"Hitch Hiked" - Don't let it happen to you! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-11-2007, 09:27 AM   #1
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On the trip back from the River Valley Egg Rally in Van Buren, AR I learned a very valuable lesson and wanted to share it with all of you! I was cruising along on Interstate 40 heading back to Hohenwald, TN with my 2007 Oliver Legacy 17. I decided to pull off at an exit to grab a bite to eat as my hunger was begining to take over. I pulled in and stopped at a KFC. I went in and had a pleasant lunch and after finishing, I climbed back into the saddle and started back up on my trip home. I had traveled somewhere around 15 or 20 miles since stopping to eat when all of a sudden I hit a fairly large bump in the highway and that's when things got interesting really quick!

I thought at first that I was experiencing a flat tire on the Oliver. I wasn't sure, but I knew that something had gone terribly wrong! It wasn't too long before I realized that the trailer hitch had come off of the ball! Thank God that the tow chains and the break-away brakes kicked in! I was able to slowly bring the trailer to a stop. The powered tongue jack took a little beating, but was still functional and I lifted the tongue back up and re-connected myself to the trailer. The worst part of it all is that I was stuck in the fast lane on a bridge! I walked around the unit really quick to make a fast check of things and started to slowly move down the highway to the next exit. I pulled off and then got out to do a thurough check to see if the camper was still road worthy.

While I was doing my walk around a state trooper came off the the exit and approached me. We began to discuss what had happened. He then asked me if I had made any stops at a truck stop during my travel that day. I told him that the only place that I had stopped at was the KFC. He immediately said, "Well there's your problem! You got Hitch Hiked!" I was a little confused and asked him what "Hitch Hiked" meant. He informed me that in his 20some years experience as a state trooper he had seen this type of incident happen all too many of times. He said what happens is somehow, someway a person gets upset, aggrevated or just doesn't like you and they will disconnect or unlock your hitch when you make a stop. He said in my case is could have just been someone who didn't like campers!

Can you believe that?! I would have never thought that someone would do such a thing, but here it happened and someone actually did it to me. I know for a fact that when I pulled out of the campgrounds that morning my hitch was locked and pinned. So, however unlikely this may sound, that is what happened. I guess that someone at the KFC either didn't like campers or didn't think that I needed to be taking up 4 parking spots and "Hitch Hiked" me.

Its just really sad that whoever these people that do such awful things don't think about all the possibillities that could happen. They just want to see someone lose their trailer, but don't realize all of the other serious accidents that could occur from their actions!

So, the moral of the story is... ALWAYS check your hitch after every stop you make. If your hitch is out of your sight for any period of time check it before getting back on the road! I hope that this may help someone else so that this doesn't happen to you!

Oh, and I made it home safely. There was no major damage to the Oliver other than the tongue jack which took quite a beating. It is being replaced today.
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:52 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing your story. I'm very glad it wasn't worse.

When I bought my trailer I was more worried about theft than somebody being down right mean. I bought a trailer lock kit made by Master Lock. It contains three items that are all keyed the same. A pin lock to keep the ball mount locked to TV, a pin lock to keep the coupler locked to the ball, and a lock for coupler when not attached to the TV.

Another good habit to get into is when you stop and get out of the TV make a walk around the trailer, and take a look through the windows if possible. When getting back in take that walk around the trailer again, this time look for anything that could be a problem towing. I check the wheels, actually feel them, look at the light connection, the coupler, the ball mount locking pin, the tongue jack, and the safety chains.
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:12 AM   #3
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That is very urban legend sounding! If I didn't "hear" it first hand I would never have believed it!

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Old 09-11-2007, 10:16 AM   #4
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On the trip back from the River Valley Egg Rally in Van Buren, AR I learned a very valuable lesson and wanted to share it with all of you!
Thanks for sharing. Good to know.
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:16 AM   #5
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Byron has the right answere.I follow his lead at all times.
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:28 AM   #6
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Another good habit to get into is when you stop and get out of the TV make a walk around the trailer, and take a look through the windows if possible. When getting back in take that walk around the trailer again, this time look for anything that could be a problem towing. I check the wheels, actually feel them, look at the light connection, the coupler, the ball mount locking pin, the tongue jack, and the safety chains.
This is the best advice out there. All sorts of things happen to trailers while on the road, and you should take the opportunity at ever stop to do a walk-around and check the entire rig. You'll be surprised at what you find.

Five years ago, I bought my Y2K Excursion (used of course) and shortly thereafter took it on a trip to pick up our new-to-us '94 Airstream tri-axle 34' trailer in Ohio. On the return trip, I stopped for gas and did my walk-around. I found that ALL FOUR tires on the Excursion had developed significant sidewall defects, actually splits in the sidewalls, that could have resulted in catastrophic tire failure on any of the four corners. As it turned out, they'd put "D" range tires on the truck from the factory, not "E" range. The "D" range tires were overloaded just with the weight of the truck, and with four passengers, luggage, and 900 lbs of tongue weight, they were severely overloaded, and the sidewalls began to disintegrate. Six months after I replaced all of them with the appropriate "E" range replacements, Firestone/Ford did a recall on the "D" range tires. They reimbursed me for my new "E" range tires, but the moral of the story was that had I not done my ritual walk-around... the story could have had a very different ending.

