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Old 04-21-2008, 06:50 PM   #1
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Great time... then, DISASTER!!

Hey everybody! I'm back!

So my darling Bambi acquitted herself extraordinarily well on her maiden voyage out! I had a WONDERFUL time! She is so very comfortable, and despite my fears about setting up on hookups for the first time, everything was easy to figure out and went smoothly.

Bambi was the hit of the trailer park! Folks came up the whole time I was there just to take a peek inside and chat!! Check out the attached photos for my site and my first guest, one of my office mates and a Navy Chief!

I managed to hitch her up coming home, and I'm FAIRLY SURE I did it correctly. I had to call Out of Doors Mart to ask a few questions, but I got it done. The top was riding a little high as compared to before, which I was worried about. I took a picture of it -- check out "hitched.jpg." Should I have adjusted the chains? How? The Bambi was completely dry, but darn near.

On the trip home, it started making horrible noises. Somewhere between a clang and a groan was coming from the hitch. I was horrified. It seemed to only be happening when I was making a sharp turn. At one point, I got out to loosen the sway bar, thinking maybe I had it on too tight.

Once I pulled into my apartment building parking lot, and unhitched her, I found the problem. Check out "bentbolt.jpg." The receiver that the weight distribution bar fits into on the tougue was loose as a goose on the tougue. It tumbled off into my hand, and I could see that the bolt holding it to the trailer was horrifically bent.

Methinks I narrowly avoided disaster.

Right now, I'm really freaked out. I feel like I came close to a true catastrophe, and what freaks me out is that I don't understand why. Could I have hitched the Bambi incorrectly? Was it installed incorrectly? If this was my error, then what precisely was my error? And how do I ever pull this thing again if I don't trust myself to inspect a hitching job and know that it's safe???

I called Out of Doors mart, and gave them a heads up. Someone from service is calling me tomorrow. I sent them the picture of the bent bolt.

Any advice?

Hayley
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Old 04-21-2008, 06:57 PM   #2
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Tradgedy avoided

Not to worry at all.

A simple fix....then just do it all agin....it looks like your on the right track...make sure its all tight...recheck every once in a while....go have fun. No damage done!! I like the pics too. do more...often.
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:06 PM   #3
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Thumbs down Way Tight

Looks as though the frame bracket may have been over tightened

when not installed straight.

Glad all ended safety, we all learn from these experiences.

I can remember the bracket install on our first AS. Did not take much to

tighten down the bracket while not aligned properly.

Good Luck...Keep Stream'n!!
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:33 PM   #4
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Sounds like you're a sqiid! Officer of enlisted? Looks like part of the shakedown cruise to me, things happen, be cautious, have old salts look at your rig, help you out.
Disaster would be backing into a rotating aircraft powerplants propellor!
Nice campsite, enjoy your new toy! DG
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:42 PM   #5
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Hi Hayley,

I am glad that this is what you think of as a disaster. May you keep that attitude forever. Gotta agree with doorgunner on this one. Looks like a good first trip, with only a minor problem to be fixed. The first trip I took in my Trade Wind, the piece of Plexiglas replacing the rear window fell out somewhere on I10. Made the rest of the trip with clear plastic held on with duct tape.

And, uh, your first guest was way better looking than mine.
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:55 PM   #6
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I think I see your problem...

It looks like you took up too many links of chain when you cinched up the WD bars. There should be at least 4-5 links to give it some room to move. That's why it creaked and groaned when you turned. It looks like there was only a link or two between the snap up brackets and the WD bar. Such an arrangement would also bend the mounting bolts as the force of turning has to be transmitted somewhere.
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:08 PM   #7
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hi hayley

i think terry is right on, but

the most reassuring approach would be to have someone go over the hitch and connection and adjustments IN PERSON.

doesn't need to be an a/s dealer, just a person who has experience and is able to look it over first hand.

the nose is too high and that could be 4 a variety of reasons (chain, drop bar, off the ball)

all that creaks and groans isn't dangerous, but if you back up while someone LOOKS at the connection that would help.

adjusting the w/d bars for the right amount of redistribution onto the ridgeline front axle requires measuring truck stance or weighing the rig...

once it is set up correct, make a checklist, this process leaves less to chance and helps define the routine...

happy camping!

