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Old 06-22-2018, 12:11 PM   #1
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Aurora , Colorado
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My Nightmare Came True

My husband and I have a 71 Sovereign. Though we have owned it for three years it has been a project this whole time. In other words, never camped in it and we have limited towing experience around town. We were bringing Tiffany home from her final major trip to the repair shop 40 miles away. We went the side roads (not the highway) and went over some railroad tracks and bumps that bucked us around a bit. We were taking a right turn when the horror happened. She fell off the hitch! My nightmare came true!!

She scraped along the road on the post, putting a huge gouge in the asphalt and came to a stop. Other than a broken chain link there was no damage.

A good Samaritan stopped and took one look at it and said "That ball is too small, it's 1 7/8 you need 2 inch." What?! This is what Uhaul sold us when we put a towing package on our Chevy Van 2500/3500 and we had been using for a almost a year. It has a two in drop. We happened to have a 2 in ball with no drop that came the trailer. He put it on and we made it home.

I am very scared to tow this thing again. I can't believe we spent three years fixing it and now we don't want to go out. Visions of a trailer pulling us to our deaths prevail. How do we know if this is set up right? How do we know if it is safe? Can anyone help us?
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Old 06-22-2018, 12:16 PM   #2
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Yikes! Pictures of your set up will help. Double check that ball size, I thought they were all 2 5/16”
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Old 06-22-2018, 01:26 PM   #3
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Will do, Dave. Thanks.
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Old 06-22-2018, 01:47 PM   #4
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My ‘71 Sovereign is 2 5/16”
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Old 06-22-2018, 03:05 PM   #5
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1995 21' Sovereign
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1968 and below used 2”. Either way, 1 7/8 too small. Did the Uhaul place actually look at your trailer when they sold you your trailer hitch?
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Old 06-22-2018, 03:24 PM   #6
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2 5/16”. Safety chains crossed under hitch. Breakaway switch hooked up. Battery in trailer and trailer brakes working. Brake controller. WEight distribution hitch. Once you get it all together you will be fine. Shortcuts can have nasty results. Uhaul was a bit remiss but you need to know the basics.
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Old 06-22-2018, 03:31 PM   #7
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All the 69+ trailers use a 2 5/16 ball I believe, as mentioned above.

When you get the right-sized ball, if you want to reassure yourself that the hitch is connected well just hitch up the trailer and lock the coupler. You should then be able to lift the tow vehicle significantly using the tongue jack, where your original ball from U-haul would just let the trailer lift off. One of the tricks thieves use to take a trailer that just has a padlock through the coupler latch is to use a small ball to carefully haul the trailer off somewhere that they can cut off the padlock at their leisure.
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Old 06-22-2018, 04:34 PM   #8
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I know you must feel rattled to the core, and all I can offer is the sure experience that it will get better.

This was an OOPS! not a tragedy. The shiny side stayed up and it all happened at low speed. Theee may be some damage to the A-frame or the hitch lock but it can be fixed.

I notice you have been a member for a while but rarely post. Please jump on in, ask and learn. And get together with other RVers, Airstream or otherwise. The Airstream community as a whole is kind and loves to share knowledge and aid the clueless. I am a case in point... a genuine expert (AKA "a former drip now under preasure"). Look for a local rally or simply ask to see if anyone would like to meet at a local campground and share a meal or two.

Pancake breakfast? Aunt J, butter, syrup, and sausages will bring a dozen people. Mimosas for breakfast? 50.
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Old 06-22-2018, 04:38 PM   #9
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1969 and older Airstreams use 2" balls, newer generally uses 2 5/16". The exception I am aware of is the first gen Basecamp, which uses a 2" ball.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:24 PM   #10
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Don’t tow until you confirm a 2-inch or 2 5/16 inch coupler
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brick1 View Post
Don’t tow until you confirm a 2-inch or 2 5/16 inch coupler
brick
The ball size should be stamped on the coupler, usually near the tongue jack base.
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:50 PM   #12
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Now that you've had your nightmare you will learn and fix the errors and be fine.

U haul usually is well informed and capable but clearly something went wrong here or they were misinformed on some information. If they are not a well-qualified shop do not go back there. Find a very good local RV place and give them the information about what happened. They can help get you set you up with proper towing equipment and show you how to hook the chains, brake controller and all of those things.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:51 PM   #13
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As you just learned the hard way, there are different size balls and you need to be sure you are using the right size. I have a utility trailer that is 1&7/8", had a tow dolly that was 2", and have a TT that is 2&5/16". I have all three size balls. (I don't have anything with a 3" ball, although they DO exist.)
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:39 AM   #14
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You are definitely overreacting quite a bit. If you took a microwave dish that called for 2 min and cooked it for 10min, you wouldn’t be surprised that it was totally burnt up and inedible. And you wouldn’t be terrified to cool again, just next time you’d follow the directions closely.

Same thing here. Not all hitch balls are the same size. Bigger, heavier campers and trailers require bigger balls (no pun intended) and the hitch won’t lock down on anything smaller. You got lucky the first few times and got lucky your trailer wasn’t badly damaged this time around.

Check, recheck, and tow on!
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