For all those towing trailers...

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Postby gyre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:30 am

Unjon, I trust you are keeping as much weight as possible on the tow vehicle?
If I set up a long term rv, I plan on building water tanks into the vehicle just to remove as much weight as I can from the trailer.
Batteries are another high density item.

There is another option for towing.
That is a one wheel trailer.
It is hinged on the rear at two points and steers with the car, but is hinged.
The complication is that the support wheel must swivel and the weight is limited by the carriage underneath.
Mine uses an aircraft assembly.
These are great for light bulky things for long trips.
Their closeness to the car cuts drag and they steer perfectly.
Most are homemade, but I have one that was manufactured from aluminum and fibreglas.
It acts as a trunk extension that is supported by a wheel.
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Postby unjonharley » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:50 am

Most of my van& trailer load is easy to move around.. There is a 20 mile streach of 4 lane before hitting the mountains. Good pace to test and camp mate to watch.. Some of those curves while climbing get pretty hairy..I try to maintain 55 but must be very carful.. These Vanagans do not have a fast pick.. So you can not depend on it in curve.. It's ok, Just different.
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Postby gyre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:00 am

Are you talking about a VW vanagon?
I would think that keeping as much weight on the front vehicle would be better, but sometimes there are exceptions.
If you ever want to tweak the suspension on your tow vehicle, let me know and I'll try to help you find something.
I'm even planning a front and rear sway bar change on my volvo.
The difference is dramatic.
They make these for the heaviest vehicles now.
Custom springs are quite reasonable now too.

I had a van once with the full package on it and I could out corner some cars with it.
It had a V8 with a four speed too.
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Postby unjonharley » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:16 am

While we are at it, Those little pick ups, mini van and suv are not tow or load vehicles.. They are just made to look that way.. Makes you look like you have a bigger dick per say.. Always "load" your little truck, van suv just behind the cab or front seat.. This will help to stabilise you center of gravity.. If you put tall wheels on it ha ha.. Whipping across the desert to BM at 65-70 well.. The holes in the roads can get you air boren enough so the wind can put you on the soft shoulder.. Your center of gravity go's up as the wheels and shocks do.. The mini vans are a small car with a big box body.. The PT is a Neon.. The Suv's are a big plastic box.. I would never load anything on top of it.. Your center of gravit is knee hi to start with.. Putting anything on top would worsen the danger of a roll over.. It would be capable of a small trailer with lots of driver care.. Yeah I know you drive one of these all year.. That dose not mean you know how to load and drive over open roads..
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Postby diane o'thirst » Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:24 pm

I'm taking a two-axle horse trailer this year (no horse, though). It has an EZ-trailer lift that you just haul up onto and two spares in the tack room. The water tank's there and so is most of my gear. I'll have my Open Me First bag and luggage in the waaback of Cristobel.

The second Andalusian regionals are going to be the weekend before the Burn in Olympia again. I'm going to stay overnight after the show, sleep in, and leave for the Playa directly from there (Hi, Seattle Burners!). Nice easy three-day drive through the Oregon Outback to K-Falls to rest and stock up at Fred Meyer's, then on to Eagles' Nest RV in Tionesta [wave wave] and thence to the Playa.

Ohhh, you bet I'm gonna take my time pulling a 3500-pound trailer! (4550 tow vehicle weight w/5000# tow cap — love them V8s!)
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:00 pm

I drove tow trucks for 7 years, and have been driving dumps, cranes, and flatbed semis for longer than that.
I know about trailers.

Service your wheel bearings!

Do whatever it takes to make the trailer brakes work! I bet more than half the trailers on the road behind pickups have non-functional brakes.
And get a GOOD brake controller.

Read the load capacity on the side of your tires. Add up each tire; that is your max safe capacity, no matter what your vehicle or trailer is.

Don't head to Burning Man with aged tires with great tread but cracked sidewalls. Those will blow sooner than good ones with kinda' worn tread.

The original-equipment safety chains on most trailers are woefully inadequate, and will rip right out if the trailer came unhooked. And the weakest link is often the link they are attached with. I've seen plenty of those break. Wrap some heavy "overkill" chain, with heavy duty hooks, between your truck and trailer.

Fix your lights, and that horrible twisted and taped-up shitty wiring that goes to them.

