sway bars, equalizer hitch - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-22-2008, 10:51 PM   #1
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Hi guys,
I had a Jeep and a 1996 Bigfoot. Both were totaled last August. I am sooo sad. It was a sway thing. So, now I have a Toyota Highlander and I am buying another Bigfoot. Toyota says I must get sway bars. I also want a brake controller this time and equalizer hitch. I never want to have happen what happened last August again. I am afraid I don't know too much about this and need to learn more! Anyone know where or how I can learn more? Are there schools to teach about driving trailers?

Glad to be alive! Thanks for your help,
Francine

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Old 10-22-2008, 11:43 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your experience.

One source is Camping World. They service and install what they sell.

There are 2 types of Weight Distribution Hitches:
Weight Distribution Hitch (trunion style)
Weight Distribution Hitch (round bar style)

And there are 2 types of Anti-Sway add-ons:
Dual Cam Sway Control
Friction Anti-Sway Bar

I have a Trunnion Style Weight Distribution Hitch with a Friction Anti-Sway Bar. Others I know have the other type.

They also have Brake Controllers. While my Fiber Stream already had the above items, I bought my Prodigy Brake controller and had it installed at Camping World.
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:06 AM   #3
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It was a sway thing.

I never want to have happen what happened last August again.

If not too traumatic to go over, your post begs the question - What did happen?

on the side I am in the market to buy a trailer for the first time and have been interested in sway bars (really 'anti') and weight distributing hitches/devices so I did a search for those terms here. there are a fair number of active posts in progress on those topics already with good info in them - rather than just waiting for additional replies a search may answer your questions w/ the info currently available?

your interest in a driving school/instruction for towing trailers is an excellent question I think. hopefully someone can respond about that.
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:51 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your experience.

One source is [b]Camping World. They service and install what they sell.

There are 2 types of Weight Distribution Hitches:
Weight Distribution Hitch (trunion style)
Weight Distribution Hitch (round bar style)

And there are 2 types of Anti-Sway add-ons:
Dual Cam Sway Control
Friction Anti-Sway Bar

I have a Trunnion Style Weight Distribution Hitch with a Friction Anti-Sway Bar. Others I know have the other type.

They also have Brake Controllers. While my Fiber Stream already had the above items, I bought my Prodigy Brake controller and had it installed at [b]Camping World.

Yes, I can use Camping World for the Hitch and brake controller on my car, but then how do I get the trailer to Camping World or home from where I buy it, w/o the sway bars?? It is a conundrum.
Francine
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Old 10-23-2008, 04:22 PM   #5
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Hiya Francine,
I don't know the particulars of your 'August incident' but it has been my observation that most people drive too fast. I have been driving the speed limit on the expressway and been passed like I was standing still. I have even been passed by persons towing different types of rigs, boats, etc. and don't even mention Semi-trucks.

I will always remember the news article about the WHP stopping a semi on I-90 weighing 100 tons and doing 100mph.

Just think of the kinetic energy in that rig.

It has been my experience that most places on the highways that have severe side winds are signed. If you are towing, it would be good practice to slow down when approaching one of these places. Also stay well away from semis and other traffic, if possible. Don't travel in 'wolf packs'. If you travel with 10 other cars around you, you increase your chance of an equipment failure ten-fold. And who knows how well those other guys maintain their vehicles.

Just a few hints from the ol' philosopher.


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Old 10-24-2008, 10:29 PM   #6
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Sway bars are actually part of the tow vehicle's suspension system -- If a vehicle manf uses the term, they may be referring to the tow vehicle, not the hitch gear.

Friction anti-sway bars have some drawbacks, including manufacturer's recommendations to loosen them under slippery road conditions (wet, icy or gravel).

If I wanted a safe setup that's a little bit overkill, Id get a Reese weight-distributing hitch with dual-cam anti-sway. Properly set up, it will distribute the tongue (and rear cargo) weights to the front axle and the trailer axle, putting the steering firmly back down on the ground.