Two weeks ago, I was towing my Tundra on a tow dolly behind my Born Free 23' moho and stopped for lunch. When I stopped I found that one of the dust caps had fallen off the tow dolly, and one of the straps that held the driver's side front tire down had also come loose. The passenger side wheel bearing had been reinstalled too loosely by a trailer shop after last time it was re-greased. Fortunately, I was able to tighten the wheel bearing properly, reinstall the straps and tighten them properly, and get back under way. Once again, my walk-around saved me from catastrophe.

If it saves you from catastrophe just once, all of those walks-around will be worth-while.

Roger
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:31 AM   #7
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While I was doing my walk around a state trooper came off the the exit and approached me. We began to discuss what had happened. He then asked me if I had made any stops at a truck stop during my travel that day. I told him that the only place that I had stopped at was the KFC. He immediately said, "Well there's your problem! You got Hitch Hiked!" I was a little confused and asked him what "Hitch Hiked" meant. He informed me that in his 20some years experience as a state trooper he had seen this type of incident happen all too many of times. He said what happens is somehow, someway a person gets upset, aggrevated or just doesn't like you and they will disconnect or unlock your hitch when you make a stop. He said in my case is could have just been someone who didn't like campers!

I heard about that happening. The guy who sold me my trailer threw in a hitch lock, a little lock that goes through the latch that requires a key to lock and unlock. It gives me peace of mind and I always use it. The sell them on www.etrailer.com
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Old 09-11-2007, 03:44 PM   #8
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On the trip back from the River Valley Egg Rally in Van Buren, AR I learned a very valuable lesson [...]
Oh, and I made it home safely. There was no major damage to the Oliver other than the tongue jack which took quite a beating. It is being replaced today.
Thank you for sharing. And thanks to Byron also for the wecome advice. I would have never thought to do all those inspections frequently.
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Old 09-11-2007, 06:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
This is the best advice out there. All sorts of things happen to trailers while on the road, and you should take the opportunity at ever stop to do a walk-around and check the entire rig. You'll be surprised at what you find.
Five years ago, I bought my Y2K Excursion (used of course) and shortly thereafter took it on a trip to pick up our new-to-us '94 Airstream tri-axle 34' trailer in Ohio. On the return trip, I stopped for gas and did my walk-around. I found that ALL FOUR tires on the Excursion had developed significant sidewall defects, actually splits in the sidewalls, that could have resulted in catastrophic tire failure on any of the four corners.
Actually, that was about the normal life of a trailer tire. The "Wise Ones in the Sky" say that RV tires [b]should be replaced every 5 years as they rot off and exhibit the symptoms you described. I know the ones on my 43 ft 5th wheel did that on the 5th year. Larry
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:33 PM   #10
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Larry,

The Excursion is a Ford 3/4 ton SUV. It was my tow vehicle. That was what had the tire sidewalls split. It shouldn't have happened on a three year old truck.

Roger
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:41 PM   #11
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I use a padlock through the hole in the coupler lever and another through the hole I drilled through the ball mount pin.
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Old 09-12-2007, 12:37 PM   #12
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The Oliver Legacy uses the unusual Bulldog cast or forged coupler, which has a choice of mechanisms to control and secure the latching collar. Which one does this trailer have, Jared?
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Old 09-12-2007, 02:40 PM   #13
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I guess I just wasn't thinking when I didn't use a keyed locking pin. On my hitch itself, I have 2 keyed locking pins. Reason being is that I am using an adjustable hitch that requires 2 pins on my TV. So, don't ask me why, but I guess that I just didn't think that it was necessary to key lock the trailer to my TV. However, my experience definitely tells me different.

As to Brian wanting to know which bulldog coupler we are using on the 2008 Oliver Legacy 17s we are currently using Cequent's Class III Forged Bulldog with the No.4 Tongue Mount, the 2B Style Coupler and the H-High Profile Latch. See pic...

If you are familiar with the Bulldog Couplers, you know that this type of couple will never come off a hitch on its own. My hitch was definitely unlatched by someone!
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Old 09-12-2007, 02:42 PM   #14
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We Always - Always - Use a keyed LOCK to lock the hitch to the ball and to lock the other end of the hitch to the receiver.

B4 going to eat at a stop we make a visual inspection around the entire rig and I like to take the hub temperature with a IR tester.

B4 departing we make another visual inspection around the rig and every 500 miles or so, I check the treed depth with a digital tester.

We have tire pressure vale caps to warn if the pressure gets low.
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Old 09-12-2007, 03:21 PM   #15
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As to Brian wanting to know which bulldog coupler we are using on the 2008 Oliver Legacy 17s we are currently using Cequent's Class IV Forged Bulldog with the No.4 Tongue Mount, the 2B Style Coupler and the H-High Profile Latch. See pic...
Thanks, Jared.
Bulldog terminology: the tongue mount is the part that actually bolts to the tongue as acts as a mounting base for the coupler (the No. 4 is for rectangular straight tongues), the coupler is the part which engages the ball (2B is the 5000 lb, 2"), and the latch is the part which moves and holds the collar which keeps the coupler closed (H is the lever style).

