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Old 03-27-2019, 08:24 PM   #81
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I have a good friend that lives in the Netherlands. He and his wife shipped their BIOD and 5-cylinder Volvo to the USA in 2008. They took the QE2 to New York, their Volvo and BIOD landed in Florida. For several months, they toured the USA. I met up with them in Bandon, Oregon. Lex told me this story. He said, most people in Europe (with Caravans) only travel a 'bit' away from their domicle. IF you were take the entire state of Texas and lay it over Europe... how many countries would it cover? People in North America are used to traveling many miles just to camp. In Europe, a few miles... or kilometers means they're 'Not at Home.' So... I bet I could tow my Escape a few miles with my garden tractor and would 'fit' the European-idea of camping. Think about it...
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Old 03-27-2019, 08:56 PM   #82
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I'm very sorry to read about your accident. Thank goodness you were not hurt.

My towing experience has mostly been with boats on double axle trailers in the 5000 lb range, going from Canada to Florida and back in the winter. Usually towing with a loaded full sized 4x4 SUV or pickup truck. I never used a WD or sway control hitch. They were all using hydraulic surge brakes on boat trailers. Tongue weight was around 500 lbs. I kept the speed around 60 mph, I tried to hug the right side of the right lane. I noticed if the trailer was up in the front a bit a passing semi would cause some sway, if the bow of the boat was down a bit, no sway. I think the wind from the semi lifts the weight off the ball. In high wind situations I've heard the clunk from the hitch as the semi passed and all the weight was lifted off the ball. By having the boat a bit lower the wind from the semi increased the ball weight rather than decreased it. Then no sway at all.

Undoubtedly a boat hull is more susceptible to this than a fiberglass trailer however under the right conditions I think the effect can occur. I think it quickly gets worse with increased speed, shorter, lighter tow vehicle, and other circumstances like wet roads, going down a steep hill, cross winds and of course any driver input when it first starts.

I have a 17B on order, I plan to tow it with a full sized pickup, WD hitch and see how it feels. The truck weighs almost 6000 lbs empty.

Just my experiences, Bob
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Old 03-27-2019, 09:00 PM   #83
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You're absolutely correct Donna. Having traveled throughout northwestern Europe, and having relatives that are big into camping in that area, we found many Europeans use their caravans to drive to the designated campground and set up 'camp' for the entire summer ... adding on external canvas 'rooms', etc. Sure, there are those that travel around Europe with their car and caravan but there are many more that just use the caravan as a stationery 'home-away-from-home'.
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Old 03-27-2019, 09:09 PM   #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobG View Post
Here is a conundrum to me: Many/most/all European/German vehicles do not allow weight distribution hitches yet many have 5,000, 7,000 lb or more tow rating and 500 to 700 lb or greater tongue weight rating.



What is different there than in North America? More towing accidents in Europe? Lower speed limit when towing? Cars built differently or with systems that handle towing without weight distribution. They don't tow travel trailers or if they do the trailers are very small, way less than 7,000 pounds.
In England, where I lived for about 8 years, you have to take a driving test with your trailer if you want to tow anything over about 1600 lbs. They also have lower speed limits for trailers (or Caravans as they call them) and those are rigidly enforced.
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Old 03-27-2019, 09:28 PM   #85
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I suppose there is a regulation somewhere in North America that requires weight distribution hitches since they are so much safer. Yes?
You may have missed the many comments made by people like me that prefer to use a WDH, not because I believe that it's inherently safer, but because I can feel the difference between with and without. And I prefer the solid "as one" feel with a WDH.

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Old 03-27-2019, 10:08 PM   #86
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Here is a conundrum to me: Many/most/all European/German vehicles do not allow weight distribution hitches yet many have 5,000, 7,000 lb or more tow rating and 500 to 700 lb or greater tongue weight rating.
The common European towing hardware is not designed to work with WD, and the combinations of tow vehicle and trailer don't need to avoid overloading the tug's rear axle, so it's not surprising to me that these vehicles are not intended for use with WD.

