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Old 11-21-2009, 11:10 AM   #21
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Kitty,

I was not suggesting that anyone should use a friction anti-sway bar for their 26 footer. We use one on our 15.5 foot trailer and to this point have not had any problems and we've now been from coast to coast and in 30 of the 50 states with our little Sunline. I do think it's adequate for a trailer our size and weight.

I was suggesting that all devices need to be installed correctly, adjusted properly and sized for the job. As well that there are ways to drive, and I think this is as important as any equipment, that improve driveability.

I am always surprised by how fast people are towing their trailers, well beyond the ratings of their tires and very often well beyond the legal speed limit. I am very surprised there are not more rollovers.

If you are a newbie, I believe it's prudent to take a couple of short trips before undertaking a longer one, sort of a shakedown cruise.

Safe Travels to all,
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Old 11-21-2009, 07:30 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron & Alice
John, I just reread everything, and I printed off your list of questions regarding hitches, etc. Now...I will see how many of them Ron & I can figure out, so that you can try to assess our situation - thanks!
Alice, glad to help when the time comes as well as others here. Create a new post in the towing section and we can respond to your needs there. That post may end up a few pages sorting it out and others can learn and follow as well. Your TT is a popular model and we may have several with the same TT/ truck to help give their thoughts.

I now see you can do pic posting. If by any chance you happen to have a pic of your WD hitch hooked up between the camper and the truck, we can see exactly what you have. This helps when stating setup instructions. The instructions then exactly match your setup.

BTW great pic of Ron and you.

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Old 11-23-2009, 05:40 PM   #23
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I'll see if I can get Ron to hook up the TT so I can take a photo...
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:30 PM   #24
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A couple of clarifications

Just to clarify some things...I did not realize this discussion was continuing, otherwise I'd have been in it.

1. We were traveling about 55-60 mph in the right lane of I-70. I am well aware that trailer tires are rated only to 65 mph, and though I have once or twice driven at or above 65, it was too squirrely.

2. The Draw-Tite friction type sway control is what Stoltzfus sold us with the trailer, insisting that it was the correct one for the T299. Having owned two other trailers, and towed one or two others, I knew better. We lived with it for a few months, but then switched over to the dual-cam type.

3. While we were in the west last (200 summer, we had repeated problems with losing the spring bars. As it happened, the hitch head was worn sufficiently that the trunnions were jumping out of their sockets when one side or the other was put under stress. Instead of sending me replacement trunnions (which are held on with one roll pin), Reese insisted on sending me replacement spring bars. These new bars had the integral cam end, while our others had the bolt-on cams. These arrived while we were in Missouri and I was leery of using them. So I fashioned something that held the spring bar in place even if it jumped out of the socket, and we completed the trip without incident.

4. Most of you remember our little snafu with the cooked wheel bearing, necessitating a replacement axle. That happened about 180 miles from home, in VA. We got cheated by the repair shop that Good Sam recommended. If you want details (including the guy's identity), PM me. Among other things, this hillbilly charged me 3 hours of shop time for his attempt to locate an axle assembly. Starting from square one, it took me only half an hour to locate and order the part.

5. Because the tires had been stressed, we put four new Goodyear Marathons on before bringing the trailer home from VA.

6. Later, we took the trailer to Custom Coach to have the hitch repaired. They installed a new hitch head, which matched the larger trunnions on the spring bars, but said nothing about the match between the bars and the old-style cams. We took a trip to Ocean City MD in the spring without incident, but that's mostly flat terrain. I had noticed that instead of an even wear pattern across the width of the cams and mating parts of the spring bars, there was only edge wear, indicating (in hindsight) that the new spring bars were about 1/4 inch too wide for the cams. But everything felt fine on the road, and that's the setup we were running when we crashed.

Now I've been towing for more than ten years, and probably 20-30,000 miles. I've been in sway situations before and recovered from them. This thing that happened on October 2d was unprecedented, and I am increasingly convinced that the equipment played a big role in it. I think that with the mis-fit of the cams and spring bars, there was insufficient friction to give us the sway control we needed.

