Casita swaying - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-17-2018, 03:57 PM   #1
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Name: Alex
Trailer: 1999 Casita 16'
California
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Casita swaying

Hello everyone,

FINALLY we made it out on our first camping trip! It was awesome, kids loved it, BUT I am a bit concerned at periodic SWAYING of our lovely 16' Casita.
We tow with a 2017 Toyota Sienna and we have a no bathroom, 2 bunk beds Casita model, which should be pretty light. We do have functional electric brakes and they were checked and bearings repacked by professional RV mechanic before our trip. I do not believe we overloaded the trailer at all (maybe 150 lb of extra stuff), however, at speeds over 55 mph, several times, it did exhibit more sway than I expected or was comfortable with (not that I have much experience towing). I must say we probably went over 65 mph a few times, but I believe swaying occurred at as low as 50-55, so I don't think high speed is to blame, although I would be happy to know if most of you don't tow above 55? 60? 65?
We have an anti-sway bar by Reese that was included by the seller, but reading up BEFORE our trip I got a sense that most people here don't see a compelling reason to install one. However, now I am strongly considering it.

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions will be much appreciated.
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Old 09-17-2018, 04:29 PM   #2
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Knowledgeable owners consider a factory Casita a blank slate - incomplete until further refined, particularly for towing. Avoiding instability problems starts by knowing what your unit weighs: axle, tongue and total weight. From there, you can determine actual towing weight by adding the consumables. Tongue weight must be above 10 - 15% of total weight for basic stability. And when I say basic I mean basic. Beyond towing around the block, to be safe your unit must be configured for extraordinary rather than ordinary. Consider this. You come around a bend of a highway and a brief 30 MPH crosswind hits your trailer. The wind blast of a passing semi can generate the same thing. The brief side force sets up a trailer oscillation that quickly magnifies and flips your trailer which self-destructs while dragging your tow vehicle off the road. This happens with chilling regularity.

So your first job is to weigh your empty trailer. Then equip it with an anti-sway bar to preclude the oscillations you notice even in normal driving and finally load it, observing weight and balance limitations.
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Old 09-17-2018, 04:55 PM   #3
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I think the term "Sway" scares some people, without understand the meaning of the term. Any trailer is bound to move around a bit. The determining factor is how quick it settles down after external forces are removed, i.e. the truck gets past you.

It usually a good idea to weigh your trailer and tongue weight. A good balance is for tongue weight to be between 10% and 15% of the total weight. Also the general rule is 40% of the trailer weight is behind the axle and 60% in front of the axle.

Tongue weight and vs axle weight are easy to accomplish. Any truck stop can help you with it. A few $ for piece of mind can be a calming, reassuring thing.

Uncontrolled sway is the thing to worry about. ALL trailers will go into uncontrolled sway at some speed. The the trick is to keep the trailer balanced so that point is quite high. Then drive at a slow enough speed to be well below that point. It will change the more you travel. You add more gear and food, eat the food and drink the water, fill the waste tanks all changes the balance. I like check the weight and balance when I'm leaving on a trip. I happen to live in a state that leaves many of the truck scales on and nobody around so I can pull in and weight the trailer for free.
Good luck and have fun camping.
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Old 09-17-2018, 04:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen_Albers View Post
Knowledgeable owners consider a factory Casita a blank slate - incomplete until further refined, particularly for towing. Avoiding instability problems starts by knowing what your unit weighs: axle, tongue and total weight. From there, you can determine actual towing weight by adding the consumables. Tongue weight must be above 10 - 15% of total weight for basic stability. And when I say basic I mean basic. Beyond towing around the block, to be safe your unit must be configured for extraordinary rather than ordinary. Consider this. You come around a bend of a highway and a brief 30 MPH crosswind hits your trailer. The wind blast of a passing semi can generate the same thing. The brief side force sets up a trailer oscillation that quickly magnifies and flips your trailer which self-destructs while dragging your tow vehicle off the road. This happens with chilling regularity.

So your first job is to weigh your empty trailer. Then equip it with an anti-sway bar to preclude the oscillations you notice even in normal driving and finally load it, observing weight and balance limitations.



An anti-sway bar is very last thing you should consider. Make the trailer and towing safe without it.
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Old 09-17-2018, 04:58 PM   #5
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Trailer: 2003 Casita 16' SD
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Alex,

Most people have 17's and the 17 is less prone to sway. The 16's (I have one too) axle is proportionally more towards the center of the length and is more prone to sway. I put the friction antisway bar on the first year. This mitigates but doesn't completely eliminate it. Later I bought a tow vehicle that requires a WDH and that seems to have stopped sway. Careful weight distribution in the trailer to get the tongue weight up is important as well. I travel with very little water in the trailer as all that weight is in the rear and will lighten tongue weight.


