swaying compact jr. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-14-2009, 04:22 PM   #1
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I just got my 72 Compact Jr. home and the 30 mile trip was an adventure. I pull it with a 2002 GMC Sonoma so the weight should not be a problem. The trailer seems to want to wonder back and forth rapidly at any speed. It is my first camper but I am a truck driver and know this is not normal. I did notice that is has 13 inch car tires on it, or did. I just put some bias ply trailer tires on it but have not towed with it since then. I hope this fixes it but if not, any suggestions?
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Old 05-14-2009, 05:06 PM   #2
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How much hitch weight does the trailer have? I'll bet that the hitch is too light. You need at least 10 percent of the trailers weight on the tongue.

Trailer tires, instead of car tires, can help this problem. However I don't think your tires are the source of your problem.

I've never heard of it, but I wonder if a worn out rubber ride torsion axle can contribute to your problem.

For minor sway problems, a sway control bar can be of help.

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Old 05-14-2009, 05:52 PM   #3
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I've never heard of it, but I wonder if a worn out [b]rubber ride torsion axle can contribute to your problem.
Compact Jr. does not have a torsion type axle; it has leaf spring suspension.

To be garage-able, Compact Jr.s were built with a very low ground clearance... Mine was only 8" off the pavement before I "flipped" the axle mounts to raise it up a bit. Are you towing using a ball bolted into the existing step bumper? This would make the trailer grossly out-of-level, with the tongue very high, [b]inducing the kind of sway you speak of.

The trailer is supposed to be towed as nearly level (front-to-back) as possible. If you cannot achieve a perfect level, it is better to tow with the tongue slightly low, than with the tongue high at all. To achieve this, you would need to install a hitch receiver on your Sonoma with a removable ball-mount that has a raise or drop appropriate to make the trailer as level as possible when hitched up.

I had to do both (flip the axle to raise the trailer AND install a receiver to lower the hitch ball) to achieve trouble-free towing with my Compact Jr.
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:48 PM   #4
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Your tongue weight should be around 170-180 pounds on a stock Compact Jr. It's light enough that you can measure it with a bathroom scales. If it's too light , moved stored items forward from the "kitchen" area to the under bench area.

LT tires inflated to the max pressure will also help with sway.

Check the distance from the top edge of each tire to the fender. If these are not the same, you may need to remove both leaf springs and have them checked and re-arced.
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Old 05-15-2009, 11:32 AM   #5
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It seems like it would be very easy to be "tongue light" on a Compact Jr, what with all the storage right at the back, and relatively little up front.

On the upside, you should be able to have the propane tank, spare tire, AND a battery up there on the coupler triangle (if you want), with no worries about excess tongue weight (but of course, measure it).

Was the sway like what I think of as "fishtailing"? Or was it different than that?

Raya

PS Congrats on your new CJ, and on getting it home
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Old 05-15-2009, 12:41 PM   #6
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It seems like it would be very easy to be "tongue light" on a Compact Jr, what with all the storage right at the back, and relatively little up front.

On the upside, you should be able to have the propane tank, spare tire, AND a battery up there on the coupler triangle (if you want), with no worries about excess tongue weight (but of course, measure it).

Was the sway like what I think of as "fishtailing"? Or was it different than that?

Raya

PS Congrats on your new CJ, and on getting it home
On mine when I had it, I just made sure weight was at front of trailer. I had same setup as you have. Same truck also.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:27 PM   #7
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If one is experiencing 'fishtail', one is likely on the verge of some serious sway, usually due to unbalance, and should immediately do some weighing to get the tongue weight into the right range.

Applying something like a friction bar anti-sway control will likely just lead to greater potential for serious sway down the road.
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Old 05-29-2009, 08:39 PM   #8
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all for the great Ideas. I think I have found the the problame or 2 or 3 problames I should say. ok here is the listy of things I did wrong and you can all laugh at the truck driver who can't pull a little camper.hahah.
1. and the worst offence was the wrong ball. there were no markings on the camper or frame for a ball size. I have a small utility trailer that has a 1 7/8 so I assumed the same was true of that tiny little camper. WRONG!!! I am so glad I got it home without losing it.

2. I do have a rec. but it is only a class 2 and there are no drops for the ball mount larger than 2 1/2. with the camper on the truck it looks like to be level I need at least a 3 1/2 to 4 inch drop.



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if you can see from the pic that is how it sits now. way to high in the front.

3. and yes the nose is verry light, I can lift it with 2 fingers. and I hope to fix this when I load the daul propane tanks it came with and I will load it heavy in the front.

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Old 05-29-2009, 11:36 PM   #9
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Hi Heath, and congratulations on finding a fine looking CJ. Glad you are on the trail of things to correct the sway issue - can be verrry scarry! We wish you safe journeys and many, many happy memories. Take care, L 'n D
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:20 AM   #10
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Heath, don't be so hard on yourself. Just because you are a truck driver doesn't mean you know how to set up a rig. If you drive for a company, your rigs are probably all set up for you and you probably are very skilled at driving a properly set up rig.

You are very lucky you didn't loose your trailer, I inadvertantly used a 1 7/8" ball for my 2" boat trailer. It pulled fine until I crossed a railroad track and the Jeep tailgate got dented when the ball bounced off. Luckily the safety chains held. And that boat trailer was a smooth tow probably because of its long tongue.
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Old 05-30-2009, 08:58 PM   #11
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Roger, thanks for the words of comfort but I have set up my own rigs for many years and should have known better. That said, I was just so happy to find that camper is good shape and for only $500. that all I was thinking of was getting it home and cleaning it to see what I had. It wasn"t until I started to research my camper and found this site that I found out what a good deal I got. The 2 way fridge works on both, thae furnace works as well as the 3 burner stove top. all I had to do was wash the outside and put some new tires on it. I will be taking it camping on june 19 and will let you know how it did on it's first trip. thanks again for all the kind words and advice from all. here are a few more pics of the cj.

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