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Old 05-03-2004, 10:45 AM   #1
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Confused about towing-

I just put my 68 Globetrotter on the road and have towed it about 4 times now. This past weekend was my first camping trip and had it on the road for 2 hours each way. I am pulling it with a 2000 Ford F-150 V8, 5.4 engine- Standard Cab. After reading I am now unsure what I need to improve the tow. First, I KNOW I need anti-sway. The backend was swaying. I bought a Reese friction but it was not installed. As far as weight distribution. My pick-up, being light in the rear and I notice porpousing. I am correct in that is caused by too much weight towards the rear of the trailer? One suggestion was to add to the tounge weight or putting some weight in the front part of the coach? Now, IF that is correct, doesn't the weight distribution actually lighten the tounge weight - would I make my situation worse by further taking weight off the tounge? My trailer (specs) is approx 2990 dry with a hitch weight of 370.

I would like to use my Reese friction anti-sway, since I bought it. If I am not getting it right, or weight distribution is still recomended, what is the least expensive option? Alot of stuff here, I know. There is a Reese single bar rated at 400/4000. Would I be cutting it too close as my tounge weight is 370?

Thnaks for the help. Bryan

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Old 05-03-2004, 11:27 AM   #2
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1958 22' Flying Cloud
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Make sure your basics are dead on, like tire condition and tire pressure, hitch adjustment etc.
then, look at the way you are loading your trailer, making sure that the bulk of the weight is in front of the axle. Fill your water tank, if not full to the brim, then at least 3/4 or so.
I would use a weight distribution system with 2 bars, use light duty ones for your low tongue weight. Do a search for hitching instructions, this forum already has them.
Sway and purpoising are a pain to deal with, but a nicely set up trailer will tow very well, with little or no sway, depending on the time you spend setting it up. Porpoising, like that caused by concrete freeway expansion joint ( steady rocking of the trailertongue/vehicle back) is very tough to deal with. I have found no other cure than slowing dow, so far.
Here is a quick, but very definite read on how to set up your trailer and tow vehicle.

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Old 05-03-2004, 12:37 PM   #3
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Thank you. I was thinking that water in the front tank would really help, so there you go- I appreciate the suggestions. To be honest, I have never towed a trailer before and if I had to guess, with no weight distribution or anti-sway, it really tows like a dream. I will then consider the the heavier duty weight distribution over the single bar. Thanks again, Bryan
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Old 05-03-2004, 12:39 PM   #4
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Confused about towing

Greetings Bryan!

First, I KNOW I need anti-sway. The backend was swaying. I bought a Reese friction but it was not installed. As far as weight distribution. My pick-up, being light in the rear and I notice porpousing. I am correct in that is caused by too much weight towards the rear of the trailer?
I suspect that you have multiple factors at work in this situation. My Minuet is very similar in size and configuration to your Globetrotter, and it has very good road manners whether it is towed with the Suburban or Cadillac. Things that I would suggest checking would include:

1.) Hitch Height - - when it is off by much more than one inch, it can and will produce issues when towing. The hitch height listed on the Airstream website is 19" for the '68 Globetrotter - - you may find as I did with my Minuet that the actual hitch height is lower due to axle settling (on my Minuet the hitch height was almost 1.5" lower than the factory recommended height prior to having the new axle installed). When properly setup, your trailer should be nearly level (or ever so slightly low in the front). You can find directions for setting up the Reese Weight Distributing Hitch at: Reese Weight Distributing Hitch Installation Directions

2.) Shock Absorbers - - if well worn can have a modest impact on tracking. This was very minor on my tandem axle Overlander, but quite a bit more noticeable on the Minuet with its single axle.

3.) Traveling with the fresh water tank full on the Minuet produces much better road manners as it puts most of its weight on the hitch (the water tank on the Minuet is mounted under the front sofa below the front windows). If my memory serves correct, the water tank on your Globetrotter is mounted under the front window as well - - if this is the case traveling with it full or near full should add some beneficial hitch weight.

4.) Traveling with at least one of the two propane tanks full helps with a small amount of additional weight on the hitch.

5.) Check your tires to be sure that they are ST rated trailer tires of the correct capacity for your coach, and that they are inflated - - inadequate inflation or automotive tires could produce unwanted sway.

6.) Check your draw bar to be sure that it isn't one designed for a van with a rear door mounted spare. These "conversion van" draw bars were somewhat longer (measuring from receiver to ball) and could cause some weird handling conditions - - both sway and to a lesser extent, purpoising.

7.) The lightest Reese weight distribution bars that you are likely to find available from most suppliers will likely be the 500 pound bars. I use the 500 pound bars with the Minuet (its fully loaded hitch weight runs close to 550 pounds on most trips) when towing with the Suburban - - when towing with the Cadillac, I use 700 pound bars to compensate for the soft springing characteristic of '70s era Cadillacs. At one time, you could get Reese weight distribution bars rated as little as 350 pounds but I haven't seen these listed in any catalogs recently. I would suggest having the trailer weighed when loaded for a trip so that you know both the gross weight of the trailer and the tongue weight. I was rather surprised to learn that my Minuet carried so much weight on the tongue (550 pounds) with a coach gross weight of 3,100 pounds when loaded for a vacation - - this will also help to point to any need for shifiting of load in the trailer (if you find that you have less than 15% of the gross weight on the tongue).

I will admit that to never having been a fan of the friction sway control, but did use a Reese friction sway on the Minuet for a very short time. When I learned from the Engineering Department at Reese that the Dual Cam would work with any coach having at least 400 pounds on the hitch, I made the switch to the Dual Cam on the Minuet. The nice feature about the Dual cam is that you do not need to constantly adjust the system - - once adjsted it needs no further attention unless a change is made in tow vehicles. With the friction sway control it was a constant process of loosening for slick roads and tightening for gusty winds or heavy semi traffic. Quite honestly, if the hitch is properly adjusted and the suspension and running gear of the trailer are in good shape with a balanced load in the coach, there shouldn't be a significant amount of sway under normal driving conditions.

