Swaying Scamp - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-31-2019, 06:39 PM   #1
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Name: Ken
Trailer: Scamp 16
Anchorage
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Swaying Scamp

We bought a new 16í Scamp Deluxe three years ago. We bought a used Ford F150 (less than 14,000 miles at the time) for a tow vehicle. We picked up the trailer at the factory and hit Interstate 90 eastbound. It quickly became apparent that the trailer was unstable at freeway speeds, especially when being passed by a large truck. After a bit of research, we returned to the factory and had them install an anti-sway brace. The brace helped immensely, but above 60 or 65 mph the trailer still wants to wander from side to side a bit.

According to Ford, the short-wheelbase 4x4 F150 weighs 4900 pounds empty and is rated to tow 6300 pounds, so it should easily handle the Scamp. The Scamp factory says the trailer weighs 2200 to 2600 pounds. Iím sure itís close to 3000 pounds when loaded with water, propane, food, kitchen supplies, clothing, etc. Based on an estimate of 3000 pounds, the measured tongue weight of 260 pounds is about 8.6% of the total weight, a little on the light side by conventional wisdom. I donít see much chance to improve the tongue weight other than moving the water & wastewater tanks forward, lengthening the tongue, or moving the axle rearward, none of which seems practical.

Another observation is that the axle is offset to one side of the frame by about a quarter of an inch. Iím wondering if that misalignment might contribute to the instability? There doesnít appear to be adjustability though.

Any potential solutions other than driving slower?

Thanks.
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Old 12-31-2019, 06:59 PM   #2
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If your tanks are behind the axle, empty them.

And just adding a sway-bar is a terrible was to try to fix a swaying trailer.
Get it stable, then add the sway-bar for insurance.

What is the ACTUAL axle weight and tongue weight?

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Old 12-31-2019, 07:03 PM   #3
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Ensure that the forward half of the trailer is NOT tilting up on the hitch. If so, get a ball mount with greater drop.
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Old 12-31-2019, 07:43 PM   #4
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Name: Lyle
Trailer: Scamp 16, previously Scamp 13
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I agree, do not travel with water in the tanks. If you must carry water, add weight to the front of the trailer to counter-balance it. Toolbox, extra water, canned goods all work well. Keep the weight down low, on the floor.
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Old 12-31-2019, 07:50 PM   #5
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Also, the axle offset is normal. I know I worried about this on my 13' for a while. Upon checking many old and new trailers, they are all like that.
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:10 PM   #6
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Name: Dave
Trailer: 2013Escape 21
Iowa
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I have towed quite a few single axle trailers with “lighter” than “recommended” tongue weight. All cases I felt that stability improved when they were towed slightly “nose down”. Nothing radical, maybe 5 degrees off level. Make sure your coupler is adjusted if is that type, tight on the ball when the latch is cinched down. I’m not that familiar with Scamps but if room, you could switch to dual front mounted
Propane tanks. The bigger base, extra hose and tank and propane over the single tank setup would add 40
Lbs, even 20 lbs if a tank is empty. Slop in the coupler is a place where sway can start. YMMV
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:53 PM   #7
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Name: Kenneth
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Scamp weight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Morton View Post
The Scamp factory says the trailer weighs 2200 to 2600 pounds. Iím sure itís close to 3000 pounds when loaded with water, propane, food, kitchen supplies, clothing, etc. Based on an estimate of 3000 pounds, the measured tongue weight of 260 pounds is about 8.6% of the total weight, a little on the light side by conventional wisdom.
Thanks.
I have about the same setup and have a problem with it rocking more than swaying. Iíd like to add shocks but no one makes a Scamp kit. The only adjustment to the axle may be a little slop in the mounting bolt holes. Others have had the swaying also, but Iíve never heard of a correction other that weight distribution. Yes they can weigh more than advertised. Mine came from the factory at 2100 on the axle, 260 on the hitch for a total of 2360 lbs. After all the mods and loaded mine is over 3,000 lbs.
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Old 01-01-2020, 01:58 AM   #8
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Have you checked the axle for toe in? Probably around 1/8 inch toe in should be good.
At least 10% tongue weight. I think the length of the trailer on a single axle can create a whip affect so a little sway can get worse, are those tanks at the back of the trailer whipping you around?
As has been stated I too like to have the trailer nose down a bit.
Happy Trails
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:32 AM   #9
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Morton View Post
...
According to Ford, the short-wheelbase 4x4 F150 ...The Scamp factory says the trailer weighs 2200 to 2600 pounds. I’m sure it’s close to 3000 pounds when loaded with water, propane, food, kitchen supplies, clothing, etc. Based on an estimate of 3000 pounds, the measured tongue weight of 260 pounds is about 8.6% of the total weight, a little on the light side by conventional wisdom. ...
I see a lot guessing but only one actual measurement (for tongue weight). So, step one is to get on the scales and find out the true weight when loaded (not when you're drunk but when loaded with normal gear). If you have water on board when you get the trailer's weight then you can do the math to get the total weight without the water.