And as for this bullshit about stay home unless you can afford a rig that will go 60 - 70 while towing... you're ALMOST right, but not quite.
I go to BM in a 1-ton crew-cab "dually", with a large flatbed trailer. Everything is set up properly, and sure, it will go 70 while weighing 18,000 total without swaying at all. But I go 50 or 60-ish, and real slow on hills.
That's because WHEN something unexpected happens, I don't wanna crash! And I know exactly what the hell I'm doing.
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Postby gyre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:36 pm

Good point about the safety chain.
Most isn't inadequate, it's total crap.
If you have a place that does lifting chain and straps, that's the place to go.
Alloy chain that is tough is about $6 to $10 a foot and you don't need much.
Cable with a proper safe loop is higher, but is another approach.
And check the hardware on your hitch too.
It is often an easy upgrade.

Captain, do you have any suggestions on type and brand of controller?


I recommend adding side turn signals on your trailer if you don't already have them.
It will save your ass the first time you miss someone in your blind spot or keep someone from diving into you.
It's a good idea for a car or truck too.
If you don't like what is available, Ron Francis has some cool ones in chrome and glass that are dual filament.
They are cheaper than the factory ones for my car.
I put them just in front of the front door and just behind the rear door.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:31 pm

There's a unit called the Prodigy... great set... you can probably search it on RV.NET for more testimonials, I bought mine after reading what everyone on there said.
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Postby gyre » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:53 pm

Is that an inertia style controller?

I don't know if it's me or the tech literature, but the last time I was looking I couldn't understand what the differences were.
Even in the same line, I couldn't figure out the advantages of one over the other, beyond some obvious features.
I think it was all the buzzwords.
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Postby Lassen Forge » Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:41 am

Scenario one. Older 17' Aristocrat travel trailer. Nice unit, very well kept. Would be the ideal small-bore playa mansion (I owned one of these, would like to find another someday!), a little heavy, but solid with a lot of stainless in the kitchen, water tanks (and a shower), etc. Hitch on tow vehicle failed. Wimpy safety chains were rated to the weight (barely) of the rig but not beyond, as weren't the connectors. Both connectors and chain failed on separation. This beautiful trailer was a splintered scrap heap on the side of the road.

Scenario two. 500 gallon baffle-less spray rig. appx. weight 3 tons filled with 2 tons of shoshy liquid. Chains were rated to 2 1/2 x the weight of the loaded rig (company requirement), hardened and welded links. Expensive, heavy stuff. Hitch (pintle style) came open, the chains not only survived the jerk, but held the tounge off the ground enough to get a jack under it and get it hooked back up.

Safety chains? Cheap insurance. And make sure (a) they're hooked to a strong point, and (2) the connector is strong as well.

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Postby Archantael » Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:41 am

Along with the recommendations to upgrade the safety chains and attachment points, make sure the trailer brakes work, etc, I have one other recommendation. Scale the thing. Do you really know how much it weighs? Most people guess at it. Guessing can get you killed. I don't guess, I scale it and make sure my tires and equipment are up to the task and within spec. The payoff can be huge, for example I got stuck in front of a Flying J double tanker coming off the long downhill grade coming into Battle Mountain on I-80. He was using both lanes and both shoulders at times as the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. My trailer was balanced and stable enough that I was able to accelerate and get ahead of him until I got to the next offramp...if I hadn't of planned ahead I could have ended up a highway accident statistic..or maybe worse.

Something else to consider is did you bring the right tools for changing a tire on the trailer? Do you need a 4 way or will the tire wrench with your vehicle work? Will your jacks be able to lift the trailer with the load in place or will you have to unload it? Do you have boards or a base of some kind to put under the jack so you can lift it while in the grass or on a soft shoulder? Does the jack have enough range to truly lift the trailer up so you can get the tire off?

When I rerun the trailer wiring I added a couple of minor upgrades that have really made a difference. I added small LED lighting under the trailer and by the wheel wells. When I had a flat in Wyoming at 3 am I didn't have to fumble around with a flashlight in the cold, I could concentrate on jacking it up and getting the thing changed as I could see what I needed to see.

Also one last thing...do you have extra bulbs and lens covers for your lights? One of the quickest ways to draw LE attention to your vehicle is cracked or dark lamps. And the truckstops might not carry the stuff you need when you need it.
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Postby EB » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:13 pm

Speaking for all the trailer noobs (got a Loews $499 special this spring,) this is stuff which could save a life (like, say, mine.) Great info. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To date:

1. Slow down.
2. Upgrade your safety chains.
3. Prepare for a blowout at the worst possible time.
4. Understand your trailer's brake package (or lack therof.)
5. Invest in a better controller and/or blinker package.
6. Don't guess at your weight.
7. Know your specs & stay within 'em.
8. ?

Keep it coming!

Part two of that LA TIMES piece on U-HAUL:

http://tinyurl.com/39fyew
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Postby AntiM » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:20 pm

Be aware when passing semis the turbulence can push the trailer around. Hang on and steer! My SIL over-corrected pulling her pop-up, and smacked into the K-Rails. Fortunately the only thing which was totaled was the trailer.

