Excessive Trailer Movement - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-14-2007, 12:21 PM   #1
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Hey all,
I am pulling a Hunter Compact II behind my 2002 Subaru outback wagon. I have not pulled many trailers in my lifetime, so I have little experience to quantify here, BUT:This little baby seems to want to move around quite a bit, especially up at around 60MPH. Common sense tells me to keep her around 50-55 and it is usually ok. The registration lists this trailer at only 200 pounds unloaded, so I am probably up at around 4-500 pounds all geared up.
Is this just a common occurrence for such a light trailer, and is my best defense to keep the speed down?
Love to hear from you all!
Thanks
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:17 PM   #2
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Your load 'could' be improperly distributed in the trailer.

You could have a bad axle (out of align)
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:26 PM   #3
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Hey all,
I am pulling a Hunter Compact II behind my 2002 Subaru outback wagon... This little baby seems to want to move around quite a bit, especially up at around 60MPH... The registration lists this trailer at only 200 pounds unloaded, so I am probably up at around 4-500 pounds all geared up.
Hi Mike,

I'm no expert on Compact II's, but it seems incredible to me that it would only weigh 200 lbs. Could that be possible??? I suspect that someone at the DMV made a mistake...

It might be a good idea to weigh your trailer at a truck weigh station (with the whole trailer axle at once, then each trailer wheel individually to see the evenness of the weight). Also weigh the tongue when it's at your hitch height, which should mean that your trailer is level. Ideally the tongue weight should be 10-15% of the trailer's total weight.

It does sound smart to keep your speed down to 55 mph.

best wishes,
Jeanne
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Old 08-14-2007, 03:52 PM   #4
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Is this movement up and down?
I have had the Burro go into oscillation on some roads with messed up plates. 90 across Minnesota and part of Mich.

I wasn't alone either, at a rest stop I found a trucker messing with his wheels, when I asked him what was up he said the trailer was bouncing up and down a lot. I told him it was the road and just slow down a bit and all would be well.
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Old 08-14-2007, 05:21 PM   #5
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A Compact II will weigh approximately 1200 lbs. and have a tongue weight of approximately 120 lbs. I had a similar problem when towing my Compact Jr with a Jeep Cherokee. The problem was due to worn rear shocks on the Jeep. It wasn't noticeable until I tried towing. Also make sure that the air pressure in all tires is near maximum allowed. Good luck.
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Old 08-15-2007, 08:49 AM   #6
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You might want to ensure your front suspension and steering components are tight. Some years ago I purchased a used Suburban which had some play in the tie rod ends and steering box. The trailer went into a sway, then a whip and before I got it back under control and brought it to a stop, my wife was ready to walk back to town and I spent the next fifteen minutes putting the contents of the drawers back in them. (The wife wouldn't do it!) Steering play and balance of the trailer can combine to give you a ride usually found at a kangaroo rodeo!
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Old 08-15-2007, 09:47 AM   #7
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For a fairly inexpensive fix try a sway bar first and/or a WDH ...while i have a large pickup and don't need the WDH ....towing a 16'casita i feel alot safer with the sway bar and noticed alot less sway (side to side)..... All the above recomendations are very good also.
A Sway bar is not an excuse to go fast....... just keep it down to legal speeds and you will feel alot more comfortabe and be sure the load is distributed evenly in your trailer and at the hitch
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Old 08-15-2007, 10:16 AM   #8
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I spent the next fifteen minutes putting the contents of the drawers back in them.
The last time I went into a sway, I spent more time than that getting the contents OUT of my drawers...

Yep, A sway bar has made a world of difference. I still feel "pulled" slightly when big rigs go by, but it's more of a suction to the side, and not a violent oscillation. It's like someone jumping on the hitch a bit.

I probably don't have it adjusted right, or.. thats what it's SUPPOSED to do.. I have only experience with this one..

Once it's installeed.. getting the bar on and off is less than a minute, and not difficult at all.

BTW, did you know you can tow from Bandon Oregon, over the coastal range, and stop for the nit in Rogue River.. then continue on to Dunsmuir without installing the clips that hold the sockets on the bar to to the balls of the trailer? OOPS!!!!! (Newbie boo boo... the bar stayed on all the way.. noticed the clips in the cup in the jeep and went )
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Old 08-15-2007, 10:57 AM   #9
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Before adding devices to solve a problem which may or may not exist, I would want an answer to the question Pete already raised... how is it moving? Bouncing up and down? Swaying side to side like a pendulum (yaw)? Leaning left and right as if you were turning (roll)? They all could have different causes and thus different real solutions... but you could mask any of the problems with the wrong hardware.

I'm still a little confused by the weight numbers, too.
A few hundred pounds is way to low to be the weight of the whole trailer, but very high to be the weight carried on the hitch.
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Old 08-15-2007, 11:56 PM   #10
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Before adding devices to solve a problem which may or may not exist, I would want an answer to the question Pete already raised... how is it moving? Bouncing up and down? Swaying side to side like a pendulum (yaw)? Leaning left and right as if you were turning (roll)? They all could have different causes and thus different real solutions... but you could mask any of the problems with the wrong hardware.
I'm still a little confused by the weight numbers, too.
A few hundred pounds is way to low to be the weight of the whole trailer, but very high to be the weight carried on the hitch.
Its mostly a rolling movement with a bit of yaw thrown in for good measure!! Yes, I was always really dubious about the weight. A post above says the compact II is 1200 pounds...that sounds closer to me!I figured the tongue alone weighed more than that. Since I had never even SEEN a trailer like this before the day I bought it I was sorta willing to accept the weight but always wondered....

