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Old 08-28-2014, 09:40 AM   #1
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2 + 2 = ????

I enjoy this forum. I enjoy the social aspect of it and I enjoy the information I gather here. But whew! It can often be frustrating. Some topics are debated endlessly with no logical definitive answer at the end. For example:
  • Hitches: On the ball vs. off the ball
  • Tires: ST vs. LT, 15" vs. 16"
  • Tow Vehicles: Trucks vs. everything else
  • Wheel Balancing: Centramatics vs. DynaBeads
  • Jacking Up: Axle plate or jacking points

As has been commented on many times, these topics and others have become almost a religion here among the faithful. I get the feeling that unless my rig consists of a large truck for a tow vehicle with a HA/PP hitch towing a trailer mounted with 16" wheels with Centramatics and mounted with LT tires then I might be deficient, negligent, ignorant or all three.

But nothing, pretty much nothing, is based on objective controlled testing. Manufacturers and their loyal customers are free to sing the praises of their products unrestrained by facts. Sometimes a positive feedback loop is created by loyal users and things become "true" because they're repeated so often. Which doesn't mean they're not true, but I just can't tell.

For someone fairly new at this who is making a sincere effort to get it right this can be really frustrating at times. I'm hoping that I'm making informed decisions but I'm not sure how informed I really am.


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Old 08-28-2014, 10:28 AM   #2
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I think that people just have the need to defend their choices. They don't want their choices to be wrong. Also, different folks have different experiences.
How does one determine what is the correct way?

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Old 08-28-2014, 10:28 AM   #3
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Sounds like you have hit upon the weakness of "crowd sourced" information. You gather a bunch of random individuals together and ask for an opinion/information, and you will get a bunch of random opinions.

Yes there is a danger to the neophyte who is looking for facts, and takes someone's opinion as such. Its a buyer-beware world here in the forums, and as the advice costs nothing, sometimes that is all it is worth.

If you want cold hard facts and statistics, a discussion forum may not be the place to look. The NTSB, Consumer Reports, RV businesses with trained professionals, etc., might be the better place.

All that being said, the seekers of information often create a thread of pure opinion unintentionally. How many threads are there that start with "What is the best XXX?" Just using the word "best" invites subjectivity, value judgement, and opinion.

Just my opinion!
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:29 AM   #4
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A lot of topics in the automotive world are subjective. I see all these carrying right over into the RVing world. Logic will only take you so far in some debates.

Like diesel vs gasser. Leather seats vs Cloth seats. You can state all the facts, but at the end, the decisions are subjective and based on opinion. And some things both answers are right. Some have tested facts, some have anecdotal evidence.

But really, discounting anecdotal evidence totally is something a lot of the "I want facts only" crowd does to support their positions.

Experience is valid to some degree. But as has been proven, ones experience is not always another persons experience. Also, 50 yrs experience doing something wrong doesn't mean you are knowledgable either. So I often here, well I have 40yrs experience.

Yeah, well what if you've been doing it wrong for 40 yrs pal??

But looking for everything to be black and white. Not going to happen. Especially with evidence based testing.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:41 AM   #5
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I feel yah

I feel though that the best people can do is to do their own sorta meta review of a ton of anecdotes and hope for the best

There simply is very little 3rd party research about some aspects of some of the debates that give much more clarity or objectivity.

Anecdotes in medicine are notoriously a bad thing

I think in RV truck choice it can be problematic - but some aspects are less so

I won't pretend that my own meta analysis about various things was "right" but it may very well be much better than nothing and even in some respects very helpful.

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Old 08-28-2014, 10:47 AM   #6
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I understand that there will be few really definitive answers here. And I'm open to opinion based on experience. I guess what challenges me a bit is which of those opinions based on experience should I choose. I'm thinking one of the reasons this whole area is someone fuzzy is that the differing levels of efficacy are relatively small. From research I've done it appears that, while not rare, Airstream accidents are relatively infrequent. And that sample includes all Airstreams and all drivers, including those woefully ill equipped and/or ill prepared. So, in a way, the consequences of different approaches are rarely seen in a definitive way, i.e. an accident. So there's really not a real world feedback loop that might otherwise serve to advance the craft.

I've been involved in other areas where there was a feedback loop, such as scuba diving and racing Porsches. Doing things wrong does often have dire consequences with those activities, including death, so over time a set of procedures has evolved based on staying safe.

I'm feeling pretty comfortable with the configuration of my rig now, but it is certainly far below the "ideal" espoused by many here. I guess we will never know if that makes me a reckless idiot, decreases safety by 6.3% which I can compensate for by driving slowly, or has virtually no influence of my probability of being involved in an accident.

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Old 08-28-2014, 10:58 AM   #7
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I think the take away is that there are a lot of choices you can make which are probably just as good as the other options. You're right, something might be 'safer', but it might only apply in a situation that you may never encounter. You could be doing it 'wrong' for years and get by just fine.

When in doubt I will take the advice of my local experts who I can talk to face to face, and who's business depends on keeping me safe and happy and coming back. And that doesn't mean car dealers 9they know nothing about their product, in my experience). I'm talking a good tire shop that deals with a lot of trailers, and a good RV shop that deals with a lot of hitch setups.

