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Old 05-26-2016, 11:46 AM   #1
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Cross, Head, Rear and No WIND

Airstream's swaying in the WINDs on the roads of the USA.

Somehow we must be towing different brands of Airstreams.

My 23 foot and 25 foot Airstreams handle easily in all wind conditions and directions of the barren treeless area's of the West. I have never had a problem with sway or wind pushing our tow vehicle or trailer around.

Wyoming's I-80 is nature's wrath for empty 18 wheelers and SOB Trailers.
Kansas's I-70... ditto.
Colorado's I-70 and I-25... ditto.
Nevada... wind is to be taken as Nature's Gift against raking leaves.

The profile of an Airstream no doubt helps and the close clearance to the pavement is a plus. Where our friend complained about cross winds with his Arctic Fox 25 foot... I noticed very little sway on our 23 foot Airstream on I-80, Wyoming's test ground for Cross Winds.

Passing 18 wheelers WILL pull or push you as they come up to your trailer. Cross wind direction will prepare you for that slight adjustment when the tractor is approaching your trailer's back 25% and then... the pressure is neutralized. There is a rhythm to the approaching 18 wheeler with a slight steering wheel 'tweak' and then you will feel the Air Pressure on the Airstream... begin to relax and you 'tweak' a bit the other direction... until the back of the trailer passes and the Cross Wind direction may need to be, readjusted back to where you were before.

Cross Winds take some practice, but I have never had an issue or complaint, or needed special additions to prevent sway.

Tail Winds are your opportunity to gain some great miles per gallon.
Head Winds will take the opportunity away.
No Wind... is for the morning, late afternoon and evening travelers.

Cross Winds... do not over react. Watch the trailer behind the cab of the 18 wheeler. If the wind is from your LEFT, the trailer when passing will be a foot or more TOWARDS you and your Airstream. I will move over to the RIGHT and make sure there is plenty of clearance. When the truck passes, you will notice that some truck drivers compensate for this and are over to their LEFT. Many do not care, so YOU need to be on top of everything.

Cross Winds from YOUR RIGHT will bush the truck trailer away from you. You can see that coming in your mirror. Now YOU are being pushed towards the center lane markers. Not much from my experience, but be aware of how all of this works.

I read this on the Forum about lots of stuff you can purchase for sway... and wonder if driver's even understand how all of this is working for and against you while towing. Airstreams over 25 feet may be a different experience. I have never experienced an issue with either size of trailer while traveling. If you travel... you already have experience with winds.

Where does control begin to deteriorate? Smaller than 23'/25' or longer Airstreams?

We are towing Air... Streams. Not SOB wind knockers with lots of road clearance. If you ask me... it takes some experience in all wind conditions and after you get use to it... there is NO ISSUE... or am I wrong on this?
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Old 05-26-2016, 12:06 PM   #2
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We never had sway oscillations but the gusting side winds and semi's will push our trailer around. This yaw movement is leveraged to the truck's steering axle relative to the distance from receiver ball to the truck's rear axle, to the distance from the truck's rear axle to the steering axle.

Shorten the ball to rear axle length or get a longer wheelbase relationship, and the lever has less effect. Remove this rear lever entirely (such as a fifth wheel trailer) with a pivot point projection hitch and the issue is resolved.

Yes practice will help drivers deal with the effect of wind, but we got tired of it and got the improved hitch design. Much more pleasant towing experience, we wouldn't tow an Airstream without it.
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Old 05-26-2016, 03:07 PM   #3
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Towing and Skiing has some relationships...

I obviously have the 'improved' shorten the 'shank hitch' option.

When my 'favorite' local dealer hooked us after the check cleared long enough to insure it was in their account at least a week... we were hooked up and sent on our merry way.

Arriving home to discover our tail gate on the Tundra would not clear the electric jack head. After reading the manual, like many on the Forum do not, it took an Allen Wrench and I rotated the head 90 degrees and have clearance for the tail gate to drop within an inch of the shaft.

But... you have to be pretty much straight. If you are at an angle... not working.

