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Old 12-08-2003, 10:07 PM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
1976 29' Ambassador
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Safety Chain Shaclkle - Weakest Link?

Ever lay awake at night thinking about how strong those cast iron shackles are on your safety chains ?
I am using the heaviest ones I can that fit the chain, but it seems like there must be something stronger than cast.
Is there an alternative hookup shackle ?

AIR #189

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Old 12-08-2003, 10:22 PM   #2
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Murray....I changed out my stl chains for Schedule 80 safety chain and 1/2" shackles because I was thinking/concerned just what you are thinking/dreaming.....cost was $24.00 and I sleep better...geof

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Old 12-08-2003, 11:17 PM   #3
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not cast iron


those grab hooks are most likely drop forged, and stronger than the chain itself or the ring it is welded to on the trailer!

if you are still concerned, you could choose to change them out for screw type shackes.

you call them ferrets, i call them weasels.
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Old 12-09-2003, 06:08 AM   #4
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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."

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Old 12-09-2003, 01:41 PM   #5
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I have always used the screw type shackles. They are normally rated based on size, but as Dennis said bigger is not always better. Get proof. I purchased a few at Home Depot and they were carded and rated by weight. The rule of thumb I was also taught was to double the static load and buy the size rounded up to over your need. IE 2400 LBS (my Saturn) means use a 5000 LB shackle. I have 4 total in my current rigging since I tow a car. I carry a spare as well so if I somehow lose one I will not be searching in a strange town for a hardware store.

I think the d ring shackles with a removable pin are rated at a higher load than the double threaded style of the same size due to them being drop forged.
Brett G
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1978 Argosy 28 foot Motorhome

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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Old 12-09-2003, 02:42 PM   #6
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Re: Safety Chain - or Safety Link?

Originally posted by 87MH
Safety chain hookup requires more thought than “I don’t think that will drag on the road”.

I think we had a thread on this some time ago but it doesn't hurt to revisit the topic. The chains on my new Classic are too long and really are somewhat useless in keeping the tongue off the ground if we would break away. My dealer at one time twisted the chains on my Safari on hookup "thus making them shorter". My neighbor who is a tool engineer stated that this was not proper and would create greater loads on the chains if they came into use.

I eventually shortened the chains by moving the hooks back several links. The hooks were on a keyed pin which allowed them to be moved. The excess chain was wired to the existing chains to prevent it from dragging. I'll probably do the same with the Classic pending inspection of the hooks to see if I have the same keyed setup.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 12-09-2003, 06:46 PM   #7
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Yes, Jack, it was handled quite exhaustively and by many of the same principals on October's Trailer breakaway cable thread.

A couple of posts were added just over a day ago and has dropped out of view, but we might as well refer everybody on this thread to take a look.


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