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Old 06-01-2004, 11:00 AM   #1
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1964 19' Globetrotter
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Yikes! Trailer jumped the hitch!

We were returning from our first outing of the year, three blocks from home, went over a dip and the trailer came off the hitch! Luckily I had replaced the old jack or it probably would have snapped. There was a lock on the pin for the hitch and it was still locked. The carabineers on the chains need to be replaced. How did this happen? I've had the trailer for 3 years and we've been over the dip before!!? How could it come off when it was locked on? What do I need to do to insure it never happens again? I'm thinking I need to replace the locking pin mechanism??

Also the jolt destroyed the tie down for the propane tanks. Stressed the metal "teeth" and cracked it on both sides. Metal shop or are replacements available???
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Old 06-01-2004, 11:04 AM   #2
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What size ball

What size ball are you using? Did the safety chains hold? Yikes, is right.

Rob
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Old 06-01-2004, 11:10 AM   #3
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Ball size is correct. Safety chains did hold but the force of the sudden stop bend the carabineers and I needed pliers to get them unscrewed. I have a break away switch that would have activated if the chains failed. The only good thing out of this is that it happened on a quiet residential street and not a hiway filled with returning vacationers!
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Old 06-01-2004, 11:13 AM   #4
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Shocking! So did the chains catch it or did it land on the jack? We recently brought our Bambi home 300 miles without safety chains (I will correct that problem before we tow it again) and I was nervous the whole way - even though the previous owner towed it for ten years like that!

Also, do you have carabineers on the chains, or quick-links? I think the quick-links would be much sturdier, and they only take a few seconds to attach when hooking up.

Glad everything's allright!
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Old 06-01-2004, 11:26 AM   #5
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In theory the hitch should have landed on the chains but in actuality it landed on the jack and "skidded" to a stop. I'll look into quick-links since I need to replace anyway. I still don't understand how it could have popped off.
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Old 06-01-2004, 11:53 AM   #6
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Hitch coming loose

If I had to venture a guess, your hitch was not connected properly to the hitch ball. I did this once towing my boat after a long day fishing, tired, and in a hurry to get home. I locked the hitch but it was not all the way down on the ball. After that I learned this safety procedure: When you lock/clamp your hitch to the ball, use your jack to raise the tongue once again. If the the jack raises the tow vehicle and hitch, all is OK. If not the hitch will pop loose!
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Old 06-01-2004, 12:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markparker22
When you lock/clamp your hitch to the ball, use your jack to raise the tongue once again. If the the jack raises the tow vehicle and hitch, all is OK. If not the hitch will pop loose!

this is part of the routine for connecting the spring bars...makes attaching them much easier, and performs an important safety check, as well!
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Old 06-01-2004, 12:12 PM   #8
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That's a good idea, Mark. I can use it to check to see if there is a problem with the clamp too. I was the one to hitch the trailer up and everything seemed "normal". I've probably hitched it up at least 60 times without a problem. That's why I'm a little freaked out about the whole thing.
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Old 06-01-2004, 12:40 PM   #9
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64GT,

Wow, scary! Regarding your propane tank clamp, you can get a suitable replacement from just about any airstream dealer/repair shop. It might not be like the original, but will work. Had to replace the one on my 73. I was able to get an exact match-and it was new.

Good luck!


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Old 06-01-2004, 12:50 PM   #10
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Did you cross your chains?

I was told to do that so the tongue would be caught by the X if the hitch would come off.

Dennis
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Old 06-01-2004, 01:16 PM   #11
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I recently had this happen on a 1978 fiberglass camper I was towing at 65 mph. Fortunately I also had chains, and they kept the rig together until I got it stopped. It was scary indeed at that speed. Thank God it only weighed 1500lbs and my Excursion weighs 7000 lbs, there was no other traffic on the highway nearby, and it stayed on its wheels! I actually saw it jumping around, I never felt it in the Ex. It hopped around behind me, first on one tire then on the other until I got it slowed and stopped. And the trailer brakes didn't work as the pigtail came disconnected at some point during the trailer's post-unhitching antics.

