For all those towing trailers...

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For all those towing trailers...

Postby EB » Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:40 am

The LA TIMES did an expose on U-Haul and the dangers of "trailer sway."

http://tinyurl.com/39fyew

Highlights include:

1.) Make sure your vehicle weighs more than the total of what you're towing.
2.) Slow down.
3.) In the trailer, distribute the weight toward the front (the 60/40 rule.)
4.) Slow down.
5.) In case of trailer sway, don't jam on the brakes (same principle for skidding on black ice.)
6.) SLOW DOWN!

Let's be careful out there...
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Postby The CO » Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:48 am

And...

Carry a spare tire for the trailer! Nothing sucks like having a blowout when you are 60 miles or more to the nearest tire shop.

Not as big an issue, but: Make sure the fuckos that built your trailer do it right. My blowout issue last year was caused by a slipped axle, which was in turn caused by the people that built the trailer not mounting it correctly.
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Postby AntiM » Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:52 am

I always see "It only takes me X hours to get to Black Rock!" It takes us right around 12 hours from Ogden, north of SLC. Why? Because larry won't go full speed with a trailer. I believe we average 55~60 at best. Even our carefully loaded trailer may sway, and if it is outside the normal side to side bobble, we stop and put more water containers on the tongue.

Take your foot off the gas, BRC ain't going nowhere.

Did EB mention SLOW the fuck DOWN?
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Postby unjonharley » Sun Jun 24, 2007 11:10 am

My tool bags, water, camp hardware and gas are on top of the load.. So they can be switched for a beter load.. I average 55 mph for the 500 mile trip to BM.. Keeping the speed down makes for a safe trip and a couple of mpg in gas..

Beware!! Ca. has a 45 mph towing law.. Guess they are saying: Slow the fuck down..
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Postby burnerboy33 » Sun Jun 24, 2007 11:28 am

CA. does not have a 45 mph towing law. Read the signs, autos with trailers and trucks are limited to 55 mph.
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Postby unjonharley » Sun Jun 24, 2007 11:32 am

burnerboy33 wrote:CA. does not have a 45 mph towing law. Read the signs, autos with trailers and trucks are limited to 55 mph.


Sorry no cigar, I have read the sign every year.. It reads: 45mph for cars towing trailer..
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Postby frenchblue1 » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:02 pm

Keep in mind that most 15 or 16 inch trailer tires are not rated for high speeds. I switched mine out to the Goodyear high speed radials rated for 99 mph. I shouldn't say "switched" I should say replaced after having 2 blow-outs going to Burning Man. The tread blows off taking the fender with it and it launches it against the RV breaking lights, fiberglass, etc. Notfun...
Make certain you check your air pressure at every stop because when it goes down by 20% your asking for a blow-out. I shouldn't say "asking" I should say being to lazy and/or excited to get to your destination that you neglect to do the things your grandpa taught you to do. :wink:
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Postby unjonharley » Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:15 pm

frenchblue1 wrote:Keep in mind that most 15 or 16 inch trailer tires are not rated for high speeds. I switched mine out to the Goodyear high speed radials rated for 99 mph. I shouldn't say "switched" I should say replaced after having 2 blow-outs going to Burning Man. The tread blows off taking the fender with it and it launches it against the RV breaking lights, fiberglass, etc. Notfun...
Make certain you check your air pressure at every stop because when it goes down by 20% your asking for a blow-out. I shouldn't say "asking" I should say being to lazy and/or excited to get to your destination that you neglect to do the things your grandpa taught you to do. :wink:


\/
Blow two cheap trailer tires.. Kept running at night after a hot day.. My camp mate with the tools had broken down, I kept going.. big mistake.. Changed out for 6 pyl hiways..

I carry a hand pump.. Just jack the weight off the tire and pump it up
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Postby burnerboy33 » Sun Jun 24, 2007 2:34 pm

sorry unjon, but it is 55 mph

this is taken from the CA vehicle code

" The maximum speed limit on most California highways is 65 mph. You may drive 70 mph where posted. Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit is 55 mph on two-lane undivided highways and for vehicles towing trailers. "


I agree people should drive slower on 447. I dont know the nevada laws for trailers but I dont think they are less. I just dont like mis information and I know CA does not limit autos towing trailers to 45 mph.
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Postby mdmf007 » Sun Jun 24, 2007 3:37 pm

its not like they enforce it, and for other uneforced laws -

Its also illegal in Seattle for a woman to drive a horseless carriage(car) over 5 MPH, unless a man carries a red flag a minimum of 50 feet ahead to warn oncoming trafic a woman driver is coming -
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Postby Archantael » Sun Jun 24, 2007 3:38 pm

I don't agree that people should drive slower on 447. I feel that if you're going to pull a trailer than it's your responsibility to spend money on it to make it capable of doing the job...and that means being able to run at the posted speed limit or with prevailing traffic speeds. That also means being able to stop the trailer with trailer brakes should the need arise.

