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Old 02-10-2007, 08:58 PM   #1
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Safety Cables versus Chains

Has anyone tried safety cables to replace their chains. Ordered a set today - they self coil when not in use and are rubber coated so no more clanging chains. The rating is 7000 lbs. per cable.

The only thing I haven't figure out is how to fasten then to the trailer frame without losing the strength. Quick links seem to top out at 2500 lbs. per link.

Yes it's overkill - but, it is after all a vintage Airstream.
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Old 02-10-2007, 09:06 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin
Has anyone tried safety cables to replace their chains. Ordered a set today - they self coil when not in use and are rubber coated so no more clanging chains. The rating is 7000 lbs. per cable.

The only thing I haven't figure out is how to fasten then to the trailer frame without losing the strength. Quick links seem to top out at 2500 lbs. per link.

Yes it's overkill - but, it is after all a vintage Airstream.
Interesting idea. Do you have a picture, or website link for a supplier so I can see what they are like? Thanks for the idea!
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Old 02-10-2007, 09:13 PM   #3
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As I understand it, one of the purposes of the safety chains is to support the tonque if the hitch fails (that's why you cross them), not merely to keep the trailer attached. It seems to me that the cables should be the same length? Be interested in how you end up terminating the cables.
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Old 02-10-2007, 09:37 PM   #4
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The cables are 36" each - has an end loop as shown for connection to the trailer.
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Old 02-10-2007, 10:24 PM   #5
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Funny thing is that the cables and chains may be rated at 7k each, but in most cases the part of the hitch they connect to don't strike me as being able to take a full load hit should the trailer ever come disconnected.

That said, I've kept my chains.
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Old 02-10-2007, 11:43 PM   #6
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Wrecked SOB

Hmmm... this is a thinker.

I was at Safford RV picking up my 25 FB SE when the police pulled in an SOB that had broken loose from the old van that was towing it. The owner later told me he'd been towing for 4 years without incident (dumb and lucky - severely overweight and old rusty hitch, chains, ball, etc.). The trailer bounced off the hitch ball, then dragged by the chains briefly, then the hooks on the chains straightened out and the trailer went off the right side of the road, went nose down and came to a stop (bent the frame!).

I saw the chains and the hooks literally had been pulled almost straight. Wow. Seeing that surprised me. I wouldn't count on chains holding together at high speed if you made any turns, etc. And if the trailer comes off the ball, wouldn't the safety pin for the trailer brakes be yanked out? I assume that's why the chain hooks were strained so much on the wreck I saw.

It makes sense to me that using a Reese Dual Cam or any other spring bar hitch should help keep the trailer ON the ball, so chains or cables would probably function about the same wouldn't they? If the trailer has tandem axles and is properly loaded, it might tend to stay rather level especially if it were being moved forward.

Anyone here have any experience with a hitch ball failure, etc. that can chime in?

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Old 02-11-2007, 12:51 AM   #7
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A thinker - truly!!!

This IS a thinker...

It seems that the chains I have seen on nearly every trailer are too long to really prevent the tongue from hitting the pavement, much less hold the tongue in the event of a failure/ disconnect. Along those lines, I am not sure that the Emergency brake switch cable is taught enough to cause the brakes to engage in same. How tightly can that cable be, without causing errant engagement?

For that matter, as ST said, not sure that the hitch would hold either when those 'shock' forced were applied.

Maybe all that stuff is helping to keep the illusion of safety, and I am SURE that the law/ attorneys would have you cold if you had a problem and DIDN'T have the "safety" stuff at all, or hooked properly.

I'll take a look at the upcoming rally to see what others have as far as their set-ups go. And for that matter, I'll see what I can do to improve MY hook-up BEFORE I leave for that rally.

Seriously, I'd be interested in others thoughts on this as well.

Axel
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Old 02-11-2007, 07:03 AM   #8
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Great minds...........

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin
The cables are 36" each - has an end loop as shown for connection to the trailer.
thinking alike.....................

I've got a set of these and will probably put them on before my next run to the Pac NW this summer. They should be perfect on the bambi..........and no more twisting of the chains to get the proper length.............
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Old 02-11-2007, 08:09 AM   #9
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Say no to Safety Cables

I would not trust them as far as I could tow them.
When I had my accident. MY CHAINS BROKE. 10,000 rated strength. Twisting them will reduce their strength. I use ty-wraps. they keep them off the ground and the extra length is there if they need it.

