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Old 09-16-2020, 07:20 AM   #41
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Wind can be weird

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Originally Posted by Bobbie54 View Post
My vote is on sudden freak gust of wind. I saw one once take down a tree (twist it at the trunk and take it down) when hardly anything nearby was touched.

2 summers back, we had a freak wind from a storm funneled between our house and the neighbors and likely twisted off a 18"-24" diameter silver maple branch, and fall on my van. No wood rot at all, and miraculously, no damage to the van. An elbow of the branch supported most of the weight off the van.
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Old 09-16-2020, 08:38 AM   #42
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If a tree falls

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Originally Posted by HABBERDABBER View Post
2 summers back, we had a freak wind from a storm funnel between our house and the neighbors and likely twist off a 18"-24" diameter silver maple branch, and fall on my van. No wood rot at all, and miraculously, no damage to the van. An elbow of the branch supported most of the weight off the van.
A couple tree questions. Who has been out in the woods when itís cold, Iím talking -20 or so and heard what sounded la rifle shot? Only to find a tree that had exploded so to expansion of the sap in the trunk. Frank deal but it happens.

And as City Arborist in council Bluffs,Iowa we had a lot of Eastern Cottonwood. Some were huge. It was not rare, (A couple occurrences a year) especially in dry weather, to have a scaffold limb break off the tree and drop straight down. When we cleaned the limb up and flush cut the stub on the tree, there was no not or defects apparent. Usually a real hot day after several days of hot weather and almost always a scaffold limb.

Iím sure many forum members have experienced uncommon weather anomalies. Freak winds coupled with road conditions contribute to accidents at times for sure.
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Old 09-16-2020, 08:58 AM   #43
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And proper weight distribution or not, if you tow while driving at 75 miles per hour you are driving like hell. And, you'll get there.
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Old 09-16-2020, 09:14 AM   #44
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My Dad used to caution me about driving too fast for conditions by quoting a bumper sticker of the time. He’d say “Speed on brother, Hell isn’t half full.” But with a straight road, good tires and dry paving he’d give me the green light.
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Old 09-16-2020, 09:39 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by daniel108 View Post
A WDH can help with sway in a few ways:
1. Many of them have sway control built in. Most commonly this is some mechanism of adding friction to the coupling to the tow vehicle, such that it resists having the trailer move out of line and acts as a damper on sway movements. I barely remember controls theory but adding resistance to a feedback loop will dampen unstable oscillations, and this may be sufficient to control a sway event.

2. A properly set up WDH will have the vehicle and trailer level, which helps avoid unstable oscillations. Air bags on the rear axle can do the same but WITHOUT any weight transfer.

3. A properly set up WDH will improve the balance of the tow vehicle by distributing the weight between the two axles better. This improves the balance and steering response and can help eliminate and control sway situations. This is what a WDH offers that air bags do not (as well as the tighter coupling also mentioned). Think about a truck with barely any weight on the front wheels...it would be very easy to turn the vehicle by pushing the hitch to the side. With all 4 wheels equally weighted it is much more difficult to turn the vehicle by pushing on the hitch. Steering response is improved as well as "go straight" stability.

My experience so far (~6 months): I started with just a regular (weight carrying) hitch setup with our 21C and a TV rated for 7700 lbs (Land Rover LR4). The LR4 has air suspension so it self levels regardless of the weight on the hitch. The manufacturer does not recommend using a WDH. The first few trips felt ok, not great. I didn't have any significant sway events but rough pavement led to porpoising and a lot of feedback. On the last trip I definitely noticed understeer, and we had an opportunity to scale the setup and I found I had the rear axle overloaded, the front axle much lighter, and I was at the limits of the hitch weight. I'm adding a stronger hitch and the Andersen WDH.
I went with an Equalizer WDH for these reasons.

The hitch is set up and (I think) dialed in.

