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Old 02-27-2008, 02:19 PM   #1
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2007 20' Safari SE
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Bucking Bronco

Well, actually we have a bucking Silverado, 1500, crew cab, with a Reese dual cam hitch and a 20' Safari SE.

We could use some help figuring out why we experience rocking and bucking while towing over your average bumps on the road.

We are completely new to the world of towing, and wonder if this is a matter of trial, error and adjustment.

Any ideas out there?
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:28 PM   #2
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Okay Marta. Let's see... you don't happen to live near one of my Highways of Infamy, do you? Bingo! Years ago towing my Argosy past Madison I discovered this unpleasant phenomenon. The problem is due to harmonics between the TV-trailer axle spacing, towing speed and the interval between concrete slab seams on I-90/94. I can name any number of areas where it is aggravated and around Madison is one of them. It diminishes somewhat when you slow down to 45 mph or below, but is still there. Slowing down is the only answer until you get past the bad section of road.

I've seen seams between concrete slabs ground smooth by the highway department. The ride in these sections (no, not Wisconsin) is much improved. The ride is much better after you get west of Madison. I've had this happen with very little weight distribution engaged in my Argosy and 4 links of WD on my Safari. I don't think varying the WD is the answer but I plan further experiments on a bad stretch of road about 45 minutes from me. Don't clench your teeth or they'll wear flat -- but slow down. Like weather, the road will change eventually.

Other threads:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f368...ays-21737.html
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f198...cle-17116.html
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:08 PM   #3
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Canoestream, as a matter of fact we DID travel down I-90 this morning, and briefly crossed into Illinios. No noticable change in the quality of the ride in the land of Lincoln, by the way!

I think part of the shock over just how bumpy the ride was in the truck has to do with how accostomed I've become to how well my minivan rides!

We'll have to see how the truck rides in March when we take off for our first camping trip in the Safari to states south of here.....
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:16 PM   #4
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We've had the same problems in Oklahoma - mainly on the loop in OKC but also in other parts of the state. Had to REALLY slow down to lessen the bounce. Kind of scary at first - makes you feel like something just "broke" and you lost a wheel...

What Oklahoma lacks in their highways, they certainly make up for with their state parks! They take real nice care of 'em. Friendly staff and beautiful surroundings.
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:21 PM   #5
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You'll love it every time you hit an asphalt overlay. Smoo-oo-ooth!
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:27 PM   #6
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Welcome Marta,

Is that a single axle?
Single trailers (of any type) are prone to "porpoising".
You may try increasing TW and/or tightening those spring bars a notch or two...

Bill
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Old 02-27-2008, 06:43 PM   #7
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Learning by experience

I've messed with my Reese Dual Cam - and found out that there is a fine line between a great setup and CRAP. Porpoising is the number one signal that you have your setup done wrong.

Stuff I found out the hard way:
  1. tire inflation - never never never think "Ah, it looks good, I'll trust it's still right." For me, my worst ride came with ONE tire low on the Airstream, but the tow vehicle's pressure was great. You and I have both have new ones - FACT, aluminum wheels do seep out a tiny amount of air - the molecules of aluminum are somewhat more porous than plain Jane steel wheels. Check every tire, every time you tow.
  2. Hitch ball height - A big deal! When all is said and done your 20' should be riding level - On a dual axle, you want the same amount of weight on the front and rear axles. A single like yours is actually more prone to porpoising so eyeball it and measure it with a level. After you've leveled your trailer in a driveway or parking lot - measure the hitch ball height (the distance between the ground and where the top of the ball fits). Put your hitch ball on your truck, measure the same distance - the closer those are to identical the better your trailer will tow. If your trailer has one end significantly higher than the other it behaves like a teeter totter on the road. If you go to any RV store or even a Walmart you'll see hitches with differing "drops" from the receiver height. If I were towing with an F-150 I might need a 2" drop, with a F-350 diesel, I'd probably need six inches or more because the bigger truck sits so much higher off the ground.
  3. How big are your BALLS? (snicker) - Older Airstreams are set up for a 2 inch ball, the new ones use a 2 5/8's ball. If you've got a smaller ball, your trailer isn't locked on the ball... it's held on by gravity and luck. If the trailer hit's a bump you've got a bucking bronco behind you. Hit one while you're turning and your trailer could go straight while you go somewhere else (the good news is that your safety chains will probably snap too.)
  4. Weight bars - too loose or too tight can cause problems - your goal isn't to weld the trailer to the truck, there needs to be a little play - so play with them. Unfortunately even some dealers are pretty clueless about installing the brackets for a weight distributing system properly - so if you've done the basics with checking inflation and ball height the next step is to double check that your brackets are installed at the proper distance, etc.
  5. Hotter than the hubs of Hell - bad things can happen to your trailer's running gear, so the simplest check you can do is give your tires and rims a "cheap feel" whenever you take a break.
    1. Hub hot? Axle bearings failing due to inadequate lubrication.
    2. Tire hot - get out the tire gauge I'll bet it's low.
    3. Wheel hot - look for a brake problem. I had ONE brake start dragging - drove 150 miles before I noticed it, only realized I had a problem when I pulled off onto a rest stop and rolled down the window and heard this nasty metal-on-metal noise. (It was Saturday, Safford's service dept was closed, and I was on my way to Jackson Center at the time, so I adjusted my brake controller down to "zero brakes on the trailer" and completed the journey with one hand ready and on the brake controller.) They replaced the brake under warranty.
  6. Tighten up - did you know that your ball will come loose - and if you've got a trunnion that is height adjustable (and pitch adjustable), that sucker will loosen up too. I have two of the biggest box wrenches you've ever seen - but in a pinch I'll go to a gas station and ask "do you have a man with a big tool who can help me for about two minutes?" Works for me... your experience may differ.
  7. Brakes - check that your brake controller is working correctly and that your emergency brake wire is also good. If your brakes aren't working right the trailer can push you.
  8. Weight distribution in the trailer - too LITTLE tongue weight can cause porpoising, and if you've got far more weight on one side or the other you can create a lot of side to side yawing. For a new person it is hard to distinguish between the two. There are many threads on taking your unit to a truck scale and weighing it so that each tire is carrying approximately the same weight and that your tongue weight is 10% to 15% of the trailer's weight.
  9. Truck suspension - If it's too stiff, or too mushy (bad shocks on the truck) everything the truck does wrong will be magnified on the trailer.
Many wiser heads with more experience than I have written more learnedly on this topic so use your SEARCH feature (or just wait for 2AIR IS HUMAN to post a dozen great links) and do some reading.

