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Old 09-30-2016, 10:37 AM   #85
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What an education on tow vehicle options and trailer braking!

The 'compression and tension' with an inflexible hitch of iron I would consider a 'push and pull'. A heavy trailer will push going down hill and going uphill the tow vehicle is pulling. So, I rest my theory of ir...relativity.

When NOT towing and having the bed of my truck full of antique slot machines / jukeboxes... you can sense the weight pushing or pulling in the Rockies. So even without a trailer, the tow vehicle is easily affected by carrying a static load in the bed.

A friend of mine with a 2000 Tundra pulling a 25 foot Arctic Fox going downhill on the paved highway with a couple inches of snow along the traveled path... noticed in his mirrors the trailer 'catching up' with him, but going sideways. He activated manually his trailer brakes and the trailer quickly returned to its position behind his tow vehicle. The large Tundras were introduced in 2007 with the 5.7L.

Drum brakes are totally unreliable. Unless they are all perfectly adjusted, they will engage friction differently. I remember driving a 1964 Corvette traveling from Oklahoma going home at Cheyenne, Wyoming. Caught fresh snow north of Fort Collins, Colorado and taking it slow when vehicles in front tail lights began to light up. I applied brakes and it pulled me into the median in several feet of snow. The brakes created a skid I could not control. One or more locked up and others did not. I expect no different from my Airstream. (The drum brakes on the early Corvettes were POS on anything but dry pavement.)

On dry pavement or gravel... the Airstream brakes (none, one or more) can lock up on gravel and NOT ON PAVEMENT. You must adjust this to road conditions. Different surfaces create their own traction issues.

When we leave for a trip, the trailer tail lights are checked to insure we are actually hooked up. I will take 'duct tape' and wrap it around where the tow vehicle and trailer plug is inserted. I had it pull out once traveling mountains in Wyoming. Did not notice it until stopping for fuel and the plug was dragging. So... the tow vehicle brakes do a great job even if the trailer is NOT hooked up.

I always will test my trailer brakes when beginning to travel by manually setting the electronic braking unit a bit to feel the 'drag' of brakes being applied. On pavement it is easily noticed. On dirt or gravel... none, one or some will lock up.

I sure do not want 'flat spots' on my 16" Michelins due to one or more wheels locking up when needed. Just a matter of getting those to 'almost lock up' applying less voltage to the trailer brakes.

This is not easy. The same trailer, different tow vehicles, different responses of your trailer's electronic brakes. You will learn what YOUR TRAILER is doing and become comfortable on pavement or gravel / dirt roads. It changes. Wet, slush, snow, ice (just park until it melts or is worn off the pavement!), hot or cold asphalt... all create issues. Hot asphalt and drizzle can 'oil' the pavement to become slick as ice!

There is no manual to cover any of this. It is our responsibility to understand that the tow vehicle is an important part of the towing equation... but the trailer's two to six tires also are needed in some situations. Not all... but you must learn on your own.

Those who have given personal experiences with tow vehicle and trailer handling are giving those of us following important information. Some day... you will be able to apply someone else's misfortune or prevention of an accident.
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Old 10-01-2016, 07:40 AM   #86
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I pull just on the ball, no hitch, so I have no issue with compression of hitch or not. What I just discovered on my last trip is the importance if good tires. Had my tires checked at two tire shops before leaving and each said the tires were good for several thousand miles more. First wet day and I found myself in sliding mode, no traction. Even without the trailer attached. I don't drive in the rain much and only in town, except on vacation. These were firestone tires which were a bit slippery when new but great tires. I guess I just reached the wear point where traction in wet is compromised. So all this discussion about EB, etc, is mute if the tires are worn beyond safe limits. My trailer brakes were operating correctly and everything was as normal on dry pavement. So check your wet weather rating for your tires and be awRe as they get down to the last quarter of thread you may have traction compromised. An EB equipped trick with worn tires would only compound the problem on wet downhills if trailer brakes didn't actuate properly. I had quite a ride in downtown Columbus on a slight downhill in the rain, no traction from the truck, the trailer brakes obviously worked because I remained straight. This happened twice, I'm a slow learner. On dry all was great.
According to tire rack any tire worn below an eighth of an inch should not be used in wet weather, regardless if there is still tread life left. My tires were not down to the wear indicators but were down to an eighth of an inch. Live and learn. Sorry if this is a hijack. So it wasn't the tire brand, it was excessive wear.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:26 PM   #87
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Depending on engine/exhaust braking of the truck's rear wheels to hold your Airstream while it is pushing you down the hill is terrific. Until you hit a patch of ice or loose gravel on a curve.