I am learning a TON from you all and I really appreciate the feedback!
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Old 08-16-2007, 10:47 AM   #11
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Its mostly a rolling movement with a bit of yaw thrown in for good measure!!
Since rolling tends to cause yaw (extra drag on one tire pulls the trailer to one side, among other effects), it seems likely to me that the fundamental problem is in roll stability. Fix the roll, and my guess is that there won't be any yaw either.
  • A friction-type sway control device does nothing for roll - the roll motion doesn't make the bar slide in or out, so there's no motion it can control.
  • A two-bar weight-distributing hitch will react somewhat to roll, but that's not its primary purpose, and it would certainly mask rather than fixing the real problem
  • Shock absorbers damp suspension motion (that's all they do) which might help.
  • An anti-sway bar like in a motor vehicle suspension would almost certainly help, but no one adds those to trailers.
So my next question: when either side of the trailer moves up or down (opposite to the other side), is the suspension extending and compressing, or is it just [b]tire sidewall flex? If the tires are too much softer than the suspension, the tire becomes the suspension, and it's a poorly controlled one. If you've seen tractors or big-tired construction equipment try to drive around on the road at any significant speed, you've seen them bouncing around because they have no suspension and relatively soft tires.

My other question is about [b]side-to-side loading: is it reasonably even? When my Boler B1700 is loaded significantly heavier on the left side (easy to do because of the refrigerator and closet location) it starts to rock'n'roll at higher speeds. Fix the loading, and it goes away. It's a well-known problem with this model; the previous owner even warned me about it. I believe it happens because the higher load on the left side causes more drag, which pulls the trailer right, which forces the tires to a slip angle that pushes it left, where the higher load and drag effect takes over... and we're off and oscillating. The leaf-spring suspension geometry doesn't help.
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Old 08-16-2007, 01:45 PM   #12
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Since rolling tends to cause yaw (extra drag on one tire pulls the trailer to one side, among other effects), it seems likely to me that the fundamental problem is in roll stability. Fix the roll, and my guess is that there won't be any yaw either.
  • A friction-type sway control device does nothing for roll - the roll motion doesn't make the bar slide in or out, so there's no motion it can control.
  • A two-bar weight-distributing hitch will react somewhat to roll, but that's not its primary purpose, and it would certainly mask rather than fixing the real problem
  • Shock absorbers damp suspension motion (that's all they do) which might help.
  • An anti-sway bar like in a motor vehicle suspension would almost certainly help, but no one adds those to trailers.
So my next question: when either side of the trailer moves up or down (opposite to the other side), is the suspension extending and compressing, or is it just [b]tire sidewall flex? If the tires are too much softer than the suspension, the tire becomes the suspension, and it's a poorly controlled one. If you've seen tractors or big-tired construction equipment try to drive around on the road at any significant speed, you've seen them bouncing around because they have no suspension and relatively soft tires.

My other question is about [b]side-to-side loading: is it reasonably even? When my Boler B1700 is loaded significantly heavier on the left side (easy to do because of the refrigerator and closet location) it starts to rock'n'roll at higher speeds. Fix the loading, and it goes away. It's a well-known problem with this model; the previous owner even warned me about it. I believe it happens because the higher load on the left side causes more drag, which pulls the trailer right, which forces the tires to a slip angle that pushes it left, where the higher load and drag effect takes over... and we're off and oscillating. The leaf-spring suspension geometry doesn't help.
Reading this I am just about convinced that it is my load. In hindsight I have always loaded the heavy cooler ono the bed on the icebox side, and the lighter items on the lighter side of the rig. Ill try a load shift on my next trip before I add any equipmet! Its going to have to wait for a wekend though... Im stuck in Reno all weekend cooking for the Greek Festival....
YASOOO!
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Old 08-16-2007, 05:41 PM   #13
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I bought a Trillium 4500 3 weeks ago and it started swaying at 50 MPH on the way home. The battery was attached to the rear bumper. I moved it to the the tongue and that helped a bit. I then checked the tires that were almost new. They turned out to be auto tires with a one ply side wall. New trailer tires and the sway is totally eliminated even at 70 mph. I don't normally drive tha fast.
The prior owner used a sway bar when ever he used the trailer.
In my case the sway was caused by inadequate tongue weight and improper tires.
There are some that have disagagreed with me on this forum but it is my opinion that a sway bar is a coverup for a problem that should be remedied before towing.

John
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Old 08-18-2007, 12:17 AM   #14
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I pull a Scamp 16 with a 07 Outback and have had no problems with the trailer swaying or bouncing about except when I do over 60MPH and hit a bump - then I am reminded I am pulling a trailer! Not had it bounce but it will start to sway a little - not a big sway but enough to make me slow down. Staying under 60 keeps it within my comfort zone.

As others have mentioned you do need to watch how you load the trailer. I do not know what the tongue limit is on an 02 but you may be close to it so you really need to watch how you load the trailer. I know that with a full propane tank I am very close to the cars tongue limit (but no where near the hitch limit or the cars towing cap) so I only put very light weight items in the front storage areas - paper products etc. I try & keep all the heavy stuff in the middle of the trailer over the wheel area and keep it light as possible at the back as well. Making sure the trailer is riding level is another thing to watch - if its high at the hitch it may give you trouble. I carry the cooler and other heavy portable items in the back seat of the car to keep the weight out of the trailer and off the hitch.

Hope some of this helps.
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