The one thing I've not done is hit a Cat scale to actually see what the loads are on the trailer and each axle of the tow vehicle. You were smart to do that. I'm going to do it on my next trip.
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:19 AM   #46
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ďThe one thing I've not done is hit a Cat scale to actually see what the loads are on the trailer and each axle of the tow vehicle. You were smart to do that. I'm going to do it on my next
trip. ď

Pardon my ignorance, but what is a Cat scale?

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Old 09-16-2020, 01:03 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Sorry to hear about the incident.

Every time someone says that they are safe because their trailer has tandem axles or because they use a weight-distribution system it reminds me that majority of trailer sway incidents resulting in crashes that I have seen reported involve tandem axle trailers with WD hitches. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with those features... they're just not magic solutions.

I can think of two things can go wrong with a properly loaded trailer like this:
  1. If the hitch height is not right, the trailer won't be level and as a result the load won't be evenly distributed between the axles. If the nose is high the load is higher on the trailing axle, and that's stable; if the nose is low the load is higher on the leading axle and the trailer is less stable.
  2. If the weight distribution system is adjusted for too much load transfer (too tight) the tug's rear tire traction is reduced and the rig is less stable.

I have no idea if either of these were issues in this case.
We will be getting our 21NE delivered later this month. This is our first towing experience. How does one go about making sure that their set up is correct?
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Old 09-16-2020, 01:08 PM   #48
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I personally am in the category "Definitely getting hitting the road next year" as my retirement and situation solidifies.
Read almost every post here on this forum pertaining to technicalities and not how many USB ports or what color seat fabric.
By my nature I am fully in the better safe than sorry camp. This story is another confirming check mark for my planned set up of an Escape 5 with a F250 diesel and medium length wheel base and 6' box. That way the trailer can lay on it's side going down the highway and should not cause a disaster, specially if I use paper plates in the kitchen !
Sure it is over kill, but as I plan to spend most of my remaining days making up for missed road trips, I think the peace of mind and stability is worth it. It is like hunting, you don't take a .22 to bear hunt
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Old 09-16-2020, 01:09 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluesky View Post
We will be getting our 21NE delivered later this month. This is our first towing experience. How does one go about making sure that their set up is correct?
Practice and experience, even after many years and 1,000 of miles, each time should be approached as a first time.
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Old 09-16-2020, 02:28 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emjay View Post
ďThe one thing I've not done is hit a Cat scale to actually see what the loads are on the trailer and each axle of the tow vehicle. You were smart to do that. I'm going to do it on my next
trip. ď

Pardon my ignorance, but what is a Cat scale?

Emjay
Certified scales usually found at truck stops.
https://catscale.com/
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Old 09-16-2020, 02:44 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by paulw View Post
Certified scales usually found at truck stops.
https://catscale.com/
Thanks. I've located a nearby scale and even downloaded their app. My problem has been getting motivated to hit the scales while fully loaded for camping--when actually on the road, I've been eager to get to destination. Kind of pathetic, given that I've even hit a truck stop for diesel. This thread provides motivation.
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Old 09-16-2020, 02:52 PM   #52
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Scales

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Originally Posted by paulw View Post
Certified scales usually found at truck stops.
https://catscale.com/
As you travel on major highways, youíll go by truck stops. When you do look for a large
Yellow sign with the face of a cat on in and the word
CAT on it. They are not selling firecrackers but instead have a scale. I havenít used a
CAT scale for a few years but did often when I was hauling calcined clay and fertilizer to stay under a weight limit on the truck and my license. It costs like $ 10 or 11 dollars to weigh the first time through and then an additional couple dollars for specific axles. We always set up the weighing with the checkout lady at the counter inside. When done you went inside and got the certified paper that showed the weights you paid for.
Then if you got stopped by what they called a ďblue hatĒ
(State Weights and measures guy) you had your paper to show that even though you might be just a steer, you were still trying.

Personally I weigh at the local quarry or my county landfill because if you are nice and they are not busy itís usually free. Grain elevators will usually weigh you too. The guys inside like home made chocolate chip cookies with raisins. And a smile.
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Old 09-16-2020, 03:06 PM   #53
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Around here (Oregon/Washington) a lot of the weigh stations are left with the scales on even when they are closed, so it's easy to stop in and do a quick check. These are common even off the interstates.

