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Old 05-04-2021, 11:39 AM   #1
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2016 22' Sport
Palos Verdes Estates , CA
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 18
Overturned Airstream on Highway!

Well we got pulled in to a semi tractor trailer draft in an area that was particularly windy north of Vegas. Lost control of the car, trailer wheel broke off as we sailed into the median, Airstream Sport Bambi 22" 2016 flipped on its side and overturned our Mercedes ML 350 tow vehicle. Miraculously four adults and two dogs were uninjured. But boy was it scary!

So we are looking for advice from you please:

1. How do you appropriately and safely handle a swaying and fishtailing trailer?
2. We are thinking of getting a 25' Globetrotter. What SUV is tow worthy?
(need SUV for work. Can't do truck)
3. I understood that if your tow vehicle is 2,000 lbs. greater than what you are
towing, you are safely towing your trailer. True?
4. There is a lot of discussion about tongue weight but how do you weigh
tongue weight?
5. I feel that it is difficult to trust sales folks on both the trailer and tow vehicle
side. They often just want you to buy it! Thoughts on how to purchase tow
vehicle correctly?
6. Given how popular trailers, campers and motor homes are right now, where
can we find dealers with used trailers?
7. If we buy directly from owners with used trailers, where do you take them to
be checked out?
8. When towing capacity of tow vehicles are the same, does the heavier TV
make a difference in controlling sway?

Thank you in advance. Your expertise is greatly appreciated!
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Old 05-04-2021, 12:01 PM   #2
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My condolences on the loss of your camper, I'm glad no one was injured.


1. Prevent sway before it starts is best: you didn't say, were you using some sort of anti-sway/ weight-distribution hitch?

2. I would still recommend a pickup, but have a cap over the bed. If I couldn't choose a pickup, I'd be looking at something like a Suburban, but I'd still favor a truck.

3. Not necessarily: that's a rule of thumb, but, there's more to it than that. Height of vehicle, vehicle type, hitch, which trailer, loading of the trailer, tires on the vehicle, etc. etc.

4. There are scales made for measuring tongue weight, but even the Airstream manual shows how to use a bathroom scale and a piece of wood and a pipe to do such.

5. I'm not in the bigger-is-always-better camp, but, smaller is generally not-as-good. Read through pages of the Tow Vehicle sub-forum here, and you'll see a general consensus form, I believe.

6. It's a challenging market if you're shopping, I started last March and didn't find the 'right' one until November. Be prepared to buy, be prepared to shop long and hard and purchase it when you find it, no kicking tires or sleeping on it, really... But, here on this forum's classifieds is a great starting place. And, be prepared to travel a bit. Make contacts with some of the possible dealerships, let them know what you're looking for.

7. There are places that can do that, people that can, but you can learn a lot to look over for yourself. And, at least in Airstreams, I've found that most people are not hiding things, if there's a problem they'd let you know if they know about it.

8. Again, maybe, but, not necessarily. Usually, yes, a heavier vehicle will probably be more stable, but, it's possible a heavier vehicle may, for other reasons, not be as well-suited as a different one.


Good luck with your search!
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Old 05-04-2021, 12:03 PM   #3
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Wow! Very glad you're safe! You'll get plenty of good advice on your questions. Regarding sway, the trailer brake controller is your friend...you'll want to know how to reach it, and apply trailer brakes to dampen sway. A 25' will have pretty heavy tongue weight, and that will factor into payload which you'll have to mind carefully when selecting an SUV TV.

I wish you the best in your next trailer, and stay tuned for more/better advice.
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Old 05-04-2021, 12:24 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your crash and happy that everyone is okay! That sounds like a very scary situation. I'm also very interested to hear about the hitch setup you were using. Were you using weight distribution or anti-sway measures?

Personally (alert: this is my opinion) I wouldn't tow anything larger than a 23 footer with an SUV, and even a 23 footer is pushing it with most SUVs. I'm sure that there are many examples of people who do, but I'm not one of them. The 25 footers have much heavier tongue weights, and they put a significant load on the tow vehicle. As mentioned above, if you must use an SUV, then get a large, capable SUV like an Expedition or a Suburban. Even a half ton pickup truck is probably going to weigh less than a loaded 25 foot trailer. I wouldn't tow a 25 footer with my GMC half ton.

