First Question: TT Sway

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WannaBeRVing

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At this time, it looks like we're more likely to buy either a 5th wheel or a TT.  From all I've read, for us it seems that the only real advantage of the 5th wheel is pulling ease.  For those who have a TT and use a sway control hitch of some sort, does it pretty much eliminate the problem, as compared to a 5th wheel?  What about a cap on the truck?  Loading the trailer properly?  Will doing all of these things combined solve the problem?
 

lynnmor

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WannaBeRVing said:
For those who have a TT and use a sway control hitch of some sort, does it pretty much eliminate the problem, as compared to a 5th wheel?  What about a cap on the truck?  Loading the trailer properly?  Will doing all of these things combined solve the problem?

What "problem?"  I never had a problem.  Properly equipped tow vehicles and trailers don't sway.  If you have too little tongue weight, that is the source of sway issues. Sway control mechanisms can help and should be used, but not to mask improper loading.  A truck cap provides much additional dry storage space and does help a bit with wind buffeting the trailer front.  As long as you understand the loading and keep the tongue heavy enough, you are good to go.
 

PopPop51

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A lot of people here will disagree with me, but I can only relate my first-hand experience. I've come to the conclusion that if your TT is properly balanced and has a properly set up hitch, sway is a non-issue.
I've towed mine (7100 lbs loaded, 30' bumper to ball) over 65,000 miles including over high bridges, though high-wind areas, and across the Sierra in light snow and slushy roads. I've run my Equal-I-Zer hitch on dry bars and with lightly lubricated bars (which is supposed to kill any sway control effect) and noticed no difference in handling. I've never experienced anything approaching sway in the sense of a cyclic lateral instability. Ninety-nine percent of the time I wouldn't even know that my trailer was back there save for the additional inertia on acceleration and braking. The bow wave of a passing truck or bus does give me a slight momentary push, but nothing that would come close to moving me out of my lane unless I was completely asleep at the wheel.
I've never towed a fiver, and I can understand why those can be even more stable than my TT, but "more stable" would for me probably be a distinction without a difference.
My daughter tows a 2,700 lb (loaded weight) popup with a V6 Kia Sorento.  No sway control or WD hitch. She also is careful to balance its tongue weight and ball height to keep it towing level. I've driven it, and it also is stable and beautifully behaved on the road.
Again, there are a lot of folks here who will disagree with me, but I'm only relating my personal experience. Be smart about tow vehicle selection (Short story: Don't push the published limits) and tongue weight loading and don't let the scaremongers bother you away from a TT just for fear of sway. There are better reasons to choose a fiver (or TT) than that.
As for a cap, I assume you're thinking of some aerodynamic stabilizing benefit. I have no experience with that, one way or the other.
But a cap does let you put stuff in the truck bed, which can be nice since most TTs have limited storage compared with fivers. Just keep in mind that all stuff has weight, and everything in any part of your truck counts against its payload weight, axle weights, and GCW, (gross combined weight) so that storage space isn't free.
 

Optimistic Paranoid

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This is not my area of expertise - I'm into truck campers, not trailers - but I ran across an interesting page on the web that I'm going to point you to:

https://rv.org/blogs/news/short-wheelbases-and-accidents-go-hand-in-hand

This guy seems to be saying that too many trailer manufacturers deliberately mount their axles too far forward in an effort to lighten the tongue weight, believing it's easier to sell trailers with lower tongue weights, as people will them believe their tow vehicle will easily pull such a trailer.  But such trailers tend to have more sway and handling problems than trailers that have the axles positioned further back.

Read the article and decide for yourself.
 

kdbgoat

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I agree with PopPop for the most part. Balance will take care of 99% of sway issues. Sway control can help with the bow wakes though if multiple trucks blow by, or pulling during higher winds. They don't stop the sway then, they just help it get in line quicker. They also help get the trailer in line quicker after an emergency maneuver.
 

kdbgoat

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I thiink tow vehicle has a part in it too. Too much trailer for the suspension and soft sidewall tires don't have much, if anything to do with the start of the swaying, but can have a large effect of recovery. Just set up correctly, and stop the sway before it starts.
 

Prior member

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I have never had a problem with sway in more than one hundred thousand miles of towing three different travel trailers and it is simply because I loaded the trailer properly, have sway bars and load levelers.

Jack L
 

WannaBeRVing

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Thanks everyone for the inputs.  It sounds like I'm good to go with a TT if I choose to that option.  That's a relief.  As I get closer to buying time I'll just have to make sure I know that right way to load it to avoid the sway, and find a good sway control device as insurance.
 

