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Old 07-03-2011, 09:41 PM   #1
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Sway bars necessary?

I have a 27 foot airsteam that I am towing with a 3/4 ton chev deisel pickup. Do I need sway bars? I have weight distrubtor hitch and was told that would be sufficient.
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Old 07-03-2011, 09:54 PM   #2
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It depends. What kind of weight distribution did you get? Does it have built in sway control, like a Reese Dual Cam? If not then you may need a friction sway control in addition to your WD hitch. Weight distribution and sway control are two separate issues, but some hitches are designed to handle both at once.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:02 PM   #3
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sway bars necessary

Greetings gwag23018!

Welcome to the Forums!

While your combination shouldn't have any inherent instability issues, some form of sway control is a good insurance policy. After years of towing with miserable friction sway controls that needed to be adjusted every time the weather changed or road conditions changed, I switched to Reese Strait Line Hitch with Dual Cam Sway Control. The great thing about this setup is that once it is fine tuned, further adjustment won't be necessary unless tow vehicle is changed or loading characteristics of the coach are changed. I am running Reese Strait Line on both my Argosy Minuet and Airstream Overlander with excellent results.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin

P.S.: Reese Strait Line with Dual Cam Sway Control and the Equal-I-zer are examples of hitches with built-in sway control features with an affordable price of entry.
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
I switched to Reese Strait Line Hitch with Dual Cam Sway Control..
What does it look like? Which part is the dual cam? Is that the crook in the rear of the weight bars where they connect to the "A" frame?

Does the system require a separate anti sway attachment?

How is tight cornering handled with the Reese Strait Line Hitch with Dual Cam Sway Control? Do you have to get out in the dark and in the wind and rain to remove hitch parts before the trailer can be cut and backed?

Thanks!

Gary
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Old 07-03-2011, 10:49 PM   #5
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Mine is a Reese Pro Series.

Looks like this:

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Old 07-03-2011, 11:16 PM   #6
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The reese dual cam anti-sway hitch looks like this...
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:22 PM   #7
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sway bars necessary

Greetings Gary!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Splitrock View Post
What does it look like? Which part is the dual cam? Is that the crook in the rear of the weight bars where they connect to the "A" frame?
The photo below shows the "classic" or "original" Dual Cam Sway Control as mounted on my 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre:



You will notice that this version of the Dual Cam Sway Control utilizes the older style weight distribution bars with special saddles that ride in the cams (one on each side of the hitch resulting in the name Dual Cam) found on the levers attached to the trailer's A-Frame. A metal hoop connects to the chanin which is then secured in the snap-up bracket.

The newer style weight distribution bars with the "crook" at the end do not require the addition of the saddle -- the "crook" replaces the saddle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Splitrock View Post
Does the system require a separate anti sway attachment?
That is a big part of the beauty of the Dual Cam Sway Control it is connected and working automatically any time the weight distribution bars are secured. The one caveat with this system is that weight distribution bars one step lighter than might otherwise be used are needed to gain the most advantage from this system - - for my Overlander with 750 pound hitch weight, I utilize 600 pound bars when towing with my '99 K2500 Suburban or 800 pound bars when towing with my '75 Cadillac due to its soft "boulevard-ride" suspension. The Dual Cams remain on the trailer's A-Frame needing little attention once the intial setup is completed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Splitrock View Post
How is tight cornering handled with the Reese Strait Line Hitch with Dual Cam Sway Control? Do you have to get out in the dark and in the wind and rain to remove hitch parts before the trailer can be cut and backed?
The Dual Cam system functions as part of your weight distributing hitch and poses no problem in tight corners - - other than the loud pops and creaks that eminate from the hitch as the bars slip into and out of the sadles as the tow vehicle and trailer move into severe angles.

Unlike the friction sway control bar that attaches to a ball on the side of the hitch and another mounted next to the coupler on the hitch head; the Dual Cam Sway Control self-adjusts to changes in road and weather conditions so that it is not necessary to pull-over and ajust anything when the weather changes or road conditions change -- the continual need to adjust the friction bar on one of my earlier coaches was the reason that I switched to the Dual Cam Sway Control.

