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-   -   Anybody afraid to tow? (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238/anybody-afraid-to-tow-41988.html)

Roadsub 05-14-2008 07:24 PM

Anybody afraid to tow?
 
We have a 25' SE Safari and tow it with a Ford 250 Super Duty Crew Cab. We have an Equalizer hitch. We towed it through West Virginia to the east coast last year. Going down the big hills, the truck downshifted several times and that noise and the fear of 7000+ pounds following us scared me to death. . .especially with my two kids in the back seat!

I know the truck is more than enough to tow this trailer and I absolutely love, love, love our Airstream but I am so stressed out about the thought of towing it again that it's taking the fun out of planning our vacations.

Is the truck supposed to downshift like that going down hills??? Has anyone else experienced the (irrational) fear of towing? Any thoughts on how to alleviate this fear?

overlander63 05-14-2008 07:28 PM

The newer automatics are in fact supposed to downshift while in tow mode. This keeps the brakes from wearing, or overheating and failing when you really need them. Most people don't know, or realize, but you are supposed to go down the hill in the same gear you went up. If you went up the hill in 3rd, you should go down it in 3rd.
Back in the "good old days" when cars and trucks first started appearing on the roads, my grandfather decided to coast down the hills to save gas:blink:.

Frank's Trailer Works 05-14-2008 07:34 PM

yeh, just get over it. You have a lot of truck for your trailer and it should no problem... relax. Frankie says relax.

overlander63 05-14-2008 07:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roadsub
Has anyone else experienced the (irrational) fear of towing? Any thoughts on how to alleviate this fear?

The best way to conquer your fear is to meet it head-on. Go out and tow your trailer until you are no longer afraid. A side benefit is you will get to go camping a lot...A good thing.

craftsman 05-14-2008 07:41 PM

Just a matter of getting some experience. The first time that I ever towed anything was when my son and I drove from Baltimore to Michigan to pick up a 31" Sovereign. Driving back we were coming through the Pennsylvania mountains at night in a rain storm. There was road construction for miles and Semi's on both sides of us and we were doing 70mph. At the time I was towing with a Suburban with the 8.1 liter engine. Had to look in the mirrors once in a while to make sure it was still back there. The F250 is plenty of truck and the best way to get over the fear of towing is more towing. I confess to one fear.... dents.

ROBERT CROSS 05-14-2008 07:50 PM

Stressed Out
 
:wally: You have a very capable tow vehicle. The learning curve is different for

all of us.

You might consider a practice/learning trip, possibly mid-week when

traffic is low. Plan a route that you are comfortable with and no real

timetable or destination. We did this last year on our first trip with a new

trailer hitch. Was very helpful not having the stress of, hurry-up so we can

have some fun. A babysitter and an experienced co-pilot would also be a

good option.

MOST IMPORTANT, DON'T WORRY. You'll be a pro in no time.

juel 05-14-2008 08:04 PM

Sure it's scarey. It's good to be cautious of what's going on any time you're towing a trailer, just know that you have made good decisions about your trailer, hitch and Ford and try to calm down. Just driving the truck alone with kids in the back is no guarantee that nothing bad will happen. Try not to pass your fears on to your kids, robbing them of some precious memories. We pull a vintage 31ft Sovereign with an F-150 with no problems. Of course our trailer is much lighter than yours, but you have a much bigger tow vehicle too. I can't say that pulling a trailer is a fun time for me either. I can't back these things for beans, but I know I'm going to have fun when I get where I'm going, so I just keep trucking. Be cautious always, but being scared of "what might happen" and not knowing how your tow vehicle is supposed to perform are not good examples for your little passengers. You've come to the right place to learn what to expect from a tow vehicle, take these folks advice and go have some fun with the family. Also, try to pick roads that are trailer friendly at first, then tackle the hills.

Foiled Again 05-14-2008 08:28 PM

Practicality
 
All the advice above is good. But all of the advice in the world won't help you overcome fear. Knowledge and experience will. I was wishing for yellow upholstery the first time I towed.:huh: :ermm:

Going downhill, your trailer can start to push you, so your fear wasn't illogical. My rule, try to go with the flow of traffic, but first be responsible for your own safety. Get in the slow lane and slow down until you feel in control and comfortable. Others may feel fine, but that might be because they're too stupid to appreciate potential hazards.

Having the brakes on your trailer just a little bit "grabby" is good too. If you lock up the trailer brakes, you've got a big anchor slowing down your tow vehicle. Adjust and test them before EVERY trip.