Understanding a proper setup, for me, starts with making a spreadsheet that lists all the specifications for the vehicle (maximum weight ratings for each axle, combined vehicle rating, etc). Then you measure and see if you have margin.
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Old 09-16-2020, 05:43 PM   #54
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Another place to weigh your trailer could be at a large moving company in town. That's what we use. They have a large big-rig scale in their parking lot and as long as there are no big rigs on it or waiting to get on, I drive up onto it and get weighed. Then I pull off, and go onto the street and unhitch the trailer. Then drive back onto the scale to get my TV weighed (without the trailer). This company says this is a 'community service' they offer to anyone for free to help keep everyone safe on the road.

I've also used a local scrap metal place that looked like a huge metal junk yard. Definitely don't recommend that place. Thought for sure I was going to run over a nail or piece of metal and pop a tire. They even charged me $20!

The free, clean (metal/junk free) moving company works for us! -Bea
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Old 09-16-2020, 08:11 PM   #55
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We lost our egg in Utah when we loaned it out to family. They blamed wind gusts but they were travelling fast. I've since added weight distribution with sway control but I've still had a few moments on uphill far right lanes at high speed (big V-8). These lanes are deeply rutted from big trucks. I now stay out of the right lanes if I'm traveling fast uphill.
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Old 09-19-2020, 12:40 AM   #56
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Very glad to hear you are ok. We are planning to order our Escape next year and can’t wait. The tow vehicle has been quite the research project for me. I know folks do and have towed with 5,000lbs towing capacity vehicles, but I do wonder about their sufficiency. Not an expert on this at all, and I’d actually be very interested in what other more experienced towers thought. Basically, I was taught and have researched a few key principals about “knowing your numbers", and that WDH and sway bars can be great but are secondary to solid safe numbers. When I review Highlander XLE’s numbers, it seems to be less than ideal for the Escape 19 or 21. Again, not that it can’t be done without incident, and these numbers error on the side of extra safety; just sharing and seeing what folks think. Many other excellent comments on sway and other issues that seem very relevant, and I’ve learned a lot so thank you. I am specifically addressing the idea that the vehicle might not be sufficient; not that it was the ultimate reason for what happened, rather that it may have been a significant contributing factor. If you are familiar with Human Factors (especially in aircraft accident investigation), this is in line with the “Swiss Cheese” model where several unsafe issues occur simultaneously without intervention or prevention which unfortunately result in an accident (it’s rarely one thing). Here are my thoughts; experts, please weigh-in (yes, pun intended). Safest and best practice when trailering is to:

Principle 1. Figure weight calculations based on the assumption of maxing out your vehicle and trailer’s GVWR. Probably won’t ever do it, but you might come close now and then, especially in an SUV with their lower payload capacity, and it’s better to be safe.
Principle 2. Figure out what your actual towing capacity would be if you maxed out your payload capacity. Remember, payload is first reduced by your tongue weight, pax weight, and then, whatever is left over is what you would have for cargo/gear in the vehicle (up to vehicle’s max). It often is not as much as you would think.
Principle 3. Try not to exceed 80% of the actual towing capacity number that you figure from Principle 2. Keeps you safe during hard braking, downhill, etc.
(other things to look at as well such as GCWR, etc., but to keep simple, I’ll stick to just these)

So, what would this look like? Here are 4 vehicles (all 2018) I looked at that are the most telling and highlight this issue: Durango V6, Highlander XLE, F-150 4x4 Ecoboost V6 2.7L, F-150 4x4 Ecoboost V6 3.5L.
First, accounting for a few knowns and some safe assumptions: Escape 19 & 21 GVWR of 5,000. Dry weights are 3250 and 3465. A tongue weight (loaded to go camping, real world weight) of approx. 400-425 lbs. Pax & pets weight of about 400 lbs.

