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Old 04-20-2007, 11:49 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
2007 19' Bambi
Midland , Texas
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Sway question - proper control

Does trailer length affect sway? Is it better to tow a 19' trailer or a 31' trailer. Does the weight make a difference?
I figure proper sway control can be had if the right equipment is sized to trailer; but is there a length where it really doesn't make a difference?
Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-21-2007, 07:13 AM   #2
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Longer (2 axle) trailers tend to not sway so much, but they all need some kind of sway control. There are too many variables to make other generalizations depending on tow vehicle, environment, trailer, loading, etc, to make blanket statements.
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Old 04-21-2007, 08:06 AM   #3
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As Terry said, sway can be an issue for all lengths. Sway control is always a good idea. IMHO, the only issue in sway is what kind for what size. There are two types, friction and non-friction. Friction is usually good for up to about 22', 19' I felt comfortable with friction. Much beyond that, you're looking at dual cam (or equiv) or Hensley.

Two axles seems to track with less bounce and in the event of a flat, does not have to be addressed right there on the spot as a single axle.
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Old 04-21-2007, 08:55 AM   #4
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Sway Question

A very dear old friend who eased me into trailer camping the first time in the seventies had a few rules that seem to hold true today.
Tow vehicle:
1. Longer wheel base vehicles are more stable in all aspects of towing than short wheel base vehicles.
2. The shorter the distance from the hitch ball to the rear axle, the less prone sway oscillation (fishtailing) is to occur. The long wheel base/long tail vans(15 passenger) are dangerous where as the long wheel base short tail vans (12 passenger) do rather well. Dodge/Plymouth and Ford vans just added an extra three feet behind the rear axle to gain the room for the other three passengers. GM made the wheel base longer. This is why fishtailing is not a problem with fifth wheels. The ball is above the rear axle or slightly forward of the rear axle (inches).
3. Good shocks and stout sway bars makes the tow vehicle more stable. Note I did not say heaver/helper springs.
4. P metric tires on the tow vehicle is dangerous. The very soft sidewalls can get you killed. I didn't get killed but had the devil scared out of me one day. You need at the least a Load Range C LT tire all around to help stop the fishtail oscillations.

Trailer:
1. The longer the distance from the front axle (dual or tripple axle) or the axle (single axle), the more likely the trailer is to sway.

As was stated in previous posts there are several methods to dampen sway (fishtailing)
1. Friction devices.
2. Reese Dual Cam (what I have) or Reese Dual Cam High Performance.
3. Equalizer. The dampening is incorporated into the Weight distribution feature.
4. Hensley Arrow. I have never driven one so I cannot speak for them or against them, neither had my old friend. They are supposed to be the greatest thin since sliced bread and peanut butter. They, through the use of a unique pair of arms, do geometrically move the pivot point from the rear bumper to in front of the rear axle (remember the fifth wheel statement above?).
I have not been able to prove any of the old guys axioms false. Instead I have followed them and have been as comfortable as possible.
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Old 04-21-2007, 09:34 AM   #5
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2007 25' Safari FB SE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racoco
Does trailer length affect sway? Is it better to tow a 19' trailer or a 31' trailer. Does the weight make a difference?
I figure proper sway control can be had if the right equipment is sized to trailer; but is there a length where it really doesn't make a difference?
Thanks for your help.
I am no expert in this area. I've only towed 2 trailers extensively in my life, a Colman tent trailer and a AS Safari 25FB. My observation is that I had more sway in my tent trailer probably for the following reasons:

1 No sway control
2 If I didn't load it properly, it would sway more.
3 TV was a 1/2 ton Suburban

Now I have a AS and 3/4 GMC pickup, with all the weight distribution and sway control, I feel more comfortable on the road than pulling the tent trailer.

But, don't let trailer length determine what is better to tow with. With the proper equipment installed and if you distribute the weight in the trailer properly, for a given size trailer, I would think would determine your comfort level with sway.

Did that make sense???? (Still working on the first cup of coffee here)

Sam
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Old 04-21-2007, 09:53 AM   #6
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Midland , Texas
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Thanks guys. Here's the setup: Tow Vehicle is a 2006 Land Rover LR3 and the Trailer is a 2007 19' Bambi. We're picking it up next week 9 hours from home and I was debating bringing it home (from southeast Texas to West Texas) as is. You have all convinced me to address the sway issue before we leave Houston.

Probably going to look at Reese Straight-Line. Any better choices for this setup? We do regularly tow through pretty good crosswinds; West Texas, New Mexico, Colorado...

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 04-21-2007, 11:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racoco
Probably going to look at Reese Straight-Line. Any better choices for this setup? We do regularly tow through pretty good crosswinds; West Texas, New Mexico, Colorado...

Thanks again for your help.
Hensley Arrow (HAHA) is better, but may be considered overkill for your application.
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