You can buy something called a Sherline tongue weight scale to get the exact weight of your trailer's tongue. That said, going to the CAT scales with your rig gives you even more information. This will show you how much your loaded trailer and tow vehicle weigh, how much weight is being transferred to your tow vehicle when you connect the trailer, and how much weight is being redistributed with your weight distribution hitch. It's a worthwhile investment for anyone who is towing a trailer.

Good luck with your search and finding your ideal rig. The hunt is part of the fun. I'd definitely take your new rig to someone who knows how to properly setup hitches and weight distribution systems.
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Old 05-04-2021, 12:37 PM   #5
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I am so sorry to hear this and glad to hear you are all ok! I highly recommend using a sway elimination hitch. There are two available, the Hensley Arrow and the Pro-Pride. I purchased a Hensley... They both perform the same way, it just comes down to Black or Orange. I sold my BlueOX WD Hitch and purchased the Hensley (Orange) due to the sales rep including $350 worth of extras. The Hensley does everything it promises. Its that good, no more white knuckle driving in heavy winds or passing trailers. No exaggeration, you cannot feel wind or passing semis. My only wish is that I had purchased it sooner!
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Old 05-04-2021, 12:42 PM   #6
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Glad the 6 of you are all fine, and sorry for the scary incident.

You might want to check in the Hitches etc. sub-forums for threads about sway control :

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f238/
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f464/

Also these search results should reveal helpful posts/threads:

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

Finally, these "Out of Control Sway" and "Rollover in Quebec" threads are good reading IMO:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f23...ay-152451.html
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f48...ec-153984.html




Good luck,
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Old 05-04-2021, 01:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for sharing your story, and glad your all alright! Lots of good advise here, and likely more comming! I have had 3 different 25's before we purchased our currant 28' FC. The 25' does have a heavy tongue weight. Only way to know what yours weighs, is to weigh it. Make sure your TV and AS are loaded up like you would be traveling, including full water. You can go to any truck scales and tell them you want 2 passes. One is with your TV on one scale and your AS on the other. Then pull up and disconnect your TV, so tongue is on one scale and AS on the other; park your TV off the scale. That's how we do it.

As for WDH, I have had 3 different hitches; Reese, EZ-Lift; EZlift bar twisted while parking, so went to Blue Ox;now on my 3rd Blue Ox with Sway Control and 4th AS. I like the Blue Ox, once you understand how it works and how to load/unload. It has contributed to saving us in emergency maneuvers 2 times over the years when having to swerve. Can't speak to Propride or Hensley personally.

25 is a great size AS, but consider the twin model for more flexibility, storage, and space in the bedroom. For TV, if you get a properly equipped 1/2T with an "actual" payload rating over 1600-1700lbs, and heavy duty tow package, you should be fine. (do not go by dealer input or specs; see the actual door sticker for actual payload!) I like the Ford Echoboost and 4x4 also; GM 6.2L also nice..payload constraints typically with Tundra or RAM limit them for towing typically...when you need 4 wheel drive you have it...most of the time you won't need it, but when you do...like sand (beach), dirt/mud/wet grass while parking...just saying...think ahead.

Your doing goo asking here...before making that emotional investment always wondering if you made the right decision...
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Old 05-04-2021, 01:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DebTaylor View Post
1. How do you appropriately and safely handle a swaying and fishtailing trailer?
2. We are thinking of getting a 25' Globetrotter. What SUV is tow worthy?
(need SUV for work. Can't do truck)
Wow, scary situation and glad you all made it out okay.

I'll only answer a few if you don't mind.

1) Best way to handle sway is before it starts. Meaning proper gear and setup is critical. When setup right, a rig is stable and will resist sway, even with external factors including excess speed, wind, trucks. It will tend to resist sway, whereas an improperly setup vehicle will amplify sway in the same conditions. Proper trailer brake bias is also key to managing such situations. Setup wrong with too little trailer brake bias and it can amplify sway. Setup right with enough trailer brake bias or "brake boost", it can instantly quell it. A good technique is to manually grab the trailer brake controller, but most probably already have their hands full in the moment.