If you forget the tailgate is DOWN and you move the angle from 90 degrees... bad things will no doubt happen. You could make the tail gate fit with a custom looking crunch.

I did not get flustered and buy a longer shank hitch. Just tweak it a bit and learned another lesson from buying off the lot.

As dkottum says... the shorter shank helps. Our 23 footer had a different hitch with the chain drop adjustment and it worked fine as well. Had a lot more tail gate clearance with the Tundra and 23 foot Airstream combination!

Wind speed and directions:

With more experience anyone should be able to handle these examples of actually towing your Airstream with a steady wind.

Much like skiing in Colorado. Some never get the hang of it and are best to sit it out. Some catch on as if it is a natural extension of their legs on a slippery surface. You could be the FORMER, but in the wind department, as well.

What am I saying?

Some people, no matter how intelligent or experienced, may not have a clue. Of course, that would not include anyone posting on this innocuous idea that some things can be learned by reading about it and then going out and doing it as a professional.

Try flying that helicopter with just two peddles on the floor, some things for each hand to hold onto and looking for the emergency brakes. The operator's manual had smiling faces and they all looked... happy.

Then go back to the 'learning how to ski the slopes' like those five year olds passing up their parents, who are both in the ski lodge clinic getting XRays. Many things do not come naturally endowed or embellished.

The same goes with towing a trailer. You drive enough you will see them coming and going. Some rolled. Some jackknifed at the Black Water dumpsite and stuck. Some RV's pulling their vehicle in tow through the bushes and knocking over light poles in the lot.

... and those who complain that their Airstream is reckless, fickle and needs more hardware to stay on the road. Go back to the skiing example. Maybe let someone else try to get some experience behind the steering wheel. That is why only one steering wheel is available in a tow vehicle. Only one opinion is correct. The... passenger's opinion.
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Old 05-27-2016, 12:20 PM   #4
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I used to repeat the mantra "Airstreams are the best towing trailers on the planet." In fact, my experience with mine supports the statement.

But this forum has shaken my faith. There are so many here who imply or actually say that towing an Airstream without a $2500 superhitch is, in effect, putting yourself, your family and others on the highway at risk because of the dangers of creating an accident due to the threat of swaying out of control without such a hitch.

I read other forums that are not Airstream specific, and owners of other trailers are not saying this. They seem to be getting along fine with hitches that cost a tenth as much. Are these owners of other trailers oblivious to the dangers, or is it that many Airstreams have a fault that causes the need for a superhitch?

Can't figure it out.

Anyway, I do fine in the wind too. Thanks for the insight.
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:30 AM   #5
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It blows me away when I read some of the threads about sway. I watched a video about Wally B. and a caravan from South Africa to Egypt in the 1950's. They towed with cars under extreme conditions yet for some reason folks on this forum imply that you have to have a HUGE pickup with thousands of dollars worth of anti sway equipment??? We tow with a Tundra using the standard ball and hitch with safety chains. We've been all over the country, rain or shine, wind, mountains, dirt roads etc. No problem. Our Airstream is the easiest trailer I have ever pulled! We have had 3 fifth wheels over 38' pulled by diesel duelies and one 25 footer; hands down the AS tows better. It is more about common sense when on the road.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobgoldstein View Post
It blows me away when I read some of the threads about sway. I watched a video about Wally B. and a caravan from South Africa to Egypt in the 1950's. They towed with cars under extreme conditions yet for some reason folks on this forum imply that you have to have a HUGE pickup with thousands of dollars worth of anti sway equipment??? We tow with a Tundra using the standard ball and hitch with safety chains. We've been all over the country, rain or shine, wind, mountains, dirt roads etc. No problem. Our Airstream is the easiest trailer I have ever pulled! We have had 3 fifth wheels over 38' pulled by diesel duelies and one 25 footer; hands down the AS tows better. It is more about common sense when on the road.
not to be pokey.... but I have a feeling conditions in the 50's were probably a little different... I would think there weren't gazzlions of loaded 18 wheelers screaming past them at 80 mph. I doubt they were trying to maintain today's high-way speeds, and I doubt that they had a steady stream of little cars cutting directly in front of them and slowing down, or on ramps, and little things like this... frames of cars back then.. probably a little stiffer and heavier... I'm just not sure you can use that as a basis of comparison... but ya know... YMMV

