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Old 05-18-2007, 01:29 PM   #21
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Such an accident is everybodys towing nightmare. Best wishes to your folks for a speedy recovery!
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:34 PM   #22
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Unit didn't have electronic sway control. I've never heard of such a thing. It was a Reese setup with sway bar and load leveling bars.

Brakes were electric drums -- in fact, my father had their magnets replaced in Myrtle Beach before they left because they were shot. Another design flaw or poor product issue from the factory, eh?

Still, new magnets or what the Airstream dealer did for them in South Carolina may or may not be relevent since I experienced the same episode last year.

I'll keep this thread updated as we learn more. I may also post photos and/or video footage of the wrecked units. Thanks again to all.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:47 PM   #23
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So sorry to hear of your parents' accident. That's a very scary scenario.

How long were they on the road that day? Accident about 7:30 in the evening, I think you said. Where was the accident?

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Old 05-18-2007, 02:14 PM   #24
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Not sure how long they had been driving. Probably between 6 and 8 hours. Accident happened on the main highway outside Beckley, WV, on 64.

My brothers visited the accident site and said the roadway was nearly flat with a slight grade.
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:51 PM   #25
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When was the last time you father had his bearings greased?
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:54 PM   #26
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Bearings greased each and every Spring.
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:54 PM   #27
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Very sorry to read about that horrific event- Best wishes for their speedy recovery - I also wish for a very very thorough investigation which might enable all to KNOW EXACTLY what happened, sequence by sequence, so all of us can take precautions to prevent any recurrances-
I went across a two-lane highway (each side) about eight times with a 24' sob in my 1/2 T Sub- A trucker blocked traffic from the rear to give me time to fight for my life, on rt. 58 in Tehachapi CA last year. Every time I drive that spot I remember how close I came to rolling over- It was happening so fast that it seemed that it took me forever to figure out to hit the accelerator and lock up the TT brakes at the same time- Never had it happen before, and will never forget it- God Bless- Take Care-Dan
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:55 PM   #28
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The only time I have experienced something like this was about 40 years ago. My dad was pulling a SOB on the freeway down a hill. The trailer suddenly whipped side to side in increasing oscillations. He almost lost control, which could have easily resulted in a rollover down the side of the road, which was steep. I believe the problem was due to rearward loading of the trailer. The trailer had a "trunk" in the outside rear, and a closet on the inside of the rear... both of which we had loaded with stuff. From that day on we towed with the stuff relocated to the front of the trailer, and never had future problems. In 1974 my dad bought a slightly used Airstream Safari 23, which he owned for the rest of his life (until 1999). He continued to bias the load forwards, and never had trouble.

Finally, unless you actually weigh the individual trailer tires and tongue, you really have no idea what your weight distribution is.
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Old 05-18-2007, 03:39 PM   #29
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Airstream Nearly Killed My Parents

So thankful your parents are going to be okay! What a nightmare!

I sure do wish Andy would chime in on this one.



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Old 05-18-2007, 04:05 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleRadio
I hadn't thought about a cracked tongue or frame, though. A poor weld (which is completely feasible considering Airstream's QC incompetencies) could be the root cause.
I hope the insurance company gets their engineers to review it.
It really sounds like something catastrophicly wrong. You and you're parents know how to load a trailer and the trailer wasn't exhibiting unstable behavior up until the accident. The idea that you need to weight each axle before you can go camping is a bit absurd. As much as I'm a huge fan of WD hitches I think with that size truck and trailer you could probably tow just fine without it. Not that I'd want to but just pointing out this is in no way a marginal situation. This setup should tow like a dream and other than these isolated nightmare situations it appears to do just that.

We also know many people experience blowouts and locked brake drums with out loosing control. Besides you looked at the running gear after the accident and saw nothing visually wrong. It's possible something shifted and then shifted back but you've looked extensively at this area.

I really think the hitch and tongue are the only other area that would lead to this sudden and violent loss of control. Flex or separation in this area might have been instigated by the increased stress going up hill especially if there was a downshift by the transmission. Once triggered I can see where this could quickly escalate. It might also be made worse by trying to apply the trailer brakes. Anything in the frame, tongue or hitch setup, including the weight distibution would be suspect. A crack or bad weld might be "invisible" until stressed.

-Bernie
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Old 05-18-2007, 04:11 PM   #31
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Tony, I am sorry to hear what happened to your parents, and glad they survived. Do you know yet if there will be any issues with their recoveries, or is the prognosis good?
I have read your account, both of what happened to them, and what happened to you. Without seeing the coach, the symptoms sound like a sudden shift in weight to the rear, causing a negative tongue weight situation. This happened to me when I was hauling a heavy object in a UHaul two axle trailer, the object shifted to the rear of the trailer, and started dragging the truck all over the place. It is possible there may have been a lot of water changing position from the front to the back, unloading the tongue.
Is there any way at this point to check levels of fresh and waste water?
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Old 05-18-2007, 04:21 PM   #32
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Thanks for your concern (for everyone's concerns). My dad was released on Monday, my mom, this past Wednesday. Both are living with my sister for the next few weeks to ensure proper care and attention. Both are still quite battered and sore, moving slow, but in good spirits.

