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Old 06-17-2013, 08:31 AM   #1
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The Towing Experience, Good / Not So

I read here in various threads where people report their trials and tribulations regarding the towing experience. I guess there are as many of these as there are people out there towing. My point is that many report changing their hitch set up from one type to another and how it has changed their towing from
" white knuckles" to suddenly pleasant and effortless. I don't get it. Why such a dramatic difference. Could it be the TV and TT combination and the ability of a hitch engineering to overcome shortcomings ???? I just don't know. My towing combination may be overkill. I have a Dodge diesel 3500. It weights just about as much as my 30' AS. I have towed with 2 similar but different WD hitches and more recently with one somewhat radical design. I don't want to start a tangent on the merits or lack of merits on any particular hitch so I won't go there. I have never used a sway control and over the past 5 yrs of AS ownership have towed in the range of 40,000+ miles. I tow at highway speeds often and notice no measurable sway from passing trucks. I do get some bounce on the washboard surfaces and yes, a little porpoising on some. But never even close to what I would define as " White Knuckle". I just don't see it. That is, unless some towing combinations are marginal and approaching the safety limits of that combination. Is a good hitch engineered to overcome this ? Some have towed many more miles than me and I'm hoping some positive discussion may come out of my inquiry.

Thanks all, See ya on the road sometime.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:16 AM   #2
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What I'm reading in your inquiry is a tow vehicle just has to be big enough and you won't feel "white knuckles". And that some hitches may be designed to overcome vehicle shortcomings. I'm not in that club nor endorse it.

A well-matched tow vehicle, say a half-ton truck, is not marginal. The truck design engineers have decided what the margins are and publish spec's to keep us away from them. Even towzilla has a margin that may be reached quite unexpectedly, wishing it had the agility to steer out of it. If it doesn't, that would be "white knuckles".

Our Airstreams are the best towing trailers on the planet. There are new generations of hitches that put the pivot point of the trailer over the rear axle, similar and perhaps better than a fifth wheel. Tow with with a one ton truck if it keeps you free of white knuckles, but a well-matched truck/trailer combination connected with a Hensley/ProPride hitch will provide an exceptionally pleasant towing experience. There are no shortcomings to it.

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Old 06-17-2013, 09:16 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polarlyse View Post
... I tow at highway speeds often and notice no measurable sway from passing trucks. I do get some bounce on the washboard surfaces and yes, a little porpoising on some. But never even close to what I would define as " White Knuckle". I just don't see it. That is, unless some towing combinations are marginal and approaching the safety limits of that combination. Is a good hitch engineered to overcome this ? Some have towed many more miles than me and I'm hoping some positive discussion may come out of my inquiry.

Thanks all, See ya on the road sometime.
To me, "White Knuckle" would mean trailer sway. I am no expert on towing but having a very heavy duty truck does not automatically insure against trailer sway. Your combination has proven to be a good one and since you are pulling an Airstream this might have something to do with it.

When I got my first white box trailer I was pulling it with a 4Runner and while I didn't feel that it was "marginal" in the safety department I did want to get a good hitch. I was very concerned about swaying. Back then the Reese and similar hitches required some pressure to snap on the chains and suggested that you unhook before backing. Neither of those appealed to me so I went with an Equalizer. I did not know about the Hensley at that time.

I have a bigger trailer now and a larger TV which I feel is matched pretty well as a system. My TV is a half ton and so I really do need the WD properties and since I need that, I felt that getting a hitch that has built in sway control was the way to go. There are so many factors that go into all of this it is difficult to have a simple solution for all of them. Getting a good hitch is a good idea but it is certainly not a safety guarantee. Since you have lots of experience with your setup, have never had any problems and feel confident that you won't, why not just keep things the way they are? I still remain somewhat respectful (fearful) of sway, so I don't think I would ever tow without some type of sway control. Peace of mind for me.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
What I'm reading in your inquiry is a tow vehicle just has to be big enough and you won't feel "white knuckles". And that some hitches may be designed to overcome vehicle shortcomings. I'm not in that club nor endorse it.

A well-matched tow vehicle, say a half-ton truck, is not marginal. The truck design engineers have decided what the margins are and publish spec's to keep us away from them. Even towzilla has a margin that may be reached quite unexpectedly, wishing it had the agility to steer out of it. If it doesn't, that would be "white knuckles".

Our Airstreams are the best towing trailers on the planet. There are new generations of hitches that put the pivot point of the trailer over the rear axle, similar and perhaps better than a fifth wheel. Tow with with a one ton truck if it keeps you free of white knuckles, but a well-matched truck/trailer combination connected with a Hensley/ProPride hitch will provide an exceptionally pleasant towing experience. There are no shortcomings to it.

doug k

Doug says it better than I ever could. A big truck doesn't necessarily equal good towing. A well set up hitch, weight distribution and sway control/elimination systems are far more important and are key parts to a better towing experience.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by aftermath View Post
To me, "White Knuckle" would mean trailer sway. I am no expert on towing but having a very heavy duty truck does not automatically insure against trailer sway. Your combination has proven to be a good one and since you are pulling an Airstream this might have something to do with it.

When I got my first white box trailer I was pulling it with a 4Runner and while I didn't feel that it was "marginal" in the safety department I did want to get a good hitch. I was very concerned about swaying. Back then the Reese and similar hitches required some pressure to snap on the chains and suggested that you unhook before backing. Neither of those appealed to me so I went with an Equalizer. I did not know about the Hensley at that time.

