Sway-Bars

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Sway-Bars

Postby Dahlia47 » Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:51 pm

What are they and what can you tell me about them?
Good/Bad? Pros/Cons? Do they work? Are they worth the purchase? Best and worst brands? What did I miss and what do I need to know?

Also, I don't like the jacks we are using, can you recommend a jack that's easy for someone with a bad back? I need a jack that can stabilize the camper while it is parked. Is there a jack that works like a ratchet?
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Vtec44 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:40 am

Are you referring to the standalone friction sway bars or the ones that are part of a weight distribution system?
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Dahlia47 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:49 pm

What is the difference between the two?
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Pinstriper » Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:14 pm

Dahlia47 wrote:What is the difference between the two?


One exists, the other does not.

WDH have tension bars that pull things level, spreading weight that would have gone onto the hitch ball back onto the frame in both directions. It is a way of removing load from the tongue and transferring it back to the trailer axles and the front axle of the tow vehicle.

If you are near max tongue weight, or near max weight on the rear axle of the tv, but have capacity on the other two axles, wdh us a good thing as you can use more of the total carrying capacity, instead of being limited by tongue weight alone.

WDH solves the up and down flex and instability known as porpoising, which usually is a sign of too low a tongue weight. It means the trailer is lifting your rear wheels, leading to loss of back end traction, followed by pushing down on the rear and lifting your front end, which is where steering and braking happen. Very unstable.

Some people mistakenly call this sway, and when WDH solves the problem they say their WDH cured the sway. There was no sway.

Sway bars are friction or spring affairs with a sideways force vector. 90 degrees out from what WDH does.

Sway comes from too large a side profile or sail area, which pushes the trailer to the side from wind or air pressure as you pass another rig. The friction fights the sideways force, pretty simple. It binds the steering freedom of the join between tv and trailer. It does nothing for towing capacity. But like WDH it solves one source of instability. These forces are less at lower speeds, so sway can be avoided by driving slower. For long and tall trailers you may not be practical going that slow, so a sway system is used.

If you have stability problems caused by exceeding parts of the gcvwr, too little/much tongue weight, and driving too fast, fix those first and then worry about WDH and sway bars later.






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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Vtec44 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:11 pm

I've always thought that the spring bars on a weight distribution hitch have 2 functions. One is to distribute the weight and the other is to reduce sway by friction.

Sway as I understand is the lateral force which causes the trailer to move side to side, or fishtail. The 2 main causes for sway are abrupt side movement like an emergency maneuver from the tow vehicle or lateral force applied to the trailer. Sway will always exist when you're towing but you can take steps to minimize it.

I have the standalone friction type anti sway bar. It requires some drilling to install it. I didn't want to drill holes into the frame of my trailer so I welded the receiver ball onto the side of the my trailer. I have about 5000 miles with this trailer already and so far so good. I don't use a weight distribution hitch so I can't really share my experience with it.

As far as jacks, I have these from Harbor Freight https://www.harborfreight.com/3-ton-ste ... 61196.html . I also have scissor jacks and a drill attachment to raise and lower them.

I hope that helped :)

Friction sway bar
IMG_9204.jpg
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Trailer
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby working on it » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:44 am

* Here's a quick checklist to help anyone decide if they should look into Weight Distributing Hitches and Sway Control
reasons to install a Weight Distribution Hitch system.JPG
reasons to install a Weight Distribution Hitch system.JPG (47.45 KiB) Viewed 2220 times


* I've used both on many trailers over the years, and I always have them standing-by, if I even only tow a short distance, just in case. I've had overloaded trailers, improperly loaded trailers (loaded that way by necessity, not by choice: too light on the tongue or too heavy on the rear), and with trailer axle too far forward, and/or the ball-coupler too high in relation to the trailer rear, or tow vehicle too light compared to the trailer load. In any or all of those situations, I was able to tow successfully, without sway, due to using WDH and Sway Control.

* My old open race-car trailer was first towed by me using a lightweight (compared to today's trucks) '69 Chevy C-10 pickup, that weighed in at 4200 lbs fully loaded. At the same time, my trailer weighed in at 4400 lbs, with Chevelle on board. Many times on my first two long-distance racing excursions, I experienced some white-knuckle driving, when the trailer wanted to take control. I went to a swap meet, and found a complete WDH set-up for $100 (with mixed manufacturer's parts assembled). After that, I've never had a problem, though my next two trucks weighed more and more ("75 C-10 = 5000 lbs with more equipment on board, then the '04 Chevy 2500HD, with 1500+ lbs of equipment onboard, = up to 6900 lbs). The suspensions, transmissions, and engines were modified on all three, to cope with large load-outs & high speed travel..

* Though I never anticipated that my TTT would need the WDH, three reasons compelled me to adapt it to use the WDH: 1) trailer was way too high (at first) on the nose (truck too tall, trailer too low), 2) axle was too far forward, at 55/45 ratio, until I compensated for it by shifting more weight forward, and 3) the TTT's weight initially was centered to the rear of the axle. So, I used the WDH (no sway control needed) for 6.5 years, until I had corrected all the problems. Nevertheless, I still hook up the WDH if travelling over 250 miles, or I anticipate bad roads or road conditions. Better safely under control, than the other way around.

