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Old 09-22-2015, 11:25 AM   #1
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UnHitched on I-75

Folks. I am new to pulling travel trailers, but not inexperienced in using the ball type hitch with other smaller utility type trailers. Anyway, my wife and I were vacationing with our Swift SLX and travelled down many a bumpy road with never a second thought about the trailers ability to stay connected to our tow-vehicle. Bumps, potholes, whop-de-doos, construction and uneven bridge approaches made for some heart pounding experiences while enroute, as with many times before. I know you all know what I am referring to, we all travel the same Interstates. Well on our return back to Canada, we detoured to be able to visit Gatlinburg TN. The morning we are ready to leave for the final leg of our drive back to Canada we tore down the trailer like we normally do, double checking all site connections are disconnected, propane off, jacks up and secure, antenna down, hitch on ball and locked down with pin, chains, lights. Everything was good to go - at least we thought so. We headed out through the mountains of TN, KY and were nearing Cincinatti on I-75 N. I knew from past trips, Cincinatti was brutal. The ongoing repairs to I-75 have clogged the highway and made the already rough road even more uneven as they continue to effect repairs. In fact, heading N/S on I-75 from Detroit to the KY line is nothing but rough uneven narrow lanes with constantly switching lane positions. This trip through we were about half way through the city when my wife heard a loud clunk and felt the truck shudder. OH NO! she came off the hitch. I instructed her not to panic, the trailer brakes were on but the nose landing gear was grinding away on the highway. My wife makes her way to the shoulder and we come to a stop. Not wanting to get killed on I-75, we need to re-hitch as quickly as possible (if possible) and get to a safe area to access the damage. We managed to re-hitch, but the trailer brakes were now on because the little plug on the trailers emergency brakes got pulled out during the "event" and the cable was severed as it got sandwiched between the landing gear and the road surface. So with brakes on, I pulled it off the median and to a safe location which turned out to be about two mile away. With brakes smoking, I stop to give it a good look over. Not too much damage, the landing gear is toast, and so were the brakes, but I need to get back to Canada, It's Sunday afternoon and nothing is open. Realizing that the emergency brakes apply only when the pin is removed, it either completes a circuit or opens the circuit to apply the brakes. So I cut the electrical connections to that switch and the brakes immediately released. We limped her back to Canada with no trailer brakes safely - thank god! After doing some investigation, I found that sometimes, when hitching the trailer to the ball, the plate that should be under the ball to make a secure connection, sometimes gets hungup ontop of the ball yet allows you to still put the locking lever down like normal and put the safety pin in - all the while looking normal. It's one of those things that should never happen, but by some fluke, it will on occasion. I will be making sure I do a visual inspection of that connection ensuring the plate is under the ball before I lock it in place. Please make sure you all do a visual inspection of this connection before you pull away, I promise you I did everything right, it all looked correct, didn't feel wrong in anyway. it wasn't till Cincinatti that our connection issue made it's appearance. Once I re-connected it on the highway and again when we were safe, I did have a look under the hitch at that plate, it was under the ball then cause I tested it by lowering what was left of the landing gear so that the back of the truck was almost off the ground and the hitch stayed attached. Scarry experience I don't wish on anyone. Please double check your connections and then check them again.

Safe Travels everyone.
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:40 AM   #2
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That can easily happen. And must have given you a few more gray hairs!

I don't usually have to worry about this because I use the electric tongue jack to lift the rear of the truck so I can easily slide the bars of my Equal-i-zer hitch onto the L-brackets on the trailer frame. One time, I had that situation, but that procedure alerted me to the problem.

I'll bet that NEVER happens to you again!
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:44 AM   #3
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Glad it all worked out. We were in Gatlinburg 2 weeks ago. We take a slightly different route due to our home location, but lots of construction on I-65 south of Indianapolis, and lots in Louisville. And the Interstates in IL and IN are just horrible to tow on. We've done several big trips over the years, but some of what we ran into this past trip is making us think twice about towing the trailer cross country anymore.
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutr2 View Post
That can easily happen. And must have given you a few more gray hairs!

I don't usually have to worry about this because I use the electric tongue jack to lift the rear of the truck so I can easily slide the bars of my Equal-i-zer hitch onto the L-brackets on the trailer frame. One time, I had that situation, but that procedure alerted me to the problem.

I'll bet that NEVER happens to you again!
I also use the jack to life the hitch to make it easier to connect the WD bars.
I also use a lock rather than a pin, saw a Motorcycle Clam Shell trailer come open on the freeway.. scared the heck out of me, so always used locks. His pin had worked it's way out somehow.