Which was emptied of their personal belongings somehow after towing, she'd put her jewelry in the trailer and it was long gone.
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Postby Zona_the_stona » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:20 pm

I was reading the article in the LA Times. Here is a good visual aid from that article.

Image
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Postby gyre » Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:27 pm

I think the 60%/40% is about right for the trailer pictured, I think it might be a little misleading.
I said this before but I want to be as clear as I can.
You rarely have complete choice about placing weight, but if possible I would put none behind the rear axle at all.
I try to place weight over the axle(s) and in front but close to the axle.
Where you place weight between the axle and the front of the trailer has a big effect.
You MUST have enough tongue weight to maintain control.
Beyond that, acceptable tongue weight is dependent on the tow vehicle.
You can often shift a small amount of weight forward to manipulate tongue weight.
Tongue weight and weight distribution by a simple split / are not exactly the same thing.


There are also good stainless locks for the receiver insert, the hitch coupler and to lock a trailer ball mount when parked.
These can help back up your safety devices and are highly recommended when you have to park on a trip or anywhere else.
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Postby Token » Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:53 pm

Zona_the_stona wrote:I was reading the article in the LA Times. Here is a good visual aid from that article.


This stuff applies only if you are towing a U-Haul trailer with shitty-ass surge breaks.

If you tow a trailer with proportional electronic brakes and a modern brake controller, the advice for controlling sway is completely different.

If you have a break controller (a little box installed near the steering wheel in the truck), use the manual break lever to apply brakes to only the trailer if sway becomes a problem.

Also, this 40/60 split thing only applies to the U-Haul trailers.
A more universally acceptable loading rule is to ensure that the tongue weight is in the range of 10% - 15% of the total trailer and cargo weight.

The tow vehicle being heavier than the trailer; not a chance. Most trucks can tow much more then their own weight safely if properly equipped. For U-Haul, where they have crappy surge brakes, no weight distributing hitch, no brake controller in the tow vehicle ... sure, good idea, but not a general rule for trailering.

My #5500 half ton Chevy can tow #8500 with a weight distributing hitch and good brake controller. Modern 3/4 and 1 ton trucks can tow upwards of #15000 and they seldom way more than #6-7000.

Lets not try to trivialize this into an inaccurate list. Anyone planning on towing should learn how to do it right and safe. A single thread on a Burning Man board aint it.
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Postby EB » Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:09 pm

Token wrote:Lets not try to trivialize this into an inaccurate list. Anyone planning on towing should learn how to do it right and safe. A single thread on a Burning Man board aint it.


Nobody said this thread was the end-all of towing how-to's.

How is any of this inaccurate? Sounds all pretty rational to me. Maybe this is a place where people will learn how to "do it right and safe." People tow a lot of shit to BM each year and if maybe one or two of them read this thread and get a better clue (me being at the front of the line) then it's a good thing.

Maybe a couple of pointers here from contributors here will prevent an accident or two.

Troll elsewhere please.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:15 pm

Token wrote:shitty-ass surge breaks.


:P
wow, it's been a long time since I saw that adjectival phrase. makes me brake out in laughter...
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Postby Token » Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:10 pm

EB wrote:[How is any of this inaccurate? Sounds all pretty rational to me. Maybe this is a place where people will learn how to "do it right and safe." People tow a lot of shit to BM each year and if maybe one or two of them read this thread and get a better clue (me being at the front of the line) then it's a good thing.

Maybe a couple of pointers here from contributors here will prevent an accident or two.

Troll elsewhere please.


Did you read my post? I gave three examples of the U-Haul picture being inaccurate as a general towing recommendation.

You shouldn't let my post get your panties all in a bunch. Relax, it was just additional information. If you don't like it, ignore it.
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Postby EB » Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:33 pm

Token wrote:You shouldn't let my post get your panties all in a bunch. Relax, it was just additional information. If you don't like it, ignore it.


It is your panties, sir, that are waded.

I'm just a man trying to get out the good word on some proper towing procudures. You seem to want to keep me down. This will not stand.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:52 pm

Token wrote:My #5500 half ton Chevy can tow #8500 with a weight distributing hitch and good brake controller. Modern 3/4 and 1 ton trucks can tow upwards of #15000 and they seldom way more than #6-7000.


OK, I wanna comment on that point.

