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Old 08-15-2019, 12:15 AM   #1
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Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 81
Blue Ox Serious Injury Near Miss

Hi everyone, I could and need to post about my recent trip from Colorado to Kentucky, lots to share, but something happened to me tonight that I wanted to get posted. I recently just drove from Grand Junction near the Utah Border to Kentucky and unhitched for the first time since the trip.

I thought I was going to be in the hospital tonight with severely injured hands and broken fingers, but somehow came through with just a cut to my hand.

So, I was unhitching the Blue Ox hitch (the one with the chains). Iíll try to articulate this well enough because I donít want this happening again. Iím sure it was user error, but canít quite figure out why this happened.

So again, Iím using the tool to make the half turn required to unhitch the chain, when the chain and ďwheelĒ it sits on slipped with such force it immediately lodged my fingers up into and against the propane cover with my fingers and hand pressed into the cover by the release tool with such force I could not dislodge my fingers from either hand. After a few minutes (maybe seconds, but it felt like minutes) of trying to dislodge my fingers or the force without success I began to yell for help (Iím not at a campground right now or around other experienced campers), fortunately someone from the family shop heard me yelling for help and ran over. I guess the obvious solution at this point would have been to remove the propane cover, but first we tried him assisting by putting force on the tool or trying to slip my fingers loose with no avail. He eventually ran for more help after not being able to instruct him on how to remove the propane cover (this was all happening emergency thinking fast as I think we both thought I was about to lose my fingers) and I was somehow able to dislodge my fingers without any serious injuries while he went for more help.

Any clues on why this happened? Do I have the process wrong? At what step should I release the ďsway barsĒ, while itís still hitched or after? Could the long trip have played a role? Why does unhitching the blue ox chains happen with such force and seem/is so dangerous? Any guidance appreciated. This hitch is not like the ones Iím familiar with and while people on this forum seem to love it, I just donít know if itís safe.Click image for larger version

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Old 08-15-2019, 01:44 AM   #2
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2018 30' Flying Cloud
Anchorage , Alaska
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Blue Ox Serious Injury Near Miss

I have never experienced as much force as you describe, but one thing that can load a lot of extra tension on the bars is if your TV is not in a straight line with the trailer. The greater the angle, the greater the force, which I believe is how they are designed to counter sway. If I know Iíll be unhitching somewhere at an angle, I disconnect the bars before I back in. A difference in vertical angle can load the bars too, such as when your TV is on an uphill slope and the trailer is level.
A thing that helps is to extend the tongue jack to take some load off before undoing the bars chains.
I always undo the bars before any other unhitching.
Glad your hand is relatively ok. Iím usually most concerned about what the chain is going to do, but Iíll also give extra thought to hand vs handle vs tank cover now.

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Old 08-15-2019, 04:22 AM   #3
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2018 28' Flying Cloud
Suwanee , Georgia
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Be sure to use your power jack to raise the front of the trailer and back of the pickup truck to release some or all of the tension on the bars.

Secondly, replace the blue ox tool with an 18" long Ĺ" drive breaker bar, six inch extension, and socket. Some use a 1" socket, I find a 26mm socket fits my blue ox better. The idea is to move the tool away from the propane tank and trailer. The six inch extension and 18" long breaker bar does that.

Sorry for your injury.
Erik & Carol
Suwanee, Georgia
AS: 2018 Flying Cloud 28 "Baby Zeppelin"
TV: 2017 Ford F250 Lariat w/ Blue Ox Sway Pro
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Old 08-15-2019, 04:40 AM   #4
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At that point your weight bars will be straight - unloaded. And your trailer will be 4 inches or more nose high. Throw out that cheapass tool Blue Ox includes and dedicate a breaker bar with a 1 inch 6 point socket for the job. (You can use it at an angle sufficient to clear the tank cover etc.)

A prior poster did remark that if the tow vehicle and trailer are not in a straight line, the chain on the "away from" side will be under more tension than the other. Raising the trailer may not relieve all of the tension, so always be prepared for some snap. Again a breaker bar which fits in my teensy female hand at the angle of my choice won't trap my hand but can whack it if I am careless.

