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The ball hitch you use to pull your trailer is a simple but effective piece of equipment, providing a strong connection that still permits enough movement to easily navigate twisty roads or to back your trailer into a tight space. Unfortunately, that free movement means that sometimes your trailer will sway excessively, creating a dangerous situation that can result in an accident. Sway control bars from Husky and other manufacturers can help keep sway within safe limits, but they might need adjustment to work properly with your own towing setup.
Attach the Sway Control
You won't normally leave your sway control bar installed full-time. Depending on your hitch, tow vehicle and trailer, for example, it might interfere with your ability to back the RV into place; and it also limits your trailer's maneuverability on short, routine trips around or in and out of town. Periodically, it's a good idea to test and adjust the control bar when you put it back on, and the same holds true if you've just had one installed and are about to use it for the first time. To attach the control bar, first grease the sockets at each end and apply a drop of oil to the handle mechanism. Place one socket over the sway control ball, which resembles a smaller version of the hitch's towing ball. Wind the on-off handle three turns counterclockwise to release the bar's tension, then place the other end on the puck-shaped "ball" on the trailer's tongue. Insert a cotter pin through each socket and ball to secure them in place.
Tightening and Testing
Once both ends of the sway control bar are secured, reapply tension to the bar by winding the on-off handle three turns clockwise until it's tightened and sitting parallel to the body of the bar itself. This restores the control bar's factory-set tension. Now it's time to take your fifth wheel out onto the highway to test it. This is a question of "feel," so take your time and give the trailer's handling your full attention. If you feel fully in control when large trucks pass you and buffet you with their slipstream and when the wind is blowing hard – it's best to do this on a gusty day – then your control bar is properly adjusted and you're ready for your next trip. If your trailer sways more than you're comfortable with, or if, on the other hand, it feels tight and awkward to maneuver, you'll need to make adjustments.
Beneath the on-off handle, you'll see the brake tensioning screw. This is where you'll make your adjustments, in very small increments. Start by adjusting the screw just 1/4 turn clockwise, assuming you found a need for more control. If your trailer handling is too stiff and you want less tension, adjust counterclockwise. Do another road test after this adjustment to see if you're happy with the RV's handling. If so, you're done. Otherwise, repeat the process until you feel comfortable with the end result.
If you tow a trailer of 24 feet or longer, Husky strongly recommends using two sway control bars, one on either side of the tongue. You might also opt for a second bar if your trailer is unusually heavy for its size, or – at the other end of the scale – if it has broad, wind-catching sides and is relatively light. Making adjustments on an RV with two sway control bars involves exactly the same process. Set both bars to the same tension so your trailer will handle identically during left and right turns.
- Make sure that the RV is properly loaded. Heavy items should be on the floor and all cabinets and closets should be locked.
- For best performance, Husky sway bars should be inspected every 500 miles.
- Sway control devices should be removed in icy or slippery conditions.
- Husky RV trailer sway bars must be adjusted each time they are reinstalled.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. He grew up in rural Nova Scotia, and had learned to skin a rabbit with his pocketknife by the age of seven (whenever the pocketknife wasn't lost). He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and seldom loses a pocketknife anymore. You'll find his articles on game, foraged foods and other outdoor topics at major sites including eHow, Leaf.TV, Livestrong, OurEverydayLife and many others.