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Old 08-01-2009, 01:32 PM   #29
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Considering how easy it is to jack knife an 18 wheeler in theory they too need help.
One would think that a mechanical sway control or electronic stability control on the big rigs would make them more stable and safer when things get loose.
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Old 08-01-2009, 02:33 PM   #30
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This year I went through the agony of figuring out how the hitch worked and how it should be adjusted.
Gene,
Did you use the DVD, the manual, or both? Also how long did it take and do you need to have a very level location to adjust it? Pretty sure I got mine installed at the same place you did. I wonder if there's too much weight on the front because the back end seems to get pretty bouncy on some of the concrete roads at highway speeds.
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Old 08-01-2009, 04:34 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Road Ruler View Post
Considering how easy it is to jack knife an 18 wheeler in theory they too need help.
One would think that a mechanical sway control or electronic stability control on the big rigs would make them more stable and safer when things get loose.
Sway, as in the type we see in a conventional hitch travel trailer, isn't possible in a tractor-trailer rig. The connection point is directly above, or even a little forward of the axle; hence the trailer can't exert side-to-side leverage on the tractor's axle to break traction which is what happens with a conventional receiver-ball-trailer tongue setup.

When a tractor-trailer goes in, it's usually because of speed unsafe for conditions on a reduced traction surface. The trailer axles lose traction and try to pass the tractor. It's a very different phenomenon.

Roger
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Old 08-01-2009, 06:03 PM   #32
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Gene,
Did you use the DVD, the manual, or both? Also how long did it take and do you need to have a very level location to adjust it? Pretty sure I got mine installed at the same place you did.
Craig
Craig, if you had it installed at a certain RV dealer on the 6th Ave. service road, yes.

The dealer did not include the instructions or any of the extra washers they didn't use. I called Progress, the manufacturer of the Equalizer, and they sent me some materials, including the DVD. I found the DVD useless. The written materials they sent I managed to lose. By that time, a space had opened up and the washers were loose. I called Progress and was told that was normal. I then tightened the upper bolt on the hitch head (that's the one that adjusts the angle of the head) after closing that space. I found the bolt had not been tight enough. That worked for a while, but without enough washers, after about a week would loosen. I printed out the instructions on their website. They were easier to understand for some reason.

It's necessary to have the TV and trailer level, or if you can't find a level place, find a place where the grade is such that the TV and trailer are both on the same angle. I parked my TV in the shop and piled up boards outside to make the ground outside level in relation to the shop floor. Kind of goofy, but it worked.

I spent 4 or 5 hours trying all sorts of combinations with the various adjustments before I got it right. This is not easy to understand. The system has a dynamic of various adjustments relating to one another. Some adjustments affect whether the trailer is level more than anything, others affect the WD of the truck more.

First get the trailer level, then work on weight distribution. The company is now recommending the ball height be the same at the inside of the coupling on the tongue. That is different than the instructions say and different than the Airstream manual recommends. I found having them equal did not work well and followed an average of Airstream manual and Equalizer instructions. You do it and then see if the trailer is level. I used a 2' level on the beltline to check level. I called Progress a number of times for advice and they are patient.

Here are two threads that discuss setting up this hitch: start with post 13—
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f464...ort-34484.html

And this is my experience, posts 150, 153, 155-157—
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...s-47817-2.html

I read the posts in the first thread over and over and studied the instructions. Until I actually worked on it, it was pretty hard to understand the dynamics of it, but after a while, I got it. It can be frustrating, but it has to be done. Dealers don't make enough money from these things to do a good job, and some of them, don't do a good job anyway.

Gene
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Old 08-02-2009, 10:33 AM   #33
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re: "Sway, as in the type we see in a conventional hitch travel trailer, isn't possible in a tractor-trailer rig. ... When a tractor-trailer goes in, it's usually because of speed unsafe for conditions on a reduced traction surface. The trailer axles lose traction and try to pass the tractor. It's a very different phenomenon."