seriously, no offense.. I know some people like to free ball with light trucks, I'm just not one of them. I also don't feel like my investment in my blue ox hitch was expensive at all, and my 2500 is amazing at loading all sorts of heavy stuff... like yards of dirt, palettes of sod, loads of gravel and rock... and more camping gear than I could ever use... --- so for me personally, I never had any issue with the truck or the money spent on this hitch...
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:31 PM   #7
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When I began towing, I used a big Cadillac that weighed more than my trailer and sway was no issue. I currently tow a 49 year old Overlander with a 49 year old Reese spring bar hitch behind a half ton Chevy long bed. There have been times when sway was so bad with the Chevy I couldn't make more than 50 mph. I learned some lessons along the way and have eliminated sway as an issue with this rig. Still the same rig, though. I never fault those who buy oversized TV's or expensive hitches that "eliminate" sway. Those things will make up for mistakes we all make with less chance of a serious mishap. I've been both careful and lucky. There are many things that can contribute to sway. Wrong tires, wrong tire pressure, bad driving habits, poor hitch set up, distance from rear axle to ball and yes, cross winds to name a few. I have gone with ST and LT tires at manufacturer's recommended pressures for my load. I religiously use my WD spring bars to even up the load on my tires. That gives me better handling and braking. If you are experiencing sway or instability, I strongly recommend you attend a seminar on sway at a WBCCI or other organization rally to learn the basics then act on what you learn.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:13 PM   #8
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DO NOT underestimate your Airstream's Ability...

I read the Airforums sometimes for pure entertainment. Although I do not necessarily agree with many threads/posts, I am pragmatic about our Airstream... which is as good a Boondocking full sized trailer that is available today.

My use of our Airstream is not to coddle an overpriced cottage mounted on several axles. I plan to USE our Airstream for what it was intended... to be towed through whatever reasonable conditions that exist from point A to where ever point B may be located.

Somehow the imagination of some exceeds reality. IF our Airstream can handle the travel that I put beneath our tire treads... anyone else is being way too pessimistic. An Airstream can get along just fine Boondocking Off the Grid and Base Camping.

It is the owner/operator of the 'other' Airstream that is the issue. That is why I put together the Boondoocking for Greenhorns which will be lightly attended because it takes more than a driver's license to gain confidence. It takes... courage, which most Airstream owners lack. I said MOST owners, not ALL.

This is not at a shabby RV Park and considered Off the Grid... Actually out in nowhere with our Airstream using the ample factory equipped from the Jackson Center factory... with some improvements to make the trailer, better.

Towing on the Interstates with any kind of wind. No problem.
Towing on Forest Service, BLM and County Roads... clearance considerations, no problem when you understand how to navigate.

I do not want our Airstream to be pristine in ten years. Otherwise I failed to get my use from it. Components quit working, parked in our garage. I found faults within our Airstream after our purchase. I personally take care of the issues to have it done, right. The issues have been minor, but still should have been fixed before being put onto the lot for sale.

Towing an Airstream on the paved and unpaved roads is a privilege of ownership of one, or maybe two Airstreams in some cases.

A 'RV Park Fly Airstream' owner will never understand and are fearful of being without hookups and the discomforts of NOT living at home can bring. It does not deter me from making use of ours in any conditions and any where that MY judgment considers safe. The flies hover around themselves and proud of getting great HDTV service and can light up their trailer like the best Nevada Bordellos.

Anyone can own an Airstream and tow it around as if it is a national treasure. It is an Airstream trailer. Intended to follow where its owner requires it to follow. If you are not qualified to tow a U Haul... you will not be able to handle a trailer in tow. I do not personally care if you have a homemade trailer or a money pit as a trailer. If you can do what I do, and a small minority... I am among good company.

