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Old 01-01-2009, 02:14 PM   #15
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Glad to hear Airstream shells are really aluminum (for the most part). That's something I can count on, Andy.

I lived in the Northeast for 37 years and have seen many an ice storm. I wouldn't tow a trailer then unless I had to—"unless I had to" is the unfortunate problem sometimes. "Black ice" is often touted in local TV newscasts as the most dangerous thing since a nuclear attack, but is simply melt water that freezes overnight on blacktop and is hard to see—that stuff is dangerous, but not too common compared to lumpy old ice and snowpack. None is fun, but I have driven many, many miles on it without an accident, but a trailer is a different animal.

When I bought the trailer, the salesman told me to turn down the brake controller to the minimum setting on snow, but that made no sense to me. It seemed the trailer would want to come around to meet me when I stopped or slowed because the trailer would be going faster than the truck. With all that pressure on one pivot point (the ball), it seems highly likely the trailer will change direction. If anything, it would seem to make sense to turn up the controller. I don't like grabbiness, so I set it just below that normally. Nonetheless, I don't want to lock the trailer brakes and unlike the truck (which has ABS, so they can't lock), I can't tell whether the trailer brakes lock. Of course, when stopping on anything slick, I try to do it as gently as possible, but that's where "unless I had to" comes in again. ABS creates an interesting question—it's not good to feather the brakes with ABS, but then how do you feather the trailer brakes? Using the manual control on the controller seems too hard to do as there no "feel" to it and on my truck the controller is too hard to get to in an emergency.

A similar issue about the pivot point seems to apply to whether to use the WD hitch. The bars on the Equalizer would seem to me to reduce the chance the trailer starts to swing out of line on a slick surface. This is in addition to the weight distribution part of the question as Bob points out in Post #8.

So there seem to be several things to think about: weight distribution, anti-sway devices, brake controllers. Oh, chains too. I figure if I need chains, stay where I am—if I can't get there with mud/snow tires and 4WD, stay where I am. I doubt a well tired 4WD TV would ever need chains unless towing was completely absurd. Maybe radial tire chains on the trailer does make sense. I have no clue about that.

Andy, I respect your extensive knowledge. However, I have to understand why something is better than another thing before I make a decision what is best for me; I'm sure you wouldn't have done so much research if you didn't have to understand how things work. So, I remain confused about the various factors involved here and how one affects the other. And, since whatever is on the roads can change dramatically as elevation and microclimates change, one makes sense for one section may make no sense for the next. Often enough, there's no place to get out and remove the operative parts of the WD hitch, so the actual solution may tend to be to just drive with what you've got and slow, slow down. For now, all this is academic since I'm not going anywhere for at least 3 months.

Gene
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Old 01-01-2009, 03:02 PM   #16
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The biggest problem in this discussion is the number of variables. When you can't nail down the specifics, then towing in hazardous conditions is more of an art than a science. One obvious thing is that a friction sway control will work against you when traction diminishes. Having too aggressive a brake controller setting can break the combination loose when traction is minimal. It is always a judgment call to tow in adverse conditions. I suppose that to be absolutely safe you should never drive on roads narrower that the total length of the rig so that you will have room as the TV and trailer orbit about their center of mass if they brake completely loose . Also, when attempting to drive successfully in icy conditions, it is well to remember that many are chilled but few are frozen.
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Old 01-01-2009, 03:08 PM   #17
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Thank You Andy. I have the Reese Dual Cam,F-250 4x4,7.3 diesel. We are leaving this coming week heading South. Knowing we will most likely hit snow some where along the way. Very happy to know to let the Dual Cam set just the way I do in good weather.
Your setup is fine, but only if you have 550 or 600 pound bars.

Anything more than that, is asking for damage to the trailer, and less than ideal handling.

Andy
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Old 01-01-2009, 05:32 PM   #18
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A little follow up to my previous post.
Before my trek east this year I bought a full set of chains for the truck and a "drag" set for the trailer. Last ditch emergency use only.
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:09 PM   #19
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A little follow up to my previous post.
Before my trek east this year I bought a full set of chains for the truck and a "drag" set for the trailer. Last ditch emergency use only.
Bad weather towing should always remind us what the scouts preach.