Glad you are safe.
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:26 PM   #5
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Yep had the same thing happen to me while towing a boat. It sure scares the heck outta ya!!! Thankfully I had no damage as I was going slow thru a subdivision and went over a speed bump. After that experience I always have a look under to make sure the coupling is attached properly. Glad you made it home safely!
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:40 PM   #6
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Thanks folks, I hear ya about the WD bars, and I have that system too, but because our trailer is under 3,000 lbs it will sit level when hitched. So more often than not, I forgoe the WD setup, and the procedure of raising the back of the truck dosen't happen. Perhaps I will add them regardless from now on. But at the same time, I will be eyeballing that coupling just to make sure all is good to go.
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:48 PM   #7
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First, thanks to Smacdonald for sharing the experience. I assume that you also learned that the crossed chains cradling the tongue is a myth.

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.... After that experience I always have a look under to make sure the coupling is attached properly. Glad you made it home safely!
That's my mode now too. I first was feeling for the clamp to be in the correct position, but then my fingers would get greasy.

My experience.

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I always fasten my crossed trailer safety chains when towing. When I replace safety chains I use shackles rather than the typical OEM "S" hooks. The original hardened "S" hooks cannot be bent open for re-use. I have more faith in screw pin shackles over "S" hooks. Shackles cannot jump loose like "S" hooks may. Good quality screw pin shackles will distort before failure. The shackle allows installation into selected links for chain length adjustment.

I covet any lifting equipment in my possession which is stamped "Made in USA".

Attachment 19507

If your included "S" hooks don't have an OEM keeper I install them with a heavy rubber band keeper across the open end. Simply slip the multiple loops of the rubber band over the chain, install the hook on the loop, and then bring the rubber band out over the open "S" end. I most often use rubber rings cut from bicycle inner tubes. The rubber over the end helps to prevent jumping off. Electrical tape would also help if rubber isn't available.

We were returning from a regatta the other day when we had our sailboat trailer jump off the hitch ball. A J/22 keel boat approx. 2700# all up with trailer. I'm convinced that I didn't have the hitch properly seated down on the ball. Our hitch clamp is a bit finicky when the hitch is lowered onto the ball. If the hitch isn't kept back while being lowered, it is possible to trap the clamp rather than have the fork be properly positioned under the ball. We were first in to the boat hoist (we won overall with no need for the last race... sorry, bragging) and I went to pick up the trailer alone while the team got the boat lifted. I don't remember specifically looking under at the trailer ball clamp position which is my normal SOP. Operator error is the most likely cause.

Anyway we were traveling on the highway at about 55 mph when we hit a big dip in the road followed by a loud bang and horrible rumbling. I slowed (not braked hard) and slid over to the shoulder with a bunch of black smoke pouring behind us.

The crossed safety chains did their job. The trailer tongue surged under the van and back out while the trailer tongue skid loop dragged along the ground. As I have said all along there was no "basket catch" of the tongue by the chains. The crossed chains did keep the trailer attached and tracking properly while maintaining control. The smoke was from the galvanized tongue skid loop being ground down flat by the pavement.

With two people we were able to lift the tongue and swing the tongue jack back under. The backup plan was to lift the tongue using the small floor jack which I always carry.

Attachment 19508

Visual inspection of the hitch clamp and other parts showed no damage. We reconnected and continued home without further incident.

Some things I learned.

The crossed trailer safety chains with shackles did their job.

If you don't panic and hit the brakes hard, gradually slowing down allows the chains to get you safely over to the side of the road. Don't be alarmed if you see some smoke when slowing down.

The crossed chains do not at all act like a "basket".

If your rig has a tongue skid plate be certain to check that it is in place and properly fastened. For a time mine was out of place. Fortunately I had repaired it. I'm glad that I did. I'm certain that it saved further damage.

Double, triple check that your trailer hitch is properly seated and clamped on to the ball.

Always connect your safety chains.

Note: Please take any trailer chain specific discussions to another thread than this New (Bee) thread.

vic

P.S. - I was made aware that I misinterpreted the Goodyear Marathon radial "10 psi over" recommendation. It refers to 10 psi over recommended inflation, not 10 psi over sidewall pressure. Back in the days of towing with a station wagon we would run our tires over max inflation so being a bit over didn't seem out of place. I was wrong. (I need to find time to submit revision to a moderator.)
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Old 09-22-2015, 01:12 PM   #8
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First, thanks to Smacdonald for sharing the experience. I assume that you also learned that the crossed chains cradling the tongue is a myth.

It may be a myth, but it is the law in many states.
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Old 09-22-2015, 01:20 PM   #9
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I assure you my friend.. It is no myth.. And I have had the experience to prove it.. Granted I was pulling a small flat bed trailer and only going about 20mph.. But had the ball come off and the crossed chains kept the hitch from digging into the pavement...

And as DocBrown said... It is the law in many states.
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Old 09-22-2015, 02:08 PM   #10
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Ditto

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Originally Posted by Tex1961 View Post
I assure you my friend.. It is no myth.. And I have had the experience to prove it.. Granted I was pulling a small flat bed trailer and only going about 20mph.. But had the ball come off and the crossed chains kept the hitch from digging into the pavement...

And as DocBrown said... It is the law in many states.
X2... Had a utility trailer unhitch on bumpy road and crossed chains cradled it and then kept the trailer from hitting the back of my truck while braking
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