What are the chances? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-01-2007, 08:39 AM   #1
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worry of trailer seperating from vehicle...

these failsafes probably do not apply to most 13 out there, because the fodder that goes with hitching up a heavier, longer rig is rarely needed.

You have a coupler that has a locking mechanism for the ball, but we have seen that many folks hee have had them fail and the trailer "jumps" off the ball...

so, ALL trailers have safety chains (If yours doesn't, shame on you...)... There's item #1 for keeping eggy behind you and not rolling down the road on it's own.

Weight Distribution hitch.. intended for something completely different, but still firmly holding trailer to tug... will it pull off if trailer decides to tour independantly?

Sway control bar... another coupling from tug to tow.. would it break away too?

WDH and sway control were never intended as things to tug against, but could they hold up in an emergency?

Lets not forget your properly installed and operating break away switch to slam on the trailer brakes.

I am thinking if you have all the bells and whistles, that the likelyhood of you looking in your mirror and seeing the trailer get farther and farther behind you is about... nil..

opinions?
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:10 AM   #2
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Gina, a hitch should never jump off the ball. If this happens it is because the hitch is not adjusted snug to the ball. There are adjustments for this under there which could loosen up with time. This to be checked often. Also, maybe the wrong ball size for the hitch could cause this. The only other reason would be a malfunction of the hitch which could or could not be the fault of the person who secured the hitch to the ball.

I have seen owners think the hitch is on the ball when it really sitting on top of it. You need to bend down and take a good look!

Oh yes, always check the large nut on the bottom of the ball. It can loosen up as well.
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Old 06-01-2007, 09:59 AM   #3
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I am thinking if you have all the bells and whistles, that the likelyhood of you looking in your mirror and seeing the trailer get farther and farther behind you is about... [b]nil..

opinions?
That has been my belief. Especially with my being "anal-retentive" about hitching procedure. (I'm on checklist 7.0 by now... ) Once the coupler is latched around the ball, we jack up the tongue jack in order to make the WDH spring arms slack so they can be connected easier.
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Old 06-01-2007, 11:31 AM   #4
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Good suggestion about checking the hitch connection Gary.
I pick up the frame of the trailer after hitching as well and make sure I can lift the back end of the car with it. Lift it up and down several times (usually 10 reps for a normal workout ) to make sure it is firmly attached to the ball.
Of course, I don't know how many more years I'll be able to perform this check.
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Old 06-01-2007, 11:42 AM   #5
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(I'm on checklist 7.0 by now... ) Once the coupler is latched around the ball, we jack up the tongue jack in order to make the WDH spring arms slack so they can be connected easier.
Would you be willing to share your checklist? I've been planning to make one for the 1700 but if you already have one that would make a good start, it would save me some time.
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Old 06-01-2007, 02:08 PM   #6
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We all know how the trailer jumps off the ball if it's going to, and how to prevent it.. but we also all know that depsite our best efforts, it can anyway.

That wasn't the question :-P

The question was "what is the likelyhood your trailer will actually get away from you with all the other shackles and hardware attached?".

Anyone "lose" their tow with all the other stuff on anyway?
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Old 06-01-2007, 05:44 PM   #7
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Our boat on it's trailer came off the ball on a hilly San Pedro, Calif. street. Fortunately, we had gone overkill with the strength of the safety chains and they worked as intended. I can't relay a disaster story, but that experience was sufficient to get my attention and prevent any recurrences. I think your thoughts about all the other devices providing failsafes are quite valid.
The device which, I believe, prompted this train of thought does not appear as if it would work with weight distribution hitches. At least not the style we use. When we "hitch-up" by the book, I'm confident that "Nuestra Casita" will not become an independent entity somewhere on the road.

One thing I'd like to comment on. As has been mentioned countless times, many of us use the tongue jack to raise the front of our trailers to verify a secure attachment. What bothers me, is the fact that the tug's springs push the tug up when the tongue weight is relieved and the trailer might still not be secured. It might appear as if the trailer tongue is pulling up on the tug hitch when it is really not. A mirror and flashlight would provide a visual inspection if the hitch is too close to the ground to allow one to get their head low enough.

There is simply no security like knowing positively that the fork is under the ball.

"Nuff said,
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 06-01-2007, 06:28 PM   #8
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I get on my knees and look back up at it (hitch connection). You can clearly see the mechanism. The mechanism can be adjusted to fit tightly under the ball. I can't imagine a hitch coming off a ball if adjusted and connected properly. That is, short of a collision or catastrophic failure.

