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Old 04-27-2018, 09:27 AM   #1
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Fishtailed for first time

I have a 23' International FB towed with Yukon Denali and sway bar hitch. I pulled my AS from Southern California to Missouri and back last summer with no problems ever. Recently, I installed a receiver on the back for a rear bike rack mount. Loaded a Hollywood bike rack on the receiver with two bikes and took off for Indian Wells. Going down a slight grade (probably a little too fast), the trailer began to fishtail and had to use the brake controller to get back in control. Was kinda scary and had never occurred in the over 5,000 miles I have towed the AS. Wondering if the rack and bike weight on rear contributed to this. Insights appreciated.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:31 AM   #2
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Yes, most likely. It has long been recommended not to add anything to the rear of an Airstream trailer.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:37 AM   #3
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An anti-sway hitch such as the ProPride is a good investment in safety. I wouldn't tow without mine.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:44 AM   #4
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Yes - it did!

Any weight behind the rear axles has a negative impact on the linear stability of the trailer. It is likely that there are other issues with your rig lashup as well.

You mentioned you were going too fast. That can mean that you are uncomfortable or that the speed outpaced the capability of the rig. Speed certainly has an effect on stability.

Was the black tank full or empty?
How much does the bike rack and bikes weigh?
How far does the rack assembly extend behind the coach?
Was there significant wind at the time of the event?
What type of sway control are you using? Is it properly adjusted?
Is your coach hitched level or did the bikes shift that condition?

Note, rig stability is a combination of factors that can be improved or degraded to the point of instability. Sounds like you went too far without improving enough other factors.

Good luck with your investigation and rig tuning. Pat



Edit - the receiver hitch mounted bike racks are noted for this issue. The Airstream recommended rack attaches to the back of the trailer skin, mounts all closer to the back of the coach, and likely is lighter in weight.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:44 AM   #5
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Dump the rear bike rack ! DO NOT add weight to the rear of the axle.
They make a nice bike rack that mounts to the front A frame or you could add a front receiver to the TV as long as you don't block the lights.
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:04 AM   #6
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I had the same situation with my previous conventional TT. Bike rack with bikes loaded caused the trailer to sway. Put the bikes in the TT, no more sway...
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickParkhill View Post
I have a 23' International FB towed with Yukon Denali and sway bar hitch. I pulled my AS from Southern California to Missouri and back last summer with no problems ever. Recently, I installed a receiver on the back for a rear bike rack mount. Loaded a Hollywood bike rack on the receiver with two bikes and took off for Indian Wells. Going down a slight grade (probably a little too fast), the trailer began to fishtail and had to use the brake controller to get back in control. Was kinda scary and had never occurred in the over 5,000 miles I have towed the AS. Wondering if the rack and bike weight on rear contributed to this. Insights appreciated.
Welcome to the forum! You were lucky IMO.

Here are the leading threads on sway induced by adding a hitch and/or excessive weight to the rear bumper. They are long but worth a good read IMO.

Out of control sway: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...ay-152451.html
Quebec roll-over: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f48/...ec-153984.html
Idaho roll-over: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...ay-156615.html

The Fiamma bike rack is the only Airstream-recommended way to carry bikes on the back. Search results for relevant posts:

https://www.google.com/search?q=fiam...=airforums.com

Your owner's manual should have a warning about not adding weight greater than 70 lbs. or so to the back. We have found that even a full fresh water tank back there, without the normal load inside our FC20, will also set up the hint of a sway type oscillation.

Other threads FYI:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f464...er-174590.html
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...am-179379.html
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f142...ks-170357.html

Thanks again for your post, and apologies for all the reading linked above, however the lives you save may be your own family.

Travel safe!

Peter
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Paprika View Post
An anti-sway hitch such as the ProPride is a good investment in safety. I wouldn't tow without mine.
Even at that, it is absolutely necessary to properly load the trailer, and avoid excess weight on the back of the AS. A ProPride is a great hitch, but, IMHO, it does NOT compensate for totally bad weight distribution in the system. It merely masks the problem in that condition.

Yes, I own a ProPride, and won't go around the block without setting it up right for towing, but it is a mechanical device, and has no way of fully compensating for gross operator error...

I can see a really bad load-out in the AS causing damage or excessive stress in the system, leading to a possible sway-related accident--why push it? In my mind, I can see the possibility of a rig going out of control, perfectly in line, because it was loaded all wrong... The anvil collection on the bumper of the trailer is gonna swing the whole rig crazy-like even if the trailer is bolted to the back of the tow vehicle. Tires are not going to maintain traction in those conditions, and the ProPride/Hensley design hitches depend upon the front and rear tires of the tow vehicle and all trailer tires maintaining sufficient traction on the roadway for it to work...ditto for the need to appropriately slow down in slick conditions.
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Old 04-27-2018, 11:07 AM   #9
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Receiver on back of a Airstream is a very bad idea. Not only because of what happened to you but also rear shell frame separation
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Old 04-28-2018, 07:06 AM   #10
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It would be interesting to see actual scale numbers for the with and without setup, this way it can be demonstrated what the affect on tongue weight is. If you get the chance and interest to do so, please post the results.