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Old 08-28-2014, 11:29 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
So I often here, well I have 40yrs experience.
I have just under three years' experience as an Airstreamer. Not a lot compared to some. But the real question about length of experience is, do I really have three years' experience, or just one year of experience three times? Doing things the same way over and over doesn't make one more experienced, just more practiced. It only counts as experience if you learn something new. If all you're doing is reinforcing what you already have learned, that's not really experience.

But more toward the topic of the thread… As one of my college professors was fond of saying, if there are calculations, that's engineering. Everything else is opinion. So even when someone presents information as if it was fact, but with no numbers to back it up, I have no choice but to treat it as opinion. Even if I'm the one presenting the information. And that's a fact!
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Old 08-28-2014, 11:36 AM   #9
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I agree with Pro. I was trained in the sciences and unless there is data we're pretty much limited to inductive reasoning as opposed to deductive reasoning. I wanted a refresher on the difference and found a good explanation at Wikipedia - Inductive reasoning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As we don't have testing and empirical data in the travel trailer space we are confined to inductive reasoning here. One of the ways I sift through the mass of information for nuggets is simply to try and get a feel for the competence and credibility of the poster. Over time I've been able to assemble my own little unpaid Advisory Committee, completely unknown to them.

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Old 08-28-2014, 12:12 PM   #10
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2 + 2 = ????

As stated above, forums are a "potpourri" of mostly opinion....on car forums I've seen threads go on for pages about which colour is best

"Data" can a reasonable factor in making sense out of something...but it can depend on the source of the data, the interpretation of the data, how the data associates directly/indirectly to the discussion etc etc etc. A good example of this in our forum are "manufacturer suggested towing limits". The number says X (very black and white). However, the way we interpret the meaning of the numbers, how it directly relates to our use of the numbers (Is pulling a 100sqft flat wall of X weight the same as pulling a streamlined AS of X weight?....wind resistance isn't even mentioned) and what's "behind" the number (manufacturer risk vs actual capabilities) are all important and relevant.

In the end, I believe you have to have a head on your shoulders and come up with your own conclusions that are a combination of people's input that you wish to trust (empirical or otherwise), your own analytical reasoning and sometimes just some good old gut feel. Darwin awards have to be handled out for a good reason
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:25 PM   #11
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Well, if we want to get philosophical, we could consider Jean Paul Sartre's statement that " If we seek advice from others, we choose our advisor and have some idea of the course he or she will recommend."

This is commonly interpreted to mean that we find an advisor who we think will confirm the decision/conclusion we had in mind in the first place. We aren't seeking advice as much as we are seeking agreement.
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:28 PM   #12
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I look at the trends:

1. SOME kind of weight distribution and anti sway is a good thing. (whether you get a Propride, a Hensley, an Equal-I-Zer, a Reese Dual Cam, an Anderson, a Blue Ox, etc.) You can debate the kinds and types until the cows come home, but the trend is that some type is good.

2. ADEQUATE tow vehicle. Again, you can debate this a lot. But like the email going around with the guy at Home Depot who put 6000lbs of Sackrete bags into/onto his VW Jetta (used to be a Jetta....), you'll know an inadequate one when you see it. Some guys like a Chrysler 300 set up from Can Am, some guys like an F350 dually. But, whatever you do, make sure it is adequate.

3. GOOD tires. There are 100 brands out there. You'll see a few that tend to blow more than others. But maybe only hear about the few bad apples in the barrel. Whatever tires you go with, make sure you inflate them properly and keep an eye on them.

4. BALANCE your tires. However you do it, do it. The ones on the trailer turn just as many miles as the ones on the tow vehicle. If you run with the running gear unbalanced and you have an older long trailer, you will vibrate it apart. Talk to Inland Andy. He's made a living off fixing them....Personally I can't imagine why anyone would run without at least balancing the tires....but it's amazing that many tire shops don't balance tires going on a trailer unless you insist upon it....

5. JACK POINTS: What does the owner's manual say? What does reality say? Jack from something really solid, not the banana wrap.....

You get the idea. Sure guys will argue one good hitch is better than another, but it's not a case of arguing let's drink hemlock vs.'s who's 97% of the way toward towing perfection vs. 98% kind of thing. You're already near the top of the mountain at 11,000 feet to be having the discussion in the first place. Now you're arguing over who goes the last five feet to the top, when you're both in great shape.

I do see where you're coming from though. There are a few topics on here that you've touched upon that do seem to get beaten to death. But, there's only so much you can say about a tin can on top of a roller skate, so there's bound to be some repetition

Don't let the turkies get you down. Enjoy the Silver Twinkies!

See you on the road,
- Jim
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:56 PM   #13
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My experience is take the opinions of those who don't have any with a grain of salt.

And the opinions of those who absolutely love what they have with another grain of salt, because when they change they will absolutely love that even more.
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Old 08-28-2014, 03:23 PM   #14
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I take opinions with a grain of salt when

1) There is a conflict of interest,
2) The person does not know the design/development/testing details of a product, but opines as he/she does,
3) They absolutely love a product (not aware of the trade offs),
4) The opinion does not pass "Does this make sense?" test

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