Broken coupler - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-22-2013, 09:59 PM   #1
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Name: Mike
Trailer: 1984 13' UHaul
Louisiana
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Broken coupler

So, I get my brakes done -which was a feat all by itself-
This was one of the back brakes-

Also, detangle this mess to hook up some temporary lights-

I also ordered and got in a bolt on receiver hitch -no problems - yay!
First trip with the new 1980 F-150-

I make it about three miles and hit a big dip in the interstate and BAM! the coupler twists off doing 60 MPH on a bridge. I manage to get pulled over on the shoulder. Thanks to putting my two spare tires on the tongue, when the trailer came up and hit the truck, there was no fiberglass damage. I just happened to also put on my oversized safety chains. I'll never go without them again!
The trailer tore off my wires and 7-pin and 4-pin plugs and the concrete did away with the hooks for the safety chains.
So my friend comes out with his 2000W Honda genny and his Lincoln welder. I go home and get a grinder and some electrolytes and a quick trip to Harbor Freight gets a new coupler that fits like rooster socks.
It's about 130F on the pavement with trucks and cars rushing by. The sun is laughing at us!
I get to cutting and grinding. He gets his genny going and we fixed it right on the side of bridge good enough to get home.
This is one trip that wasn't meant to be. So sad....
Now though, I'll have a 2" ball and new metal.
Moral- We should ALWAYS check our old campers for stress fractures.


The welds are ugly now but that welder was really working the little 2000 watt generator. I'll clean them up tomorrow...

Glad me or no other passersby got hurt!
Good end to this little story!
And yes, I did have a beer after I got home. It's my third beer of the year!
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Old 08-22-2013, 11:22 PM   #2
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Name: Linda
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So glad you, your Trillium and all other drivers on that Highway are unscathed by this. The trailer guy I go to put those enormous safety chains on my Scamp last month. I thought it seemed a little overkill. Now I'm glad he did it. Safe travels to you down the road.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:49 AM   #3
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Oh my I finally got around to reading your thread Mike. Glad everyone and everything came away relatively unscathed. Scary though!

Just reading it makes me think I should have a beer.
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Old 08-29-2013, 10:42 AM   #4
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That's scary. Glad you're ok. I'm unclear what failed. Was it the metal coupler, the welds, or the frame? Raz
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Old 08-29-2013, 01:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
That's scary. Glad you're ok. I'm unclear what failed. Was it the metal coupler, the welds, or the frame? Raz
There were two very small stress cracks that I never saw -not that I looked real hard either. One on either side of the hitch. When I hit a big dip, it opened up the cracks enough to twist and come off the ball.

Donna - Thanks! It was the first time anything like happened to me. And yes, it was scary!

The body will come off the frame this year! Looking at others' frame pictures, I see places where they welded support braces. Me thinks that's a good idea!
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Old 08-30-2013, 01:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itlives View Post
There were two very small stress cracks that I never saw -not that I looked real hard either. One on either side of the hitch. When I hit a big dip, it opened up the cracks enough to twist and come off the ball.
So, the answer to the question of which part failed is: the body of the coupler.

I have to wonder how massively overload that coupler might have been...
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Old 08-30-2013, 01:56 PM   #7
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Congrats on your repair but the highlight of your post to me was "...a quick trip to Harbor Freight gets a new coupler that fits like rooster socks." Do you really dress your chickens down in Louisiana?
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Old 08-30-2013, 03:09 PM   #8
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Congrats on your repair but the highlight of your post to me was "...a quick trip to Harbor Freight gets a new coupler that fits like rooster socks." Do you really dress your chickens down in Louisiana?
Have you ever seen rooster socks? No?
That's because they fit so good!
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Old 08-30-2013, 04:57 PM   #9
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Talking Rooster socks

Rooster socks are as fine as frog hair.
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Old 08-04-2014, 03:57 PM   #10
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Name: Bob
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I have a stress crack too, but noticed before too late. So i hired a welder to remove the original coupler, and install a new coupler similar to the harbour freight coupler you bought. But after the welder removed the old coupler, and cleaned up the frame, we noticed the old Boler frame had an angle of 45 degrees instead of 50 degrees. So now I have a Boler that I cant pull. All new couplers seem to be 50 degrees. You mentioned your harbour freight coupler fit like a sock, but in my case, there is a 3/8" gap on either side of the coupler (at the end closest to trailer, and on both aides) so the welder could weld the top lip of the coupler, but could not fill the gap.

Just curious how your welder did the install. Did the sides of your coupler lay flush against the sides of your frame ? Or was there a gap, and if so how did your guy fill it in ?

Anyone else run inti his problem ?
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Old 08-04-2014, 04:44 PM   #11
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Years ago I installed a coupler where the frame angle was different than the new coupler. I was working in a machine shop at the time so milled out a couple wedge shaped spacers to fill the gap
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Old 08-04-2014, 06:55 PM   #12
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I talked to a welding shop about changing my coupler and wondered about the angle difference creating a gap. They said if there was a gap they would shim and weld.

Did not go ahead since I would still need two stingers since my utility trailer and camper are at different heights. Not much gained by larger ball to match utility trailer.
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:19 PM   #13
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Ve3iny- my welder was me! I have since sold the Trillium but as I remember, the only place that took a lot of wire was underneath. It wasn't anything my little Harbor Freight wire welder couldn't handle,though.
I'm not a trained welder. I just learned on my own. I trust my wleding. I know what good penetration is.
The couple that bought the Trillium have not called back with any problems so I'm guessing it's fine!

I would like to take this opportunity to say I had a great time on this friendly site! Very friendly folks in here!
I've gone minimalist, I'm into motorcycle camping now. !
Again, I had a fun time with all y'all!
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:43 PM   #14
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Name: Bob
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Thanks. I agree ... Friendly group ... This problem has been plaguing me for a but now ... My wife wants to go camping, and the Bolers gathering moss in the driveway. Thanks for the great shim idea. I'm not a machinist, but I just happen to have a mill, lathe and 3D printer in my garage. So i had a bite to eat, and voila ... One shim ... I'll make the other one tomorrow night, and then call my welder back. I hope this works ..Click image for larger version

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