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Old 05-12-2017, 02:11 PM   #1
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Name: Tanner
Trailer: 1977 SurfSide TM-14
British Columbia
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Trailer too light for tow vehicle?

I think this may be my first post and I tried to do my due diligence in finding if someone else had already brought this up but does anyone else have the problem where the trailer seems to get rag dolled behind a seemingly oversized tow vehicle (1977 Surfside TM-14/2010 Dodge 2500hd Diesel)?

Would adding a weight distributing hitch and sway bars help me to keep the trailer down?

Thanks
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:30 PM   #2
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Sway bar is always good. The tongue weight of the trailer should be between 8 to 15 % of the trailer weight usually 10% is a good number to aim at. A WDH would not help if the tongue weight is too low for the trailer.
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgrabows View Post
I think this may be my first post and I tried to do my due diligence in finding if someone else had already brought this up but does anyone else have the problem where the trailer seems to get rag dolled behind a seemingly oversized tow vehicle (1977 Surfside TM-14/2010 Dodge 2500hd Diesel)?

Would adding a weight distributing hitch and sway bars help me to keep the trailer down?

Thanks
Hi Tanner and welcome to FGRV. Sounds like you're saying it's swaying. The trailers loading and travel angle will fix that. The hitched TT should sit level or just a bit nose down to the tug. Interior TT load should be arranged to give to the 10-12% weight you need on the tongue. With your tug your TT will not need a WDH. Others will be along soon with other info.
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Old 05-12-2017, 04:07 PM   #4
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Hey Tanner,

The way it is loaded makes a huge difference in how it pulls. Because of how light the trailer is, doesn't take much to throw off the pull. Too heavy on the front and the the trailer will fishtail. To heavy in the back and it flops and jerks. I have corrected a pull by relocating a large toolbox from the rear of the cabin to the front. You could hook up to a smaller tow vehicle, without changing the load, if you have doubts. If you redistribute the weight and the problem doesn't correct, make sure that your frame is sound ( not broken or bent) and that there isn't a mechanical problem. Best of luck.
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Old 05-12-2017, 04:23 PM   #5
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Have you been to a truck scale to weigh you trailer and vehicle separately and get your tongue weight? I expect as mentioned that you need more tongue weight, and 11 or 12% of your total loaded trailer weight would be good.
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Old 05-12-2017, 04:24 PM   #6
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My small utility trailer wants to wander all over the road when running empty.
If I put 3 or 4 heavy concrete blocks in the nose of the trailer it pulls straight as an arrow.
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Old 05-12-2017, 05:07 PM   #7
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I think overinflated tires can cause a bumpy pull.
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Old 05-13-2017, 06:20 AM   #8
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I am unclear about one thing. Is the motion side-to-side (swaying or fish tailing) or up-and-down (bouncing or porpoising)?

Agree with all that's been said. Check tongue weight, ball height, tires, and I'll add one more: if the torsion axle itself is dead or dying, that can also result in abnormal bouncing.

In any case it has nothing to do with the size of the truck. Could have to do with speed, though.

Once you find and correct any problems, a sway bar would be a good idea. A weight distributing hitch is not necessary and could overstress the lightweight trailer frame.
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Old 05-13-2017, 07:03 AM   #9
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If the diesel is sitting to high, measure the height of the trailer coupling when level and the hitch ball and see if you might need to drop the ball a few inches.
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Old 05-13-2017, 07:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgrabows View Post
I think this may be my first post and I tried to do my due diligence in finding if someone else had already brought this up but does anyone else have the problem where the trailer seems to get rag dolled behind a seemingly oversized tow vehicle (1977 Surfside TM-14/2010 Dodge 2500hd Diesel)?

Would adding a weight distributing hitch and sway bars help me to keep the trailer down?

