Sway Bar - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-30-2010, 10:12 AM   #1
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We're towing a 16' Casita SD with our Suburu Outback 3.0. Weight-wise, we're close to the limit, but with careful loading we're staying within the numbers. Not wanting to put gobs of weight on the tongue (running about 9% now), I'm relying on a little help from a conventional sway bar. On a recent trip we started picking up a little sway, so I tightened down on the adjusting screw. That solved the problem, but I'm wondering how much is too much? How much popping and groaning should I be hearing from the sway bar? One answer might be to start backing off until I start getting some sway, then tightening a quarter turn, but maybe there are other considerations.

Second question....what happens in the rain? Does water make the friction surface less effective? Or does it tend to swell the pad and make it more grabby? I know there are compromises with these things, but I'm not quite ready to shell out the cash for something like a Hensely.

Thanks,
Parker
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:27 AM   #2
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I have never used a sway bar, but when i did encounter sway it was because I had over loaded the trailer in the back end. I adjusted the load and then was ok.
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
How much popping and groaning should I be hearing from the sway bar?

Second question....what happens in the rain? <strike>Does water make the friction surface less effective?</strike>
Or does it tend to swell the pad and [b]make it more grabby?
I expect to hear popping and groaning from the friction anti-sway bar. I don't get too concerned about it.

What can happen in the rain is that when you go into a turn, the bar may act normally, but as you try to straighten out at the end of the turn the bar may stick at the new position and resist movement. Depending on how strong the metal in the bar is and how tightly it is secured, it may either prevent you from straightening out and the loss of steering control may cause an accident, or it may actually fold the bar in half.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:36 AM   #4
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Depending on how strong the metal in the bar is and how tightly it is secured, it may either prevent you from straightening out and the loss of steering control may cause an accident, or it may actually fold the bar in half.
Oh, that's cheery. I seem to recall references to removing them in the rain, but that didn't sound so hot in terms of removing sway protection when the roads are slicker.

Parker
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:41 AM   #5
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I expect to hear popping and groaning from the friction anti-sway bar. I don't get too concerned about it.

What can happen in the rain is that when you go into a turn, the bar may act normally, but as you try to straighten out at the end of the turn the bar may stick at the new position and resist movement. Depending on how strong the metal in the bar is and how tightly it is secured, it may either prevent you from straightening out and the loss of steering control may cause an accident, or it may actually fold the bar in half.
Actually,rain has virtually no effect on the swaybar it'self... the issue with friction sway control is that if the road surface is slippery, and the sway is too tight for conditions, you could experience a condition in which the trailer will shift to the outside of the TV's turn instead of "trailing".
IMHO...This is really only a serious concern when the road is too slippery to drive on without sway control anyway.
Otherwise friction sway control is a luxury which improves your towing experience.
Every complaint I have ever heard about friction sway control involves using it improperly, I have a nice circular saw, and it warns to keep fingers and other body parts away from the blades when using it.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Not wanting to put gobs of weight on the tongue (running about 9% now), I'm relying on a little help from a conventional sway bar. On a recent trip we started picking up a little sway, so I tightened down on the adjusting screw.
Thanks,
Parker
The sway control is a band aid made to cover up a serious, [dangerous] problem.
9% tongue weight is to little.
You need enough tongue weight to eliminate ANY sway under normal conditions without the sway bar.
Momentary sway from a passing 16 wheeler or hitting a pothole is what your sway bar is designed for.
John
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:53 PM   #7
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A properly set up trailer will still benefit with the addition of a friction sway control.
To say it is not so is about on par with saying that installing better tires on The TV is just a band-aid to hide a dangerous condition.
But Perry J is right, the sway control should NOT be used to compensate for an intentionally induced dangerous condition. If your trailer does not tow well without a friction sway control installed, fix the problem first , then add the sway control to supplement a good set up, then enjoy.
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:33 PM   #8
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I appreciate the info and the cautions. I don't normally have a sway problem, but I am aware when the Casita is trying to decide which tire track to run in where the semis have worn down the road surface. And like most, I assume, a blast of air from a semi can cause a reaction, but never to the point that oscillations don't damp right out. The sway bar does provide a noticeable improvement in these situations, though.

Parker
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:10 AM   #9
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I agree with Perry & Floyd above. Make sure your system tracks without oscillation naturally, then add a little negative feedback for extra assurance.

One problem you have is that the weight of your Casita is very close to the weight of the Suburu and maybe even exceeds it.

A second problem is your Suburu is front wheel drive, so adding tongue weight to properly balance the Casita removes front wheel normal weight needed for traction as well as steering on the Suburu.

The solution to problem one would be to increase the tow vehicle weight -- probably not practical, so you will likely just live with it.

Solution to problem two is to transfer approx 1/2 the trailer tongue weight that now rests on the rear axle of the Suburu to the trailer axle and the other half to the front axle of the Suburu using a properly sized and set up WDH (weight distributing hitch).

Once that is accomplished satisfactorily, add a bit of friction with the sway bar and you should be good to go.

For myself, I don't like fussing around and being retired use my camper a lot. So I just pull it with heavy ol' vintage Detroit iron pickup that hardly knows there's a Scamp back there. Pretty hard to get the tail to wag the dog when the dog is so much bigger than the tail! :>)
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Old 05-06-2010, 02:52 AM   #10
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Rule of thumb is 10 to 12% of trailer weight on the tongue to avoid sway.
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Old 05-06-2010, 06:31 AM   #11
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Your sway bar handle should be turned until hand tight and then backed off 1/2 a turn. That is tight enough.
And remember to disconnect before backing up.
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Old 07-04-2010, 07:32 PM   #12
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Time for a little update I guess. After working hard at minimizing extra weight, watching weight distribution as carefully as possible, and keeping tongue weight as low as we dared in light of sway concerns, we weighed everything when we got back from our last trip. We were 120 pounds over the limit for the rear axle on the Suburu, so that ended the whole adventure. There was just no way to solve the problem without leaving really important things home, like food and clothes. We traded for a Toyota Highlander with 5000 pound tow rating and 500 pound hitch limit. The Subaru was great with the 13' Scamp, but a 16' Casita is simply too heavy to keep the car within safe, legal limits.

Thanks, everyone, for your interest and advice.

Parker
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Old 07-04-2010, 11:17 PM   #13
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Sounds like a smart move! Hope we'll see you & Carol in Townsend next year & we can check out the new tow vehicle. Happy trails!
Sandra
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:35 AM   #14
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I guess I'm lucky, I've never had a sign of sway in the 2500 miles we have on our trailer without a sway bar. following the advice from the factory when we bought it last year, I planned on adding a bar if sway was ever noticed, but nothing yet.
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