sway bar recommedation, Scamp 13 vs Casita 13 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 02-06-2009, 06:42 PM   #1
Name: Karen
Trailer: Casita 17 LD
Posts: 76
I hope to soon be towing either a Scamp 13 or a Casita 13. Scamp does not recommend an anti sway bar and Casita does, even for the 13. Any ideas on why? Casita is a bit heavier w/ 14 inch wheels...does that tend to produce more sway or is this a case the company protecting itself. I would prefer not to have to use one but will do whatever I need to in order to be safe.

I have a Ford Escape, 6 cylinder, with class II hitch. I plan on getting a brake controller and brakes with the trailer and being careful about loading (thanks to the folks on the forum or I wouldn't know anything about this at all... in this case ignorance is not bliss).

Karen M

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Old 02-06-2009, 08:25 PM   #2
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Trailer: 2005 13 ft Scamp / 2004 Honda Odyssey
Posts: 900

We tow our 13 Scamp (loaded lighter than most 13s) with a Honda Odyssey so probably have a longer wheel base than you.

We have never felt the need for a sway bar. We never drive above 65, usually 60, sometimes just 55.

Before I invested in a sway bar I would see how it goes. First I would shift weight to the front, then I would go for the sway bar.


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Old 02-07-2009, 02:55 AM   #3
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Trailer: Scamp
Posts: 3,072
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Fix the Fundamentals First!

If your rig sways or seems to be on the verge of swaying, don't add a friction anti-sway bar, fix the problem that exists -- The anti-sway bar can be a good thing to add for added protection AFTER your rig is fine-tuned in terms of weight distribution and balance based on *scale* measurements -- OR it can be a 'band-aid over gangrene', masking the problem and letting you get really deep into fundamental sway territory before it suddenly doesn't work and bites you in the butt!

There are basically three kinds of sway:

That induced by wind or passing trucks; and,

That induced by changing direction relatively quickly; and,

That induced by a combination of weight imbalance and speed.

The first is usually the one noticed by inexperienced trailer pullers, but the second and third are the ones that will put you in the ditch or opposing lanes of traffic -- The third may exist and be precipitated by the first or second, esp under slippery road conditions.

When using a friction anti-sway bar, be sure to follow manufacturer's instructions and loosen or disconnect it when driving on slippery road surfaces like rain, snow, ice or gravel. HUH? DISCONNECT it when SLIPPERY??? Yes, because it can easily make things worse, not better.



2.Trailer loading: Proper trailer loading is your first-line
defense against dangerous instability and sway. Heavy items
should be placed on the floor in front of the axle. The load
should be balanced side-to-side and secured to prevent shifting.
Tongue weight should be about 10-15 percent of gross trailer
weight for most trailers. Too low a percentage of tongue weight
can cause sway. Load the trailer heavier in front.

3. The handle (5) is an on/off device. The bolt (7) below is
for adjustment only.

4. When towing during slippery conditions such as wet, icy, or
snow-covered roads or on loose gravel, turn on/off handle (5)
counterclockwise until all tension is removed from unit. Failure
to do so could prevent tow vehicle and trailer from turning

5. Do not speed up if sway occurs. Sway increases with speed.
Do not continue to operate a swaying vehicle. Check trailer
loading, sway control adjustment, and all other equipment,
until the cause of sway has been determined and corrected.

6. Never paint or lubricate slide bar (6).

I can't empathize enough how important it is to get the actual weights of tow vehicle and trailer, all loaded, fueled, and ready for the road (because that's how we do it in the real world, not just taking so fuzzy "dry weight" figures from the manufacturers and adding estimates of the gear, food, liquids and options that we've added to both) and then setting it all up so the proper tongue weight range is reached. It's a bit of trouble in the beginning, but won't change much after that.

There's a whole bunch of information archived in the Links and Files Sections of the Yahoo Scampers Group that applies to most of our eggs, not just the Scamps -- Drawback is that one needs to be a member of Yahoo and also of the Group to access them but the good news is membership is free (I recommend NOT signing up to have posts and digests sent to your email address, rather just access the Messages Board on line if desired or ignored if also desired) -- Here're the URLs for the towing and sway resource links and files:



Lots of other good Yahoo Groups with RV information, including things like Internet by Cell Phone, Internet by Satellite, etc.

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Old 02-07-2009, 05:39 PM   #4
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Trailer: 2001 13 ft Scamp / 1993 Jeep Cherokee
Posts: 1,252

I have a 13 Scamp fully loaded with exception of a bathroom I have the couch instead. In addition, my Scamp is fully loaded with stuff, I like to be comfortable whether dry camping or connected to campground facilities.

I added an anti-sway bar several years ago. Three things prompted me to do so.

1. I always carry the fresh water tank full which in the rear under the dinette seat therefore behind the axle.

2. I had the factory add a reciever on the back of my Scamp for a bike rack and my mountain bike. This of course
also sits behind the axle.