That said, the law states you must have two safety chains. The chains I use could pull the trailer down the street with the trailer on it's side! The chains should be able to pull 3000 lbs without an issue if connectors and chains are appropriate size and/or quality. In short, the chains alone will keep the trailer with the tug if all specs are followed.

AND IF.......your chains did fail.......your emergency trailer brake will engage and stop the trailer pronto. That is if you keep it in good working order.
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Old 06-03-2007, 11:28 PM   #9
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Oh yes, always check the large nut on the bottom of the ball. It can loosen up as well.
A few year ago about 10:00 PM I was traveling along about 60 MPH in Northern Utah, 50 miles from nowhere, when I felt a slight jerk after hitting a medium size bump in the road...I looked in the rear view mirrior and saw a huge stream of sparks coming from near the rear of my truck...I immediately pulled to side of the road....found the tongue of the trailer had come off the hitch...the ball was still in the coupler of the trailer....apparently the nut had come off and the bump was sufficient to cause the tongue to bounce off the hitch, ball and all...I DID have a sway bar attached but just a Reese draw hitch, not a WDH. Fortunately the chains held and the only thing damaged was the bottom of the tongue jack...I had to eventually saw off the lower two inches, or what was left of the lower two inches of the jack. I spent the next 6 hours trying to locate and install a new ball.... 10:00 PM way out there means driving quite a way to locate anyplace that might have a 2 inch ball....I was lucky to find one at all at that time of night and in that location. I was alone so had to leave the trailer along side the road unattended. I was certainly worried I'd come back and find the trailer had been broken into, or not find the trailer at all. First chance I got I drilled a hole through the threaded portion of the ball immediately below the nut and installed a cotter pin....never had any problem after that.
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:59 AM   #10
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We all know how the trailer jumps off the ball if it's going to, and how to prevent it.. but we also all know that depsite our best efforts, it can anyway.

That wasn't the question :-P

The question was "what is the likelyhood your trailer will actually get away from you with all the other shackles and hardware attached?".

Anyone "lose" their tow with all the other stuff on anyway?
Yes, Gina, I've had a coupler jump off of a ball at highway speed towing a new "old" trailer home. I had chains attached, and fortunately the damage was limited to replacement chains and replacing the electrical pigtail. Also fortunately I was towing with my 7,000 lb Excursion rather than my 3,000 lb Toyota that I had at the time so I was able to stop both without incident without trailer brakes. The pigtail had detached during the incident, so the trailer brakes didn't operate.

The coupler spoon was worn out and didn't hold the ball, and while I do the tongue raise check religiously, I'd been in a hurry and didn't do it on that one...

And yes, the downward force of the WDH on the ball will prevent the ball and coupler from separating, probably even if the ball nut falls off.

Roger
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Old 06-04-2007, 10:06 AM   #11
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Sigh, a motorcyclist was seriously injured this weekend here in NW Oregon because of this happening.

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In another accident on Saturday, a motorcyclist was seriously injured when a trailer became unhitched from a vehicle and collided with the motorcycle on Highway 30 near St. Helens.

Lynn Mohler of Ilwaco, Wash., was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital.

Ricky James Rupp, 51, of Warren, the operator of the vehicle towing the boat trailer, was cited for violating towing safety requirements.
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Old 06-04-2007, 11:35 AM   #12
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"I drilled a hole through the threaded portion of the ball immediately below the nut and installed a cotter pin....never had any problem after that."

Great idea! Also, balls are cheap. Good idea to have a spare.

So it appears that the hitch jumping off the ball is because of worn equipment, operator error or both.

This was a great learning session and a serious one.
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Old 06-04-2007, 01:36 PM   #13
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That new Trailer Guardian looks better and better!
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Old 06-04-2007, 02:12 PM   #14
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I've had a coupler jump off of a ball at highway speed towing a new "old" trailer home. I had chains attached...
The pigtail had detached during the incident, so the trailer brakes didn't operate...
So it sounds like the trailer pulled away from the tug enough to pull apart the electrical connection, but not far enough to trip the breakaway switch. That suggests to me that we should check to ensure that the breakaway cable has less slack than the electrical cord... which is true in my case.

(I'm assuming that this trailer had a breakaway switch and battery.)
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