Absolute overkill would be a Hensley Hitch, but they are $$$! They are an equalizing hitch that effectively moves the hitch hinge point forward like a 5W does.

If there are RV trailer driving courses, I would start by looking at sites like Trailer Life, Escapees, Good Sam, etc.
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Old 11-06-2008, 02:32 PM   #7
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I am purchasing a used Bigfoot on Saturday. He has an equalizer hitch and sway bars. The sellar said I need to remove the sway bars when backing up the trailer, that makes no sense to me. Can anyone tell me if that's true and why?
thanks, Francine
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:55 PM   #8
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I have heard similar concerns. Also a friend that tows a 17' Boler always removes his bars when climbing a steep hill, especially one (s) on gravel roads with twists n turns in it. I remember he said it had something to do with breaking some part, but I don't remember if it was the trailer frame or the EQ bars...
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Old 11-06-2008, 04:27 PM   #9
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I have heard similar concerns. Also a friend that tows a 17' Boler always removes his bars when climbing a steep hill, especially one (s) on gravel roads with twists n turns in it. I remember he said it had something to do with breaking some part, but I don't remember if it was the trailer frame or the EQ bars...

Yes, it is true. The sway bar consists of male and female sldiding bars. The male bar slides within the female bar. The ends are attached to balls and have a limited travel length. If you exceed the travel length the inner bar will break in two. If you back up to sharp and attempt to turn to sharply, they inner sliding bar will break. I am a victim of my own stupidity and experienced this early on. You MUST detach the sway bay if you are making a sharp turn, either forward or backward when maneuvering the trailer.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:07 PM   #10
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Just for the record, sway bars are part of the tow vehicle's suspension and can be front, rear or both.

We are talking about an anti-sway friction bar and they not only need to be disconnected when backing (may break the bar or may tear the ends loose), they also need to be loosened if the pavement is slippery, as in wet, icy or graveled. If one has the bar too tight under the wrong conditions, it may get you into worse trouble than without it...

If one NEEDS an anti-sway device, one has a fundamental problem that needs to be fixed -- A friction anti-sway bar can mask the problem, allowing greater speeds and worse consequences -- Experienced people have labeled them Bandaids to Cover the Problem.

Once one has a well-balanced tow setup, then one can use the friction bar for added protection, but it should be the LAST solution, not the first!

Here's the poop from DrawTite, one of the manufacturers which all have similar warnings:

"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 properly.

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."

What happens is that once enough force has been applied to the bar, it slips to a new position where an equal but opposite force is required to move it back -- That means if the trailer skews sideways on a slick surface, a turn by the tow vehicle may be required to get it back in line -- That may be hard to do next to a ditch...


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Old 11-07-2008, 09:45 PM   #11
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Just for the record, sway bars are part of the tow vehicle's suspension and can be front, rear or both.

We are talking about an anti-sway friction bar and they not only need to be disconnected when backing (may break the bar or may tear the ends loose), they also need to be loosened if the pavement is slippery, as in wet, icy or graveled. If one has the bar too tight under the wrong conditions, it may get you into worse trouble than without it...

If one NEEDS an anti-sway device, one has a fundamental problem that needs to be fixed -- A friction anti-sway bar can mask the problem, allowing greater speeds and worse consequences -- Experienced people have labeled them Bandaids to Cover the Problem.

Once one has a well-balanced tow setup, then one can use the friction bar for added protection, but it should be the LAST solution, not the first!

Here's the poop from DrawTite, one of the manufacturers which all have similar warnings:

"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 properly.

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."

What happens is that once enough force has been applied to the bar, it slips to a new position where an equal but opposite force is required to move it back -- That means if the trailer skews sideways on a slick surface, a turn by the tow vehicle may be required to get it back in line -- That may be hard to do next to a ditch...

All I know is in the 2008 Toyota Highlander Manual it said not to tow w/o sway control. I assume that meant sway control bars.
Francine
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Old 11-08-2008, 07:33 AM   #12
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aw... this would have been a great follow-up question to put in your original post here http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=32306
(mods, think they can be merged for continuity, if deemed appropriate?)

at any rate, did you get enough replies there, and from searching the board for information, to now feel more comfortable about towing, as regards the 'incident' last August? You never replied in that post to clarify exactly what had happened, what model Jeep, what size Bigfoot it was, etc.