Once you've got the chains off, lower the trailer and undo the ball latch.

Glad you were not hurt any worse,

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Old 08-15-2019, 05:18 AM   #5

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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You would think the WD manufactures would HIGHLIGHT that fact in their they?🤔 are not alone.😖

"We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don't know."
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"The hardest thing about Airstreaming, clearing your head and accepting how others feel itís supposed to be done"Ö..

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Old 08-15-2019, 05:27 AM   #6
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you wish left the back end of the TV BEFORE you disconnect the WD bars
lower the jack until the rear of the TV is raised
how much?
on our reese WD bars, the chain is still tight, but i can hit it with the back of the bars and they will easily come off.

NEVER use your hand
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Old 08-15-2019, 05:29 AM   #7
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So sorry you had to experienced this. It must have been terrifying thinking you were going to loose your fingers! And painful!

I had a BO hitch (now using a ProPride) and although it worked pretty well I learned, from experience, you must have the pressure off of the bars, as others have stated. And by all means get a better tool to release the chains.

Wishing you a speedy recovery!
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:07 AM   #8
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We pull our '68 26' Overlander with a 2018 Tahoe, and have no need at all for a WD hitch.....but your camper is a lot heavier than mine....that sounds scary. Glad you still have your hand!
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:50 AM   #9
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Blue Ox Serious Injury Near Miss

I did that, once.

However I was using a breaker bar so I did not get injured. I got in a hurry and had not taken the pressure off the bars by extending the jack and the lifting the TV a bit.

So your not alone.

Just remember as the other have stated, jack up then remove bars. And throw the BO tool away and get a breaker bar. Once those two things are done itís an easy task.

Also - remember to keep the two zerk fittings greased so the bars can move.
2018 27FBQ Tommy Bahama - "Indecision" w/Blue Ox SwayPro, Centramatics, Dual EasyStarts, Airstream Connected, Airtug Trailer Tug HD
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:25 AM   #10
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Blue Ox Serious Injury Near Miss

I empathize and have done something similar. There is a simple resolution. When you are ready to unhook, while connected to the tow vehicle hitch, take your power hitch up as far as it will go - will even lift the TV a bit. This takes the pressure off the chains and bars, then you can safely and easily use the tool to undo without fear of injury.

You will be relieved at how easy it is.

Safe travels!
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:29 AM   #11
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Louisville , Alabama
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Appreciate all of your allís advice. Maybe my wise ol father is brighter than I realized all came up with the same conclusions this morning. First off, I always raise the front of the camper, almost to a ridiculous degree. But, last night I had my truck jackknifed to position the trailer so it would look nice sitting on the property for the fam, I think that was it. Going to get rid of the cheap tool and grease those bearings better. Iíve learned a lot here. Thank you all!
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:47 AM   #12
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Gilbert , Arizona
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I totally agree with Baby Zeppelin. First go to Harbor Freight and purchase an 18”, 1/2” drive breaker bar (one that swivels) and appropriately sized EXTENDED socket. Then throw away the factory-supplied tool. Use the power jack to raise the tongue of the trailer fairly high. Then use the breaker bar to rotate the cams to remove the chains.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:23 AM   #13
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Woodinville , Washington
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I have a Blue Ox WD and have shared your concern.

The immediate solution is buying a long, like 18-24 inch breaker bar from Harbor Freight and using it with a deep, 6-point socket.

But the true solution is getting rid of the Blue Ox chains etc. and using a Lippert Strap-Tec, which is available for around $150 and ELIMINATES the problem.

Did I say ELIMINATES? Yes, and I mean ELIMINATES!!! As in "no more busted knuckles."
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:36 AM   #14
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Kennesaw , Georgia
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I wonder if Blue Ox has any idea how many people have experienced injuries or near misses. They should have large warnings to lift weight off bars before disengaging. In my case I was instructed how to do this on the day of our delivery during walk thru inspection. That was like drinking water from a fire hose. Too much info at one time. Visible warnings on the hitch might have saved my near miss. I scratched my nose but would have broken it if I were one inch closer!

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