Hitch weight capacity of European vehicles is usually a lower fraction of trailer weight than here, and the trailers are have lower tongue weight as a fraction of trailer weight. Some Euro vehicles sold here have quite high hitch weight capacity (e.g. large VW/Audi/Porsche SUVs), to suit this market, if they have enough rear suspension capacity.

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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
What is different there than in North America? More towing accidents in Europe? Lower speed limit when towing? Cars built differently or with systems that handle towing without weight distribution. They don't tow travel trailers or if they do the trailers are very small, way less than 7,000 pounds.
I doubt the Europeans have more towing incidents. They do generally have a lower towing speed limit (80 km/h or 50 mph) is common, with a higher limit for better-equipped tug and trailer combinations (with features which improve stability) of 100 km/h (62 mph).

They certainly do tow trailers - there is huge range of travel trailers in Europe, with many manufacturers. Although they don't commonly have trailers as large as the larger units here, Escape-sized trailers are normal... and just as heavy as the same-sized trailer here.

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Maybe the European transportation industry, car manufacturers and regulators just haven't figured out that weight distribution hitches reduce accidents? I guess this could be but I think their regulators are as safety minded as anyone.
Ha ha ha
No, they realize that WD isn't needed to reduce accidents. They do commonly use friction-based sway-reducing couplers. They also have trailers which are inherently more stable, because they keep mass more central. You won't see the tongue of a Euro trailer with two propane tanks hanging off of the very front, followed by two huge batteries and box full of cargo, all ahead of the trailer body, plus a rack on the back of the trailer carrying a whole carload of stuff.

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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I suppose there is a regulation somewhere in North America that requires weight distribution hitches since they are so much safer. Yes?
I've never heard of one. WD systems are not even mentioned in either of the two towing equipment standards which are often referred to by regulations (the ancient VESC V-5 and the current SAE J684). They are required by the manufacturers of some vehicles for tongue weight above a certain level, but that is likely to avoid rear axle overloading rather than for stability.

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I have to assume their cars have independent braking to each wheel and have figured it out but I don't know.
No, the common Euro braking system for recreational trailers is an all-mechanical (nothing electric, nothing hydraulic) surge braking system (which they call an "overrun" braking system); there is no control by the tow vehicle or driver. One company makes a system which automatically applies the trailer brakes in case of sway, using an extra linkage and an electric motor, but it's probably not commonly use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I know their headlight adjust when the vehicle is not level whether due to cargo or trailer hitch loading.
Europeans used much better headlights than North Americans for many years, and one of the features of those headlights is sharp upper cutoff line for the low beams. This makes aim more critical, so they are more likely to have automated headlight aiming, which is common here only with HID (or "xenon") lights.
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Old 03-27-2019, 11:59 PM   #87
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Thanks Brian for replying to what I posted.



I understand what some people say about the feel of towing with WD vs no WD hitch. I am over 70 and have towed trailers of one sort or another with and without WD hitches since I received a drivers license. Last week I returned to Seattle from Mexico border area towing a 21' trailer with a Toyota SUV using WD hitch. Not my rig. Trip was fine.



Two years ago I bought a German SUV with 7000/700 lb rating primarily to tow a travel trailer. I bought it before I found out WD hitches were not allowed. My situation changed before I could take delivery of the trailer and cancelled the order. I am starting to think about that trailer again.



After reading so many posts similar to "I wouldn't tow without WD hitch" (referring primarily to sway control), I become paranoid and feel caught between what the manufacturer says and what is prudent or safe. I know that without WD the braking action of the front and rear tires will be different than without trailer but expect that is compensated for by the vehicle brake systems.



I'm not so sure that the vehicle's systems can tamp down sway but neither do I think WD hitches significantly counteract sway. At least that is what I think I learned from reading testing reports on the subject a couple years ago. In any case, I read so many posts implying WD is the only way to go that I am nervous about going without.


