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Old 04-19-2007, 04:26 PM   #1
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2005 30' Classic
Sacramento , California
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Posts: 143
O5 30' Classic fishtails a little

This is my fourth Airstream and it tows the worst of all. My last A/S was a 29' Soverign and I could cruise across Arizona at 70 at not know it was back there. If I get this one over 65 it starts to fishtail...not out of control but enough that I have to slow down and stabilize everything. This is not a very "Airstream like" characteristic. I have a Reese Dual Cam HP that is set up right on the money and I tow with a Dodge Ram 2500 so that said it's not a tow vehicle/hitch problem.

If I get a dump station that has a good, low dump hole and I get the holding tanks completely drained this control issue is substantially better.

I notice on the Airstream company web site that this model has the lightest tongue weight of all of them, about 680 lbs as I I'm thinking I might be in a tail heavy situation. I don't have a lot of stuff in the trunk; 2 sets of those yellow plastic leveling blocks, couple hoses, step stoll, extension cord and a couple chairs...blah blah

My question is does anyone have a similar situation? I'm thinking about installing some large, heavy AGM batteries and possibly mounting my Honda generator on tongue behind the propane.

I'd appreciate any thoughts...I'm a little dissapointed in how this thing tows.


'05 30' Classic rear queen with an '11 Dodge Cummins Turbo Diesel tow vehicle
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Old 04-19-2007, 04:44 PM   #2
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
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Mike, do you tow with your fresh water tanks full, or empty?
Also, since you have had several, I know you would notice if the trailer was a little nose up, which would also cause wander.
Tire pressure up to snuff? Both TV and trailer, not a bunch of stuff in the bed of the truck, etc?
Is the dual cam a new one, or recycled from your 29' coach?

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Old 04-19-2007, 05:09 PM   #3
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Does sound like tail heavy issue or weight distribution cranked way up , I can make my 30ft slide out tail heavy if I really crank on the weight distribution. When I first got the trailer I had to tow without weight distribution for a short distance and it actually behaved nicely , so I now set the weight bars on my hitch a lot lighter than i used to.
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2004 30ft Slide Out with Hensley Arrow hitch. Pulled By 2010 Dodge 2500 Diesel 4x4 Megacab
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Old 04-19-2007, 05:47 PM   #4
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2005 30' Classic
Sacramento , California
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Thanks for the replys. It is worse with freshwater full and I try to have that around a half or lower. The dual cam is new and I'm a fanatic about tire pressure on both TV and coach.

Thinking about it, I might be a little light in the bars...600 pounders. Andy from Inland RV recomended this set up but I might switch to 700's as well as shifting some weight forward. I'm going to mount a couple solar panels this summer and I'm going to put them as far forward as possible.

ctdair, your slider has a 1000 lb tongue weight, I'm sure yours is better balanced.

'05 30' Classic rear queen with an '11 Dodge Cummins Turbo Diesel tow vehicle
Avatar is inflight refueling of an F-15 over job ever!
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Old 04-19-2007, 06:46 PM   #5
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I have a 2005 30' Classic with the queen bed (non-slide). I tow with a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 with the cummins. I also have an equalizer hitch. No problem towing. I usually keep the speed below 70 and cruise around 65. This is our first Airstream so I have nothing to compare against. I used to tow a pop up with a Buick Roadmaster wagon. That would fishtail when I would go over 65.

With the Dodge Ram diesel, I hardly know its there.

2008 Classic 34
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Old 04-19-2007, 06:52 PM   #6
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I think a trip to the scales is worth your time.

And 70 is too fast for safe towing, IMHO.

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Old 04-19-2007, 06:56 PM   #7
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2006 30' Classic
Farmington , New Mexico
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Mike--- We had a 05 25' Classic and reese dual cam. It handled great . We traded for an 06 30 ' Classic and from the get go it never was as stable as the 25 and was heavier on the tongue than the 30. I always felt this was the difference in handling. While it was not bad I never was happy with the 30' until we replaced the reese with a Hensley. ---pieman
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Old 04-19-2007, 07:18 PM   #8
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Learning by messing around!

