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Old 04-24-2009, 07:06 AM   #1
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safety chains: too long/not too long?

When our TV and trailer are lined up straight our safety chains skim the ground. (We added two links on each side to get this length.) We did this because the combined length and "floating" pivot of our Propride hitch (the later model of a Hensley) takes up all of the chain slack when we turn a corner. Without this much length I've watched the chains strain and catch, then pop against the hitch.

Would it be a problem if we create some sort of sling to just hold the chains off the pavement?
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:29 AM   #2
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When our TV and trailer are lined up straight our safety chains skim the ground. (We added two links on each side to get this length.) We did this because the combined length and "floating" pivot of our Propride hitch (the later model of a Hensley) takes up all of the chain slack when we turn a corner. Without this much length I've watched the chains strain and catch, then pop against the hitch.

Would it be a problem if we create some sort of sling to just hold the chains off the pavement?
The correct chain length should be determined by criss crossing the chains.

Then when you make a turn, the chains will not drag.

Andy
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:47 AM   #3
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As mentioned the chains should cross side to side under the hitch.

Another factor that is more important than the chains is the length of the safety cable to the brake disconnect. That cable wants to short enough to insure it pulls the pin on the emergency brake switch before the chains reach full extension once the hitch has failed. All to many drivers treat this cable as a ground strap and have it so long it would never function in an emergency.

Not the greatest picture for the illustration of the brake cable but if you look closely you will see the cable and umbilical line feed through a spring clip holding the tongue latch down. This arrangement insures they can not snag on anything and defines the shortest path.
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:57 AM   #4
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Whilst reading up on safety chains this week I came across what I think is a useful suggestion. Which was running a shock cord or bungee strap through the links of chain to stop the chains jangling. I'm still a little confused about how the chains keep the tongue from hitting the ground in the event of a disconnect incident, maybe the long hitches we use make it tricky. I'll be sure to check mine when I weld the mount back on the tongue.
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:45 AM   #5
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It is not necessary that the chains keep the tongue from hitting the ground it is necessary that the chains keep the trailer behind the TV so some level of controlled stop might be accomplished.

I do not have a picture of the failure when this happened but I can state that the tongue did not reach the ground. Luckily we were stopped when the head broke. The tongue dropped on the chains to a point that I had to look twice to even see the broken head after I heard the snap.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:21 AM   #6
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It is not necessary that the chains keep the tongue from hitting the ground it is necessary that the chains keep the trailer behind the TV so some level of controlled stop might be accomplished.

I do not have a picture of the failure when this happened but I can state that the tongue did not reach the ground. Luckily we were stopped when the head broke. The tongue dropped on the chains to a point that I had to look twice to even see the broken head after I heard the snap.
HOLY CRAP Batman! Thank goodness you were stopped. Someone up there was looking out for you!

I'm stunned to see that kind of failure. Do you have any idea what happened? Just a flaw in the metal?

I noticed that the ball appeared to be loose on the mount and ungreased. Could that have been a contributing cause? I recently read a post about greasing the hitch ball, where a poster thought that a dry ball could come unscrewed due to friction in turns. If the ball had say half an inch of play then could the front end of the trailer bounce up and down eventually cracking the trunnion piece?

I'm towing out Sunday. Tomorrow I check and tighten ALL the bolts and regrease my ball!

Paula
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:45 AM   #7
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Our chains are crossed, and as directed by the hitch manufacturer, they are inside the stabilizer bars.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:46 AM   #8
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Also, they don't drag when we turn the corners - they are very tight in the corners. They drag when the TV and trailer are lined up straight.
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:15 PM   #9
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Also, they don't drag when we turn the corners - they are very tight in the corners. They drag when the TV and trailer are lined up straight.

Kelly, something else is going on here. When you turn with your 3P hitch the chain distance gets SHORTER. When you are straight in line with the trailer, the chains are as long as they ever need to be.
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:24 PM   #10
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Thanks for checking in on this Sean.

It sounds like some photos are in order.
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:54 PM   #11
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Sean, that's right. That's what I said. My concern is that when they are at their maximum length (when the trailer and TV are in a straight line) that they actually touch the ground. They have to be that long because when we go around corners they shorten up a LOT. Before we added 2 more links to the chains they pinched the side of part of the hitch.

All I want to know is, will skimming the ground cause a real problem, and, is it o.k. to support them with some sort of sling?

I can take a picture of them hanging down, but I don't know how to add a picture to these messages.
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:58 PM   #12
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By the way, Sean, we attended our state rally this past weekend. There was a lot of interest in the Propride hitch. We do love the hitch - don't get me wrong - it has made towing a breeze. We're just concerned about these chains.
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:55 PM   #13
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Mine were too long and drug when the van was straight, even when crossed. The hook is attached to the chain end with a pin that has a cotter key in it. We were able to move the hook back by two links. That took care of the dragging. The two links that are bypassed cause no issues.

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Old 04-24-2009, 07:16 PM   #14
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We can shorten the chains by simply undoing what we have done. We are the ones who added two extra links on both sides. But, if we shorten them again then we'll be back to our original problem - which is that the hitch cannot pivot (float) as freely as it needs to in a turn.

I'm going to attach a lightweight cord of some sort to act as a sling and hold them off the ground. I'll make it just heavy enough so they won't drag, but light enough that if a connection gives and the chains snap into use that they won't be restricted.

Sean, does this sound O.K?
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