Thanks
Tanner,

In broad terms, having a heavier tow vehicle just makes that part of the combination more stable, which is a good thing. The fact that the tow vehicle is heavy is not "causing" a problem with how the trailer reacts. Think of the tow vehicle as the steady hand at the end of the leash; it is the dog (trailer) on the other end of the leash that is jumping around all on its own.

As Steve notes, an unladen trailer can be flighty. I've had similar experiences with lightweight utility trailers. I've also seen empty boat trailers jump around. Is that what you mean by rag-dolling?

A weight distributing hitch (WDH) serves like a spring in a clothes pin with the trailer and the tow vehicle each serving as one side of the clothespin. If the WDH springs and the trailer and tow vehicle frames were super-strong, like something in a cartoon, the resulting effect would lift the tow vehicle's rear wheels completely off of the ground; all of the weight would be on the two outer axles; the trailer's axle and the front of the vehicle.

(Let me be the first to say here that this just may be the world's worst attempt at explaining a weight distribution hitch that has ever been written. Or, perhaps it may be a helpful analogy to some folks, especially those who can actually remember what a clothes pin is. I'll be interested to see any replies regarding this analogy and I'll take my lumps if I am just making things more confusing here.)

In any event, a WDH is most likely not anything that would help your situation.

For different reasons, while a sway bar might be a good thing to have, it sounds as though there is some other underlying issue which needs adjustment. It there is no mechanical cause such as a misaligned axle, or some loose or broken wheel or suspension component, then it is probably a weight distribution issue as others have noted.

As an outside and unlikely chance, you might consider having the wheels checked. We once had a steel wheel on a Ford Torino in the 70's that was misaligned; it actually rolled like a sailor on shore leave. Once my father figured out what the problem was, he simply moved it to the trunk to serve the spare. Of course, that was back when a car had a full-sized spare and we had no money for such niceties as five good wheels when you really only needed four to go anywhere.

All of that said, the most likely and common cause here is probably just weight distribution; too little weight on the tongue. Anyway, I hope that something someone posted here will help. As Jon said, providing more information regarding the symptoms you are observing could be helpful.
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Old 05-13-2017, 09:33 AM   #11
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You can see this video :

https://www.facebook.com/SwiftCarava...9840290418351/
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Old 05-13-2017, 09:36 AM   #12
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Our first fiberglass trailer was "Shelly," a little utility clam meant to be towed behind a large motorcycle. Behind our Dodge van, it would literally bounce along the road.


Boink, boink, boink, boink, boink. It didn't sway or wander, but the bouncing nearly drove us nuts bringing Shelly home.


When loaded with our then-outing gear, however, chairs, doggy-x-pen, picnic basket, beach blanket, etc., it rolled perfectly.


Lots of great posts & advice and things to consider above, just wanted to add the image of "too light" resulting in an overactive kangaroo bouncing along behind.


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Old 05-13-2017, 09:51 AM   #13
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Do check the axle, though. An empty egg trailer is nowhere near as light as an empty utility trailer, and it shouldn't be bouncing like an "overactive kangaroo." I can notice a difference when my 13' Scamp is empty, but there's no way I'd describe it as "rag-dolling."

Overactive kangaroo- great image, Kai! Not unlike a Jack Russell mix I once owned. That dog, though only 12" high at the shoulder, could jump a 3' fence from a standing start.
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:20 AM   #14
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Properly setup there should be no problem towing generally.
Too long of a wheelbase on the tow vehicle vis-a-vis the trailer
can make towing difficult, especially backing up.
Example ... Try backing an empty car dolly with an oversized pickup.

Then there ls the chore and expense of owning, garaging, driving and parking an oversized truck (some people actually like that though)
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:32 AM   #15
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Hi, Jon in AZ, agreed, our travel trailer never bounced no matter how lightly loaded, even halfway through renovation.


Always amazes me when a little dog can bounce up more than its own height (in your dog's case, 3x its height! That's quite a feat--pun intended).


