Sway control - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-18-2017, 12:07 PM   #15
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Name: Charlie & Renée
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Sway control

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I agree, it does sound like a weight distribution/low tongue weight problem. However I am surprised. We have carried as many as 3 bicycles on the back of our Scamp 13 with no sway to 65 mph. We carry a full LP tank and small battery on the tongue, a 10x10 canopy and four chairs on the front bench, and a large ice chest and 5 gallons of water on the floor forward of the axle. Canned goods and tools ride in the front bench compartments. Only lightweight stuff in the dinette area and no water in the tank.



Do load yours as normal and weigh the trailer and tongue.



I can think of a couple of additional possibilities to rule out... First, what tires are you running and what pressure? In particular, are they ST tires running at or near the maximum sidewall pressure? Second, what is the condition of your axle? Any idea when it was last replaced? A worn out axle can develop alignment issues that may affect tracking.


Thanks all! Recall that the issue only arises when decelerating, not when cruising.

I will weigh the tongue after loading in the regular way. I anticipate I'll need to move my totes around. The weight on the trailer bike rack is minimal.

Tires are 14" Goodride ST's with normal psi. As for the axle, there's a 2" lift installed and it has electric brakes.
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Baker View Post
I have a Boler 17 and towing with a ford Ranger 4x4. I do have sway sometimes and considering putting sway control on. Has anyone had any experience with the electronic type like Hayes Sway Master any others. Or is the friction type just as good and a lot cheaper.

IF you NEED a sway control during normal towing conditions you have a dangerous problem you need to remedy.
A sway control only hides the problem!!
I have been towing one thing or another for close to 50 years and have never required a sway control.

I very seldom chime in but this is a problem that may cause you and your family grievous injury.

John
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Perry View Post
IF you NEED a sway control during normal towing conditions you have a dangerous problem you need to remedy.
A sway control only hides the problem!!
I have been towing one thing or another for close to 50 years and have never required a sway control.

I very seldom chime in but this is a problem that may cause you and your family grievous injury.

John
I take issue mainly with your second sentence...

While it should be applied only after proper conventions have been observed, a friction sway control is a very useful tool and a demonstrable improvement to a proper towing set up.

It would do a poor job of hiding a sway problem anyway since effectively "hiding" a problem would be de facto solving it.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:59 PM   #18
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Charlie & Renée,

There are a couple of good videos posted on this site that dramatically illustrate the effect of weight distribution on model tow and trailer combos. There is one on this thread:

Trailer sway

One very knowledgeable and experienced member had difficulties with a small (Compact) trailer after he added better stabilizer jacks on the rear, perhaps adding some 25 lbs additional.

Bikes can sway or bounce on the rack, and the connection between the rack and the trailer may have some additional play. This can amplify the impact that the bikes moving will have on the trailer.

I suggest reviewing some of the posts here and elsewhere online regarding this subject, checking if the bikes can bounce, and weighing the tongue. From there, you will have to make some decisions and try some changes.

I suggest initially focusing on the loading as you may be able to get everything under control just by doing that.

And, final counsel, don't ever decelerate! (OK, just kidding!)
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:14 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Civilguy View Post
And, final counsel, don't ever decelerate! (OK, just kidding!)
Towing my tent trailer with a Subaru wagon on a gravel road, I took a corner at speed. Noticed that the tent trailer was coming up alongside. If I had decelerated, it would have hit me on the front driver-side. Instead, I stepped on the gas and the front-wheel drive pulled vehicle and trailer into line. So, sometimes it's all kidding aside.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:56 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd View Post
I take issue mainly with your second sentence...

While it should be applied only after proper conventions have been observed, a friction sway control is a very useful tool and a demonstrable improvement to a proper towing set up.

It would do a poor job of hiding a sway problem anyway since effectively "hiding" a problem would be de facto solving it.


HIDING does not solve a dangerous underlying problem which could have catastrophic results!!

I have towed 6 horse trailer across country, stock trailers, boat trailers, 5th wheel trailers Scamps, Burros, Casitas and various trailers of all sizes,
I cannot begin to imagine how many miles I have towed in my many years on this earth.
The reason I have become inactive and just check in once in awhile is well meaning but wrong advice.

