Is this a lack of a sway control device issue ? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 09-29-2014, 10:48 PM   #1
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Is this a lack of a sway control device issue ?

Edited to add: Sorry, I should have posted this in Towing and Hitching - not sure how to move it.

Another newbie question. I've only towed utility and tent trailers in the past so I haven't experienced this yet and I'm wondering if I need to add some type of sway control device.

We just recently got our 17B and I took it out on it's first camping trip last week. (I'm in love with it!). Tow vehicle is a 2013 4WD Tacoma. I got the standard weight distribution hitch (not Anderson) from ETI installed when I picked up the trailer.
I'm in BC and headed up the Coquihalla (for those that know it) into the interior for the week and I thought I might have problems on the steep downhills with sway but I didn't really notice anything there, but where I really notice something weird is when driving on the straight flat stretches. It's like I'm in a strong crosswind on the flats and I find I'm really fighting the steering wheel to keep going in a straight line. Like I say no problem on hills, but travelling between 80-100 kph (50-60mph) it's seems to be side sway. Is this possible or am I just imagining it ? I thought trailer sway was the tail wagging the dog kind of thing but I'm not noticing that (I don't think) - it just seems like the whole rig is in a crosswind (and no, I'm sure it wasn't actually a strong crosswind as it happened too often in too many areas).

I did look in the Tacoma manual and they do recommend sway control, but in talking to the folks at ETI they really didn't think I'd need the WD hitch or the sway control. Now I'm not so sure.

What say you experienced folks. I hope I'm describing this accurately.
Thanks.
Al
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:57 PM   #2
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I've towed my 17B with a RAV4 up the Coquihalla and down many times, through Chilliwack at 100-110kph ( known for strong crosswinds ) and passed and been passed by semis numerous times.
The only time I've ever experienced sway is when I suspect I didn't pay enough attention to how the trailer was loaded and tongue weight.
I have standard WDH and no sway control.
You should be running about 312 - 320 pounds tongue weight. If you run too light ( ie. adding a couple bikes or cargo carrier on the rear ), you will notice sway, unless you compensate in loading the trailer.
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:58 PM   #3
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Al,
You might go through your WDH directions and see that the number of chain links you are using meets the directions. Also, I assume you were careful about the number matching on both sides. You can also look at your set-up in general to see that it is as level as possible.

There is also the need to go to scales to get your loaded numbers and tongue weight and see what the WDH is doing on transferring weight.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floating Cloud View Post
There is also the need to go to scales to get your loaded numbers and tongue weight and see what the WDH is doing on transferring weight.
That is good advice. Going by "feel" is not an accurate method.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:05 PM   #5
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I drive the same roads with my Ranger towing the 19 and I have a WDH. I feel the same thing but I know there are cross winds. I've seen the effect with canoes and kayaks on roof racks. You can see the buffeting effect of the wind gusts.

I've never felt that the sometimes buffeting was the same as a sway issue. My only previous experience with sway (car trailer loaded incorrectly ) was terrifying and not at all the same as what I think is wind buffeting.

Also, when I drive an RV I sometimes get the same wind buffeting.

I guess the only way to determine if it's just wind or a sway issue would be to pull over and see if there is a breeze but that's not always practical.

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Old 09-30-2014, 12:30 AM   #6
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I second the endorsement of Floating Cloud's advice to see what the axle loads are. WD systems shift the load between axles, and it makes no sense to do that unless you know what loads you have, and understand why and how you would change them with a WD system. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the truck's rear axle is too lightly loaded with the WD in use.
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Old 09-30-2014, 02:36 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for all the advice. I really do appreciate it. I'm not sure if I really understand it (actually, I'm sure I don't ), but I'll do some more research trying to figure it out. Are you folks saying that what I experienced was trailer sway then ?

It's a 17B with the dual 6V mounted on the rear bumper, dual propane up front. It was really lightly loaded for the trip - probably a max of 400 pounds - so about 3,000 max. There wasn't much up front but all there was inside really was some food in the fridge, a bit more in the cupboards below the sink, the usual dishes, pots/pans, and, of course, about 200# fresh water.

I don't really get the weigh scale thing at all, are you saying I take it to one of the commercial scales on the highway and weigh it in some manner? What am I trying to calculate by doing this ? Can I even do that if it's not a commercial vehicle? Is there a cost for this ? Will this somehow change how I should be using the WD hitch ? I understand it's around (or should be) 300# on the hitch - my max on the Tacoma is 650# hitch weight and there was at max 100# in the box. I'll phone around and see where I can get it done.

I know nothing about the WD hitch that I have (other than it's the basic one sold by ETI and not the Anderson). I do understand that it's not sway control. I only got it because when I did prior research it appeared that it was recommended for this truck/trailer combination. It was installed and set up for me at ETI when I picked up the trailer. The fellow who installed it showed me how to hook it up - I hook to the 4th link on each side and when it's done both the truck and trailer appear to me to be very level. Why the 4th link I have no idea, but I take direction very well (having been married for 30 years) and it does seems dead simple to hook up, or so I thought. Also seems like overkill to me for such a small trailer being towed by a truck with a 6500# tow rating.
He also mentioned he didn't think I would even need the WD hitch, with this combination, but I'd already paid for it and thought it was a safer way to roll.

OK - I just read my comments above and it's clear to me I must sound like a complete idiot, so I'm going to stop talking and try to research this further before asking more dumb questions. Who knew this could be so complicated?
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Old 09-30-2014, 06:56 AM   #8
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What is, and who needs sway control? These guys explain it better then I can. What is trailer sway?

Here's a link to having your rig weighed. Learn To RV: How to Weigh a Travel Trailer

Out of curiosity, does anyone know the make and model of ETI's basic WDH?
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:35 AM   #9
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This is the WDH bar from mine. Don't know if anything changed since 2008.
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File Type: jpg WDHitch specs1.jpg (144.1 KB, 22 views)
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Old 09-30-2014, 12:35 PM   #10
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Allan:

We have a 19' pulled with a Nissan XTerra. We purchased the 19 used and it came with a WDH so we used it. My understanding is the WDH should redistribute the tongue weight to keep the tow vehicle level, the same orientation it is without the trailer attached. You mention your TV is level with the WDH in use so I suspect the set up is OK.

We weighted ours on returning from a trip to assure it was "trip loaded". We weighed each axle with the WDH installed, without the WDH, and the TV without trailer. (With axle and hitch distances this is enough to calculate trailer and TV weights and redistribution) I was surprised that I could feel a difference in stability (sway) with and without the WDH. I think the WDH adds enough friction, in the sway direction, to help stability.

We also have a 15' vintage trailer without a WDH. It always swayed a little, wagged it's tail slightly. We've towed it thousands of miles and it was never a real problem but noticeable. After seeing how well the 19' towed, we put a sway control bar on the 15'. It took out the sway and is now more comfortable to tow.

I'd think your 17' should be very stable with a WDH and I'm surprised it's not rock solid. As an experiment you might try driving without the WDH? You may want to redistribute the weight in the trailer before adding additional sway control. But, a sway bar is a possibility.

I'm no expert, but maybe our experience will be of use.

Thanks.
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