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Old 08-03-2009, 02:54 PM   #43
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If you are in an accident and don't have a WD hitch with sway control, the other guy's insurance company is going to be very interested in that. If you are in Tipton, Iowa, Roger will be writing you a ticket and I'm sure there are similar statutes in other states. The insurance companies (yours too) will want to know about that ticket.

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Old 08-04-2009, 12:33 AM   #44
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re: "we disagree on what analysis is objective" - this is almost a bumper sticker for denial, I think. When the meanings of words starts to get twisted, all bets are off.

re: "the other guy's insurance company is going to be very interested in that." This is the kind of unsubstantiated FUD mongering that gets so common on these topics. RVers don't get tickets for sway control apparatus or lack thereof and I have yet to see it even mentioned in any insurance policy.

Why not take a look at facts? Is there something wrong with reality? Read your insurance policy to see what exceptions, caveats, and concerns they have. Dig up the statutes for your state to find out just what is actually required for a TT RV. Try to find a case of an actual ticket for someone with an illegal hitch (or even excess weight). Try to find where a trial has actually determined that an RVer was at fault for his hitch choice. Try to reconcile the fear mongering with the very low crash rates for RV's and that with the fact that very many, especially in the professional category, don't use the fancy hitches.

You should see what some folks dredge up to try to match this request. The latest is an ambulance chaser's brag sheet about how he intimidated a deep pockets source. Some of the creative 'interpretations' of statute are also interesting. The parade of logical fallacies is something else.

But all of that is a diversion, anyway. My point is that an appropriate skepticism is always a good idea. Better decisions are made based on understanding and not on hype. Measure of what has been is always a better guide than speculation about what might be. Absolute affirmations without any consideration for context, accuracy, or precision should arouse suspicion.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:43 AM   #45
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re: "Regardless of opinions on sway control, what about weight distribution?"

The primary purpose of weight distribution is to assure that there is sufficient weight on the steering axle to assure proper control of the vehicle. Other purposes include keeping headlights out of oncoming driver's eyes and avoiding excess weight on any single axle. A hidden variable is the tongue weight imposed by braking.

If you need load leveling to achieve these purposes, then make sure you get a hitch with spring bars rated properly for the weights involved with your rig. A load leveling system is like springs on the axle. Too much is too stiff and provides a harsh ride which pops rivets and does other damage to your Airstream.
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Old 08-04-2009, 07:19 AM   #46
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re: "we disagree on what analysis is objective" - this is almost a bumper sticker for denial, I think. When the meanings of words starts to get twisted, all bets are off.

re: "the other guy's insurance company is going to be very interested in that." This is the kind of unsubstantiated FUD mongering that gets so common on these topics. RVers don't get tickets for sway control apparatus or lack thereof and I have yet to see it even mentioned in any insurance policy.

Why not take a look at facts? Is there something wrong with reality? Read your insurance policy to see what exceptions, caveats, and concerns they have. Dig up the statutes for your state to find out just what is actually required for a TT RV. Try to find a case of an actual ticket for someone with an illegal hitch (or even excess weight). Try to find where a trial has actually determined that an RVer was at fault for his hitch choice. Try to reconcile the fear mongering with the very low crash rates for RV's and that with the fact that very many, especially in the professional category, don't use the fancy hitches.
Bryan, the purpose of these responses is to help folks who tow avoid getting into situations that they don't intend to be in, and may not even know that they can be in until it's happening. This isn't "Scare Tactics", it's an attempt to forearm folks with information and help them make good decisions based on the knowledge and experience of other folks here. Weight distribution and sway control hitches evolved (and continue to evolve) in an attempt to minimize the towing public's exposure to this dangerous phenomenon. Thirty years ago, you hardly saw any WDH/Sway equipment on travel trailers. Today, it's commonplace.

While the facts and statistics you demand would be fascinating, they're just not available either court cases or citations. The Courts don't track case outcomes by violation type.

Double-blind empirical test results would be telling, but they're not available either, and when testing IS done (as with Ford's electronic braking system) folks are critical of the testing methods. So, unfortunately, what we're left with for sorting out the value of a specific piece of equipment is the claims of manufacturers, and the experience of folks who use the equipment. Some folks are better able to articulate their experiences good and bad with equipment than others, but in the final analysis, that's all that we have. The vast majority of folks who have towed with and without that equipment, and I'll go out on a limb and say that everyone who has survived a sway event will use some kind of sway control equipment when they tow, and most of those are on a constant quest for something even better.

Manufacturer's marketing methods and quality vary widely.