This highlights one of the confusions often seen in sway discussions. This jacknife scenario is the one folks use as a 'catastrophic' event that they say is a necessary outcome of not having sway control. The situation you describe is the FUD mongerer's stock in trade to promote the necessity of super duper TT sway control hitches.

But, as also noted, what most folks with TT's encounter as sway is an entirely different thing. If it isn't handled correctly, it can indeed sometimes turn into a loss of control event (a.k.a. jacknife), but for the most part it is simply a handling and comfort issue on the road or a compensation for other suspension weakness.

Even the super duper TT hitches won't prevent a catastrophic events if, as noted, there is unsafe speed for conditions or some other unsafe driving circumstance (unexpected evasive maneuver seems most common) or some perturbation (e.g. extreme wind gust or blowout).

The threads on adjusting the Equal-i-zer, especially, and the DC also are interesting in how much precision goes into something that doesn't have much need for accuracy. In that regard it is like the discussions about batteries and power needs. The effort is a good way to gain experience and learn things, a fun thing to do, and doesn't cost much except a bit of time. Kinda' like lab experiments in school they help develop skills and knowledge as well as a somewhat more comfortable experience.
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:41 PM   #34
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Eq

Gene,

Why do you say to start at post 13 in my thread from days of old? It is in the first few posts where I lay out pretty much everything in detail. After that, you don't get anywhere near the detail.

The Eq isn't hard to set up at all. You get get the vertically adjustable hitch bar to set the height right, and then adjust the ball cant and L-bars to get the right amount of weight distribution. It's very straight forward.

I just got back from a trip a couple hours ago. The Eq is still pulling fine. Trucks pass me, it doesn't sway.

My biggest beefs on this hitch are that you have to keep checking and retorqing the bolts on it. That and I thought it was going to be faster to hitch up than a Dual Cam (what I used to use). I think it's maybe slower. But I can't argue with the performance of it.

This being said, I bought my trailer in TN, 9 hours from my house, pulled it home on the ball and it did just fine. But it does seem a lot more solidly connected with the Eq. I'll continue to use it.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:20 PM   #35
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Jim, this is from the post from Silver Cabin: "I, and many others, have had the same issues with dealers not setting up their Equal-I-Zer hitches properly. JimGolden started this thread and I posted a detailed procedure starting at post #13 on how to tune it up correctly: Equal-I-Zer Hitch Setup Report"

I was referring to the e-mails from Progress Mfg. that SilverCabin posted in #13 & 14. I also read your posts, and many others, but didn't really grasp it 'til I actually did it. The entire thread is very valuable and I have referred others to it before. Everybody learns it differently and for me, the e-mails were what I needed to begin to understand how it works. What was easy for you was hard to for me. Many paths lead to nirvana.

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Old 08-02-2009, 02:39 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by bryanl View Post
The situation you describe is the FUD mongerer's stock in trade to promote the necessity of super duper TT sway control hitches.


Even the super duper TT hitches won't prevent a catastrophic events if, as noted, there is unsafe speed for conditions or some other unsafe driving circumstance (unexpected evasive maneuver seems most common) or some perturbation (e.g. extreme wind gust or blowout).

The threads on adjusting the Equal-i-zer, especially, and the DC also are interesting in how much precision goes into something that doesn't have much need for accuracy.
Bryanl,
Respectfully, your post flies in the face of what seems to be the prevalent opinion out there (which reputation I at times also resemble). I have kind of suspected as much myself, but do not have anything than my gut and a little experieince to back me up. What are you basing your statement on? Personal experience, facts, or both?
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:18 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by bryanl View Post
re: "Sway, as in the type we see in a conventional hitch travel trailer, isn't possible in a tractor-trailer rig. ... When a tractor-trailer goes in, it's usually because of speed unsafe for conditions on a reduced traction surface. The trailer axles lose traction and try to pass the tractor. It's a very different phenomenon."