Prior member

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As far as I am concerned a sway control device is not "insurance"; it is a must

Jack L
 

Lowell

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JackL said:
As far as I am concerned a sway control device is not "insurance"; it is a must

Jack L

You can't go wrong having an anti sway control device. But I have never had a problem with sway on my TT in the 13 years we've owned it. I had intended to get one after I bought the TT, but it trailed so nicely, I just never got around to it.  I have towed in high side winds, heavy truck traffic, etc.  But as I said, you can't go wrong having it.
 

Optimistic Paranoid

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Question that just occurred to me:  If a trailer tire blows, is it more helpful to have sway control or not?  In other words, will sway control keep you any safer if that happens?
 

Lowell

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Optimistic Paranoid said:
Question that just occurred to me:  If a trailer tire blows, is it more helpful to have sway control or not?  In other words, will sway control keep you any safer if that happens?

It can't hurt to have Sway control. I have had two tires blow out and didn't notice it except for feeling a increased drag from the flat tire (and increased RPM on truck tack).  I have a trailer with tandem axles.  If you were towing a single axle trailer, I suspect you would feel some sway from a tire failure.
 

Sprucegum

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If you are new to towing - beware if the "sway in the mirror" syndrome.

This is when you look in the rear view mirror and see the trailer sway a little bit, which may look like a lot in the mirror, and immediately try to correct for it. This starts an escalating sequence of corrections until ?. so don't start  ;) Just hold the wheel steady until you are sure it's more than a casual wiggle. No harm in slowing down any time you feel unsure about anything.


These guys who can travel highway speeds for years with no sway have had some practice  8)
And I bet their trucks are a lot heavier than their trailers.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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For those who have a TT and use a sway control hitch of some sort, does it pretty much eliminate the problem, as compared to a 5th wheel?  What about a cap on the truck?  Loading the trailer properly?  Will doing all of these things combined solve the problem?
I have to agree with PopPop51: a properly balanced trailer on an adequate tow vehicle won't sway.  A WD (weight distributing) hitch is part of that for most tow vehicles. The add-on friction devices for "sway control" are largely a band aid at best; the built-in sway control in premium hitches is probably a little better but still a minor factor overall.  You can't fix a poorly set up rig with a sway control device.
A well set-up travel trailer on a adequate tow vehicle will tow nicely under most road conditions. The biggest drawback is that the hitch position (behind the bumper) gives the trailer a lot of leverage on the tow vehicle is things go bad, e.g. strong crosswinds, emergency swerves, slippery roads, etc.  The hitch position on a 5W (over the rear axle) is much more forgiving when things go bad on you. The more miles you tow and the more road conditions you encounter, the more you will appreciate having a 5W. There is a reason that all the long haul commercial trailers (semi's) you see on the highways are 5W.

A popular misconception is that those long metal bars on the hitch are for sway control.  Not so - they are for weight distribution springs, shifting weight from the back of the tow vehicle to the front. Sway control, if any, is either an add-on friction device or built into the hitch head where the spring bars attach.

So, to answer your question:  You should not have sway problems with a travel trailer (under reasonable operating conditions) once it is properly set up for balance. That's a combination of loading, a quality WD hitch, and proper adjustment.  It probably will NOT be properly adjusted when you bring it home from the dealer, both because the loading will change dramatically and too often the dealer delivery people simply do a shoddy job of it.

Sprucegum makes a good point too - driver over-reaction can be a problem.
 

BikerFlex&HappyJen

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We have a 21 ft from rear to front hitch (box is only 18ft), lightweight, and dual axels. Hubby still wanted the tow/sway/weight distribution bars as extra towing protection. As Gary mentioned, we have the two weight distribution bars, and also the extra sway bar attachment as well.

An example of ?weight distribution? making a difference....

First time towing trailer... 1900 miles and we did so with a half tank of fresh water for bathroom use along the way. Fresh water tank is in the rear. Hubby was very pleased at the towing. Mind you, we were going through, Kentucky and Tennessee, so lots of massive hills and bends in the freeway. Trailer pulled beautifully!

Second time towing, heading to local state campground. About 30 minutes from home, flat ground. Filled fresh water completely. Whoa, what a difference.  We still had about the same weight up in the front storage compartment (gazebo, supplies etc) up by the hitch. Hubby could feel the extra weight in the back of the trailer and the difference pulling it. Our towing set up all the same for both trips. He said the big difference with more weight in the rear, was not acceleration but de-acceleration. The trailer felt like it wanted to slightly wobble. And also, any slight movement in the steering wheel, he said he could feel the extra weight in the rear and the movement would accent the weight of it.

