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Old 05-10-2012, 04:47 PM   #1
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Swaying right out the door

Houston, do we have a problem?

Dunno. I was doing my daily admiring of the pics of our new trailer (that we will soon pick up in Oregon), and reading the forums about hitches, leveler/spring bars, etc. I think I have figured out what Equalizer bars I need (for tongue weight plus about 200 pounds).

But, horrors! The hitch I have has one end to attach a friction control sway bar to, but, on the trailer frame? Nuthin'.

The pic attached to this post shows the former owner's setup. I guess he never had sway control? Any thoughts? Do I need it?

According to AS for 1968 Globetrotter:
Weight 2910 (assume this means empty)
Tongue 393

I am guessing the spring/leveler bars, if I buy Eaz-lift (since they did not come with the trailer), would be the 550# tongue weight? Just forgo Sway control?

I have read the hitch forums until I am so confused, I am muttering words about hitches in my sleep (as confirmed by the spousal unit). I wish this forum had one place, a reference place, to go to in order to learn all about hitches without reading 82 posts across several years (not complaining; glad it is there; just wish for newbies it was 'there' 'better').

Anyway; I am guessing by the pic below, the former owner never did sway control unless, there is some easy way to hook a ball up to the front AS tow frame.

Your thoughts on both sway control needs AND 550# rated EAZ-lift leveler bars?

Kindest regards,

Roy
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:07 PM   #2
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Your picture shows a weight distribution hitch (WDH) only. I don't think that you will need a sway bar. I towed our 24' Trade Wind for a couple of years without a friction sway control bar. At the suggestion of a friend I got and installed one. I didn't notice any decernable difference. But then again I tow with a '71 Buick convertible which has a long wheel base and the Buick weighs more than the trailer. So it does depend a bit on what your tow vehicle is. Our Trade Wind's first tow was by a friends Ford 250 pickup for about 800 miles. The trailer was hitched directly to his truck's hitch. He kept commenting on how he hardly was aware that the trailer was back there. My car has a long overhang from the rear axle to the hitch receiver thus needing 1000# bars. So you may want to, before making your trip, take your TV (tow vehicle) to a hitch expert. He/she won't have your trailer to evaluate but can see the TV and most likely give you a better idea what you need.

Your trailer looks really nice.....have fun.

Neil
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshAir View Post
Your picture shows a weight distribution hitch (WDH) only. I don't think that you will need a sway bar. I towed our 24' Trade Wind for a couple of years without a friction sway control bar. At the suggestion of a friend I got and installed one. I didn't notice any decernable difference. But then again I tow with a '71 Buick convertible which has a long wheel base and the Buick weighs more than the trailer. So it does depend a bit on what your tow vehicle is. Our Trade Wind's first tow was by a friends Ford 250 pickup for about 800 miles. The trailer was hitched directly to his truck's hitch. He kept commenting on how he hardly was aware that the trailer was back there. My car has a long overhang from the rear axle to the hitch receiver thus needing 1000# bars. So you may want to, before making your trip, take your TV (tow vehicle) to a hitch expert. He/she won't have your trailer to evaluate but can see the TV and most likely give you a better idea what you need.

Your trailer looks really nice.....have fun.

Neil
BTW...The WDH shown in your picture is much like mine except I have heavier bars. It will depend upon what you will be towing with...if a pickup most likely the 500 + # will be adequate for your tongue weight.
Neil
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:16 PM   #4
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Seems I started a reply, and it went away, so I'm trying again ...

I don't know a thing about that hitch system, but I wouldn't tow without some form of sway control, even with a trailer that light ... and I don't see anything there. There are lots of brands, different "systems" if you will. Everyone has an opinion.

If I were you, I'd pick her up, and tow slowly and carefully over to the nearest Forums rally ... there you will meet a lot of nice people, get to eat good food, and learn more about Airstreams in general and your own coach in particular than you could learn in a year on your own. Of course, some of what you learn will be pure bunkum, but you will get to look at a lot of different hitch systems, talk to their owners about pros and cons, etc. Then, armed with some information, you can slowly and carefully tow over to the nearest dealer in the hitch that's won your fancy, and have it installed.

In terms of weight distribution, seems to me that the received wisdom is that bars in the area of your (measured, not paper specification) tongue weight are a good place to start. Then by adjusting the angle of the hitch head on the tow vehicle and by changing the number of chain links under tension, you can fine tune how much "bow" to put into the bars. You don't say what you're towing with, but at least to me, sway control is every bit as important (and maybe more so for safety) than weight distribution. I tow with a 3/4 ton pickup and it hardly notices the tongue weight, but I certainly appreciate the sway control. I tow with an old Reese Dual Cam system, and the sway control increases with the amount of weight distribution that's dialed in, if that makes any sense, and it works fine for me. YMMV, and you will get a lot of opinions on this one.