Sometimes I drive a Kenworth dump truck that has a tow rating of 4 times the truck's empty weight, WAY more than any pickup truck. And even in that, you don't run around with the trailer heavier than the truck.
You load the truck heavier.
Yes, 3/4 and 1-ton pickups are rated to tow more than the pickup itself weighs because they have heavier axles and brakes and running gear.
But you still can't change one basic law of physics: a trailer that weighs more than the tow vehicle can push you around and get out of shape, no matter what your rig is rated to handle.

So yeah, it WILL do it, but when you have to slam on the brakes, while going around a curve, you'll get a physics lesson.
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Postby unjonharley » Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:24 pm

I feched trailers from the mfg with DeSoto's.. Almost never used the car brakes.. You could not jake.. The tranny was half gears and half slip and slide.. So we used the hand brake that was on the drive line.. The best hyw followed the rivers and train tracks and were 16feet wide.. I was drivng on a farm permit 15 16 years old.. Drove gravel dumps on those roads too.. Got payed by load at the end of each day.. LOst about a mirror a week..
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:44 pm

You're too ugly to drive a Desoto.

:)
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Postby AntiM » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:18 pm

Just 'cause I know mylarry would be talkin' Big Rig if he ever got on line. Screw it, now this is a tow vehicle! :lol: :shock: :roll:

Image

Back to your regularly scheduled thread, pardon my drift!
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Postby unjonharley » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:20 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:You're too ugly to drive a Desoto.

:)


\/
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Postby EspressoDude » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:36 pm

One thing not yet mentioned is where the weight is relative to the pivot points/centers of rotation. On the trailer that is the axle or betweeen dual axles. On the tow vehicle it is about the center of the vehicle.

Keeping in mind that you want about 10-20% of the load on the tongue as described above (uhaul 60% - 40% is 20% tongue weight, about)

BUT, the closer the heavy items are to the center of rotation (trailer axle or middle of tow vehicle) the lower the oscillation/sway/yaw tendency is.

As an example if the loads are towards the ends of the trailer or tow vehicle, the oscillation period might be 4 - 8 seconds. If the weight is closer to the axles, this period might be 2 - 3 seconds. How far can the trailer/tow vehicle combo get out of line in 8 seconds vs. 3 seconds is like 2.5 times as far. Think about how far that can be once things start swaying....... I have watched an oncoming logtruck get out of whack, start swawing/oscillating. It was about 1000 feet in front of me, both doing about 50mph. I pulled over and stopped, engine running.....













and the truck rolled, lost its load of logs from the trailer; the logs on the truck stayed tied on.



And came to a stop about 200ft in front of me....

Another major consideration is tire pressure. More pressure, less sway, less heat build up. But the tires must be good!

Happy towing....and stay in lower gears on the major downhills.... This oscillation is going to get you further out of line at 60 than it is at 40.. Quick rule of thumb... Don't go down a hill any faster than you can go up it. If full throttle up the hill is 40, chances are the brakes are only good enuff to slow down/stop downhill on that same hill at 40.

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Postby Token » Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:54 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:But you still can't change one basic law of physics: a trailer that weighs more than the tow vehicle can push you around and get out of shape, no matter what your rig is rated to handle.


Using this logic, all of those fancy 30+ foot travel trailers out on the American roads can only be pulled by fully loaded dump trucks.

There are a lot of folks towing #10000 and #12000 campers with 3/4 ton pickups. Even with #1500 on the tongue the trailer is heavier than the truck.
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Postby Lassen Forge » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:44 pm

Token wrote:
Captain Goddammit wrote:But you still can't change one basic law of physics: a trailer that weighs more than the tow vehicle can push you around and get out of shape, no matter what your rig is rated to handle.


Using this logic, all of those fancy 30+ foot travel trailers out on the American roads can only be pulled by fully loaded dump trucks.

There are a lot of folks towing #10000 and #12000 campers with 3/4 ton pickups. Even with #1500 on the tongue the trailer is heavier than the truck.


No... that's why they have trailer brakes. Done all the time, and it's no dif than a tractor hauling a loaded trailer. Also, that's why a lot of the big travel trailers have a 5th wheel system rather than a conventional hitch system now... easier to handle, and better handling and load distribution.

(BTW - 3/4 ton is the load capacity, not the weight of the truck. My 3/4 ton P/U weighs about 3 tons empty...)

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Postby Token » Wed Jun 27, 2007 4:03 pm

EB wrote:
Token wrote:You shouldn't let my post get your panties all in a bunch. Relax, it was just additional information. If you don't like it, ignore it.


It is your panties, sir, that are waded.

I'm just a man trying to get out the good word on some proper towing procudures. You seem to want to keep me down. This will not stand.


Oh! I am so going to harsh your mellow. Wait, let me put my boot on your neck and oppress you.

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Postby Dork » Wed Jun 27, 2007 4:35 pm

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