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Old 05-24-2010, 08:25 PM   #1
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15.5 Sunline - Towing Question

I am picking up a 1988 15.5 Sunline tomorrow. It has a sway control rig with weight distribution hitch system. I am towing it with an 03 F150 (5.4L) and I was wondering if I really need the sway control system??

The reason I ask is because with the hitch insert I have, it's about 3" higher than the drop hitch I use with my Sunline 13.5.. Does that really matter??

I see people tow the 15.5 with all kinds of vehicles that are smaller, but with my F150, will It matter? will it tow true down the road even though it's 3" higher than "level"?

I only need to get the trailer home - about 30 miles on express way. If it's okay to tow it higher than level, I will, but I dont think it really matters... or ..does.. it???


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Old 05-24-2010, 09:38 PM   #2
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Hi Al

You have a lot of questions flying in there, I sense your unknowns.

Don’t know if this will help or not but here goes.

The stock 1988, T1550 if I looked it up right

Has a dry empty weight around 1,990# and a dry tongue of 240#. That says empty the tongue weight is 12% of the GVW. That means the TT is balanced stable when empty and towing level. That is a good thing.

Towing nose high, like 3” worth, can create strange wind patterns off the tops of some TT’s. The size of the truck plays in this too. You have a good truck so it will overcome a lot. But some times 3” nose high can change the tongue weight in a negative fashion, or add or not change much. Each TT has a center of gravity up in the TT that affects if the tongue weight goes up or down or non at all pending nose height. Only way to know is weight it.

Speed, speed can upset a rig that is not ideal in towing setup. It can be stable at 45 mph and then when you hit 55 start to have problems. Again pending setup. Key is slow.

I am a believer in sway control when we talk about TT’s. Again speed here affects things a lot faster.

If you are in an un-ideal towing situation, speed is one thing you can control. Being 3” high is not great and without seeing your setup I can’t recommend it. It does matter in many cases. That is not to say that you won’t find some one who does not have a problem towing that high but there are cases where that far nose high and the right wind and speed and it starts to wander around.

Ideally level it out and have a sway bar on the camper. Pending your truck bed weight and TT weight a WD hitch may be needed once loaded with camping gear to help the truck.

Is the expressway a mandate? Take the side roads home. There are not usually as many semis and the pace is slower.

Hope this helps


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Old 05-25-2010, 07:05 AM   #3
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When we picked up our 15.5 we towed it 200 miles on mostly Interstate without sway bar or weight distribution, without any problems. We did not exceed 55 MPH and stayed well to the right.

I agree with John. Since you have a short distance to go, I would stay off Interstates and take it easy.

As to towing 'Nose High' I would get the correct drop hitch and tow level. 3 inches up in the front means 3 inches down in the rear and there's not a lot of clearance to begin with. You'll need to have a flat towing situation in the future.

Our's is a 1982 and weighs almost 300 pounds less than yours. That's interesting to me. I wonder where the extra weight has been added. As you know we tow with a Honda Civic and have been every where with it without issue. We only have a sway bar.

We have never had a weight distribution hitch and really can't comment on that other than to say the sway bar has been enough for us. I must add we never go 60 and are usually at 55 MPH. Reduced speed adds to safety on many levels.

We wish you the best with your 15.5; the two of us have loved ours.
Norm and Ginny Milliard
1982 Sunline 15.5 SB
2004 Honda CRV 4 cyl, manual
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:28 AM   #4
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My best friend had a 1982 1550 for many years and first towed with a '91 4 dr Explorer, then he upgraded to an '04 F-150. Ne never needed a weight dist. hitch, but he always used a friction sway bar for those "Just in case" moments. My motto: Better to have it and never need it than to need it and not have it.

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Old 05-25-2010, 09:00 AM   #5
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Ditto on the sway bar. I bought mine on Kitty's mantra and have had one emergency stop and I was glad I had it. I think it's something like $70 to buy one.

Safe travels
Norm and Ginny Milliard
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Old 05-28-2010, 11:26 AM   #6
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Sway control is essential. In your case, the friction type is inexpensive and very, very adequate.

Weight distribution for a 15.5 is probably overkill, especially since you are towing with a full size pickup.

If you are just limping it home one time, you can probably skip all the advice and just drive slow and safe. If you are towing regular, sway control and towing level are critical for the safety of you and your passengers AND those who share the highways with you.
What you do need is a drawbar with enough drop so that the trailer sits level when hooked-up. Nose high or nose low is problematic.

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Old 05-31-2010, 09:41 PM   #7
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After seeing this question earlier, I asked a man who tows a 1990 Saturn 14 footer at a campsite I was in this weekend. He has both a WD and friction bar and said he wouldn't consider not using both.

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