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Old 11-23-2006, 11:13 AM   #1
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Semi Truck Problems - causing sway or fish tailing

We just completed our first trip from Illinois to Arizona in our new 25'AS. We traveled all interstate highways with speed limits upto 75mph burt maintained our speed at 55-60mph. The Semi-trucks seem to go in caravans of 4 or more and they travel at high speeds. We were really pushed to the side by the draft of the semis. The conditions was worse during days with heavier wind conditions. With normal wind conditions the semis were tolerable. We have a Blue Ox hitch with stabalizer bars and use a Ford 150 as our TV. The general heavier winds did not affect us until a semi passed and there were a few times it became a little scary. Has anyone had any experience counteracting the problem with semi's? Possibly we should wait for calmer days or take other roads, but this does not seem very practical.
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Old 11-23-2006, 11:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodedareas
We just completed our first trip from Illinois to Arizona in our new 25'AS. We traveled all interstate highways with speed limits upto 75mph burt maintained our speed at 55-60mph. The Semi-trucks seem to go in caravans of 4 or more and they travel at high speeds. We were really pushed to the side by the draft of the semis. The conditions was worse during days with heavier wind conditions. With normal wind conditions the semis were tolerable. We have a Blue Ox hitch with stabalizer bars and use a Ford 150 as our TV. The general heavier winds did not affect us until a semi passed and there were a few times it became a little scary. Has anyone had any experience counteracting the problem with semi's? Possibly we should wait for calmer days or take other roads, but this does not seem very practical.
You will probably receive many answers regarding the hitch setup, type of hitch, soft suspension on your Ford, tire type on the Ford and inflation pressure which will solve your problem. But I remember my Father-in-law, who drove semis, telling me that the same thing would happen to him in a semi. I don't think that it can be totally avoided.

Bill
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Old 11-23-2006, 12:49 PM   #3
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Trailer "sway" or more correctly fishtailing is part of the equation that we all try and minimize with conventional hitches that Airstreams require.
Like Bill suggested, proper tire inflation does play a part as does the suspension but it can't be completely eliminated. I think the closest you will come is with a Hensley but those are high dollar hitches.
I'm not sure if you have ever towed a large box style trailer but the aerodynamics of the Airstream have already fixed most of the problem.
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Old 11-23-2006, 01:02 PM   #4
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i suggest you check this out www.hensleymfg.com and ask for the free video----pieman
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Old 11-23-2006, 01:19 PM   #5
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I have pulled a lot of heavy trailers for thousands of miles, and trailer sway was always a problem. I always had the best results by completely letting off of the accelerator as the big truck entered my space.

A number of years ago, I had an opportunity to drive a Dodge dually pick-up towing A US Customs Service go-fast boat weighing 11,000#. I noticed that the rig was undistirbed by passing semis. I asked one of the regular drivers about it and he told me that since the Customs Service purchased the, then new, Hensley hitch rigs the towing was much easier.

I filed that information away in the back of my mind until We bought the Airstream. We figured if we were going to do any real traveling, we wanted the very best towing situation. When I first saw what the Hensley costs, I gagged. I then thought back to what the baot guy had said, and decided that we were going to do it. We got a new Hensley Arrow from our Airstream dealer with our Airstream for a pretty decent package price.

We have have now towed our Airstream over 10,000 miles in all highway conditions including the tail end of Hurricane Alberto earlier this years. We yet to experience any sway or uncontrolability of any kind. I stand absolutely amazed. I drive with the Airstream at speeds higher than most. I cruise the Interstate at 70-75+. I pass semis and they pass me with no effect at all. Once I had to swerve (at 70moh) to avoid debris in the road. I was pleased and suprised that I was able to recover as if I was not towing a trailer. If someone stole my Hensley tomorrow, I would immediately go and buy another one.
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Old 11-23-2006, 02:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodedareas
We just completed our first trip from Illinois to Arizona in our new 25'AS.
use a Ford 150 as our TV.
.
We have a 05 25FB/SE Safari that loaded is over 7000 lbls, we have a 1/2 ton TV and a 3/4 ton TV. You described the way our 1/2 ton TV acts pulling our AS. we use the same Equal-i-zer hitch for both and the3/4 ton tows without any sway issues. I think you can maximize the hitch set up with the TV you have but in my opinion your AS is a bit big for your F150. just my opinion.

