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Old 06-05-2021, 09:43 AM   #1
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n/a , Minnesota
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New owner - sway issues

Just bought my first riveted travel trailer (an '84 Avion 30p). It's a tandem, claims to weigh 5840 dry, 630 at the tongue, and has a GVWR of 8550.

The deal all came together kinda spur-of-the-moment, so I had to tow it home using what I happened to be driving that day: a bone-stock '13 Silverado 1500. It's a crew cab, has a 5.3 and 6L80, and its manual claims a tow capacity of 9500 and tongue weight capacity of 800. I can't attest to those (seemingly high) numbers' accuracy, but I can say it's towed a loaded 20' flatbed weighing 7000 without issue.

The trailer came with an ancient Reese anti-sway/load distributing hitch setup. Seller said they'd towed using that on their F250 for years with zero problems. But since I didn't know how to properly set it up for the height of the new tow vehicle, I instead used my standard receiver (ball only) for the trip home.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the trailer - with water/waste tanks empty, propane at less than 50%, and minimal cargo - simply leveled the truck out, rather than make it squat. I also had no problem getting the rig moving or bringing it to a halt.

But there *was* one major problem.

As soon as I hit the highway, I discovered that the trailer wanted to push the truck around anytime I'd be doing much over 50mph. Visually, it looked OK in the mirrors, but the sensation was definitely there - you could tell the tail wanted to wag the dog. So I ended up driving the 100 miles home at 45-52mph. An awkward journey, to say the least!

Few other things of note: It was a somewhat windy day, which I know was a contributing factor. (At one point I drove through a patch of dense forest, and found the lack of wind helped considerably.) Also interesting was that I noticed almost no effect from any passing semi-trucks, which I was bracing for every time, but never ended up having any issues there.


So... here are my questions:

1) What's going on here? Or, more specifically, what might be a good method for troubleshooting this?

2) Where might I find instructions for setting up the aforementioned hitch? (It has no numbers, etc. anywhere on it that I can find, just the name "REESE" cast into it... and so far I've had no luck finding manuals for anything other than their current products.)



--Keith
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Old 06-05-2021, 10:17 AM   #2
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2015 25' Flying Cloud
Schaumburg , Illinois
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I’m certainly no expert on this but I can share with you my personal first hand experience. I don’t know about your particular hitch, but we have a 25’ flying cloud, close to the trailer weight numbers you shared, and I’m sure my tongue weight is a little heavier than you listed, and my empty weight is a couple hundred lbs higher too. You are describing a very similar observation to what I felt in the first 100 miles of a 1200 mile trip home (we bought a used 2015 trailer from a private party more than 1200 miles from us). We even had a properly setup (Equal-I-zer) WD hitch, had an F-150 at the time, but I had that same feeling you describe where the trailer will push the truck around whenever it needs to. The trailer was quite stable in the rear view mirrors. The issue (I feel) is the tow vehicle. You really need a heavier tow vehicle to get rid of that characteristic, I have already upgraded to an F-250, and it is a massive improvement in the overall stability and feeling of control when towing. I think the 3/4 ton (or heavier) class tow vehicle is your path to the towing stability you seek. There are many who tow with a 1/2 ton and are happy, I have first hand experience with both, towing the same trailer and using the same WD hitch, and the 3/4 ton is superior in stability and control. There are lots of threads in the forum about tow vehicle selection, I recommend you search them, and decide what’s best for you. Best of luck in your research.
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Old 06-05-2021, 10:44 AM   #3
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Little falls , New York
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Posts: 129
Thereís no issue at least for me in running that. Run an ancient Reese setup. Works just fine. Likely you want a 3/4 ton.

Iíd love to see some pics of your avion sometime. Family used to have a LeGrande and later a 34í basement model. Way nicer built than airstreams.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kthelen View Post
Just bought my first riveted travel trailer (an '84 Avion 30p). It's a tandem, claims to weigh 5840 dry, 630 at the tongue, and has a GVWR of 8550.

The deal all came together kinda spur-of-the-moment, so I had to tow it home using what I happened to be driving that day: a bone-stock '13 Silverado 1500. It's a crew cab, has a 5.3 and 6L80, and its manual claims a tow capacity of 9500 and tongue weight capacity of 800. I can't attest to those (seemingly high) numbers' accuracy, but I can say it's towed a loaded 20' flatbed weighing 7000 without issue.