So yes, weight distribution absolutely matters. And we are glad to have the extra towing provisions on the hitch to give us more stability.


 

Lowell

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BikerFlex&HappyJen said:
First time towing trailer... 1900 miles and we did so with a half tank of fresh water for bathroom use along the way. Fresh water tank is in the rear.
I wonder why your TT builder put the fresh water tank in the rear. It would be better to locate it as near the TT axles as possible to minimize having a change in tongue loading to the extent possible.  My TT does have the fresh water tank near the axles and i notice no difference between a full fresh water tank and a empty one. One is more likely to travel with a full fresh water tank than a full black or grey water tank.
 

BikerFlex&HappyJen

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Lowell said:
I wonder why your TT builder put the fresh water tank in the rear. It would be better to locate it as near the TT axles as possible to minimize having a change in tongue loading to the extent possible.  My TT does have the fresh water tank near the axles and i notice no difference between a full fresh water tank and a empty one. One is more likely to travel with a full fresh water tank than a full black or grey water tank.

I suppose I should probably clarify. It?s not right next to the very back wall. We have two sets of bunks, one on each side of the trailer. The tank is under one set of bunks. It sits at the head of the bunks, not the foot (back wall). I could probably say it sits behind the rear set of axels (dual axels). It is not over the axels, but actually between the back set of axels and the back wall.

I just say the back since it?s more toward the latter end of the camper than the front.

Hope that made sense.

And now that you have jogged my memory, we did have about 1/3-2/3 black tank too that I forgot about from our long trip home that we needed to dump once we got to the state campground. That likely made a difference too as far as shifting liquids around.  :eek:
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Manufacturers put the fresh tank where it can be fitted in along with everything else.  Buyers want bigger waste tanks and those have other placement requirements, so the fresh tank tends to be the one that gets pushed somewhere else.  Best towing manners are way down on the priority list!

One of the many things that neither dealers nor manufacturers tell owners about is that their WD hitches will probably need adjustment to compensate for changes in loading.  Probably not major changes, but tightening or loosening the spring bars to alter the weight distribution. It's bad enough that such things are left as an educational exercise for the new owner, but too often the dealer tech throws away the WD hitch instructions after he hooks it up the first time. At best, they are tucked away in a mass of other paperwork.

More water in the back lightens the trailer tongue weight, possibly to the point where it is under the 10-12% necessary for safe towing.  Even if it doesn't get that low, the WD may be shifting too much weight and making the trailer balance uncomfortable.
 

BikerFlex&HappyJen

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Gary RV_Wizard said:
Manufacturers put the fresh tank where it can be fitted in along with everything else.  Buyers want bigger waste tanks and those have other placement requirements, so the fresh tank tends to be the one that gets pushed somewhere else.  Best towing manners are way down on the priority list!

One of the many things that neither dealers nor manufacturers tell owners about is that their WD hitches will probably need adjustment to compensate for changes in loading.  Probably not major changes, but tightening or loosening the spring bars to alter the weight distribution. It's bad enough that such things are left as an educational exercise for the new owner, but too often the dealer tech throws away the WD hitch instructions after he hooks it up the first time. At best, they are tucked away in a mass of other paperwork.

More water in the back lightens the trailer tongue weight, possibly to the point where it is under the 10-12% necessary for safe towing.  Even if it doesn't get that low, the WD may be shifting too much weight and making the trailer balance uncomfortable.

Very informative Gary! And you basically stated what we experienced. We were told which link to put them on...and that was that. Fortunately, we do have our manuals for them, so we will be looking into this process much more clearly. Thank you for this information. Appreciate your knowledge sharing. Glad we are here!
 

WannaBeRVing

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Optimistic Paranoid said:
This is not my area of expertise - I'm into truck campers, not trailers - but I ran across an interesting page on the web that I'm going to point you to:

https://rv.org/blogs/news/short-wheelbases-and-accidents-go-hand-in-hand

This guy seems to be saying that too many trailer manufacturers deliberately mount their axles too far forward in an effort to lighten the tongue weight, believing it's easier to sell trailers with lower tongue weights, as people will them believe their tow vehicle will easily pull such a trailer.  But such trailers tend to have more sway and handling problems than trailers that have the axles positioned further back.

Read the article and decide for yourself.

Very useful article; thanks for sharing. But I've looked and looked and can't find what BoB (back-of-ball rate) measures exactly.  So, what is that?  I suspect from the ball to axle of trailer maybe?  if so, what if you have 2 axles?

 
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