"Be Prepared."

On the other hand, long term towing without problems, always contains a high degree of being prepared.

Defensive towing, is not hard to achieve, along with what to do and when to do it.

Things can happen, is very true.

But why some folks ask for it, I will never understand.

Andy
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:20 PM   #20
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---To me, [my opinion] the two vehicles tied together as one larger unit was probably better than just my tow vehicle alone. [more weight and eight brakes] I do think I would like to have, had tire chains for the rear of my tow vehicle and tire cables for the front wheels on my trailer, but I didn't. Number one most important thing is driver ability. This was my one and only experience on snow [while towing] and without insidents.
I lived 100 miles north of Duluth, MN, for 11 years and spent most of those winters traveling in warmer climates. Sometimes, I left the northland too late or returned too early; and , although I tried hard to avoid towing on ice and/or snow, there were times when I didn't have the good sense to get off the road.

I was towing an Award (rather than an Airstream) and using a Reese friction-bar sway control (rather than an Equal-i-zer), but my experiences were similar to Robert's -- it seemed to me as though the two vehicles, with the sway control engaged, had better directional stability than just my tow vehicle alone. I would never have considered driving on snow and/or ice without the sway control engaged.

It always puzzles me why some believe that one type of friction-based sway control (such as a friction bar) must not be used in reduced-traction conditions while, at the same time, they believe another type of friction-based control (such as a Dual Cam) will work properly in any type conditions.

Both the friction bar and the DC control sway by "stiffening" the yaw-axis connection between TV and TT. The most commonly used bar is factory-adjusted to generate a torque of about 500 lb-ft. The DC can generate several times this amount, depending on how much load is applied to the rear ends of the WD bars. Therefore, if the friction bar is going to cause a steering problem, the problem should be magnified several fold when using a DC or an Equal-i-zer.

It might be interesting to try to apply some numbers to the steering "problem" caused by a friction bar. If the yaw-axis torque is 500 lb-ft and the TV's wheelbase is 10', then the TV's from tires must generate an extra 50# of lateral force (25#/tire) to overcome the SC-induced torque.

If the front axle is carrying 3000#, the tires must be turned an additional amount of about 0.15 degrees on dry pavement to generate an additional lateral force of 50#. Required increases in steering angle for other surface contitions might be: wet pavement = 0.2 degrees, packed snow and dry ice = 0.3 degrees, glare ice = 0.55 degrees.

With a Dual Cam, the additional steering angle required in order to initiate a turn might be 4-5 times a great as the above figures. Yes, there is some extra amount of "understeer" induced by the sway control. However, understeer is not a bad thing. Understeer does not lead to yaw instability as might be the case for oversteer.

My advice would be not to tow in icy conditions if it can be avoided. If you normally tow using a sway control and if you cannot avoid towing in icy conditions, then, in my opinion, it is better to leave the SC engaged and take it slow and easy.

Ron
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:24 PM   #21
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It always puzzles me why some believe that one type of friction-based sway control (such as a friction bar) must not be used in reduced-traction conditions while, at the same time, they believe another type of friction-based control (such as a Dual Cam) will work properly in any type conditions.

Ron
Reese dual cam hitches operate on torsion, not friction.

Andy
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:30 PM   #22
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Andy, Our AS is an 2003 Safari 28 SO. The hitch wt. is 1250 lbs. I have 800 pound bars. They bend all of 2", if not more when I am hooked up. I am getting my information right out of the AS manual. I also had to go to a class 5 receiver.
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:30 PM   #23
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They are is disagreement. I'm still confused
That is why bald assertions, absolutes and other such truck need to be taken with a grain of salt. If you don't want to be confused by conflicting statements and grandiose assertions, you need to understand what is going on and why.

One common problem is about the nature of sway control and thinking that it is something more than it is. As anyone who has broken off the ball on a simple friction type sway device should know, the forces applied by sway control devices are rather small. What that means is they won't make much of a difference when going slow on slick surfaces unless you have extremely slick surfaces where their small forces can actually do something. That means trying to turn a corner and things are slick enough that the sway control can resist articulating the rig. That usually means slick enough you can't walk on the surface.