I think you can set a very good example by showing your kids that driving with your full attention, and being a pro-active defensive driver is simply what real grown-ups do. Being nervous instead of in control is a different thing. I especially agree - leave the kids with a trusted relative for a long weekend (or 2, 3...6) and master the towing experience.

Then go Airstreaming and we'll see you down the road.

Paula

crazylev 05-14-2008 08:33 PM

Roadsub,

One thing that was not addressed and you mentioned "noise" in your post. Some of the nerve racking might be from the noise the Equilizer hitch makes from time to time while in motion.

It is a great hitch, but on many occasions it sounds as if the trailer is being bent in half. The creaking can be reduced by applying a small amount of hitch grease to the ball, parts of the bars that move when turning, etc.

I think most owners of the equilizer experinace this noise, especially when turning.

Hope this helps.

Jonathan

overlander63 05-14-2008 09:07 PM

Believe it or not, the noise is what helps control the sway, at least on our dual-cam. If you put grease on the friction points, there won't be any resistance to sway. It's that grinding, groaning creak that means it's working. I get nervous if I don't hear it.
Now, that is with a dual-cam, the Equal-I-zer may be different, but the same principles of friction to control sway still hold.

shantz 05-14-2008 09:11 PM

I concur with all of these posts and agree that more time behind the wheel will help build your confidence. Having confidence in your gear will help you through some of the anxiety.
Always perform a safety check before you depart and when stopping for rest.. Mine goes like this
1. Check all TV fluids, tire pressure, brakes ( make sure your brakes are regularly maintained by a professional mechanic) when was the last time you had your brakes checked on both the TV and AS?
2. AS tire pressure check
3. attach hitch, distro bars, sway bars. check lights on TV and AS
4. check TT brakes while moving slowly ( 10-15mph) on flat street or empty parking lot I first check the AS brakes first without the TV brakes and get them dialed in ( I agree with Paula I get mine almost to where they are sticky) make sure you have all your gear stowed so it won't shift and carry anything heavy over your axles
5. while moving use both the TT and the AS brakes together. don't go until they are right
6. when I stop for a rest or for water I perform a walk around inspection looking for any nails in tires, fluid leaks ,hanging wires under chassis of both AS and TV or debris and I recheck the hitch and distro bars and just for grins and giggles I have a habit of making sure my trailer wiring is plugged in tight to the hitch
7. I also check my trailer brakes again before departing

As everyone here mentioned you will build confidence with experience. when going downhill you can also drop your gear to 2nd and that will help slow your descent. I am sure everyone here still gets a little " heightened adrenaline" when going down steep grades. I keep my speed near traffic conditions on flat land and when going uphill. when going downhill i try to stay at or within 50mph to 60mph and no more.

elolson 05-14-2008 10:37 PM

Practice practice practice. Remember that the posted speed limit is just that, you can go as slow as you like, just use the hazards. Get the feel of your truck and trailer, that will come with experience. Maybe go find a vacant parking lot on a weekend and try a hard stop at low speed to get the feel of it. Try some backing skills. A 45 degree alley back is a classic maneuver. Don't bend up your sway attachements with a hard cut.

Find a straight stretch of road with a lot of commercial truck traffic and get used to the sway as they pass. That is normal and will help get you comfortable with your TV and rig.

thecatsandi 05-14-2008 10:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roadsub
We have a 25' SE Safari and tow it with a Ford 250 Super Duty Crew Cab. We have an Equalizer hitch. We towed it through West Virginia to the east coast last year. Going down the big hills, the truck downshifted several times and that noise and the fear of 7000+ pounds following us scared me to death. . .especially with my two kids in the back seat!

I know the truck is more than enough to tow this trailer and I absolutely love, love, love our Airstream but I am so stressed out about the thought of towing it again that it's taking the fun out of planning our vacations.

Is the truck supposed to downshift like that going down hills??? Has anyone else experienced the (irrational) fear of towing? Any thoughts on how to alleviate this fear?

Yes. If you have torque shift. I am not sure if it comes with a gas automatic. On the diesel if you step on the brake lighty and hold it the transmissision will down shift and stay there until you step on the "gas".
afraid, 10,000 lb truck an 9,000lb trailer. sometimes.