Statute law, on the other hand, is pretty clear. In Iowa, at least, you can and likely will be cited and held at-fault (or at least as a contributing factor) in a crash for failure to have brakes, weight distribution, and sway control on a trailer over 3,000 lbs GVWR. And yes, folks are held at-fault and cited for that, and yes, their insurance companies ARE interested in that information. Most policies have a "gross negligence of the operator" exemption clause.

So, since we won't get the "reality-based" data you think you need to demonstrate that this equipment is necessary, let me give you a couple of questions to direct to your family attorney, your insurance agent, and someone at an administrative level of your state's Highway Patrol (who has technical investigative training and experience):

1) "If I know or reasonably should have known that the use of this equipment is required by law, and that failing to obtain and use this equipment when towing could result in a collision event, and I tow without it anyway, will my insurance cover me?"

2) "If I know or reasonably should have known that the use of equipment is commonplace, recommended by dealers, and that failing to obtain and use this equipment when towing could result in a collision event, and I tow without it anyway, will my insurance cover me?"

3) "If I know or reasonably should have known that the use of this equipment is required by law, and that failing to obtain and use this equipment when towing could result in a collision event, and I tow without it anyway, can I be held to answer criminally?"

4) "If I know or reasonably should have known that the use of this equipment is required by law, and that failing to obtain and use this equipment when towing could result in a collision event, and I tow without it anyway, can I be held to answer civilly?"

I think you might find the responses from those three folks may surprise you, and their responses will be as "reality based" as they can give you.

I suspect that Gene's opinion as a legal practitioner will be valuable here as well if he's willing to comment. Gene?

Roger
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:16 AM   #47
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Roger's got it right in my opinion.

In my experience, most lawyers are not "ambulance chasers". I never had time to chase ambulances nor did I want to. There are ethics rules for lawyers who solicit clients right after they've been injured and lawyers are disciplined for such activities. As in any profession there are a few who do a bad job, but please don't slander everyone for the misdeeds of a few.

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Old 08-04-2009, 09:36 AM   #48
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[quote=85MH325;730520]

The vast majority of folks who have towed with and without that equipment, and I'll go out on a limb and say that everyone who has survived a sway event will use some kind of sway control equipment when they tow, and most of those are on a constant quest for something even better.

I have survived a violent sway event. I was towing a trailer I had inproperly loaded, the trailer had negative tongue weight. The whole rig went 90 degrees sideways, then 180 degrees the other way, I did about 3 of the 180 degree slids.I was on I-25, some how I stayed out of the ditch and on the roadway. That was about 25 years ago, I have done a bunch of towing since then,including a lot of towing with a motorcycle,also semi tracter trailer towing. On my personal towing I have never used any anti sway or W/D hitches, nor have I ever felt the need. Prudence while driving,and proper loading,for me has resulted in many happy and safe miles.
On a related note: Last winter two young inexperianced Ford engineers on their way from Dearborn to the Arizona Proving Ground rolled an improperly loaded F150 and car trailer with another F150 on the trailer. they survived. Both trucks and trailer were totaled. They were using a W/D hitch.Insuficant tongue weight was determined to be the cause.
Know your tongue and trailer weight, stay alert! Adios, John
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:56 AM   #49
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I think all this discussion is good. I have experienced the semi-trailer passing the tractor,it not fun. Guess what?? You are a passenger and along for the ride. I have never experienced the same with a TT.
I kinda grew up as it were with my father using a Dual-Cam Reese,and always using same and never having a problem that I can remember.
I still use the Dual Cam setup like my father used and I have no problems either. I don't want to experience even a little wiggle.
Thanks to this discussion bringing to light the fact that Sway control is required in alot of states is news to me. I would never take my trailer out without the use of these devices.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:24 AM   #50
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I have survived a violent sway event. I was towing a trailer I had inproperly loaded, the trailer had negative tongue weight. The whole rig went 90 degrees sideways, then 180 degrees the other way, I did about 3 of the 180 degree slids.I was on I-25, some how I stayed out of the ditch and on the roadway. That was about 25 years ago, I have done a bunch of towing since then,including a lot of towing with a motorcycle,also semi tracter trailer towing. On my personal towing I have never used any anti sway or W/D hitches, nor have I ever felt the need. Prudence while driving,and proper loading,for me has resulted in many happy and safe miles.
I guess this shows that some folks have lots of luck working for them in a positive way.

There are other safety devises used on the combination. Safety chains, break away cable, trailer brakes, etc. Sure we could get away without using them too and with some luck or a prayer have a many happy and safe miles of towing.

