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Old 01-02-2009, 04:57 PM   #1
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Travel Trailer Fish Tailing

We had just purchased a WildWood LA and 7 weeks later while traveling to a Thanksgiving outing, as I passed a tractor trailer the backend of the trailer started to fish tail on me. I was doing 65-70 mph. When things started to get squirrelly on me the immdediate reaction was to stop the vehicle. I've never experienced anything like this before so I stepped on the brakes. Unfortunately we lost control and flipped the trailer.

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Fortunately the truck did not flip too, we had much to be thankful for this year! What was amazing was why the truck did not flip, take a look at the pictures of the hitch, it snapped...

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I have also since learned that if a trailer starts to sway and fishtail like ours did, the best course of action is to speed up and tap the trailer brake controller inside the towing vehicle. This isn't what your gut reaction would be, but it will usually cure the problem and bring the trailer back behind the tow vehicle.

We just got things cleared up with the insurance company and have already put a deposit on a fifth wheel. We'll be back out on the road, just being a little more cautious.

Be safe and keep all your wheels on the road.

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:29 PM   #2
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Wow! I'm glad that you weren't hurt. I have seen rolled trailers that roll the tow vehicle with them. You may be lucky that your insert broke!

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Old 01-02-2009, 08:01 PM   #3
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Lucky this time. MAx speed pulling trailer 60 mph or you are asking for trouble.
2008 Cardinal 30RKLE 5th wheel sold
2006 Rockwood 2607, 2001 Traillite
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:30 PM   #4
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What kind of sway control and weight distribution did you have?

It's a good thing that draw bar broke. It would have flipped your TV if it hadn't.

most people don't understand the importance of mounting the brake controller where it's very convienient to reach and operate the manual lever.
Salem 29RKSS Pushing a GMC Sierra 2500HD!
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:30 PM   #5
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Did you find out why the TT started to sway that bad? Was you going down a grade in the road or was it really windy ,bad tires, seems funny that it was fishtailing like that for no reason something had to set it off . Glad you are all ok and no one was hurt . Geez that makes me nervous as hell to think about that as we are planning 13hr a spring break trip to Florida in March
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:37 AM   #6
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I had the same problem when I first bought my 2006 Rockwood, I was on interstate 76 headed to Hershey. As soon as I hit 51 mph the camper started to sway and no one was around me. I pulled off of the road and checked everything from the TV tires to the hitch and the tires on the camper and could not find any thing wrong. I retuned back to the dealer after camping that weekend to find that the hitch work was wrong. The camper was hitched too low to start with, where I was told and how to install the chains was also incorrect. All of the equipment that was supplied for the hitch was the right stuff but not installed correctly. Everything was out of square. My problem was taken care of, the only thing from this poor hitch work is that I had to replace the left rear tire on my TV, because of all that sway tire would not hold air the sway damaged the beed on the tire and the tires were all new. I am realy glad you and your family are OK and as mentioned above SLOW DOWN you are lucky ....this time and so was everyone else around you it could have been ugly.
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:47 AM   #7
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One question? What were you towing with.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:39 AM   #8
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When I had a TT pulling with a Silverado and using a sway bar I was fine. When I switched to an Expedition as the tow vehicle, the shorter wheelbase and higher center of gravity made it sway way more. I did not feel safe. The few times I was caught in major sway, I completely left go of the gas, did NOT touch the brake, and held the wheel firm and straight until it calmed down.

You were goin' a little fast there too, but I have been guilty of that often.

Your move to a 5th wheel is probably a good one.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:53 AM   #9
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Answers to Your Questions

I was towing with a 2006 Nissan Titan LE (10k# tow rating), which was well within limitations for this TT (7200#). I was heading south on I-75 in central Georgia and had moved to the middle lane because traffic in the right lane was slowing at and off/on ramp. A tractor trailer had slowed and as I passed the suction between the two vehicles had pulled the TT towards the big rig, as I drove past and the suction broke free the TT crossed back over and started the fish tailing. When we came to a stop we were still in the middle lane but facing oncoming traffic; we did a complete 180 (I asked for new boxers for Xmas!). I had sway bars and a friction control bar on the hitch as well, the chains on the sway bars were tight (always had a tough time engaging them). As I stated earlier the immediate reaction was to get on the brakes, especially with the wife screaming; as I now know that is not the right thing to do. I've pulled TT and pop-ups for several years and this is the first time I ever experienced anything like this! My main concern is after all the years of towing I had never realized the imprtance of being able to use the brake contoller inside the tow vehicle and the proper response if a trailer starts to sway or fishtail the way ours did. Believe me, speed in no longer an option - the wife will be keeping a real close eye on that!!!
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:40 AM   #10
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OK, I'm going to play devils advocate here...

What was the length of the trailer? You may have been well within the weight ratings of your Titan, but the short wheelbase and overall light weight of it didn't help your situation.

Also, anything over 24 foot is too long for a friction sway bar. That is where a Reese Dual cam or Equal-izer, or even a Hensley Arrow comes in. When properly set up, those sway controls will take all the push/pull out of passing trucks, busses, etc.

As mentioned, towing above 60-65 MPh is not very smart. ST rated Trailer tires are only rated to a speed of 65 for one thing....

Anyway, glad no one was hurt, and hopefully a few things can be learned from such an accident.

One more thing, are you upgrading to a suitable truck to pull your new fiver??

Steve and Vicki
2 kids
2011 Dodge 3500 CTD Outdoorsman
2013 Columbus 320RS-ITS HERE!!
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