BTW if you are close to 3,000 lbs then I would suggest reviewing the amount of gear loaded in the trailer. Things like some clothing might do better in the truck or staying at home.

Then load the trailer so you have 11-12 percent on tongue. (Make sure you are using a method to get accurate tongue weight.) That likely means no water in rear tank. With the trailer level or slightly nose down and 11-12% on tongue, then I will wager it tows pretty stable.

That is what I did with my 16 Std which was a little unstable at 65 MPH when new. Its been stable even without a sway bar used since. But with a heavy mattress later added on the rear bed it took a little more effort to keep the tongue weight right. A bigger battery and loading nothing under the bed was the solution.
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:47 AM   #10
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Name: Eddie
Trailer: 2014 Escape 21, Lil Joe
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I have owned over a dozen Scamps and the S-16DX with front dinette seemed the most prone to sway. I think the main issue is the refrigerator location, up high, close to/behind the axle.( then add food.) You also have the slightly heavier upper and tall wood cabinets in the rear and around the frig. With the front dinette myself and others are prone to use a wider heavier (54") permanent mattress which lives about 2' above and aft of the the axle. Add a full tank of water and you have a sway prone trailer. My DX only had a single LP tank. The tongue weight empty W/mattress was only about 175 lbs. ( stock at least 75 lbs. low)
I added a second LP tank and 2 6V batteries. I traveled with as much stuff stored up front as possible. Since I had a stinger with a sway bar ball I added a sway bar after getting the tongue weight up where it should be just for insurance.
I don't think your axle placement has anything to do with your sway issue. You need to get you tongue weight up to compensate for the higher mounted heavier items by packing/storing things upfront and low, at least that is what I did so solve the problem.
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Old 01-01-2020, 09:30 AM   #11
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Name: bill
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Take your trailer to the closest truck stop and get a REAL trailer weight (loaded for a trip) and a REAL tongue weight. Sway is the signal that your tongue weight is too low. Every truck stop I have seen has had a legal scale, There may. be some without one, but it is part of the typical service truckers expect. I think it cost me $11 to get a axle weight on all axles (including my pickup) and then a separate weight on the truck without a trailer. The decrease in the truck's weight was the tongue weight. Trailer weight was the weight without the tongue weight, so total trailer weight was the trailer axle(s) weight plus tongue weight.

Chances are unless you got an actual trailer weight, your tongue weight is even lower as a percentage than you think. I target 13% tongue weight myself.

This is NOT the time to be guessing! Sway is dangerous, sway is dangerous! For $10 at a truck stop, you can have real data, not guesses. And dry weight versus actual weight is not just about your stuff. Typically, manufacturers do not include ANY options in the dry weight, and they don't include battery weight either.

At the same time, your F150 should be more than capable, with the appropriate tongue weight and the appropriate ball height. I've seen quite a few nose high trailers out there. That lowers tongue weight even more.

You can easily adjust tongue weight by how you load your trailer: empty tanks, more heavy stuff forward, etc. And if your hitch ball is too high, that just makes it much worse.

Fix the sway instead of adding bandaids. Sway is very dangerous. And it doesn't matter if your trailer is small (like yours) or bigger. Its tongue weight.

I did a relatively simple adjustment on my Trillium 1300 to get tongue weight right: I installed a battery on the tongue. In my case, I needed a battery anyway and on the tongue was the easiest place to put it.

This is a good example. Empty trailer being pulled by a large SUV. So overall weight should not have been a problem. OK, update from Jon below, I guess they do have something on that trailer. But its a GMC Yukon or similar, well within/under tow limit for sure, but also a really light tongue = disaster.

Just imagine being the driver of this GMC Yukon when the sway started and the ultimate roll over of the trailer AND the tow vehicle. It would have been a scary ride.
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Old 01-01-2020, 10:18 AM   #12
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Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
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Swaying Scamp

Not empty. There was a stack of plywood or OSB on the back of the trailer; couldnít see the front. Speed plus rear weight bias = BAD.