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:22 PM   #8
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Nice trailer, and good job getting out there and trying. Thanks for the pics too, we love pics.

At first glance, I thought that the weight distribution bars were too tight, which would raise up the front of the trailer. I didn't think there was too much weight on the tongue of a Bambi, and that the bars would be sized accordingly. Then, I thought they would be very near parallel to the ground when the trailer and tow vehicle were all level. Yours looks really drawn up to the tongue, with the chain hitched almost at the bar. The links of chain between the tongue and the bar provide slack for the natural movement when turning, and your setup didn't look like there was any slack.

One trip, I was surprised when I saw people putting on there weight distribution bars by using their tongue jack and lifting the trailer tongue and rear of tow vehicle. After installing the chains from the bars to the tongue (easy with no strain since the TV and AS were in a slight inverted "V"), they withdrew the tongue jack and everything settled into place, hopefully level.

I put my WD bars on with the truck and trailer straight on level ground, using a 3/4" pipe 18" long to lever the chains onto the tongue. I feel a slight rise in the tongue with each chain.

Phil
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
the most reassuring approach would be to have someone go over the hitch and connection and adjustments IN PERSON.

doesn't need to be an a/s dealer, just a person who has experience and is able to look it over first hand.
In person is always better. Reminds me of the tv commercial where the surgeon is on the phone telling the patient where to cut...
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Old 04-21-2008, 09:26 PM   #10
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I think you got some good advice above from others. It looks like you had 3 links below the one hooked. You can see that you were in a nose up position. Based on what I see here, I'd probably only have one link below. The term is dropping links. I normally dropped 2 links on my old trailer which for all intents means 2 links free below the one you are hooked on. When carrying a heavy load, I had to drop 3 to give me some extra lift. Always be sure to drop the same number of links on each bracket.

I bent that bracket but in my case the bracket bolt was not tightened enough. When I went into a sharp turn backing the trailer into its parking spot, the bracket spread apart. I was lucky it didn't fall off while towing.

Jack
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Old 04-21-2008, 10:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
once it is set up correct, make a checklist, this process leaves less to chance and helps define the routine...
Excellent advice! We do not move without checking the checklist! Even after five years, we still forget something here and there.
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Old 04-21-2008, 10:52 PM   #12
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Ok, one more opinion. I think your trailer is too nose high... and you could have one more link out. To adjust your nose, I think you may need to tilt your hitch head so that the end "drops" towards the trailer.

It really isn't all rocket science, and going over the instructions yourself may reveal some things that the dealer didn't do (just because they're a dealer doesn't mean that they know more than you!).

Ideally, taking your rig to a CAT scale (search CAT) to weigh your TV wheels front to rear and the trailer wheels. The scale will tell you exactly how much weight you have on each set of wheels. I think the Ridgeline probably would like a more 50/50 balance vs. the conventional 40/60 (f/r) of a rear drive vehicle.

IF your setup rides well now with little sway, I wouldn't worry too much about the chains, that may be what your TV needs (but getting it level will probably make it even more stable).

Great looking rig and trailer by the way. Congrats on the first voyage! I think the dealer may have just cinched that bolt a bit to tight to bend that way.

Using your jack to get your bars up is conventional... I'd need a BIG stick to get mine on .. I'd be afraid of the recoil if I slipped if I didn't use the jack. If the chains are so slack that they slack at rest or have minimal bend at rest, the bars are not doing the job.
Welcome!
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Old 04-21-2008, 10:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Excellent advice! We do not move without checking the checklist! Even after five years, we still forget something here and there.
Hi, that's for sure; I lost [forgot] my sewer connector twice. Last time out, I bought two just in case, and glad I did because the new revised connector locks onto the elbow. No weight needed to hold it in place anymore.

Also, after another look at your hitch picture, I see that the spring bars were too high up on the chain and not alowing your hitch enough room to make turns.
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Old 04-21-2008, 10:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Hi, that's for sure; I lost [forgot] my sewer connector twice. Last time out, I bought two just in case and glad I did because the new revised connector locks onto the elbow. No weight needed to hold it in place anymore.
Ewu, Yuck! Thanks for sharing.
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