We'll stay with our method of reduced speed, engine compression braking through low axle gears and a downshifted transmission, combined with truck and trailer service brakes and the brake controller set to favor the trailer's brakes. If the road surface is unsure, I would reduce speed further and move my hand near the brake controller on the curve.

I believe the weak link in a heavy duty pickup/Airstream combo near truck GCWR is traction of the truck's rear tires on steep downhill grades using engine exhaust braking alone. A dually would help some, maybe we'll start seeing more of them as the next progression towards overkill.
Just thought I'd point out that engine compression braking is using the exact same wheels to slow the trailer as the exhaust brake. The 8 speed Ram 1500's I've driven have nice crisp shift points too (I love that gearbox by the way!). I'm sure that my exhaust brake is much less likely to induce wheel slip than that gearbox is, especially when I select the "Auto" exhaust brake mode where it almost never engages without my first stepping on the brakes. I do say almost as it will sometimes engage without braking but it is difficult to make it do that...

Like any safety technolodgy, there are limits to its ability to correct a driving error. I don't see people damning anti lock brakes though, or stability control, or sway control. The fact is that all of these technologies are helpful to the average driver. None of them will save your butt in a real screw up so the trick is to simply drive within the limits of the conditions as though they were not there. Then if needed, they stand a good chance of helping.

The beauty of my 2500 is that it simply doesn't need to be driven fast to appreciate it for what it is, a quiet comfortable way to pull the trailer mile after mile. It is far more comfortable to drive than the 150 it replaced when towing. Yes we could have shed weight from the bed of the smaller truck and made it better but that is not the way we want to Airstream.

When I read comments about "overkill" I believe you are sounding just a wee bit closed minded. There are lots of good ways to achieve a great ride!

Bruce
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:45 PM   #88
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. . . When I read comments about "overkill" I believe you are sounding just a wee bit closed minded. There are lots of good ways to achieve a great ride!

Bruce
Bruce, that was a wise crack on my part. I completely agree there are lots of ways to achieve a great ride. We have traveled and camped light for 50 years, it's all we need. So we choose to save some 2,000 lbs truck and maybe another 500 lbs unneeded bed load with the EcoDiesel. Yes your 2500 is also a great truck, we love ours, it's just the way we like to travel.

Exhaust brake or engine compression braking both hold only the truck's rear wheels. In some conditions that's risky, it's only a reminder of the importance of truck and trailer service brakes at the ready.
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Old 10-01-2016, 01:50 PM   #89
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4x4 Exhaust Braking the solution to maximize traction?

I guess for both Bruce and Doug... I have 'a' compromise option.

If you have a 4x4 Diesel and need to use the Exhaust Brake for 100% tow vehicle efficiency... put your truck into 4 wheel high drive and not exceed the maximum speed advised by the factory. The current F250 and F350 models you can engage 4x4 without also locking the hubs. Somehow I will have to totally understand the difference, unless someone has already explored these options.

I will use my Engine Braking in town 'sans trailer'. Works well not towing, as well.

Then... there is the one rear 'power wheel' and no doubt a front 'power wheel'. So even in 4x4 high are we getting four tires of traction or only two? You know, limited slip differentials versus locked differentials.

That is why those who add fuel and turn the ignition key is all the knowledge needed to drive into town for groceries are happy and content.

Myself... I was pretty confident I knew what I was doing operating this F350 without a Certificate of Proficiency. My 2012 Tundra was a kid's toy compared to what I am driving now. I miss... my childhood.
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Old 10-01-2016, 03:34 PM   #90
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An EB is "nice" when solo in dry pavement. Not so in wet. Or on broken patched surfaces.

With a gooseneck or 5'r tension at the hitch is less of a concern, but not completely. They'll get sideways too. (More likely to turn over as a result of wind).

Nice point above about tires. Age and condition. Brand and tread design matter. Bridgestone or Michelin. No point in buying the others (with nary an exception).

Yes, it really does come down to the TV rear tire contact patch remaining adhered. Spreading the TW as equally as reasonable "ups" the braking efficiency of every axle.

In a truck the "ground pressure" on a loaded SRW tire makes a difference (tall sidewall, wide pressure range; why close match to load matters).

The DRW trucks, though, are a problem with less than a full load in the truck. I've seen them get sideways on a dry day on dusty asphalt. Not enough "ground pressure" per casing. Even with an empty 9000-lb gooseneck back there, they can be a handful. Need almost full weight to be "great".

