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Old 08-31-2007, 09:57 AM   #43
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Where are the pictures that were posted?
I can see the pictures in the first two posts.

This accident is a wake up call to all of us who tow our Airstreams. I will have mine on I-40 this afternoon. Not in the Kingman area, bur Flagstaff to Winslow. I will be thinking about this accident alot.

The people involved were very lucky indeed. We can speculate all day long as to why it happened and what could have been done. The bottom line is that it can happen and it did happen. I think everyone who has seen these pictures will be thinking more about trailer safety for a long time to come.

Gardenofjoy - I hope everything works out well with the settlement.
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Old 08-31-2007, 10:02 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by tphan
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. tim
Tim, I wish there was a magic setting but you need that tow vehicle pulling, to help eliminate the yawing that is happening. Without that pulling, the effect of the brakes on the trailer is doing nothing to minimize that yaw.

The purpose of the manual braking of the trailer it to maximize the effect of the pull caused by the accelerating tow vehicle.

Consider the tug of war battle with a rope. In most cases as the opposing forces pull against each other, you remain in a fairly straight line. When one side loses out, and the pulling side's force is removed due to the forward momentum of the losing side, the losing side tends to move out of the straight line.

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Old 08-31-2007, 10:32 AM   #45
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I guess I was thinking that if you're going downhill (the situation where this type of accident seems to happen most often), and you have the trailer braking a bit more than the TV, then the TV's momentum going downhill with less braking than the trailer would tend to straighten out the rope. If this is not the case, then it seems to me that there is room for improvement with the whole brake-controller set-up on TTs, sort of like how the anti-lock brake improvements on modern cars made them a lot safer by reducing or eliminating skidding in panic situations. Why not a brake controller that automatically "straightens the rope"? Asking drivers, especially inexperienced ones, to hit the gas, while reaching down for the override, while watching traffic, while trying to regain control of a wildly swaying trailer, while GOING DOWNHILL, in a full-on panic situation, would seem to be asking commercial-grade skills of amateurs. I think untill I feel like I have a brake controller that will "think" for me in panic situations like the awful one here, I will heed all the advice here regarding speed. 55 mph max for me, slower on hills and in wind. Slower speed would probably be helpful with a blowout too, or any other unforeseen sudden circumstance.
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Old 08-31-2007, 10:49 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by jcanavera
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
That's right on - you must keep applying the gas while fulling activating the trailer brakes. At the speed you're experiencing sway (I doubt at 25 mph you'll end up this situation) the trailer brakes should not lock up if adjusted properly) You alone, the driver should be responsible for the control of the tow vehicle and trailer. I would never want to put that responsibilty or depend on my copilot to take casualty actions.
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Old 08-31-2007, 10:59 AM   #47
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It's like hearing about the King's new clothes, there are no photos to be seen on my many attempts to view even with PC restarts.. no uploads in member photos.. no links from gardenofjoy's profile... But like everyone else I am suitably awed that no one was physically hurt from the description given - I hope the memories of it fade in time for you and yours...

Question - what service had ever been performed to the tow vehicles front suspension?

On my F-150 with the last trip through a industrial suspension shop they 'accommodated' worn or broken bushings when they aligned the front end - and left it nearly impossible to steer sharp turns when at Interstate speeds when towing my 27' Overlander, which I merrily discovered on I-94 on a sweeping downhill bend coming into the Saint Paul, Minnesota Mississippi River Valley.. I had to stab on the brakes to get speed below 60mph and keep leaning on steering wheel to get it to track through the turn; it was a good thing I was in the left lane in preparation for the left exit onto I-35E!

IF a vehicles adjustments can make steering want to track straight no matter driver input... then worn or artistically adjusted alignments might make sway easily amplified... Just a thought.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:03 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tphan
IAsking drivers, especially inexperienced ones, to hit the gas, while reaching down for the override, while watching traffic, while trying to regain control of a wildly swaying trailer, while GOING DOWNHILL, in a full-on panic situation, would seem to be asking commercial-grade skills of amateurs. I think untill I feel like I have a brake controller that will "think" for me in panic situations like the awful one here, I will heed all the advice here regarding speed. 55 mph max for me, slower on hills and in wind. Slower speed would probably be helpful with a blowout too, or any other unforeseen sudden circumstance.
You hit the nail on the head. I guess what I'm preaching is avoidance also. As much as I know on this topic I've never had to truly recover from this situation. It's one thing to try this on a parking lot just to see what happens, but obviously I'm in control and it's only a test. How I would perform under an emergency is something else. Unfortunately there is no trailer/tow vehicle simulators out there where we could get some intense training like commercial aircraft pilots get.

I think that's why many of us get so uppity on high speed towing because things just happen so fast and the consequences are magnified multiple times as you get over 55 mph. So we keep our speed to the moderate side, understand the forces in effect, and recognize those things that increase risk. The school of hard knocks has some painful lessons. In this case I am grateful to all the posters who share these experiences. We can't undo what has happened but by sharing these issues and stories, hopefully we can prevent someone else from going down the same path.

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Old 08-31-2007, 11:04 AM   #49
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The photo issue is being looked at by the mod squad. It is not limited to this thread. I can still see them because they are in the cache of my PC.