Good luck, and welcome to the Forums. But go to a rally. Really!
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:33 PM   #5
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WD is a formula.

Several hitch designs can accomplish both WD and anti-sway, some times independently of one another.

Start at the top of the list and make your choice. If TT & TV are valuable to you, choose the VPP hitches. If the TV & TT are of lesser value to you, choose the second tier hitches.

Folks who offer up why cheap is adequate, that skill is the bridge between the two only offer up faulty reasoning.

There isn't anything difficult about it this. Just folks who want to be cheap (and justify it to themselves) or those who just want the best hitch type and to be done with it.

They are all set-up the same way: values according to weight scale.

Do it right the first time and one never regrets it.

I got the hitch "right" the first time, but had to go through three sets of tires. Lesson learned . . the penalty is too high otherwise.

.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:47 PM   #6
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I installed one of the sway control bars on my 26' Argosy. The only difference I notice is the growling of the thing when I turn.
In my opinion this type of sway control is worthless.
Typically the small ball mounted on the hitch of the TV is about 6" to the right or left of the hitch ball. The sway bar has a brake pad about 2" wide. The coefficient of friction is minimal when comparing the long lever arm of the trailer to the lever arm on the TV.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeroG View Post
Houston, do we have a problem?

Dunno. I was doing my daily admiring of the pics of our new trailer (that we will soon pick up in Oregon), and reading the forums about hitches, leveler/spring bars, etc. I think I have figured out what Equalizer bars I need (for tongue weight plus about 200 pounds).

But, horrors! The hitch I have has one end to attach a friction control sway bar to, but, on the trailer frame? Nuthin'.

The pic attached to this post shows the former owner's setup. I guess he never had sway control? Any thoughts? Do I need it?

According to AS for 1968 Globetrotter:
Weight 2910 (assume this means empty)
Tongue 393

I am guessing the spring/leveler bars, if I buy Eaz-lift (since they did not come with the trailer), would be the 550# tongue weight? Just forgo Sway control?

I have read the hitch forums until I am so confused, I am muttering words about hitches in my sleep (as confirmed by the spousal unit). I wish this forum had one place, a reference place, to go to in order to learn all about hitches without reading 82 posts across several years (not complaining; glad it is there; just wish for newbies it was 'there' 'better').

Anyway; I am guessing by the pic below, the former owner never did sway control unless, there is some easy way to hook a ball up to the front AS tow frame.

Your thoughts on both sway control needs AND 550# rated EAZ-lift leveler bars?

Kindest regards,

Roy
I towed a Caravel o(nly slightly smaller and lighter) for 8 years and thousands of miles with no sway control and no WDH. I never noticed a time when I needed it. I know the owner before me did the same thing.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeroG View Post
Houston, do we have a problem?

.....................................

The pic attached to this post shows the former owner's setup. I guess he never had sway control? Any thoughts? Do I need it?


................................

Roy
No one needs sway control. However, it can make towing more relaxing in most any situation. Any trailer no matter how well set up will sway to some degree. There are just to many variables that can change to allow a trailer to track right exactly behind the Tow vehicle 100% of the time.

There are many ways to mitigate the effects of sway. Driving very slowly is one method that requires little effort. However it is usually not very practical. If you were going to travel a short distance to get your trailer I would suggest just using what is there and see how it works.

Since you are going to drive a long distance with an unfamiliar setup, I would recommend you attach the sway control that is apparently on the hitch but not in use.

Sway control does just what is says. It works to control the sway so the sway does not allow the trailer to get control of the tow vehicle and driver. Sway control does not eliminate sway, it just attempts to keep it within acceptable limits.

At lot depends on your tow vehicle and trailer towing experience. Selecting and setting up a WD/sway control hitch is something that really needs to be done in person.

I know this isn't much help. I would suggest talking throughly with the previous owner about his experiences. Read as much as you can here on the forum about hitches and setting them up. Keep asking questions, but prepare to get confused. When discussing hitches here you will encounter about 60% fact and 40% opinion. It may take a while to be able to tell the difference.

Whatever you decide, start the trip cautiously and carefully. Experiment some at slower speed . Try a couple emergency stops and avoidance turns at slower speed to get a feel for what to expect.