As to the event itself, it would appear that you were already fairly close to the "tipping point" combined with negative tension affect of going downhill, so the trailer was pushing against the hitch (more nose up desire) it was just dancing around on the tires and once that starts...

I don't know what your normal procedures are, but before starting most decents I will bump my controller up to max, so that the trailer always pulls against the hitch with the slightest application of braking. It won't help with your weight balance setup, but during those scary moments it helps with the reaction time of reaching for the manual controller.
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Old 04-28-2018, 08:53 AM   #11
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I wouldn't either. I have a sway hitch. I'm sure the issue was mounting bike rack on rear. The rack and bikes weigh over 100LBS and that caused the problem. Need another solution for bikes.
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Old 04-28-2018, 08:57 AM   #12
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I have an old Hollywood rack that weighs about 40lbs and extends 3' past the AS rear fender. With the rack and two bikes, it's easily over 100LBS. Didn't realize it, but that is a problem! Yes, I do have sway bars and through all sorts of conditions over the past year and 6,000 miles I never experienced a problem until I put the rack and bikes on. Glad I learned this lesson without harm. thanks all for your input. Don't rear mount!
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickParkhill View Post
I have an old Hollywood rack that weighs about 40lbs and extends 3' past the AS rear fender. With the rack and two bikes, it's easily over 100LBS. Didn't realize it, but that is a problem! Yes, I do have sway bars and through all sorts of conditions over the past year and 6,000 miles I never experienced a problem until I put the rack and bikes on. Glad I learned this lesson without harm. thanks all for your input. Don't rear mount!
Aside from the safety aspect of sway, if something were to happen, you likely would have insurance issues for loading outside Mfg. recommended specs. Same thing can happen with overloading your TV should something happen. Always best to check out the specs; don't adjust outside Mfg. recommended specs; you may be on the hook without insurance coverage....I doubt any of the "experts" who may advise otherwise, would stand up in court for you should something happen...safety...my 2 cents.
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKI View Post
What type of sway control are you using? Is it properly adjusted?
What is the proper way to adjust the sway control?

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Old 04-28-2018, 10:22 AM   #15
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Could you let me know the brand name of the trailer rack that mounts on the front A-frame of an A/S? Many thanks.
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Old 04-28-2018, 10:34 AM   #16
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What is the proper way to adjust the sway control?

Attachment 309674
Tightening or loosening the lever at the front of the friction anti-sway bar. It should be loosened completely if driving in conditions that makes the road surface slippery (snow, ice, very heavy rain); or in a campground (to reduce the noise).
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Old 04-28-2018, 10:39 AM   #17
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Tightening or loosening the lever at the front of the friction anti-sway bar. It should be loosened completely if driving in conditions that makes the road surface slippery (snow, ice, very heavy rain); or in a campground (to reduce the noise).
Thanks

I've been tightening until it's tight then backing off 180 degrees. Still having issues when it's windy, maybe there is nothing one can do about the wind cept slow down or pull off.

I take it off before backing up.

Larry
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Old 04-28-2018, 10:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by devilsbox View Post
Thanks

I've been tightening until it's tight then backing off 180 degrees. Still having issues when it's windy, maybe there is nothing one can do about the wind cept slow down or pull off.

I take it off before backing up.

Larry
I wouldn't back it off at all for normal interstate operation. it is supposed to be tight in order for the friction pads to function - like brake pads. I tighten mine tightly, but not to the extent of leaning my full weight on them. If it was really windy, then I might tighten even more. If I am on back roads or in the city (less than 35 mph) I would loosen or not install them.
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Old 04-28-2018, 11:04 AM   #19
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You did the right thing by applying trailer brakes
Part of the problem is the short wheel base of the trailer and you upset the balance by adding the bikes. Your total vehicle is also partly to blame. I had the same problem with a 23 foot Award trailer that could shake my Jimmy tow vehicle completely out of control. I solved the problem by adding extra friction anti-sway. I think the soft suspension of your tow vehicle is partly to blame blame but you exasperated that situation by adding extra weight to the rear of the trailer
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Old 04-28-2018, 11:05 AM   #20
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As all the other folks are feverishly posting, lose the receiver-hitch-mounted bike rack. Have your dealer mount an Airstream-approved Fiamma bike rack and count your blessings.
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