The trailer came with an ancient Reese anti-sway/load distributing hitch setup. Seller said they'd towed using that on their F250 for years with zero problems. But since I didn't know how to properly set it up for the height of the new tow vehicle, I instead used my standard receiver (ball only) for the trip home.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the trailer - with water/waste tanks empty, propane at less than 50%, and minimal cargo - simply leveled the truck out, rather than make it squat. I also had no problem getting the rig moving or bringing it to a halt.

But there *was* one major problem.

As soon as I hit the highway, I discovered that the trailer wanted to push the truck around anytime I'd be doing much over 50mph. Visually, it looked OK in the mirrors, but the sensation was definitely there - you could tell the tail wanted to wag the dog. So I ended up driving the 100 miles home at 45-52mph. An awkward journey, to say the least!

Few other things of note: It was a somewhat windy day, which I know was a contributing factor. (At one point I drove through a patch of dense forest, and found the lack of wind helped considerably.) Also interesting was that I noticed almost no effect from any passing semi-trucks, which I was bracing for every time, but never ended up having any issues there.


So... here are my questions:

1) What's going on here? Or, more specifically, what might be a good method for troubleshooting this?

2) Where might I find instructions for setting up the aforementioned hitch? (It has no numbers, etc. anywhere on it that I can find, just the name "REESE" cast into it... and so far I've had no luck finding manuals for anything other than their current products.)



--Keith
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Old 06-05-2021, 10:46 AM   #4
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I think the only thing you have proved so far is that you can not tow that trailer with a 1/2 ton on the ball. Whatever truck you tow it with you need a good WD hitch setup for that trailer. I had an old Reese hitch that came with my trailer. Probably not quite as old as that one. I replaced it with a Reese Straight Line hitch and have been happy with the setup. A newer hitch that looks good to me is the Blue Ox. And of course the Hensley and Propride hitches.

Another thing is that the trailer needs to be level to track well. Or maybe 1" down at the front. If the tongue was a little high it would cause an effect like you report. And you need at least 10% and maybe more tongue weight.

And you will need proper tires and inflations on the TV.

And I do tow with a 3/4 ton but am not saying that is the only way. It is a good way though.
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Old 06-05-2021, 10:50 AM   #5
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It sounds like you drove home without the WD hitch? I wouldn't do that.
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Old 06-05-2021, 11:00 AM   #6
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You have a friction sway control. One end fits on the small ball to side of the big ball on the hitch head. The other fits on a small ball that is welded to the side of the A-frame. The bars with the chains are for weight distribution only. The brackets that hold the chains are, hopefully, still on the A-frame.

Cheers,

John
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Old 06-05-2021, 11:02 AM   #7
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Was the WD hitch adjusted for your truck? Too much or two little WD will cause sway. I also find that the passenger tires on some 1/2 tons are not stiff enough.
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Old 06-05-2021, 11:21 AM   #8
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You might be interested in reading my article on the exercise we did in choosing a tow vehicle for our Int'l 25 Airstream. It looks at how to figure out the numbers, dealing with sway control and weight distribution. I would also suggest spending a couple hundred bucks on a new weight distribution/anti sway system. the upgrade will be helpful and provide greater safety..