Good luck with your coach!

Kevin
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:28 AM   #8
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gwag, Depending on the wheelbase and weight of your tow vehicle, and the tongue weight of your trailer you may not need it. Longer wheelbase, truck weight equal or greater to the weight of the loaded trailer and running with fresh water tank full or close to full all help stability.
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Old 07-04-2011, 07:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Greetings Gary!



The photo below shows the "classic" or "original" Dual Cam Sway Control as mounted on my 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre:



You will notice that this version of the Dual Cam Sway Control utilizes the older style weight distribution bars with special saddles that ride in the cams (one on each side of the hitch resulting in the name Dual Cam) found on the levers attached to the trailer's A-Frame. A metal hoop connects to the chanin which is then secured in the snap-up bracket.
Kevin, did you take this photo before you adjusted the cams? They look like they're riding too far back on the saddles, and could negatively effect sway control in that position.
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Old 07-04-2011, 07:22 AM   #10
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Sway bars necessary?

Greetings Terry!

Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
Kevin, did you take this photo before you adjusted the cams? They look like they're riding too far back on the saddles, and could negatively effect sway control in that position.
When this photo was taken, I was on my way to the county fairgrounds where I would have the room to get the car and trailer in a straight line for final adjustments -- the cam levers were moved about 3/4" forward on the hitch.

Kevin
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Old 07-04-2011, 07:26 AM   #11
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Kevin, whacked the rivet right on the head....some form of sway control is a good insurance policy for a receiver/tongue set-up.
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:03 AM   #12
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With a 27' trailer, I'd say that the sway bars are needed. Our old 23' trailer sure needed them. I made some short pulls without the sway bars on and the trailer was a bit unstable.
We have a little Safari Sport 17' trailer now and I have never needed any sway control with this trailer.
You really notice the sway problem in cross winds and when you pass a big rig on the highway. At slow speeds or calm conditions there is little differnce to note when towing the trailer.
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:40 AM   #13
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Depending upon the year and configuration of your P/U you might be OK without...key word being might.

Our 2011 Sierra has weight distriubution (for the truck) built-in so that when we hook-up our 34' Classic Limited the front & rear drop by the same amount (we also confirmed via weighing before & after).

Ours also has sway control built-in. This is not based upon the mounting/bars but uses the stabil-a-track on the truck to adjust wheel braking AND trailer braking to detect and correct any detected sway.

I recently completed a 2,500+ mi round trip from Portland, OR to Las Vegas, NV (via Bakersfield, CA) and the only time that I noticed any sway was going downhill on a curve when the exhaust brake kicked in. While I am confident that the truck would have corrected itself (having had the DW watch in the mirror on a regular basis when we first started towing) I elected to use the manual trailer brakes (on the built-in trailer controller) to correct the sway. The only reason I did this was it was in very heavy traffic and I elected to be more cautious.

No matter what you do make sure that you do not exceed any of the tow component ratings (hitch, mount, ball), don't exceed the rated speed (65 MPH), your brake controller is functioning and you have adjusted it so that your trailer brakes slightly lead your truck brakes, your breakaway is working properly and that your trailer brakes are in good shape.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:50 AM   #14
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Sway bars, do provide an extra margin of safety.

When it comes to safety, the only line that should ever be drawn, is at absolute maximum.

We carry spare tires, check tires pressures, use tire monitors, for an extra margin, etc.

Why then should there ever be a question about safety margins?

Do whats right, and enjoy the extra peace of mind.

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Old 07-04-2011, 11:28 AM   #16
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Depending upon the year and configuration of your P/U you might be OK without...key word being might.

Our 2011 Sierra has weight distriubution (for the truck) built-in so that when we hook-up our 34' Classic Limited the front & rear drop by the same amount (we also confirmed via weighing before & after).