John
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Old 11-23-2006, 03:14 PM   #7
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If I were you, I'd try stiffening the rear suspension on the F150, with helper springs or air bags, and make sure the rear tires are at max pressure. The rear suspension is the "hinge" that gives when you push on either end of the A/S.
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Old 11-23-2006, 03:55 PM   #8
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Get a Hensley and forget about sway. Not only that, driving is a lot more relaxed and you arrive in a good mood. have had a hensley and would not drive around block without one. Most of the time, I don't realize a semi is even passing us.
Well worth the price.
Good luck.
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Old 11-23-2006, 04:54 PM   #9
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Before you pop for a Hensley, take a look at the tires on your truck. If they are P and not LT, do yourself a favor and change to Light Truck tires. I tow a 25 ft 2002 Safari with a 99 Jeep Grand Cherokee and had the same problem on my first trip down I-75 from Detroit to Atlanta. White knuckle all the way. Took off the P metric tires and put on a set of Goodrich LT, load range D tires. Day and night difference. Tows like a dream. Have towed it for about 20,000 miles as of today and will be leaving for Tampa in about a week.
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Old 11-23-2006, 06:55 PM   #10
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The Blue Ox is supposed to be a very high quality hitch, but my actual experience is with Reese Dual Cams. I do know it is possible to pull a 25' Airstream Safari with many (but not all) 1/2 tons, with minimal sway from the passing semis.

Do start by making sure your pickup is rated for the load you are towing. You need to compute the total combined weight as well as the tongue weight. Do not assume anything from published figures - go to a scale and weigh everything.

Check tire inflation all around. Next, as suggested above, do make sure you have LT tires of the proper load rating on the truck, and those inflated to the proper (check the door jam) inflation.

Unless you know how the hitch was installed, I would then check all the factory dimensions and adjustments. Ball height, load leveler settings, even the angle of the ball to the hitch can affect how the rig handles. Too many installers simply line up the bolt holes and snug 'em down.

There is an excellent alternative to the Hensley: Pullrite. There are tradeoffs with both, but they both do effectively eliminate one of the pivot points on a tow rig.

Good luck, Mark
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Old 11-23-2006, 10:27 PM   #11
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Sidewall stiffness and lateral stability of your truck is simplest thing which can get you into trouble. Inflate the truck tires to there max. and retest the rig on the road. If it improves, buy yourself a set of heavier duty truck tires with more plyes and greater sidewall stiffness. I hope your truck has at least the jump extended seats and the long bed which increases the wheelbase of the truck and improves stability. We drive a 4 door full ton dually and full size box. Even my wife can drive the rig on I 90 -I94 with out having to move the steering wheel at all when the trucks pass. I have never pulled with a blue OX but it looked pretty complicated when I saw it at the show. I do not think it has the self centering capability of the Reese Dual cam system. I use the dual cam when I am towing my 31 footer. Pulrite make your trailer act like a 5th wheel trailer. Trucks should have minimal effect based on the geometry of the system. Hensley accomplishes close to the same thing with a 4 bar moving linkage system. Very clever engineering. I would try to fix the truck before I would put down the $3,000. But if you can not fix the problem cheaper, Hensley might be your answer instead of buying a better truck.
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Old 11-24-2006, 11:12 AM   #12
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tires etc

You can try new tires and then try new suspension and make a career out of trying all the different things that are causing your problems. You can adjust tire pressure and new shocks and spend the next year white knuckling all over the USA. If that is how you want to spend your time, go for it. Personally, I have a lot better things to do with my time than what everybody is proposing. Buy a Hensley or Pullright and forget about it. Only drawback with a Pullright is sometimes you have to relocate the spare tire depending on the tow vehicle. I have used both and prefer the Hensley.
In tight spots and narrow campground roads, the Pullright makse very sharp turns and you could find yourself in trouble. Either way, your sway problems will be a thing of the past and you can concentrate on havin' fun and traveling. Guess that is why they make chocolate and vanilla.
Bob
P.S. Hensley has a great guarantee and money back policy, so it wouldn't cost you a lot if you didn't like it and sent it back.
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Old 11-24-2006, 01:27 PM   #13
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Well, personally, I have better things to do with my money. And I have never spent so much as an hour, much less a year "white knuckling". As far as "making a career out of trying all the different things that are causing your problems", the suggestions I made should require about 90 minutes to investigate. I will add one more, though: make sure the shocks on both coach and tow vehicle are in good shape.

Hensley and Pullrite are a solution. They are not the ONLY solution. A Hensley plus non-load rated tires still equals trouble. Same for wrong tire pressures. Same for mis-match between tow vehicle capacity and tow load. Or a worn out suspension, or ..., well, any number of other problems.

Mark
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Old 11-24-2006, 04:23 PM   #14
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post pics..

Can you post a pic of your setup? Maybe you are not hitched up to optomize your setup. I've been passed by semis doing 80(!) and not really felt a bump. When I wasn't hitched right (trailer was nose high by one hole) it swayed around with little provocation.
Marc
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