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Old 10-25-2006, 03:02 PM   #1
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Arrow How safe are we while towing.

Hi All; After reading a post by "thecatsandi" about her last towing mishap and how lucky she was, I cannot help to wonder if such occurrence was unavoidable. Were there issues with towing set up which may have played a role? One thing for certain, towing on icy or snow covered roads gives me the jitters. Not only from difficulties encountered, but from actions of others who share the road with me. Most folks think, that their four wheel drive can handle any situation. Driving and especially towing on slick roads requires different mind set. Your primary goal of reaching your destination safely, should not be altered by what others do. While recovery in every situation may not be possible, there are things we can do to give us an edge over such predicaments.

Check your brakes annually. Worn shoes, scored or grooved drums affect balances in breaking ability of the trailer. That imbalance directly affects the tracking in tow vehicle.

Check your breakaway switch, and integrity of the lanyard.

While factory safety chains are adequate, PO may have replaced with just about any chain. Often I find 500 lbs. capacity snaps at the end, which
attach them to the tow vehicle. Chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Be sure your chains are crossed and of proper length.

Make sure that your trailer wiring is not shorter than the chains will allow the trailer to go. This will prevent the plug from being pulled out after coupler disconnect.

Check pre-load on your sway control to enable tow vehicle to track better.

One and very important issue to me from past experience, is the setting of brake controller. On slick roads, I found that very slight increase in braking power on the trailer helps the tow vehicle to hold better tracking ability.
This minimizes somewhat the jack-knifing condition. None of above however, are more effective than use of common sense. Slow down, be aware of conditions ahead of you. The two hour late arrival at your destination is forgotten the next day, the alternative is long remembered by you and your wallet. Thanks "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:40 PM   #2
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Well said, boatdoc! All I can add is for the 4x4 drivers...a 4x4 can help you get started in icy/slippery conditions but does absolutely, positively NOTHING to help you stop.
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Old 10-25-2006, 04:29 PM   #3
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I was not using 4 wheel drive at the time of my accident. I did not see the need. My traction was fine with the rear wheels, until.... I hit black ice. The tow set up was stable once I got sideways the Dual cams have no affect. THe trailer is not going to keep the truck going strait if it does not want to. My chains broke an I am glad they did. The trailer would have pulled the truck. The chains are designed to keep the trailer behind you not keep the trailer attached at all costs.
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:20 PM   #4
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Thanks for the good refresher Boatdoc. I'm always concerned about what those around me are doing, or not doing that they should. I still remember as a youngster seeing a trailer that had disconnected from a car and planted itself in the front of a car coming the other way and that image sticks with me whenever I'm going through my hook-up routine. Living in the Pacific Northwest we are very familiar with black ice. I've watched folks play bumper-cars on I-90 passing through Spokane and was fortunate in that case to be able to steer through the mess without contact. In other situations we've sadly had similar results as Michelle. I know from my own experience how frustrating it is to have all the right equipment, be driving slowly and cautiously and doing all the right things, and still have the road conditions change and away we go. In Michelle's case where her equipment is virtually brand new and up to current standards there's less of a concern about the quality of the equipment. In my own case where I tow a 1951 trailer with a 1957 stationwagon I'm sure the first thing that would come to many minds are questions about the equipment. Interestingly this has come up from time to time when we are asked in campgrounds about that so I diligently point out that other than looking vintage everything mechanical and safety related is current and in most cases a bit of overkill. I'm often better set up than the people asking which scares me - they are all over out there - poor mirrors, incorrect hitches, trailer brakes either not working or poorly adjusted, half the family's back yard stuck with bungie cords off the back of their unit and on it goes. After towing trailers and hauling cars for 40 years one understands the absolute need for nothing but the best. As you suggest with many of us towing older units in particular it makes sense to take a second look at things like our chains, our lights, check our breakaway devices and make sure they can survive through a surprise. I know when I acquired the '51 the first thing to go was the chains - they'd been dragged along the pavement at some point in the past and were ground down somewhat and not worth taking a chance. The propane bottles were poorly mounted and we've seen from other forum notes what kind of scare that can cause.
Barry
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:39 PM   #5
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thecatsandi , it doesn't sound like you did anything wrong , and your equipment was good . Black ice is black ice , there is not much you can do with it by the time you realize it's there . Even just letting off the gas , if one wheel has a little more brake drag it can set off a spin , there is so little friction that almost anything can set it off . I once slide off the road while stopped because the road had a slight slant to it . Don't beat yourself up . Hats off to you for getting back up on that horse .
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Old 10-25-2006, 06:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecatsandi
I was not using 4 wheel drive at the time of my accident. I did not see the need. My traction was fine with the rear wheels, until.... I hit black ice. The tow set up was stable once I got sideways the Dual cams have no affect. THe trailer is not going to keep the truck going strait if it does not want to. My chains broke an I am glad they did. The trailer would have pulled the truck. The chains are designed to keep the trailer behind you not keep the trailer attached at all costs.
Hi Michelle; My post was not questioning your driving ability nor your safety equipment. Stopping ability has nothing to do with four wheel drive. My post was referring to snow covered slick roads. In case of black ice there is not much you can do going even two miles per hour downhill. The breaking of your chains in your example may have saved you from further injury. Lucky it did not involve another vehicle. If the front of the trailer frame has gone too far under your stopped truck with the chains broken, the final contact with your bumper may have resulted with the LPG tanks rupturing and catching on fire. Chains are there to prevent it. As you can see, you have many if, if,if's. Regardless of situation safety chains are there to assure control over disconnected trailer coupler. Please think of the safety of others as well, those who share the road with you. How would you feel if your runaway trailer crossed the lanes and was hit head on by oncoming vehicle. You do not think your LPG tanks would explode in someones face? Your statement of the fact that the chains are meant to keep the trailer behind you is not correct either, because your chains did not do that either. Please try to understand that my post did not singled you out nor your situation, it can happen to any of us any time and each incident will have different implications. Again there is no better defense than common sense, if it is freezing there will be ice. If there is black ice on the oncoming downhill sloped road, time for bondocking for a while. Thanks for your input Michelle, "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-25-2006, 06:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ticki2
thecatsandi , it doesn't sound like you did anything wrong , and your equipment was good .............. Don't beat yourself up . Hats off to you for getting back up on that horse .
Hear, Here! Sounds like you did eveything exactly as you should. I guess that's why they are called "accidents".

