Be Careful! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-20-2010, 07:31 AM   #1
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Name: Marjie
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Be Careful!

Hi All,
So, this weekend was spent camping on the ocean on the Eastern Tip of Long Island, known as Montauk Point. Locally known as "The End", as it is all the way out at the furthest tip of the island. It's beautiful!!
Well it WAS almost the end for us while driving home. The coupler (I think that is what it is called) failed, I think the pin broke, the trailer came off the ball and the chains were just a little too long. We were doing around 60mph on a 6 lane highway, in heavy traffic.
We got right onto the shoulder and when we bumped off the road surface the chains broke off the trailer. It was an amazing sight, I got out of the car, ran around back and the trailer was behind the car, but not attached in any way!
I took my daughter (age 6) out of the car, and placed her way away from everything, sitting on the grass. We had to jack up the trailer with the car jack, place it back on the ball and tie it together was a coat hanger and drive another 75 miles home.
I think a old and loose coupler just wiggled too much and wore through the pin. Is that possible? Any theories?
Amazingly all is OK now! But if that trailer had totally disengaged in traffic, I can not amagine what would have happened.
Marjie
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Old 09-20-2010, 09:13 AM   #2
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Marjie, glad to hear everyone is okay. What often happens is the coupler is outmof adjustment. There is a bolt under there that adjusts how tightly the coupler grabs the ball. When properly adjusted the coupler should not be a able to wiggle on the ball. It should not be no tight, of course, that it can't easily rotate on the ball. Always use hitch grease to make sure the coupler doesn't bind up, and to prevent wear on the ball and coupler.
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Old 09-20-2010, 10:20 AM   #3
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As mcbrew said, couplers adjust so they can fit the ball nice and snug. Once there is motion allowed (if it is not adjusted properly), then that sets up a pattern of wear. Motion causes wear causes motion.... etc.

Another benefit of a nicely adjusted coupler is that you don't get the annoying "slop" when you come to a stop and the trailer shifts slightly on the ball.

We don't know that's what happened with your coupler, but it was my first thought as well.

Curious: What broke on the chains? A link? Connection of chains to trailer? Something else?

Glad you are okay.

Raya
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Old 09-21-2010, 04:24 AM   #4
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Smile What an experience

Thank God everyone, including the Trill, is alright!

I think the part that failed is called the coupler pin. There are several different styles of couplers.

Here is a glossary of hitch terms and some instructions on setting them up.

U-Haul: Towing glossary

As equipment gets older, it must be inspected regularly. Even disassembled and checked for wear, etc.

Here is a good general discussion of the subject:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Cars/problems/E...ing/Towing.pdf

BTW I had a similar experience except I wasn't going as fast. My boat trailer came off the 1 7/8" ball, which should have been the 2" ball, when crossing some railroad tracks. Luckily there was little traffic and the safety chain held. Sure did put a nice dent in the tailgate of my Cherokee, though. A lesson learned. If you have two different sized balls for different trailers, be doubly sure you have the correct ball installed.

Just received an email with even more information:
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Towing_Troubles_2006_Study.pdf (26.9 KB, 23 views)
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:00 PM   #5
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Name: Marjie
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Hi,
Thank you all for your kind words, and wisdom! We may never know exactly what happened, but now that it has happened once, that should be it for awhile!!!
It will be going in to the shop next week for a new coupling. The chains broke off where they were welded to the trailer frame, so they have to be reattached.
What annoys me is that since this was a new to us trailer, and we just spent several hundred dollars for a "safety inspection", the hitch wasn't inspected. Brakes, gas lines, and bearings were.
Live and learn.
Thanks again all!!
Marjie
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:12 PM   #6
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The safety inspection in Maryland is no better... the lights must work and the tires need to be in good condition. That's about it. Oh, and they only do vehicle safety inspections when a car is being titled. Then you can have it on the road for 80 years with no additional inspection. Gotta love it!
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:23 PM   #7
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Glad to hear that you and the trailer are in one piece. You were very lucky not to have a much more catastrophic failure.

