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Old 01-02-2009, 05:57 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, 07:29 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, 09:01 PM   #3
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Lucky this time. MAx speed pulling trailer 60 mph or you are asking for trouble.
SLOW DOWN
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Old 01-02-2009, 09:30 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.
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Old 01-02-2009, 09:30 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, 09:37 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, 09:47 AM   #7
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One question? What were you towing with.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:39 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, 11:53 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, 08:40 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??
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:01 AM   #11
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Yep, sorry to say your truck has to short a wheelbase for that TT. not sure, but it looks as if it`s about 30' juding by where the TT`s axles are placed! also are you positive you had enough tongue weight? you need about 12% of the loaded weight on the tongue! probably around 8-900lbs for that particular TT. if you keep your Titan, which is probably OK, I recomend the Reese Dual Cam and be certain the hitch is setup properly. don`t trust the dealer! most of the time they don`t get them right or have no idea how to properly set them up.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:18 PM   #12
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I agree that RV's of that size should at least have the Equal-I-zer or Reese Dual Cam hitch. I think it should be a requirement that every dealer should be required to make buyers aware of proper setup and towing. Even if by requiring the buyer to watch a video on the subject. I think the use and importance of the manual brake engage function on each controller be stressed.
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:40 PM   #13
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Is it possible that the chains on your WD hitch were too tight? You may have had inadequate weight on the tongue? Or you may have pulled the front of the trailer higher than the rear? Possibly transferring to much weight off the rear of your truck towards the front of the truck and the back of the trailer? Every now and then I see someone's signature picture hooked to the tow vehicle and see that situation. Part of it can be getting the ball height right in the first place while the truck is unloaded.

By the way, I'm sure you don't need people second guessing you or lecturing you. I'm asking this question as a possible learning situation for all of us.
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:03 PM   #14
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Glad you are safe. Sorry you had such a wreck and damage. We have had a lot of push from the busy tractor trailer traffic on I81. I typically drive at or below 55 and monitor what is going on around. keep a safe distance from other vehicles if possible, when trucks are passing be ready for some push, speed up some can help if it is safe to do so, and watch the method of using the brake and manual brake adjustment. I also find prayer to be helpful. I am so thankful you and your family are well and hope you have many safe trips in the future. thank you for sharing your experience with us. Have a safe and Happy New Year.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:10 PM   #15
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Boxers

By the way, did you get a new pair of boxers for Christmas like you wished for? You might want to stock your TV with some music roll. I keep a roll on hand when I tow if anything I fell more confident.
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:06 PM   #16
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Looking at the picture of your broken off shank, this thing may have broke and caused the swaying issue. If you look along the top left and right it appears there is rust in the corners, rust in the middle. I would think the shank would have bent before breaking off like this. I don't see any signs of it bending prior to breaking off.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:32 AM   #17
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If you take a good look at it, that's a cast shank. While they are strong (hence the 14000 lb rating) they are brittle. Cast pieces break before they bend. I really don't see any evidence of prior cracking from the pictures.

Like AcadianBob, I hope you don't take this as seconding guessing you (I'm sure you've done enough of that yourself already) But hopefully this thread may help someone reading this in the future.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:38 AM   #18
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GaFishman,

Thank goodness you and your passengers are OK, and apparently no other vehicles added to the fray by crashing into the trailer.

It is amazing to me that there isn’t a lot more damage to the trailer than it is. I have seen several travel trailer wrecks on the road, and most looked like they just disintegrated. Yours looks like it just laid over on the guard rail without a lot of damage elsewhere. Hopefully this is a testament to the build of Forest River products.

I wonder if this would be a good time to learn more on the contributing factors to your accident, so that maybe we can all assess our own towing setups, so something like this won’t happen to another forum member. So, I have some questions that maybe can start some dialogue of some sorts.

What is the model is the Wildwood and what is the wheelbase of the Titan?? The Nissan website lists 139 and 159” (short and long bed) wheelbases for the Titan, which doesn’t seem too shabby. I am towing a 28.5” Surveyor weighing 5200 lbs with a Ford 150 with a 145” wheelbase, so I have some concern here, even the towing charts show this is within suggested limits. Just wondering about your trailer size vs. the Titan specs, so I can assess my own setup.

That broken hitch shank is scary. I ran that part number on the web, and found it is probably a Reese hitch. I am using a similar hitch shank (a 54970 vs. your 63970), and am curious about the model # difference, as they are both listed as 14000 lb. hitch shanks. I am also using the Reese Dual Cam sway control, which seemed to work well even before I started tweaking it from the dealer setup…..they still had my front axle 240 lbs. lite. So, were you using the Reese Dual Cam, and had you ever done weigh-ins with your setup, or at least down fender measurements to see the effectiveness of your WDH ??

The speed doesn’t seem to far off course. I would love to be able to tow at 55 mph, but on the interstate I try to at least keep up with traffic in the slow lane around 65 mph…..which incidentally is the max. speed rating of the trailer tires. I have towed a popup and a Trailmanor before buying our full sized Surveyor, but now question whether I should slow this beast down some to lessen the potential for problems.

Any help on these questions, and afterthoughts on your incident would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Chap
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Old 01-05-2009, 05:18 PM   #19
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Got to say that that sheared shank bothers me a lot too! It may have saved rolling the tow vehicle but I'm not sure about what it says for counting on the safety of that shank. Is it possible that the casting process was defective?
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:26 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by 2008Wildcat View Post

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....

I agree..........



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