Regarding headlights. Yes the upper cutoff is pretty sharp but the LED headlights on my vehicle actually realign themselves every time I start the engine.
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Old 03-28-2019, 12:32 AM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I have to assume their cars have independent braking to each wheel and have figured it out but I don't know.
I assumed that this was referring to independent braking of trailer wheels:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
No, the common Euro braking system for recreational trailers is an all-mechanical (nothing electric, nothing hydraulic) surge braking system (which they call an "overrun" braking system); there is no control by the tow vehicle or driver.
... but I realized when I read this that Bob probably meant tow vehicle wheels:
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I'm not so sure that the vehicle's systems can tamp down sway...
Good vehicle stability control systems really can reduce trailer sway. To have any hope of doing this, they need to know if there is a trailer attached, but they can usually detect that because the trailer lights are plugged in. This sort of system is available in selected vehicles from all major manufacturers, regardless of their "home" location.

Studies long ago concluded that even a skilled driver has difficulty steering the tow vehicle to react to trailer sway and actively damp it, but with the cycle speed and degree of control of a modern stability control system, this becomes practical. Like any other technology, this is not a magic fix to an unstable trailer, but a helpful tool. Of course, these systems didn't exist until a few years ago, and before that almost everyone towing a trailer survived without them.
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Old 03-28-2019, 06:11 AM   #89
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Hello All,
Like most things on this forum interesting discussion.
At the moment we are towing our 2014 21' with our 2012 4WD 6 Cylinder Pathfinder without a WDH or anti sway. I'm also one of those people that have pulled all kinds of things most of my life and never used a WDH. But I ask myself you see this trailer as an investment, I bought insurance for it, keep it inside so it stays as new looking as possible so shouldn't I use a WDH because better to be safe then sorry? One thing I don't see anyone saying is that a WDH CAUSED an accident just having one might have prevented one so........

Someone that has the E2 can you do me a favor please. Our Escape came with a custom made aluminum storage box on the front, I know there are some bars on the E2 that attached to the trailer frame, what I want to know is how far back are those bars mounted from the trailer tongue? Pretty sure to do this I'm going to have to cut slots in the bottom of this box so trying to figure out about where those will be.

BIG THANKS in advance for the info.

Enjoy the journey.

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Old 03-28-2019, 07:15 AM   #90
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This has been an interesting discussion. I know I have come away with some plans to change my behavior. I was interested in reviewing Bob’s observations in his opening post, perhaps it would be good to look at those again:
Quote:
1. I plan measure tongue weight. One site suggested always emptying the fresh water tank since many trailers, like the 19, have it behind the axles. The weight of the water reduces tongue weight.
2. I am getting a WDH/anti-sway hitch. I like the Husky model, which some forum members recommended.
3. We will stay in the right lane and go less than the speed limit.
4. We won't be passing any trucks. (Although a truck passing us could cause a similar effect.)
5. We will practice reacting and hitting the trailer brakes quickly.
I think his observations were spot on. The order of Bob’s list is significant, in my opinion the tongue weight and trailer balance is something that seems to be done by the seat of the pants rather than using a simple tool (scale) to be absolute. Not having a scale I cannot believe I have the ability to determine tongue weight, do you?
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Old 03-28-2019, 07:59 AM   #91
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trailer sway

Some 25 years ago I quickly loaded my single axle car/motorcycle trailer with a 1940 car that was all apart. It had most of a motor mounted in the front so I put it on the trailer nose first and tossed everything else inside the convert body. We were moving 800 miles to Tucson and this was just one load. About 50 miles into the trip we were going down a hill below a railroad crossing, just then we hit a construction area, the right side of the right lane was several inches lower that the other lanes and the sway started. The tow vehicle was about the same weight as the trailer and we started using the area off the right lane and the next lane over. I pushed on the gas and had Nancy reach over and apply the trailer brakes manually until we recovered.
I pulled into a parking lot and reconsidered the trip. We had to go on so I moved the doors to a spot over the engine and other items as far forward as possible and the trip was resumed.
I had learned the hard way how important trailer loading was and fortunately I had some clean clothes with me.
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:06 AM   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
This has been an interesting discussion. I know I have come away with some plans to change my behavior. I was interested in reviewing Bob’s observations in his opening post, perhaps it would be good to look at those again:



I think his observations were spot on. The order of Bob’s list is significant, in my opinion the tongue weight and trailer balance is something that seems to be done by the seat of the pants rather than using a simple tool (scale) to be absolute. Not having a scale I cannot believe I have the ability to determine tongue weight, do you?