Not sure water or waste water shifting could've caused this accident. Like I said before, it didn't reoccur on other hills to/from Florida. Nor apparently did it happen on hills to/from Myrtle Beach for my parents.

Also, I'm not sure if the tanks ruptured or were punctured (for what it's worth). We saw waste water all thru the inside of the trailer, although the bottom of the trailer seemed intact and relatively undamaged (like the 4 tires). I'd like to post some photos of all this at some point.
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Old 05-18-2007, 04:42 PM   #33
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If everything else is tight, that is about the only thing that makes any sense. Is there any way you can weigh the tongue? It may be possible the weight is under what it is supposed to be, and that coupled with low fresh water in the front, and 75% full holding tanks, and a transverse dip or hump in the road to get everything sloshing, could have all combined to cause the problem. Kind of like links in a chain, if any one of them isn't quite identical, no issue, but that one in a thousand getting together can and often does cause disaster.
Here is a scenario, purely a "just suppose", all weight figures are pulled out of the air:
The trailer is supposed to have a tongue weight of 600 pounds, but really only has a tongue weight of 470.
The propane tanks are almost empty, leaving a tongue weight of 410.
Fresh water level is at 15%, or 8 gallons.
Grey water is at 60%, or 25 gallons.
Black water is at 75%, or 30 gallons.
water weighs roughly 8 pounds per gallon, you have a deficit of 42 gallons of fresh water in the front, further reducing the tongue weight by 40% of 336 pounds, or 134 pounds, leaving tongue weight of 336 pounds. While towing, the trailer is usually nose down a couple of degrees, unless ascending a grade, then it goes slightly nose up, causing even more weight from the water tanks to shift to the rear, say another 75 pounds of tongue weight, leaving a tongue weight of 261 pounds. 99 times out of a hundred, when this happens, nothing happens, but then maybe you hit a slight dip on the right side of the road, just when you began the ascent, causing the water to slosh right, then left, increasing the oscillation and combining with the lowered tongue weight to cause disastrous sway which would feed on itself until loss of control was inevitable.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this dataless hypothesis, and you never know, some of it may be part of what happened.
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Old 05-18-2007, 04:54 PM   #34
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I thought 2005 Classics had disk brakes?

There are physics involved here that just don't seen to match up? If the brakes locked up the trailer would not fishtail just from brake lock up. If there is sufficent weight on the hitch its actually very hard to get a trailer to fishtail. 15% weight is the suggested minimum safe weight on the tongue. Anything less could casue fish tailing according to DOT. The only time you ever see fish tailing on big rigs is when they are towing two tailers and the second is a dolly type with NO hitch weight. Wheel hop could cause fishtailing though regardless of weight distribution. But wheel hop usually occures when there is a mechanical failure in the suspension. You say the suspension was in tact tho? If your father hit the brakes and the trailer brakes failed that could cause real trouble and most anything could happen including the trailer to fishtail and push the truck around. There are some real issues here and they may not be what your parents think. Get an investigation of the wreck from a pro.

And God bless a quick recovery for your parents.
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Old 05-18-2007, 04:58 PM   #35
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What does the state patrols accident investigation show???????
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Old 05-18-2007, 05:25 PM   #36
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Best of wishes on your parents speedy recovery!!!

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Old 05-18-2007, 05:26 PM   #37
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How often did your parents pull their trailer...how many times had it been out on the road???

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Old 05-18-2007, 06:19 PM   #38
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Haven't gotten a copy of the state trooper accident report.

My parents have used this trailer at least 3 times each year since they bought it. Us kids have borrowed and used it an additional 2-3 times each year as well.
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Old 05-18-2007, 06:21 PM   #39
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hasn't been considered yet?

The Henschen axels would seem to be a good place to look. If all is as you say with two occurances with different TVs in different places, the axels loading and unloading, especially if the pair is not doing the same thing, can produce a great deal of steering. If upon examining the crash site and the tires, there is no evidence of a locked wheel (flat spots on the tires) then I'd be looking hard at the axels or shocks. A manufacturing defect in just one set of cords could go unnoticed for a long time and by some unusual set of loads and coach attitude start an oscillation that would increase in magnitude and be uncontrollable by normal means. The same would be true of a shock that was installed upside down or that had a failure in the interior valves.
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Old 05-18-2007, 06:24 PM   #40
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I had a ball joint go out on the front of my truck a couple years ago while towing my Airsteam and I totally lost control. Fortunately, I wasn't going very fast and was able to safely pull over to the roadside and stop. Just another thought...

John
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