how-to-determine-if-your-tow-vehicle-is-right-for-your-trailer/
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Old 06-05-2021, 11:33 AM   #9
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My Sierra (also a 1500 5.3 w/ similar towing figures), I'm towing a smaller AS, a 20FC, keeping it under 5k, but, I can tell it's back there, and I do use a WD setup (BlueOx). I'd suggest getting a WD system that incorporates sway control in it (doesn't have to be BlueOx, there are others, too, but I do like my BlueOx).
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Old 06-05-2021, 12:01 PM   #10
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Kthelen, welcome to the forum. This is a great place for information but keep in mind you will hear all sorts of "gotta" haves and "gotta" dos. Here are some of my thoughts. I am not expert by a long shot but I do have some experience towing my Airstream and a couple of other brands.
Towing on the ball is a NO NO and you were very wise to pay attention and then keep your speed down. I am not a fan of friction bars for anti sway even though many others are and use them safely. I prefer a good WD hitch with built in sway control. Equalizer and Reese are a couple brands that do well.
Running out and getting a 3/4 ton will not answer all of your concerns. When "properly" set up, a good hitch will take care of many of the issues you mentioned. This is a complex task, as it will involve hitch settings, weights, and tires of both the trailer and TV. The key will be finding someone to help, someone who knows all the variables and someone that is not trying to sell you a particular hitch or a new vehicle. It might end up that you really do need a heavier truck and once you know this, go get a bigger TV. I tow with a Tundra but.....if I had a 30 footer I think I too would get a heavier truck. I have my 25FB lashed to my Tundra with an Equalizer hitch and have towed over 50K miles all through the western half of the country. It is rock solid and I have never experienced sway or the feeling of being pushed around. Get a good hitch and get it adjusted and dialed in and you should be fine. If you can't dial it in, then you will need to make a change.
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Old 06-05-2021, 01:47 PM   #11
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I tow a 28’ with an F150. Getting a bigger truck won’t get rid of the sway. You will just not feel it as much. You need to get an anti-sway hitch or no-sway hitch (more expensive). A no-sway hitch is what I have (Propride). Others use a variety of hitches and have had success. I went from a Blue Ox to a Propride; world of difference. I have a friend that had a similar Tow Vehicle as yours. He hated it; even with the anti-sway hitch. He tried a Blue Ox. Didn’t like. Went to a Propride and it was a world of difference. So you could spring for a bigger truck ($$$$$$) or a Propride or Hensley Hitch ($$). I have a feeling that if you try other WD anti-sway hitches you will not be satisfied with that 30’ AS and a 1/2 ton. It’s going to catch a lot of wind and push you around. But maybe someone else on the forum as a different solution with your tow vehicle.
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Old 06-05-2021, 02:00 PM   #12
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Nonsense. Towing on the ball is just fine. All depends on the equipment youíre running. Go take a look at what transporters are running. Total malarkey.


Quote:
Originally Posted by aftermath View Post
Kthelen, welcome to the forum. This is a great place for information but keep in mind you will hear all sorts of "gotta" haves and "gotta" dos. Here are some of my thoughts. I am not expert by a long shot but I do have some experience towing my Airstream and a couple of other brands.
Towing on the ball is a NO NO and you were very wise to pay attention and then keep your speed down. I am not a fan of friction bars for anti sway even though many others are and use them safely. I prefer a good WD hitch with built in sway control. Equalizer and Reese are a couple brands that do well.
Running out and getting a 3/4 ton will not answer all of your concerns. When "properly" set up, a good hitch will take care of many of the issues you mentioned. This is a complex task, as it will involve hitch settings, weights, and tires of both the trailer and TV. The key will be finding someone to help, someone who knows all the variables and someone that is not trying to sell you a particular hitch or a new vehicle. It might end up that you really do need a heavier truck and once you know this, go get a bigger TV. I tow with a Tundra but.....if I had a 30 footer I think I too would get a heavier truck. I have my 25FB lashed to my Tundra with an Equalizer hitch and have towed over 50K miles all through the western half of the country. It is rock solid and I have never experienced sway or the feeling of being pushed around. Get a good hitch and get it adjusted and dialed in and you should be fine. If you can't dial it in, then you will need to make a change.
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Old 06-05-2021, 02:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by civeng99 View Post
Nonsense. Towing on the ball is just fine. All depends on the equipment you’re running. Go take a look at what transporters are running. Total malarkey.
A weight distribution hitch is required for 1/2 tons towing more than 5,000lbs. AT least in my manual on my F150.

https://news.pickuptrucks.com/2019/0...apacities.html

In order to get the class-leading 13,200-pound towing capacity, you must select the base rear-wheel-drive XL trim SuperCrew with the 6.5-foot bed, 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, Max Trailer Tow Package and 20-inch tires. ... Without a weight distribution hitch, the F-150 is limited to a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

Every truck manufacturer, whether it is for a midsize, 1/2-ton, or heavy-duty, requires a weight-distributing hitch when using a bumper trailer hitch ball. Most mid-size and half-ton trucks require it at 5,000 pounds, while heavy-duty trucks usage can vary from 6,000 to 8,500 pounds.
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Old 06-05-2021, 02:54 PM   #14
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Agreed. I just find the blanket opinions on here like ball towing is a no no ridiculous at times. If youíre running an F350 dually itís no big deal. Ask the guy who delivers your unit to the dealer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daquenzer View Post
A weight distribution hitch is required for 1/2 tons towing more than 5,000lbs. AT least in my manual on my F150.

