Handling sway/fishtailing

Discussion in 'Tow Rigs and Trailers' started by BoltOnJohn, May 10, 2005.

  1. BoltOnJohn

    BoltOnJohn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Franklinton, NC
    Ok, let me open a can of worms.

    I have ZERO experience hauling a vehicle on a dolly or a trailer so I'm looking to learn from other's experiences.

    I do have a fair amount of experience towing boats. Including hauling an oversized boat with an undersized truck from Maine to Florida. Plus hauling overloaded single axle utility trailers at times.

    What's worked for me when the ever-increasing sway kicked in was to slow down. Sway seems speed related. Sway that is sufficiently dampened and goes away after a second on it's own at 45mph can be out of control and try to take over at 55mph. So with this "fact" in mind, I've always responed to sway by removing my foot from the gas and holding the steering wheel straight. i.e. no radical braking or accelerating or steering corrections.

    I've read umpteen times on the internet that you should hit the gas to correct sway. This just doesn't sound right to me. You're adding more speed to a problem that is exasperated by speed. I've also read that you should manually activate the trailer brakes. That makes a lot more sense to me.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. yager

    yager Better Faster Stronger

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    N. Raleigh, NC
    run sufficient toung weight, but if sway starts ease off gas off and tap the trailer brakes if needed to bring the speed down.
     
  3. cumminsdzl

    cumminsdzl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    Wake Forest
    Over the past 6 years i have had approx. 250,000 miles of towing experience with mainly two different trucks. I have pulled loads weighing as much as 25,000 lbs including the trailer weight on a fairly regular basis. All this was done with 3/4 ton 4x4s. I realize towing with a dolly is different. I have to agree with you about letting off of the throttle and not making any drastic steering inputs. On a trailer, sway is caused by not enough tongue weigth. This is not a huge problem at low speeds, but as speeds rise the sway will become more violent. I can say that i have been in heavy swaying situations several times and have always let off the gas and held the wheel steady and have never had a problem. I don't care what anyone says, speed makes the sway more violent, there is no doubt about it.

    I can see how punching the gas may be able to jerk the trailer straight and prevent the sway. But its not worth the risk, if it doesnt work then your sway problem just got even worse. I know some people will disagree, but I am speeking from experiacne.
     
  4. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    Ideally, you apply a little bit of trailer brakes, and that usually pulls things right back in line... speeding up is only if you don't have trailer brakes, what you're after is a "pulling" force... obviously slowing down is preferred...

    But, here's an example from my past, where we didn't have electric trailer brakes - was towing a 6x12 u-haul enclosed with my 2wd Tacoma V6. Due to a bunch of "see if this will fit" stuff being crammed at the rear of the trailer, there wasn't enough tongue weight.

    But, since we were in a constant state of pull going down the road, it was OK... While heading down I-40, we came on the downhill section around Cary, and when I eased off the throttle, the trailer started swaying... My truck was setup decently, being the longest WB offered (120"), big anti-sways front and rear, low profile tires at high psi, etc...

    It got worse, and nothing brought it back in line until I slammed 3rd and dropped the hammer - it quickly got back in line.

    I would guess that you slowing down a little with surge brakes may have applied them slightly?
     
  5. cumminsdzl

    cumminsdzl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    Wake Forest
    Nope, I've never used surge brakes. Always just had normal electric brakes. Maybe is has something to do with the weight of the tow rig. I takes a little more to move the dodge around than it would the s-runner i guess.

    I also think that it might matter that my situations were on double axle trailers. I have never been a fan of using the trailer brakes seperate from the truck in bad situations. With a heavy load and not enoght tongue weight, if you were to hit the brake controller too hard, you will have big problems as well. It also seams the a lot of trailers dont have perfectly even breaking power, like one side is stronger than the other. In a Sway situation this is going to cause problems, where if the load was correctly balanced you would never notice the difference in breaking power side to side.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  6. ypd8990

    ypd8990 New Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Mill
    I am just curious but why dosn't anyone use Stabalizer Bars on their trailers. I have an F250 Short Bed V10 that I use to pull a lifted bronco on a tandom axle trailer with breaks. With out the stabalizer bars there is no way to drive with out serious whale motions. I agree one should try to get more toung weight, but with the bars there is a lot less swaying or whaling. I would not leave home with out them, they make a huge difference. They are both 1000# bars. They were not cheap but are well worth it.

    my 2 cents

    yvon
     
  7. yager

    yager Better Faster Stronger

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    N. Raleigh, NC
    define not cheep? what brand do you have ? any pics?
     
  8. MR. GADGET

    MR. GADGET New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh NC
    http://www.accessconnect.com/weight_distributing_hitch.htm

    STRAIT-LINE WITH TRUNNION BAR STYLE WD And Dual Cam HP Sway Control Kits
    4012 Strait-Line with 1200lb. Trunnion Bar WD (Includes #26102 & #4003) $379.90
    shank 7575 89.90
    Ball 2 5/16" Zinc 1 1/4" 2 1/4" 10,000 lbs. 19186 11.90
    This is what I'm looking to get they have free shipping.
    I have been looking for a deal and this looks good to me. FYI shipping runs 70-100$ if you get the kits.
    I have towed for a long time and never had a problem other then the last time and would not count it as a problem just a little sway from the ballance being off.
    This should help towing in high wind and passing big trucks.
    J
     
  9. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
  10. MR. GADGET

    MR. GADGET New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh NC
  11. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    Damn, you're right, that adds up quickly...
     
  12. yager

    yager Better Faster Stronger

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    N. Raleigh, NC
    definitly somthing to consider, ill be running more tounge with lil-pete up front anyway...
     
  13. etjeep

    etjeep New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    Cary, NC
    I am running the drawtight stabilizer. I have pulled with and without. I think you can get away without them in most situations. I got them with my tow rig because I have seen too many wiggly trailers goin down the road. I got them for the not-normal situation, high winds, tractor trailers, downhills, etc. I would defineatley run more tonge weight, that helps.

    Next time I pull, I plan to bump tire pressure to 80 psi to see if that helps. Since I use the truck as a DD, I usually run 45-50psi.
     

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