Safety Chain - or Safety Link?
Safety chain hookup requires more thought than “I don’t think that will drag on the road”.
There are two schools of thought on Safety Chains:
Stop the trailer if the hitch system fails, or,
Simply be installed to be in compliance with various laws but with a weak link to get rid of the trailer in a catastrophic situation.
To be sure, there have been situations where a good set of safety chains, properly sized and rigged, have brought an errant trailer to a safe stop.
On the other hand, a fully loaded 34 footer, if it should suddenly decide to gee to the curbside (especially if improperly rigged), will most assuredly take the rear end of most any tow vehicle (including one ton pickups) along with it to an early demise.
Proper rigging dictates that, upon separation from the tow vehicle, no part of the trailer is allowed to dig into the asphalt or concrete of the roadway. With the longer specialty hitches it is very difficult to properly rig and adjust adequately sized safety chains to prevent front end plowing.
When selecting chain and connection links, unfortunately, size does not always indicate ultimate breaking strength. This is especially true when analyzing impact loads (the first big jerk right before you mutter Oh S**t!). When purchasing a hitch system, always insist on paperwork (preferably with stamps and tags) on each individual piece of the system.
I have walked through campgrounds shaking my head in utter amazement at 5 to 10 thousand pound trailers with safety chains or connectors I know could not have been rated at more than 500 pounds.
In a former life I did a lot of rigging and design on offshore platforms, if a piece of rigging did not have proper paperwork, we would not use it. Dynamic loads ratings (which a trailer and tow vehicle, by definition of use, should use) were assumed to be 50% of static load rating, i.e. a safety factor of two. Impact loads (certainly probable in a breakaway situation) require a much greater safety factor, and each individual hookup should be analyzed for proper risk assessment.
It is up to each individual driver to assess the degree of safety (and ultimate liability) of each individual hookup.
Since this is one of my favorite soapbox diatribes, I will volunteer to be a “librarian” of safety hookup documents, videos, and cd’s. If anyone knows of a good video, let me know, and I will purchase it and send it to forum members as they request.
Give constructive criticism where it will help, offer opinions where they may be welcome, don’t associate with malevolent and malicious people.
"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."
WBCCI # 1113
Trailer '78 31' Sovereign
Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
Texas Airstream Harbor, Inc.