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Thread: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

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    Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    hello,
    I am new to campers. I have a RE275. from what I understand now, this means the interior, or perhaps just the box outside is 27.5 feet and the Tung and bumper add on to be about 30 feet.
    it weighs around 7600 pounds plus some for cargo, which is not much right now other than the water load of the fresh tank.

    I did the usual checks, air pressure at 65,
    hitch is a Reese 2000 pound distribution, with what appears to be set up properly by Gander and is quite tight to pull up the buckles even with the camper jack down lifting the truck a few inches beyond level such the camper and truck appear level when the jack is up. I reviewed the setup videos so I don't think the hitch is wrong.
    I also have one REESE friction bar, which I have tried moderately tight, and then very tight it even groans some in turns. still no real change.
    I have no cargo so that is not a problem with improper loading. at most I have 100 pounds of stuff spread all around the trailer, and it did the same totally empty - no water or any cargo.


    The pickup is a 2019 F150 5.0 with a towing package from the factory.

    I don't think it is the pickup per se, since I borrowed a pickup of a different brand it the same issues are present. maybe the truck is too small, but the guys at Gander thought it could handle it.

    At any rate, here is what I "feel"

    When I travel at 40mph, it runs smooth. I have no issues accelerating plenty fast, and stopping with the electric brake controller in use seems to be adequate. more on that later.

    When I get to 45 to 50 mph, the trailer starts to move in an oscillation, I believe side to side a little. I believe the friction bar and the technology in my truck for the tow package (internal sway control) must be keeping this tame, because it never gets worse but remains constant the entire drive even with no wind or traffic around. - Even with wind or traffic, it remains fairly constant. wanted to be clear it is not when something obvious is at play. I have increased the speed with my hands at the ready on the brake controller to see what happens at 60 and even a little more, and interestingly it does not get worse, but not better either.

    it is defiantly noticeable and could even make you a little motion sick if you were prone to that. feels like light turbulence on an airplane. I let my wife drive and it kind of scared her. just to give you an idea, but we are not towing experts and would not know how to gauge a problem or just normal.

    I am taking it back to Gander Monday for other reasons and i want to bring this up, but not sure if they are allowed to drive my rig or what they can do to trouble shoot this.

    I have read as much as I can find, but when I hear about sway they always refer to the death sway, and right now this is not that severe as to loose any control, just an uncomfortable white knuckle drive.
    I will look this evening if I can think of a way to measure the axles to see if the tires are aligned as this looks like a possible culprit.

    Any suggestions or advice? am I just being paranoid, or should the drive be almost like nothing is back there?
    PS, I notice the ball now has a flat spot worn on the top at only 200 miles. I suspect that is from the constant side to side movement. Maybe not, but the chrome is now gone on what I believe to be a quality Reese Ball.

    regarding the brakes- the truck instructions advises around 25mph on a clear parking lot or something to attempt to lock the wheels with the controller then back off a point on gain, I can never lock the wheels at the max setting and the brakes have a couple hundred miles on them now. is this a problem? they are stopping, as i can certainly feel the tug, but no sliding tires.

    Thanks,
    Mark

  2. Print this Post   #2
    Senior Member wdk450's Avatar
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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    You might want to get a trailer axle wheel alignment check done. To my knowledge, neither the factory or any dealer has a laser wheel alignment rack setup. Look for truck wheel alignment shops in your area. This will probably cost about $300 an axle.

    I once saw a small truck/utility trailer next to me loose control from seesaw swaying and end up on the freeway embankment on its side. Pretty scary. Be very cautious of your speed until you get this fixed.
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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    Quote Originally Posted by wdk450 View Post
    You might want to get a trailer axle wheel alignment check done. To my knowledge, neither the factory or any dealer has a laser wheel alignment rack setup. Look for truck wheel alignment shops in your area. This will probably cost about $300 an axle.