The rest. Pull to the side of the gravel road. A different breed of Airstream Owner needs to get to some isolated campsite before sunset.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:24 PM   #9
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Ray...your statement that "there is a rhythm to it" is on point....especially when you cover 600-800 miles/day towing (I know...I know...). Part of keeping trailer control, I think, is to relax and not drive all tensed up. In fact...there is a rhythm to most of life. And all the people say "Amen". jon
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:57 PM   #10
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I tow with a standard wt distribution hitch with 1000lb draw bars. I use to friction brake sway bars. Truck is an 03 chev 2500 trailor 32' excella. Pulled over 100,000 miles. You don't have to spend a fortune to be safe. Pulled with 40 mph cross and quartering winds. All things said " be smart slow down to match conditions .no hitch can make up for foolish driving." If your vehicle and trailor are properly leveled and wt distribution is correct and you still have sway ck tire pressure. Most common problem these days is believing you can tow safely with too small a vehicle. The shorter the wheel base and lighter the vehicle the less control you have over the trailor. Ex- I don't even know my bass boat is behind my truck but it is extremely noticeable behind my grand cherokee tho still within its towing capacity. Be safe.
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Old 05-28-2016, 03:23 PM   #11
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Fine. If your purpose of towing an Airstream is to get into some isolated spot in the Southwest and enjoy whatever pleasures being alone brings you, just master the skill of fighting a little wind-induced trailer yaw and call it a day.

If your purpose is to travel and see as much of North America as possible, its varied and interesting places, its history, its art in many forms, its natural and national treasures, to interact with the wonderful people you meet along the way, you may have a much less stressful and tiring towing experience by using a simple or complex anti-sway device. Or a long wheelbase, stiffly suspended truck so you don't even feel what's going on back there.

Long distance travelers don't have to master the skills of handling wind-induced trailer/truck movement, it wears us down, we can just eliminate it.
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Old 05-28-2016, 05:40 PM   #12
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In 46 years have towed a 23', and two 35's. The only difference I notice between the three was the extra length when backing. Since 2004, I have used a trapezoid designed hitch on the two 35's. The difference between the towing experience was markedly more relaxing. They are not overrated or too expensive when you look at the total overall cost of a rig. I have worn one hitch assembly out, but it was replaced under their lifetime warranty. The company said they did not design them for North Canada or Alaska roads.

Later, I had an experience where a tractor trailer tire and wheel came flying across the median on I-90 just East of the OH/PA border. It looked as though it would hit me at the driver's door. In the last seconds I did a violent swerve to the right to avoid certain disaster. I just knew the rig was going to roll up in a ball. Guess what, the only damage was black tire marks on the lower slide out skin. The rig stayed up right, but I made an emergency stop at the next rest area. I know the hitch design saved me and the rig. Several stops latter, an RVer I had related the story to, told me he had a friend killed by a tractor trailer tire and wheel doing the same thing. He got hit in the driver's door. I won't leave home without my overrated/ high priced hitch.
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Old 05-28-2016, 08:32 PM   #13
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Cross, Head, Rear and No WIND

Amen to all of the above, plus add an all eight tires on TV and AS smoking panic stop in the Phoenix area caused by a wreck just 5 car lengths ahead of me.

Stopped fast and dead straight with TV front bumper inches from the last guy in a three car crunch parade. "Trapezoidal hitch" was on its first major cross-country outing, with entire family and all our dogs aboard.

At that instant, the ProPride earned its keep. And three people, as they say in Naval Aviation, darn near had a "laundry problem". I'm sure my daughter learned a few new cuss words in both English and Cantonese at that point.



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Old 05-30-2016, 10:57 PM   #14
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I tow a 1972 - 31' soverign with a ford expedition, and although I agree that there is skill involved in towing a trailer under less than ideal conditions. My experience is that Airstream trailers tow like no others. Many years ago my family had a Rollite trailer that folded down for towing and even with a wd hitch the semis were a problem. Our modestly priced Reese hitch came with our trailer and I don't feel the semis at all. Cross winds likewise are no problem and I have to assume that it is as a result of using the hitch. I like to say I get better milage with the airstream attached.
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