Anyway, the trailer wasn't damaged past scraping the electrical pigtail up and grinding one of the chains off as I stopped. I got it back together and took it to a large RV dealer that was only a couple of miles from where it came apart. A post-mortem evaluation of the hitch coupler showed that the coupler mechanism INSIDE the coupler was worn to the point that it allowed the tongue to jump off the ball. I had to have the old 2" coupler cut off and a new one welded on. I don't know of any way to check this other than jacking the trailer back up after coupling it and seeing if it lifts the back of the tow vehicle.

It wasn't an expensive operation, less than $100 including parts and labor, but I sure felt more comfortable towing it home after that.

Roger
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Old 06-01-2004, 02:57 PM   #12
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lube/replace hitch ball

IMHO most uncouplings of hitch and ball occur because of improper maintenance of the ball. There is a lot of friction on the ball and it is doomed to wear down in size with prolonged usage.
The wear can be minimized by keeping the ball properly lubed, but routine maintenance should include replacing the ball at regular intervals, depending on how often and how long you tow your trailer.
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Old 06-01-2004, 03:40 PM   #13
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Nearly had the same experience moving the 59 overlander from home to office. I thought it was on the ball and locked in when in fact it had not locked. I routinely raise the truck with the trailer attached to check this with the caravel which has an electric hitch. Got lazy with the hand crank but fortunately I got out a double checked to find it floating. The hitch is very light because the trailer is empty in the front but not the rear. A little tricky fixing it on the small hill. Getting electric hitch sooner than I planned.
You would think someone would come up with a better system after all these years for the hitch or the backup safety chains.
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Old 06-01-2004, 04:54 PM   #14
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I think the Hensley has a good idea with all the hitch parts attached to the trailer so you just have to slide it into the receiver to hook up. However I understand there's a bit more to it than that, and of course I'm sure it has parts that wear out as well.
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Old 06-02-2004, 06:03 AM   #15
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The chains were crossed, maybe with too much slack ~ 2". The jack wasn't fully retracted - maybe 2" out - so that could be why it hit the road and didn't land on the chains. I'll replace the ball. It's 3 years old and I do lube it, check the catching mechanism and hope this never happens again.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 06-02-2004, 06:42 AM   #16
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Take the pledge. I promise to never drive away without raising the back of the truck with the trailer hitch jack to proof it is attached.
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Old 06-02-2004, 08:55 AM   #17
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Do you use weight distribution on your hitch? My husband and I were discussing it last night and thinking it seems much more unlikely that the trailer could come off the ball with the extra tension added by the bars.

Either way this has been a very interesting discussion.
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Old 06-02-2004, 09:49 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
so you just have to slide it into the receiver to hook up.
what happens here is that some folks forget to put on the pin the receiver shank.

There are several reasons why the coupler can come loose.

One is, as mentioned, the coupler latch wasn't latched.

Another is that the latch failed - yes they do wear and can be easily replaced.

Yet another is that the ball comes loose. When is the last time you checked the torgue on the ball nut? It is supposed to be tightened to 400 lb ft or so.

To reduce the risk of these kinds of accidents you have to have policy and procedure that become habit. The hitch raise to mount spring bars is a good example of an effective procedure. A mental or even written checklist (think airplanes) is also necessary to make sure that all bolts, pins, and other things are installed properly. Don't forget to shake the propane tanks and kick the coupler and otherwise test anything that might be loose.
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Old 06-04-2004, 07:37 PM   #19
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YIKES IS RIGHT.
6 Years ago I lost the whole rig, 64 Scotty teardrop, canoe, and the pickup shell it was attached to in what is now refered to as the "Great U.P. Deer Herd Crossing Incident". The old girl popped the ball and ran into the back of the truck.
Now my 67 GT has an Reese equalizing hitch, and, while repainting the tongue between downpours this spring, I installed a hitch repair kit from Inland RV. Knock on aluminum I will never loose a vintage trailer again.

See You Down The Road ,
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Old 06-04-2004, 11:46 PM   #20
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Tom.

What is a hitch repair kit?
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