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Old 09-29-2012, 09:01 PM   #1
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towing in snow/ icy conditons

Getting ready to go south in Nov from Wash. Just thinking - if caught in snow/icy conditions on I-5, would it be advisable to turn off trailer brakes ? One would not want the rig to begin any kind of slide. Slow down and let truck handle slowing/braking alone ? Would light trailer brakes be better ?

Watching weather carefully and stopping until clearing of course is the best solution. But, if caught unexpectedly, what is the advise from experienced drivers ?

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Old 09-29-2012, 09:06 PM   #2
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We towed our '97 Jeep GC through Portland on I-5 just after they re-opened it on the way to Quartzsite some years ago (I-5 had been closed earlier in the day due to ice and snow). We had the RoadMaster BrakeMaster air activated unit on the Jeep. It acted very well and actually helped keep the MH straight as it seemed the Jeep brakes applied before the MH. I was impressed at how well it worked. Passed quit a few cars in the ditch, some people were just climbing out of the cars so they just must have crashed.

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Old 09-29-2012, 09:27 PM   #3
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You do not want the trailer brakes disabled. If it tries to pull out and pass use the manual controller to snub the brakes and force it back where it belongs. As you slow down for icy conditions re adjust the controller to reduce the braking action. Whatever you do DON'T panic and lock everything up.
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:05 PM   #4
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I feel the 5th wheel helps stabilize our truck....
even though we have factory traction control, unloaded in the wet it would handle less admirably than I wanted, but with the 5th on it today in storms, it was planted !
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:10 AM   #5
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don't forget that in Cali, if the chain controls are on, you have to chain up the truck AND trailer
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:24 AM   #6
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x2 on keeping the trailer brakes working, if properly adjusted will actually help you should the truck drive wheels start to slide. Personally I would plan my trip so I go thru potential icy/snow spots only during the warmest parts of the day, even if it means holing up in a motel or rv park for an extra night or two. Even with plenty of experience of driving big rigs I still try to stay off the roads when they are icy, don't need someone less experienced causing a problem.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:39 AM   #7
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Both ODOT and CALTRANS will require drag chaine in bad weather. In November you should not see much but rain down I5. But if it does turn ugly, plan to park around Medford until the road conditions clear. Valley of the Rogue state park is open year round and a good place to hold up for a couple of days if necessary
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:12 PM   #8
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Thanks to all for advice. Mess I got is do not turn off trailer bakes; adj for conditions and use manual to straighten if needed.

Thanks to all responders
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:14 AM   #9
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I agree with the others. Be sure to carry a set of chains for the trailer as well. I know in Wa. (and probably in other states) when traction tires are required for cars, chains are required for all rigs with trailers including at least 1 chain on the trailer. It is JMo, but with 4 wheel drive I only use it when I need it to go . The rest of the time I take it out. If you break any of the tires loose (especially going down hill) they all are sliding and you can't stear it. ( how do I know that?)

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Old 10-06-2012, 01:23 PM   #10
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I have driven in snow & slush conditions once with a 5th wheel trailer. I have a lot of miles under my belt driving in all kinds of weather, & driving all kinds of vehicles. Now having said that, I will never again drive my 5th wheel trailer in those conditions again. As a matter of fact, as i am retired I am now seldom in such a hurry to go or get anywhere, I would strongly recommend you just pull over somewhere until the driving conditions improve. If you have never driven a trailer in those conditions you do not have the ability or knowledge to be on the road trying to do it. JMHO.

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Old 10-06-2012, 01:46 PM   #11
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Wow, being somewhat of a newbie, I haven't encountered icy conditiions...yet. Learned a lot. Thanks!
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:52 PM   #12
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When towing in snow/ice you need to have at least 1 braking axle on the trailer chained. While I perfer not to tow in bad weather, I have when I had too.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:39 PM   #13
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Perhaps watching a few episodes of Ice Road Truckers, lol.
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:03 PM   #14
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If you know it is there, don't go. If you don't know it is there and encounter it, just pull over and wait for the road to clear. And be sure to carry a set of chains for both the truck and the trailer. Les Schwab will sell you chains in October and buy them back in April if you did not use them. And you may encounter snow in a lot of places, not just over the Siskyous, this winter.

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