    I once saw a small truck/utility trailer next to me loose control from seesaw swaying and end up on the freeway embankment on its side. Pretty scary. Be very cautious of your speed until you get this fixed.
    I will hope they can get this took care of at the dealer (somehow) since the camper is still only a month or so old and it came this way.
    Thanks,
    MN

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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    Somewhere around 10 years ago, I had a 30' travel trailer (non Heartland) that had a sway issue. But unlike your situation, mine pulled straight, swaying only when vehicles passed me causing turbulence. I resolved my problem with a Hensley hitch. However, I think Bill is correct - your problem sounds like an alignment issue, not the hitch.

    Good luck resolving your problem.

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    Prolifically Gabby Member JohnDar's Avatar
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    Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    Question: What are the trailering specs for an F-150? You said the trailer is 7600 lbs. and you have a full tank of water. Assuming a 30 gallon tank, that’s another 260 lbs. And whatever cargo you have on board probably weighs more than you think. Take the rig to a CAT scale and find out how much you’re really pulling.


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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDar View Post
    Question: What are the trailering specs for an F-150? You said the trailer is 7600 lbs. and you have a full tank of water. Assuming a 30 gallon tank, that’s another 260 lbs. And whatever cargo you have on board probably weighs more than you think. Take the rig to a CAT scale and find out how much you’re really pulling.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hi,
    I hear what you are saying, but for reference, the dry weight is 6416 pounds. the tong weight is 670 pounds. I have always had the issue from day 1 going home from the dealer without adding anything to the camper. It is possible I have added maybe 300 pounds including the wood blocks for the wheels and the food, clothes, etc. but it is still fairly bare since it has spent most of the time in the shop so far instead of us using it.

    as far as the truck, it is a bit hard to determine the rating. best I can come up with I have the 53A tow package with the 5.0 engine. The rating is somewhere between 9000 and 10900 for a loaded trailer weight using weight distribution depending what gear is in the rear end. Cant remember what gear right off hand, it lists about 10 choices.
    Last edited by marknewbill; 01-28-2021 at 04:49 PM.

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    Senior Member CoveredWagon's Avatar
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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    What is the % tounge weight ?
    .
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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    Quote Originally Posted by CoveredWagon View Post
    What is the % tounge weight ?
    I will update:

    the dry weight is 6416 pounds. the tong weight is 670 pounds. (issue still there when dry and no cargo because I noted it on the way home the first day from the dealer)

    The GVWR is 7,700 pounds - is this the maximum weight it can have if the fresh water is full and the normal cargo is present (as long as I adhere to the max cargo limit on the sticker of course) which this should distribute to the tung as well unless i load to the back of the wheels, which i have not of any significance.

    looks like slightly more than 10 percent. I see it could use a little more If i want to reach 15 percent or so.

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    Prolifically Gabby Member JohnDar's Avatar
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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    Quote Originally Posted by marknewbill View Post
    Hi,
    I hear what you are saying, but for reference, I have always had the issue from day 1 going home from the dealer without adding anything to the camper. It is possible I have added maybe 300 pounds including the wood blocks for the wheels and the food, clothes, etc. but it is still fairly bare since it has spent most of the time in the shop so far instead of us using it.

    as far as the truck, it is a bit hard to determine the rating. best I can come up with I have the 53A tow package with the 5.0 engine. The rating is somewhere between 9000 and 10900 for a loaded trailer weight using weight distribution depending what gear is in the rear end. Cant remember what gear right off hand, it lists about 10 choices.
    Somewhere in the vehicle purchase order (or window sticker), you should be able to tell what rear axle you have. Then find the corresponding trailer weight maximum based on the bed and cab size from Page 2 of the attached Ford brochure.
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    Senior Member Flick's Avatar
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    Re: Pulling my first camper and recognizing problems with "sway"

    Mark, sorry all these things are happening. Since you are new to towing and camping in general, I think it would be worth your time to search out a friend who’s done some towing or perhaps a trailer shop professional who can give you some pointers as to what’s normal and what’s not.
    I would bet that some of your wonderings about certain things will disappear.
    Also, just for the record, trailer brakes on a very light trailer will likely lock up when the gain is set very high, but on a heavier trailer most brakes will not lock up and slide as you are describing it.
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