In hindsight, it looks to me like Stoltzfus installed the wrong equipment in the first place, and we got bad advice from both Reese and Custom Coach. When you try talking with these guys about hitches and sway controls, you always get the same line of b.s. -- "we don't guarantee driveability." I think that's horribly irresponsible, and I think that's the cause of our crash, which set us back financially as well as medically. Unfortunately, I have no real proof of misefeasance on the part of any of the players, that would allow me to press for damages.

Bottom line: caveat emptor. And know that the dealers do not necessarily know what they are talking about. Every dealer I've met has complained of a problem keeping RV techs on staff. I don't know whether there is any meaningful certification for these techs, and the more I think about it the more distrustful I am about the entire industry.

P.S. We are more or less OK, except for the loss of Annie (still not recovered) and the $15-20 K in uninsured losses. We initially carried collision insurance on the TT, but it was costing nearly $1,000 a year, and we opted out. Because of that, the auto insurance did not even cover the towing/recovery/storage on the trailer; only the TV.

This has been a very bitter experience for us, except for the unexpected acts of kindness from strangers at the crash scene, and from Gary, Kitty, John and others on this forum.

Stan Modjesky
Gwynn Oak, MD
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Old 11-29-2009, 06:04 AM   #25
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I am sorry that this happened to you. I can only imagine how painful it must be to re-think this event. I truly thank you for your explanation.

The topic of towing saftey is a complicated one that seems difficult to clearly understand, at least for us beginners and apparantly for those selling the equipment. Your unfortunate experience will benefit us all.

We all hope you all recover fully.
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:53 PM   #26
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Norm, I'm the sort of person who cannot help re-thinking situations like this one. If by sharing that thought process, we can save someone from a similar (or worse) situation, so much the better.

I have become increasingly disenchanted with the RV industry, especially the retailers and service shops. I'm trying to sort out that personal aggravation from the facts of this wreck, and that can only help me. It's low-cost psychotherapy.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:55 PM   #27
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Hi Stan

We truly appreciate your posting. And if you get to the point you do not want to talk any more on this, we totally respect that.

I saw your Trailer at Kitty’s. I also looked at the DC area for any signs of what might help lead to an explanation.

There are 2 things that I can offer that “might” have contributed to a less then optimal anti stay prevention stand point. Think thru these and see if they have any application in your situation.

First one is in the hitch. Putting the pieces of the trail of your hitch back together here are some observations.

This is your old standard DC. Sorry for the foggy pic. My camera was fogged up.


This one is what makes me suspect.


The older style standard DC mounts and adjusts with U bolts. The only way to get the cam lobe to match the WD bar cam, is to loosen the U bolts and tap it back and forth on the frame. Going from older flat style WD bars with bolt on cams to the new HP WD bars and a hitch head should of required a tweak in effective length I would think at least to make it dead on perfect. Unless you where really lucky.

I did not see any witness lines in the U bolts that the DC was ever adjusted. Gary may have to go out and look some more to see if the frame plate ever moved. I never looked from the bottom up. In order to set the DC optimally one needs to drive 100 feet straight and let the TT track behind the TV. Then get out and look with a flash light at the cam area to see if both the left and right cams are dead on. Then tweak the cam arms as needed to exactly line up. And recheck once tweaked.

And ideally once tweaked, mark left and right and always put them back on the same location. Did the hitch shop do that? They may or may not agree with that approach but if they do not do something to set the DC cam arm right to the WD bar with a tracked TV, well then when you are going straight down the road they are not locked so to speak. It is not accurate enough to try and measure it along the frame as the TT may be at an angle to the TV. You have to track the TV and TT.

A DC that is not centered actually is sort of fighting itself. Or one WD bar is locked and the other its out of position, end result is both are not doing the optimal job to hold the TT rigid behind the truck. They are also not machined bars, the are forged so there are differences in left and right. You and dial out all the difference but ideally you put them back on the same side.