I teach myself through "creative stupidity".

Glad to know you're a fanatic about air pressure too. It's the simplest thing to take for granted and can fix or screw up your ride dramatically! Don't forget to occasionally test your air guages too. They can go bad (especially if you don't see you little nephew using one as a straw for his milkshake!)

I thought my 25 FB SE was a bit low on the tail, so I adjusted my reese dual cam hitch ball height down... and instantly turned my towing experience into a trampoline exercise. I had inadvertently changed the ANGLE of the hitch ball as well as the height so I had really raised the tail of the trailer. I raised the hitch ball back up one notch and the ride improved, but still wasn't good, then I tilted the ball forward by just a degree or two and "ta-da" instant and dramatic improvement! Marked the sweet spot, then tilted it forward a bit more, then retested - oops! Backed off to prior marks... Smooth as a baby's behind.

Other things to check
  • How are your tow vehicle's shocks - if your tow vehicle is new to you, crawl under and look to see if you have unexpected stuff like an extra leaf spring, air shocks, etc.
  • Does your tow vehicle "squat" down equally on all four tires when you hook up the weight bars? If not something isn't right between the tow vehicle and the Airstream.
  • Have you looked at how the hitch is bolted/welded to the tow vehicle's frame? Welds can crack, bolts can shear and it makes for a very very bad towing experience (you may now test your trailer's emergency brake cable!)
  • GIVE your trailer tires, hubs and rims a "cheap feel". Hot tires can tell you if you're tail or hitch high, Hot hubs say bearings aren't greased adaquately, hot rims come from a dragging brake.
I had a brake that rubbed (half on) on my brand new 2005.... you can bet your behind that caused less than optimal smoothness in the ride! Heard an odd sound, pulled over, put my hands on each rim in turn and found the hot one immediately. Cranked the brake controller all the way off (aaak) and drove 100 miles with one hand on it to be ready to apply trailer brakes manually if needed! Fortunately I was going right past Jackson Center, so they had me fixed and on the road again very quickly.

Good luck and hope you find your Airstream's "sweet spot" real soon.

Paula Ford
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Old 04-19-2007, 07:24 PM   #9
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Stability as a function of CG


According to a paper I read that was done by some GM engineers back in the 60's and published (I believe) through SAE, for proper stability, you want the CG of the trailer to be about 10-15% ahead of the centerline of the axles as measured from the centerline of the axles to the ball.

So for example, you need to find the exact midpoint between the two axles. Now measure the distance from this point to the tongue. Remember not to pull the tape measure diagonal, but rather, keep your tape straight from the centerline point between the two axles up to the ball. Let's say that distance is 20 feet, just for an example.

According to the SAE paper, the proper CG location for your trailer would be 10-15% of this distance ahead of the axle centerline midpoint. The more forward, the more stable, until you get to the point where the tongue weight is ridiculous.

OK, so if the distance were 20 feet, then let's say you want 15%, so 15% of 20 feet is 3 feet. So measure ahead 3 feet from the midpoint between the axles and that's where you want your CG.

How to calculate the CG? You need to get the weight on the axles and the weight on the tongue. Go to one of those truck scale places with the segmented scales, and you should be able to get the weight on each axle and the jack. (You'll need to unhitch the truck and get it out of the way obviously). Once you have the weights at each axle and the tongue jack, you can do the math and figure what the CG is.

If you have trouble with the math, just post the weights on here, or email them to me and I'll do the equations for you.

It's not tongue weight that is really important: It is the CG location of the trailer relative to the axles. Tongue weight is just the "easy" way to tell. But for all this to work, you need to have accurate weights.

If this all checks out and you're not tail heavy, you might pull some measurements to see if your axles are aligned properly, both to the frame and to each other.

Take care,
- Jim
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Old 04-19-2007, 09:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by flynmike
TThinking about it, I might be a little light in the bars...
hi mike

without a visit to the cat scales...

who knows?

stop thinking and get on a scale.

easy, inexpensive and the basis for every related issue...


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