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Old 08-31-2007, 12:39 AM   #29
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We live, we learn

I've been towing for 2 1/2 years so I keep learning from this forum. On my first trips I didn't travel with water in my fresh tank... then had a "problem" resulting from too much rich food at the Cherry Blossom Rally.... had to sacrifice a box of wine to flush the evidence.

After that I started to carry at least five gallons just in case. I work and stay at one or two different campgrounds most of the time, but often I'll go on an overnight trip on the weekend since there are several nice state parks in the area.

It was Overlander63 who pointed out that this partially filled tank could slosh around a LOT, and cause sway. His posts caused me to start filling the fresh tank all the way to increase the tongue weight and reduce sway.

I've also made it a habit to check the brake controller EVERY time I travel and adjust it while carefully. I set it to be "grabby", so that the trailer brakes slightly harder than the tow vehicle. Manually braking the trailer is awkward based on where the controller is located, so I want to make sure the trailer brakes are right every time out.

I'll add the advice to take downhills slowly and to keep an extra careful eye out for other traffic, especially semis.

I'm glad and amazed that you survived, hope you get the insurance settled and get back on the road, happier and wiser than you were on the first trip.

Paula
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Old 08-31-2007, 01:10 AM   #30
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Paula,
I think "Grabby" is a great way to explain that you understand. Grabby is really a bad thing for comfort but you said that in a way that makes everybody understand that the trailer needs to lead the tow vehicle by some amount during braking (Not much though). That will prevent many accidents but grabby can't be full throttle or we are back to square one.
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Old 08-31-2007, 06:28 AM   #31
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Sorry to learn about your sad day. I'm glad everyone was able to walk away and others may learn from your experience. IMO the brake controller must be easily accessable to manual override in an emergency. Reaching for it should be second nature such as pushing down on the signal lever to turn left or your foot moving to the brake pedal. You shouldn't even have to think or look for where it's located when a situation arises that warrants immediate use.
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Old 08-31-2007, 07:43 AM   #32
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Peegreen, I agree. Except as a passenger, there is nothing automatic about reaching over and pushing/pulling something on the driver's side.

Everyone is correct, we feel extremely blessed to have our lives spared and the metal/aluminium is replaceable. I just want to understand what happened, so that I can learn from it and also hopefully others can also...

Joy
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:00 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecatsandi
......... As for the maual trailer brake activation: The pros say don't do it. Most people in a panic will fully activate the brakes usually causing the traielr brakes to lock up. At this point you have lost all hope of regaining control.
I'm am becoming confused if manually braking the trailer is a good idea during a sway situation. I have always prepared myself to do so if the situation arised. I agree locked up trailer brakes causes loss of control, but I thought if the brake controller was adjusted just below the lockup point, then manually engaging the trailer brakes, when sway is first felt ,was a wise decsion.

Has anyone here used the manual brakes during a situation like this? What were the results?

Opps, didn't mean to Hijack. Maybe this should be moved to another thread.

Thanks
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:32 AM   #34
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If the insurance company pays, then you really can't ask for more. It is standard procedure to determine that if there was no other known fault, then the driver will be proclaimed to be at fault, presumably from not doing something to prevent the accident. What else can they determine? Airline pilots, truck drivers, ferris wheel operators all are in the same boat, as was the captain of the Titanic.

And, if they raise your rates or drop your coverage, I believe that is their legal right. I don't think they can be forced to keep or take on a client they deem too risky for whatever reason. There are other insurance companies, although they presumably would learn of the situation and charge accordingly.