Agree completely. If you (speaking to the masses here, not you, Paul) haven’t measured your tongue weight, then you don’t know what your tongue weight is. You’re guessing, and you could be way off. A WDH is a poor bandaid for an improperly balanced trailer.

None of the trailers manufactured by ETI require a WDH to operate safely *as long as* your tongue weight is within the prescribed, mandated, safety specifications.

Load your trailer up for travel and then weigh it. Just do it. There are a bunch of ways to do this, eg:

-get or borrow a Sherline tongue scale

-use the bathroom scale method

-go to a commercial scale with and without trailer attached. When weighing with trailer attached, keep trailer wheels off the scale. The difference in no-trailer weight and with-trailer weight is tongue weight.

I’ve even used a scale at a moving company where business was so slow that they let me unhook with just the trailer tongue on the scale. That was before I learned faster, easier methods.

I currently use the scales at our county landfill, just a few miles from home. Use is free unless you want a certified weight ticket.

If you measure tongue weight using any of the whole-vehicle-and-math methods, you also get the bonus of measuring your loaded up for travel vehicle weight - which you should compare to your GVWR; your gross combined weight (total of tug plus tow plus everything) - which you should compare to your GCWR; your trailer total weight - which you should compare to the trailer’s own, separate GCWR; and if you do it all axle by axle you can compare those numbers to each axle’s individual weight rating.

You do know what each of those item’s limits, or weight ratings are, right? If not then it’s time to start by looking it up in your owners manuals, at the stickers in your door jams, etc.

Don’t guess on this stuff. Measure it. Adjust things if necessary. And then drive with confidence, knowing that you’re good.
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:08 AM   #93
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Things I learned

Always have a Tow vehicle heavier than the trailer unless you have a semi.
Always use a WDH.
Use a tongue scale.
Spend as little time as possible next to a semi (tires or wind)
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:29 AM   #94
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I come from a different perspective as I've driven big trucks for years in my younger days. I've seen numerous times where folks who were towing whatever kind of vehicle wound up in trouble because they didn't anticipate and plan for the significant amount of sudden winds generated when passing a large vehicle. You just have to be aware and realize the danger is always there. Don't give up on your lifestyle because of this, what I'm sure was a traumatic underwear staining moment.
Secondly, as someone else stated, stay away from Camping World and find a good local marine fiberglass repair outfit.
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:30 AM   #95
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It is interesting to contrast a ball-hitch trailer with a fifth wheel trailer. In my 30 plus years towing fifth wheel trailers, of all sizes, I never experienced significant trailer sway, even though I have been buffeted side-to-side by winds strong enough to cause me to pull off the road. On my last rig, the trailer weight was almost twice that of the tow vehicle. Yet the rig combination was stable in all weather conditions I encountered.

The inherent instability of the ball hitch comes from the fact that the connection is behind the weight-bearing rear axle of the tow vehicle and any lateral movement of the trailer is amplified by this “leverage effect”. Try moving your tow vehicle by pushing on the rear wheels only. Now imagine an impossibly-long tow bar protruding from the back of the hitch, long enough that you are able to grab it and move the back of the vehicle. That is the leverage effect.

I don’t believe a WDH with or without sway control will resolve an inherently bad match between a ball-hitch trailer and tow vehicle. That would include a tow vehicle that is disproportionately lighter than the trailer.
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:41 AM   #96
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An interesting read.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/car...ir-suspension/
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Old 03-28-2019, 09:34 AM   #97
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I have read that air suspension is quite nice for a number of reasons. After I ordered my vehicle I became aware that certain trailer towing assist functions we're not available unless I included air suspension option. I tried to add the air suspension option but was too late.



