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Old 09-26-2011, 10:01 PM   #85
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Sway Makes for a Bad Day

Not an Airstream or the weight/length of one by any means. But, still shows what the force of sway can do. Limited information as this is from a contact in another state. Wheels of trailer apparently dropped off on the shoulder in a long slight curve. When it came back up on the pavement the trailer began to sway and caused the driver to lose control.
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:03 AM   #86
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I would be the first to say that there is no way there is enough information here to say for sure what happened to cause this and it is doubtful the accident report will have any information on it either as the person writing it won't likely have any understanding of hitches.

I do have a theory but it is only that. The clue is that the driver moved over to let traffic pass. If he got over just a little too far and the trailer wound up against the gaurdrail it can cause a chain of events. If the trailer is against the gaurdrail the hensley becomes the weak link between two immovable objects because the trailer can no longer pivot on its wheels. When this happens something has to give somewhere, either the frame bracket will slide backwards or the horizontal strut will bend. Once this happens the hitch has two pivot points and feels really bad. You actually have more control than it feels like but it would be easy even natural for the driver to overcorrect which would make a bad feeling situation almost uncontrolable. Putting the trailer brakes only on will strighten it out but that is not easy to do in a situation like this. My guess is that the vehicle brakes were applied and that caused the spin.

An accident investigator told me that trucks and SUV's have a tendancy to suck themselves over a gaurdrail. When they rub against the gaurdrail the spinning action of the front tire just pulls it up and over. You can see a lot of rubber on the gaurdrail in a picture on page 6 so that would make me guess that this happened here. Had the road been wide enough it may have just spun around and all stopped on its wheels.

I am pretty certain that a receiver failure did not cause this accident, this receiver does not fail where it is torn off here. Receivers don't fail on the highway they fail at low speeds in a dip somewhere. Once the trailer came to a very sudden stop against the gaurdrail the forward momentum of the truck would have torn the receiver off.

If there is anything to take away from this I would say that even with a hensley or any other stable combination it is good to know where your brake control is without looking at it so that you can grab it if necessary.
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:14 AM   #87
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Andrew,

I agree with everything you say, but I know for a fact, the sway was not caused by the trailer rubbing up against the guardrail because the guardrail was not present where the sway actually started, just where it ended.

We actually talked with the motorcycle riders the truck/trailer drived moved over for, and they said the sway started just after he moved over. From this information, the sway could have started IF he moved over slightly too far and dropped the curb side trailer wheels off the pavement.

If that did not happen, I think something failed on the hitch because the driver did say the trailer came loose from the truck. With a Hensley, the trailer would not have to come completely off the hitch, to fell like it did; as an example, if one of the strut rods failed in some way, it would seem like the trailer was totally loose.
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:40 AM   #88
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Maybe he changed lanes at too high rate of speed? Sal.
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Old 09-27-2011, 08:30 AM   #89
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Another aspect that hasn't been mentioned is tire selection on tow vehicles. If you are running light duty tires with high sidewalls, there is a lot of back and forth lateral movement of the vehicle, even though the tire tread itself isn't skidding on the asphalt. This might not matter much on a straight line casual drive, but if you steer sharply that bit of sway can make it feel like you are trying to steer a marshmallow.

I'm wondering what the Titan TV had for tires and, if he had pulled over to let other pass, if he had dropped the passenger side wheels over the shoulder edge and then steered too hard to the left to correct?

If towing, the higher ply tires don't have the same sidewall flex as the light-duty tires. The catch? A bit rougher ride.
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:33 AM   #90
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I agree that probably nothing was wrong with the truck, trailer, receiver nor hitch when the driver pulled over to let those others pass. So, it appears that something happened at that time of the pull over and that is probably what started the chain of events leading to the accident. Perhaps the driver did not think sway could ever be an issue so he was not quick to grab a handful of trailer brakes, instead used the TV service brakes in a panic. We may never know. What I think we do know is that the Airstream was probably close to if not over the Titan's capabilities. Would this have happened if the Titan was towing a tent trailer or if the Airstream was being towed by a one ton crewcab dually?
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:50 AM   #91
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It's all conjecture.

Unless a personal examination is made of both the trailer AND tow vehicle, then in the absence of that, it's all a wild guess.

Having examined over 1000 such loss of control accidents in the past, the very first thing you must do is the eyeball inspection. That then usually allows some reasonable conclusions to be made.

Sometime back,I posted the kind of questions that must be asked, in order to have even a reasonable chance at a proper conclusion.

A series of questions must also be asked of the owner/driver.

Andy
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:27 PM   #92
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I am just glad that no one was seriously hurt. Things can be replaced - people cannot. This could have been a disaster. What years were the receiver hitches bad on the Chevy/GMC trucks? Mine is a 2006 and everything seems ok but I have not towed my trailer very much yet. Still in the repair process.
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Old 09-27-2011, 01:51 PM   #93
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Let me just add my voice to those that have said that they are glad that everyone was OK. I agree with others in this thread that have said trailers and TVs can be replaced, people cannot. My most valuable asset is the person sitting next to me.