* About jacks: I have a jockey-wheel jack and a scissor jack both mounted on the TTT's tongue (I need both types when maneuvering my trailer backwards into the garage), two pipe-clamp stabilizers on the rear corners (just stabilizers, not lifting type), and carry three bottle jacks, a trolley jack, a bumper jack, and a High Lift farm jack in my truck, for any emergency usage on the road. I also have a bad back, but you have to do what you have to do, when travelling solo !
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  • *3500 lb Dexter EZ-Lube braked axle, 3000 lb.springs, active-progressive bumpstop suspension
  • *27 x 8.5-14LT AT tires (x 3) *Weight Distribution system for single-beam tongue
  • *100% LED's & GFCI outlets, 3x fans, AM/FM/CD/Aux. *A/C & heat, Optima AGM, inverter & charger(s)
  • *extended-run, on-board, 2500w generator *Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern, Ikea grill, vintage skillet
  • *zinc/stainless front & side racks *98"L x 6" diameter rod & reel carrier tube on roof
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby swoody126 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:05 am

Dahlia, IDEALLY you wont ever need to deal with a SWAY or LOAD LEVELING device for towing

these devices have only come on the scene to rectify issues created by folks towing loads that exhibit at least one a/o more of several traits

poor wheel alignment

improper axle placement

inverted axle mounting

weight too far back

weight too far foreward

too much stuff in the trunk/back of the tow vehicle

LOAD LEVELING devices were designed for folks towing trailers with more tongue weight than the tow vehicle was designed for

too much trailer tongue weight unbalances the tow vehicle so there is less weight on the front resulting in poor steering characteristics and drastically reduced braking ability(as much as 70% of a vehicle's braking ability is provided by the front tires)

the LOAD LEVELING devices are actually springs that are attached to the tow vehicle's hitch and then are tweaked as they are attached to the trailer tongue so that the weight is distributed better(simple geometry and physics)

SWAY BARS are friction devices that connect to the side of the tow vehicle's hitch and the side of the trailer tongue that can be snugged up to reduce wiggle wobble/swaying(the friction makes any side to side motion harder)

back to IDEALLY where the trailer axle is placed under the trailer so that the tongue weight will apply an amount of weight to the hitch so that both the loaded tow vehicle and loaded trailer are reasonably level(alone and in relationship to each other)

i build my own and adjust ready made trailers so that the level/balance is correct

designing a trailer should consider load distribution first and foremost rather than sticking an axle under a frame to accommodate some feature(like a door) of the load itself

since many DIY folks buy an already built trailer/trailer kit that has the axle position established the weight distribution don't alwayz come out like they want and the above questioned devices are installed to overcome design deficiencies

the ability of the tow vehicle needs to be seriously considered before building/buying any trailer

IDEALLY you can have a rig that balances out w/o any of the questioned devices

knowing how to load a rig is quite important so you end up pulling out on the road with a level combination

to demonstrate my weight premise have a look at

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=tr ... &FORM=VIRE

simple physics and geometry ... yes

rocket science ... no

IMHO consideration should first be given to the overall rig making sure success can be achieved w/o the devices

i have towed trailers behind VW's all the way up to and including 40 ton Big Rigs from coast to coast and from border to across and thru our northern neighbor

hope i haven't muddied the water too much

sw
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Dahlia47 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:09 pm

I was asking about the sway bars, because a while back we were driving on I10, the travel trailer was going from side to side. I couldn't figure out if it was the new roof (we finished a few days before we left), the road (there were many tire ruts in the road), or maybe I didn't bring enough of the weighty forward. The only time that happened again was this past weekend, but it was very windy. I don't want us pulling something behind us dangerously. I would hate to have something horrible happen. Thank You all for the info. Very informative!
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Pinstriper » Tue Jan 14, 2020 5:35 pm

Sway can also be a function of center of gravity being too high. Wheels that are too small can also give an unstable ride. Short wheelbase also.


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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:42 am

We are at about 2000# loaded and axle placement about right and there is 0 sway This Youtube illustrates that.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2fkOVHAC8Q
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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Tomterrific » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:47 am

A trailer should tow as straight as a dart flies, if the weight is in the front. You can't make a dart fly backwards and a rear weighted trailer will want to turn around. Teardrops scare me due to the kitchen and storage being in the back. A new builder may make the mistake of too much rear weight and not know why his beautiful camper wants to wag back and forth. Traditional tears have the axle moved back to compensate but the Harbor Freight trailer builders ( like myself) have the axle in the middle.
Conclusion: Weight the front and it will tow straight.

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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby tony.latham » Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:16 am

Teardrops scare me due to the kitchen and storage being in the back.


Your statement makes me wonder about the stability of the HF trailers? The axle and tires maybe?

I built the teardrop on the right in 2013 it has a 60-pound battery in the tongue and carries 58 pounds of water in the galley. The one that looks like a bonfire at Burning Man is from this summer. It has a 55-pound battery and the same 58-pound water jug in the galley.

The torsion axles are the same and placement is the same. Same 15" 6 ply LT radials.

Image

Both of them tow like a dart. And they both weigh in at 1300 pounds. Nary a sway. :thumbsup:

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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby Tomterrific » Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:54 pm

Hi Tony,
Your trailers are the cream of the crop. The fear I voice is using a HF or other with the axle in the center. It would be easy for a newcomer to build something with enough rear weight in the galley that would be difficult to overcome without the axle moved rearward.
I just returned from a 2800 mile windy trip with a light weight, worn tire, and crappiest mid axle trailer here. I have no galley. I make sure the weight is front biased with gear and my trailer tows very straight. I once had to do an emergency lane change at 70mph when a fast driver attempted to squeeze between me and a semi as I merged back into the slow lane. She had a free third fast lane but wanted to sneak by the patrol in the slow lane, I suppose. Anyhow, besides the dirty pants, the trailer ( holding son's college furniture) pulled straight and got into line with nary a wobble. I'm using my lowly setup to demonstrate how much that front loading means to stability.

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Re: Sway-Bars

Postby tony.latham » Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:13 pm

The fear I voice is...


Tom:

Thanks for the compliment. :beer:

Be safe with that thing!

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