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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-16-2004, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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How can I prevent trailer sway?

I towed my Jeep for the first time this weekend with my new trailer and new truck. 18' Big Tex 70CH 7000lb and Ram 2500 quad cab hemi.
I did about 65 mph. Every now and then the trailer would start to sway. And if I didn't see it right away it got really scary.
I had the Jeep center of gravity in front of the center of the axles.
Any input?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-16-2004, 09:19 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

I can think of three things, but am by no means a towing expert.

-- move your load slightly forward
-- buy hitch setup that is designed to reduce sway

-- once the sway starts, use your trailer brakes to bring the trailer back in line by activating your trailer brakes by hand.

I would suggest checking your tongue weight to see if you can not move the load a little further. I tow my CJ7 on a better built trailer behind my suburban with a standard ball hitch. I get sway at about 70mph, but don't like to tow that fast. I usually only see that speed heading downhill when I am not paying attention. When I first got the trailer, I had difficulty finding the sweet spot for the load to minimize tongue weight and sway. After a few trips I figured it out.

-- Mike
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-16-2004, 09:49 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

It's usually a lack of tongue weight, but can be the hitch height too. You want slightly more weight on the front axle than the rear. Eyeball doesn't cut it.

Told to me by a trailer mfgr for Dual axle trailer:
Hook up empty trailer.
Use a jack and a bathroom scale - position the tongue up and down till you get about 150 lbs tongue weight empty. That's your empty tongue ride height - measure it.
Adjust the ball hitch height till it holds the trailer in that position empty. That puts the axles nearly equal with a little more on the front.
Measure a reference, tongue to ground empty.
Load the vehicle till it balances in that same position - that's near equalibrium on the load. Now move the vehicle forward till it drops another 2-3". That should give a little extra tongue weight and slightly more on the front axle.
Test carefully.
Like someone said, if you detect any sway, gently use the trailer brakes without the vehicle brakes. The trailer's trying to "push" the tow vehicle, using the vehicle's brakes or downhill only makes it worse.

And if the trailer has springs - a load with springs sets up oscillations (2 sets = bouncy bouncy.) So pull the frame down, not the axles.
If the trailer doesn't have springs, then attach by the axles.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-17-2004, 12:42 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

[img]images/graemlins/goodpost.gif[/img]

That is some great info !
I shall bookmark it.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-17-2004, 01:28 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

A buddy of mine hauls a Huge RV trailer. said he installed one of the Sway Away Trailer hitch systems and it made all the difference in the world for him. Basically it's like a torsion bar system built into the hitch and tounge... Anyone tried those?
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-17-2004, 02:06 PM
 
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Basically it's like a torsion bar system built into the hitch and tounge... Anyone tried those?

[/ QUOTE ]

Yep its called a REESE Delux Hitch System, been using one for 23 years can't beat it to keep the proper tounge loading and the trailer level as it should be when towing. That is you want the trailer as close to level with the tow vehicle frame as possible.
All tires should have exactly the same psi and you should have a matched set of tires on the trailer.

Believe it or not I have found lots of trailers with miss matched rims, (diff off sets) this will make for bad towing. The tow-in on a trailer should be around 1/16 to 1/8 for proper towing. Yes trailers that are quality built have tow-in made into the leading/or axle depending if dual or not. [img]images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

I get this knowledge from my Dad who spent over 20 years building custom trailers for anything from motorcycles to heavy equipment. People would be on a list for over a year to get a "WellsBuilt Trailer" [img]images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

That was many years ago and he cannot do that type of work anymore,,, but he is a wealth of knowledge on trailer building and towing.

There has also been some good info laid out here in the preveous posts.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-17-2004, 03:01 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

Yes Yes Yes - the anti-sway hitches are great. But -- don't use them to "cover up" an existing problem. Using them as a cover-up is akin to using a crutch when your leg's broken. Fix the leg first.

Onece it's balanced correctly and then you use the anti-sway system it tows like a dream!
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-17-2004, 06:28 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

Hey RRich,
How do I prevent sway when I flat tow?
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2004, 02:29 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

As posted here, weight forward, 15% to be exact, is ideal. anything else starts to compromise something. If you do have it loaded correctly, check your trailer to make sure it is square. i.e. pulling straight. Easiest method is measure center of ball to spring hangar on each side. If they differ by more just a smidgen, problem may be in the trailer. I once looked at a home built trailer to tow my jeep. While towing it empty, it was swaying all over the place starting about 50 mph. I ran a tape on it, and measured about 2" out of square. I would bet that is why the guy was trying to unload it.

As far as a flat towed jeep swaying, make sure your steering is in good condition, and it tracks good while driving it. swaying from a flat towed vehicle usually indicates suspension/steering issues. You should be aware of them when you drive the jeep.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2004, 07:49 PM
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Re: How can I prevent trailer sway?

FLAT TOW ---- NOT a trailer = no weight on the hitch
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