IF you use a away bar to eliminate a sway under normal driving conditions, even slowing down, could be a deadly mistake.
I saw to many needless trailer accidents while working as a Nevada Sheriff's Deputy and Highway Patrolman.

The stinger I use to tow my UTV trailer has a second small ball on it for a sway control which I used about 5 years ago when I visited Yellowstone and all of the other National parks in that area of the country.
As I remember the trip was a little over 6000 miles.
I never could tell the difference with the sway control which I used only for the first half of the trip.
IF you load your trailer properly, tires are inflated properly and your trailer is in good mechanical condition, in my many years and miles of towing experience, you do not NEED a sway control.

John
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Old 03-21-2017, 06:09 AM   #21
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Ok, when does trailer "rock" become classified as "sway"? In towing over 5,000 miles since last fall, I have noticed my Scamp wiggling around behind me, but nothing that really affected handling or made the rig feel at all unstable - 13 foot Scamp towed by long bed F-150.

In doing research online, I have found varying degrees of paranoia about "sway". Some seem to believe that any amount is catastrophe waiting to happen, others assure that minor wiggling while highway driving should be expected, and is fairly normal. They seem to indicate that as long as it is not making the driving/handling tiring and/or a "white knuckle" experience, that all is well. All videos and representations of sway show very severe cases in which there is no doubt what is happening.

I have no shower, or water heater nor a gray tank. The battery and propane are on tongue. During travel, I put my tool box and two or three full water jugs in the privacy room. Water tank usually empty. Nothing exceptionally heavy in rear, nothing hanging on back. Trailer is slightly nose down. Changes in loading do not seem to alter the handling. Axle and tires are new last spring. Tires are Carlisle STs, pressure 50# and checked each morning before traveling.

I have not actually weighed the tongue or trailer. Just wondering if a certain amount of "wiggle" in the trailer is normal. This is my first trailer towing experience, so I have little frame of reference.

Thoughts appreciated.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:01 AM   #22
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I think the idea that one should not use a sway controller just because the trailer tows well under normal conditions is short sighted. The purpose, as I understand it, is to provide a margin of safety in an unusual situation. I don't know of any reason to not use one.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:43 AM   #23
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"Rock" is typically used to describe a different kind of movement in which weight transfers back and forth between the left and right side of the axle (i.e., rotating on the long axis). A couple of Hunter owners described experiencing the condition, insisting it was not "sway" in which the rear of the trailer moves laterally back and forth (i.e., pivoting on the ball in a horizontal plane). The rocking was traced to improper tires IIRC. Hunters have a leaf spring suspension; don't know if torsion axles are as vulnerable.

As to "wiggle"- which I would use to describe low amplitude damped sway- if it's only intermittent, like when you hit a bump or a semi passes, and if it quickly dies out, then I wouldn't be overly concerned.

It wouldn't hurt to do a little testing on a rural freeway with light traffic. Try going a little faster and see if it gets worse. Try a little nudge on the steering wheel and see if a slightly greater oscillation also dies out quickly. Try topping a hill at a slightly higher speed and backing off the accelerator on the descent. Keep the brake controller lever handy just in case. You're trying to make sure you're not on the cusp of undamped sway.

If the wiggle is continuous, if it occurs often and for no discernible reason, or if any of the road tests reveal a tendency toward instability, I'd keep looking for a problem.

If everything checks out I'd install a sway bar and rest easy.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:34 AM   #24
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Thanks for the detailed response Jon. I't try some of your suggestions and see what happens. Not a lot of hills around here, but maybe I'll head north a bit to find some when the weather warms.
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Old 03-21-2017, 10:14 AM   #25
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Trailer: Oliver Elite ll, Ram 3500 diesel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
"Rock" is typically used to describe a different kind of movement in which weight transfers back and forth between the left and right side of the axle (i.e., rotating on the long axis). A couple of Hunter owners described the condition, insisting it was not "sway" in which the rear of the trailer moves laterally back and forth (i.e., pivoting on the ball in a horizontal plane). The rocking was traced to improper tires IIRC. Hunters have a leaf spring suspension; don't know if torsion axles are vulnerable.

As to "wiggle"- which I would use to describe low amplitude damped sway- if it's only intermittent, like when you hit a bump or a semi passes, and if it quickly dies out, then I wouldn't be overly concerned.