I agree completely with Andy from Inland RV about not being able to know what actually happened without making a detailed inspection of the trailer & TV and talking with the driver of the TV.

However, (Andy I am in no way shape or form questioning your experience or expertise in this area) I've read in this thread about possibility that the hitch, receiver, tires, etc., were to blame for this horrific accident, but what most aircraft accident investigators will tell you is that it is usually not just one thing that caused the plane to crash, but rather a series of three things including pilot decisions, equipment failure, and environmental conditions. So perhaps we should be looking at that fact that it wasn't one thing but several that caused this accident.

All of that said, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has posted in this tread, it has given me and other newbies food for thought. While I always assumed that it would be better to have more truck and hitch than necessary, I just kind of assumed that since a truck equipped a certain way according to the factory would be able to tow the factory rated amount without problems. Now I know that I need to check and possibly upgrade the receiver and tires before I tow. Not to mention checking other smaller items that I would have probably overlooked. Thanks a million everyone!

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Old 09-27-2011, 05:39 PM   #94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmtandem View Post
I agree that probably nothing was wrong with the truck, trailer, receiver nor hitch when the driver pulled over to let those others pass. So, it appears that something happened at that time of the pull over and that is probably what started the chain of events leading to the accident. Perhaps the driver did not think sway could ever be an issue so he was not quick to grab a handful of trailer brakes, instead used the TV service brakes in a panic. We may never know. What I think we do know is that the Airstream was probably close to if not over the Titan's capabilities. Would this have happened if the Titan was towing a tent trailer or if the Airstream was being towed by a one ton crewcab dually?

Hi, I don't know if this is what jmtandem meant, but sometimes I get the feeling that those with this type of hitch, big trucks, tire pressure monitors, and disc brakes Etc. feel too comfortable when towing.

There's an old saying; "If, and when, you think that you are not afraid of that motorcycle, [no fear at all] that's when you will get hurt."
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:00 PM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
Hi, I don't know if this is what jmtandem meant, but sometimes I get the feeling that those with this type of hitch, big trucks, tire pressure monitors, and disc brakes Etc. feel too comfortable when towing.

There's an old saying; "If, and when, you think that you are not afraid of that motorcycle, [no fear at all] that's when you will get hurt."


Hehe!

I have a renewed fear of my motorcycle since fracturing a vertebrae trying to lift all 900+ pounds of it when it fell over when parked in a field last June!

Your point is well taken though, every time I ride the bike I remind myself of all the nasty things that can happen to me if I don't watch carefully what I do and just as important, what other people around me might do to my disadvantage!

I honestly think that one of the benefits of being a bike rider is that you start to think the same way - ie defensive - no matter what vehicle you are driving.

I find I am much more cautious driving our truck now, and I am always thinking what could happen and what I would do if it did - escape routes etc.!

Bikes are still more dangerous than any four wheeler though no matter how many precautions we take, and I try to always remember that and be governed accordingly!

My back is just about getting back to normal now after thirteen weeks of
aching and litte activity!

Brian


PS - I have a big truck, Hensley, and tire pressure monitors but still try to drive with caution and attention!
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:02 PM   #96
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Oiy, this is my worst nightmare when we are on our roadtrips...

On one of of our last trips our hitchball was coming loose. We had no idea and couldn't figure out why, when we applied the brakes, the TV would stop and then we would feel a "bump." The bump was the AS on the hitch pushing the hitchball slowly, slowly, slowly off. Luckily we stopped at the nearest RV shop and had it checked out. All of the repairmen there were shocked and were telling us to thank our lucky stars nothing happened.

I agree, a full check of the hitch is in order - including making sure the ball is securely fastened.
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:16 PM   #97
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Hi, I don't know if this is what jmtandem meant, but sometimes I get the feeling that those with this type of hitch, big trucks, tire pressure monitors, and disc brakes Etc. feel too comfortable when towing.

There's an old saying; "If, and when, you think that you are not afraid of that motorcycle, [no fear at all] that's when you will get hurt."
One of my co-workers' biggest concerns about the HaHa is that it can lull the driver into a false sense of security. After lots of discussion, we are thinking along the lines that the HaHa will not give you an indication of trouble until it's far too late to do anything about it. My big orange hitch that's sitting in storage was donated to me by a national auto insurance company after the vehicle and Airstream it was installed on flipped, killing everyone on board. Luckily, that was not the case here.
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Old 09-27-2011, 06:41 PM   #98
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... After lots of discussion, we are thinking along the lines that the HaHa will not give you an indication of trouble until it's far too late to do anything about it. ...
One of my uncles made the same comment about the F100 vs the F86. (Someone else already broached the plane crash comparison.)

It looks like a lot of tail for that much dog to me. I belong to the ton truck is a truck school of thought, maybe I'm paranoid.

Glad everyone was OK.
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