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Old 02-24-2006, 11:54 PM   #1
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1958 26' Overlander
1958 22' Flying Cloud
coronado , California
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Nervous as all get out!

Hello All!
I am a newbie both to the forums and to trailers of any sort. I have always been a die hard tent camper but have recently caught the Airstream flu (worse than the bug)! Well I went and did it. I bought myself an Airstream Caravel and I am frankly shaking in my boots! I have never towed anything in my life so I have been doing lot of reading about it. I have seen quite a bit on trailer sway. It got me thinking and I know when I see a trailer being towed down the road and it is swaying back and forth I get as far away as I possibly can from what I see as impending doom! So, here I sit pondering how I will handle a situation like that if the swaying trailer is attached to me!
I suppose my question is: Is sway a common problem? How can I avoid it before I get on the road and I encounter it, how do I fix it? I will be towing the trailer behind my 2001 Ford Expedition and any help, advice or even some soothing words would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-25-2006, 12:21 AM   #2
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
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Hi, and welcome to airstream forums.

Use the Search button - try anti-sway hitches. There have been several threads about the merits of reese dual cam, equalizer, and Hensley hitches all are good alternatives.

Read the forums, enjoy and learn. There are so many smart experienced people here and all of them will be glad to help you.

Tin Lizzie
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Old 02-25-2006, 05:44 AM   #3
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Below is a link with a lot of good reading. I posted at the end of it an experience I had, or should I say, "nearly had." There are many different things which all contribute to towing sway. With the right combination and equipment, I would consider towing an enjoyable experience.

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Old 02-25-2006, 05:50 AM   #4
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Belleview , Florida
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Free, keep in mind that the more attention you pay to the balance of your rig the better you'll be in avoiding the condtions that contribute to sway. I've never towed an Airstream but have years of experience with everything from boat trailers to 50' freight trailers.
The best advice I received in my early driver training was, "look ahead and drive there." Backing is coverd in a few threads here, just begin in a large open parking lot. Use your mirrors, avoid the rookie mistake of trying to look out the windows. Make small adjustments and learn to back both ways, blind side and open side. Use the lines in the parking lot to perfect your form. When you're ready to back into a camp site get out and walk around first to have a look. Then have someone spot for you from a visble spot on the site. Go slow and move forward to correct your overcorretions. Keep your windows open and the a/c on. Your bound to sweat a bit on your first attempt.
Glen Coombe AIR #8416
1984 28' Funeral Coach
Former Rolling Showroom & PuttLab (now party bus)
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Old 02-25-2006, 06:24 AM   #5
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1994 30' Excella
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Milwaukee , Wisconsin
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Welcome to the forums and congratulations on your new Airstream. The flu you caught is chronic so this is your new lifestyle.
There is a wealth of information here on sway bars and hitches. Depending on your wallet you can outfit yourself with a very sophisticated system or opt for a more modest and serviceable unit which will fit the bill. I too had never towed but hauled around my 25' Tradewind with no problems or sway until I switched to the motor home.
Visit an Airstream dealer they have a very good video on towing Airstreams. It shows an Airstream and an SOB being towed on a test track under same conditions same tow vehicle. The SOB is swaying and bobbing all over the slalom course while the Airstream holds steady behind the tow vehicle. Very convincing.
Once again welcome, make use of these forums and you will find the info that you need.
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Old 02-25-2006, 07:29 AM   #6
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1968 24' Tradewind
Russellville , earth
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Congratulations on the new Airstream! As already mentioned here, get an appropriate weight distribution hitch and anti-sway bars and drive reasonable speeds (always remember your vehicle now weighs a WHOLE lot more and takes longer to stop). I look forward to seeing you out there using your coach.

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Old 02-25-2006, 07:56 AM   #7
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1966 22' Safari
1979 30' Argosy
Armada , Michigan
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As I am also a Expy driver with a smaller vintage unit, I hope I can give you a fair amount of advice here. In no particular order, here are my thoughts:

1. The Expedition is fine. If you Expy has a towing package you're all set, if not: Make sure and get the frame mount hitch if you don't have it, don't use the bumper hitch. Get the big electrical connection and get your trailer the matching plug. Make sure your Expy has a transmission cooler. Lastly, get the oil and fluids changed and make sure it all is in working condition.

2. Get a weight distribution hitch, the lighter spring bars will work fine, aim for the 600# ones, no more 500# will work too. You won't need a sway control bar if you have a good WD hitch. Make sure that the hitchball height is set to the proper level to keep the camper level.

3. Get the bearings on the camper repacked. Now. Don't trust the seller if they said they just did them, unless it is an RV dealer and they charged you to do it. Make sure the brakes work and make sure the exterior lights work. Visually inspect the underside for any loose belly skin. If there is, get sheet metal screws or a pop riveter (might as well get one anyways, you WILL use it) and fix it. Also, get a electronic brake controller. You can buy on line, but any Uhaul or Farm and Fleet will have them too. Prodigy is a brand people like. Get the Ford connection kit for it. Contact me if you don't know how to install one, it's easy on the Expy.

4. Get a clamp on side mirror for the driver side, at least. There are several models out there and several opinions on them.

5. Make sure your spare tire is in good shape.

6. Take it easy. The Expy can pull that camper like it's not there, but don't ever forget that it is, and DON'T SPEED. 55mph will get you there almost as fast as 70. I always go back to a post I read where a fellow said that the only times he had a blow out was when he was going 70+ MPH.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Safety relies on these things: Proper and regular maintenance, consistent inspections (always check your lights and your brakes when you head out for the day) and being mindful of what you are doing at all times.

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Old 02-25-2006, 08:05 AM   #8
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1979 30' Argosy
Armada , Michigan
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And now that I reread this thread I realize the gist of your question was on sway. Let me say several things on that:

1. In the two years we've had our unit we haven't experienced sway. I think that newer tires, a servicable axle, proper hitch height, good WD hitch and safe driving speed has all contributed to it. And proper loading of stuff inside the camper.

2. Porpoising and sway are two different things. Porpoising I have never seen anyone come up with a good solution to, that's where your coach bobs front to back and is a combination of road condition, and trailer-tow vehicle moment arm. Go to and do a search.

3. I have said this three times now and I stand by it: keep your speed reasonable and you won't have to worry about sway.

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Old 02-25-2006, 08:18 AM   #9
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1957 26' Overlander
Plymouth , Minnesota
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I have pulled many trailers in the past, some were down right dangerous. When problems started the solution that seems to work every time is to slow down! Dont stop fast, just slow down. I have worked in construction for many years and hauled many things on many trailers. I just bought an Airstream and am looking forward to pulling it.Everything I read about them (Airstreams) is positive
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Old 02-25-2006, 08:29 AM   #10
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1965 20' Globetrotter
Yakima , Washington
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Congrats on yout new to you Airstream, and welcome to the forum. Your post reminds me of when I bought my first trailer about ten years ago. What I did was to first try it out in a parking lot, then when I was comfortable with that I towed it about 45 miles to a nearby town and back. There were some small hills between the two towns and some area of higher wind. Smaller trailers do not seam to have as much sway problems in my opinion, I have only towed trailers that are twenty feet or smaller and never have had a problem with sway. I too like you stay far away from the ones I see on the road that are swaying.
Cory Harrington
AIR 7834 WBCCI 2105/VAC
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Old 02-26-2006, 12:52 PM   #11
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1958 26' Overlander
1958 22' Flying Cloud
coronado , California
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Thank you all for your wise advice! I will let you know how my first tow went.
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