I agree that no sway control add-on would be optimal but it is a challenge for the 16.
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Old 09-17-2018, 05:16 PM   #6
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The most likely cause of sway is improper weight distribution, particularly being too light at the front of the trailer. Sway can be very serious, so it's something you should address before your next trip.

When loaded for travel the tongue weight (or hitch weight) on the ball should be 10-15% of the total trailer weight with around 12% considered a good target. For example, if the total loaded weight of your trailer is 3000 pounds, the weight on the ball should be at least at least 300 pounds and around 350-375 pounds ideal.

That means you need to load up your trailer as normal and take it to a public scale. Truck stops, sand & gravel yards, feed & grain lots are possible places. Google "certified auto/truck scale." There may be a small charge for the weighing.

If you have a bathroom scale with a capacity of at least 400 pounds, you can estimate the tongue weight at home. Use a piece of plywood to protect the scale and drop the tongue jack onto the scale. Move the car out of the way and lower the tongue to the same height as when hitched and read the weight. Note that your true tongue weight (at the ball) will be a little less than the weight measured at the tongue jack because it is farther from the axle.

Once you get the weight distribution correct, you should find that sway under normal driving conditions goes away. Then you can add an anti-sway bar for an extra measure of safety when that sudden wind blast comes.
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Old 09-17-2018, 05:20 PM   #7
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Trailer: 2014 16 scamp side dinette/Rav4 V6 Tow pkg.
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I drive about 62mph tops with my 16' Scamp. I may go 65 on a 70 mph highway that is in good shape and do not change lanes unless I must. I let in all cars on to highway by timing them so I do not have to move to left, unless I have to. I have my rear/front tires up to almost max air pressure. I have my trailer tires up to max air pressure. I used to have sway the first year I started towing. After I started using the corrections, I have not been bothered by sway/wind/passing trucks, you get better with time. Good Luck. Carl
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Old 09-17-2018, 05:26 PM   #8
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The above, and place heavy items down low and over the axle, as much as possible.
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Old 09-17-2018, 05:43 PM   #9
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indeed, Casita 16's tend to be 'tongue light'. if you put the bulk of your cargo in the back of the trailer, you would have exaggerated this, greatly increasing the tendancy to oscillate.

I had an SD16, towed by a Tacoma 4x4 and could never get a hint of sway out of it, but the tacoma is a fairly sturdy tow vehicle.
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Old 09-18-2018, 06:56 AM   #10
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Trailer: Bigfoot 25RQ
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We had a Standard Casita 17 SD with no bathroom, no fresh water tank, no water heater, no water pump, and no grey or black water tanks. However, the fridge was fantastic. On our first trip it swayed like mad!

We pulled over and moved all our heavy gear, that was in the back, on the front bench. Sway was gone. We loved that Casita for five years, including three major trips out west. By placing our heavy gear up front, or closer to the front, we never had another sway event.

I won't pull any trailer over 65 mph, since the trailers we have owned only have 65 mph tire ratings.

Food for thought.

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Old 09-18-2018, 07:11 AM   #11
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I had a Trillium 4500 that acted like a balloon being pulled behind my truck. If you hit 50 mph or above the darned thing went all over the road. Very dangerous. I ended up putting on a "friction" anti sway bar and the problem was solved. For under $50 it was a tremendous improvement.
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Old 09-18-2018, 08:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Hammel View Post
I had a Trillium 4500 that acted like a balloon being pulled behind my truck. If you hit 50 mph or above the darned thing went all over the road. Very dangerous. I ended up putting on a "friction" anti sway bar and the problem was solved. For under $50 it was a tremendous improvement.
Thats really bad advice.
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Old 09-18-2018, 08:13 AM   #13
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A well designed and properly loaded trailer should not show any signs of sway. Both my Escape 19 and Escape 15B exhibit no signs of sway even at relatively high speeds of 80mph.
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Old 09-18-2018, 08:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ice-breaker View Post
A well designed and properly loaded trailer should not show any signs of sway. Both my Escape 19 and Escape 15B exhibit no signs of sway even at relatively high speeds of 80mph.
The Scamp and Casita 16's are both old designs, and both tend to run somewhat light on the tongue. Considering the typical soft rear suspensions on smaller cars of that era, it was probably intentional. I doubt there was any consideration to the higher towing speeds some consider appropriate today. Both would be improved by moving the axle just a few inches aft, as was done with the newer Casita 17.

Short a redesign, which doesn't seem forthcoming, the problem can be resolved by adjusting where you put the weight.

We carry bedding and pillows in and on the rear dinette, nothing heavy and no water. Canned goods and camp chairs go in the front compartments; awning and bicycles centered over the axle.

I agree that just adding a sway bar is a cover-up, not a solution. Fix the problem (12% tongue weight and a level hitch height), then add the sway bar.
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