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Old 08-24-2009, 02:35 PM   #71
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Wow...it is not reasonable to "expect" such miraculous results to such an accident. Did I miss the post with info regarding the hitch in use? Sure would be interesting info...Tom R

P.S. Reading this thread would be beneficial to anyone towing AS or other large trailers. M experience is only with 2000# trailers and this thread has been very helpful "background" to keep close in my memory.
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Old 08-24-2009, 03:35 PM   #72
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Joy and all of our Airstream family,
This accident happened over a year ago. I'm sure many people have viewed it. I tender my thoughts and concerns as well as good wishes to Joy and family. I'm posting in the hopes that your accident and my sad experience will encourage every one in any moving vehicle restrain themselves with seat belts. I am a former deputy coroner with a very large coroner's office. I have investigated hundreds of fatal accidents. Only once did I have to remove a seat belt from a deceased individual. Most of the fatal accidents I responded to involved people thrown from vehicles because they had failed to secure themselves with a seat belt. Please Buckle Up!
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Old 08-24-2009, 04:15 PM   #73
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In one of Joy's posts she said that she “would prefer to not discuss the WD hitch or sway bar at this time”. Later, she never did identify the brand of hitch, nor what type of sway control if any was being used. Joy's post #60 includes a picture of the rear of the wrecked ton pickup. There is a weight distribution hitch head visible in one of the pictures but I can not identify the brand?
The accident occurred while they were passing a semi/tractor trailer on a down grade while traveling in excess (60-65 mph) of the speed limit (55mph).
The lesson I would take from this accident is that excessive speed going down even a moderate grade can get you into big trouble!
Also the load may have been more than the ton truck could handle.
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Old 08-24-2009, 04:34 PM   #74
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We (I was driving) fishtailed in high winds going downhill in the Smokies and I was all over three lanes, a semi was on its side back aways... fear was high and experience low. This was years ago when we changed from an 8' fold down camper to a 14' and had no sway controll. Traffic luckily saw what was happening and hung back. I was overcorrrecting and made things worse. Once pulled over, I gave up the drivers seat, swore I would never tow again and we exited and got sway control.

Fast forward, probably due to flashbacks, (much like Nickie experienced in the Long Long Trailer pulling 50' of train!), every time I felt a "tug" at the trailer I would get very uneasy. I take hills down slower. I use the trailer brakes often in the mountains or on a steep grade. It accustoms me to using them, and it slows me down before I would jam them on going so fast as to have a panic situation. I simply am not going to go downhill at 65 on a curve with trucks and wind. The slower I go the longer I have to react. So I guess I am saying I now am overcautious, better experienced and like to use the manual trailer brake and know how it feels to use it.

Glad no one was hurt in that roll over. That does seem miraculous. I posted now to encourage people to use their manual brake to their advantage. You don't need to be afraid to use it. Better as a tool to aid you you practise it.
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Old 08-24-2009, 06:35 PM   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minamyna View Post
Hey--

I have a 3500 Dually that I use to haul my horse trailer and my airstream (though not at the same time). My Dad had an engine brake installed for the steep hills our out families ranch in Wyoming. We have a 34'excella and whenever things get hairy I always just use my engine brake and that seems to slow everything way down-- is that a good solution?
I'm not an expert but I think the answer is obvious. It's best answered with another question.

"So how will using an ENGINE brake affect sway in a TRAILER?"

The answer is that it won't do anything to the trailer - except possibly make it worse. On the other hand, your definition of "hairy" may mean that you use the engine brake long before you're risking a swaying trailer... and that's very good.

If your trailer ever starts yawing from side to side, the quickest thing to yank it straight is applying the trailer brakes. As a 5'6" woman I've often seen controllers installed under the dash where only an ape armed person over 6' tall can easily reach them. I couldn't decide where the most convenient place for mine was originally so I velcroed it to the top of the dash. I finally decided to install it on the console where I used to keep a coffee cup... right at fingertip reach. (Don't worry, the console has three cupholders. I just give the controller the one closest to me.)

I make minor towing mistakes (bending a rim and boinking my steps)... but one thing I do EVERY SINGLE TIME is test my brake controller before I leave the campground and adjust it periodically for tire and brake wear.


I too am so glad to see that these folks actually walked away from this wreck and congratulate them for
  1. wearing seat belts
  2. being willing to TELL us and SHOW us this story - to make us all more educated and aware of the extreme damage that can follow a simple miscalculation due to mis-information or lack of forethought.
Perhaps that was what their unfulfilled purpose in life was. May we all enjoy years of safer and happier trails due to their ability to think about helping US.

Paula
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Old 08-24-2009, 06:43 PM   #76
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Auto-Bump? Moderators?

This is a thread that ought to be bumped to "current" status about once every three months - for the benefit of new members. Could the moderators do this - or put this whole thread under FAQ? This OUGHT to be Frequently Asked.

Humbly, Paula
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Old 08-24-2009, 07:12 PM   #77
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Bottom line is you guys are okay, and here to fight with the insurance company.....a good thing.

.....your not required to take what they offer matter of factly. Stand your ground with them.