I'm really glad you came away from that wreck without serious injury. That was a miracle.
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:34 AM   #35
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At The Risk Of being Irritating

I know I will probably be chastised by many for what I am about to say, but here goes. That stretch of I40 (West of Kingman) posts signs for trucks to slow down to 55 due to steep downgrade (that's why you passed the semi).That driver was probably going slower if loaded to gross because he has been down that hill many times and knows what speed to go down and not overheat his brakes. And yes, this long haul driver is one that knows at gross my truck with engine brakes on will hold best at about 32mph without ever touching the foot brake on that paticular grade. This is the same situation stated by the couple coming down Shasta. When towing, it is adviseable to slow down to the posted truck speed and is also adviseable on exit ramps and curves that post truck speeds. It would also be prudent to slow down more so when in curves or downhill on a given route until you know how your TV and trailer handle in the situation. Also, a helpful guidleine is if the large trucks start slowing down I should probably slowdown. Also helpful in backups- Get in the lane that the trucks are getting in. Only trying to help. 'shaker
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:37 AM   #36
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Some people have drilled a hole in the brake activating lever and have a small rope attached which runs across the dash so the co-piolet can pull it to control the trailer brakes while the driver concentrates on controlling the rig.
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:40 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
Jim,

Normally one of the times when you are most at risk for sway is when you are going down hill. Add to this you are dealing with trying to pass a semi, all of which are ingredients to induce or enhance sway conditions. This is not an Airstream issue, since it can happen with any travel trailer. As a matter of fact an Airstream is probably a little more tolerant of these conditions.

I have a couple of rules I go by. I don't pass going down hill, I try to keep semi's from passing me when going down hill, and finally I take special care when coming from wind shielded areas into open areas where wind gusts might be present.

I learned this pretty much from the school of hard knocks. While I never lost control of a trailer, I've been through some scary situations in each count of the situations above.

Jack
Jack thanks for the heads up and I will keep all the safety tips in mind.
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:45 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky
I'm am becoming confused if manually braking the trailer is a good idea during a sway situation. I have always prepared myself to do so if the situation arised. I agree locked up trailer brakes causes loss of control, but I thought if the brake controller was adjusted just below the lockup point, then manually engaging the trailer brakes, when sway is first felt ,was a wise decsion.

Has anyone here used the manual brakes during a situation like this? What were the results?

Opps, didn't mean to Hijack. Maybe this should be moved to another thread.

Thanks
Dale
The missing component that people tend to forget about is that applying the trailer brakes manually is only one part of the equation when attempting to arrest a swaying condition. In addition to applying the manual brake control, you must also accelerate the tow vehicle. This combined action "pulls" the trailer out of the sway. Applying the manual brakes alone is not the answer.

This is a difficult situation to deal with in many people's minds since the reaction of anyone in a sway condition is to back off the gas. That alone adds more sway into the equation since the trailer is now doing the pushing, much like going down a hill. You need to be pulling the trailer, and acceleration plus the action of the trailer brakes provides that "pull" necessary to get the trailer centered.

Jack
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Old 08-31-2007, 08:50 AM   #39
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I really would not recommend the above comment regarding the copilot controlling the manual brake. If only for liability reasons. Talk about the driver not being in control of the vehicle.
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Old 08-31-2007, 09:07 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Clark
Jack thanks for the heads up and I will keep all the safety tips in mind.
You're welcome Jim. Towing is much more than just driving down the highway in the right direction. It also means monitoring the terrain ahead of you, looking at the conditions the vehicles ahead of you are dealing with, and watching what's coming up behind you. I've come to recognize that certain types of trucks cause more or less turbulance. Just a few to think of are flat nosed trucks, busses, Class A motor homes, tanker trucks, and automobile carriers. I'm adjusting to those situations and drive accordingly. The bottom line is that folks need to remember is that driving and especially when towing, is a full time job. When I pull over after a day's drive, I'm usually tired...and that's because I'm working hard to be safe.

My dad was a fantastic driver and I remember him telling me when I was a kid, that he was always watching the other guys and understanding what his escape routes were if something happened. I remember one year on family vacation as we were heading north up in Illinois on a dual highway, the driver of a southbound semi apparently fell asleep at the wheel. He went into the median with the truck and trailer turning onto its side. This all happened in seconds and as the semi was sliding towards us and my dad almost instantly floored the car and the truck crossed the lanes behind us. If he had hesitated or stepped on the brake, I probably wouldn't be here today. The fact that he was alert and ready to take action saved all of our lives.