I have a bigger trailer now and a larger TV which I feel is matched pretty well as a system. My TV is a half ton and so I really do need the WD properties and since I need that, I felt that getting a hitch that has built in sway control was the way to go. There are so many factors that go into all of this it is difficult to have a simple solution for all of them. Getting a good hitch is a good idea but it is certainly not a safety guarantee. Since you have lots of experience with your setup, have never had any problems and feel confident that you won't, why not just keep things the way they are? I still remain somewhat respectful (fearful) of sway, so I don't think I would ever tow without some type of sway control. Peace of mind for me.
I've said before that sway is a function of the trailer, not the tow vehicle. Work to reduce or eliminate the sway of the trailer and your towing experience will be enhanced.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:23 AM   #6
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I witnessed sway take a truck pulling a “tag along” box trailer rig to the woods on I-65 in south Alabama about 6 years ago. It was a hair raising experience for me and I am sure much worse for the driver. Fortunately the trailer swung out as the rig went into the median and side swiped some trees and absorbed a lot of energy as it was being totally destroyed. The driver and wife were lucky to climb out and walk away from that one. What I saw was a dynamic system oscillating and one which the driver couldn't correct once the sway took it all out of control/equilibrium. I personally would consider pulling a large "tag along" without properly set-up sway control and WD in place way too risky for me. Several thousand pounds on a pendulum mounted behind your rear axle all works great until it begins to oscillate to and fro.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:36 AM   #7
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I've said before that sway is a function of the trailer, not the tow vehicle. Work to reduce or eliminate the sway of the trailer and your towing experience will be enhanced.
True. It is rare to see a Ford Excursion here in Ontario but not long ago we followed one going down the highway. It was towing a small pop up trailer and the trailer was swaying back and forth. I suspect it was too light on the tongue. Not a pretty sight.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:44 AM   #8
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I guess what I wonder about is the inference that a towing combination is "marginal" if you need to use a good hitch, or take some time to set it up correctly. Instead, it's about using the proper tool, and using it properly, for the job.

Sure, the trusty 1-ton truck does this - but it's like using a sledgehammer to drive a nail. Certainly does work, no doubt about it, but it's hard to stop...

Similar to others above, I saw a Suburban towing a small single-axle travel trailer yesterday, with the tongue way up high in the air. Owner didn't bother buying a drop shank to level things out. Sure that towed like poop, even though the trailer was under 3,000 pounds and was being towed by a truck rated to tow 9k. Poor guy probably thinks he needs a bigger truck!

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Old 06-17-2013, 11:51 AM   #9
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Hi, I have had the same trailer, tow vehicle, and hitch for over eight years now and have never had a problem while towing.** So unlike others, I don't think that changing hitches would make a dramatically different feeling to me. I think it is mostly mental that people can feel the difference. It's like when anyone, changes tires on their trailer and say it feels and rides so much better. I don't believe that. Different tires on your tow vehicle, yes you can feel that, but not on the trailer. No hitch made can make up for driver ability or lack of.

** "My trailer has, only once, swayed violently out of control and that was with it parked in my driveway during a 5.0 Earthquake."
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:02 PM   #10
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Prior to getting my 2012 Ford F150 Ecoboost I had an Xtera. That was one "white-knuckle" experience after another. Too short a wheelbase and not enough power to keep it out of trouble. After getting the Ford and used in combination with the Andersen WD system I have one sweet towing combination.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutcth View Post
~~
Similar to others above, I saw a Suburban towing a small single-axle travel trailer yesterday, with the tongue way up high in the air. Owner didn't bother buying a drop shank to level things out. Sure that towed like poop, even though the trailer was under 3,000 pounds and was being towed by a truck rated to tow 9k. Poor guy probably thinks he needs a bigger truck!
~~
This. SO MUCH of this.

I'm not suggesting that the OP or others on this forum are guilty of it, but I see so many trailers being dragged down the road in such weird conditions that I wonder if the people towing them are smart enough to drive WITHOUT a trailer, much less towing.

I see tandem-axle trailers towed so far off level you have to hope they've gone way overboard on their tire choice so that the 2 tires supporting most of the weight are capable of doing so. Many of those are rolling down the interstate at 75 mph+ as well. Lots of the tow vehicles involved in this activity in Texas are jacked-up 4WD pickups with big offroad tires that I wouldn't make my first choice as a TV in any event, but at least they should get a shank that drops enough to keep the trailer somewhat level.

I see trailers with the tongue nearly scraping the road surface because trailer and TV are either completely mismatched, or the trailer needs WD but the driver needs a clue.

I occasionally see trailers (usually U-Haul) loaded so strangely that they almost appear to be lifting the back of the TV. These are exciting to watch (from a somewhat-safe distance) when they go over surface irregularities on the road. At highway speeds with a trailer that has "55 mph" painted on it backwards so you can see that in your mirrors from the TV. I wonder how many of those end up in medians and ditches, or just getting to their destination through blind luck.
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:14 PM   #12
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as someone new to TT's and TV's...and looking to buy this year both...There is some logical inconsistencies about this topic that hurt my brain.

Why is it that a 1 ton TV could have less sway than with a 1/2 ton? It seems like (based on my very limited understanding at this point) the sway would be a function of the conditions and the trailer. How exactly does a heavier truck prevent sway anyway?

I think I understand the concept of these hitches to prevent sway...but im struggling to understand why a 1 ton needs sway control less than a 1/2 ton. Perhaps a stupid question, im very new to this topic as I go forward now and consider my future purchases.
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:17 PM   #13
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All I can say is that took all of the advice I could find on the forum before I picked up my AS and towing it home on interstates and two lanes was a non-event.
I already had the 1/2 ton TV, with the factory HD towing package. I had a ProPride and Michelin 16's installed on the AS before I picked it up. I used experience from the forum for the initial WD setting and fine-tuned it at some CAT scales on the way home. This was a far better experience that I have had towing boats over the past 30 years.
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:46 PM   #14
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The only time I have ever been really afraid of sway is April 27, 2011 during a tornado in Mississippi.
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