For a tall trailer there's nothing better to pull than one of these all aluminum jobs. Aero qualities reduce side wind pressure. And those with IS are the best in this regard.

Still, there is the tendency to travel too fast in a descent. Correlated to having enough space in which to both accelerate the TV and slam on the trailer brakes should the worst start to occur.

Minimizing the vulnerability is key.

Same with exiting an Interstate. That yellow sign is what the engineers consider the Maximum safe speed. Under best conditions. Had a trooper tell me a few decades back he expected to clock me at that speed Before my trailer passed that sign (and my RV is longer than my work rig).

One gets below the side road speed, isolated on the ramp (this isolation is not by accident), and one then Accelerates back up to join the side road.

If one is braking getting onto the side road, consider that a Fail.
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Old 10-01-2016, 03:40 PM   #91
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Ray, I don't think you would want to engage 4x4 on dry pavement. The is no differential, something has to give or skid. Our Audi Quattro manual transmission had a center differential, that would have given some extra traction, but if you suddenly let up on the gas on ice you were headed for the ditch, usually sideways.
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Old 10-01-2016, 04:28 PM   #92
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Doug... you are 100% correct.

Ask someone who is making a sharp turn with 4x4 engaged on dry pavement and... what happens. That bucking would be the tension you have just created.

With the Tundra 4x4 and 4 wheel engaged in 4 high and finding yourself needing to get out of a dirt gully that 4 wheel low and locked differential will get you out.

I have to believe that the majority of first time 4x4 truck owners are not sure what we are talking about... but they will.

Ice... find the nearest exit and spend the evening parked. I-80 through Iowa has the best 'black ice' available in the USA. The rest of Missouri is not much better.
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Old 10-01-2016, 06:50 PM   #93
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Location, location and location determines vehicle

Probably, I need to come clean on Daily Drivers and being able to Tow my Trailer.

I have owned 4 x 4 vehicles since my purchase of a well used 1966 Bronco in 1974 after four years living through Wyoming's interesting... weather. My 1962 CJ5 Jeep was great up to 45mph, so I exclude that mistake. A flat head four cylinder is for museums... not to drive as a commuter.

If you live in the Rocky Mountains or the northern tier States where winter brings snow, sleet and ice frequently... these residents find it easy to purchase at least one 4x4 vehicle and for us is capable of pulling an Airstream and serving as a Daily Driver. A necessary evil, no matter.

If you live in the more pleasant climates of the USA, a 4x4 is not as big an issue. One inch or more snow in Phoenix is a disaster for commuters. One inch of snow in the Denver, Colorado, Front Range area, is NOW a disaster for commuters! This is from the Fort Collins exit, south to Security, Colorado, just south of Colorado Springs. Absolute... yes, that bad.

So when we debate 4x4, all time 4x4 or a 2 x 4 vehicle... location, location, location. Having the 4 x 4 option, if ever needed, is great.

Diesel versus Gas... for the additional $8,000 sticker price for Diesel on my F350, it had better perform or I will not be a 'happy camper' with my purchase.

I should be able to boast of the power when towing. ...and so far towing power is better than expected.

I should be able to get a better price on resale or trade after years of use.

Any Diesel Engine problems, transmission, drive train issues... rust, the luster will be off my purchase.

My Toyotas, be they a Tundra or Land Cruiser, are dependable and capable Daily Drivers. Now... attaching a large heavy trailer... they are at their limit in cargo capacity but had all the power I expected. Pulling was never an issue. Never a mechanical issue. Just that the cargo capacity was limiting my needs. A Ford F250 / F350 offered more cargo capacity AND the Diesel option was my splurging on myself, for once. Overkill... but why not?
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:36 AM   #94
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Having recently switched to a big diesel, I understand your thoughts.
I will say that there was an adjustment period that has been taking place while learning to use the vehicle. My F-150 was so easy because I'd driven it almost 130,000 miles! It was simply familiar...
The new Ram is slowly getting there and I'm finally getting used to the mirrors and backup camera (much wider angle).
As for using the exhaust brake, I love the feature and we will use it. I think that if conditions are dry and speeds are reasonable it will be a tremendous asset.
Purchase your fuel from reputable places, do the proscribed maintenance and you should be fine.
It will be interesting to see what you think a year from now.
We will be dragging our tiny Bambi on a lap of the USA this year so we should have a good amount of time behind the wheel to report back about.
Enjoy that Ford!
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:09 PM   #95
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All this talk...

Rut roe... that mountain looks pretty steep!
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