I also feel that the CA trailer towing law is an anachronism that has outlived it's usefulness...except as a revenue generator for the CHP and other LE agencies who might get to write a ticket using it. It needs to go the way of those old "horseless carriage " laws that periodically get removed from the books.
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Postby gyre » Sun Jun 24, 2007 3:50 pm

Along with the spare tire caution, don't forget to make sure you have jacks that will lift your vehicles fully loaded AND fit underneath when loaded.
Otherwise, you get to unload everything by the road to change a tire.
I'm told this quickly loses it's charm.
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Postby unjonharley » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:05 pm

We carry a post jack, a floor jack and a truck scissor jack.. Plus jack stand and odds and ends of wood.. Not to mention a good come-a-long, pike and crow bar.. We have been suck in the woods in the mountian..
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Postby helitack » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:32 pm

...but it's a speed "limit", you don't have to/shouldn't go that speed if:
1. There is no posted minimum speed
2. You are not an experienced, and by experienced I mean someone who is a competent trailer tower which most people are not, towing changes vehicle handling in a big way.
3. Rule #2 means that most people have no business driving a car trailer combo at above 55 mph unless you can handle it, safely
4. You don't have to go the speed limit if you don't want to...
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Postby Bob » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:33 pm

unjonharley wrote:We carry a post jack, a floor jack and a truck scissor jack.. Plus jack stand and odds and ends of wood.. Not to mention a good come-a-long, pike and crow bar.. We have been suck in the woods in the mountian..


Mind leaving your sex life out of it?

Anyhow, per the vehicle code, 55 mph is the *maximum* towing speed. Locally it may be posted lower than that.
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Postby Bob » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:35 pm

<jinx>
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Postby Archantael » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:58 pm

helitack wrote:...but it's a speed "limit", you don't have to/shouldn't go that speed if:
1. There is no posted minimum speed
2. You are not an experienced, and by experienced I mean someone who is a competent trailer tower which most people are not, towing changes vehicle handling in a big way.
3. Rule #2 means that most people have no business driving a car trailer combo at above 55 mph unless you can handle it, safely
4. You don't have to go the speed limit if you don't want to...


While you raise some valid points a little courtesy goes a long ways. If you're creeping up a scenic route in the mountains pulling a trailer and you end up with a line of cars behind you, pulling over to let them pass would be a prudent thing to do.

As for 447 pulling over is not an option. If I had my way about it if a vehicle is going so slow as to be a hazard to others and is blocking traffic, I'd like to see the NHP issue tickets. I'm sorry but driving a motor vehicle is a priviledge and responsibility, not a right. If you are not financially capable of operating a reasonable and safe vehicle, trailer, bus, whatever, park the damn thing until you can.
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Postby helitack » Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:05 pm

...is not the hazard in that case the impatience of others? If someone is driving a safe speed, for the vehicle, for the conditions, isn't the impatient one responsible as well? What would be the difference, time wise, driving from Wadsworth to the playa at 50-55 vs 70? Insignificant.
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Postby AntiM » Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:10 pm

Doing 55 while hauling a trailer in the 70 zones of 447 is not unreasonable, especially in the open range areas.
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Postby Zulegoona » Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:17 pm

Hey and lets not forget to grease those bearings , it really is a drag to burn up a bearing in the mountains, and bring an extra set, they aren’t expensive and it’s a lot easier to find the right ones the first time when your not stuck on a mountain a long ways from a parts store.
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Postby AntiM » Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:20 pm

And it's not a bad idea to sink some money into a service such as AAA's RV Plus. Yes, it can be pricey, but mine has paid for itself in towing RG's vehicles alone.

Hey, wait a minute ...
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Postby gyre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:25 am

There is insurance through the good sam club for rvs.
I hear good things.
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Re: For all those towing trailers...

Postby Zhust » Mon Jun 25, 2007 7:49 am

EB wrote:The LA TIMES did an expose on U-Haul and the dangers of "trailer sway."


A quick way to check the 60-40 split is that only about 3-5% of the total weight of the trailer should be resting on the tongue. With a 2000 pound load, the weight on the tongue should be no more than 60-100 pounds or so -- you should be able to lift the tongue of the trailer by hand.

A friend of mine offered to pull a friend's trailer behind the rental truck to offset the cost of gas last year (and not telling the rental company to save money -- it's not their fault). The truck was packed full with a gross weight of around 8,000 lb (all guesses). The trailer -- about the same weight as the truck -- was loaded properly on the way to Burning Man but they got sloppy and there was about 800-1,000 pounds on the tongue. We stupidly added another 200 pounds or so because we had run out of space.