This highlights one of the confusions often seen in sway discussions. This jacknife scenario is the one folks use as a 'catastrophic' event that they say is a necessary outcome of not having sway control. The situation you describe is the FUD mongerer's stock in trade to promote the necessity of super duper TT sway control hitches.

But, as also noted, what most folks with TT's encounter as sway is an entirely different thing. If it isn't handled correctly, it can indeed sometimes turn into a loss of control event (a.k.a. jacknife), but for the most part it is simply a handling and comfort issue on the road or a compensation for other suspension weakness.

Even the super duper TT hitches won't prevent a catastrophic events if, as noted, there is unsafe speed for conditions or some other unsafe driving circumstance (unexpected evasive maneuver seems most common) or some perturbation (e.g. extreme wind gust or blowout).
I am a sway event survivor. A severe sway event doesn't result in a jack-knife per se... a jack-knife results when the trailer tries to pass the tow vehicle, usually when the trailer pushes the tow vehicle into a side slide.

Sway is NOT the "wiggle" you experience when a truck passes or you get hit with a wind gust, although those events have the potential to induce sway in a tow vehicle/trailer combination that may already be prone to sway.

A severe sway event with a travel trailer ends badly when the trailer leverages enough against the rear axle of the tow vehicle enough to make the rear axle lose traction. At that point, hang on 'cause you're going for the ride of your life. The odds of recovery at that point are slim, and the odds of the trailer rolling and taking the tow vehicle with it are great.

Sway control devices attempt to stop the trailer from side-to-side leveraging against the rear axle and prevent that loss of traction and subsequent control. That's why they're important.

Roger
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:50 PM   #38
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Even the super duper TT hitches won't prevent a catastrophic events if, as noted, there is unsafe speed for conditions or some other unsafe driving circumstance (unexpected evasive maneuver seems most common) or some perturbation (e.g. extreme wind gust or blowout).

I have a super duper hitch and as I have posted before have also tested it by violently changing lanes back and forth, throttle on or off, from interior shoulder to main shoulder -- gravel and all -- at up to and a litle past 55 mph. That ended my decision on whether to keep it, a good 30-minutes after it was installed. Tell us your similar testing.
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Old 08-03-2009, 01:26 AM   #39
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Respectfully, your post flies in the face of what seems to be the prevalent opinion out there
Yes, I am aware of this and have the arrows in my back to prove it ;-) - I mean, look at the responses even here. Challenges and everything!

The basis for my view is multifold. I have a reasonable amount of experience towing a variety of rigs. I have some familiarity with the theories involved. I have been listening to the experience of others for quite some time. I look at data, such as state reports of crash investigations. I have studied several of the theoretical treatments of trailer sway of done by grad ME students (especially in England for some reason). I also experiment. I try to learn.

For instance, I know, from basic observation, that most sway control devices (friction bar, DC, and EQ) are damping mechanisms and that the minority (such as the HAHA) are geometry adjusters.

I experience the fact that towed vehicles understeer and observe what this means when it comes to sway events, especially in regards to driver behavior.

I observe studies such as that Ford video recently posted here about how their braking inhibited sway and consider how that fits with long standing advice for handling sway and what I know of modern automotive control computers.

The history of sway control devices and inventions is also an interesting component in this synthesis of ideas.

Then you can observe the equipment on the road and compare that to crash statistics.

I also look at reports and arguments presented. I tend to put more credence in Can Am Andy's discussions of his tests that I do some of those presented here. Proselytizing doesn't cut it for me. I prefer controlled experiments with due regard for the variables, the manner of measure, and the other factors involved.

When all of these things are integrated into a whole, the picture I see is quite different from that painted by some of the previous posts. But then, 'conventional wisdom' really doesn't have that great a reputation. Like that Ohio legislature that tried to pass a law for the value of pi, reality and reason and actual measure tend to make their presence known. There is nothing I can do about those whose mind is settled in concrete. I can hope, though, that others will think through what can be seen and experienced and be able to make better decisions for themselves. That would help us all.
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Old 08-03-2009, 08:52 AM   #40
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bryanl, I think most of us prefer objective analysis, though we disagree on what analysis is objective. I am glad the Ohio legislature does not post here with its opinion on WD hitches and I still think pi is 3.14159.