Ken
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:43 PM   #9
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Here is a photo of my setup, in the shop at Can Am RV who set it up for me.



The fitting for the sway control bar on the A Frame is the black thingy just below the LPG cover, held on with four bolts; there's another one on the other side. These correspond with two balls on the hitch head.

I wouldn't contemplate towing without both friction control and weight distribution, regardless of the tow vehicle or the trailer. It just seems to me to be something that can only enhance the towing experience, even with a big stonking truck.

Judging by some of the comments above, this set up isn't highly regarded by some of my fellow Airstreamers, and that's fine. Sure, friction control sway bars have their limitations but this set up is Can Am's default if they're not setting you up with a Hensley, and I tend to trust Andy Thompson to send me out with a safe and workable system. Indeed, it's a setup that he and his brother Kirk use to tow trailers themselves.

I would just make the comment to the OP that the ball on his set up is quite some distance from the back of the TV, which I think most would agree is something that should be addressed. The closer to the TV you can get that ball, the better it will tow.
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Old 05-13-2012, 03:59 PM   #10
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According to REDNAX, Can Am must have little respect for equipment and justifies it with faulty reasoning. I must be doing it too, because I've happily used a similar hitch setup for the past 30 years.

To the OP, I would install the small ball on his trailer and use the sway control. It offers a lot of control for a small cost.
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Old 05-13-2012, 04:18 PM   #11
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Keep the Trailer Nose Heavy

For stability, a trailer is just like an aircraft. Nose Heavy is best. So, when you tow, whatever heavy things you can put in the front (like your 26" tube television for example), do it.

The old rule of thumb is that you want 10-15% of the trailer's overall weight to be tongue weight. So if your trailer weighs 4000lbs, you'd want somewhere around 400-600 on the tongue.

Where that comes from is this: The positive stability point for a trailer is to have the Center of Gravity (CG) somewhere around 10-15% forward of the pivot point of the axles. So say you have a single axle trailer that's 20' long. You'd want the CG (imagine one single point where the trailer would balance on) 10-15% forward of the axle centerline. So for a 20 footer, that'd be 2-3 feet forward of the axle. A triple axle you'd do it off the center axle. On a double axle, you'd find the point halfway between the front and back axles.

But all math aside, forward loaded trailers are stable. Never Never NEVER get it loaded tail heavy. I was following a guy with a 3/4 ton Chevy pickup pulling a 16' flatbed equipment hauler. He had a Bobcat on that trailer parked at the extreme rear of the trailer. There was probably zero tongue weight. Going down rt. 37 in VA I go to pass this guy. At about 62mph, his trailer starts wagging back and forth, and the oscillations got rapidly bigger. I gunned it to get ahead of him because I was right beside him when I saw this start to happen in the mirror. In less than two seconds, the oscillations got so bad that the trailer was taking up about two full lanes going left and right and repeating. It then flipped around to where the back of the trailer was going the same direction as the truck; it jack knifed at 60-65mph and then flipped the whole combination over the guard rail. Sway can be BAD. Fortunately, the driver was not hurt. He had his seat belt on and took a ride down through the bushes off the side of the highway but was OK. Destroyed his truck, trailer, and Bobcat though.

Anyway, keep your blacksmith tools in the front and that will go a long way toward a stable ride.

Take care,
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeroG View Post
Houston, do we have a problem?

Dunno. I was doing my daily admiring of the pics of our new trailer (that we will soon pick up in Oregon), and reading the forums about hitches, leveler/spring bars, etc. I think I have figured out what Equalizer bars I need (for tongue weight plus about 200 pounds).

But, horrors! The hitch I have has one end to attach a friction control sway bar to, but, on the trailer frame? Nuthin'.

The pic attached to this post shows the former owner's setup. I guess he never had sway control? Any thoughts? Do I need it?

According to AS for 1968 Globetrotter:
Weight 2910 (assume this means empty)
Tongue 393

I am guessing the spring/leveler bars, if I buy Eaz-lift (since they did not come with the trailer), would be the 550# tongue weight? Just forgo Sway control?

I have read the hitch forums until I am so confused, I am muttering words about hitches in my sleep (as confirmed by the spousal unit). I wish this forum had one place, a reference place, to go to in order to learn all about hitches without reading 82 posts across several years (not complaining; glad it is there; just wish for newbies it was 'there' 'better').

Anyway; I am guessing by the pic below, the former owner never did sway control unless, there is some easy way to hook a ball up to the front AS tow frame.