If you're in a campground and you can stand the idea of doing a "girlie" thing, ask for help. Campers are the nicest people and there is almost certainly someone with 25 years experience who will take you through the whole process - ask at the front desk, they often know who the experts are.

Paula Ford
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Old 02-27-2008, 06:50 PM   #8
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One other suggestion- try the other lane. Daily I drive a section of I-20 that's just as you describe for a few miles. I try to adjust my place in traffic so I can spend as much time as possible in the 'smoother' left lane. I've also noticed the worst sections are exactly where the Big Rigs have to put down some power to top a rise.
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Old 02-27-2008, 07:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again
How big are your BALLS? (snicker) - Older Airstreams are set up for a 2 inch ball, the new ones use a 2 5/8's ball. If you've got a smaller ball, your trailer isn't locked on the ball... it's held on by gravity and luck. If the trailer hit's a bump you've got a bucking bronco behind you. Hit one while you're turning and your trailer could go straight while you go somewhere else (the good news is that your safety chains will probably snap too.)
OMG! Ya done it now... Marta has already pulled her 20-footer home so I'm sure no harm, no foul. For other readers Paula meant to say that balls were 2" before 1969 and some time in that year were switched to 2 5/16" -- which is the size to this day. 10,000# rated shanks are the way to go. Paula -- excellent list by the way. Anybody slapped some karma on ya recently for your saucy attitude?
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:04 PM   #10
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Thank you canoestream

2 5/16 it is.... a moment of acute cranial-rectal inversion (sigh). Fingers were going 100 wpm, brain was obviously in neutral.

Paula


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Old 02-27-2008, 08:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marta5

I think part of the shock over just how bumpy the ride was in the truck has to do with how accostomed I've become to how well my minivan rides!
The car like ride of many Mini Vans is hard to beat and very comfortable on those long drives.
I used my buddy's Sierra to get our 23' Airstream home when we bought it so I had a good 3 hour ride towing with the truck. We then set up our 1993 Nissan Mini van and took the combo for a spin. It was just great. Went on for 3 more years towing with the van.

It was interesting because my buddy with the Sierra was a heavy equipement operater for many years. He actually helped grade the 401 HWY when it was being built. He thought the mini van transmission would burn out after an hour of towing the 23'. That was 7 years ago and the van still has the original, problem free transmission.
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:50 PM   #12
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Foiled Again, thank you very much for the advice....I've already printed it up for the hubby's review!

As it turns out, the hitch may have been adjusted a little too low....somewhere I read that the hitch height of the Safari is 17.5 inches, so we adjusted the height of the ball accordingly, but probably not high enough.

Also, when we were hitching up the trailer this morning for the first time, we were parked on a slope, so it was hard to see whether the trailer was level.
No wonder the ride was so unpleasant.

One other question, though, for Silverado owners out there....do the Z71 models have a stiffer suspension than that of the Classic Silverados?
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Old 02-27-2008, 09:29 PM   #13
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I have a Z-71, if it's stiffer, I wouldn't say it's much more so. I've ridden in both, never done a direct comparison. Mine rides nice with or without the trailer.
Dave
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marta5
One other question, though, for Silverado owners out there....do the Z71 models have a stiffer suspension than that of the Classic Silverados?
Not really. The Z71 has firmer shocks than the plain vanilla variety, so it does feel stiffer. Chevy has a suspension option on the half-ton (Z85 for the '08 models, may be different for other years) that is set up for towing/heavy duty use. Includes different springs, heavier duty shocks, and larger sway bars.
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