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Old 04-02-2009, 01:30 PM   #1
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Anti-sway bars question

How tight should the anti-sway bars be?

On our first trip, I gather I tightened them too much, judging from the ungodly creaking noises coming from that area of the hitch, prompting these vocal exchanges:

"Sounds like the Titanic, when it was going underwater, and metal plates were groaning under the pressure"
"Oh my gosh, that sounds so painful"
"Who farted?"

Anyway...how loose should they be? What's the sweet spot between offering no anti-sway control and being loud enough to stop passersby in their tracks?
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Old 04-02-2009, 01:36 PM   #2
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It's not a good idea to set them by ear. Post the brand or a picture and you will get lots of help.
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Old 04-02-2009, 01:57 PM   #3
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You don't say the brand...but no doubt you have an Equal-i-zer brand of hitch. So do I.

This is a characteristic of the hitch. You can order a set of nylon pads from the manufacturer that ride on the L-brackets to allow the spring bars to slide without making so much noise. There is a possibility that this may affect the sway control, but that is not the area of the system that controls the sway so this affect should be minimal. I always spray a little silicone lubricant on each of the brackets before I install the bars and that helps except in the tightest of turns. In time you will get used to it. I know it is annoying, but this brand of hitch system is one of the best on the market for the money. Now, don't take that last statement as any detraction to Reese or Blue-ox or any other brand. These two, plus others, are just as good but no better despite what others may claim.

The sweet spot between anti-sway control and sound is to put sway control as the only factor in setting up the system. The system should distribute approximately 1/3 of the tongue weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle and approximately the same to the rear axle and the rest to the trailer's axles. The best way to determine this is to have the tow vehicle weighed at a CAT scale at a truck stop and then have the complete rig weighed at the same scale loaded for camping. Try to have the tow vehicle loaded the same in both instances (same items in the vehicle and as near the same amount of fuel in the fuel tank, etc.) so that you are comparing apples to apples.

With the Equal-i-zer brand of hitch, the sway control is not friction based so the nylon pads don't have a major impact on the sway control. The sway control comes from the pivot points in the hitch head unit. As the spring bars are loaded, they rotate perpendicularly against the pivot axes and create a binding force on the pivots against the head armature that holds the pivot axes. (I hope that makes since, hard to explain without visual aides.) This pretty much applies sway control evenly as the trailer turns up to a point of being in a tight turn. That is why you hear the noise throughout the turns. The tension is only released as the turn almost reaches the minimum radius or jack knife. The cam systems on other brands exert the maximum anti-sway force when the cams are in their saddles. Once the cams are out of their saddles the anti-sway force diminishes the sharper the turn. The maximum anti-sway returns when the cams are about to return to their saddles.

While my post is long, the short answer is that you have an excellent, quality hitch system that has the idiosyncrasy of making noise at low speeds in acute turns and it is something that you will get used to. In the mean time, just keep telling yourself it's not the noise that have people stopping in their tracks, it's your beautiful vintage Airstream!
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:15 PM   #4
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If the hitch is not an Equal-i-zer, friction sway controls should not make much noise. With a round bar type distributing hitch, it is very important to apply a thin layer of grease before you insert the bars. A lack of grease will result in noise and excessive wear over time.

Let us know precisely what kind of hitch you have, and you will get better information.
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:50 PM   #5
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As clarification, the Equal-i-zer brand hitch does provide its sway control through friction... friction when the bars rotate in the head under tension, and friction of the bars sliding on the a-frame brackets. A dab of grease on each of these spots will quiet it down some, and the mfg says it's okay. I clean it with WD-40 and dab grease every day I tow. If you dont clean it the grease gets entrained with dirt and becomes abrasive, which wears the parts quickly. I think the teflon pad option is much like those you can buy for furniture legs to slide on the floor... which would eliminate greasing the brackets.

