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Old 06-23-2004, 07:47 AM   #1
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another question ... Do we need sway bars?

We were at dinner with our friend that has a 30 ft. Airstream. We are looking at a 22 ft. He says we need to get sway bars. With a 22 ft. trailer, will we need sway bars?


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Old 06-23-2004, 07:54 AM   #2
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sway bars help towability when experiencing crosswinds, as well as air currents created when being passed by big trucks....

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Old 06-23-2004, 08:01 AM   #3
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I think what he is talking about are weight distribution bars. The hitch weight of the 22' Airstreams is enough that, IMHO, you should have a weight distributing hitch unless you are towing with a very heavy (read 1 ton) truck. I used 550# weight distrbuting bars on my International 22' which seemed just about right. With the International, you will want no more than 750# bars on any sort of hitch; bars that are too heavy are hard on you and the trailer..

You will also want some sort of sway control unless you are towing with a very heavy truck. I used a single Reese friction sway bar on my 22' International and found it to be more than sufficient.

What I would currently recommend is the Reese HD Dual-Cam setup which accomplishes both anti-sway and weight distribution. That's what I use on my 25' Classic. The Reese HD doesn't cost signifigantly more than a sway bar plus a separate weight-distributing hitch and I have found it to be a joy to work with. I have towed my 25' Classic nearly 7000 miles in all sorts of wind and road conditions with nary a trace of sway.
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Old 06-23-2004, 08:03 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bethybeth
We were at dinner with our friend that has a 30 ft. Airstream. We are looking at a 22 ft. He says we need to get sway bars. With a 22 ft. trailer, will we need sway bars?

um...depends on the tow rig you're going to use, and the weight of the trailer. are you talking about a new or used 22ft? how old, if used? What are you planning on using for a tow vehicle? what are its capabilities?

most likely, the answer is that you will want a weight distributing hitch. go to They have a popular system that incorporates sway control with their weight distributing hitch. ("sway control" and "weight distribution" are 2 different things; your friend probably meant that you need "weight distribution". for some reason, alot of people call weight distribution spring bars "sway bars"...even though most of them don't do anything to prevent "sway"...but I digress....). Anyway, a dual-cam sway control would be plenty for a trailer that size.
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Old 06-23-2004, 09:17 AM   #5
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I would not only get the weight distribution bars, but I would also start to consider dual cam rather than friction sway control.

I don't think any trailer (the size and weight of an Airstream) should be without sway control or weight bars.
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Old 06-23-2004, 11:05 AM   #6
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that sums it up

Silvertwinkie said it perfectly
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Old 06-23-2004, 03:10 PM   #7
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May or may not need...

I don't think that WD or sway controls are always needed, and I personally don't use them to pull my 23' Safari (5000lbs). But you may need one or the other, or both. Many people don't even try pulling without them. Which is fine, but I bet there are a lot of 3/4 ton trucks pullling 22 ft trailers with all kinds of fancy hitches that don't need it. And of course the RV dealer usually has a significant incentive to set it up that way, both financial and from a potential liability standpoint in our litiginous society. To me it just adds expense, weight to the hitch, and some additional complexity.

WD is required if your vehicle sags in the rear or lightens excessively at the front when you hitch up. With a trailer, you are effectively pushing down at a point "X" distance behind the rear axle, which is the pivot point, and thus gives lift at the front axle, depending on the wheelbase. If your hitch ball is 60" behind your rear axle and your wheelbase is 120", there will be a lift at the front of 1/2 the weight on the ball. For most pickups it is somewhat less than that due to longer wheelbase. This lever action creates rear-end sag in the tow vehicle and lightens the weight on the front steering wheels. Whether it is a problem depends on the vehicle. Pickups are front heavy anyway and neither of my HD 3/4 ton trucks has required WD for the 7-800lbs that my trailer drops onto the ball when wet. Both my current F250 Super Duty and my prior HD 3/4 ton Chev didn't sag in the rear, feel light at the front, or feel undersprung over dips and grade separations. But a half ton pickup, or any SUV other than a 3/4 ton sub or Excursion will definitely need WD for anything larger than maybe a 19ft. Bambi.

Sway controls on the other hand, help control the leverage that the trailer exerts over the tow vehicle, especially in side winds or when being passed by a semi truck, which gives off a substantial "bow wave" at 70mph. Without these sway controls, some trailers, usually longer or boxier ones, can push the tow vehicle around somwhat from side to side. A small tow vehicle, long enough trailer, or an odd hitch/length ratio, combined with gusty conditions and a panicky driver can result in an accident, and thus warrants careful consideration.

But I have also found, and most experts agree, that given a tow vehicle with a long enough wheelbase, proper ratio of rear hitch overhang, and reasonable trailer length, the trailer will not give more than a slight push to the side when a sidewind or truck draft is encountered. And that mild reaction is easily compensated for and after a while becomes virtually unnoticeable. Under heavy quartering or gusty conditions in the midwestern plains, you can feel it more and have to be attentive, but I have never felt anything even close to a worrisome or dangerous situation. Several of those who use sway control say that they still feel these effects, although lessened.

If you are somewhat experienced at trailering, have a reasonably stout 3/4 ton truck (ie. heavier than the trailer and of a 133" wheelbase or longer), and a smaller trailer, you might want to try it without all that stuff first.

Just my personal opinion though, and you should always take your specifics into account.

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Old 06-23-2004, 07:25 PM   #8
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If you have 'em, use 'em. If you don't, get 'em!

I have travelled with DC for 41 yrs., 32 of that with an AS and 19 of that pulling myself. Advise: "Don't pull without"

Personal experience; There are two great things about Airstreams, they are one of a kind rolling down the road (DUH) and they have superb aerodynamics, BUT, they are , like any rolling vehicle, susceptable to loss of down force. Outlaw 'drivers' seem to find it funny to drive up at a high rate of speed, relieve down force, push air under the AS and watch it sway. NOT FUNNY! It has happened to me, down hill no less. Without DC I would not be here now.
As a 13yr old, our family saw an AS roll several times when a 'driver' did this exact same thing, right in front of us. Unfortunately, the driver of the AS was a novice. Fortunately they All survived the ordeal, (seat belts!)

Bottom Line; Use as MUCH control as you can get to stay safe.


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