The comment about braking is also in this line. That's a lot of inertia back there and there is no way you can slow it down and keep it back there without some control. Adding chains with appropriate trailer braking is second only to letting it drag to a stop - and the drag distance on a slick surface can be quite a ways.

I remember one winter by Klamath Lake when a trucker passed us - he was fishtailing on down the road as far as I could see. He must have made it as I didn't see him beside the road. An SUV on Willamette Pass didn't- he passed us and did a real nice, slow 360 into a snowbank at the side of the road. Took us a lot longer to get home that Christmas than usual.

A lot of this also relates to why automatic transmissions are often better in slick conditions and why the 2 starts off in second gear.

Know why and retain a bit of skepticism about people who are really absolute about complex things and you'll be ahead in making sense of conflicting claims.
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:44 PM   #24
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Andy, Our AS is an 2003 Safari 28 SO. The hitch wt. is 1250 lbs. I have 800 pound bars. They bend all of 2", if not more when I am hooked up. I am getting my information right out of the AS manual. I also had to go to a class 5 receiver.
With those weights, your in great shape.

Andy
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:57 PM   #25
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Andy, I'm happy to know that I'm in great shape.
Thank You
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:30 PM   #26
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Reese dual cam hitches operate on torsion, not friction.
According to page 2 of

http://www.reeseprod.com/fitguides/pdf/N26000.pdf:

MAINTENANCE:
9. DO NOT GREASE THE CAM AND CAM ARMS. The Dual Cam was designed to use metal-to-metal friction. Heavy greasing of the cam and cam arm surfaces with affect performance. If noise is offensive, a very light coating of lubricant, such as Vaseline, may be used. Tongue weights over 1,200 lbs. may require a light coating of grease to reduce friction and prevent excessive wear.


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Old 01-01-2009, 10:05 PM   #27
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According to page 2 of

http://www.reeseprod.com/fitguides/pdf/N26000.pdf:

MAINTENANCE:
9. DO NOT GREASE THE CAM AND CAM ARMS. The Dual Cam was designed to use metal-to-metal friction. Heavy greasing of the cam and cam arm surfaces with affect performance. If noise is offensive, a very light coating of lubricant, such as Vaseline, may be used. Tongue weights over 1,200 lbs. may require a light coating of grease to reduce friction and prevent excessive wear.


Ron
Ron.

It's true that the Reese dual cam bars also have a friction factor. But, it's very small compared to the torsion.

As you make a turn, with the dual cams, the torsion on each bars, "UNEQUALLY" increases. That's why the end of the bars are different from the very end to about 3 inches forward of that. In a turn, one bar moves forward and the other moves rearward. Because of the different shape, that's where the unequal increase takes place.

That is the very reason they work so well, up to and including returning your tow vehicle to a straight line, if you let go of the steering wheel.

Torsion does that, not friction.

Reese is a great company, but they are dead wrong in their "what rating" hitch to use, that totally disregards the type tow vehicle you may chose to use.

That subject will addressed in articles that will soon be published to 2 different magazines, that are familiar to Airstream owners.

Andy
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:11 AM   #28
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I have asked a similar question asking about suggestions for towing in snow. The answers were characterized by complete disagreement about what is best except for one thing—drive very slowly. That left me confused. We have escaped snow so far and in the shoulder seasons there are usually more clear days and roads between the snowy ones around here.

What Bob says—I have an Equalizer too—makes sense, and so does what Andy says. They are is disagreement. I'm still confused. It seems to me without the Equalizer, the trailer would be less stable and more likely to do something unplanned.

And then there's the question about how to use the brake controller—change the settings or not? I got completely different answers to that question too. Still confused.

Gene
Hi, one thing I was trying to say was that if I remove the friction devise on my hitch [Equal-i-zer] that would mean removing the spring bars. So what Andy is saying [correct me if I'm wrong Andy] to remove the friction devise does not apply to my brand hitch.

Also some people set up their trailer as a science, but in reality, I consider everything to be at a happy medium; Therefore I will not stop and readjust anything because of changes in situation such as: rain, snow, fog, smog, hot, cold, windy, sandy, gravel, dirt, clay, mud, time of day or night, temperature, Tank levels, Etc. Etc. Etc.
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