How much of the chain was welded to the frame? A full link, half link, or just the end of the link? Inquire about have the replacement safety chains bolted instead of welded.

Please let us know what the repair shop finds as the cause for the trailer jumping the ball.

I once put the trailer on the ball and didn't even close the latch. I got 1/2 a block before it bounced off going over a railroad track. Luckily at very slow speed.
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Old 09-21-2010, 08:28 PM   #8
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Since my coupler was 29 years old and I was about to paint my frame, I had a new Fulton 33305-1362 2" coupler welded on. The old one might have been adjustable, but I didn't feel like taking a chance with it since it had lots of play and corrosion. The new one is rock solid, probably way better than the original when it was new, and it has threaded holes for the jack. The guy who installed it also put another plate underneath with a matching circle cutout to help stabilize the jack, which he claims is the only correct way to install a jack.

He also offered to weld new chains on, but I turned him down. It seems foolish to not be able to easily replace them. Not only that, but welded joints need to be carefully coated to avoid rust, and the heat of welding can weaken chain. I'll probably use 3/8" grade 5 cap screws, nylon insert locknuts and grade 8 washers to mount them.
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:18 AM   #9
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Hi All,
All sorts of good advice here, Thanks!
Curtis, I do not remember how the chains were welded on, as there is nothing left on the tongue that I can see. Bolting does sound better than welding, and I will talk to the trailer guy about that next week.
Marjie
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:22 AM   #10
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Marjie
You just gave me a flashback as that happened to me on the long island expressway back in the 80's.... I had no safety chains (stupid me) and the hitch ball came loose and luckily someone stopped me before the last turn of the nut would have been disastrous.
When you get the new hitch set up just take the ball end receiver and clamp it into your trailer without it hooked to the tow vehicle and tighten that nut under the trailer til it's almost snug (about 1/32" of play) too tight is not good. Luckily everyone is fine.
Joe
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:29 PM   #11
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I worked on the Scamp all day today... and one of the things I did was to snug up the hitch. There was a small amount of play... just a little too much. It probably took one full turn of the nut... maybe less.

Don't forget hitch grease!
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Old 09-23-2010, 10:04 PM   #12
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When I replaced the coupler on our Scamp, I used a Bulldog Collar-Lok.
It was a little more expensive, but I liked how it was easier to hook up and had no sheet metal hinged bit that can get out of adjustment and is hard to see if its engaged.
Bulldog Collar-Lok Coupler w/ Low-Profile Latch - 2" Ball - A-Frame - 5,000 lbs Bulldog Trailer Coupler BD028288
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulw View Post
When I replaced the coupler on our Scamp, I used a Bulldog Collar-Lok.
It was a little more expensive, but I liked how it was easier to hook up and had no sheet metal hinged bit that can get out of adjustment and is hard to see if its engaged.
Bulldog Collar-Lok Coupler w/ Low-Profile Latch - 2" Ball - A-Frame - 5,000 lbs Bulldog Trailer Coupler BD028288
Paul I am intreasted in this. My question though is in regards to the Scamp trailer coupler profile and what is stock on my trailer. Mine is welded to the frame and the coupler section of it that is welded on slopes down a great deal at the front. The replacement ones I see in the RV stores don`t slope down like mine. Is mine normal and did the one you use have that same slope to it.
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Old 09-24-2010, 01:33 PM   #14
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Carol,
I am not Paul, but in looking at my coupler and then the Bulldog they seem to be opposite.

The only thing this would do is make the tongue of your trailer sit a little lower.

Hope this makes sense and I didn't get it backwards. LOL

Bill K

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
Paul I am intreasted in this. My question though is in regards to the Scamp trailer coupler profile and what is stock on my trailer. Mine is welded to the frame and the coupler section of it that is welded on slopes down a great deal at the front. The replacement ones I see in the RV stores don`t slope down like mine. Is mine normal and did the one you use have that same slope to it.
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