Good luck with your hitch/trailer setup!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 05-03-2004, 01:27 PM   #5
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You should not _need_ sway control! Especially with an Airstream Globe Trotter.

The Can-Am link has good information. I like the "Sway controls are important. Though they are of minimal benefit on good days it is like a extremely cheap life insurance."

The Reese Dual Cam and the Equal-i-zer (people confuse the brand name with a hitch type but the Lyndon Equal-i-zer is a very good simple and effective design) are both very good $500 hitch solutions for load leveling and sway damping. Those with a lot of cash tend to like the Hensley Arrow ($3,000) or Pullrite ($2000) as a means to improve handling.

But the bottom line is that you should figure out what you need to do to tow your Globe Trotter comfortably 'on a good day' and then use sway control as insurance.

Also look at
for some additional ideas and links.
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Old 05-03-2004, 01:40 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone. That is why I love this site so much. Good people who seem to care. I like that a lot. Just a few notes. This trailer had EVERYTHING looked at, balanced and if needed replaced by North Dallas RV. My suspension is in excellent shape and again, from having 0 experience towing, I think it tows beautifuly. It just seemed to sway a bit. Yesterday, when driving home, when I looked in the rear view mirror through the very back window of the coach, I noticed the scenery changing : ) (back and forth) a little. Cars would also pass me like it was swaying...
All of the suggestions are good and again, thanks everyone.
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Old 05-03-2004, 02:16 PM   #7
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As has been suggested, adding some hitch weight may do wonders. We tow a '02 19' Bambi which is very similar to your GlobeTrotter except the dry weight runs 3600 and the hitch is 500#. We tow with a Ford Sport Trac. I did choose the Hensley Arrow hitch as it was a fraction of the $s invested in the truck/A/S combo and I knew I could forget sway as an issue with the Hensley. I have found that while the rig tows beautifully with or without water in the tank (ours is front roadside), it handles better with a full tank as the posted factory hitch weight assumes a full fresh water tank and full propane. As water weights 8#/gal, assuming 20-30 gallons, you can see how quickly water adds weight to the hitch. I also noticed that from your pic, that you have a single propane tank. I believe that your A/S originally had two tanks, so there is another reduction in hitch weight (at least 40#). A/S calculated the hitch weight with full propane (2 tanks) and full water, so you are likely significantly below the 350# weight as configured. Before you make any real changes, you should find out exactly what you are dealing with weight wise. Load up the rig as you would for a trip and then take it to a state weight station. They can weigh the trailer and the hitch separately. You should at the least have 10% of the total trailer weight as hitch weight. Adding an equalizing hitch to your rig is not really to lighten up the hitch as much as it is to distribute the hitch load evenly on the tow vehicle tires, which improves handling and stability.

BTW, welcome to the world of A/Sing. I see that you are the Dallas area. If you have not thought about, consider checking into the N Texas WBCCI unit. It is great unit with about a 50/50 mix or retired/still working and it is not mired in the past. May's rally is down in New Braunfels. During the summer several of the younger members are planning unofficial rallies, so if you are interested, we can add your name to the list. If you want another opinion of the unit, check with Tin Hut.

david & bret
'02 Bambi LS
'99 34' Limited
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Old 05-03-2004, 04:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by uwe
...look at the way you are loading your trailer, making sure that the bulk of the weight is in front of the axle...
A little anecdote about this: When we towed our A/S to its new home in Vermont, we thought we'd take advantage of the cargo space and loaded up the curbside closets with boxes of stuff, mostly books. Got on the freeway and the trailer wagged its tail like it was time to go for a walk. A stop to move some boxes streetside and forward, and it towed fine. We've got a Reese hitch, but now have decided to wait with installation of the sway control until after we finish restoration and fine tune the balance of new tanks, fridge, etc.
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Old 05-03-2004, 04:11 PM   #9
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Reese Hitch Support

The below info from the Reese Products site helped me more than any other source for getting my hitch setup correctly. I followed the instructions to the letter and went from white knuckles to barely knowing the A/S was there. I seldom even have to use the friction anti-sway.
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Old 05-03-2004, 04:15 PM   #10
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Good advice. Now after reading all of this, I never thought about the weight issue. I KNOW she's light up front! Thanks. Bryan
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Old 05-03-2004, 05:50 PM   #11
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I Feel Stupid - This is for others, so they can learn!

First, I am grateful that I am OK...... You all were leaning towards "get the basics right" Well.... absolutely correct. AIR PRESSURE!!!!!!! I just checked. 21PSI and they are supposed to be between 40 and 45. Duhhhhh, yeah, I guess it will sway a bit. This is a lesson for me. Funny thing is, before I left, I had it to check off and I did not. I am sure that now with the proper inflation and some weight up front, my Globetrotter will tow like a dream. I will also take everyone's advice into consideration as well.

They say you learn by your mistakes. I am happy I made it OK..

Bryan ( red-faced).
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Old 05-03-2004, 06:00 PM   #12
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Wagging the dog.

No one has mentioned it, but a big factor in sway control is the type of tires and inflation pressure on the TOW VEHICLE. Especially if they are not LT rated tires.
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Old 05-03-2004, 06:03 PM   #13
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I just found this site:

It reviews all the weight issues and answers many questions. What do you guys think?

"It's the journey."

NorCal Fall Rally, Jackson Rancheria, October 7-9 2011 Click here for more info

Come rally with us.
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