The pictures show a major event. The damage shown would make you think that anyone in the TV would have had serious injury.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:32 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gardenofjoy
Earl, I'm trying to understand. What evidence suggests that the primary cause was driver error. We were at the top of a hill, going approximately 55, when a semi/tractor trailer passed. Now I have to be quite honest, becuase I don't recell if we passed him or he passed us. I had tended to weight distributions (no water in tanks, no luggage in back of trailer, propane tanks filled and in front on tongue) maintained reasonable towing speed, etc. Why does this not look like a 'No fault" accident. Would pushing on the manual trailer brake have helped?
Essentially, the basic speed laws in most states force a driver to drive for the "conditions of the road at the time". This means that if the speed limit is posted for 75 miles an hour and it is foggy, it may only be safe to travel at 30-mph. Road conditions such as wind, traffic, and other road hazards set the tone for determining what speed is "safe" for your vehicle at that particular place and time. Based on your writing, if your trailer started swaying at 55-mph, "the conditions" (weight of trailer, condition of tow veh, etc.) were not good for the speed you were going, ergo-driver error. That's the way an insurance company will view the incident in determining who was "at-fault". An accident is still just that, an accident and it is deemed so since you did not "purposely" crash your vehicle. Your insurance company would still reimburse you for the loss regardless as long as you had coverage.
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Old 08-31-2007, 11:52 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by gardenofjoy
The tow vehicle was a 2003 GMC Sierra 1/5 ton
Was this a 1/2 ton truck towing the 25 foot trailer? I assume the 1/5 is a mis-print for 1/2. If so, it would be relevant to consider this aspect, one that we have discussed many times previously. The Airstream.com site gives GVWR as 7000 pounds for the SS, and 7300 for the FB.
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:03 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst
Was this a 1/2 ton truck towing the 25 foot trailer? I assume the 1/5 is a mis-print for 1/2. If so, it would be relevant to consider this aspect, one that we have discussed many times previously.
Nick.
Nick, I have just been re-reading this thread for the nth time trying to digest all of this. I suspect you are correct that a 3/4 ton TV might have helped. I am setting here cringing thinking about how often I have accelerated down hill with my F150 in order to buid up speed for the up comming hill. I had already decided to get a 3/4 ton and this thread really reinforces that plan. I am also starting to wonder if the brake controller shouldnt live on top of the dash where it is easier to reach in a "white knuckle" event. In my F150 I put it under the dash on the right; where do you all have yours mounted? Is the string idea mentioned earlier a reasonable thing to do?
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:15 PM   #53
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Quote:
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I am setting here cringing thinking about how often I have accelerated down hill with my F150 in order to buid up speed for the up comming hill.
That in itself is not always bad. It's just the other factors going on at the time, wind, speed, passing vehicles, road conditions etc. As a matter of fact I've accelerated downhill in many cases to prevent an oncoming semi, to pass me on the downhill slope. In that case the risk of the higher speed is less than the surge caused by the semi, passing by at my most vunerable point. If I do it right, he passes me as I either level out or start the next slope uphill.

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Old 08-31-2007, 01:17 PM   #54
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I haven't been able to access the pictures but it doesn't sound like my imagination can overdo it here. I do know this thread has allowed me to relive a few whiteknuckle moments and it gives me chills. I'm glad you are all okay and thank you for sharing your experience.

One question about the physics of towing a trailer. Lots of talk here about anti-sway bars, which I use and know makes a great improvement on a single axle Tradewind. What help, if any, do distribution bars offer?

I feel the combo (on a 1/2 ton Silverado) of the distribution bars and anti-sway is considerable. At least when that side wind hits (and it will find you) the rig reacts more like one unit then as two parts. Even when a semi passes in high winds I feel it more in the center of my TV then at the hitch/tail end of TV.
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:13 PM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst
Was this a 1/2 ton truck towing the 25 foot trailer? I assume the 1/5 is a mis-print for 1/2. If so, it would be relevant to consider this aspect, one that we have discussed many times previously. The Airstream.com site gives GVWR as 7000 pounds for the SS, and 7300 for the FB.
Nick.
Nick and Rodney,
You are correct, it was a typo. 2003 GMC half-ton with Z71 and trailer towing package. (we have now upgraded to a 2007 3/4-ton GMC duramax diesel)

I originally posted because I had some questions about insurance/fault. While the dialogue has helped answer these original questions, I realized, after reading all your responses, that the experience also seemed to help remind all of us the importance of safety, and awareness of our speed, slope, wind, other larger vehicles, etc at ALL times when towing.

Since viewing pictures seem to be an issue, below is a link to my myspace page, where I have more pictures posted.

PLEASE keep in mind I want to share my story so that other's may be reminded to be actively cognizant at all times when towing...especially going into this labor day weekend.

MySpace.com - Joy - 33 - Female - Shreveport, Louisiana - www.myspace.com/gardenofjoy
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Old 08-31-2007, 03:09 PM   #56
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WOW!! I have read the entire thread but had not seen the pictures until the last entry. I did not understand the devastation until I saw it. God surely was with you. I don't see how anyone could have survived otherwise. I pray that it all works out for you.
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