After reading the story of the roll-over, it reminded me of an experience we had one summer.
We were on our way to Arkansas for our summer vacation. Our first day on the road was very tiresome. It was July 3rd, just a day before the holiday. The traffic was very heavy, almost bumper to bumper as we traveled south on I-65 in Kentucky. We finally got to where we were going for the night and I was certainly glad to get off the road.
The next morning we headed south and crossed the state line into Tennessee. By this time my wife was taking her usual nap while I was driving. The traffic was very light that morning, I suppose due to the fact that most people had already gotten to where they were going for the holiday. I remember passing a sign that was warning us about the possibility of strong cross winds for the next mile and a half. I started thinking about what kind of winds could be that strong in the middle of the summer. I travel about 25 miles each way to work and along the flat bottom land I know in the winter the wind can be a little gusty at times. This was what I was thinking about after reading the warning.
As we approached the area where this was at an 18 wheeler passed us traveling very fast even though we were going the speed limit. About the same time the strong cross winds must have hit because our trailer started a sway that I will never forget. I remember hearing the tires squall as it pulled us from side to side on the highway. By this time my wife was wide awake! She started praying for our safety. My first instinct was to apply the brake with my foot but I remembered that was the wrong thing to do if your trailer was in a sway. I tried to slow down using only the trailer brakes and kept the other hand on the steering. We continued to ride it out until it finially ceased about 20 or 30 seconds later. I know 20 or 30 seconds doesn't sound like a long time but it felt like an eternity to us that morning. Fortunately, I only seen one other vehicle at that time and I watched as it slowed down to keep the distance. We made it through that without any kind of incident.
Thinking back and using 20/20 hind-sight as we say around home. I can think of several things which transpired that may have been a contributor as it all came together at the same time.
I thought I would share this story and what I think led up to this event so that someone else might learn from our mistakes.
The first thing I thought of was the tension bars on our connection. That morning when I hooked up I was at a point where I wasn't sure how tight I needed to set the bars. I probably should have drawn them up one notch tighter although I think these bars only help distribute the weight of the trailer more evenly.
Another thing which may have added to the problem was the fact I don't think I had any sway controls at that time. I purchased a sway control system not long after that. Never heard of the Hensley hitch at that time.
Our towing vehicle was a full size Chevy van 3/4 ton with a 350 engine. We were using an extension bar to push the hitch back another 4 to 6 inches. This added length to the area between the back axle and the point where the ball connected.
The van was also a high top van which added a lot of surface area to the side catching more wind.
We should have slowed down anticipating the wind. The turck didn't help us either and probably contributed much to starting the sway.
The camper we were towing then was a 27' Overlander-International. We've up-grade since then to a larger and newer one. We now have a 31' Excella which is much heavier.
The van has been a good one and it served us well but it now had to go to make way for our new tow vehicle. The newer trailer I think has been just a little too much for the van.
We recently purchased a 1996 Dodge Ram 3500 extended cab with a V-10 and dually wheels. I've only pulled the trailer once with it and it was sweet! The stability was realy great. It felt solid in the back and I had a lot of power to spare going up hill.
Looking forward to our trip to FLA. this summer with it.