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Unread 10-06-2014, 09:44 PM   #1
solomaniac
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Location: Oak Harbor, OH
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First big trip towing travel trailer

Last week, Mrs. solomanic and I took some vacation and went from home (Ohio near Lake Erie shore) to the upper penisula of Michigan, towing a 5000+ lb. Jayco 22' travel trailer with our new-to-us 2008 GC Limited Hemi. Following are some impressions from our 900 mile round-trip tow and about 500 miles of wandering around up there.

Gas mileage:
towing @ 55mph--about 9.3 mpg...10.2 on one segment with a stiff wind at our backs.
towing @ 70mph--8.0 to 8.2 no matter what we did.
not towing (mostly 62-64mph on rural 2-lane blacktop)--18.5 mpg

Towing power:
Never lacked for oomph--using tow/haul and locking out 5th via autostick, it only downshifted on the steepest of upgrades and the Mackinac Bridge.

Other notes:
Severe instability--I believe entirely aero--at anything over 65mph in a strong headwind. I will be looking into stiffer shocks/sway bars and some sort of roof-rack mounted airfoil during the off-season.

All-in-all, it was a completely successful first major outing with the new equipment. We came from a 2004 GC Laredo 4.7 and a Coleman pop-up camper, and are quite happy with the upgrade.

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Unread 10-07-2014, 06:01 AM   #2
LouC
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Here's what I'd add to help it tow better:
245/70-17 tires, give some more load capacity
Bilstein 5100 shocks, even if you just add them to the rear because the front is a difficult project
Firestone Ride Rite air bags in the rear coils

Ultimately the solution to an instability problem involves measuring your tongue weight and maybe adding a WD hitch.
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Unread 10-07-2014, 08:08 AM   #3
caddydaddy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LouC View Post
Firestone Ride Rite air bags in the rear coils
+1 The Ride Rite bags made it so easy to make sure the trailer was level no matter what the load was!
I towed a 6'x12' enclosed trailer that was around 5,000 pounds from Louisiana to CT this Summer, and had no stability issues. Not as much air drag as a travel trailer though.
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Unread 10-07-2014, 05:36 PM   #4
solomaniac
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I already have a WD Reese hitch, and have attempted to adjust it by varying the number of chain links used--with no noticable change in the handling.

I'm lead to believe that the problem is aerodynamic because it is dependent on wind velocity and direction. On the way up, with a gentle wind at my back, I was able to do 70 the whole way without issues. On the way home, on the same road--US 127 from Mackinac City to Jackson MI--but with a stiff wind coming from my right front, things started to get dicey at about 60, and downright terrifying at anything over 65. By the time I got to Jackson, the wind had shifted to be behind me and diminished substantially, and as I turned to go down US 223 (55mph speed limit) the rest of the drive home was perfectly serene.

Camping World has an air deflector that attaches somehow to the roof rack. If it can be removed at will without too much hassle, so I can use my car-top carrier when I want to, I will probably give it a try.
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Unread 10-08-2014, 04:59 AM   #5
hdsport
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Do you have a sway bar? and if so, is it adjusted correctly?
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Unread 10-08-2014, 09:33 PM   #6
solomaniac
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I've got friction sway control. As for adjustment.....I've never been sure how tight is tight enough. I know what happens if it isn't tight enough; could I be cinching it down too tight? What would be the handling consequences if I did? I have difficulty imagining that causing instability only at expressway speeds and only in a stiff headwind.
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Unread 10-09-2014, 01:33 AM   #7
Chirpz
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The hitch system is the first place to look when you have instability.

Not sure how tight to make the sway bar except to say that I keep mine VERY tight. Tighten the lever all the way...but when you want to adjust use the lower nut for that before you tighten the lever. I use the factory settings on the nut and tighten the lever all the way. Sway bar is not needed for slow speed around town..... I stop and loosen mine sometimes. On a very long trip, carry a wrench big enough to use to replace the balls on your sway bar. Those little buggers a prone to problems.

On the WD aspect of the hitch, do you jack the hitch up to level BEFORE you attach the chains? I'm surprised how many people don't know this and do it incorrectly. After you attach the trailer to the ball, lower the trailer jack to raise the car and trailer to the level position, then attach the chains, then raise the jack up again. In an ideal situation, the car and trailer should be level. Take it to a level parking lot and really look it over good.

My trailer is older and I had to buy a "dropped hitch" to have a proper connection. Then I experimented with the adjustment to get optimum stability. A straight hitch was way to high. If my hitch ball is adjusted up or down even one notch, it effects the stability.

We have made 3 long trips, each 7,000 miles plus. We have been over the Macinac bridge 3 times. Been in lots of wind, up and down mountains, you name it. Our only instability occurs when the road is dippy in a side to side fashion, like where semi's have caused uneven road wear. Our suspension is all stock, but we are using a CRD with QDII.

Being blown around by a strong cross wind is normal...slow down. Watch a semi and a strong wind and see how much they are blown around.

Sounds like you had a nice trip. Hope you can have many more.
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Unread 10-09-2014, 08:52 PM   #8
solomaniac
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I don't know anythng about a lower nut on the sway bar. Mine just has a big lever in the middle, which I turn down pretty tight. It creaks loudly, like a squeeky hinge, in turns.
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Unread 10-10-2014, 01:18 AM   #9
Chirpz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solomaniac View Post
I don't know anythng about a lower nut on the sway bar. Mine just has a big lever in the middle, which I turn down pretty tight. It creaks loudly, like a squeeky hinge, in turns.
They they can be pretty noisy...that is why I loosen mine if I am doing a lot of turns in a campground or driving around town.

Mine is a typical sway bar....with the big lever. Directions on it says to tighten it all the way. Look for another nut somewhere that requires a standard wrench. It can be used for adjustment as you sway bar begins to wear out. It should be used to make only very small adjustments and only while the lever is loose.
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Unread 10-11-2014, 09:46 AM   #10
fred99x
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Here is some good info on sway bar adjustment. Apparently, some trucks need to be setup differently from others. GJ's are the standard setup method. I used the wheelwell measurement method as well as going to a truck weigh scale to make sure the downward force was equal on front and back tires.
http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...d/17730894.cfm
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Unread 10-15-2014, 09:17 PM   #11
Chirpz
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We just returned home from a 300 mile trip down the Columbia Gorge pulling our little trailer. No wind...not too many hills and no really steep grades. Our total gross weight was 9080 fully loaded.

We logged 16.7 MPG for the trip.

We left the trailer and will return to get it next week. It will be interesting to see the difference in mileage on the return trip. Usually there is wind in the gorge and it will be against us if so.
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