Your thoughts on both sway control needs AND 550# rated EAZ-lift leveler bars?

Kindest regards,

Roy
Hi Roy,

Nice GT.
Yeah, there's a boat load of information to be found here... some of it very valuable, and some... well, you know what they say about free advice.

A central reference would be optimal, but there's literally thousands of combinations of trailers, hitches, and tow vehicles. Then factor in all the variables of tire size, axle condition, loading, etc... What works for one, might be disastrous for another seemingly similar rig.

If it were me? I'd buy a 'pivot point projection' hitch (Hensley Arrow, Propride), take it out along with the necessary tools, and install it on the spot. Took me about 3 hours, following the very simple instructions.

But then again, my experience is with a 31', 10,000# trailer, where there's a very slim margin for error. Back in the day, my Dad pulled their '65 Overlander for years with a station wagon and no sway control, from Detroit to the Grand Canyon, and everywhere else in between. Never had any issues.

You didn't mention tow vehicle (would definitely influence hitch selection), but I'm sure there's folks on here with the same rig who could provide very handy advice.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

-Joe
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:14 PM   #13
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First off, congratulations on your acquisition. The 68 GT is one of Airstream's greatest accomplishments.


Secondly, and please take this as loving advice... Dude, double up on your anti-anxiety medication. I've read your other posts, everything is going to be fine. When you get it home, you'll say, just like a thousand others...”It towed like it wasn't even there”.


With respect to your current issue, you really need to say what is your tow vehicle or else you'll never get a meaningful reply. Without more exact information, you cannot elicit a useful response, just random opinions. So far, you have responses from “Don't need nuthin'” to “If you don't spend nine million dollars, you'll be sorry.” I doubt if that clears things up for you.


While the empirical knowledge of Airstreamers on this forum is indeed of much greater value than Airstream Inc can ever offer, high horse pontification does rear is head. When “They who shall remain nameless” express their opinions, reality becomes confusing to the inexperienced. Gleaning useful information from any forum is a skill.


So, what's your Tow Vehicle?? A one-ton crew-cab long-bed dually would have a different set-up than a short wheelbase front wheel drive minivan. Be specific.


68 GTs RULE!!
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:13 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Airstreamer67 View Post
According to REDNAX, Can Am must have little respect for equipment and justifies it with faulty reasoning. I must be doing it too, because I've happily used a similar hitch setup for the past 30 years.

To the OP, I would install the small ball on his trailer and use the sway control. It offers a lot of control for a small cost.
I haven't put words in your mouth, so why you mine? Anyone else around here besides them can cut & weld a hitch to custom fit any vehicle? Or do you think that a generic hitch is one that can apply leverage in the same manner? Short of the analysis they apply to the rigging, please show us someone else who can measure, cut & fit so well. One picture would suffice.

A study of their methods reduces many of the problems of towing another vehicle. Wouldn't stop me from using a VPP hitch since, in the end, reduction isn't the same as near to elimination of sway. The combination of their expertise, careful scale values, and the best hitch would be the best of all possible worlds.

If the OP has a TW of at least 350-lbs then he is best off with a REESE Dual Cam Straitline if cheap is what appeals to him. But he shouldn't mistake a custom set-up or a VPP hitch for anything else. It is not a matter of being 70% of the way there. That isn't how it works.

I was inbound down IH-37 yesterday and watched a brand-new Toyota Tundra drag a mid-80's 28' A/S past me at about 73-mph. He had an Equal-I-Zer mounted on it. The TT bounced back and forth, and up & down. The driver lacked the awareness to maintain lane-centeredness. He slowed once he was ahead of me a good ways to my 68-mph. It was embarrassing to watch over the next ten miles as a variety of cars & trucks passed him. Between driver, hitch rigging and (my guess) worn axles/unbalanced gear, etc, this A/S was all over that lane. Even without wind of any note. 68-mph was at least ten mph too fast for this rig & its driver. Follow the bouncing silver blob.

One would think that that trio -- Tundra, Equal-I-Zer & Airstream trailer -- would be a great combination. There was nothing, nothing inspiring about that combination. Nor was it the first time I've seen this same poor performance with an A/S in tow. Occasionally I see one that appears serene in all motions. Nothing untowards. But not often. New, old, ancient seems not to matter. Some owners get it . . but they are farther between than one would wish. The ones who don't probably aren't on here trying to make things the best they can.

The OP is well-advised to make a careful comparison of his choices. They are deeper than a few dollars when in reference to this subject.

.
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