Our pugs can do a standing leap onto the couch...but that's only 1 1/2x their height.


Would love ot have seen your little dog go over that fence!


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Old 05-13-2017, 02:27 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
... tires, and I'll add one more: if the torsion axle itself is dead or dying, that can also result in abnormal bouncing.
That is my thoughts. I've replaced the tires and axle in both my trailers and they towed much better afterwards. Having a bit of properly distributed gear helps some too.
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Old 05-13-2017, 04:40 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Russ514 View Post
Just wanted to share my 1985 Uhaul ct13 towed by my 1997 F350
As for the title of the thread, I wouldn't think so.
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Old 05-13-2017, 11:00 PM   #18
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Name: Tanner
Trailer: 1977 SurfSide TM-14
British Columbia
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Thanks everyone for the input. From what i'm reading i'm thinking that hitch height and tongue weight are probably a good starting point. We tow with an 8"drop, because that was all Lordco had at the time, and the trailer still sits inclined hitch up. As for weight besides the battery and 2 propane tanks theres not much there. Helps when I have to hand bomb it into some really good spots I'm in mid reno and adding a aluminium box to the front of the trailer so that should add a bit of extra weight.

If anyone has driven to Dawson City i'm sure that road could have played a bit of as well.

Thanks again for all the info.

And Randy how big of a drop do you have for that set up?
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:42 AM   #19
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Yup, level or tongue down will really help you out. You may want to do a lift to the TT depending on your road conditions and destinations planned.
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Old 05-14-2017, 02:12 PM   #20
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TV's rear wheels off of the ground?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Civilguy View Post
Tanner,

In broad terms, having a heavier tow vehicle just makes that part of the combination more stable, which is a good thing. The fact that the tow vehicle is heavy is not "causing" a problem with how the trailer reacts. Think of the tow vehicle as the steady hand at the end of the leash; it is the dog (trailer) on the other end of the leash that is jumping around all on its own.

As Steve notes, an unladen trailer can be flighty. I've had similar experiences with lightweight utility trailers. I've also seen empty boat trailers jump around. Is that what you mean by rag-dolling?

A weight distributing hitch (WDH) serves like a spring in a clothes pin with the trailer and the tow vehicle each serving as one side of the clothespin. If the WDH springs and the trailer and tow vehicle frames were super-strong, like something in a cartoon, the resulting effect would lift the tow vehicle's rear wheels completely off of the ground; all of the weight would be on the two outer axles; the trailer's axle and the front of the vehicle.

(Let me be the first to say here that this just may be the world's worst attempt at explaining a weight distribution hitch that has ever been written. Or, perhaps it may be a helpful analogy to some folks, especially those who can actually remember what a clothes pin is. I'll be interested to see any replies regarding this analogy and I'll take my lumps if I am just making things more confusing here.)

In any event, a WDH is most likely not anything that would help your situation.

For different reasons, while a sway bar might be a good thing to have, it sounds as though there is some other underlying issue which needs adjustment. It there is no mechanical cause such as a misaligned axle, or some loose or broken wheel or suspension component, then it is probably a weight distribution issue as others have noted.

As an outside and unlikely chance, you might consider having the wheels checked. We once had a steel wheel on a Ford Torino in the 70's that was misaligned; it actually rolled like a sailor on shore leave. Once my father figured out what the problem was, he simply moved it to the trunk to serve the spare. Of course, that was back when a car had a full-sized spare and we had no money for such niceties as five good wheels when you really only needed four to go anywhere.

All of that said, the most likely and common cause here is probably just weight distribution; too little weight on the tongue. Anyway, I hope that something someone posted here will help. As Jon said, providing more information regarding the symptoms you are observing could be helpful.
The clothes pin analogy is interesting. The tow vehicles rear wheels would not lift off the ground from increased tongue weight but would lift if the tv's front wheels raised somehow. Increased tongue weight just adds more load to the tv's front suspension, correct?
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