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Old 02-05-2009, 05:03 AM   #15
Rivet Master
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South Shore , Kentucky
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 537
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I had a 1990 ton Chevy G-20 van that I once pulled a 27’ A/S with. There were several circumstances that almost caused me to be involved in a bad accident. I could feel the full size van at times feel like it was rolling on the back wheels. It just didn’t feel secure enough to me and later on when I got a larger trailer It just wasn’t solid enough for towing. I then went to a Dodge 1-ton dually of which I never had a better towing experience at that time. I know many people on this forum feel that may be too big of a tow vehicle but I would do it again if I went back to an Airstream. I also know improvements may have been made and the combination that jcanavera is using sounds like its working great for him. There are several things to consider when purchasing a tow vehicle. The main thing I would consider is to look closely at the tow ratings of the tow vehicle.

Below is a slightly edited posting I made several years ago about a near accident. There were several things that came together in the wrong way that almost led to a tragic event.

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 of 65. 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 finally 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 added to the problem was that I’m fairly certain that we didn’t have any sway bars or controls at that time. I purchased a sway control system not long after that. I had not 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 truck 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 later purchased a 31' Excella which was 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 then purchased a 1996 Dodge Ram 3500 extended cab with a V-10 and dually wheels. This was the best towing combination I’ve ever had up to that time. The stability was really great. It felt solid in the back and I had a lot of power to spare going up hill. Some people feel that a 1-ton may cause problems with rivets popping but I never experienced that. However I didn’t have it for a long period of time and don’t know if it would have caused any problems later on.

It really felt better having control over what was behind us rather than it having control over us!
I don’t like the tail wagging the dog!

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Bill & Donna

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