The latch would apparently be unnecessary if the collar would just stay in place by itself; the collar does the real work of keeping the coupler closed.

This latch is a lot like the lever latch found on more common couplers, and it looks like it accepts the same sort of locking pins... some of their other styles of latch would not.

Quote:
If you are familiar with the Bulldog Couplers, you know that this type of couple will never come off a hitch on its own. My hitch was definitely unlatched by someone!
I have seen many references to the Bulldog forged couplers, but only seen them in person rarely. In one instance, an RV dealer had a row of one particular model (intended for industrial use) with Bulldog forged couplers on them... as normal for an RV dealer's stock on display, not locked and not hitched to any vehicle. I played with a couple of them to see what it was like to run the mechanism; this is harmless, as to tow the trailer someone would need to open the coupler anyway, so it didn't matter in what state I left it.

I wonder if someone was just trying out the coupling on the Legacy and did not get it re-latched properly? I know it seems strange that anyone would do this with someone else's trailer, but my wife has returned to her old British convertible in a parking lot and found someone sitting in it, presumably just to see what it was like! Someone trying the coupler latch might have thought they had it right, or knew it was wrong but were too afraid or embarrassed to leave a note pointing it out... just considering less malicious possibilities...
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Old 09-13-2007, 11:23 AM   #16
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Well I pulled a real boner last month on our Alberta and Prairie Egg meet.....probably because my mind was more on my fuel pump, which was whining and due to fail in the near future, when leaving a campground I forgot to latch down the trailer coupler and put in the lynch pin that I use.....after about 20 miles I was thinking that I wasn`t sure if I latched the coupler and checked...sure enough, I didn`t! ....Luckily maybe, I run about 15% tongue weight and the highway wasn`t too bad, so the unit didn`t jump off the ball.....maybe some folks that blame vandalism, or something else, fail to latch their coupler......could happen to anyone I suppose.. ....Benny
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Old 09-14-2007, 10:25 AM   #17
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I heard about that happening. The guy who sold me my trailer threw in a hitch lock, a little lock that goes through the latch that requires a key to lock and unlock. It gives me peace of mind and I always use it. The sell them on www.etrailer.com
mike
Hi Mike,
I like the idea of hitch locks but haven't started using them. Years ago while wrenching for a race team, one of our competitor/ friends didn't show up for the race. He had a small engine fire but couldn't get to his extinguisher. It got worse when he realized that the hitch key was in the burning truck. Everything was locked down. In a few moments, he lost his truck, tools, race car and trailer. I realize the odds of ever having a problem like this are slim but I would suggest keeping your hitch key in your pocket just in case.

Take care,
Nolan
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Old 09-14-2007, 10:51 AM   #18
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Hi Mike,
I like the idea of hitch locks but haven't started using them. Years ago while wrenching for a race team, one of our competitor/ friends didn't show up for the race. He had a small engine fire but couldn't get to his extinguisher. It got worse when he realized that the hitch key was in the burning truck. Everything was locked down. In a few moments, he lost his truck, tools, race car and trailer. I realize the odds of ever having a problem like this are slim but I would suggest keeping your hitch key in your pocket just in case.

Take care,
Nolan

Good advice. My solution is my trailer and hitch keys are on detachable portion of my TV keys. Therefore they are either in my pocket or in the ignition of the TV. Also my wife and traveling partner carries a set in her pocket.
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Old 09-16-2007, 01:46 PM   #19
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This past summer we almost had one of those catastrophic events. After about three hours drive down the road we decided to stop and fuel up on gas. We pulled out of the station and my husband went in to the convenient store for some drinks for me and the kids. I was tired of sitting and decided to check on the trailer and bikerack on the back of our scamp. Our rack is a fold-down type and requires a pin to keep it upright in the travelling position. That pin had somehow wiggled halfway out of the hole and had only centimeters before it was totally dislodged, dropping the rack and both bikes down to the road at 65mph. Fortunately we were directly across the street from a Walmart where we bought picture hanging wire and duct tape . That rack is no longer a fold-down, we wrapped it up so tight that we'll probably never be able to get that pin loose even if we wanted to.
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Old 09-16-2007, 02:19 PM   #20
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Well I pulled a real boner last month on our Alberta and Prairie Egg meet.....probably because my mind was more on my fuel pump, which was whining and due to fail in the near future, when leaving a campground I forgot to latch down the trailer coupler and put in the lynch pin that I use.....after about 20 miles I was thinking that I wasn`t sure if I latched the coupler and checked...sure enough, I didn`t! ....Luckily maybe, I run about 15% tongue weight and the highway wasn`t too bad, so the unit didn`t jump off the ball.....maybe some folks that blame vandalism, or something else, fail to latch their coupler......could happen to anyone I suppose.. ....Benny
Done the same thing myself! It's interesting how our subconscious minds note something wrong and give us those little nagging feelings -- I have learned not to ignore them...

BTW, I keep a fire extinguisher in the cab of my truck, anyother just inside the bed canopy and a third right by the door in my Scamp.
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