This pic here shows the WD bar out of location by about 1/4” I did that to show the effect. This was a mock up for the pic, but again the DC is either locked or it is hunting for a lock. If it is hunting, then it is not as optimal as it could be and not as effective in anti sway control. The further off it is the worse less effective.


I also looked at the fit of the newer 1,200# WD bar to the old standard DC. The fit is a little different then the new style DC. I was actually trying to use these pics to help another buddy as he managed to twist up his older DC cam arms running new style 1,200# WD bars.






And here is that wear in only 2 spots you where describing.


I tried to push the 1,200# WD bar back and forth thru the older version DC and going straight, it appeared to work OK. In a turn there may be a bind if the WD bar was at an angle enough due to the less clearance then the new style DC cam. Since your sway started while going straight, I myself could not find and issue with the width making the hitch less effective. A turn of 50 to 60 degrees, yes it might bind given the right conditions but that bind would bend the cam arm.

Here is the new style HP DC. This is with my 1,700# WD bars in them however the 1,200, 1500 and 1,700# WD bars are the same nominal width. The 600 and 800# bars are narrower.




As you can see, there is not a lot of side to side play. Maybe 1/8” to 5/32 max. But the cam lobe is machined square to the shoulder and the WD bar is not riding on the cast radius like on the older standard DC.

This pic was how to mount the new HP DC to the frame, however you can see the machined cam area if you have never seen one of these.


And even the new style DC has to be set right or it will hunt. See here. This one is off to show what I’m talking abuot.


Here is with the chain plate off.


So all I could see in what was on the TT and hitch from what we have to look at, was that the DC may not of been adjusted to be optimal when that wind caught you coming over that hill.

The next area that “might” or might not pending what you can tell us, was the actual tires on the Suburban. I use to tow my T2499 and my T310SR for a short time with a 2003 K2500 Suburban and the new style Reese DC. Yours was a little older, and more horses under the hood, I only had the 6.0 liter, but both are 130” wheel base.

What tires pressures where you running front and rear on the TV? I’m assuming you had LT's on the 2500.

Reason I bring up tires is I found the edge of how effective the DC is on a 130” wheel base and a 2500 Suburban. My original Steel Tex LT’s where rigid side walls. That Burb, DC and TT where rock solid on the 2499. That was until the day I had to buy 4 new tires. I bought Michlean LTX LT’s to replace them. Premium riding tire. Boy where they smooth none towing. Towing, in my opinion on a 130” WB, LTX is not a good application. I immediately had a shift in stability where wind gusts kicked the DC loose and the rig started a yaw on the 1st towing trip out with them. I questioned my own setup and went over it 3 times until I stumbled on the tires and air pressure. I always ran the back at 80 psi and the front 50 psi. when towing. The Steel Tex worked well. The LTX was not good. After airing the front up to 60 psi, the front end came stable again but still not as good at it use to be. I could not go 70 psi as the front end would bounce and that is not good either, so I settled on 65 psi. Basically 10 psi made the difference in a stable rig and one that could not long handle 30 mph wind gusts any longer.

Did you change tires recently? Where they the same as when you had your old hitch and was it stable? Did you ever have to do steering corrections when semis passed? What brand and psi where you running when the crash happening?

The 2 things I see in what little we know are, maybe the DC was not optimized right to hold lock as good as it could and that alone or combined with a tire instability caused the wind to get you yawing and then heading down hill when the TT came forward the rest just went off.

I may be totally out in left field on this and it not apply in your case. But maybe it can give you some things to think thru if you ever want to try and figure out what happened.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:28 PM   #28
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John, so much to think about

That's quite an analysis (and I spent 10 years in failure analysis/reliability engingeering).

Mea culpa: I skipped the step of towing the trailer a bit and checking alignment. Gary, who has seen the nasty turn into/out of my parking pad, can fill you in on why I took this shortcut.

