Sway Bar: Opinions please! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-09-2007, 12:13 AM   #1
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I've been reading up on sway bars--there seems to be much to say on the topic and some information seems a little contradictory. I just bought a 1998 Casita SDX. I tow with a 2001 F-150 extended cab with a V8. In towing the trailer home I drove over an hour up and down in the foothills, a couple hours on the freeway, and some in-town. The roads were mostly smooth and always dry and I never drove faster than 55mph, which meant I had many vehicles, including trucks, passing me. I never felt any sway or any movement from the trailer whatsoever. In fact, I was impressed with how easily it towed. I don't have an equalizer hitch (I think that's what it's called). I did feel the Prodigy brake controller from time to time. So my question...do I need a sway bar? Do you install one even if your trailer tows nicely because if there was a serious problem it could save you or what? Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:36 AM   #2
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[quote]
I've been reading up on sway bars--there seems to be much to say on the topic and some information seems a little contradictory. I just bought a 1998 Casita SDX. I tow with a 2001 F-150 extended cab with a V8.

I have towed trailers all of my life, some up to 10,000 pounds and have never used a sway bar. If your trailer sways you have a problem that needs to be resolved. A sway bar is a bandaid for a very serious problem. Some here will disagree with me.
Sounds like you have a well balanced rig. Always remember to have minimum of 10% to 15% of your gross trailer weight on the tongue. An improperly loaded trailer with to little tongue weight is the most common cause of trailer sway.
It was 106 on my front porch today here in Bodfish, how is it down in the valley?
John.
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:03 AM   #3
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That's another thing I don't understand--how do I know how much weight is on the tongue?

Temperature-wise it was about the same down here in Hanford. I don't have a clue where Bodfish is and I know California pretty well!

Can't sleep--my daughter leaves for Air Force boot camp in just a few hours...

Quote:
I've been reading up on sway bars--there seems to be much to say on the topic and some information seems a little contradictory. I just bought a 1998 Casita SDX. I tow with a 2001 F-150 extended cab with a V8. In towing the trailer home I drove over an hour up and down in the foothills, a couple hours on the freeway, and some in-town. The roads were mostly smooth and always dry and I never drove faster than 55mph, which meant I had many vehicles, including trucks, passing me. I never felt any sway or any movement from the trailer whatsoever. In fact, I was impressed with how easily it towed. I don't have an equalizer hitch (I think that's what it's called). I did feel the Prodigy brake controller from time to time. So my question...do I need a sway bar? Do you install one even if your trailer tows nicely because if there was a serious problem it could save you or what? Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:25 AM   #4
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Hi Lisa,

Glad to hear your trip home went well. You have a very, very capable tug and I think you don't need sway control.
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:29 AM   #5
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Lisa, you weigh the tongue to get your actual tongue weight. There are several threads hear on how to do that.

There are two kinds of folks who tow travel trailers... those who have had a sway episode, and those who are about to.

If your trailer tracks well behind your truck, then you've probably got it loaded properly. You probably don't need a weight distributing hitch for a Casita on an F150 (unless it's the 17' model). Sway control is something to add after you've sorted out any issues you have; but since you don't have issues to sort out, you could safely add a friction sway control to your setup if you wanted one. You may tow for years uneventfully and never need any sway control, until that incident happens when you need it. If you have it installed when you really need it, you probably won't even notice much that you needed it. If you don't have it, you'll experience a sway episode.

Conditions favorable to inducing sway are set up by improper loading of the trailer or improper tire inflation either on the trailer or tow or both, or engineering defects in the tow vehicle or trailer or hitch; and sway can be induced by wind, passing vehicles, steep downhill descents, slippery road surfaces, equipment or tire failures, or other circumstances where the pressure forces on the tow vehicle and trailer are unequal.

Much of the contradictory information and arguments come from folks who have been fortunate enough to not yet have experienced a sway episode in their towing careers. Those of us who have tend to be a little more cautious in our approach to our towing equipment.

Roger
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:29 AM   #6
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Good luck to your daughter, and thank her for serving the nation!

There are more accurate (and complicated) ways to check tongue weight, but a fairly good, quick solution is to use a bathroom scale and a block of wood (a piece of 2x4 will do) high enough to level your egg. Put the block on the scale, lower the egg's ball hitch onto the wood block, and read your tongue weight.
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
That's another thing I don't understand--how do I know how much weight is on the tongue?

Temperature-wise it was about the same down here in Hanford. I don't have a clue where Bodfish is and I know California pretty well!

Can't sleep--my daughter leaves for Air Force boot camp in just a few hours...

Bodfish is about 2 miles from Lake Isabella.
My oldest grandson is about to go in to the Marines. It scares the hell out of me but I am very proud of him. You have a very special daughter. Good luck to both of you and give her my thanks for wanting to help protect our country.
John
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:19 AM   #8
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That's another thing I don't understand--how do I know how much weight is on the tongue?

Temperature-wise it was about the same down here in Hanford. I don't have a clue where Bodfish is and I know California pretty well!

Can't sleep--my daughter leaves for Air Force boot camp in just a few hours...
Look here
http://www.etrailer.com/faq/trailer-towing-tips.asp
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:08 PM   #9
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There are more accurate (and complicated) ways to check tongue weight, but a fairly good, quick solution is to use a bathroom scale and a block of wood (a piece of 2x4 will do) high enough to level your egg. Put the block on the scale, lower the egg's ball hitch onto the wood block, and read your tongue weight.
Not only does this work, I think it's probably the most accurate method you will readily find. Even a cheap electronic bathroom scale is likely to be more accurate in the desired weight range than the scales which weigh entire vehicles. While the best device is probably a corner weight scale as used in a set of four by an auto racing team to setup the car's chassis, the bathroom scale is the best thing a normal person will have available.

To avoid the balancing act of using a piece of lumber on end, you can use a jackstand if you have one of a suitable height. This is my trailer, with a scale set up to the right height and ready to be slid under the tongue (after it is raised) and have the coupler lowered back down onto it. These stands normally have a screw-adjustable top - I lifted the screw part out and dropped in an ordinary towing ball so the coupler will sit on it nicely.

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There's also the hydraulic scale from Sherline. It always reads the weight, unlike an electronic bathroom scale which usually requires a bit of juggling to get the trailer settled on it before it decidees to lock in a reading. Since you still have to build some support up to the right level it isn't much better in practical terms, but it sure is slick. No, not many people actually buy these - I haven't.
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Old 07-10-2007, 11:52 PM   #10
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Thanks for the info! I'm going to use my bathroom scale to weigh the tongue before our trip Saturday. And thanks for everyone's opinions on the sway bar.

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Good luck to your daughter, and thank her for serving the nation!

There are more accurate (and complicated) ways to check tongue weight, but a fairly good, quick solution is to use a bathroom scale and a block of wood (a piece of 2x4 will do) high enough to level your egg. Put the block on the scale, lower the egg's ball hitch onto the wood block, and read your tongue weight.
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