3. Then I found myself on a freeway going down hill and picking up speed and noticed some sway. At around 60
mph the trailer will start to sway due to items, 1 & 2 above. As long as I kept my speed under about 60 mph I
was fine and I usually don't drive that fast since I don't like freeways.

Now if you don't carry the weight of the water and don't have anything heavy sitting on the rear bumper you'll be perfectly fine. I was until I added the water and bike. I decided to add an anti-sway bar rather than doing away with the water and bike.

The time I had the sway mentioned in 3 above, I was in a hurry to get home and was on a freeway. That's not my mode of traveling. I don't like freeways, I go out of my way to travel rural roads. I personally like the feel of the Scamp with the anti-sway bar. It just seems more one with the Jeep. I don't notice any bounce of the Scamp, I used to feel a tiny bit before.
Joy A. & Lily
and "Puff", too
No. Ca. Sierra Foothills
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Old 02-07-2009, 06:02 PM   #5
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
Posts: 4,523
I second what they said!

Let me tell you about the one time I encountered serious sway. I was towing a little bitty 450 lb. 4'x8' open trailer. Problem was, I had it loaded wrong. I had an 11' long steel structural part loaded in it, sticking out the back end. Yup, if I had uncoupled the trailer it would have flown off the ball by itself. Hey, I was young and inexperienced then.

So anyway, I drove like that for about 3 hours without any problem, when suddenly out of the blue, going along a level stretch of highway at 55 mph, for some odd reason that trailer started swaying violently. I took my foot off the gas and slowed down gradually, and at about 35 mph the sway stopped. I pulled over and tried to get my heart to slow down!

I never loaded that trailer, or any trailer, so poorly again. Nowadays I tow a cargo trailer daily for work. It's 15' overall. No sway, ever. I don't use any sway control (although I own an Equal-i-zer hitch that I used with my former travel trailer, a 23' stickie).

If you don't want sway control, I would say you should not need it with a 13 footer... as long as you are sure you have the weight biased toward the tongue (like they said, 10-15% of total weight should be on the tongue). Use a bathroom scale to check it. If you have a battery and propane tank on the front, chances are you will be good and would have to load quite a bit of stuff around that rear dinette to mess up the balance.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... --Ecclesiastes 3
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Old 02-13-2009, 05:52 PM   #6
Name: Karen
Trailer: Casita 17 LD
Posts: 76
Thanks so much for the input. I have located a certified scale close to me and will weigh the loaded, ready to camp trailer and tow vehicle soon after I get it this spring. I pulled two axle horse trailers for many years and never had a sway problem, but the smaller tow and single axles are new to me. And I will watch the loading.

After doing a few weekends locally, a friend and I are going Texas to South Dakota (and we are really excited about this trip!) over the summer and I was concerned about the winds across the prairie as possibly causing a sway problem. I'm thinking I will have an anti-sway bar but as Pete recommended, not use it until I'm sure the weights are right. I still wonder why one company recommends a sway bar and the other doesn't, although I'm going with the one closest to home.

To do the tongue weight, can you just put the front jack at the towing height on top of a scale? I saw a post on another forum that used a much more complicated system.

Thanks again,

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Old 02-13-2009, 06:09 PM   #7
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The more complicated system was for larger RVs on which the TW is expected to exceed the scale capacity -- Plain scale should be enough.

I get the tongue weight right there at the big scale -- Move the rig so the egg axle and jack are on and over the scale platform, but the TV axle is not -- Take a reading, then open coupler and jack up tongue until it is clear of the ball and take another reading -- Subtract the first from the second and the difference is the TW.

It's not a bad idea to weigh everything side-to-side once to see if there is any major difference that might lead to sway and/or other handling problems.

The possible reasons one manf may recommend friction anti-sway bar (presuming it is an official recommendation and not just a salesdroid's suggestion) vary and may include:

1. Sell more stuf
2. Unaware of drawbacks of bar
3. Unaware of true forms of sway, beyond passing truck
4. Make customers aware of safety
5. Previous experience with customers and marginal tow setups

We don't know why they do some of the things they do, we can merely guess. If it is a real concern to you, call them and ask.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:04 PM   #8
Name: Karen
Trailer: Casita 17 LD
Posts: 76
It is an official recommendation and I did ask. My impression was just about your list but in reverse order. They really seem like nice folks and I'm not worried about doing business with them.

After my last tent camping adventure... 5 nights, 30 MPH winds and a thunderstorm 10 hours from home (Seminole Canyon and I'd go back in a heartbeat) ... and before I decided on a fiberglass egg, I went to all the local stick built dealerships, but always came away with sort of a queasy feeling.

Anyway, I'm feeling good about my decison and looking forward to camping with a solid egg to retreat to in bad weather and I appreciate everyone willing to share their knowledge and experience.


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