TV tires: no change from the tires and pressures we ran on the trip to Yellowstone. I run the door-jamb pressures, which IIRC are 55 and 80 psig. I believe the tires were a pair of Michelins on the rear, and something else on the front.

TT tires: four brand-new Goodyear Marathons, inflated to sticker pressure (60 psig?). On the trip home from VA after the axle replacement, and the round trip to Ocean City in May, they couldn't have felt more solid.

The various repair shop work orders are scattered on my office floor, and I honest don't remember the order in which things were done, except to say that (a) I reserved the new/replacement spring bars until we returned to Baltimore; (b) I moved and adjusted the DCs and snap-up brackets; (c) Custom Coach assembled the new hitch to my old 2 inch carrier bar. I don't recall whether the did this on the bench, or if I took the trailer to them.

From the look of it, there is plenty of blame to be spread around for the crash: mismatch between bars and DC by Reese; faulty installation by yours truly.

DW is talking about more travel, but I swear it will require an act of faith, or hypnosis, to convince me ever to tow again. We will look at a Cruise America rental, but that's obviously only a short term solution.

Nothing substitutes for having your own rig, ready to go, and being able to travel without worrying over a schedule, and when the equipment is due back to the lessor.

For the moment, our biggest worries are recovering Annie and getting me back to whatever will be my future full capacity. Just now, I have not got the stamina to hook up, do a day of towing, and set up camp. The surgeon said it will be four to six months before we know the extent to which I've recovered. Until I can get through a couple of days without Vicodan, it's anyone's guess.

Yesterday (Sunday) my work day involved eight hours on the road. Today, I worked a bit, but by early afternoon was tired, hurting and depressed.

Thanks to you, Gary and Kitty for staying with me on this matter...
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:16 AM   #29
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Thanks for the update Stan. Your unfortunate accident "might" prevent another one of it's kind from happening to someone else. Unfortunately, as you well know, way too many RV Stealerships don't have a REAL clue how to set up hitches properly, and way too many buyers just figure that it was done by the stealer so it "must" be right. I see this scenario everyday on I-81, too the point that some are down right scarey to think about passing.

With the tight parking spot that you have, a nice class B or small "C" might suit your needs very well. I understand your apprehension about towing again, and that is something only you & Peggy can decide. Ya know the quote "IF ya fall off the horse, ya gotta get right back on" so they say.

I do wish there would be some news about Annie. But, look at the dogs that have gone MIA and turned up 3 years later. So, there is still hope.

STICK WITH US, WE'LL KEEP YOU GOING

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Old 12-01-2009, 03:02 PM   #30
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Thanks Kitty. It's encouragement like what I get here that keeps me from going over the edge.

We just realized that hunting season is in full swing, which means there will be a lot more sets of eyes in the woods and fields. So I am working on a slightly different flyer about Annie, which I will send to the gun shops and hunting guides in the area.

Peg is meanwhile looking for another "snuggle dog" to adopt. If Annie turns up, we will be a 3 dog household. Been there before...
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Old 12-01-2009, 07:44 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kanyonkitty

STICK WITH US, WE'LL KEEP YOU GOING

Kitty


Ditto what Kitty said!!!!

Hey if you do decide on a B or Mini C - you can be an SOB here on the Sunline Forum
(a/k/a Some Other Brand)
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Old 12-02-2009, 07:47 AM   #32
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It's funny you mention that. My sister and DH were long time Starcraft owners, and active in an owners' club. These days it seems as if their entire local club chapter are SOBs.

This forum has always been welcoming to me. I participated briefly in RV.net, but when I looked at the number of people I had blocked because they were nasty to me, it seemed like time to quit.

Internet groups either bring out the best or the worst in people, and it has been my experience that hostile, flaky, angry people all manage to gravitate toward each other, which makes them easy to avoid. So much more so than in Real Life.
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