an attempt to make cars safer utilizes the braking system, specifically the ABS brake system. They achieve the re-stabilization by applying varying brake pressure to individual wheels to achieve the desired results.
Nisson even uses the ABS system to achieve the four wheel limited slip differential effect on their four wheel drive vehicles instead of two limited slip differentials.

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Old 05-20-2007, 09:10 AM   #61
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One more thing to think about, onc, years ago, I had a rear tire blow out on my 71 VW camper. I took it to our local shade tree garage and asked them to replace this tire with a new one. A couple of days later, I nearly hit a streetcar, and slowly drove back to the garage. I got the manager to put the VW on the hoist and found that they had put one BIAS tire on and the rest were radials. The tread was similar, so I didn't pay much attention to it when I picked the car up. Is this a possibility?
I can't explain exactly how it happened, either.
We'd all be interested in the eventual solution of this puzzle.
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:51 AM   #62
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Exclamation Could it be faulty electronics?

I hope your parents recover quickly, that is the most important part of this thread.

Since this thread looks like a brain storm here it goes.
The trailer has two brakes, left and right. What would happen if one of the brakes engaged the trailer? I have a Prodigy Brake Controller. It is hard to believe my stopping safety depends on an electronic gadget the size of a deck of cards. Any chance that could be a factor?

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Old 05-20-2007, 10:51 AM   #63
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Glad your folks are out of hospital. They'll have a story for the campfire for a long time to come. Especially would like to hear dad's debriefing when he's up to it. This stuff scares the hell out of folks.
Several recommendations for the overly cautious do follow from the specualtions here. Always travel with a full fresh water tank, an empty waste tank, ect.
My waste tanks are over the axels above the floor inside the coach. I hadn't thought it out before but that 250lbs on each side when hitting a bump or wavey surface could on the bounce back completly unload the ball. Since bumps at bridge - highway transitions are often followed by uneven surface under-repair I could suddenly be in a world for hurt. Especially if the front 50 gallon fresh tank is empty. I will update my departure check list and be more weary of uneven road surfaces.
How could one correct for an unweighted ball and trailer sway once it starts?
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Old 05-20-2007, 11:01 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by jnerges
I hope your parents recover quickly, that is the most important part of this thread.

Since this thread looks like a brain storm here it goes.
The trailer has two brakes, left and right. What would happen if one of the brakes engaged the trailer? I have a Prodigy Brake Controller. It is hard to believe my stopping safety depends on an electronic gadget the size of a deck of cards. Any chance that could be a factor?

ALL of your stopping in modern vehicles is dependent on electronics. As well as almost everything else in your car or truck.
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:29 PM   #65
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Have you read my posts #47, #51 and #60.
The brake circuit is like this: One blue wire leaves the controller in the cab. It goes through the cable that plugs into the back of the tow vehicle (still one blue wire).
It (the single blue wire) then goes to an area close to the axles, preferrable in the center of the trailer over the axles. There is a junction there of five wires. One wire from each brake electromagnet (four in all) and the single blue wire.
The brake electromagnet has two wires comming from it. The blue wire feeds electricity to one of them (from the controller), the other is bonded securely to the frame to supply a ground and complete the electric circuit. The difference in braking between the wheels is caused by:
1. bad grounds
2. bad electrical (supply from the brake controller) connection
3. Difference in the brake spring tension (springs inside the drum)
4. Greae on the brake linings
5. Brake linings cracked and partially gone
When you apply brakes the current is supposed to divide by four evenly and go to each brake evenly. The difference in electromagnets is too small to be imporntant as long as you have the same model electromagnet installed in each wheel.
The springs also make a difference in braking performance.
If one spring brakes you really should replace the springs in the other three wheels also.
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:33 PM   #66
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As a pilot of 39 years, 20 of which was in the USAF, and included a tour as Chief of Safety at a Major TAC base (with the associated accident training), I find we all are jumping to conclusions that we cannot back up with FACT. All military accidents are treated as ''hands off' until the official and final accident report is filed. That is the word....anything else is speculation and is harmful. Speculation is our enemy...all we do is scare people and point blame in the (perhaps) wrong direction. I would like to recommend that we wait until qualified individuals look at the facts and evidence and make a determination as to what the 'experts' think was the cause. We may never know...but we can sit here and second guess the experts forever...and never know for sure.
sorry for the soap box....just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 05-21-2007, 03:30 AM   #67
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Thats right
This is an isolated incident, not a class problem.
This one trailer was having peculiar problems not problems shared by a number of trailers on a regular basis.
As the class at UCLA taught you, if that is where you went, the Air Forces equivalent of the NAVY Safety Center sought out the root cause with out wanting to burn people for possiblely screwing up. This attitude allowed the lines of communication to remain open no matter what happened.
There is no similiar activity here.
I had a similiar problem but with far less severe results.
I bought my trailer used. All of a sudden the brake lights on the trailer would come, then go out. I could see this because of the fiber optic thing on the drivers side of the trailer. Other times the running lights could come on for no reason. Because of the isolation I installed in my tow vehicle, the problem did not feed bact and cause problems there.
I found it to be in a damaged plug on the end of the cable that plugs into the tow vehicle. The anchor had come loose on the plug allowing the cable to twist in the plug. Due to the nature of the failure, the 12 VDC feed could have just have easily been intermittently touching the Brake control (blue) feed wire.
I was just lucky.
I found it because on the day I started to look for the problem, the runnings light were on and would not go out, I happen to touch the cable going to the male connector and heard an arc and saw smoke come from the connector.
As you well know, catastropies are very very rarely caused by one singular mechanical failure, but a single electrical failure can snow ball very fast and set up its own set of failures (F-16 wire chaffing, F-14 wire chaffing, bootstrap turban failure and on and on, Kapton).
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Old 05-21-2007, 07:30 AM   #68
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I agree 110% with ScottW...I don't think this is a wide spread problem with Airstream's...I also think the title to this thread is VERY, VERY strong and should be changed as none of us know that this was the trailers fault...

I know none of us like being falsely accused!

I also pray for your parents speedy recovery and I hope you find the true cause of this horrible accident not matter what's to blame.

Just my 2 cents worth...

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Old 05-21-2007, 08:50 AM   #69
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Thread Heading Change

I am very glad to hear your parents are en route to a full recovery and this experience must have been very traumatic - my thoughts and prayers to both of them.

Having read through all of the speculative causes of this severe and rare accident including the blame resting on the TT, TV, Weather, Road Conditions, Brakes, Electronics, Weighting, Trans, Axles, Hitch/Frame, User, or an Infinitie Combo of the above and not meaning to make light of the seriousness of this incident, maybe the heading for this thread should be revised until an expert conclusion based on every on-site detail has been reached.

I am awaiting delivery of a 2008 AS with family travel plans in our near future and the title of this thread scared the heck out of me. Until the cause is determined, maybe the thread should read "Severe Fishtail Rollover Accident - Cause Under Investigation" with the trailer brand left out for now.

Towing a trailer is not childs play - everyones posts on this thread are very helpful in reminding us to always be prepared and to check and re-check our travel equipment. Thank you.
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Old 05-21-2007, 09:13 AM   #70
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Thread title has been changed.


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