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Old 10-25-2006, 06:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecatsandi
I was not using 4 wheel drive at the time of my accident. I did not see the need. My traction was fine with the rear wheels, until.... I hit black ice. The tow set up was stable once I got sideways the Dual cams have no affect. THe trailer is not going to keep the truck going strait if it does not want to. My chains broke an I am glad they did. The trailer would have pulled the truck. The chains are designed to keep the trailer behind you not keep the trailer attached at all costs.
Hi Michelle; I am afraid you have misunderstood the point in my post. I have not question your driving ability or the equipment. I was mearly trying to find why it happened and to point out what can happen if your safety equipment is substandard. Four wheel drive has nothing to do with stopping advantage over two wheel drive. Black ice is black ice. If you drive on it at two miles per hour downhill, guess what? you will jack knife or something will stop you. When encountering black ice in hills, you stop when you can and boondock. Also if there is moisture in the air and freezing temps, there is black ice snow or no snow. In your case breakage of the chains may have saved you under this particular scenario. What if your truck stopped on the back of a stopped tractor trailer. With your runaway trailer following you, it would send the frame of the trailer under your tow vehicle. Eventually the LPG tanks would rupture from impact setting them of fire. What if your runaway trailer crossed the lanes and was hit by unsuspecting oncoming vehicle. Frontal impact and the fire would not give occupants a chance in a world. While I am truly concern for your safety, you should be concerned for safety of others who share the road. If your safety chains were to only keep the trailer behind you, well, they did not do that either. Safety chains are meant to keep disconnected trailer from running away and to keep the frame from going under your tow vehicle, spinning it out of control. Trailer brakes are there to keep the trailer behind you. AS you can see Michelle there are so many if's, for which there is no same solutions that would cover every aspect of disconnect. Some of the safety features implemented will help in one instance, and hinder in another. Those are however best we can do for the money invested in them. Best protection is use of common sense.
We cannot conquer every road condition, because no one is that good when the contact to the ice is rubber. Thanks for you input Michelle, and I hope that other will learn from your unfortunate experience. "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-25-2006, 07:28 PM   #9
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It's a good idea to check the trailer brake when you start downgrade by using the manual lever on the contoller. This does two things: It checks that everything is OK, and it reminds you where the controller is. When mounting the controller it is a good idea too to find someplace where you can reach it quickly and surely-applying the trailer brake can straighten-out a jackknife before it developes. The manual brake lever can be a life-saver!
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Old 10-25-2006, 07:45 PM   #10
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I really did not take it that way. It was cold enough and the roads were dry the day before, that I did not suspect ice. It was too cold and early in the morning. At the point of seperation the trailer was pulling the truck. The chains were twisted and then pulled. They really did not have choice but break. I was not going that fast maybe 30-40. I was not looking at the speedometer when it happened. I was lucky in many respects. I was considering parking it for awhile but there was no were I could see to pull off. I thought of this just a little too late.
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Old 10-25-2006, 07:52 PM   #11
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The only way to continue on safely is to review everything that applies to the accident. Another persons misfortune , if analized, might save someones life. It's always nice to be able to interview survivors. drive/fly safe Tim
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Old 10-25-2006, 07:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecatsandi
I really did not take it that way. It was cold enough and the roads were dry the day before, that I did not suspect ice. It was too cold and early in the morning. At the point of seperation the trailer was pulling the truck. The chains were twisted and then pulled. They really did not have choice but break. I was not going that fast maybe 30-40. I was not looking at the speedometer when it happened. I was lucky in many respects. I was considering parking it for awhile but there was no were I could see to pull off. I thought of this just a little too late.
Michelle, now that you have had a chance to think about it, do you remember any clues that you might recognize next time that you need to take corrective action, to keep from having another incident like the one you had?
BTW, a good landing is one you can walk away from. A great landing is one in which you can also re-use the aircraft.
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Old 10-25-2006, 10:44 PM   #13
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Terry,
I did not have any clues prior to losingthe rear end. I had a little trouble getting out of the Camp Ground. That was up hill and the snow was a lot deeper. I had to use four wheel drive to get out of the park until the roads cleared. I was going 15-20 MPH.
Once I made it to town I was not having any traction porblems in 2 wheel drive. I went through town and started west on 20. I looked ahead at the road and it looked slick. It already was. I was trying to slow down and possibly stop if I could find a place to pull off.

I could have tried activating the trailer brakes. That may have helped that may have made things worse. I will never know.

I going to get a truck tomorrow. Rental (insurance will pay for it) or a new one. I am leaning towards a new one. If the insurance company totals my current one fine. send me the check. If they repair, I will sell it. It is going to be Christmas before it is finished.
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Old 10-26-2006, 05:59 AM   #14
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Your truck can slide off the road even standing still on ice, black or white.
All it takes is a little slope and gravity.
Ice could not care less if you have 4WD or Posi-trac.
Studs or tire chains are about the only thing that could have changed the outcome.
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