It wouldn't hurt to do a little testing on a rural freeway with light traffic. Try going a little faster and see if it gets worse. Try a little nudge on the steering wheel and see if a slightly greater oscillation also dies out quickly. Try topping a hill at a slightly higher speed and backing off the accelerator on the descent. Keep the brake controller lever handy just in case. You're trying to make sure you're not on the cusp of undamped sway.

If the wiggle is continuous, if it occurs often and for no discernible reason, or if any of the road tests reveal a tendency toward instability, I'd keep looking for a problem.

If everything checks out I'd install a sway bar and rest easy.
Great post Jon. I agree completely.

Of course all trailers are going to move around some back there, with pot holes, cross winds and steering wheel movements. It's a continuing oscillation that becomes a problem. Any inherent instability needs to be discovered and stopped, where the trailer wants to get into a repeating cycle that tends to get worse on its own. If there is none, good. A sway control is good insurance.

On my Oliver it's not so easy to install one because of the way the tongue is designed. I was nervous about it at first, but I have never been able to do anything to make it even hint at an oscillation. And since I also know how to apply the trailer brakes manually, I've decided to not run a damper.

Not saying that that is the best solution, but it's where I ended up. I had a trailer get out of control one time and it was not fun! I finally got it stopped after using up all the lanes on the freeway and having everyone behind me slow way down. In that situation, everything was fine and then suddenly it wasn't. I had no trailer brakes either (big, big mistake!, never again!) My father bought a used travel trailer and towed it a short distance home with his Cherokee. It began to sway on a downgrade, took him off the road and rolled his TV. Pretty exciting.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:20 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Perry View Post
HIDING does not solve a dangerous underlying problem which could have catastrophic results!!

I have towed 6 horse trailer across country, stock trailers, boat trailers, 5th wheel trailers Scamps, Burros, Casitas and various trailers of all sizes,
I cannot begin to imagine how many miles I have towed in my many years on this earth.
The reason I have become inactive and just check in once in awhile is well meaning but wrong advice.

IF you use a away bar to eliminate a sway under normal driving conditions, even slowing down, could be a deadly mistake.
I saw to many needless trailer accidents while working as a Nevada Sheriff's Deputy and Highway Patrolman.

The stinger I use to tow my UTV trailer has a second small ball on it for a sway control which I used about 5 years ago when I visited Yellowstone and all of the other National parks in that area of the country.
As I remember the trip was a little over 6000 miles.
I never could tell the difference with the sway control which I used only for the first half of the trip.
IF you load your trailer properly, tires are inflated properly and your trailer is in good mechanical condition, in my many years and miles of towing experience, you do not NEED a sway control.

John
All due respect.
My issue was not with your experience, it was with your statement "A sway control only hides the problem!!"

A sway control serves a much better purpose ,which is adding comfort, improved handling and security to a tow system which is properly set up to begin with.
I use a friction sway control on my RV trailer for just those reasons.

I would prefer the word "WANT" to the word "NEED".
It is clear that you can determine what you need, but you can hardly determine what I need, let alone what I want.
I won't presume to question your credentials, except to assert that mine are at least adequate to do so.
If you can't tell the difference, don't buy one.
I CAN tell the difference and the benefit clearly outweighs the paltry investment.
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Old 03-21-2017, 03:19 PM   #27
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If you feel better having a sway control have one.
I have no problem with that.
I simply do not want people new to towing to think they NEED things when they don't.
I want them to realize a danger they may be hiding with a sway control

I think the only people who may have towed more miles than my self and with different trailers of all sizes are commercial truckers.

A properly designed and loaded, mechanically sound trailer with properly inflated, sound tires does not need a sway bar.
If they really NEEDED a sway bar the manufacturer would have included one to eliminate liability.
I will add if the TV hitch height is so high it causes the front of the trailer to be elevated that may also contribute to sway.
The trailer should be as close to level as possible when towed.
I'm done!
John
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Old 03-21-2017, 03:36 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LyleB View Post
Ok, when does trailer "rock" become classified privacy
Thoughts appreciated.
If you're sure your trailer is in good mechanical condition and your comfortable with the handling of your rig while towing a sway control might be the thing for you.
How close to level is your trailer when it's being towed?

John
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