Finally, be sure to re-torque the bolts that are the pivots for the bar sockets. They loosen from wear, and this seems to reduce the anti-sway function.
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Old 04-06-2009, 10:26 AM   #6
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My apologies for the delay. Always seemed to be somewhere else other than the trailer, lately. The anti-sway bars say "Draw-tite" on them. I believe I have the friction type of sway control.
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Old 04-06-2009, 07:31 PM   #7
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My apologies for the delay. Always seemed to be somewhere else other than the trailer, lately. The anti-sway bars say "Draw-tite" on them. I believe I have the friction type of sway control.
Don't know anything about that brand. I think it is a good brand, though.
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:29 PM   #8
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The hitch ball should be greased before attaching the trailer. There is a great load on the ball when the equalizer bars are tensioned and lack of grease will cause metal-to-metal galling, and noise. My trailer was pre-owned and the two prior owners never lubed the ball. The inside of the hitch was so eaten out and distorted, the hitch had to be replaced.
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:45 PM   #9
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Yup. Everything was greased. The hitch ball. The attachment points for the anti-sway bars. The load equalization bars, where they attach to the hitch. The only thing I didn't grease was the friction point for the anti-sway bar.

When I loosened it, after we got back from our trip, and drove around the block trying to find the sweet spot for backing into the driveway, the horrible stuttering sound of metal reluctantly scraping against metal was replaced by a low howl, like a lonely cow.

My canam rv guy said that the anti-sway bars should be snug, not absolutely tight.
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:07 AM   #10
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Yup. Everything was greased. The hitch ball. The attachment points for the anti-sway bars. The load equalization bars, where they attach to the hitch. The only thing I didn't grease was the friction point for the anti-sway bar.

When I loosened it, after we got back from our trip, and drove around the block trying to find the sweet spot for backing into the driveway, the horrible stuttering sound of metal reluctantly scraping against metal was replaced by a low howl, like a lonely cow.

My canam rv guy said that the anti-sway bars should be snug, not absolutely tight.
Yes, don't grease the friction bar. You might want to slide the sway control apart and clean and sand the surfaces. The friction material (like a brake lining, really) might be glazed.

The friction control should be snug. You will know if it is too tight when, after you turn a corner, the steering wheel does not return to centre. Use the bolt to set the tension; the handle should be turned down tight to the same point each time.
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:44 AM   #11
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Well, as others have said, friction created by steel on steel will make noise. It's a characteristic of the design. The more noise you have the more sway damping force you probably have. Kind of like a tire, the more flop, flop noise... the less rolling you will have.
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Old 04-07-2009, 03:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
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The hitch ball should be greased before attaching the trailer. There is a great load on the ball when the equalizer bars are tensioned and lack of grease will cause metal-to-metal galling, and noise. My trailer was pre-owned and the two prior owners never lubed the ball. The inside of the hitch was so eaten out and distorted, the hitch had to be replaced.
I had more than one experienced tow veteran and more than one trailer dealer tell me not to grease the ball, but I did once any way. What I discovered was the shiny, smooth ball almost immediately became pitted and had a rusty ring around the mid-point. This was, apparently, due to grit being trapped in the grease and grinding between the ball and inner surface of the ball receiver.

I haven't greased the ball since and the rust ring and the pitting hasn't gotten much worse. I don't recommend greasing the ball for this reason.
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Old 04-09-2009, 06:00 AM   #13
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I think the ball should be greased. However, the point about abrasion is valid. To handle this, it is important to always wipe the ball off and apply fresh grease every time you hook up. Also, squirt WD40 or some such grease-cutting fluid up into the coupler on the trailer and wash it out once in a while.
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:45 PM   #14
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I think the ball should be greased. However, the point about abrasion is valid. To handle this, it is important to always wipe the ball off and apply fresh grease every time you hook up. Also, squirt WD40 or some such grease-cutting fluid up into the coupler on the trailer and wash it out once in a while.

I was just putting together my new Reese hitch tonight. The instructions say to grease the ball and clean periodically.

Charlie
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