Ramp 05-14-2008 10:50 PM

hills
 
I live in the Somkey Mountains and tow with a Chevy HD 2500. One thing I don't like about the tow/haul mode is that it will downshift every time you brake on a downgrade. I like to take it out of tow /haul and down shift manualy most of the time droping one gear is enough. These trucks have ceramic brake pads that don't fade when they get hot. You could not have a safer tow vehicle.

safari 28 05-14-2008 11:04 PM

Well I am glad some people just never get over being scared. I bought our 28 from a doctor who towed it once and it sat for 3 years in his driveway. He never faced the issue and sold it for 5k under nada just so he would not have to look at it anymore. I know it is a sad story for him, but a dog eat dog world and no one said life is fair.

That being said it really is something that you get a feel for, like after 7-8 hours of heavy cross winds and semis etc, you just kinda sit back and let all the devices do the work and let the beast pull burden. At times I am amazed it all works so well. The airstream design and suspension really shine over time however.

2airishuman 05-15-2008 01:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roadsub
... Any thoughts on how to alleviate this fear?

really we need more info about you, the issues and so on...

for example WHO is driving?

is it you or are you the co pilot?

yes the new fords downshift and IF you don't like that wonderful feature, turn OFF the tow/haul mode...

really, on SHORT down slopes or short rolling OPEN hills it might be easier for some to NOT use the tow/haul mode...

besides the shifting, what other things are worrisome ?

traffic, wind, slowing down, over/under passes, parking, backing, going fast....?

if everything is connected correctly and working properly...

over TIME folks desensitize to the closeness of that BIG SILVER BLOB behind the truck.

lots of short trips and short sessions towing help, so does NOT TOWING when tired or in a rush...

anyway tell us more about you and the issues...

cheers
2air'

henw 05-15-2008 06:48 AM

I take it out of tow mode and let it coast if the hill isn't too steep. Make sure you have the trailer braking gain set so that the trailer takes care of itself.

Tom

Silvertwinkie 05-15-2008 07:19 AM

Sit back, take it easy and enjoy the ride. The 7000lbs isn't going to go anywhere if you keep your wits about you. You have a more than ample tow vehicle and a great trailer.

I will tell you this, whatever you are feeling will pass as you get more exp. We've all been there at some point. My first tow was a U-Haul on my first move. From there I went to a 17' runabout boat for several years. By the time I got to the Airstream, towing was old hat. Granted the Airstream is larger and heavier, but again, exp towing will overcome any issues you may be exp right now. :)

CanoeStream 05-15-2008 09:27 AM

You will find 4 lane interstates to be fairly reasonable with easier grades and good sight lines. Enjoy the drive! However I have towed on the very old-fashioned US-50 between Grafton, WV, and Winchester, VA. It is a tiny road with steep hills and many switchbacks. That would be a totally different experience. What route did you take?

BillTex 05-15-2008 09:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shantz
I concur with all of these posts and agree that more time behind the wheel will help build your confidence. Having confidence in your gear will help you through some of the anxiety.
Always perform a safety check before you depart and when stopping for rest.. Mine goes like this
1. Check all TV fluids, tire pressure, brakes ( make sure your brakes are regularly maintained by a professional mechanic) when was the last time you had your brakes checked on both the TV and AS?
2. AS tire pressure check
3. attach hitch, distro bars, sway bars. check lights on TV and AS
4. check TT brakes while moving slowly ( 10-15mph) on flat street or empty parking lot I first check the AS brakes first without the TV brakes and get them dialed in ( I agree with Paula I get mine almost to where they are sticky) make sure you have all your gear stowed so it won't shift and carry anything heavy over your axles
5. while moving use both the TT and the AS brakes together. don't go until they are right
6. when I stop for a rest or for water I perform a walk around inspection looking for any nails in tires, fluid leaks ,hanging wires under chassis of both AS and TV or debris and I recheck the hitch and distro bars and just for grins and giggles I have a habit of making sure my trailer wiring is plugged in tight to the hitch
7. I also check my trailer brakes again before departing

Boy...I could have wrote this. Know your equipment, check, check again. When you hit the road you will be confident everything is in good order (I would add "check lug nuts" to this list also.) There are some good pre-flight check lists floating around the forum somewhere, do a search. Make your own list-and USE IT every time you head out. This will help you feel better also about not missing anything.
As many have noted, after a few trips, you will feel much more confident. In the mean time, slow down...this is one thing you can do right now to help you relax. More reaction time is a good thing.
You have a solid setup-good thing you did not start out with a 1/2 ton-you'd have the whole rig on ebay by now!

Safe Streamin',
Bill


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