In my hazy state watching them drive, I noted that the rear of the truck was mashed down and the front suspension was relaxed, nearly pulling the front wheels off the ground. When we got to 34, I was in front and got my overloaded Civic out of the way. I kept slowing down but never saw the truck in my rear-view.

I finally stopped and waited for 10 minutes or so when I finally saw them. I thought the truck didn't have enough power to pull everything faster than 45 MPH. We crawled to Gerlach where we could finally stop. She said they got on the highway and when they got the truck up to 60 MPH or so, it wildly fishtailed across both lanes and just by dumb luck there was no oncoming traffic. They got it back under control and could go no faster than 50 or so.

As we were all heading back to Denver, the most reasonable alternative seemed to be to take Rt. 50 across Nevada and Utah at 45 MPH.
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Postby AntiM » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:04 am

Er, that's confusing. 60% on the front half, yes? I'm reading your post backwards, JOR?

Edited to include: nevermind, I'm confusing load distribution with hitch weight.
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Postby AntiM » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:18 am

This seems pretty comprehensive:

http://www.enjoythedrive.com/content/?id=26358
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Postby gyre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:22 am

My large trailer is never light enough to lift by hand, even empty.
And it is better to have too much weight than too little on the hitch.
But your warning about steering is very valid.
If anyone is interested, there are some upgrades for towing a trailer available, from steering dampers to the ipd anti-sway bars for most trucks and rvs and hitch dampers of different types.
There is even a very sophisticated hitch that virtually prevents jack knifing called the Hensley hitch.
It's on the expensive side though.

Suspension upgrades are very cost effective as they are of benefit even when you aren't towing.


Towing a heavy car trailer and a very light and expensive AND uninsured car back, I awoke to find that my friend had spun the car and trailer on the freeway.
I woke up looking out the windshield head on into a freeway backed up for miles.
He had spun so hard the grille flew off the car and was never found.
I had paid $100 to rent a good chain set and laced them through the frame and packed the car in structural styrofoam.
Even with the chains, the car had left a paint mark on the styrofoam from impact.
That's physics and towing for you.
The car was only 1300 pounds or so.
He managed to avoid hitting anyone somehow, but without the chains there would have been damage.
I never found the grille.
It still gives me the whimwhams.
It could have been very serious.

And that was a fairly stable rig.
Be very careful with one that isn't.
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Postby unjonharley » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:29 am

Couple of years ago, This guy and his wife pick up a load of lumber to build a deck.. They had a standard pickup and heavy duty trailer.. It was a big load.. He whip a left turn out of the lumber yard.. Never got it evened out.. The load fliped him within a 100 yards.. Killed both he and his wife
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Postby gyre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:48 am

AntiM wrote:This seems pretty comprehensive:

http://www.enjoythedrive.com/content/?id=26358


Some of this material refers to weight distributing hitches.
These use torsion bars typically to shift weight to the front of the tow vehicle and can act as anti sway devices simultaneously.

There is also a large device that shifts the tow point to directly behind the axle, improving the physics tremendously.
These are hard to fit to anything smaller than a van or pickup.

My friend says to think of yourself as driving the trailer and not the tow vehicle.
I don't know if that helps, but it works for him.
He's the best driver I know, towing.

Also, it is not just the weight before or after the axle, but where it is located relative to the axle.
You don't always have a choice though.
I try to put the heavy weight as close to the axle as I can and just forward of it.
With my small trailer I try to put everything in front of the axle if I can, but this is well within the limits of the cars capacity.
Suspension matters on the trailer too.
My utility trailer has an anti-sway torsion bar suspension with shocks and the torsion bar may be tightened or loosened.
It has a spring which preloads.
This makes the trailer ride much more smoothly and increases the load I can carry.

I have pulled a trailer with a solid suspension and you don't want that.
It makes you realize how much work the suspension does.
That trailer could steer the truck in front.
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Postby MikeVDS » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:49 am

I would not recommend anyone without experience driving anything but a small lightweight trailer and slowly working their way up, unless you're in a controlled situation with someone instructing you. When people assume that all vehicles are alike is when people get killed. They are not hard to drive but you have to be conscious of different things and drive much differently. Slower, more distance between vehicles in front of you, learning not to swerve for animals in the road, more room and time to change lanes, slow and wide turns, looking for areas that you can maneuver in.
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Postby unjonharley » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:08 am

This year my load will be 50% lighter but with a higher profile.. It's a light trailer and with a bounce and wind, I could find myself in the other lane.. So I will put some of the vans load on the trailer.. On the way home the gas and water will be gone.. So I plan to carry my campmates two 12x12 easy ups centered over the axel.. I my be able to break down some of the profile on the way home too..
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