Good Luck and Glad you're okay.....
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:09 PM   #78
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Trailer Brake Controller Option

Greetings Paula!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
If your trailer ever starts yawing from side to side, the quickest thing to yank it straight is applying the trailer brakes. As a 5'6" woman I've often seen controllers installed under the dash where only an ape armed person over 6' tall can easily reach them. I couldn't decide where the most convenient place for mine was originally so I velcroed it to the top of the dash. I finally decided to install it on the console where I used to keep a coffee cup... right at fingertip reach. (Don't worry, the console has three cupholders. I just give the controller the one closest to me.)
I have tried a wide variety of trailer brake controllers, but the one that I use with my '75 Cadillac Eldorado is my favorite. It is a Hayes Energize XPC, and it is available with a remote control button that can be draped over the gear shift lever where it is convenient or placed in a convenient place beside the driver where it will be available in an emergency (it was very reassuring when towing through the Rocky Mountains last summer). In the nearly six years since this controller was first installed, I have learned that it is possible to apply the trailer brakes while keeping the second hand on the wheel.

Kevin
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Old 08-25-2009, 01:51 PM   #79
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Wink Kingman Revisited

This is Joy's husband. I saw the thread was active and wanted to add a couple of things.

First, the issue of the hitch. It was not a sway control hitch but a load distribution device as some people have noticed. Unfortunately, I do not remember the brand. We got it from the dealer when we bought the Airstream new. I will say that it struck me as very stout (heavy duty). I was confident with its abilities.

I was the primary driver when we took the trailer out. This was the first Airstream I had towed but I have extensive experience with horse and boat trailers of equal and greater weight. The Airstream towed better than anything I have ever pulled by a long shot. I never had any trouble with sway or breaking with it all. We also frequently had 500 pounds of dirt bikes in the bed of the truck.

Ideally, a 3/4 ton would have been nice but it pulled so good it was never an issue, at least to me. Most of our use was in SoCal and Mexico with plenty of time spend in the mountains and in the Santa Anna winds. Again I never had any trouble with it.

I used my 1973 K5 Blazer once to tow it to Mexico for the Baja 500 and had some issues with sway but the blazer has a very short wheel base, 8 inches of lift and 16 inches of travel in the rear suspension, 12 in the front. I know, bad idea. But still very manageable.

I was working in Louisiana when they went over the cliff so was not there. I flew out to Vegas the day it happened and drove to Kingman and saw the spot, the cliff, the tire marks, the missing guardrail etc. Made me want to puke.

My evaluation is pretty simple: driver inexperience. As you might know, Joy's sister was driving and didn't much time behind the wheel pulling a trailer. The mountains in AZ are probably not the best place to rack up miles, but they do serve as a effective locale for Airstream cliff diving...

They were going down hill, slight curve probably doing about the speed limit on approach with moderate winds and semi approaching. I say speed limit at approach because at the bottom had picked up speed. They went over just after the transition to back up hill. The sister got uncomfortable with the increase in speed, blow of wind that came through a break in the mountains and the semi on the left, hit the breaks way to hard, and "I never meant for this to happen!!!" (yelling as flying over cliff)....

It was worse than in looks. They should have been dead. Made a believer out of me.

My recommendations: make sure whoever pulls your trailer HAS EXPERIENCE. Accidents can happen to anyone, but less often.

Also don't forget to drive slow, drink lots of water, and DON'T PET THE ALLIGATORS...

Sorry this was so long.
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:00 PM   #80
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Thank you for bringing us up to date.

I am so glad your family survived this terrible accident. This thread is very sobering. Thank you all so much for sharing your tragedy with us. You will never now how many others will learn from this event....I appreciate having access to this information.....thanks again. paula
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:03 PM   #81
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I'm just glad they both got out alive! My sister and I have traveled through Arizona - and I'll be the first to say it, She is an even better driver than I am. However she nearly got five of us killed due to one moment's inattention in Winslow Arizona. The rental car agency charges extra for cleaning the seats.

Anyone, no matter how experienced can have a lapse, and even one or two seconds can lead to a tragedy.

At least your wife and sister in law were wearing seat belts - and boy - did those belts perform!

Thanks for sharing. It will help us all be more careful.

Paula
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:35 PM   #82
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Having worked for several years in accident investigation, the pictures paint a grim story. At first glance I woundn't have guessed that both occupants survived.
Seat belts are the primary life savings device and they do save lives every day. Airbags and safety cages can only work if the occupants are in a predicted position in the vehicle otherwise they can kill you. Im thankful that your angels followed you all the way down the hill for a safe exit. What a telling story here for us to all learn from.
Thanks for sharing.

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Old 08-25-2009, 02:39 PM   #83
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The only time I went down that stretch of highway I came around a bend and saw about five or six(I couldn't count them all) vehicles off the road. Some in the ditch, some in the desert, all upsidedown or on their sides. They had hit black ice on a shady part of the road, on a bend. I went by VERY SLOWLY. It was a wake-up call to me at the time. I had slowed down coming into the same turn by dumb luck, or premonition. It could easily have been me and my wife and kids out in the ditch.
You can't be too careful!
Keep the rubber side down,
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:18 PM   #84
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I read every post. Wow. Glad everyone is all right. Based on the description of events provided, I'm not sure sway control would have helped.
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