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Old 05-26-2006, 08:20 PM   #1
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Smile Hitch failure at 60 mph

I'm dropping this in for the edification of anyone that's interested.

Last Saturday while returning home from Myrtle Beach, my wife was driving our 1989 370 LE south on I 95 about 15 miles north of Brunswick, GA. As I was dozing, I heard a noise that sounded somewhat like dishes rattling in a cabinet. I got up to investigate and as I checked the dinnerware cabinet, I noticed that the sound semed to be coming from underneath the coach at the rear axle. I told my wife to immediately pull over.

She pulled over on a bridge over a river and I got out to investigate. When I noticed nothing amiss with the rear axles, I ventured further to check on the trailer I was towing. I was aghast to discover that the hitch on the coach had ripped off from the frame rail and that the trailer was only secured by half the hitch from the right side. The left side of the hitch was dragging along the road with the nut from the ball.

I was able to get AAA out to tow my trailer home and I drove the coach home with no further incidents. I wanted to pass along the following:

1. My hitch is rated for 2k pounds. The total weight of the trailer I was towing was about 3k pounds.

2. My coach is a 1989

3. The mounting bolts did not fail. The hitch literally rippped off the frame rail. I am posting a picture.

4. I and my wife are alive and well and the Weinermobile suffered no further damage.

5. Don't count on a Georgia Highway Patrol to stop to see if you're ok if you are broken down 15 miles north of Brunswick on I 95 for 3 hours.

I am welding on a 10k hitch to replace the factory one. In addition to welding, I will be bolting it on with 1/2 inch grade 8 bolts.

I can't express how thankful we are that THERE WAS NO MORE DAMAGE. Things could have been disastrous if both sides had decided to fail.

If you have an older coach like mine, don't pull more than the rated weight and please, please, please, get under there and check on the integrity of your frame rail and hitch metal. I have pulled more than the rated 2k for years ( about 3 k) without a problem prior to this. I don't know if the failure was a result of the combined usage of myself and the 2 POs, age of the vehicle or what but you can bet your bippie it won't happen again.

May the force be with you....................................
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Old 05-26-2006, 08:24 PM   #2
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Nick,
It's good to hear that you and your family are ok and repairs can be easily made. Give thanks. May you have happy trails from this point forward.
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Old 05-26-2006, 09:10 PM   #3
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%&$* Happens

I'm glad you three are ok. It's definately a lesson in paying attention to the little details. I think a 10k hitch will hold up for sure. If you still have problems try filling your coach will helium balloons before traveling anywhere.
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Old 05-26-2006, 09:38 PM   #4
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Nick,
Thank goodness you had enough sense to stop and do the inspection

A lesson for all of us. Everytime I stop for fuel or at a rest stop I always make a full circle of the TV and TT to ensure everything is fine. You've just enforced my logic in doing so.

Thanks for reminding all of us the importance of anything out of the ordinary when towing our TT.

R/
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Old 05-27-2006, 03:07 AM   #5
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Listen Intently During Travel!!!!!

Hello all -

I believe that the message that Nick Danger was trying to get out was totally missed by the comments made. Go reread what he wrote.

He/ his wife heard something during the normal course of the pull and decided to check it out. LO and behold there was something.

99% of us have the kids in the back, or the radio jacked up over the wind/ AC noise/ DVD player - There is SO much going on in vehicles that we cannot even hear the Emergency Responders when they come by us, LIGHTS AND SIRENS SCREAMING! We need to listen to the TowVehicle and to the AS for the whole tow and when there is the slightest noise or indication that there is something amiss - stop and check it out.

Stop and check and possibly save your checkbook a LOT!!!! Agravation too!

That is what I took away from that post. Might just be me though. Sigh.

Peace

Axel
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Old 05-27-2006, 06:48 AM   #6
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I dunno, Axel, I think everyone got it. Rick hit it right on the head, IMO. In the military, we call it PMCS: Preventative Maintenance Checks & Services. Before any trip, I always PMCS both the TV and the TT, in addition to inspections at stops, like Rick does. PMCS'ing a vehicle isn't just a before thing. It's also during and after the trip. The military does it right; they give you a Field Manual (FM), which tells you what to check before, during and after your trip. I put together my own "dash 10 FM" for both my TV and TT. It's pretty handy.

About the only other thing I got out of Nick's post, aside from the fact that there's never a cop around when you need one, was that he exceeded the tow limit on his hitch. Do a thousand pounds really make that much of a difference? Maybe not if you do it a couple times, but over time I'm sure it does, as evidenced by the partial hitch failure.

I think it's a good idea to both weld and use Grade 8 bolts. I've been told that hitch shops around here will NOT weld to the frame anymore, because that's not how it's done anymore (this came from a Jiffy Hitch dealer), heating the frame is bad, yadda yadda yadda. I say it's because they don't have anyone who knows how to properly weld.

Nick, I'm glad to see that everything didn't go FUBAR for you, and there was no significant damage or any injuries. Thank you for posting this thread.

Frederic
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Old 05-27-2006, 06:56 AM   #7
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Great post Silvertoy! After I graduated from High School, I worked part time for a local farmer. He taught me how to run a combine to harvest grain. First thing he said was, "You have got to listen to this machine very carefully, it talks to you." On a combine you have to pay attention to the sound of the threshing cylinder. The threshing cylinder beats the grain from the head of the wheat, oat or speltz plant you are harvesting. If too much grain gets into the cylinder, it will plug up or grain will get tangled in the bars. So, you have to constantly adjust your ground speed to keep the cylinder fed properly, and you do this by the way it sounds.
Anyway the jist of this post is, when driving or operating machinery, it is very important to LISTEN! Especially when towing a trailer. Any trailer!
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Old 05-27-2006, 07:15 AM   #8
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[quote=Nick Danger]I'm dropping this in for the edification of anyone that's interested.
3. The mounting bolts did not fail. The hitch literally ripped off the frame rail. I am posting a picture.
If you have an older coach like mine, don't pull more than the rated weight and please, please, please, get under there and check on the integrity of your frame rail and hitch metal. I have pulled more than the rated 2k for years ( about 3 k) without a problem prior to this. I don't know if the failure was a result of the combined usage of myself and the 2 POs, age of the vehicle or what but you can bet your bippie it won't happen again.
quote]
Nick,
I am very glad that you and your wife are safe. What a terrifying story and one that almost anyone of us could be telling. This discussion comes up often, why can't I tow more than 2000 pounds? Then a reply comes in saying they do it all of the time. Hopefully your experience will make us all think twice. And if we do tow more weight we will replace our hitch assemblies like you are doing.
Once again I am glad you and your wife are safe and thanks for the post.
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Old 05-27-2006, 08:28 AM   #9
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Nick,
Glad to hear that you and your wife are safe and things turned out OK without major damage to your trailer, your motorhome or the folks driving behind you. I'll be taking a closer than normal look at my hitch this weekend.
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