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Old 01-25-2021, 01:20 AM   #1
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2021 16' Caravel
Kirkland , Washington
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Do trailers tilt backwards while traveling?

Hi all,
When dealership installed our hitch and WD, they adjusted the hitch ball rise/drop so the trailer was level, which is good. However, I think it's only level when the trailer is stationary. When the trailer is moving @ 65mph, wind puts tremendous force against the body of the trailer, mostly above the axle, This would create a force for the trailer to tilt backward.
I do not know how much does my trailer tilt, but I am a little worried as this would put the solar panel at a positive 'angle of attack', which can generate a strong lifting force that could rip the panel off roof, I think this is especially a concern on my small 16' trailer, as the panel is fairly close to the front of the body.
I am wondering if anyone has experience/data of this, like the degrees of the tilting. I guess I could try to tape a level on the floor and put a gopro next to it but I want to see if someone has done this and already has data.

Thanks!
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:22 AM   #2
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I think you may be over thinking this.....there is not much flex in a trailer chassis or the truck hitch, so if it is level, it is level. But, few roads are level for long runs. Sometimes you are going up, sometimes you are going down, always changing the position from level. If you are worried your panel will fly off, do a better job of attaching it. There are many, many miles of travel with solar panels not flying off. I am sure some panels, not attached properly, have taken flight, though.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:22 AM   #3
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Never even though about that. I have seen a lot of trailers traveling down the road. Never noticed any tilt that was not there when it was sitting still. It seems to me that it pivots around the ball when hooked up. And with the WD applied it must move both the TV height and the trailer height. I doubt if there is much tilt.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:51 AM   #4
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Well said Larry, if a bit diplomatic . . .

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Old 01-25-2021, 06:03 AM   #5
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Short answer: no
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:19 AM   #6
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Really worried?

Drop the tongue an inch, better low than high, level is best.
Our panels may blow over but not off.😂

Bob
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:25 AM   #7
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Really worried?

Drop the tongue an inch, better low than high, level is best.
Our panels may blow over but not off.😂

Bob
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:33 AM   #8
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Even with a vehicle in front and an articulating connection (the ball and coupler), wind forces are largely balanced on the center of the net exposed cross sectional area. Rotational force therefore only occurs if the trailer center of gravity is not aligned and in the case of an airstream they are within a foot or so. I estimate downward force on the axle between 40 and 120 lb and upward force on the ball 10-20 lb. Net change in level would be less than 3/16 of an inch.

To Larry's point that dynamic forces are much greater (they are), but the holding force of even one sheet metal screw plus the sealant is ten times that required to keep the panel in place because the flat panel is not very good airfoil so not much lift is generated. Rest easy.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:09 AM   #9
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I must say that has never entered my mind ... after 20 year our AS has travelled North America the solar panels are still attached - besides that I have other things to think about, like breakfast....
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:20 AM   #10
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Interesting.

Next time I go take it out, I will turn on my LevelMate Pro and keep an eye on it. Since I typically rent a FORD, they have an OFF-ROAD feature that also monitors the position of the vehicle. I can compare the readings and see what exactly is happening.

If you don't have a LevelMate Pro, get one. It is helpful but should help with your current situation.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:23 AM   #11
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Level means level. Wind force may not be as great as you think. I keep my solar panel on the ground since half the time I park in the shade and 50 feet of cable does wonders for keeping the panel in the sun.
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:07 AM   #12
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Don't forget you are pulling the trailer from the bottom with much more force then the air at the top, otherwise you would be going backwards. Also the AS is rounded at the top which might add down force.
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:14 AM   #13
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Keep it where the dealer set it. Dropping the tongue won't make any difference in the wind resistance of your solar panels but would then make (i) the trailer slope slightly downhill when you are in it while hitched; and (ii) reduce your ground clearance under trailer tongue. It will be fine where you have it. Just have any non-original panels mounted securely. Travel safe!
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:30 PM   #14
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The solar panels, if lying flat, have approximately zero lift. I have watch un-attached panels during a thunderstorm an they stayed stationary, even with all the wind. That feature contributes to the use of the 3M bonded feet and sikaflex sealant mounted panels a lot of people are using these days. Mine have stayed on 5 years and with driving tests of 80 mph.
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drbrick View Post
besides that I have other things to think about, like breakfast....
I'll second that and raise you a dinner...
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:51 PM   #16
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There is rolling distance putting upward torque on the tongue....
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:51 PM   #17
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If your rig is level front to back on level ground then you have no worries.
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Old 01-25-2021, 02:22 PM   #18
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No tilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by hovr View Post
Hi all,
When dealership installed our hitch and WD, they adjusted the hitch ball rise/drop so the trailer was level, which is good. However, I think it's only level when the trailer is stationary. When the trailer is moving @ 65mph, wind puts tremendous force against the body of the trailer, mostly above the axle, This would create a force for the trailer to tilt backward.
I do not know how much does my trailer tilt, but I am a little worried as this would put the solar panel at a positive 'angle of attack', which can generate a strong lifting force that could rip the panel off roof, I think this is especially a concern on my small 16' trailer, as the panel is fairly close to the front of the body.
I am wondering if anyone has experience/data of this, like the degrees of the tilting. I guess I could try to tape a level on the floor and put a gopro next to it but I want to see if someone has done this and already has data.

Thanks!

I am not an engineer, but I do not see how a trailer with a weight distribution hitch can tilt, relative to the tow vehicle, unless the tilt is designed into the installation.
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Old 01-25-2021, 03:00 PM   #19
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If I were to draw a cartoon, I would show the trailer tilting backwards in order to convey speed.

Real life, no.

Pat
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Old 01-25-2021, 04:38 PM   #20
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One axle test - parked & loaded, raise all stabilizers up 2 inches, remove all other leveling stuff. Than gradually take up jack post up about 2 inches. Settles on back end stabilizers. Trailer goes up in front.. that is the problem. Move some stuff forward.

slow 55 from 65
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