Agree with Bill. Adjust loading for tongue weight at 12-13% of actual gross trailer weight, hitch up level or slightly nose down, and all will be well.

Sand & gravel yards, feed lots, waste transfer stations, and recycling centers are other possible places to get a weight. Youíre looking for a CAT (certified auto and truck) scale. Expect to pay a modest fee. Best is a scale level with the ground that gives you axle-by-axle weights. Raised scales only give a single static weight. There are a couple of ways to get the tongue weight at the scale with multiple weighings, or you can do it at home.

Since it looks like this may be an issue with this particular layout, a Sherline tongue scale might be a good investment.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sherline-...?selected=true
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Old 01-01-2020, 10:59 AM   #13
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Sherline tongue scale might be a good investment.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sherline-...?selected=true

Get the Sherline with 1,000 lb. gauge. Some ( like e-trailer ) sell a 2,000 lb. version that's harder to read at the low end of the gauge.
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:18 AM   #14
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
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Get the Sherline with 1,000 lb. gauge. Some ( like e-trailer ) sell a 2,000 lb. version that's harder to read at the low end of the gauge.
Nothing wrong with the Sherline.. in fact I used to own one. But with a Scamp 16 its not necessary so you can save your money if you want to. On the other hand if you want to spend $125 for one, it makes life easier. Even if you don't buy one, the manual has lots of good info for trailer owners.

A bathroom scale will work OK if used right. That is to say don't use one that will read near the high end of it's scale unless the lever technique is used so that the weight on the scales is closer to the middle range. And be sure to measure properly. Under the jack will give you a way to estimate but under the point where the ball sits, with the trailer level is best. Lots of info online how how to do this so I won't go into more detail.
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:21 AM   #15
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I agree with those suggesting increasing tongue weight; 8.6% is too light.

I have a friend that tows a version 4 Scamp 16, and, being a retired theatre technical director, had access to 25 pound stage weights (a solid chunk of iron). Two of these under the front couch solved his sway problem.
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Old 01-01-2020, 12:34 PM   #16
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Swaying Scamp

Carrying tools in the front compartments is another option for ballast, and itís stuff youíd have to carry anyway. We also store canned goods and bottled water under the front bench, but you have to be careful with consumables. You could eat and drink yourself into swaying... LOL! For us canned food is emergency rations only, so we usually go home with most of it.
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Old 01-02-2020, 04:22 PM   #17
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Name: Elliott
Trailer: Bigfoot
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I'd suggest a battery upgrade. Switch to dual 6V batteries or something. Not the cheapest fix, but at least you'd be adding something useful and not just ballast. May not be enough by itself to cure the sway, but it should at least help noticeably.
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Old 01-03-2020, 12:05 PM   #18
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Name: Ken
Trailer: Scamp 16
Anchorage
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We emptied the tanks and put 10 gallons of water jugs in the forward storage bins to little effect before we called Scamp. They basically said "well of course you need a sway brace." The brace helped, not enough. And running with empty tanks all the time is not really an option since many campgrounds don't have water or dump stations.
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Old 01-03-2020, 12:48 PM   #19
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Name: Ken
Trailer: Scamp 16
Anchorage
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Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. We have already tried many of them. As I already noted, we did try running with empty tanks, but it is not a good option for us because many campgrounds are lacking water and/or dump stations. The hitch height is per Scamp specifications and puts the trailer somewhat tongue-down. We already have two propane tanks and the battery on the tongue. I would put the spare tire on the tongue if I could figure out how. We carry tire chains and canned goods under the forward dinette benches. I weighed the tongue at about 260 pounds with my Sherline scale. Even if my estimated overall weight is high, I can't imagine getting the tongue weight above 10%. When springtime rolls around again, I will take the pickup and trailer to a truck scale to get more accurate numbers and go from there.

Also - Fred commented about checking toe-in. Is there any alignment adjustment on the axle?

And one other potential factor to mention. When I took the trailer in to service the wheel bearings, the trailer shop noted the original tires were wearing on the edges. They told me that indicated either under-inflation or overloading. I have always kept an eye on the tire pressure and was sure that wasn't the issue. We ended up putting 14" wheels and heavier tires on the trailer. I can't see how that could do anything but increase the nose-down attitude a little, which would seem a good thing?

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 01-03-2020, 02:06 PM   #20
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Were the tires wearing on just one edge, or both? Wear on the inner half/edge can mean too much toe-out. I think the toe's generally not adjustable, but hitting a curb or something could definitely bend it to be too far toe-out, which would decrease stability. The tongue weight's the major factor, but the toe could help some.
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