I can tell you that I have had 3 accidents in my life. All early in my driving life. Only one was my fault....but the other two I could have avoided if I had been paying more attention to what was going on around me.

Jack
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Old 08-31-2007, 09:23 AM   #41
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Joy, I am glad you are all OK. It is surprising that you all walked away, you are very lucky. My following post is mainly to reiterate some good points and not meant to flame anyone.

I see you are with State Farm Insurance. They are known for dumping people after a large claim is settled. Second, if you accept their check it means you accept the settlement. If you aren't happy with what they give you then refuse the check and haggle with them or contact a lawyer.

Between Jcaverna and frtshaker they pretty much have a handle on the possible causes.

Quote:
frtshaker, I know I will probably be chastised by many for what I am about to say, but here goes. That stretch of I40 (West of Kingman) posts signs for trucks to slow down to 55 due to steep downgrade (that's why you passed the semi).That driver was probably going slower if loaded to gross because he has been down that hill many times and knows what speed to go down and not overheat his brakes. And yes, this long haul driver is one that knows at gross my truck with engine brakes on will hold best at about 32mph without ever touching the foot brake on that particular grade. This is the same situation stated by the couple coming down Shasta. When towing, it is advisable to slow down to the posted truck speed and is also advisable on exit ramps and curves that post truck speeds. It would also be prudent to slow down more so when in curves or downhill on a given route until you know how your TV and trailer handle in the situation.
I also am a truck driver and this is a true statement.

Quote:
jcaverna, The missing component that people tend to forget about is that applying the trailer brakes manually is only one part of the equation when attempting to arrest a swaying condition. In addition to applying the manual brake control, you must also accelerate the tow vehicle. This combined action "pulls" the trailer out of the sway. Applying the manual brakes alone is not the answer.

This is a difficult situation to deal with in many people's minds since the reaction of anyone in a sway condition is to back off the gas. That alone adds more sway into the equation since the trailer is now doing the pushing, much like going down a hill. You need to be pulling the trailer, and acceleration plus the action of the trailer brakes provides that "pull" necessary to get the trailer centered.
This also is a true statement as I have used this very method to pull my triples out of a sway condition. FYI the sway was caused by a combination of rutted roads and side winds.

Being a truck driver I see many many miles of road. I will tell you it is pretty rare to get passed by a TT on a down grade. Probably for good reason. I think the insurance company will probably stick to the driver being at fault in this case.

I get passed all the time on the flats by TT's, it is the hills that warrant the extra amount of caution.

Again I am glad you all survived, just remember "this too shall pass" and you will be out enjoying life again.
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Old 08-31-2007, 09:47 AM   #42
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pics?

!st off, I will echo the thoughts of all the others here who are shocked and saddened by your accident, and so relieved that everyone survived it!! I hope that there evolves here a very clear, proven, agreed-upon method of avoiding these kinds of accidents. I would certainly tend to listen to the advice of any and all commercial tractor-trailer drivers, but also those TT owners who have experimented with different size/weight TVs and set-ups on their brake controllers and antisway devices. It seems to me there must be an optimal setting for the controller, that would tend to straighten out the "chain" without having to think, counter-intuitively, of accelerating while hitting the manual override. Common sense would have me agree with the idea of having the trailer brakes working a bit stronger than the TV's brakes. If it were set up this way, wouldn't this eliminate the need for the tricky hit-the-override-while-accelerating gambit? I think something very positive can come from a terrible accident like yours IF the community can learn something from it and prevent many more of them from happening. My second point is a question, maybe for a moderator: Where are the pictures that were posted? Is it a problem with my computer settings, or something here, that I cannot see them? Thanks, and best of luck with the insurance settlement and any emotional trauma! -tim
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