Ours also has sway control built-in. This is not based upon the mounting/bars but uses the stabil-a-track on the truck to adjust wheel braking AND trailer braking to detect and correct any detected sway.

.
I am not a mechanical engineer, but the following is my opinion.

Any system built into a truck is not weight control. It is simply a leveling system. A leveling system hides but does not eliminate the need for weight distribution. The purpose of weight distribution, is to spread the tongue weight in the proper proportion between trailer axles and front and rear tow vehicle axles. With your leveling system you still have less weight on the front axles when towing than when not. This will contribute to vehicle instability. This instability is also masked by your stabil-a-track.

It is my opinion that having computerized systems in the tow vehicle that mask the effects of improper rigging is not a safe way to tow.

Personally I want the sway eliminated or greatly reduced in the trailer/tow vehicle rigging with a hitch system designed for that purpose. I would not be comfortable with a computer constantly making braking actions to eliminate the effects of sway that would not be there with a properly designed mechanical system.

Ken
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:37 AM   #17
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To the original poster --

I have a 2009 2500HD truck with the diesel engine. I tow a 2008 27FB that is never, ever fully loaded or near it's max weight. I use a Reese Dual Cam setup with 800 Lb bars. I have towed it in many conditions including dirt roads in the mountains of Colorado, West TX interstates at 100+ degrees and 75 MPH as well as Midwestern highways in the winter with snow on the ground.

Never felt the trailer sway at all... It is just "back there" following obediently along behind the truck.

The other day, I went to pick up the trailer for a trip and forgot to bring my WD / Sway bars. It's only about 40 miles back to my house but you could certainly feel a difference. Nothing felt "dangerous" but it didn't feel quite as stable either. Just a little more wiggling here and there. It isn't too hard to imagine that the right conditions could certainly cause trouble even with this combo. A little wiggle turns into a bigger oscillation. Loose a little traction somewhere along the way then you have your hands really full.

Personally, I stay in the "better safe than sorry" camp when I have the opportunity. There certainly isn't any downside to having some really dialed in sway control.
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Old 07-04-2011, 01:57 PM   #18
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I towed a 1993 25' Airstream for several years with the Reese W/D hitch, plus the Reese friction anti-sway bar; I now have the Reese dual cam hitch on a 2002 30' Airstream and must say there is a noticeable difference.

With the Reese dual cam hitch, I barely notice when a large truck passes. Previously, with the Reese W/D hitch, I could feel the movement most every time when a truck would pass.

I highly recommend the Reese dual cam hitch, however, I feel sure others might work as well.

Good luck.

Curt
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:37 PM   #19
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A very large majority of Forum members will recommend sway control along with a weight distribution hitch. There is considerable disagreement about what hitch to use and you can search for threads on hitches and read for a long time. Some say a really big truck and a smaller trailer mean you don't need sway control; maybe they are right, but I don't want to find out the hard way.

I too am skeptical about electrical leveling systems, but maybe they do distribute weight, but they won't provide sway control. I think I have seen it recommended to turn off that system when towing.

Without sway control, you may not notice anything, but if you are in a bad situation, I would think you would want everything you can have to prevent a serious accident. If you follow a trailer weaving down the road, you may notice when you pass him he has no sway control system. He may not know the trailer is weaving or may think it is normal.

Check the website of the manufacturer of your WD hitch. That should tell you whether it also has sway control. The person that told you it was ok may not know what he/she was talking about.

We have an Equalizer hitch and it does both. It has always worked well for us. It is easy to attach and remove and you can back up with it. It takes some adjusting to get it right and dealers don't always adjust hitches properly because it means time and time reduces profits. Any hitch may need adjusting and you should learn how to do it to make sure it is done right.

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Old 07-04-2011, 07:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwag23018 View Post
I have a 27 foot airsteam that I am towing with a 3/4 ton chev deisel pickup. Do I need sway bars? I have weight distrubtor hitch and was told that would be sufficient.
How much do you have invested in your TV and trailer? Why wouldn't a little spent on safety and peace of mind be worth it?

If not for you then for your fellow travelers.
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