Sway bars anyone? Are they useless?! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-06-2013, 09:27 PM   #1
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Sway bars anyone? Are they useless?!

Remember a couple of yrs back when I could find NO Casita within driving distance and went out and bought a sticky Starcraft with more room and for less money. Well, I rolled it on Tuesday. Sway bar was a useless hunk of junk as when the camper started swaying that sway bar didn't help one bit.
My SUV landed with tires facing heavenward, and Starcraft flipped over the car and landed in front of car on its side. All 4 sides of that camper were toast. Hoping I can get a picture on here, but if not I just want to let you all know that I will not be buying another sticky. It is nothing but sticks and thin plywood held together with thin metal.
My hubby and I crawled out the side window with only minor aches and pains. I am thanking God for the miracle of walking away from that wreck without needing hospitalization.
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Old 09-06-2013, 09:47 PM   #2
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Glad to hear you survived!

Now was the anti sway bar tight or loose? Did you have electronic breaks? How fast were you traveling? What was the weather conditions?
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:30 PM   #3
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Friction-type sway controls certainly work to absorb energy from oscillating motion and thus reduce sway, but they're just as certainly no guarantee. Any trailer will become unstable at a high enough speed, and a properly setup friction device raises the threshold speed. I prefer to ensure that the trailer is stable at any speed I will drive, without friction assistance.

Sorry to hear about the accident.
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Old 09-06-2013, 11:15 PM   #4
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My goodness how scary. Glad you were both okay even though your trailer did not fare as well.
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Old 09-07-2013, 11:40 AM   #5
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Oh Karalyn . I'm sooo sorry to hear this. You both were very lucky, an angel was riding with you...
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Old 09-07-2013, 12:56 PM   #6
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Karalyn,

Glad you both survived and no one else was injured.

When we bought our first trailer, a stick built, on our first trip, we put a generator on the rear bumper and had a little sway. I remembered that if you tap just the trailer brakes using your brake controller it will tug the trailer back into a straight line behind the tow vehicle. One of the reasons I always want a trailer with brakes and why I use the brake controller to activate just the trailer brakes when ever we leave a campground.

After that event we moved the generator inside the trailer and looked into getting an anti sway bar. We asked for advice and someone told us that you should never need one, the trailer should not sway without one but unusual emergencies can happen and you may be glad you have one someday.

I have subsequently learned that it is also easy to fail to tighten the anti sway bar and when it's loose it does nothing. Of course I have also seen people overtighten them which can bend 'stuff'.

Truly glad you're safe and that's by far the most important part of the story.
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Old 09-07-2013, 01:16 PM   #7
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As long as I watch my speed its fine but wind and weather and traffic who knows. Better to be safe
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:58 PM   #8
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The trailer was riding fine, and I was thinking about that before the crash, no swaying at all. I was maybe going 55 and just entering the left lane to pass a slow driver. I heard a honk (I assume someone in the left lane behind me - I could not see him even though I had extra mirrors so I could see everything on side and behind me). The trailer and back of car had not entered the left lane but when I heard that honk I think I panicked, turned the stearing wheel to the right a little to sharply and tried to straighten the car completely into the right lane again. Like I said, I turned that stearing wheel to the right and then a little to the left again to get the car going straight. That is when it started the sway. Yes sway bar was on tight enough, but not overly tight.
My son says I should have stepped on the gas and the trailer would have straightened out behind me by my going faster. ANYONE KNOW IT THAT WOULD WORK?? I put on the breaks instead and yes I do have prodegy brake control. Nothing was stopping the trailer from swaying. Total weight with everything in the camper probably was maybe just over 3000 lb. No way I could do anything but hang on and roll.
No more little Sticky trailers for me. Not sure if I will ever even haul another trailer of any kind, not maybe even a Casita. Fiberglass campers do sway also, but at least are not as big and bulky. I doubt I will ever get hubby to go with me pulling anything.
We were so lucky though, we crawled out of that mess without nothing more than scratches and slight bruses. We did get our dog back that was missing for 2 days. She escaped her kennel somehow, and was gone before we could crawl out of the SUV. No vacation for us this year.
Now the search begins for a another car.
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:14 PM   #9
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Probably shouldn't have hit the break pedal.. ease off the gas and gently press the break controller button to activate the trailer breaks and that should stop the swaying. I had a white knuckles moment a few weeks back and that's what stopped it for me
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Old 09-08-2013, 03:31 PM   #10
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Reaction to sway

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karalyn View Post
My son says I should have stepped on the gas and the trailer would have straightened out behind me by my going faster. ANYONE KNOW IT THAT WOULD WORK?
Yes, pulling the rig straight by accelerating can help... but leaves you going even faster, so the trailer is even less stable, so this is generally not a workable plan. I did successfully do this in the one sway incident I faced (not with the Boler), but I'm not sure it worked any better than just not touching gas or brakes, and if you end up faster and still swaying, the situation is even worse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karalyn View Post
I put on the breaks instead and yes I do have prodegy brake control.
I'm not clear on this: Karalyn, did you push the pedal to apply the tow vehicle's brakes (as well as the trailer's), or did you manually apply the trailer brakes alone with the lever on the controller?

Slowing down increases stability and thus stops sway, but once the trailer is swaying it is important how the slowing is done. Pushing back on the trailer with the braking tow vehicle makes sway worse (maybe creating worse sway despite the lower speed); pulling back with the trailer brakes reduces the sway and slows the rig down as a bonus.
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Old 09-08-2013, 03:38 PM   #11
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Stability and speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karalyn View Post
The trailer was riding fine, and I was thinking about that before the crash, no swaying at all. I was maybe going 55 and just entering the left lane to pass a slow driver. I heard a honk ...
... when I heard that honk I think I panicked, turned the stearing wheel to the right a little to sharply and tried to straighten the car completely into the right lane again. Like I said, I turned that stearing wheel to the right and then a little to the left again to get the car going straight. That is when it started the sway
In general, stability decreases with speed, so any trailer will start swaying at a high enough speed. Below that speed, the trailer can still sway if it is subject to a severe enough upset.

55 mph is a perfectly reasonable speed, and presumably the trailer would have stayed nicely in place indefinitely under normal conditions. An abruptly interrupted lane change is about the most severe manoeuver possible, but that's still fine at a low enough speed. It seems that in this case the trailer - with the loading and other conditions of the time - was stable enough to drive at 55 mph, but not enough to handle the upset at that speed.
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