The question is why tow with a combination that is less than optimal and "increase the risk" of an unhappy incident?
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:01 AM   #51
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I guess this shows that some folks have lots of luck working for them in a positive way.

There are other safety devises used on the combination. Safety chains, break away cable, trailer brakes, etc. Sure we could get away without using them too and with some luck or a prayer have a many happy and safe miles of towing.

The question is why tow with a combination that is less than optimal and "increase the risk" of an unhappy incident?
I guess my problem is I believe in personal responsibility. All kinds of modern inventions are great. Disc brakes, anti lock brakes.now we have "vehicle stability control. Do we discard all products not having these proven safety devices(the scary part is ,there will be yes answers)? Or do we train and learn how to do what it is we intend to do. Adios, John
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:08 AM   #52
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Adios, John.

I've seen a sway similar to the one you experienced and it ended in destruction of the trailer and a (thankfully unoccupied) parked car when the trailer slammed into it. It was horrific. I don't need to experience it myself in order to use reasonable means to avoid it. Obviously you don't see the need.

Safe travels. Pat
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:28 AM   #53
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Probably should not get into this, but here goes...I definately believe in weight distribution hitches, and sway control. I'm still not sure which type is best as I've actually only used two type of sway control, the Reese Dual Cams and the friction types. Both worked, but I'm sure as many on the board can, I can site the good and bad of each.

My point is, in the beginning I towed without WD or sway control and didn't think anything about it. Since I tried my first WD/sway control hitch, I've not been without it. When setup right, it's that good. I would also venture to say, those that argue it's not needed, probably have never experienced towing with a properly setup system.

I will add one "story"...While picking up our current trailer from a dealer in New Mexico, a TT delivery driver showed up with an SOB trailer...a big one. I noticed he had a WD hitch head installed, but no bars, and I asked him about it. He told me he saw a TT roll over once while using a WD hitch, and it took the tow vehicle with it, causing a fatality in the tow. Ever since then, he decided, if the trailer wanted to roll, he wanted the trailer to go ahead and roll and leave the tow and him alone.

My thoughts at the time was it was easy to think that way when towing someone else's trailer. I would also add that he was towing with a 1 ton Dodge Diesel dually pickup. It's hard for a pissant to control an elephant.
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:38 AM   #54
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In the relating of the story about my "sway" problem I was attempting to point out the obveous. That I had loaded the trailer wrong and had caused the problem. I had considerable experiance towing at that point in my life and should have known better.
I have no experiance with a sway control hitch. When working at the Ford Arizona Proving Ground I amased some miles pulling trailers on public roads as part of the duribility tests that Ford did. The trailers were always loaded to max GVW. Ford used W/D hitches but not sway control. Adios, John
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:23 PM   #55
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In the relating of the story about my "sway" problem I was attempting to point out the obveous. That I had loaded the trailer wrong and had caused the problem. I had considerable experiance towing at that point in my life and should have known better.
John, you have in fact stated the obvious. A well balanced trailer with an appropriately sized tow vehicle should, generally, not require sway control to be towed safely. That said, next time you do something thoughtless like improper loading, that sway control/WDH may give you enough stability that you WON'T have a sway issue, even thought you SHOULD have had one. That, in my estimation, is what that equipment is for. It gives you that extra margin of error after you've eliminated all of the other causes of sway in your particular tow vehicle/trailer setup.

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Old 08-04-2009, 09:50 PM   #56
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Just like with aircraft, forward CG = positive stability.

I generally tow with water in my fresh water tank. Do the rest of you normally do that? I like to have some water to flush the potty or wash my hands while traveling. But at any rate, and on my coach at least, that puts about 480 lbs just ahead of the triple axles. I've never experienced any sway with the 34 footer without water in the fresh tank, but she's the Rock of Gibralter with water in there. Anyway, I am always very careful to load the coach forward CG.

Actually, I normally only have about 2/3 tank of fresh water while going down the road, but that's still 350 lbs or so ahead of the axles.

There are many variables associated with good trailer handling. But you can really help yourself out by keeping the CG forward.

The 10-15% gross weight on the tongue is really just an approximation of the stability criteria nailed down by SAE in the 1960's. What you really want is the CG of the trailer to be 10-15% ahead of the CL of the axles.

So if you have a 30' long dual axle trailer, and it's 36" between the axles, you want the trailer's balance point (CG) to be about 0.125*360= 45" ahead of the center point between the axles. So that'd be 45" - 18" (half point between the axles) ahead of the front axle. That's the average point.

Positive stability is a good thing
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