As Pete said here and there, when people talk 'sway' they usually really mean 'anti-sway' control, and if there's a serious sway problem it needs more looking at than just putting anti-sway bars on hoping to take care of it. as far as 'sway bars' he's right too - it's just that the terminology regarding vehicles and trailers can be confusing so it makes sense to clarify what people mean despite what is said (or written in some cases),

in my reply in your other post I may have suggested I was new to towing, but really just new to FGRVs - I've towed lots of other stuff trailer-wise with trucks and such. I came across this group, thankfully, so have been reading/learning here to get a feel for what it will be like to tow a 2500# or so fiberglass trailer with my mini-van.

There is much that you can do to help prevent sway including having the trailer level, keeping it loaded properly (gear stowed in a balanced fashion, front/back & side-to-side), keeping your tongue weight at a good percentage of total weight, don't tow too big/heavy a trailer for the tow vehicles capabilities, etc. If there are factors that are 'out of whack' then anti-sway bars will just mask those bigger issues and/or make them worse. Here is some reading about 'sway' and what can cause it... http://propridehitch.com/trailer_sway/caus...ailer_sway.html along with some definitions http://propridehitch.com/trailer_sway/towi...efinitions.html
This info is from the 'ProPride' hitch website, designed by the same man that designed the 'Hensley Hitch' (Hensley as mentioned in a reply in your other post again thanks to Pete ). I'm NOT suggesting you consider buying either of these hitches whatsoever, as I too believe they are overkill for most people. The info is still very valid however and applies to anyone who tows and is concerned about 'sway' and so makes for good reading. Some sway is unavoidable (well, per Hensley and ProPride it is for a price) but it is manageable and controllable.

Anti-sway is usually 'just' for driving at speed to help keep the trailer in line so the comments about removing/disabling them when taking tight corners and backing, or in certain poor traction circumstances, are appropriate. Remember also that you don't have to USE the seller's equipment. You can get yourself what works for you. The Equal-i-zer brand is one I'm looking at that seems simpler, effective, and user friendly. I'm still checking it out but it's a WDH and anti-sway unit all-in-one and the way it's designed there is no need for removal when backing. Still you have to use caution in tight turns forward and reverse. http://www.equalizerhitch.com/ http://www.equalizerhitch.com/support/glossary.php

If you're still very concerned about the role of sway when towing with your soon-to-be-new-to-you rig I urge you to follow up more on the question you had about 'schools for driving trailers'. Investing a bit more time in advance could help you feel much more in control and confident about getting back in the towing saddle, so to speak.

Sorry for the book - hope some of the info helps.







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Old 11-08-2008, 01:22 PM   #13
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All I know is in the 2008 Toyota Highlander Manual it said not to tow w/o sway control. I assume that meant sway control bars.
That would be fine, as long as:

1. You get the weights/balances right, per a scale with everything loaded as for a real trip, not per 'paper' weights.

2. You understand the operating limitations of the anti-sway controls you will be using.


As to WDH anti-sway, I like the operation of the Dual Cam system over the friction systems because it wants to return to straight ahead.

BTW, there are really two kinds of trailer sway -- One is the momentary effect of something like a passing truck -- The other is when there is a fundamental problem like tow geometry or imbalance where trailer sway starts and is made worse by more speed -- This last is where using a friction bar can get you in real trouble.

Another point -- Some sway is ALWAYS with us -- What counts is the effect on the TV with regard to control.
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Old 11-08-2008, 07:27 PM   #14
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Francine, I merged your two threads since they are so similar.

Weight distributing hitches and sway control devices are not complicated, but there is much about them that is confusing.

Allow me to suggest that you search on both terms and read through some of the threads, and then come back here with specific questions. That will allow you to know exactly what it is that you're purchasing when you see it with your new Bigfoot.

Roger
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