My trailers gross weight 10,000 pounds. approx current weight 8,000.
The truck reciever was un-damaged. Ford tough.

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Old 02-11-2007, 08:13 AM   #10
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Cables stretch, and can degrade from flexing. If you don't like the tinkling sound of the chains, get a vinyl sleeve for them. No more tinkling. I also use the threaded chain links to hold my chains together, no hooks. They are 10,000 pound rated, like the chains, and shouldn't straighten out when "used".
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:00 AM   #11
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I'm wondering if any of you have ever considered shortening the chain with a length of bunji cord which will keep the chain off the ground but allow the chain to stretch when it needs to?
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:13 AM   #12
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Craig,
I have used bungee cords with a hook at each end wrapped around the chains and stinger for my Hensley. With a Hensley the chains are quite long and tend to hang too low if you don't support them. It works very well.
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:21 AM   #13
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i would not use them and here is why.

being a lineman for 20 years i have been around rigging of all sorts for quite a while.

i have no way to prove this but, every time you subject a chain or a piece of wire rope of similar ratings to a shock load the wire rope breaks and the chain holds.

i have seen it happen enough times to know to use a chain if you are gonna yank on something hard.

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Old 02-11-2007, 10:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john hd
i would not use them and here is why.

being a lineman for 20 years i have been around rigging of all sorts for quite a while.

i have no way to prove this but, every time you subject a chain or a piece of wire rope of similar ratings to a shock load the wire rope breaks and the chain holds.

i have seen it happen enough times to know to use a chain if you are gonna yank on something hard.

john
Sorta like the GM tailgate cables, right John?
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:47 AM   #15
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exactly!

mine broke when i was loading my harley in the bed!

ask roger, he was there!

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Old 02-11-2007, 10:52 AM   #16
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And mine broke when the tailgate unlatched while my son was making a right hand turn. The tailgate opened up, dropped down, snapped the passenger side cable, rebounded up and slipped out of the mount on the right hand side. You can picture the rest. The tailgate fell off, hit the ground and then swung around on the driver's side on the one holding cable as the tailgate bashed in the rear quarter panel. Ouch.
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Old 02-11-2007, 11:00 AM   #17
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If you do use coiled cables, please get ones that have thimbles and steel, not aluminum, swaging sleeves.

I wouldn't use these.

I like chains.
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Old 02-11-2007, 11:16 AM   #18
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Question

Another thought (I'm getting a headache!). Wouldn't you want the breakaway cable longer than the chains so that the brakes wouldn't activate while the trailer was still connected with the chains? Wouldn't this apply to the electrical umbilical too? Since the chains are usually attached to the hitch, the safety factor seems to apply to the ball retainer failing, or failing to lock it. If the hitch breaks, the chains go too, no?

I'd love to trade all of this conjecture for someone else's experience.
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Old 02-11-2007, 12:58 PM   #19
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The Thought Process

Here's what I'm thinking on this:

- asked earlier about replacing the ORIGINAL chains on our 71 as I didn't think they looked hefty enough - many here said go ahead and do that if for peace of mind only (the originals put on by Airstream are 1/4" links and S hooks)

- looked at chains and the max. rating I found locally was 10,000 - 5000 per chain

- the trailer weighs 4,600 empty so let's call it 6,000 fully loaded either way it's overkill - IF we simply let the trailer down on the chains or cables - but what force is there if it breaks away during towing....

- chains are often too long and twisting them weakens them as was mentioned above - cables can stretch/weaken when stressed/abraded multiple times such as a tailgate or support cable

- in this case the cables - if ever used (perish the thought) - will be one time and one time only

So my logic was the lenth is right to support the trailer without it dragging the ground (should it break away) and we pick up an additional 4,000 lbs. of security. Plus they self coil and won't drag the ground. I'm also installing a new breakaway switch with a cable long enough that the brakes won't activate unless the cables fail.

That is, if I can figure out the trailer connection of the cables without creating the proverbial weak link. (it's amazing how much thought process one will expend on their Airstream)
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Old 02-11-2007, 03:14 PM   #20
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Here's hoping that none of us acquires the authority that goes with first-hand knowledge!
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