Here is what you get using formula: MFR Tow Capacity – Payload Capacity = actual tow capacity

Durango V6 (what I initially thought our tow vehicle was going to be): 6200 – 1450 = 4750 (x 80% = 3800). So basically, if you are loaded in the Durango this becomes less than ideal. Recommended weight is already within 500 lbs or less of dry weight of trailer. Note that 1450 – tongue and pax leaves only 625 lbs for everything else in the SUV (e.g., extra pax, firewood, generator, extra water, food, etc.)
Highlander XLE: 5000 – 1410 = 3590 (x 80% = 2872). The situation is even worse here in all categories. Basically, well above safe towing capacity IMO.
F-150 4x4 Ecoboost 2.7L: 8100 – 2100 = 6000, x 80% = 4800…compare to,
F-150 4x4 Ecoboost 3.5L: 10700-2700 = 8000, x 80% = 6400
NOTE: very interesting on the two F-150’s. Even though the 3.5L takes a bigger hit because of its higher possible payload of 2700 lbs, notice that it is still the more capable tow even if the cab and bed were maxed out on weight. I noticed most similar truck brands in the 1500 series and similar engines or bigger had similar numbers. Also interesting to see that the 2.7L, while a better choice than the listed SUV’s, could still potentially come close to being not enough tow vehicle if fully maxed out on both GVWR’s.

Thoughts: Is this an overly safe approach to ensuring you have enough tow vehicle? Maybe. If you know your real-world weights and that you always camp with only 50% of your tow vehicle’s payload, and never reach within 1,000lbs of maxing out the Escape’s 5k GVWR, you could adjust for your situation. For example, now the Highlander’s numbers would be: 5000- 705 = 4295 (x 80% = 3436). Still not great since this is in essence dry weight of the trailer at 80%, but it’s better. That’s if you could make your payload basically tongue weight plus only 300 lbs of pax and cargo (one person traveling lightly). This example works better for the F-150 2.7L Ecoboost, where if you are watching your payload and trailer weight, it’s probably going to be fine.

I’d be very interested to hear thoughts about “knowing your weights”, etc. Again, very glad to hear you were ok, and good on you for having the dogs strapped in!
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Old 09-19-2020, 01:21 AM   #57
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I think you've already convinced yourself what is necessary and my comments wlll make little difference.
I've towed my 17B ( loaded weight 3,200 lbs; 320-340 lbs. tongue weight ) with a RAV4 V6 Sport up and down the Rockies and Coast Mountains for 12 years. I use a Pro Series weight distribution hitch.

On at least two occasions I have had to take evasive action ( radical lane change ) to avoid an accident. Tow and trailer behaved as one.
All that considered, I just purchased a 2020 Highlander XLE ( 5,000 lb tow / 500 lb. tongue ).

I hope having that margin doesn't make me lazy and inattentive. Paying attention and anticipating traffic and other drivers is much more important than numbers.
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Old 09-19-2020, 06:14 AM   #58
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KLBM,

That's all been very thorough in theory. Now go look at some actual trucks.
The towing and payload will be in the driver door panel, and will vary greatly from the published figures. The stickers shown by some brands show those two numbers, while other brands require a calculator.

The variations depend on cab length, 2WD v. 4WD, bed length, axle ratio, and of course engine power. Other things such as running boards, tonneau covers, power everything, and even leather factor in, too. See if you can look inside a dozen trucks or more to see the ranges.

The last bit of advice, take your family and have them climb in and sit in the truck and go for that test drive. If someone doesn't like it for some reason the first day, he or she probably won't ever like it.

Test drives are free. Try every brand or size you think you might like.

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Old 09-19-2020, 08:19 AM   #59
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KLBM - You didn't address vehicle manufacturer Trailer Frontal Area limits in your 'thoughts'

Enquiring minds want to know .... how does that figure into your principles of "safest and best practice"? Should I limit myself to 80% of the vehicle manufacturer's recommended maximum?
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Old 09-19-2020, 08:22 AM   #60
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I saw an F150 in front of Costco the other day with a Costco (reduced) sticker price on the windshield, of seventy thousand dollars. Now that's a really real-world weight, if I ever saw one.
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