https://news.pickuptrucks.com/2019/0...apacities.html

In order to get the class-leading 13,200-pound towing capacity, you must select the base rear-wheel-drive XL trim SuperCrew with the 6.5-foot bed, 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, Max Trailer Tow Package and 20-inch tires. ... Without a weight distribution hitch, the F-150 is limited to a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
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Old 06-05-2021, 02:57 PM   #15
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Lots of good points in this so far, and it’s also a good representation of the wide range of views on the topic. I don’t mean to be splitting hairs here, and maybe we need the OP to clarify, but when I read (and re-read) his initial description, I don’t think he is describing sway, I think he is describing the impact of wind influencing the complete tow rig. They are different animals, sway is the tail end of the trailer moving around, and OP specifically mentioned that he saw it as stable when checking his rear view. My feedback regarding a heavier tow vehicle was centered on addressing the problem of the entire rig being pushed around (trailer plus vehicle), I have had the same experience, and in my experience a heavier tow vehicle is a significant improvement in addressing that. Also agree it’s not the only approach, but it’s the one I can offer direct experience about. I am also upgrading to a ProPride, because I want more safety margin, it just arrived today, so I don’t have any towing experience with it just yet. It’s a substantial hitch, very impressed with the assembly, and I’m confident that will give me even more stability once I get it installed and dialed in.
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Old 06-05-2021, 03:06 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by civeng99 View Post
Agreed. I just find the blanket opinions on here like ball towing is a no no ridiculous at times. If youíre running an F350 dually itís no big deal. Ask the guy who delivers your unit to the dealer.

And....I am guilty of exactly what I warned others about. Blanket statements are usually flawed as mine was. I suppose I was thinking about the regular guy out there towing a trailer with your typical half ton truck. A 350 dually is likely very stable. My Tundra in a high wind, probably not so much. I wonder if the OP drives a transporter or a 350 dually.
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Old 06-05-2021, 03:09 PM   #17
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We have the same truck and hitch

Hi:

Before you buy a bigger truck, try the Reese hitch when it is set up correctly and see how it feels.

We have virtually the same hitch, a 2014 Silverado Crew cab with same specs, and I tow a 25 ft. AS óit weighs a bit less (4400# empty), but the tow package on the Silverado has been more than adequate. We never feel sway when this is hooked up and we're traveling at highway speeds.

I took an incomplete video when the seller showed us how to set up, and here's the best shot I could find from that video. The chains are held taut, and you may need a pipe to get the latch into the correct position. You will need a mallet to slam the thing with the cotter pins onto the balls. It works for us, and it isn't the latest and greatest. Send me a private message if you need more detail. I don't have the trailer on site, so I can't show you more now.

Do you have a brake controller? That may give you more confidence as well. Good luck!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/456l8dj8gw...tch-set-up.jpg
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Old 06-05-2021, 03:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by civeng99 View Post
Agreed. I just find the blanket opinions on here like ball towing is a no no ridiculous at times. If youíre running an F350 dually itís no big deal. Ask the guy who delivers your unit to the dealer.
And I would agree if you have an F350 dually. My son has an F350 and pulled his camper on his ball and it worked just fine.
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Old 06-05-2021, 03:32 PM   #19
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Its the same deal with The latest and greatest hitch setups on here. Iíve been towing forever with an old Reese setup. Itís just fine. You just have to know your setup. Youíre not going to die in a fiery crash if you donít blow 5k on a hitch if you operate smartly.

Same with diesel heavy duty pickups. Have never had one and have no need for one.

Have family that tows a 34 footer just fine with a gasser. No fiery crash there either.

We donít all have 200 grand to spend on the latest and greatest as if spending as much money as possible is a mark of pride.

Love my old, simple, unit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aftermath View Post
And....I am guilty of exactly what I warned others about. Blanket statements are usually flawed as mine was. I suppose I was thinking about the regular guy out there towing a trailer with your typical half ton truck. A 350 dually is likely very stable. My Tundra in a high wind, probably not so much. I wonder if the OP drives a transporter or a 350 dually.
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Old 06-05-2021, 03:43 PM   #20
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I towed my previous rig, a 31í Airstream Sovereign, some 80,000 miles with essentially the same Reese towing gear you have. It is a Reese straight line.

It is pretty simple stuff. If I were you, I would clean up the hitch head, the bars and the saddles that are on your A frame. Then get a coat of paint on them. The friction bar, I believe I would replace ó just carry it into any RV or trailer parts store and get a new one.

I would bet you can find a video about it on either the E-Trailer web site, the Reese web site or You Tube.
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