Regardless of opinions on sway control, what about weight distribution? When I adjusted my hitch I could measure the compression on the front and rear axles. Different adjustments changed the compression and I kept experimenting until I could get it near to equal. It seemed to be impossible to get it absolutely equal, but the final result shifted weight to the front appreciably compared to no hitch.

It also levels the trailer. That can also be seen by changing the adjustments. I used a level to check how level the trailer is.

So far as sway I have no way of determining how much, if any, effect there is caused by the bars. I do know that when I see a trailer weaving down the highway and I pass it, it has no sway control device. It seems to me that friction will dampen sway, but I cannot quantify it. On that part I have to rely on others' opinions, and the great majority says it helps with sway. I have no high opinion of conventional wisdom, after all such wisdom once taught us the earth was flat and the sun revolved around us. I have no doubt you have studied this in depth, otherwise I would skip over your posts and not say to myself "maybe he's on to something".

It is my belief the hitch provides weight distribution, levels the trailer, and if it prevents or moderates sway, that's great.

Gene
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:57 PM   #41
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I'm a Believer!

I started towing around my 55th birthday. Knew zilch - but got a lot of good advice from my friends here on the forum.

So, on my third or fourth trip, I made a serious misjudgement. I decided I could take the beltway around Baltimore to go to a friend's place - as long as I did it at a "slack time". I picked 8:00 am Sunday morning. HOLY CRAP! The saturday night drunks must have been heading home. Aggressive, rude, no Idea what a turn signal was, thought the speed limit was 95mph!!! So I was stuck. I decided to stay in the outside lane and make my escape to the first road that didn't look like an interstate. Suddenly out of nowhere a BIG truck came right - across FOUR lanes and jumped in front of me to get to an exit ramp. Fortunately I had my trailer brakes tight and my Reese weight distribution and sway control set up correctly. I had no choice but to smoke the brakes and pray. (Luckily the semi behind me also did the same or I would have been a "Paula Sandwich".)

Once the idiot was off the exit ramp I pushed my heart back out of my esophagus and drove on. The nice truck driver behind me put his flashers on and followed me at reasonable speed allowing me to get off the beltway, collapse, then change cloths and clean up the laundry problem

Would I have successfully stopped in a straight line without the weight distribution and anti-sway? Anyone's guess. Could the Airstream have acted like a bucking bronco in those circumstances without the springbars dampening the movement? Maybe/maybe not. Did I actually jerk the steering wheel to the right while stomping on the brake pedal as a further evasive maneuver? I think so...but it happened so fast. Did it save me from being in an accident? I'll never know absolutely but my gut says probably did.

One thing I do know is that thinking about safety constantly is necessary regardless of how good your equipment is. Another is that a professional carpenter can use poor tools effectively - but usually won't. "Wasting" a lot of money on quality tools if you're an weekend carpenter MAKES SENSE because great tools help you do the job right even if your skills aren't the greatest.

I fulltime. I also work fulltime, so more of my time is spent in two local campgrounds than on the road. If it's 90 degrees and I'm moving 6 miles between regular campgrounds, I will tow "ball and chains" - going 35 mph max. I hit the road for even 25 miles for a weekend on the eastern shore and the weight distribution goes ON. Can I feel a whole lot of difference? NO, but then I'm not going to let arrogance about being an "experienced" driver get in the way of doing something that will increase my safety - even if it's only by 5%.

ONCE BURNED - ONCE LEARNED.
Paula
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:34 PM   #42
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Paula's point is right on. You need to rig up correctly (w-d, anti-sway) in order to buy forgiveness in the event something happens. Any setup will work under good conditions. But a casual hookup may fail you when the unforseen happens.

And - if you are in the habit of hooking up properly all the time, then it is less likely you will forget a step.

Pat
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