2) Many of the full size SUVs will handle a 25' just fine. Larger trucks and SUVs have additional margin for improper setup - yet they can and will still be susceptible if not properly setup. Many have had great success with Toyota Sequoias, Ford Expedition, Cadillac Escalade, and the like. I find my Lexus LX wonderful for the job as well.
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Old 05-04-2021, 01:36 PM   #9
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Very scary. So glad you're all okay. Wow.

We have a Ram 2500 truck with a Cummins engine, crew cab. You can barely tell that we're pull our 24' trailer. I can't imagine getting blown over in it.
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Old 05-05-2021, 07:34 AM   #10
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Yes, it is certainly possible to pull a 25' safely with a large SUV.
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Old 05-05-2021, 07:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pteck View Post
A good technique is to manually grab the trailer brake controller, but most probably already have their hands full in the moment.
The one time I had significant sway (caused by running a highway speed slalom around metal beams falling off a truck in front of me), I was glad I knew not to hit the brakes but manually engage the trailer brakes to straighten things out. Then change underwear.
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Old 05-05-2021, 07:59 AM   #12
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Had previous TVs with a trailer that was prone to sway. When the sway starts hit the trailer brakes quick (not the TV brake pedal)! That will stop the sway immediately.

Glad everyone is ok. Any of the anti sway devices available will work (if adjusted properly).
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:19 AM   #13
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Glad all are okay.

Call Can-Am Rv and speak to Andy. He has outfitted thousands of vehicles to properly tow trailers and will give you accurate about information on your choice of tow vehicles. He does not sell cars and you will likely not travel that far to have your vehicle outfitted. His information is top notch in the industry.
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Old 05-05-2021, 08:35 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=DebTaylor;2490453
1. How do you appropriately and safely handle a swaying and fishtailing trailer?
[/QUOTE]

You've received a lot of good advice above about preventing sway before it starts, but that advice isn't very helpful when you are already in a sway situation and need to do something about it fast before you destroy your property or kill yourself or your family. I'll try to answer what I thought you were asking--what to do when swaying or fishtailing is actually occurring.

Let's start by understanding why a trailer sways. Sway occurs when the trailer is moving faster than the tow vehicle. To demonstrate this, draw two lines that start and end at the same place. Draw one line ruler-straight. That's the path of the tow vehicle. Draw a second line in an s-pattern. That's the path taken by the swaying trailer. Which line is longer? The s-pattern, of course. Yet both paths end up in the same place in the same amount of time because the trailer and the tow vehicle are hooked together. If the trailer taking an s-path travels further than the tow vehicle taking the straight path in the same amount of time, the trailer must be moving faster. So, the key to stopping sway once it starts is slowing the trailer relative to the tow vehicle. How do you do that? Two ways:

First, you can speed up the tow vehicle. Good theory, bad idea. Once sway starts, you have only a couple of seconds to stop it before you lose control. To stop sway by speeding up, in those precious few seconds you have to: (1) identify the problem: (2) react by stepping on the accelerator; and (3) have a powerful and responsive enough tow vehicle that it can instantly accelerate under a heavy load (the trailer) quickly enough that it closes the speed gap before the sway is unrecoverable. As a practical matter, this won't happen fast enough. As one sway expert once said, all speeding up will do is get you to the scene of the accident faster.

Second, you can slow down the trailer. How do you do that? Well, let's start with what you DON'T want to do. Whatever you do, DO NOT downshift or engine brake. All that will do is make the speed differential between the tow vehicle and the trailer worse. You'll jackknife almost immediately--game over. You can instead take your foot off the gas. Less dangerous than engine-braking the tow vehicle, but you probably won't close the gap fast enough to recover. You can apply the vehicle brake and thereby activate the trailer brake. Again, it probably won't close the speed gap fast enough and could make the sway worse if your trailer brake gain is set too low so that the tow vehicle slows faster than the trailer.

