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Old 03-29-2016, 09:06 PM   #1
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Wind-Induced Sway

Hi, all. New to the forum. Just finished a long TT haul, and want to relate my experience and then ask some questions.

TT: Salem 27RLSS, about 6500lbs, about 650lbs tongue weight.
TV: Ford F-150, 3.5 turbo with factory towing package & trailer brake controller. No cargo to speak of apart from the TT. Blue Ox Sway Pro with 1000lb bars. Dealer installed and adjusted the Sway Pro.
Driver: Competent, but first timer towing a large TT.

I headed west from Indiana on Wednesday last week, 3/23. Strong gusty, nasty winds. Driving on the highway was a pain because of the near-constant wind-induced sway. The cross winds were much worse than the "suck and blow" from passing trucks. Fortunately the wind was almost always pushing me to the right, and since I was ALWAYS in the right lane I wasn't being pushed toward passing traffic. I settled into a 55mph slog.
At first I fell into the trap of overcorrecting for the gusts, which fed the sway. My F-150 has electronic sway control, and it would occasionally brake the trailer for me. Scary at first, then just annoying. I began to dig my elbows into the armrests so that the initial gust-induced motion didn't cause its own steering input. I learned after a while to fight the leftward movement (no swerving into passing traffic) but to under-react to motion to the right. I don't know the terminology, but I would "let the TT wander" to the right, correcting gradually to avoid the snap-back motion. Sometimes this put my right tires over the lane line, but allowed better control.

Hours of that over two days.
Dusk brought calmer weather. When the wind died down the TV and TT tracked beautifully.

So, some questions:
1. Is my experience common, or an aberration?
2. Would cranking up/down on the Sway Pro WDH loading affect the sway?
3. Any other suggestions, apart from the obvious (slow down, get off the highway, man up, etc.)?
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by binnova View Post
Hi, all. New to the forum. Just finished a long TT haul, and want to relate my experience and then ask some questions.

TT: Salem 27RLSS, about 6500lbs, about 650lbs tongue weight.
TV: Ford F-150, 3.5 turbo with factory towing package & trailer brake controller. No cargo to speak of apart from the TT. Blue Ox Sway Pro with 1000lb bars. Dealer installed and adjusted the Sway Pro.
Driver: Competent, but first timer towing a large TT.

I headed west from Indiana on Wednesday last week, 3/23. Strong gusty, nasty winds. Driving on the highway was a pain because of the near-constant wind-induced sway. The cross winds were much worse than the "suck and blow" from passing trucks. Fortunately the wind was almost always pushing me to the right, and since I was ALWAYS in the right lane I wasn't being pushed toward passing traffic. I settled into a 55mph slog.
At first I fell into the trap of overcorrecting for the gusts, which fed the sway. My F-150 has electronic sway control, and it would occasionally brake the trailer for me. Scary at first, then just annoying. I began to dig my elbows into the armrests so that the initial gust-induced motion didn't cause its own steering input. I learned after a while to fight the leftward movement (no swerving into passing traffic) but to under-react to motion to the right. I don't know the terminology, but I would "let the TT wander" to the right, correcting gradually to avoid the snap-back motion. Sometimes this put my right tires over the lane line, but allowed better control.

Hours of that over two days.
Dusk brought calmer weather. When the wind died down the TV and TT tracked beautifully.

So, some questions:
1. Is my experience common, or an aberration?
2. Would cranking up/down on the Sway Pro WDH loading affect the sway?
3. Any other suggestions, apart from the obvious (slow down, get off the highway, man up, etc.)?
When I got mine, I had the same experience even though I have pulled before with trailers, just never towed a billboard before. One of my lessons was that I anticipated too much and contributed to what was worrying me.

Get out there and learn what conditions are beyond your setup and control. You had a first taste and now have some perspective about conditions.

I think that you sound like you are aware and are going to be ok.

Your weights are important and learn them (lots of info here). Evaluate them, before doing a knee jerk reaction to what opinions are tossed at you.
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:41 PM   #3
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I refer to this as White Knuckle Driving...not fun at all. I have a Pro Series WDH with SC that came with my trailer. I installed a Friction Sway bar on mine to help out....works for me.
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:43 PM   #4
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Sway is when a trailer is moving uncontrollably from side to side. You seem to be describing getting pushed around by heavy winds which is not sway. A heavier truck would help, but the best advice is to get off the road when it is that uncomfortable to drive. Also, you will get more used to the wind as time goes by. Sounds like you did OK and got some good experience.


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Old 03-29-2016, 09:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lbrjet View Post
Sway is when a trailer is moving uncontrollably from side to side. You seem to be describing getting pushed around by heavy winds which is not sway. A heavier truck would help, but the best advice is to get off the road when it is that uncomfortable to drive. Also, you will get more used to the wind as time goes by. Sounds like you did OK and got some good experience.


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X2, you made it through your first white knuckle trip, congrats! Welcome to level 2.
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Old 03-29-2016, 09:54 PM   #6
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Your hitch is probably not set correctly. The dealer set ours up initially. It pulled great, but thats because all the tongue weight was on the rear axle. When I got home, I could pull the bars off with my hand haha. Thank God it was a calm wind day.

Definitely check if its set up right.
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:20 PM   #7
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Don't feel bad, I was on i80 the same days I think you were heading to Idaho with my new trailer 19rr Grey wolf and same truck. It was horrible and my observation was semis and other high profile rigs were also struggling. It was terrible conditions which also likely explains my 6mpg.
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:44 PM   #8
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The tail was wagging the dog. A bigger dog will help. I've been where you are and have never been happier since ditching the 1/2 ton and moving to a 3/4 ton diesel. Hills and wind have become a non-issue, but I have a 5er which makes actual sway a little more manageable.
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:50 PM   #9
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When the wind start blowing your trailer around it is time to get of the road and wait it out.

This is what wind can do.
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Old 03-30-2016, 12:12 AM   #10
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Thanks for the inputs, much appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lbrjet View Post
Sway is when a trailer is moving uncontrollably from side to side. You seem to be describing getting pushed around by heavy winds which is not sway.
Ah, the terminology. What I experienced was wind-initiated, but led to control issues. Steering corrections seemed to induce a negative feedback loop, causing the trailer to swing side-to-side a few times before settling down. It got ugly a few times, the truck's electronics kicking in.

I take it that sway is a more generally unstable and progressive condition, like a shopping cart's front wheel shake or a tank-slapper on a motorcycle.
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