I understand why air suspension and WD hitches are incompatible. Air suspension and air assist are different things. An airbag added to springs might be ok for WD but air suspension is not.
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Old 03-28-2019, 01:18 PM   #98
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There's an article on the web (found it and read it years ago and have lost my copy since) written by a claims investigator for an insurance company. He'd investigated many trailering accident over the years and noticed strong patterns.


The accidents often involved towing with no sway control or friction sway control. He'd consequently become a proponent of cam-action sway control, such as seen on the Reece Strait-Line hitches.



Giving it some thought, this makes sense: the cams on the Reece start out with a load that is adjustable with the trunnion bars and this trailer-centering load *increases* as sway starts. As the trailer gets out of line, it feels a force pushing it back into line straight behind the tow vehicle. With the typical friction sway reducers, as the trailer starts to sway the friction reducing the tendency of the trailer to move off center markedly *decreases*. (Think back to high school physics and wooden blocks sliding down ramps - the coefficient of sliding friction is lower than the coefficient of static friction.) And nothing in the friction systems can exert a force to put the trailer back where it belongs.


The second point he made was that air suspensions were often a contributing factor.


My own (much less valuable) observation is that many folks get hit, and get hard, by wind. Here in Colorado, there's a turn at the bottom of the Kenosha pass (going west) where you'll often get hit by a blast of wind blowing 30~50 MPH. I used to live in the mountains and drove this pass frequently. Having been hit myself, I got in the habit of leaving a big gap between me and the car ahead (it's two lanes - nobody beside you unless an idiot tries to pass across the solid line) and "enjoying the show" as they blew across the road (westbound) or onto the shoulder (eastbound).


25 years ago, on a business trip, I got up in Pueblo Colorado to drive to the old Denver airport to make a 9 o'clock flight. The weather was good in Pueblo when I left before 6am. Not far north of Pueblo, the wind came up and the snow started. A half an hour later, the west wind was moving the snow sideways across I-25. I started counting vehicles off the road to the east... not vehicles stopped on the shoulder, but vehicles way off the road, plainly blown there. I counted 21, mostly (60%?) tractor-trailers. This was before I got to Colorado Springs and the weather *really* got bad and I quit counting.


Another curious thing about Colorado - we often do not have guard rails. Makes snow plowing difficult. In good weather, this helps with the scenery viewing. In bad weather, it really frays your nerves - unless you slow down, of course.
X2
Uncontrolled sway has long been considered the main source for TV & TT combinations. The Equal-i-zer is a good WDH anti sway hitch, even better is the Reese Straight Line. Best is the Hensley Anti Sway hitch but the price is stout in the $2,500 range.
One of the way to protect and react to sway is constant watching side view mirrors to see how it's pulling. Safe speeds (60-65) Monitor winds and know when it's time to pull over and wait them out. Top tier tires, not China bombs. Monitor tire pressures manually or with a good TPMS unit.
Here's a good read:
How to Avoid Trailer Sway and a Possible Accident - RV Life
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Old 03-28-2019, 01:55 PM   #99
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One thing I don't see anyone saying is that a WDH CAUSED an accident just having one might have prevented one so...
No, but lots of people have had loss-of-control accidents while using a WDH, so it may have been a contributing factor in some cases. The drivers won't say that, just as they won't say it's their fault in any way - it's always the fault of someone else or some piece of equipment that the driver didn't choose and adjust. Some manufacturers recommend against using a WDH with their vehicles, due to the risk of improper adjustment. Even a safety agency study decades ago found that improperly adjusted WD systems cause instability by reducing rear tire traction.

Clearly a properly adjusted WDH is safe, although it may not be useful for stability and it is far from a guaranteed fix of anything.
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Old 03-28-2019, 02:03 PM   #100
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Always have a Tow vehicle heavier than the trailer unless you have a semi.
On this basis, a "half-ton" full-sized pickup truck (F-150, Silverado, Sierra, Ram, Tundra, Titan) is barely capable of towing a fully loaded Escape 21'. Really?
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