So, what's left? Apply the trailer brake and ONLY the trailer brake. Keep your foot on the accelerator, so you don't lose tow vehicle speed and apply the trailer brake so that it is the only part of the tandem slowing down. It's the fastest way to stop sway I know of, short of crashing, which also stops sway and permanently prevents it from ever happening again.

Heed the advice above. It's far better to prevent the sway from starting in the first place by having the correct anti-sway devices and using them properly. But if sway occurs despite your best prophylactic efforts, your first reaction should be to reach for the brake controller and get that trailer slowed down. Practice reaching for it whenever you go out. Know where it is and be able to find it without looking. It could save your life.
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:11 AM   #15
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JEB, very good advice. I think the military/public safety people call it “muscle memory “. There’s no substitute.
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:19 AM   #16
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What an unbelievable scary event you’ve just experienced. We are grateful to hear that you and your family all are OK.
We have a 25 FT FBT International serenity. I am not a truck person. we did find a truck that is more like a luxury SUV. Do consider it.
2020 Ram 1500 Limited Hemi
Air suspension providing a luxurious ride, and entering and exiting easy even for the most petite person.
12,050 towing capacity tows our 25Ft Airstream beautifully
1,045 tongue weight
luxury leather interior
Comparable to the most luxurious SUVs on the market
Retractable runningboards, easy entry and exit
45 inches of backseat legroom, cleanable backseat.
12 inch screen
Heated and cooling seats.
Space in consul to hide purse
All the bells and whistle’s.
Cameras talk with the Airstream cameras for full vision of the 30 feet behind vehicle.
It is easy to drive.
Looks beautiful pulling our Airstream
This is just one woman’s opinion, who never thought her favorite vehicle would be a truck.
I am so glad that you were all OK. Miracles.
I’m sure you will get lots of good advice and recommendations. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sure we will all learn from your experience.
Airstream‘s are wonderful. But “The Real Silver Lining” is the people that own them.
Safe travels everyone. Today’s a good day for a good day
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You’re close to our location if you want to check out our 2020 Ram 1500 limited Hemi -we’d be happy to met.
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:25 AM   #17
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Proactive hand on brake controller

Lots of great advice so far, in addition to the tons of good advice in the many earlier threads and posts linked in Post #6. [hot link in blue]

Quote:
Originally Posted by DebTaylor View Post
Well we got pulled in to a semi tractor trailer draft in an area that was particularly windy north of Vegas.
. . .
Whenever you see a potential sway situation developing like the above, suggest that you proactively get a free hand on the trailer brake controller, and get your "muscle memory" primed for action! [great recent term, Don, thanks]

Manually apply the trailer brakes lightly -- before you really need them -- to orient yourself and your muscles to act fast when you need it!

A conscious mind, and diligent driving skills, can usually prevent sway.

Happy Trails,
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:35 AM   #18
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Wow - truly scary situation. Glad everyone walked away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis C View Post
...I wouldn't tow anything larger than a 23 footer with an SUV, and even a 23 footer is pushing it with most SUVs. I'm sure that there are many examples of people who do, but I'm not one of them. The 25 footers have much heavier tongue weights, and they put a significant load on the tow vehicle. As mentioned above, if you must use an SUV, then get a large, capable SUV like an Expedition or a Suburban. Even a half ton pickup truck is probably going to weigh less than a loaded 25 foot trailer. I wouldn't tow a 25 footer with my GMC half ton....
Not all SUVs (or Suburbans) are the same. Even the larger ones come in various configurations.

We just bought a Suburban 2500 (3/4-ton) to pull a 25-ft Airstream. Barely felt it behind us coming home through the Blue Ridge Mts.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:52 AM   #19
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We towed our 26 footer with a SUV for a few years and had a few incidents with the trailer swaying but had no issues stopping the sway, As others have said you can tow a 25 footer with a SUV, but I think the better question is can the SUV stuo it. I have switched to a Dodge 2500 and what a difference in towing and breaking. Wish I had done it much earlier.
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Old 05-05-2021, 12:05 PM   #20
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Scary, glad you're ok !!
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